Labor Day
Rachel Olsen

“And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:3 (NIV)

In 1882 cabinet maker Peter McGuire introduced his idea for a new holiday saying, "Let us have a festive day during which a parade through the streets of the city would permit public tribute to American Industry." A dozen years later President Cleveland signed a bill into law designating the first Monday in September “Labor Day.” For many Americans today is a day off from work, a chance to cook-out and hang-out in the lingering warm weather of summer.

A day off from labor, however, was not a new concept when McGuire suggested his holiday of tribute to American workers. This concept of a day of rest was first declared by the Lord. In illustration, God rested the seventh day after creating the world and He deemed the day of rest holy (Gen. 2:2-3). He didn’t call it Labor Day - He called it the Sabbath.

Sabbath is a not a day of tribute to workers, it’s a day of tribute to their Maker. It’s a day to rest your body while renewing your mind by making the focus of the day your Maker and your relationship with Him. In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath is the focal point of the week - not just a day of laundry or list-making to gear back up for the week ahead. The Jewish people spent three days preparing for Sabbath, and three days reflecting on what they had learned or encountered of God during the Sabbath. They were a Sabbath-focused people, and therefore a God-focused people.

Keri Wyatt Kent, author of Breathe, writes, “This creates a rhythm of life that puts our focus not on our stuff or our schedule but on the opportunity to meet with God.”

What does your Sabbath typically look like? Are you truly focused on God, beyond perhaps an hour or so of worship at your local church? Do you emerge renewed and energized by who God is and what He can do through your life? Or do you get to the end of the day feeling tired and regrettably resigned to start another week?

Kent reveals:

“We are created in the image of God, and he modeled for us a way of life that makes sense for how we are created. Here’s how to dance the dance of life, he said: work, be creative, use your imagination, throw yourself into it, whether you are washing dishes, reading to your kids and running a household, or trading stocks, reading corporate reports, and running a business. …At the end of each day, stop. Take a rest, eat a good meal, get enough sleep, and refresh yourself. Take time to think about your day, to notice where God was in it and where you were blessed, and to say, “It’s good.” Then go back at it the next day. And after six days, take a whole day off. And say, “It’s really good.” Spend a whole day just pausing, just reflecting on how really good it is, and then start the dance again, at a sustainable pace.”

That sounds really good to me. May this Labor Day mark the day that you and I decide to become Sabbath-focused people.

Dear Lord, I want to honor You by practicing Sabbath rest. Show me how to live this way. Meet me there in my time of contemplation, reflection, and worship. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers

Application Steps:
Like the Jewish people, spend a few days this week preparing for the Sabbath. Shop and plan ahead for the day. Can you put a meal in the crock pot the night before? Perhaps purchase a new journal to begin recording your Sabbath day discoveries. Go dig out some Dominos or board games to play together as a family as you reconnect with one another at the close of the week.

If you desire more on this topic, see Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Breathe offered in the Additional Resources link below.

What does Sabbath rest mean to you?

Do your Sabbath look like the rest of your days, except that you add church to the list of activities?

Is God prompting you to carve out a day to rest, bless your family, and focus on Him? Will you respond?

Power Verses:
Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)

Genesis 2:3, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 6:16, “So now the Lord says, “Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NLT)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Utilizing the idea of have a real sabbath is very appealing. Takin the time to focus on God and family. Usually Sunday feels like a sad day as the weekend is ending and another week of work is starting. However, I think that if I looked at Sunday as a day of rest and refreshment and not the day to start gearing up for the week mentally I would enjoy the weekend more as it would feel longer and more refreshing.

Dear God,
I need to get kicked back into gear. I am having a hard time getting things going here. I want to get up in the morning, but am having trouble, I am not even getting up with the kids. It's like I've gone backwards. Help me to get my motor in gear. Thank you for loving me and forgiving me. Forgive me for my lazy attitude. I feel so lazy and uninspired. I feel like I am just floating along. Forgive me for my short temper with Grace. I also pray that you give me wisdom about what to do with Ben. I am not sure what is the right thing, let him cry, go and get him? I don't know what is wrong with him and his sleeping. Thankyou for hearing me. Give me a kickstart and a better attitude.

*Go do something with my kids

*take out something for a fun little barbeque.

*Clean the house.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this devotional. I
particularly noticed the Jewish
people prepare and reflect. I want tobe more God-focussed. Right
now I take a sabbath rest from
the computer on Sundays but I must
reconsider my focus foor the day/

Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you ever so much for this uplifing article. You have challenged my heart to find better ways of spending our Sunday Afternoons in between services.

I'll be sharing this to all my cyber friends.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great article. I go to church on Sunday and do no work. I do pleasurable things. But thank you for inspiring me to be more God focused. I pray to dwell on him more and more. In Jesus Name

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this devotional. I was taught Sunday was a day of rest nothing else.
but with life changing I feel myself getting away from that.
Dear Lord I am so sorry that I've been compermising my beliefs Give me grace and strengh to stand and teach my children this concept of keeping your sabbath holy. refresh me in Jesus name Amem

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pray the Lord will allow us the financial means to permit my husband to stop working on Sunday. I want to (with the Lord's help) spend the sabbath the way He would have us to, focused on Him and strengthening our relationship in order to please Him.

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