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

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.

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.

The Day of All Days

All things in heaven and earth‘That in the dispensation of the fullness 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

Here, in a few words, is the “mystery of  God’s will” revealed. This supernatural event will surpass all others. Creation, the incarnation, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ will all pale in comparison to this day that He has prepared for His people and His eternal kingdom.  That will be GLORY for you and for me.

As I look forward to this event, as I live in light of this promise and this vision, LIFE here has a profound meaning. Each day in prayer and Bible study, meditation, and intercession, fellowship, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and proclamation of the gospel, is in anticipation of that day.

Every day is a day of preparation, especially today—THE LORD’S DAY.  Our heavenly Father prepared this day from the time of creation for that final Sabbath with Him. When Christ was raised from the dead the Christian Sabbath was established, not only for celebrating His resurrection and our new life in Him, but for each Lord’s Day to be a rehearsal for that grand and glorious day when He, the Lord, Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

“This is the day which the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

Dear Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, make us to know the glory of your presence today, as we seek to worship you in Spirit and in truth with all your saints, here on earth and in heaven—for your glory and our joy. In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen.
Fran
(Original post ~ 2011)
Image: Google

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 Everlasting Covenant and The Eternal Sabbath

Eventually writers get beyond the point of explaining how they came to the knowledge of what they write and just write what they have learned. Perhaps this is the difference in a theologian and a simple disciple of Christ, (the sheep) like me.

The new wine after twenty-two years is still new and sometimes I have to write about how God has grown me with this new wine. This is the case of the two subjects here. Until a few years ago I had never heard that God relates to man only through covenant. Since His creating everything in covenant with His Son and the Holy Spirit, “creating man in our image,” He has established covenants with men; the covenant of works and the covenant of grace (the everlasting covenant established and fulfilled in Christ.)

The first man Adam, never entered into covenant with God, but refused to accept this relationship with Him.

His people could not enter into His sabbath rest because of unbelief in the covenant.  (Hebrews 3:18-19)

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What is a Covenant?
If this is God’s way of relating to us it behooves us to find its meaning. Still not understanding all that it entails, nor its ramifications, I continue to seek understanding through God’s word and prayer.

Basically (for the sheep’s point of view) a covenant is an agreement between two parties (persons). One of the two is the initiator of the covenant, whose work is to bring the second party (person) into the agreement. The first party must reveal and present the content and the intent of the covenant to the second party. A covenant can be understood as a set of rules established by the first party; with its purposes and promises.

God, Creator and Initiator
God as the initiator established His covenant through His Son, Jesus Christ, before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:9) The world was created through Him; all things consist in Him; and in Him all God’s fulness dwells (Colossians 1:15-19). (Is it any wonder that we must believe that there is no life apart from His Son?)
All things are sustained and fulfilled in the power of His Holy Spirit.  All three persons of the Godhead are parties of the first part of the covenant. They each have their place in the presentation, the preservation, and the perseverance of those in the covenant.

I like to think of the covenant as a house or building that is constituted for the protection and provisions of those who are brought in. His covenant is our home.
It is where He teaches us what He will do and work in us through His covenant. Hopefully this is enough for the basic understanding of His covenant, which He has established for His people.

“They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying,
Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant
that shall not be forgotten.”
Jeremiah 50:5

The Eternal Sabbath
The eternal Sabbath is similar in that He, in the three persons of the Godhead, provided the Sabbath by His own work and initiation. He, by His work of creation, established the first Sabbath, the seventh day, of His rest. Jesus, by His work of redemption, established the first day, of His rest. The Holy Spirit is still in the process of presenting the covenant and bringing God’s people through the covenant into His eternal rest.

For us, the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, is lived in observance of the covenant, with a resting and remembering all that He has done and is continuing to do. As we look forward to that eternal Sabbath promised in the everlasting covenant we worship and live the day, in light of the promises, as if we were there with Him. (Ephesians 1:3, 20: 3:10) He is the center of the day, even as He is the center of everyday and all of life.

