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

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, the 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, seeing any wicked way in me; and leads me in the paths of righteousness.

 “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.

“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 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.

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Celebration of a Life

(Stay with me—the best wine is reserved for last.)
Our children and grandchildren came today to celebrate the birthday of our youngest child, our daughter, Lee. For more than forty years we have witnessed what God, our heavenly Father, has been doing in this one life—“beforehand ordained” to be born of the earth, and of heaven.
How grateful I am that she has a new mother, for I was not able to give her eternal life. As a child she exhibited traits of someone else’s child. (At times I thought she was perfect; she was not at all like me.)  She attested to her new birth at the age of fifteen when she was baptized and formerly became a member of Christ’s church.

Though we drifted apart over the years we have since been drawn together in a new way through the difficult times—“everything working together” to conform  both of us to the image of Christ.

I lived part of my life through her, for she had a life I did not have.  God enabled me to see what He can do, beyond what any earthly parent can do.  Perhaps this was part of His plan for me to see beyond myself to Him.

This week as I have been preparing for this celebration the thought came that revealed the blessing that God put in my life all these years.  If I could have lived the life of another woman here on this earth I would have wished for the life He gave my daughter.
That is how much I love the daughter that He gave me.

Celebration of  THE LIFE

Now that we have celebrated the life of our daughter today we are continuing our plans for tomorrow.  Every day and every week is the time for preparation for the Lord’s Day—the day we celebrate the Life from which all life comes.

“For by Him (Jesus Christ) were all things created that are in heaven and in the earth…and by Him all things consist.  For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness (life) dwell.” Colossians 1:16-19
And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16

Christ exhibited this Life in human form and then sacrificed that physical life that we might receive eternal life through Him.
Those who can testify of their new birth—new life in Christ—will celebrate the eternal life of Jesus Christ on the Lord’s Day.  It is the inheritance we have in Him as children of the living God, our heavenly Father.
We meet together with his other sons and daughters to worship and adore the one who gave His life that we might live with Him, forever.

At Christ Reformed Church we are invited every Lord’s Day to His table to feast on this life—His body broken for us; His blood shed for us—all for us, that we might be all for Him.

My heavenly Father blessed me with a precious daughter and son here on this earth, both originating with His Son.  Through new life in Him, supernaturally by His own Spirit, He continues to bless me and promises this for eternity.
Even in the years of my estrangement from Him Christ compensated for me and in His timing brought me to know His love for me.  Now the only life I desire is the life of Christ; His life in me, and my living in Him.   This is how much I love the Son given to me.

“He who has the Son has Life.”
1 John 5:12

Father, open our eyes to see ourselves as we are without you.  Reveal Christ to us as our only hope of life for this world and for eternity.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen

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)

Profaning the Sabbath

“My soul, how hast thou profaned that day thy God hath sanctified! How hast thou encroached on that which Heaven hath set apart!  If thy impatience cannot act a Sabbath twelve hours, what happiness canst thou expect in a perpetual Sabbath?  Is six days too little for thyself, and two hours too much for thy God?”
~ Francis Quarles 1592-1644 (From Horatius Bonar‘s Words Old and New)

Dear Father, let us not presume to think that we have an interest in Heaven if we have no interest in You.  Why would we want to spend eternity with You if we have no desire to spend a day with You now?  Forgive us, and by Your own Spirit draw us to Yourself in Christ with Your people today. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.