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

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

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

********************

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