A Day of Separation

Should any day be different from another? Do we need technology to keep us posted and aware of the day, who we are and why we are here?

If we read God’s Word ~ how He began with creation and set a pattern for days ~ we have a means of understanding life for us as He meant it to be.

Separation of Night and Day

We see the purpose of separation when we read of His separation of light and darkness and night and day. Every night we die to the world in sleep. We are raised to a new life each morning.

After His creation of the earth and its inhabitants, He made a difference in the week. Months pass into years, years into decades, decades into centuries, etc.

We plan weeks and months for different activities ~ vacations, education, etc. As creatures, we, like our Creator, create so that our lives are not monotonous, boring, and mundane. We try to make ourselves happy, prosperous, free for whatever we want, and on track with society according to what is available in the physical world.

Separation of Days

If our years and decades seem to lose their significance, we need to go back to the system God created for us ~ specifically the days of the week.

Separation of night and day was necessary for simple survival. Whether we believe in God or not, we all agree on three things: Everybody sleeps. Everybody eats. And at some point, everybody dies (until Jesus’ second return).

When the Lord our God created the heavens and the earth and rested the seventh day, He did not need to rest but He, as our heavenly Father, rested and set a precedent for those who belong to Him. HE planned the time and activity He knew we needed.

Before the Fall, man needed a seventh day for rest, but even more so, since the Fall, when we were separated from Him.

So, what difference does a seventh day make? Why did God provide this day before the Fall? The key is separation.

Separation of People

God created everything we would need ~ before He created man.He created the Sabbath (seventh day) as a separate day for a separate people. He separated the nation of Israel for Himself in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we understand that He has separated a people for Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are a separate people who are called to rest and worship on His Day with Him.

This separation is for now and eternity. Jesus told of the time when His people ~ His sheep ~ will be separated from the goats. Throughout God’s Word, He makes a difference in the righteous and the wicked, in that which is holy and the unholy, in the clean and the unclean, in light and darkness, etc. The ungodly will not stand in the judgment with the righteous (Psalm 1:5).

“Intelligent Separation from Turbulence”

The active observance of the Lord’s Day is what our pastor describes as “intelligent separation from turbulence” ~ the idea of God’s people coming out of the world and its chaos for one day a week. He used this phrase in his sermon last Lord’s Day evening as he has been preaching through the book of Exodus (Exodus 31:12-18).

Rest on the Lord’s Day, including His worship, is like dying to the world and waking the next morning refreshed and alive to face the turbulence with added wisdom, vigor, and grace.

Please listen to this special message on the subject of the fourth commandment as it applies to us as followers of Christ. Why We Need to Keep Sabbath Today.

 “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy,
and have separated you from the peoples,
that you should be Mine.”
Leviticus 20:26 NKJV

The KJV uses the word “severed” in this reference, indicating a total cutting off from those who are not His people. We are His, holy in Christ.

Dear heavenly Father, you are separate from your creation but as you planned to share your kingdom with us through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, teach us through your Word the difference Jesus makes in our lives. By your Holy Spirit separate us on this holy day in honor of our Lord who was cut off in order to separate us for yourself. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Reclaiming Sunday as the Lord’s Day

How often does history repeat itself? It sometimes takes centuries and new generations to forget the past. We observe the world and the culture and think that we are experiencing something new, when actually we are only replaying the scenarios our forefathers knew.

The Christian community is looking at the world through the same lens and blaming our culture for the current ills. We want to point a finger at everyone outside our personal environment.

If we look to the Word of God, we find much to explain why we are in such straits as we are.

In a country that began as “a nation under God,” at first living as those who belonged to God, we wonder how things took a different turn.  As His people, we find that we are not much different from our ancestors that liked what other nations had. In their covetousness, they wanted a king to rule over them.

He gave them what they wanted and so they served and yielded the fruit of their own doing. Without Him, they became like other nations and suffered the consequences of living without His direction, presence, and power.

Even when they worshipped Him, they made their own laws, going their own way in idolatry.

Years after Israel’s exile and deliverance from Egypt, they rebelled against His precepts. We see in Daniel 9:1-19 the ramifications of their disobedience.

