John Bunyan on the Lord’s Day

 For he waited for the city which has foundations,
whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:10

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OF THE LORD’S DAY, SERMONS, AND WEEK DAYS
John Bunyan

 “Have a special care to sanctify the Lord’s day; for as thou keepest it, so it will be with thee all the week long.

Make the Lord’s day the market for thy soul; let the whole day be spent in prayer, repetitions, or meditations; lay aside the affairs of the other part of the week; let thy sermon thou hast heard be converted into prayer: Shall God allow thee six days, and wilt not thou afford him one?

In the church, be careful to serve God; for thou art in his eyes, and not in man’s.

Thou mayest hear sermons often, and do well in practicing what thou hearest; but thou must not expect to be told thee in a pulpit all that thou oughtest to do, but be studious in searching the Scriptures, and reading good books; what thou hearest may be forgotten, but what thou readest may better be retained.

Forsake not the public worship of God, lest God forsake thee, not only in public, but in private.

In the weekdays, when thou risest in the morning, consider,

1. Thou must die.
2. Thou mayest die that minute.
3. What will become of thy soul.
4. Pray often.

At night consider,

1. What sins thou hast committed.
2. How often thou hast prayed.
3. What hath thy mind been bent upon.
4. What hath been thy dealing.
5. What thy conversation.
6. If thou callest to mind the errors of the day, sleep not without a confession to God, and a hope of pardon.

Thus every morning and evening make up thy accounts with Almighty God, and thy reckoning will be the less at last.” John Bunyan’s Dying Sayings.

Gracious Father, as you spoke through your servant in centuries past, speak these truths in our hearts today. Fill us with your Holy Spirit as we live in your presence every day — in our private devotions as well as our public worship. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

 

For to speak the truth, there are
but few that care thus to spend their time.
John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

The Lord’s Day

This being the Lord’s Day, what should our main prayer be?  This being the first day of the week, the day our Lord and Savior rose from the dead, to prove His Lordship over all things—for Whom should our prayers be, on this day?

“Let the peoples praise thee, O God;
let all the peoples praise Thee.”
Psalm 67:3

Father, direct our hearts, these new hearts, to you, today especially; seeking the honor of Your Name, Your Kingdom, Your Will, here on earth.  Unite our hearts to fear Thy Name (Psalm 86:11) that you receive the honor due to You, our great Father, God, and Creator.

As we have been given a vision of true worship in Revelation 4, open heaven to us today and by Your Spirit, give us a new glimpse into Your sanctuary of glory, seeing Christ sitting at Your right hand. Raise us up to sit in heavenly places with Him, today.

While it is today, reveal Your glory to us, that we may increase in the knowledge of You.

Have mercy upon us, in our spiritual blindness, for we cannot see You as we ought.  And if we cannot see, how can we worship as we ought.  Send the light into our darkness—the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Let us not be led by our own spirits, nor by those who are blind; give us shepherds on this day, who know You, who love You and care for Your sheep, those who would teach us of You and lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake. 

Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to reveal “the way, the truth, and the life” that is in You.  Let us not be deceived in following the traditions of men, but direct us into all truth by the power of Your Spirit of grace, according to the commandments of Your Holy Word.

Pour out Your Spirit upon Your people today, where You have chosen to place Your Name; upon Your preachers; that Your Word may be spoken through them.  

Bring Your Spirit to honor Your Word as it is read and preached today.  Let it, by Your power, fill our hearts and authorize Your commandments in us. Put the fire of Your Spirit in Your Word, and consume our dross.  Let it penetrate cold, stony hearts; permeate our whole being and the life of Your church.  Let it perpetuate the life of Christ, our Lord, and Savior in and through us. Then shall we bring others to Your house on Your day for Your worship—as You, in Jesus, call us to this Holy Day each week.

“I will declare thy name unto my brethren,
in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
Hebrews 2:12

I want to see You today, to experience the glory of Your presence as You revealed Yourself in times past. Make today a supernatural event for history, for a remembrance, for a record. You did not live a righteous life for us, give that life as a sacrifice for our sins, and ascend to the Father’s right hand, as a last mighty act.  You have taught us in Your Word that You did all this that You might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, (Hebrews 2:17) to bring us to Him.

You have taught us how You are the mediator of our worship. Greater than Moses, You bring us to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels (Hebrews 12:22).  

