“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord ‘s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words . . .” Isaiah 58:13-14 NIV.
Many people have a hard time discovering how to make the Sabbath a delight. As a guide, consider that the Sabbath was intended to be a time for spiritual and physical refreshment; a time to get to know God better and be physically renewed to face another week (Exodus 20:8-11).
Notice the sort of things that Jesus did on Sabbath. There are a total of ten recorded incidences in which Jesus did something on Sabbath.
- Picking grain with the disciples (Matthew 12)
- Eating with one of the chief Pharisees (Luke 14:1)
- Man with crippled hand (Mark 3:1)
- Crippled man by the pool (John 5:2)
- Blind man receives sight (John 9)
- A woman relieved of an 18-year infirmity (Luke 13)
C. Teaching in the synagogue
- Matthew 12:9
- Mark 1:21
- Mark 6:2
- In the tomb (Matthew 27:58-60)
Note: In no place do we find Jesus saying, “It’s been a tough week. Let’s sleep the day away!” There is no indication from the actions of Christ that the day was designed for inactivity. The only time we find Him resting on Sabbath was when He was DEAD.
What are some things that would be good to do on Sabbath? The following suggestions may help:
1. Visit a Sabbath-keeper you’ve never visited before.
2. Put a nature puzzle together.
3. Have a special family worship: Have each family member bring an object and tell how it reminds them of God.
4. Do a topical Bible study on a subject that interests you.
5. Read a good devotional book.
6. Count how many colors of flowers are in bloom near you.
7. Learn the difference between trees (tree identification).
8. Visit someone who is sick.
9. Visit someone who didn’t come to church today.
10. Visit someone who might be discouraged or hurting.
11. Offer to take the children of a single parent on a nature walk.
12. Learn a new Sabbath song.
13. Write an “I missed you” post card to everyone you missed at church today.
14. Read the words to hymns.
15. Take some home-grown food to someone who might be tight financially, and stay for a brief visit.
16. Make a “family tradition” Sabbath meal – something everyone likes, but easy to fix.
17. Sing songs around the piano (yours or someone else’s).
18. Have a meal with a friend.
19. Share what the Lord means to you with your own family.
20. Read or tell Bible stories to your children.
21. Invite someone to your home that doesn’t usually get asked home with anyone.
22. Have a group over, and show slides or videos of things God has made.
23. Listen to Christian music.
24. Start a Sabbath box for children: Special things for children to only do on Sabbath. Don’t have children? Help someone who does to create one or ask several children of similar age over for Sabbath fun.
25. Play charades with Primary age children – act out Bible characters and stories.
26. Divide kids, Primary – Teens, into teams and go into nature with a pan of sand. Ask each team to illustrate a Bible story in their sand pan, using objects in nature for characters, scenes, etc. Then have each team try to guess the other team’s story.
27. Bible crosswords.
28. Bible games (available at Christian book stores.)
29. Pray alone – OUTSIDE.
30. Teach values to your children.
31. Friday evening: Have sundown worship.
32. Weekend camping trip.
33. Study a certain thing (animal, flower, etc.) that you are not very familiar with.
34. Ask children if they have any questions about your religion. Give them time and REALLY listen.
35. Study the work of angels.
36. Spend a thoughtful hour contemplating the life of Christ, especially the final scenes.
37. Pray for victory over specific sins in your life.
38. Pray for the family you plan to visit NEXT.
39. Watch the sun set in SILENCE one Sabbath.
40. Watch the sun set and talk about it next Sabbath.
41. Call someone who wasn’t at church.
42. Review notes or tapes of an evangelistic meeting you really enjoyed.
43. Tell someone what brought you to the Lord, or to join the church.
44. Share with someone else something you really enjoyed doing on the Sabbath.
45. Spend time alone with God.
46. Tell your spouse something you appreciate about him or her (in the area of religion, if possible).
47. Volunteer to tell a mission story or children’s story at church.
48. Visit a nursing home.
49. Visit prison inmates; get involved in a prison ministry if one exists in your area. If not consider starting one.
50. Men: Spend some time with a boy who doesn’t have a Father figure. Share Jesus with him after you make friends.
51. Visit an orphanage.
52. Read stories in Sabbath School handouts (such as Guide or Little Friend).
53. Think of some special request for your home in heaven, and ASK for it!
54. Try to imagine what your house will look like in heaven.
55. Think of what you would like to ask Jesus when you get to heaven.
56. Who is the next person you would like to see? What would you say?
57. Imagine the person you didn’t get along with in elementary school as your next-door-neighbor in heaven.
58. Study the Sabbath School lesson.
59. Visit a widow or shut-in.
60. Set a goal to visit/pray with everyone listed in the church directory within a year. Start today!
61. Take a tape to someone who missed the sermon.
62. Have worship outdoors.
63. Write a letter to Jesus.
64. Review your baptismal vows.
5. Start a Sabbath afternoon Story Hour for children.
66. Invite guests at church home for lunch.
67. Invite the Junior/Teen class to your home for vespers.
68. Learn a memory verse.
69. Read a portion of Scripture or listen to the Bible on tape.
70. Study a particular Bible character.
71. Invite someone home that you don’t think can return the favor.
72. Give someone a ride to church.
73. Go to vespers (sundown worship service) at church. Get involved.
74. Make a list: What are you thankful for?
75. Start a prayer request list.
76. Make written records of answers to prayer. File them, and review periodically.
77. Take spiritual magazines, books, or papers to people you think might appreciate them.
78. Study Church History.
79. Read good Christian books.
80. Friday evening: Study the stars. Use a telescope or binoculars if possible.
81. Explore a new nature trail.
82. Show your pet you care about him/her.
83. Do something for “The least of these” (Matthew 25:40).
84. Ask the pastor for a name of someone who might appreciate a Bible study or Christian friend.
85. Take a meal to a widow or widower.
86. Show appreciation to someone that has been a blessing in your life.
87. Share an answer to prayer with someone.
88. Join a singing band and visit a local hospital or nursing home.
89. Study a parable that Jesus told.
90. Friday sundown: Turn off the lights, and use candles or fireplace to give a peaceful atmosphere.
91. Give each member of your family a note of appreciation at sundown Friday.
92. Praise the Lord!
93. Read a Psalm.
94. Spend the afternoon in a national forest. Make a list of the things that remind you of God’s love.
95. Read Revelation 21. Study the foundation stones for the Holy City. List their colors; consider their size, etc.
96. Try to imagine living where there is no sickness, death, or pain.
97. Go to church.
98. Invite someone to attend church with you.
99. Talk with the oldest member of your church about what God has done for them.
100. Decide as a family what you plan to do next Sabbath.
About the Author: Glenn Holland pastors a church in the Columbia Union Conference.