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.

Let All The World in Every Corner Sing

Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!
The heavens are not too high, His praise may thither fly,
The earth is not too low, His praises there may grow.
Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!

(Arrangement by Paul Mealor includes other lyrics)

Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!
The church with psalms must shout, no door can keep them out;
But, above all, the heart must bear the longest part.
Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!

George Herbert 1633

Sheet Music:  Arrangement by Paul Mealor

Glory Beyond Words ! ! ! !

In my personal communion this morning I seemed to be drawn closer to our heavenly Father to experience His presence in a greater way than ever before. All that I seemed to have was words that my English-speaking Bible provides. But the words “Almighty,” “holy,” “great,” “powerful,” “gracious,” “righteous,” and all the other words that we have—to think of Him, to call upon Him, to worship Him—did not seem to be enough. This inadequacy made me realize that GOD, in all His glory, is more than mere words can reveal.

ring-galaxyNo word is sufficient to describe Him, or to help us to know Him, worship Him, or to obey Him. When Jesus said that we must worship Him in Spirit and truth He was referring to the work that God must do in us. Words merely draw us to seek what is beyond the words, to the truth that God reveals about Himself. It is a supernatural revelation that His Spirit alone provides in those that He draws to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Following the first experience something else came to mind: the reality that Jesus Christ is GOD. The more I have pondered this, on my way to worship on this Lord’s Day, this afternoon, and tonight, the more astounding is this fact; not that I haven’t known this before, but now, in a new way, a new light, a new revelation. Christ, as the living God, the “visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1: 15) “the brightness of His glory,” “the express image of the Father,” (Hebrews 1:3) is no less God than the Father.

How can we get our minds around this truth? How can our hearts absorb such as is revealed in these words? As many years as I have studied, and believed, the Father has brought me today to a new realization beyond any thoughts I have had before. Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 3:18—we, beholding, “as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
To think that we can see Christ through mere words is to settle for our own distorted images of Christ and God. It is the work of His Spirit that reveals Jesus Christ as “very God.”

No wonder Jesus said, “No one comes to me except the Father draws him.” God, the Father is drawing us to Himself as He draws us to Christ. The words “The Father and I are one,” are but words, except as His Spirit makes them truth to us and in us.  To emphasize, “JESUS is God,” or “Jesus IS God,” or “Jesus is GOD,” does not convince me or anyone else of this truth.  Only the Holy Spirit can drive it home to our hearts and bring us to a steadfast commitment to Him.

Why is it so important then, to believe in Jesus Christ? Without this faith, wrought in us by His own Spirit, can we truly believe in the true GOD?

It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing; my words are Spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) We can get lost in the labyrinth of words, but meditations on His words bring us beyond the words to the reality that is behind the words—the true meaning that only His Spirit can provide. These meditations, in time, bring us to the renewing of the mind; but further still, to that which is “hidden from the wise, but revealed to little children.”  “God’s Word which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments” (Shorter Catechism) are pregnant with truth and life, delivered to the humble heart, and the seeking soul.

I praise Him that I don’t “know it all,” that I haven’t “arrived,” that I am still seeking “His kingdom and His righteousness.” I will be eternally grateful for a Father’s love that continues to draw me to Christ and Himself, revealing the power of His grace, and His glory. How blessed we are to have a GOD that has planned an eternity to reveal all that He is to us.

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5)

Father, please continue to reveal yourself, Christ, your Word, and the power of your Holy Spirit to us, your people.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

(Reblog from July 3, 2011)

Radical Mercy

What is a reasonable response to the pouring out of God’s mercy upon this human race? The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans brings us through eleven chapters and shows us how God, by His own grace, evokes a sacrifice from us. We have learned that the power of the gospel is able to effectually bring about the obedience of faith in those to whom God reveals Himself and His Word, those whom He has chosen.31118_000_011_08

Just as Abraham, by believing God’s word, in obedience offered his only son as a sacrifice, so, we, sought by His mercy, cannot resist but willingly, offer our own bodies as living sacrifices. This is the power of the gospel that he mentioned in chapter one ~ God’s own power, through His Word and Spirit ~ to save a people for Himself and His eternal kingdom that is being prepared for those of His household of faith.

