Delight in the Sabbath

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

Image: Pixabay/David Mark

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

The Purpose of Jesus’ Resurrection

Most Christians go all-out this season of the year to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. What is the need of Christ’s resurrection the rest of the year? It is important that we as His disciples look into God’s word for His purpose for Christ’s death and resurrection. We are not covering this topic thoroughly but want to shed some light on this special time in the history of our Lord. The whole of God’s Word is to be studied in order to grasp the full meaning of this glorious victory that needs our attention and celebration every day of the year. We will post this week through next Lord’s Day our most-read articles on the subject of Jesus’ work for our salvation.

To Fulfill the Scriptures

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For New Life, Testing, Praise, Honor, and Glory of Jesus Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:1 Peter 1:3-7

For our Justification:

Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Romans 4:25

For our Assurance, Faith and Hope

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Acts 17:31

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1 Peter 1:21

And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. 1 Corinthians 6:14

To Reveal God’s Power

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: Romans 1:4

Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,Ephesians 1:20

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 2:6
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10

That We May Be Conformed to His Image

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29

That We May Follow in His Footsteps

Herein is love, not that we loved God,
but that he loved us,

and sent his Son to be the propitiation
for our sins.

 
Beloved, if God so loved us,
we ought also to love one another.

1 John 4:10-11

Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us:

and we ought to lay down our lives
for the brethren
.

1 John 3:16

Dear Father, keep us this day and every day in the reality of your redemption, loving you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Make the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ an ever-present working in our hearts and lives for everyday worship in spirit and truth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Fran

Image: Google

Reflections on a Lord’s Day in the Year of our Lord 2001

(Written on the afternoon of the Lord’s Day, September 23, 2001)

Imagine a soldier in the service of his country who is given an order. Instead of obeying, he says, “I cannot because I have something else  to do.” Or he says, “Let me check with my wife to see if we have other plans.”

As ludicrous as this sounds, was this not Adam’s reason for his dishonorable discharge. And is it not the reason for so many who fail to obey their call to active duty as soldiers of the cross. Our calling on this day of each week is to be in His house of worship to praise Him and to hear His Word, to renew our covenant with Him, and receive His grace for the following week.

In the afternoon of a Lord’s day in 2001, I was thinking of the gift of righteousness, the unspeakable gift of His grace, and the unsearchable riches of Christ  (Ephesians 3:8). My heart was quickened in the understanding of our Father’s overwhelming love and His redeeming grace for us (1 John 4:10).

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
2 Corinthians 9:15

We can give to Him only what He has given to us ~ our time and worship, our talents and all this life. The love, the gifts, and fruit of the Spirit ~ all that is from Him ~ when used for His glory, He gives again and again.

Dear Father in heaven, thank you that your grace continues to bring the fruit of the life of Christ in and through us. Fill us with your Holy Spirit today that we may worship you in spirit and truth; to spend this day faithfully with you. Prepare us to serve you this week. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

 

The Lord’s Day

This being the Lord’s Day, what should our main prayer be?  This being the first day of the week, the day our Lord and Savior rose from the dead, to prove His Lordship over all things—for Whom should our prayers be, on this day?

“Let the peoples praise thee, O God;
let all the peoples praise Thee.”
Psalm 67:3

Father, direct our hearts, these new hearts, to you, today especially; seeking the honor of Your Name, Your Kingdom, Your Will, here on earth.  Unite our hearts to fear Thy Name (Psalm 86:11) that you receive the honor due to You, our great Father, God, and Creator.

As we have been given a vision of true worship in Revelation 4, open heaven to us today and by Your Spirit, give us a new glimpse into Your sanctuary of glory, seeing Christ sitting at Your right hand. Raise us up to sit in heavenly places with Him, today.

While it is today, reveal Your glory to us, that we may increase in the knowledge of You.

Have mercy upon us, in our spiritual blindness, for we cannot see You as we ought.  And if we cannot see, how can we worship as we ought.  Send the light into our darkness—the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Let us not be led by our own spirits, nor by those who are blind; give us shepherds on this day, who know You, who love You and care for Your sheep, those who would teach us of You and lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake. 

Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to reveal “the way, the truth, and the life” that is in You.  Let us not be deceived in following the traditions of men, but direct us into all truth by the power of Your Spirit of grace, according to the commandments of Your Holy Word.

Pour out Your Spirit upon Your people today, where You have chosen to place Your Name; upon Your preachers; that Your Word may be spoken through them.  

Bring Your Spirit to honor Your Word as it is read and preached today.  Let it, by Your power, fill our hearts and authorize Your commandments in us. Put the fire of Your Spirit in Your Word, and consume our dross.  Let it penetrate cold, stony hearts; permeate our whole being and the life of Your church.  Let it perpetuate the life of Christ, our Lord, and Savior in and through us. Then shall we bring others to Your house on Your day for Your worship—as You, in Jesus, call us to this Holy Day each week.

