But, Not TODAY

There are things I need to do;
But, Not TODAY

I need to do laundry;
But, Not TODAY

I need to clean house;
But, Not TODAY

I need to shop;
But, Not TODAY

I need to reply to emails;
But, Not TODAY

I want to meet a friend for lunch;
But, Not TODAY

Yard work needs to be done;
But, Not TODAY

Cooking needs to be done for Saturday’s family reunion.
But, Not TODAY

This day is the gift of one day out of seven for me to spend with the Lord, to celebrate His atoning work; the day He provided for me to acknowledge my rest in Him; a day different from all others, in preparation and practice for that day when He, my Lord, shall return, to take me with all His family to that eternal rest with Him.

He has something each Lord’s Day for us, a special blessing that is different from the blessings on other days. I do not want to miss what He has prepared for me.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for giving us your Son, the Lord of the Sabbath, to lead us in your path to a perfect day of rest. By the power of your Holy Spirit, engage our hearts today to worship you through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We bring all that we are, spirit, soul, and body, as a living sacrifice to you. Let this day be holy unto Him in honor of His great love and sacrifice for us. In His name, we pray. Amen.

The Lord is in His holy temple;
The Lord is in His holy temple;
Let all the earth keep silence.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Keep silence, keep silence, before Him.
Habakuk 2:20

Today is the Lord’s Day

In my world

In my thoughts

In my heart

In my plans

In my words

In my actions

In my hands

In me.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride
on the heights of the earth;

I will feed you with the heritage of
Jacob your father,

    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 

Isaiah 58:13-14

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:24-25

Dear Father in heaven, you have given us this day to celebrate life in Christ your Son, to set aside the world and our participation in it; to remember and praise you; to worship you. Today we worship in anticipation of the day of our Lord, when He shall bring us to that eternal glory with you. Lead us today, by your Spirit. Though we cannot meet with your people in worship, make us to know your presence with us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Value of the Lord’s Day

The worth of what we have is proven by how we spend it. The person who values the small amount of money that he has will spend it wisely on what is important to him. He, in understanding his needs, will spend his money on necessities before he buys something trivial.

The same is true with the spiritual blessings that God gives us.   The Lord’s Day is one of those blessings and is needful for His children. If this was not so He would not have placed such a high priority on it and in it. If it is so valuable to Him it should also be to us as His children.

“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price,

went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”  
Matthew 13:45-46

oyster-wound-brings-forth-a-pearlWhere do we find in God’s word the value of the Christian Sabbath? I believe that we discover this in the pattern that was given for the first Sabbath. I have read books that are focused on the Lord’s Day, its ordinances set forth by the Jewish Sabbath, and the transition to the first day of the week as the honor given to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath. I have come to my understanding, by way of prayer and study, to peace and commitment in the value of the Lord’s Day. My conclusion can be summed up in the statements and scriptural references found in the Shorter Catechism. Many have found this as a teaching basis for an introduction to the Christian Faith. Presbyterians and Baptists have used it alike, except for the doctrines on baptism.

Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
Like many other things of Biblical teaching some things are spoken, but not practiced.
There is more written in the Scriptures and in the Shorter Catechism about the fourth commandment than any other commandment. Does this not prove the value God has placed on it? When he set aside the seventh day he blessed it and hallowed it. We understand this to mean that the Lord’s Day is also blessed because it the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, the day of victory over sin and death for His people. This is the value of the Lord’s Day that is placed on the Christian faith and by His grace given to us. Let me share with you what is derived from God’s word and the doctrine that was established and accepted in the early church, based on the first day as the Lord’s Day and the Christian Sabbath.

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.

 Q 61: What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A: The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

“ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable: and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Isaiah 58:13

Here was the settling point for me, and how I arrived at the value God has placed on the Lord’s Day, in honor of Christ Jesus, His Son, and our Lord. The same value placed on the Jewish Sabbath after God’s work of creation applies to the day that is honorable to Christ, the second person of the Trinity, after His work of redemption.

Commands and Promises
With His commands come promises. If we spend our time as He desires for us, of which He is worthy, here is the promise that follows in verse 14.

“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

How much more is the importance of sanctifying the Lord’s Day? His purpose for the first day of each week is that we spend our time with Him, in the public and private worship and fellowship of the Father and the Son in Spirit and truth. As He was refreshed after His six-day work of creation (Exodus 31:17) His desire for us is to experience this refreshing after our work week.   This promise was made to the heritage of Jacob. The Israelites were God’s people and so are we, as Abraham’s offspring ~ children of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and the church and body of Christ.

The Lord’s Day is meant to be a delight for us as we spend the whole day on Him, with Him. This is the practice and the preparation for that eternal day with Him. If you have never experienced a whole day with the Lord on His day, I encourage you to pray and seek His guidance for how He wants you to meet Him, in obedience to His word. You will not be disappointed. Your week will take on a different meaning as He causes you “to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feeds you with the heritage of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ~ the eternal bread of life.

