Weston, a good place to start is to think about what you should do on the Lord's Day. If you focus on the many blessings that come with a full Lord's Day, your day will be full enough without worrying about what you can't do.
What I am getting at is that we should look forward to the Lord's Day as a goal and a beacon, rather than looking at all things we shouldn't be doing. Trying to avoid doing a list of things always reminds me of trying to drive by looking in the rear-view mirror. You are focusing on where you've been and what you've done, and not on the goal: worship of our Lord.
So, generally speaking, lay your daily cares aside for the day. Focus on worship, on Scripture, on prayer, on fellowship with others in the Lord. Relax from worrying about the world.
The general principles in the Shorter Catechism are helpful:
Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.
Note that worldly employments and recreations are lawful, but they are reserved for all the other days. That's a fairly simple thing, and it's not at all hard to realize what is a worldly employment or recreation. There really is no need for line drawing: If it is something you normally do during the week, it is probably something to set aside. Of course, the works of necessity and mercy also fall into a fairly broad category.
My point is to keep the big picture in mind. The focus of the Lord's Day is worship, public and private. That is very broad. It includes attending the stated services, fellowship with believers, personal time praying and reading Scripture, perhaps reading good works by Christian authors, perhaps spending time contemplating the blessings God has given you. The things one can properly do on the Sabbath would fill it completely.
Anything that distracts us from these things is properly set for another day.
And, by the way, that includes spending too much time trying to figure out what is proper and not proper. If you spend a significant portion of the Lord's Day agonizing or rationalizing whether you can do a particular thing, you have spent that time distracted from your purpose, which is to worship God.
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Right, and that is a good approach. But I don't want to say that you should forget about noting what amounts to sinful things on the Lord's Day. It's just that it should not be your primary focus.
Originally Posted by Weston Stoler
It's like guardrails. You should always know where they are, but it doesn't do you much good to spend all your time staring at them.
So, during the week, it is a good thing to set aside some time reflecting upon what you tend to habitually do that distracts you from worship. That is an exercise that is easily forgotten.
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