For the past couple of years, the kids and I have been working through a devotional book based on the Shorter Catechism: Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade. It is organized so that you study one question each week, with a short devotional thought for each day.
Each school morning I ask the catechism question and the kids give the answer. Then I read the brief (generally one or two paragraphs) devotional thought for the day. A scripture reference is also given to go along with the teaching. The kids take turns looking it up in their Bibles and reading it aloud. (Someone usually leans over Ben’s shoulder and helps him with longer words.)
It’s been great. Many times kids are only taught Bible stories – moralizing – but doctrinal teaching is left out. Using this tool, not only are they getting solid teaching, they are also getting practice looking up Bible verses.
Lately, we’ve been going through the exposition of the 10 Commandments, specifically the section that deals with the fourth commandment.
Q. 57. Which is the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment is: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien/stranger within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, in particular, one whole day in seven.
After question 59, about the reasons for observing Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, we arrived at question 60.
Q. 60. How do we keep the Sabbath holy?
We keep the Sabbath holy by resting the whole day from worldly affairs or recreations, even ones that are lawful on other days. Except for necessary works or acts of mercy we should spend all our time publicly and privately worshiping God.
This study really convicted me that I had not been doing a good job of keeping the Sabbath. I don’t get a lot of housework done during the week – keeping up with dishes and laundry is about the extent of it. I try to get everything else done on Saturday, but if things get busy, sometimes my bathrooms and floors get cleaned on Sunday. After reading a month’s worth of devotionals dedicated to reminding us that Sundays are for worship and rest, I have resolved to get my weekend work done on Saturday and do a better job of obeying the fourth commandment.
I am so thankful for the chance to teach the catechism to my children in this way, because I need to hear these reminders as well.
I suspect that most of us think we have a good handle on keeping the 10 Commandments, but this one is a challenge to us as busy modern Americans. We like to think we can spend our weekends any way we choose.
But the Bible commands us to keep the Sabbath holy. To join with other Christians in corporate worship. And to rest.
At my house we could do a better job of this. Years ago, I read two books on this topic that I thought were really good: Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn, and Making Sunday Special by Karen Burton Mains. It’s probably time to revisit them.
How do you keep the Sabbath? Do you have special traditions or habits in your home to focus your attention properly on worship and rest?