 “And hath raised us up together,
and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
Ephesians 2:6

Life in Christ is life in the covenant.  He was given to us as our covenant.
Life in Christ is our resting in His work, just as we rest in God’s creation of us.  We can do nothing toward either birth, but as His Holy Spirit births Christ in us, we, in agreement, turn in repentance and faith entering into Christ, the everlasting covenant and our eternal rest.

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

Dear Father, thank you for your covenant, established in Christ your Son, and for that eternal rest into which you have brought us, now and for eternity.  Let us live this day in honor and remembrance of Him as your covenant to us.  In the power of your Spirit, fill us with the fulness of your truth to worship and live in praise to you everyday.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Related Article:
The Baptist Covenant of Grace ~ The New Covenant

The Christian Sabbath ~ A Sheep’s View

I approach this subject as I do all others concerning the kingdom of God. I am as a sheep led by that great shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ; and also a servant of the one who has saved me from the slaughter. No longer one who leads and teaches, now I see only Him and His teaching; if perhaps documenting for a legacy what I have seen and continue to see of His kingdom here on earth ~ a prelude of that which is promised for eternity.

We refer to the Christian Sabbath as the Lord’s Day, since, through Christ’s death for our deliverance from sin, and His resurrection as the sure hope of a new life and eternity with Him, He established a new day of rest in Himself. He is our Sabbath; He is our eternal rest. He is Lord of the Sabbath; and He established His own day when He rose in victory over sin and death and ascended to the throne with all power in heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18)

The Lord’s Day and Worship
The Christian Sabbath ~ the Lord’s Day ~ was established for a different worship than the seventh day. The seventh was established under the law, for a day and a worship that was limited until the law of grace was brought to us in Christ. We no longer worship in the letter of the law in fear of the Lord’s wrath, bringing sacrifices of dead animals for atonement, but from the law written on our hearts and minds.

How we worship on this day depends on how we view the Lord’s Day. As sheep, recipients of the life of Christ and delivered from the slaughter of the former sabbath we bring our praises and thanksgiving to Him. We see worship on this day as an integral part of private and family worship on other days; a bringing together what we have experienced during the week of His presence and His power of salvation.

The Bridge to Eternal Rest
To know Him, His love for me in His suffering and sacrifice is to love Him. To love Him is to love His day. To understand this day and to see it from His perspective we have to know Him personally, as Lord and Savior; to follow Him through the week to what we know as the eighth day and the first day. The end of the week flows into the Lord’s Day, ending in a perpetual praise and worship; beginning a new week in obedience of faith to Him and His word; and preparing for the next Lord’s Day.

Donghai-Bridge-2
It is His day as He has become our bridge to the eternal sabbath.  “The word Sabbath seems to have derived from the verb sabat, meaning to stop, to cease, or to keep. Its theological meaning is rooted in God’s rest following the six days of creation
(Genesis 2:2-3).”  (The Bible Dictionary) The fourth commandment means more to the Christian than it did to the Israelites because we see it as the forerunner of the Christian sabbath. It was used to remember God’s work in creation and His salvation for the Israelites. They were required to offer bloody sacrifices through the priests offerings for atonement for their sins. Those sacrifices were abolished when Jesus, the Lamb of God was sacrificed once and for all time, for all His people in every generation from every nation.

This is the new day, through His sacrifice, that we remember and keep holy unto Him. God, the Father rested from His work of creation. Jesus Christ, the Son has rested from His work of redemption; and now sits in victory as our merciful and faithful High Priest interceding for us at the right hand of the Father until we are there at rest with them. We rest in Him and His work now, as the Holy Spirit continues to lead us in a continual worship in preparation for that eternal rest and worship.

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,
came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
 And, behold, there was a great earthquake:
for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
And the angel answered and said unto the women,
Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Matthew 28:1-6

 Dear Father, open our eyes to see the living Christ. Let us by your Spirit know you, in obedience of faith worship you in spirit and truth today, and throughout this week know your presence and power. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

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