He has spoken of justification, through the only just one, who is the justifier. In chapter eleven, He ends His presentation of God’s work through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit’s working through His mercy.

Being that it is all of His mercy and none of our own work we come to chapter twelve to find what obedience of faith looks like. From beginning to end, this was his purpose for writing; to show that it is God’s work of mercy and grace that effectually brings the power of obedience in the life of His people. (Romans 11:30-31)

Radical Response
Now that His mercy is revealed, we are called to respond. The command is two-fold ~ a negative and a positive. Where there is a negative, it is so He will be revealed as working the positive.

“Do not be conformed to this world.” This is what we were being, naturally. The negative is what we normally do. From the time of birth into this world, we are being conformed to it. Here, then is where we see the difference that His power of the gospel makes.

 “But, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He does not command something that is not possible. His commands are promises of what He will do.

By His mercy, we are brought from being conformed to the world naturally, to being transformed supernaturally, by the renewing of our minds. How? Through the same power of His Word and Spirit as He saves us in faith, and calls us to obedience in Christ. The gospel that justifies us is the same gospel that sanctifies us and is preparing us for His glory ~ the same power that will bring us to glorification.

As the power of the gospel has worked to justify us, this is our only reasonable worship in response to His great mercy. This is the work of His Spirit in our hearts, through the power of His Word and Spirit. imagesIt corresponds to the work in every heart that is turned to Christ. To offer our bodies as living sacrifices is the offset of His sacrifice for us. He died for us that we may live for Him.

Just reading the effects of the gospel in the heart and life, we see the description of a true believer. The people of faith have a radical change take place, so radical that to read the characteristics makes one know that such a new life is beyond our own doing. (Romans 12:9-21)

Each of us, with whatever measure of grace He gives, brings it together with all others, as one body of Christ, so that we are offering what He has separated unto Himself, in obedience and sanctification, willfully becoming that noble vessel for His use. We lose ourselves and become one with His people wherever He calls us to serve and worship Him. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is totally different than any other religion on earth. Unlike other religions that take other lives and die in the process, themselves, Christ enables us to live victoriously and to seek to save others.

Mercy begets mercy.

Father, we are not our own. You have bought us with the price of your precious Son, Jesus Christ.  Enable us to daily offer to you what you have sanctified for yourself, so that you may reveal the power of the gospel to others.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Image 1
Image 2

The Purpose of the Lord’s Day

 

green-grass-and-blue-sky-landscape-472-Through time and observations we come to conclusions about this life and what comes after. Such has been my experience; and especially of the Lord’s Day. If I were to write the book it would be titled The Lord’s Day ~ It’s Purpose, Program and Practice. Each Lord’s Day has become a means for me to put into words what the day now means to me. It has not always been as it is now, but through the process of time I believe the Lord has led me to conclusions about His day.

I have been back through the channel of time (in God’s word) to see the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments not just as a law given to the Israelites, but also as a pattern of what was to come. It was not just a program for the Jewish worship day, but a vision set for the church that would be established through His Son, Jesus Christ. It was not for their practice alone, but a future plan for all God’s people through His everlasting covenant.

When the Old Testament prophesied the coming of the Messiah it was the purpose and the promise of something greater than what they already had. The Jews had observed the Sabbath as the seventh day. “From the beginning of the world until the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week since then until the end of the world to be the Christian Sabbath.” This quote is from the Shorter Catechism taken from the Westminster Confession of Faith.

When I look back to the quotes of Jesus in the New Testament I see the program that He was establishing. He spoke often of His death in “going up to Jerusalem,” where He will be killed and “shall rise again the third day.” Mark 10:31-34

On the third day He was raised as He said.

