Sunday, November 30, 2014
How Much Time Do You Spend with God?
Consider yourself "typical", if you are a "Church goer" who goes to Church on Sunday then return home to resume their "weekend" activities. I'm thinking about the "typical Christian" here, anyone in one of the approximate 338,000 Christian congregations in the US (http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html) Now, I'm not picking on people who go to Church on Sunday, or picking on Christians, so please don't get me wrong! I want to assess how much time that typical "Church goer" spends with God, that's all, and hopefully make a point.
The typical "Sunday Service" is 1 hour, let's say 2 if you count the adult Bible Studies which are often before the main service. But I'm going to be realistic here and instead of saying that is "2 hours with God", I'm going to call it 1.5 hours since much of that 2 hour block is getting coffee, talking with others about "this and that" and general "mixing". That counts as good fellowship, of course, but it's not really spending time with God if the mixing includes discussing the "big game" that afternoon, or how nice one looks, etc.
There are 168 hours in each week, so that 1.5 hours with God on Sunday is therefore just a hair under 1%. One percent of the week is "spent with God" in this example.
When asked “Teacher, which Commandment in Torah is the greatest?” (Matthew 22:36, AENT), the Messiah Yeshua answered: “You should love Master YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind.” This is the first and the greatest Commandment. And the second is like it. That ‘You should love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang Torah and the prophets.” (Verses 37-40, AENT) (Many who read these verses conclude the Messiah therefore gave us only "two" commandments - which would be wrong because, as the Messiah Himself said "On these two commandments hang Torah and the prophets". Yeshua only answered the question "Which is the greatest", He did not say "The only commandments are these....") So the Messiah identified the "greatest" commandment is to "love Master YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind."
Yeshua was not giving a "new" commandment, for He was quoting the commandments which already existed! In this case He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5. In fact, Yeshua knew the Tanach well, and taught from it constantly. This part of Deuteronomy is rich in the instructions YHWH gave us on how to live! Let's look at verses 2-7:
"...so that you will fear ADONAI your God and observe all his regulations and mitzvot that I am giving you - you, your child and your grandchild - as long as you live, and so that you will have long life. Therefore listen, Isra'el, and take care to obey, so that things will go well with you, and so that you will increase greatly, as ADONAI, the God of your ancestors, promised you by giving you a land flowing with milk and honey. "Sh'ma, Yisra'el! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear, Isra'el! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one]; and you are to love ADONAI your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart; and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (CJB)
This is YHWH's expectation of His people! Note the word "Sh'ma" which was translated as "Hear" in the CJB. The word actually means "hear and do". So the commandment was to "Hear the commandments and DO them!"
One the commandments is the observance and keeping of the Sabbath - the "Shabbat" - the "7th day". Now many Christian denominations like to call Sunday "the Sabbath", which is not correct, but this article is not about why Sunday is not the Sabbath. But if Sunday were the Sabbath, the keeping of the Sabbath day would still be the same; that is, the instructions for observing the Sabbath, as the Messiah did, would still be the same. We find the instruction for the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11:
"Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work - not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself." (CJB)
So if you obeyed this simple commandment, since the Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday, and ends at sunset on Saturday, there are at least 10-12 hours out of the 24-hour period in which you could spend time with God and rest! Indeed, this is the purpose of the Shabbat! Reread the verses above!
10 hours of the 168 hour week is 5.9% - 6% if we are not picky. So simply obeying the Sabbath is almost 7 times more than you spend by "Church going" on Sunday!
Then, guess what! There is a way to spend even more time with God without any effort! Let's read Numbers 15:38-40:
"Speak to the people of Isra'el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of ADONAI's mitzvot and obey them, so that you won't go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your God." (CJB)
This commandment provides a way for us to always have God on our minds! YHWH gave us a way to help us stay holy and honorable by simply wearing a "fringe" (the "tzitzit" in Hebrew)! Wow!
Now before you say "Well - those commandments don't apply to me...", think about what you are saying! You would be saying "That commandment to not go around wherever my own heart and eyes lead to prostitute myself doesn't apply to me, and that commandment to 'be holy for my God' doesn't apply to me"! Would you really think that the instructions from GOD, taught by the Messiah, would not apply to you? Really?
So there you have it! A couple of astoundingly easy ways to actually "hear and do" the commandment which the Messiah identified as the greatest! Turns out, keeping the Sabbath is a blessing! Here is what Isaiah says about it, revealed by God:
"If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on My holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, ADONAI's holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them. If you do, you will find delight in ADONAI - I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya'akov, for the mouth of ADONAI has spoken." (Isaiah 58:13-14, CJB)
And finally, if you think the commandments don't apply to you, if you think keeping the Shabbat and wearing tzitzit is too much for you, how do you obey the greatest commandment?