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious;”
1 Peter 2:7

Dear heavenly Father, as you created and rested; and was refreshed after your labor, teach us how to rest on the Lord’s Day; in you and all that you and your Son and your Holy Spirit have done for us.  Refresh us by your word and your Spirit in all that is holy and valuable to you.  Keep us holy, that we may keep your day holy.  Fill us with your presence and power for the work you have planned for us this week; and bring us to your refreshing in Christ next Lord’s Day.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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R
elated article: A Summary of John Owen on the Sabbath

The Glory of the Lord’s Day

0001yPI am writing about the Lord’s Day to document for my own memory what the Lord has shown me about today, which I have learned to call the Lord’s Day. This day has different meanings for different people. Its meaning for me makes it a precious day for it is my Lord’s Day.

For many years I have been convicted of what God not only says, but what He implies in His own word, about this day. With the conviction has come more revelation, more understanding, more commitment, more discipline and more joy. In His word I see a continual pattern of God’s will, His working, and His way established for His kingdom here on earth. As His children and joint-heirs of His kingdom with Christ, His Son, we not only have the privilege of the written law, but we have the law by His Spirit written on our hearts and in our minds. He not only reveals through His written word what He wants us to know about Him and His kingdom, but also by His Spirit works it in our hearts and lives. Remember that what I write is all from “a sheep’s view.”  I want to share more on the subject as the Lord leads.

The Pattern of Rest
The pattern from the beginning of time with His creation is continued through the work of redemption until we are brought to our final destination on what will be an eternal Lord’s Day. The first was a resting from the Father’s labor; the second, the Son resting from His labor; and the third, a resting for His entire kingdom, as the Holy Spirit works in us, preparing us for that eternal rest in glory.

There is much that I could include in this document, but a lot of it would be what Jesus’ apostles, the early church fathers, the Puritans, the Reformers, and theologians have said. Documented in the London Confession, and others published before them are the statements of faith concerning the Sabbath. It is part of studying these, especially in the memorization of the Shorter Catechism with Scriptural proofs, that my convictions have been confirmed. Continuing to review these in prayer I seek to know and obey God’s word and glorify Him in this present day.

I share today a scheduled Bible reading from Luke 23:52-56 for September 20.

“This man (Joseph of Arimathaea) went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”

Jesus had finished His work of redemption and His body was laid to rest until the day of His resurrection. It was the day of preparation for the Sabbath. Why was Jesus’ death scheduled for this day? I have not searched this question, nor do I write here of its significance, except that it was God, the Father’s plan; and He established the Lord’s Day in covenant with His Son as the Christian Sabbath, the day in which we would weekly celebrate the risen Lord and Savior.

Those who stayed around after Jesus’ crucifixion was Joseph, one of the counselors, who had not consented to Jesus’ death, and the women who had followed Him from Galilee. The apostles, in fear, had scattered. Joseph asked to take care of Jesus’ body, and the women returned home, and prepared spices and ointments for His burial. But these would never be used; because when they returned, after the Sabbath, the law of a seventh-day had been displaced by a new law of life in Christ’s resurrection. They rested the sabbath day according to the commandment, while Christ was establishing a new covenant for God’s people. He was resting while they were resting, but in a different rest for a different purpose.

Living in Projection of the Eternal Sabbath
Preparation for the Lord’s Day and the practice of it today is in the fulfillment of God’s promises for an eternal sabbath. When we live, projecting from one Lord’s Day to another, we are practicing and preparing for Christ’s glorious return and eternity with Him. We go through each day of the week, in private worship, and making preparation under this projection, look forward to spending the day in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, as He has appointed in His word.

God had appointed Joseph to ask for and prepare Jesus’ body for burial. We are commanded by Him to observe the day in His honor and in celebration of our new life in Him. We are to worship God through Him and the Holy Spirit in spirit and truth each Lord’s Day. We take part in the body of Christ, the church, in communion with His risen body, through the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day, remembering His death until He comes again.

Would I have waited to see what or who would have been there for Jesus after His death? How do we now remember His death and resurrection? This is no longer a question for me; but in response to His sacrifice for me, mine is a sincere desire and commitment to spend the Lord’s Day with Him, without any division of time for other things.

Next Lord’s Day, Lord willing, I will share some of the special parts of God’s word in reference to this day, and the Sabbath.

How do you prepare for the Lord’s Day?

0001PV

Observation of the Sabbath

“It is a gross mistake to consider the Sabbath as a mere festival of the Jewish Church, deriving its whole sanctity from the Levitical law.  The abrogation of that law no more releases the worshippers of God from the observation of the Sabbath, than it cancels the injunctions of filial piety, or the prohibitions of theft and murder.  The Christian stands obliged to the observance of a Sabbath.  By keeping a Sabbath, we acknowledge a God and declare we are not atheists; by keeping one day in seven, we protest against idolatry, and acknowledge that God who made the heavens and earth; and by keeping our Sabbath on the first day of the week, we protest against Judaism, and acknowledge that God who, having made the world, sent His only begotten Son to redeem mankind.  The observation of the Sabbath is a public weekly assertion of the two first articles in our creed–the belief in God the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” ~  Samuel Horsley (1733-1806)

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 more and more with your Spirit, especially today; lead us, open our eyes and ears and our hearts to conceive of 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; even if it means that some who claim the name of Christ will throw stones at us.  Lead us to seek Christ, to live for, and worship You, and Christ alone.  In His name we pray and praise you. Amen.