This is the day You have made
(for yourself, a day to remember and celebrate YOU)
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

 Do Your work in us today, as it pleases You. Let us be filled with the Spirit; speaking to each other of You, and with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart to You.”  Ephesians 5:18-19

“Inhabit our praises.”
Psalm 22:3

Holy Spirit, I pray for Your power today to reveal the Father and the Son of glory as we gather with all the saints, here or earth and in heaven before Your presence.

 “Let us comprehend with all saints what is the breadth,
and length, and depth, and height;
and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge,
that we might be filled with all the Father’s fullness.”

Ephesians 3:18-19  

Intercede for us, today, for we know not how we ought to pray.

Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, feed us with that manna from above as we seek You today. 

Have mercy on us as poor sinners. Forgive our iniquities.

Humble us in Your presence and keep us from temptation, especially this day.

Let us celebrate at Your Table today, knowing You are holy, good, and gracious, as we look forward to that great Lord’s Day to come.

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory,
and honor, and power,
for thou has created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Revelation 4:11

Bring us to deny ourselves today, to set aside our own pleasures (Isaiah 58:6-14) to do Your pleasure.  Teach us Thy way, O Lord.  Show us the way to the old paths, wherein is the good way.—for Your glory and our joy.

 “For Thine is the Kingdom,
And the Power,
And the Glory, Forever.
Amen”

Words of Life ~ ASTONISHED

In both the Old and New Testaments, it is the Lord God who astonishes His creatures. There is, however, a stark difference in the use of the word in the Hebrew and the Greek.

The Old Testament refers mostly to the astonishing power of God in His punishment upon His people and other nations. The New Testament speaks of the astonishing life, work, and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek is the same word used for amazed.

Does anything amaze us, anymore?  Or are we simply being amused?  Amusement engages the mind and the heart, appealing to the flesh and its sensations. The more amused, the less we are amazed.

It is amazing what men haved accomplished with the powers that God has given them.  Industry, technology, and giftedness in men, are amazing.  To think of how we communicate, e-mail, and receive documents is amazing to me.  We see all these developments and attribute it to the power of men.  I believe that had Adam been obedient, God would have allowed men to do more than they have, but man’s power has been harnessed by a weaker power since the Fall. It is amazing that with all these powers, we have not destroyed ourselves.  I am amazed that our Father has allowed rebellion to go on as long as He has. Through it all, He reveals His power over all things, circumstances, and time.
We are blessed when the Father opens our eyes to the wonders of His creation, His redemption, and continued revelations through His Word and Spirit. He keeps us in constant amazement.

Old Testament H074
Strong’s Concordance defines ASTONISHED, shamem shä·mām’; to be desolate, be appalled, stun, stupefy

And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.” Leviticus 26:32

“The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.”
Job 26:11

Jeremiah 2:12Jeremiah 4:9 speak of the desolation of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah speaks in the following references of desolation and hissing because of the plagues Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17

“Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.” Jeremiah 50:13

Ezekiel is astonished at the captivity of his people.

“Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.” Ezekiel 3:15

The Lord made the desolation of Tyrus a terror before men  

All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance.”
Ezekiel 27:35; Ezekiel 28:19

“And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” Daniel 8:27

The only reference to the astonishment of God’s grace in the Old Testament is in Daniel 3:24 when King Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the furnace.

New Testament G1605
Strong’s Concordance defines ASTONISHED, ekplēssō ek-plā’s-sō; to be struck with amazement, astonished, amazed

The first astonishment mentioned of Jesus was at the age of twelve in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

“And all that heard him were astonished
at his understanding and answers.”
Luke 2:47

Astonished at His Doctrine
The people were astonished at his doctrine: Matthew 7:28; Matthew 22:33

“And they were astonished at his doctrine:
for he taught them as one that had authority,
and not as the scribes.”
Mark 1:22


And the scribes and chief priests sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. Mark 11:18 

In his own country they were astonished at his wisdom and mighty works, Matthew 13:54; Mark 6:2

And the disciples were astonished at his words when Jesus spoke of the difficulty of those that trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God. Mark 10:24

“And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” Mark 10:26

Peter and those with him were astonished at the fish which they had taken. Luke 5:9

Astonished at His Healing
And people were beyond measure astonished at Jesus’ power to heal.
Mark 7:37

At the healing of Jairus’ daughter, they were astonished with a great astonishment Mark 5:42. And her parents were astonishedLuke 8:56

Astonished at His Resurrection

“Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonishedwhich were early at the sepulchre;” Luke 24:22

Astonishment Continued in the Early Church
Paul, on the road to Damascus, trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 9:6

The Jews which believed were astonished because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. Acts 10:45

They were astonished when prayer was answered for Peter’s release from prison. Acts 12:16

When Paul spoke to the sorcerer and caused his blindness, the deputy of Paphos believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. Acts 13:6-12

Father in heaven, who can know you and not be astonished? Open our eyes, ears, and hearts to see, hear, to experience your grace and glory, your greatness, goodness, and power in us as your children. Let us speak of our amazement of your kingdom here on earth and the vision of the glory that awaits us in eterntiy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

The Fullness of God in One Body

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is.

