Our churches recently received packets for this year’s Sabbath Renewal Day, when we focus on and celebrate God’s gift of rest and worship. We suggested that tomorrow, May 17, could be the day for that commemoration. You may choose any date that works for you and your church, so please join us and use the helpful resources.
PDF versions can be found here:
We were behind on getting the materials out, and for that I apologize. I also mentioned in the packet that the Sabbath testimony of our Conference President, Steven James, would be forthcoming. That text follows below. We will also attempt to post all of the Renewal Day resources on this website later today. Thank you for your faithful service to the Lord, and may you have a truly blessed Sabbath.
Sabbath Testimony by Conference President Steven James
“God’s Sabbath – The Rest that Is Blessed”
Next to sharing about my Savior, I love to share about His Sabbath!
I wasn’t always a Seventh Day Baptist, nor sabbatarian in my faith and practice. Having become a follower of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1975, the Sabbath didn’t appear on my radar with any validity until about 1980.
As a member of an independent Baptist church, I had the “usual” arsenal of Bible verses and arguments to oppose something as strange, and even sinful, as keeping the Sabbath (or so I thought).
During a time when I was, by God’s grace, coming to realize that I needed to study God’s Word for myself, without the lenses provided to me by my pastor and other sources, it seemed that the Holy Spirit prompted me about the Sabbath—asking, in effect, “Why am I obeying nine of God’s Ten Commandments?”
To that prompting question from deep within, I had no honest answer. I realized that this was a topic that I needed to explore from God’s Word thoroughly.
For hours and days I studied and prayed. I came to the conviction that the Sabbath was indeed made for me—not just for the Jews (Mark 2:27-28); that God’s law was not nullified because I was saved by grace (Romans 3:31); and that this day was truly blessed from the dawn (or dusk) of creation for new creations (like me) until the new creation of the heavens and the earth (if not beyond). (Genesis 2:2-3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; 5:6; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Hebrews 4:9; etc.)
Coming to this conviction was exciting, but not easy. When we choose to follow Jesus, we are heading upstream in a downstream cultural current. When we as Christians choose to consecrate God’s Sabbath, the current gets even rougher, both from without (the culture) and within (the Church).
Stressed by the Test
Choosing to honor this day by keeping it holy and receiving its blessings became a test on many fronts.
On the job front: I had to seek another position where I worked in order to keep the Sabbath special. While this succeeded initially, throughout the next 10 years there would be times where I had to choose to lose when it came to income.
On the church front: it meant leaving the church that had been foundational to my formative years as a believer, as well as for my wife. To many with whom we had once been close, it was like we now were “lepers.” While we did gather with another sabbatarian group for a period of about 6 months, the majority of the next 8 years we would find ourselves to be lone Sabbathkeepers without a church.
On the family front: it meant that we had grown another “third” eye in addition to being on-fire Christians in the minds of some of our loved ones. It created some conflict at times that wasn’t easy to endure.
God’s Rest – To Be Possessed and Professed
God carried us through all of these tests. While the stress of such tests is much less since finding Seventh Day Baptists (initially joining the Nortonville SDB Church in Kansas, seeking to plant a church in Junction City, KS and now serving as pastor in Verona, NY) tests still arise on other, perhaps more practical and personal fronts, as I continue to honor and experience God’s Sabbath in all of its blessedness and holiness.
As I share this brief testimony, I’ve been a Sabbath-keeping believer now for about one-fourth of a century. For many of you that may be small compared to the years you’ve known and owned the Sabbath as your own in faith and practice. While I may have the profession of this special day down when it comes to what I believe about it and how I share it with others, I still have a ways to go when it comes to the possession of God’s Sabbath—how I honor it and enjoy it in the way God intended.
I look forward to Sabbaths, even though for me, as a pastor, they tend to be quite “full” of responsibilities. I love to gather together with God’s people to celebrate our Savior and consecrate His Sabbath. I love the rhythm that it affords to rest, reach out, rejoice and reconnect with family and friends each week.
I love how this day is the one from which each week launches and to which each week leads—a pivotal time given to mankind by God. That is why, in the eight passages in the New Testament mentioning the first day of the week, they are literally translated as “the first of the sabbaths”, a custom in Jesus’ day of referring to the days numerically as they relate to being sandwiched by the bookends of God’s Sabbaths.
I love how, as a New Testament believer, I can hold my head up high and my heart strong because the new covenant isn’t a new set of laws, but the same Ten Commandments written in my mind and on my heart, instead of on stone or paper. (Hebrews 9-10; Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 11; 18 & 36)
I believe that we as Seventh Day Baptists have an unlimited growth potential if we embrace our responsibility of sharing our Savior with those who don’t yet know Him and sharing His Sabbath with those who do know Him. One is essential to enjoying life with God forever and the other to expressing love for God and others fully.
May you be blessed with the rest that is best this Sabbath Renewal Day!