“I will declare thy name unto my brethren,
in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
Hebrews 2:12

I want to see You today, to experience the glory of Your presence as You revealed Yourself in times past. Make today a supernatural event for history, for a remembrance, for a record. You did not live a righteous life for us, give that life as a sacrifice for our sins, and ascend to the Father’s right hand, as a last mighty act.  You have taught us in Your Word that You did all this that You might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, (Hebrews 2:17) to bring us to Him.

You have taught us how You are the mediator of our worship. Greater than Moses, You bring us to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels (Hebrews 12:22).  

This is the day You have made
(for yourself, a day to remember and celebrate YOU)
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

 Do Your work in us today, as it pleases You. Let us be filled with the Spirit; speaking to each other of You, and with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart to You.”  Ephesians 5:18-19

“Inhabit our praises.”
Psalm 22:3

Holy Spirit, I pray for Your power today to reveal the Father and the Son of glory as we gather with all the saints, here or earth and in heaven before Your presence.

 “Let us comprehend with all saints what is the breadth,
and length, and depth, and height;
and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge,
that we might be filled with all the Father’s fullness.”

Ephesians 3:18-19  

Intercede for us, today, for we know not how we ought to pray.

Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, feed us with that manna from above as we seek You today. 

Have mercy on us as poor sinners. Forgive our iniquities.

Humble us in Your presence and keep us from temptation, especially this day.

Let us celebrate at Your Table today, knowing You are holy, good, and gracious, as we look forward to that great Lord’s Day to come.

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory,
and honor, and power,
for thou has created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Revelation 4:11

Bring us to deny ourselves today, to set aside our own pleasures (Isaiah 58:6-14) to do Your pleasure.  Teach us Thy way, O Lord.  Show us the way to the old paths, wherein is the good way.—for Your glory and our joy.

 “For Thine is the Kingdom,
And the Power,
And the Glory, Forever.
Amen”

The Fullness of God in One Body

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is.

Hebrews 10:25

What happens when we neglect corporate worship?

A part of the body of Christ is missing.  Imagine that one of your fingers separated itself from your body or could decide on its own that it would not respond to you?  Usually, more than one member neglects to attend worship on the Lord’s Day.  So, imagine a finger, a foot, and one of your organs missing.  You are hindered from a full capacity of life. Jerry’s left leg was amputated twelve years ago.  He still enjoys life, but he will tell you that it is not a full life.

So, too, the body of Christ comes short of what it needs to operate at its fullness.  True — worship is planned and carried on for those who are there, but let’s imagine what worship looks like when the whole body is present and actively participating in the worship to which He calls us.

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you (everybody) the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1: 15-23

The church—each member—has its calling, as an heir of the riches of His glory.  It is our inheritance, as His saints. What Christ has secured in heaven is for all His body.  His fullness fills all members with all that we need to rule with Him in His kingdom. Christ as the authority and head over all things has given dominion and power to the members of His body.

Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-21 expresses the same truth.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto
him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

He is speaking of all believers, all members, of the body of Christ.  In this prayer, Paul is praying that our heavenly Father will give His Spirit–according to the riches of his glory to do the work in the hearts—in the inner man —–for what purpose? That they may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which is beyond (human) knowledge.

Can one member receive all?  Can one heart conceive of the love of Christ? No! It was never meant to be. It is beyond any one of us to know—to comprehend—such a love.  Christ, who is the fullness of the body, sends His Holy Spirit to fill each heart with its portion—its small measure. (Ephesians 4:16)  For who could hold such knowledge, such love as is ours in Christ.  It is His working to give each the portion of our inheritance allotted and to bring that measure together with the others.

When we neglect to meet with the other saints we not only fail to bring what we have received, but we miss the knowledge that we would have received from the other members. Some part of the love of Christ is withheld from the body, and we go lacking that which we could have received.

And so the members of the body of Christ go through the following days, weeks and years, wondering why life is not what it should be.  We are hungry and thirsty for something good, not understanding that all the fullness of life is in Christ; that our hunger and thirst will never be met outside the whole body of Christ, and we are withholding something that someone else needs. As members of one body, let us exhort one another for the faithful attendance to His worship and His Word.

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love
one toward another, and toward all men,
even as we do toward you:
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable
in holiness before God, even our Father,
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
with all his saints.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Father, we need the gift of your Holy Spirit to fill and stir each of our hearts with a measure of Christ’s love. Move us to bring that portion to our worship today so that we may all know the fullness and glory of your presence. In Jesus’ name, I pray and thank you. Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

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.