Hebrews 10:25

What happens when we neglect corporate worship?

A part of the body of Christ is missing.  Imagine that one of your fingers separated itself from your body or could decide on its own that it would not respond to you?  Usually, more than one member neglects to attend worship on the Lord’s Day.  So, imagine a finger, a foot, and one of your organs missing.  You are hindered from a full capacity of life. Jerry’s left leg was amputated twelve years ago.  He still enjoys life, but he will tell you that it is not a full life.

So, too, the body of Christ comes short of what it needs to operate at its fullness.  True — worship is planned and carried on for those who are there, but let’s imagine what worship looks like when the whole body is present and actively participating in the worship to which He calls us.

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you (everybody) the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1: 15-23

The church—each member—has its calling, as an heir of the riches of His glory.  It is our inheritance, as His saints. What Christ has secured in heaven is for all His body.  His fullness fills all members with all that we need to rule with Him in His kingdom. Christ as the authority and head over all things has given dominion and power to the members of His body.

Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-21 expresses the same truth.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto
him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

He is speaking of all believers, all members, of the body of Christ.  In this prayer, Paul is praying that our heavenly Father will give His Spirit–according to the riches of his glory to do the work in the hearts—in the inner man —–for what purpose? That they may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which is beyond (human) knowledge.

Can one member receive all?  Can one heart conceive of the love of Christ? No! It was never meant to be. It is beyond any one of us to know—to comprehend—such a love.  Christ, who is the fullness of the body, sends His Holy Spirit to fill each heart with its portion—its small measure. (Ephesians 4:16)  For who could hold such knowledge, such love as is ours in Christ.  It is His working to give each the portion of our inheritance allotted and to bring that measure together with the others.

When we neglect to meet with the other saints we not only fail to bring what we have received, but we miss the knowledge that we would have received from the other members. Some part of the love of Christ is withheld from the body, and we go lacking that which we could have received.

And so the members of the body of Christ go through the following days, weeks and years, wondering why life is not what it should be.  We are hungry and thirsty for something good, not understanding that all the fullness of life is in Christ; that our hunger and thirst will never be met outside the whole body of Christ, and we are withholding something that someone else needs. As members of one body, let us exhort one another for the faithful attendance to His worship and His Word.

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love
one toward another, and toward all men,
even as we do toward you:
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable
in holiness before God, even our Father,
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
with all his saints.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Father, we need the gift of your Holy Spirit to fill and stir each of our hearts with a measure of Christ’s love. Move us to bring that portion to our worship today so that we may all know the fullness and glory of your presence. In Jesus’ name, I pray and thank you. Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

In The Spirit on the Lord’s Day

What must it have been like—exiled on the Isle of Patmos,
because of his testimony for Christ? (Revelation 1)

John had no live band to lead him in worship, no accompaniment, no artificial light, no props, and no company. But he had his past experience with the Lord Jesus, the memories of living and walking in His footsteps, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The testimony for which he was exiled was the same power that was constantly with him.

He was chosen and prepared to receive such visions as he was given, and to put it in writing to be preserved for us.  John’s visions recorded in the Book of Revelation are not your everyday experience, or even a weekly example, of a worship that any of us can expect or hope for here on earth.  But it does serve to bring us to an understanding of the special day that the Lord’s Day became for His people.

It is a day to which we look forward, in anticipation of more of the revelation of the Spirit in our lives and our worship, when we are alone with the Lord or gathered with His people.  The same Spirit, by which we are born into His kingdom, is the same Spirit that leads to greater heights of understanding and finally to His glory.  He is the same presence and power that opens our minds and hearts to Christ, so that we desire to hear His voice, to see that just one, high and lifted up.  Being the center and focus of all our desires and worship, He is all that we seek.  We avoid all hindrances and distractions that take our attention away from Him, His Word and His plan for His worship.