In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:” Daniel 9:2-5

Prophecy of Jeremiah

“Between the second and the third wave (of their captivity), Jeremiah prophesied that the total time would be 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10). On the one hand this emphasized how serious the sin of Israel was. They would not be saved after a few years, as they expected. On the other hand, it showed God’s grace. For He promised to not forget them, but to save them in the end. And He did. The Persians took over the Babylonian Empire, and released the Jews. As Jeremiah had prophesied, 70 years after the first captivity, the first returnees arrived in Israel. The hard punishment that the Lord gave them for forsaking him, resulted in their repentance.” Biblword

Scripture demonstrates that the Babylonian exile lasted for 70 years and that exile allowed the land to rest for the 70 Sabbath years that the Israelites had failed to observe. (See this link.)

God’s Word for His People

God did not expect the whole world to live by the commandments of His kingdom. He issued His Word to a chosen people for their obedience and dependence upon Him to lead and care for them.

We cannot expect the world to abide by God’s Word but we, as His people, are called to a life separate from the world. When we continue to live as if we are not His people observing the same lifestyle as the world, we are the ones who are in jeopardy. We are the people under His judgment.

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17

What can we do to change the climate of our nation and the world? We cannot change the world. It will continue in rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ until He comes again in victory over all nations.

As His people, we must pray for ourselves to know His rule in our own hearts and lives.

We must fast and pray for His Church in the world; for knowledge of Him, repentance and faith among His people. We must rise up in obedience to Him and His Word ~ to reclaim His kingdom on earth in us.

We can by His power, start by reclaiming and observing the day He gave us for separation from the world, as a prelude and practice for the eternal rest, honoring Him above all else.

We must begin somewhere to make the presence of His kingdom known.

Pray and Prove

We are already in captivity to our own thoughts and desires ~ in exile to the world’s depravity and culture. We must pray and prove that we belong to Him. We must witness of a different state and a different lifestyle as we continue through this wilderness. We must seek His kingdom and His righteousness through the knowledge of His Word and His commandments. We must live by the filling and leading of His Holy Spirit.

Sunday as we know it, is the Lord’s Day, given by the Father to His Son upon completion of His mission to save His people from this world of sin. The Lord’s Day is His Day to gather His people to Himself, to celebrate His victory over sin for us.

For all that He sacrificed for us ~ for His propitiation for our sins ~ we need to show our love and sacrifice for Him. Even if you are the only one who sees the need, be a witness to others of His will for the Lord’s Day. Plan during the week to make the Lord’s Day His day that He shares with you.

How do you spend Sundays?

How would you change how you spend the Lord’s Day so as to honor and glorify Him?

It will change your whole life and make you a testimony of His grace.

Dear Father in heaven, my heart is heavy, burdened for your name’s sake, when I see your people use the Day you planned for your Son’s honor for themselves. Send your Holy Spirit for conviction; by your goodness, bring us to repentance, renewed faith,  devotion, and commitment to our Lord who gave Himself to save us from this present evil age. In His precious name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

What was the Babylonian captivity/exile?

The Law of the Lord is Perfect

English: Scroll of the Psalms

The Law of the Lord is Perfect is the text of Psalm 19:7-11, which speaks of the work of God’s Word in the life of the believer.

The Law of the Lord Is Perfect        

The law of the Lord is perfect,
Converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure,
Making wise the simple.

(refrain)
More to be desired are they than gold.
Yea, than much fine gold,
Sweeter also than honey
And the honeycomb.

The statutes of the Lord are right,
Rejoicing the heart:
The commandment of the Lord is pure,
Enlightening the eyes.
(refrain)

 The fear of the Lord is clean,
Enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true
And righteous altogether.
(refrain)
Music by Joanne Roberts Graham  

Dear Father in heaven. Lead us to meditate on your law day and night. On this special day, enable your ministers to proclaim your Word in power as you open our hearts to hear and respond. Use your Word today for conversion, wisdom, rejoicing, and enlightenment for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending

This hymn was unknown to me until a few years ago when I purchased an album by the Cambridge Singers under the direction of John Rutter. This rendition sounds like the prelude to Jesus’ triumphant return in His great glory. The second is a quieter, more personal expression.

Between the two are the lyrics to this hymn written by John Cennick, Collection of Sacred Hymns 1752, republished & altered by Charles Wesley, 1758. The tune Helmsley is usually attributed to Thomas Olivers, a Welsh Methodist preacher and hymn-writer but this hymn is sung to other tunes, also. This has been my favorite and seems to fit the text better than others. (The first rendition uses first, second, and last verses.)

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.
Rev. 1:7 

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Christ the Lord appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at nought and sold him,
Pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate him must, confounded
Hear the trump proclaim the day;
Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come, to judgment, come away!

Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All his saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet him in the air:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
See the day of God appear!

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory;
Claim the kingdom for thine own:
O come quickly, O come quickly;
Alleluia! come, Lord, come.

John Cannick 1752
Republished and altered by Charles Wesley in 1758           Tune: Helmsly

“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven,
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:11

Copy of music score for Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending

Soul Food for Sunday

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
Psalm 84:2

 I am addicted to the Word of God.  In it is the power of the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The power of the gospel to save (Romans 1:16) is the same power that raised Christ from the death, so that His life would be a continual flow of power in and through His people.  Feeding on His word daily is coupled with the Lord’s Day proclamation in the preaching of His word.  His word goes forth in power to those whose hearts and souls feed on Him.  How can we fast on the Lord’s Day when He has prepared a feast for us from His word?

Sword-Word-God-118735“For the word of God is quick, and powerful,
and sharper than any twoedged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12

By His Word and Spirit, He searches and knows my heart; He tries me and knows my thoughts, sees any wicked way in me; and leads me in the paths of righteousness (Psalm 138:23-24; 23:3).

 “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

I need His word ~ the same word that penetrated my being ~ to permeate, and perpetuate the life of Christ in and through me; for His sanctification by the “washing of the water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing:
the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life.”

John 6:63

Through His Word are all God’s promises made and fulfilled in Christ, the living Word.

For he satisfieth the longing soul,
and filleth the hungry soul with goodness
.”
Psalm 107:9

“I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”
Psalm 130:5

“Whom have I in heaven but thee?
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth:
but God is the strength of my heart, 
and my portion for ever.”
Psalm 73:25:26

sarasota-tropical-garden-design“And the Lord shall guide thee continually,
and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones:
and thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11

Dear Father, as you bring us this day into your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise, open our hearts to your word, that our souls may be fed, nourished, and receiving the bread of life in Christ, your Son, and your Spirit, knowing the abundance of His life within us. Let us this week, in the obedience of faith, be about our Father’s business of life, doing all your will ~ to your glory and our joy.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

The Greatness and the Power of the Lord God

Thine, O Lord is the greatness,
and the power,
and the glory,
and the victory,
and the majesty:
for all that is in the heaven
and in the earth is thine;

...riches and honor and might...

 Now therefore, our God,
we thank thee,
and praise thy glorious name.

1 Chronicles 29:11-13

Image: Pixabay 3793052

Celebration of a Resurrection

Many people come to this particular Lord’s Day to honor or celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A lot of time and money are spent on this day to present a grand performance.

For some, it is simply a season called Easter. Even as for the Christmas season, people who have no thoughts of God join their families or friends for a meal.

Those of a different faith came through our neighborhood this past week, handing out invitations for their once-a-year presentation. It sounded like a spectacular event ~ even to surpass the resurrection, itself.

It was a joy for me to tell them that we plan and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ every Lord’s Day.

They continued to tell me how great their event would be.  I continued to tell them how great ours is every week. They left, after asking what church I attended.

Once a year cannot compare to the planning and celebration of Christ’s resurrection every week; as a taste of, and planning toward that final gathering.

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven,
and which are on earth; even in him: 
Ephesians 1:10

Faith in a man who actually “rose from the dead” brings us head-on, face-to-face with this man who claimed to be God; died for the “sins of His people;” and was raised in victory over death. His resurrection was the final presentation planned to deliver us once-for-all from death to eternal life (Hebrews 9:24-28).

This man is the center of all of life, for every day and everything.

I will declare thy name unto my brethren,
in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
Hebrews 2:12-13

Faith brings us daily to worship at Jesus’ feet and ~ at least ~ weekly, to worship and celebrate His resurrection and our salvation, with His people. We, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, OPC (Reformed) also “remember His death” every week, in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.

We bear no judgment upon those who worship differently; we rejoice greatly in what we have.  If they have something we don’t have, we don’t miss or need it. We have Christ, His Word, and Spirit ~ we have everything.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
 Philippians 4:4

Father, we thank you for another Lord’s Day; for this day of worship with your people. Thank you for each week, remembering what we have heard and learned from your Word; the truth that is transforming us by the renewing of our minds, and conforming us to His image. Thank you for pastors that lead and feed your flock; for your Word and Spirit that continually prepare us for the next Lord’s Day, and for the glory that you have planned for us in that final gathering in Christ. In Jesus’ name, we praise you. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google