What happened in His resurrection? Before anyone else knew He established Himself as Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of His own day ~ a new day, for a new creation, a new assembly of saints who would practice on this day what He established for eternity.  The same power of the Holy Spirit that raised Him from the dead is the power that gives us new life  in Him and brings us to this worship of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

An eternal life and a new day of worship replaced the old. The new wine, the good wine was saved until Christ came and bled, and died and gave us His own life. This day He brings His people, those whom He has saved by His own life and death, in special remembrance of this union with Him and the Father, reconciling us to Him and making us joint heirs in His kingdom. We are joined this day with other saints here and in heaven, in observance of His suffering and sacrifice for our atonement (remembering His death in the Lord’s Supper). We worship through prayer, praise and His Holy Word as we practice for the celebration of this feast that will take place in eternity.

The purpose and the promise, the program and the practice do not end in a weekly worship service. The Lord’s Day is a full day; its purpose is for a whole day, not just an hour in a church service with other saints. This is the hard part and the unusual part of the practice. We will look in subsequent weeks at the preciousness and value of the Lord’s Day ~ the whole day ~ and how it is to be spent with the Lord.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
Proverbs 4:18

Dear Father, let us live in praise and worship to you today.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Image

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)

Bible-And-Cross-Pic
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

Time and Space

imagesNot everyone can relate to old age, but we all understand the limitations of this life. Now looking back from the other side of seventy-five I see things differently than before. This side is becoming brighter; God is becoming more real; and life is more than I ever thought it could be. What difference does time make? ~ None unless you know that God is in it.

Time is not what we make it. It all began with God, the Father, as creator. It all belongs to Him. Each lifespan is time that He gives individually for His purpose and plan. In a short time His work in me will be completed. He will move me up to His glory. Another will fill the space that I filled here on earth.  Now, He is still teaching me who He is and showing me what He is doing, in my own life and the lives of others.

The Spaces We Fill
Time is spent in the spaces we fill. If we are where God wants us to be we receive the blessings of His promises while we are here. Being basically sequestered now in the home with Jerry is proving to be the space and the blessing that the Lord planned for us in our marriage.  My years of time spent away from the home looking for fulfillment were years that the Lord could not bless as He might have. The world beacons us. Satan deceives us within our culture to keep us in the dark, from the knowledge and blessing of fellowship and communion with our God. We as wives are tempted and drawn to what we see out there; and miss what He has for us in the home as the help-mate for our husbands.

Years ago I could only see the madness and the sadness of this world. Now I am experiencing the Lord’s gladness in the middle of it all. Jerry and I are no longer able to travel long distances. We venture out to shop one or two days a week; but the highlight of our week is the Lord’s Day, for church and a day of public and private worship that is different from the other days. More and more this is becoming our prelude and practice for that eternal worship that the Lord has promised. During the week we are in His word and in prayer, interceding and in touch by email and phone to those in need of the Lord’s presence, power, mercy and grace. This time with Him is glorious as we wait for His call to “come up higher.”

(The following is an excerpt from A Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words)

“At 5:30, Daddy was looking at the large clock on the wall facing his bed. At 6:00 he looked again.

I asked him why he was looking at the clock.

He said, “To see how much time is left.”

He did not look at the clock again.

How can I forget those words? Never before has time meant to me what it does now. Daddy realized in the last days of his life how important time is. His prompting will be a legacy to me; and an ever-present part of my living. I believe, as Daddy learned, that God gives everyone the right amount of time for each life.   The person who waits until he is dying to learn how to live is wasting precious God-given life. Resisting the power of God’s Spirit to make us what He wants us to be is only a prelude to dying.

It is in the last stages that we would give up everything to go back and do it all differently.

Andrew Murray, in “Waiting on God,” writes, “The one object for which God gives life to man is that in them He might prove and show forth His wisdom, power, and goodness.” This little book came to me too late to share with Daddy. He would have benefited from it if he could have read it before having several strokes. (Maybe he did understand when he needed to. He tried reading it, but gave no indication that he could share what he had read.)”

0002tb “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”  
Acts 17:24-26