The Holy Spirit and His Word (truth that is in and of Christ) lead us to cast all our crowns before Him, to humble ourselves before Him in silence, praise and adoration.  The same Spirit of which we are born, led, live, and walk, directs our hearts to Him, and reveals the things of God that He will never show us otherwise. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16)  This is worship in Spirit and truth. (John 4:24)

The power of His Word will separate us from the world, its methods, sounds, and designs, and by His Spirit bring us to discover Jesus Christ in a new light.  Who does not desire to see the lightnings, thunderings, and earthquakes that prayer and true worship bring to this earth—of which we are in such great need?


“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom
which cannot be moved,
let us have grace,
whereby we may serve God acceptably
with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29

Dear Father, fill us with more of your Spirit, especially today; lead us, open our eyes and ears and our hearts to  what you have prepared for us.  Show us great and mighty things we have not known—things that will enable us to bear witness of Christ in all that we do; even it means separation from everybody and all that we know.  Lead us to seek Christ, to live for, and worship You, and Christ alone.  In His name, we pray and praise you. Amen.

Words of Life ~ ARMOUR

(If you have not read our last post which leads into this one, here is the link.)

The Old Testament uses the word ARMOUR as relating to physical warfare – the dress of a soldier and his weapons. The New Testament uses the word ARMOUR in reference to spiritual warfare using the weapons of God.

Old Testament H3627
Strong’s Concordance defines ARMOUR kĕliy kel·ē’; from H3615; something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon)

We share two references, the most commonly known is in 1 Samuel 17:38 where David was at first armed with Saul’s armour, which David could not wear. He faced Goliath with only a stone and slingshot.

And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 1 Samuel 17:38

Jeremiah 50:25 speaks of the Lord’s armoury and the weapons of His indignation.

The Lord hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord God of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.

New Testament G3833
Strong’s Concordance for ARMOUR panoplia pä-no-plē’-ä; full armour, complete armour, includes shield, sword, lance, helmet, greaves, and breastplate|

The Armour of Light

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Romans 13:12

The Armour of Righteousness

 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 2 Corinthians 6:7

The Armour of God

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

 We stressed in our last post the need to Plan Your Day Around God’s Word. It all starts with God’s Word. We would not know of the need or the means of the Armour of God except through His Word. The whole armour of God is necessary for protection and surviving the warfare against Satan. Paul may have used the analogy from seeing soldiers in his imprisonment in Rome. Every part of the armour had its purpose as does the armour of the Christian, if we are to endure to the end. The belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer are all worn together.

We cannot go anywhere without these, else Satan will catch us unaware, find us defenseless, and overcome us.

I will not speak of each of these parts of our armour but for a more detailed description of each of these, I share a link for Charles Spurgeon Commentary on Ephesians 6.

Many Christians remain in despair or doubt about how to live in this world of sin and temptation. We need to use the manual to learn who we are in Christ and how we can overcome the work of the enemy in our lives.

Gracious Father, You promise to share your glory with those who overcome the enemy. Draw us more closely to you, train us and fit us with a graceful armour according to your design, for the victory you give us in Christ our Lord. In His name, we pray. Amen.
Fran
Image: Google

What a Difference a Day Makes

What a difference a different day makes!

 

Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest. Leviticus 23:3

Can you imagine a week with only six days?

Without the extra day, creation would have already been exhausted.  Without the Sabbath, we would never have the rest that our Father knew we needed.

From the beginning, by His own example, He established the pattern for His creation, specifically for His people.

It is a sign between me and
the children of Israel for ever;
for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth,
and on the seventh day he rested,
and was refreshed.
Exodus 31:17

On the seventh day, Jesus rested after He accomplished His work for our salvation. Our Lord’s Day of Resurrection established Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath for a new creation for Himself.

Our Refreshment
From my own experience, especially as I have gotten older, this day of rest is necessary, otherwise I would have to stop sometime during the week from exhaustion.  Beginning the day in worship with God’s people, and the afternoon resting, reading, and praying, gives me the refreshment I need for the week ahead.  Monday begins with a greater anticipation, assurance, and wisdom for the work that the Father has planned for me to do. I have heard of  many others who share the same experience, even those who are younger.

There are times when “the works of necessity and mercy” (Shorter Catechism Q 60) require an exception. In these times the Lord provides the strength that is needed for the week ahead, or the needed rest during the week.

Dear Father, we thank you for this Lord’s Day, for the glory of your presence in our worship, for the preaching of your word, prayers, the Lord’s Supper, the fellowship of your people; for families that rest together, and regroup for the week ahead.  Let us not miss what you have planned for us in your kingdom work this next week.  Let every day this week be a progression toward the next Lord’s Day, and each Lord’s Day a projection toward that glorious gathering with you in eternity.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.