|Vol. 15 No. 7 July 2013||
Summer is upon us. The children have been out of school for several weeks and everyone is talking about vacations – where shall we go or what a wonderful time we had on vacation. The social media sites are filled with pictures of family vacations. It is vacation season.
Jesus saw the need to pull away from the crowds for a period of rest and prayer (Luke 5:15-16). Today’s Christian needs to withdraw from the rigors of life for periods of rest and concentrated prayers as well. Also, we need to spend enjoyable, relaxing time with our families. A vacation away from home can be ideal to achieve this goal.
Where will you go, and what will you do while on vacation? Will you remember our Heavenly Father? Will you worship Him and attend midweek Bible Classes? We are commanded to gather with the saints and worship God on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). As Christians, we should rejoice at the opportunities to gather with other Christians for fellowship and to grow in God’s Word. Will you leave your contribution at home where your membership resides and give a small donation where you are visiting? We are instructed to give on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Giving a small amount wherever we worship fulfills that command while leaving our weekly contribution at home ensures the continued work of the home congregation.
How will you dress on vacation? Will you forget that modesty is in style no matter where we are or what we are doing? Will you go where you will have clean entertainment choices? God is watching us regardless of where we go. Modest clothing and proper behavior is the same whether at home or at a faraway location where no one knows us.
I am concerned that it appears as though vacations are all about us – our pleasure, our enjoyment. Often, God is left out of the equation. Our focus is on our wants and desires, and we fail to realize that God never goes on vacation. He is always with us and yearns for our devotion and adoration even when we are on vacation.
Perhaps, instead of seeking a vacation spot to fulfill our pleasure, we could spend part of our time serving God. Many small, struggling congregations would welcome a family to come door-knock their community, helping them to teach the lost about Christ. The fellowship and encouragement you and they receive will fortify one another as we continue in our service to God. If you do not want to go by yourself, you could invite one or two other families to join you and have a greater sense of accomplishment and fellowship. Be sure to include a day or two to sightsee and enjoy the area before going home refreshed, which is what “vacation” is all about.
Part of your vacation time could be used for a mission trip to another country. It will not be all fun and games, but the benefits far outweigh any discomfort you might experience. The joy you experience teaching others the Word of God will renew your spirit better than any vacation spot on earth.
How about spending a week teaching or assisting at a Bible Camp? This is a wonderful opportunity for our youth to interact with other Christians while growing their Bible knowledge. You can be a role model that some of these children desperately need.
How will your children spend their summer? Will it be spent at sports camp, band camp, etc. or at Bible camp? Will they spend summer enjoying their own pleasurable pursuits or serving God? Summer vacation from school work is an opportune time to teach our children to think of others. Have them visit the nursing home or some of the shut-ins. Have them help the widows with yard and household chores. Older teens can help a young mother with her children, volunteering to entertain them for a few hours while mom gets some much needed rest or time to catch up on chores.
I am not saying that we should not take family vacations. We all need time to unwind and get away. What I am saying is that we need to make a greater emphasis on God and serving Him and have less prominence on our own pleasures. We can do both! We can serve God and have an enjoyable period of time to unwind and refresh. Is your vacation a time for self or a time for God?
Some say that keeping vows is “not that big of a deal.” We can see by the recent statistics on marriage and divorce that the marriage vows count for little in today’s society. In addition, what about our commitment to Christ when we were immersed in the waters of baptism? Did we promise to lose our lives for Christ and the Gospel? Did we agree that Jesus is our King and Lord? If He truly is our Lord, we must do the things He says (Luke 6:46). I keep hearing from those who claim to be members of the church that the reason they became Christians was to escape pain and suffering and to go to heaven instead of hell. Their minds (attitudes) seem to focus on what they can get from God rather than how they can serve Him. They seem to have forgotten that they did not create themselves, but that He created them (Psalm 100:3; Romans 1:21; Mark 8:36-37).
Judas Iscariot sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). Some today seem quite willing to sell their souls for a high paying job, a new house, a new car or even prestige or power. Both partners in a household will frequently work seven days a week to lay up treasure here on earth (Luke 12:16-21; Matthew 6:26), but they rarely will spend more than an hour on Sunday to serve the Lord. Would spending that much time each week make any other commitment prosper? Certainly not! So, why do people think it would please their Creator?
Others, claiming to be church brethren, cite family ties or commitments to explain why they have no time to assemble for study or worship or to work for Christ during the week. Maybe they believe they have to spend hours upon hours educating their children or helping them with homework. When Christians find it necessary to care for aged parents, aunts, or grandmothers in the home, they should find a way to work that care around church attendance. They cannot neglect their responsibility to care for the aged, but they must not use their care as an excuse to miss services on a regular basis. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
The Scriptures above appear to discourage Christians at times and cause them to want to explain them away rather than to believe and trust them. However, they also need to consider the promises given to those who do trust and obey. “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29).
Christians should remember the account of Hannah in the Old Testament who made a vow to God and kept it. Hannah promised that if God would give her a son, she would lend him to the service of God forever. God heard her prayer, gave her little Samuel, and she faithfully kept her promise. Not only did God bless her with a son, but later He gave her three more sons and two daughters (1 Samuel 2:20-21). There can be no doubt that the “mother heart” in Hannah made her ponder her choice many times. We know she never forgot Samuel because she made a little coat to give him at the annual feast every year (1 Samuel 2:19). She must have had great joy in remembering Samuel as she stitched.