THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING THE SABBATH
“There is no other Sabbath rest besides Jesus. He alone satisfies the requirements of the Law, and He alone provides the sacrifice that atones for sin. He is God’s plan for us to cease from the labor of our own works. We dare not reject this one-and-only Way of salvation (John 14:6). God’s reaction to those who choose to reject His plan is seen in Numbers 15. A man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath day, in spite of God’s plain commandment to cease from all labor on the Sabbath. This transgression was a known and willful sin, done with unblushing boldness in broad daylight, in open defiance of the divine authority. ‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp”’ (verse 35). So it will be to all who reject God’s provision for our Sabbath rest in Christ” (ref#172).
“…whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10 NASB). The 10 Commandments are a “summary of fundamental duty; and…is binding on us all, in all its precepts alike, because they all alike are from God and publish His holy will” Benjamin B. Warfield (ref#180).
“For most people the Sabbath command is really a demand to repent. It invites us to enjoy what we don’t enjoy and therefore shows us the evil of hearts, and our need to repent and be changed” John Piper (ref#169).
SICKNESS – LIFE THREATENING
[The majority of our prayers concern physical health. We all know someone who is dealing with a life-ending disease (like cancer). Here is an opportunity to pray for them.]
WHAT CANCER CAN’T DO
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot eat away peace
It cannot destroy confidence
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot shut out memories
It cannot starve courage
It cannot reduce eternal life
It cannot quench the Spirit
It cannot lessen the Power of the resurrection.
…FATHER, how You care for my needs—You know I need regular reminders of what the Gospel is and that I’m truly a part of it. You have set up Baptism and the LORD’s Supper to be visible signs, ordained by You and instituted by CHRIST, to do just that (Matt 28:19, 1 Cor 11:23-26). They are the tangible evidence of the grace and blessings of Your covenant The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1411, “The Sacraments”).
“As the preaching of the Word makes the gospel audible, so the sacraments make it visible. Sacraments strengthen faith by correlating Christian beliefs with the testimony of our senses” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p 1411, “The Sacraments”).
“…is a sign of the believer’s death and resurrection with Christ (Rom 6:3),…to increase our…realization of death to the power and love of sin…and to increase our experience of the power of new resurrection life in Christ…” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p954).
The LORD’s Supper:
“…is a fellowship with Christ, in his presence and at his table” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p954-955). “…God’s aim has been to bring his people into fellowship with himself, and one of the great joys of experiencing that fellowship is the fact that we can eat and drink in the presence of the Lord” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p989-990).
KNOWLEDGE PUFFS UP
…FATHER, make me realize that my earthly wisdom only corrupts me. I can know the truth of Your justice, and what righteousness You require but my knowledge does nothing to save me or put me in communion with You. I can ponder Your patience, goodness, forbearance, and mercy but knowledge alone does not lead me to repentance (ref#35. p197).
Whatever discovery I have of truth, (without it coming from CHRIST’s mouth, through the SPIRIT), I hold captive under unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). O GOD, how guilty I am for engaging my mind in learning Christianity instead of humbling myself before CHRIST and waiting for Him to teach my heart. FATHER, impede me from thinking the Scriptures give me eternal life (John 5:39). I am like a “brute beast” if my wisdom corrupts me (ref#35, p197, [Jude 10]).
If there be anything that will do me good, CHRIST is interested in dispensing it to me. Until I desire to make Him captain of my salvation (Heb 2:10) I will be led by the futility of my own wisdom. FATHER, help me be satisfied with only knowing CHRIST and not just knowing about Him (ref#35, p199).
FAVOR DISPENSING GOD, it is amazing to consider that all my Scripture learning, my choices of what is doctrinally correct, and my efforts to abide by my good morals do not make me a genuine Christian. Help me recognize my own efforts toward spiritually and the way I use then for my glory instead of Yours.
REASONS OF WAITING FOR GOD
“…His [CHRIST’s] mediation on the throne is as real and indispensable as on the cross….it engages all His time and powers, is His unceasing occupation at the right hand of the Father” Andrew Murray (ref#19, TWENTY-SIXTH LESSON) (brackets mine).
Because in CHRIST the whole fullness of Deity continues to dwell in bodily form giving complete expression of the divine nature (Col 2:9), I will wait for You.
Because Your Son is able to save to the uttermost—completely, perfectly and for all time and eternity those who come to Him (Heb 7:25), I will wait for You.
Because CHRIST is always living to make petition to You and intercede with You and intervene for me (Heb 7:25), I will wait for You.
EVERY STEP OF MY LIFE HE’S PLANNED
In the prayer closet this morning I was singing and the SPIRIT illuminated for me the following phrase: “Ev’ry step of your life He planned” (A. H. Ackley, A Heart That Can Understand, © 1933 by Robert H. Coleman). It precipitated the thought that my FATHER not only knows my future but also plans it!
Only the SPIRIT can reveal so much in a seven-word phrase. It takes away my anxiousness about doing well in the upcoming days. Concerning my fear of not knowing what to write in my journal posts about the Sabbath, He will provide or He won’t provide. It’s His to plan.
And so what if things do not go as I expect. I don’t have to strive to change them and I don’t have to accept any shame for the way the situation plays out. What I deem “unsuccessful” can be and is many times very much part of GOD’s plans.
Reading about Abram waiting for GOD (Gen 15:9-21), I could think how unsuccessful he was in waiting. He did well by following GOD’s command to assemble an offering and he did well as he waited by shooing away the birds of prey when they attempted to eat the animals he placed on the altar. But then, “…a deep sleep fell upon Abram…” and, “…terror and great darkness fell upon him…” (Gen 15:12 NASB).
My thought about this passage is, “shame on Abram for allowing himself to fall asleep; he deserves to have nightmares.” Abram could have brow-beat himself for falling asleep. I’m sure since he shooed away the birds once, he intended to continue doing it until his waiting for the LORD was over. He was doing what he knew he should; but it was GOD’s plan that he falls asleep.
For this is the exact condition Abram happens to be in when GOD chooses to end his wait and speak to him. “Unsuccessful” to Abram or me is not necessarily “unsuccessful” to GOD.
Of course, the disclaimer is that the plans of GOD do not cancel out my responsibility to keep on doing what I know I should—I can’t be lax in my responsibility. I’m not to sin because I’m under grace (Rom 6:1-2).
Obviously GOD had planned out Abram’s falling asleep as well as his nightmares. And GOD has my days planned out as well. Hallelujah I get to walk through all that He puts in place for me knowing He has planned my future in love. And LORD, help me not judge any of it; I want to simply walk in faith hand in hand with You not letting any of my after-thoughts of the situation drag me down.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod 20:8 ESV). The word “Remember” implies that it is well known and recognized” JFB Commentary (ref#17, [Exod 20:8-11]).
“…our Lord and the writers of the New Testament treated the Ten Commandments as the embodiment…of the fundamental elements of essential morality, authoritative for all time and valid in all the circumstances of life” Benjamin B. Warfield (ref#180).
“…these Ten Commandments…was delivered…and accompanied by thunder, lightning, and an earthquake. It was the only part written on tables of stone by God Himself.”…“I there read one whole commandment out of ten devoted to the Sabbath Day, and that the longest, fullest, and most detailed of all (Exod 20:8-11)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).
The Old Testament Prophets recorded the importance of this command. They spoke of breaking the Sabbath as “the most heinous transgressions of the moral law (Ezek 20:13,16,24; 22:8,26)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167) and “one of the great sins which brought judgments on Israel…(Neh 13:18; Jer 17:19-27)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).
“Christ…kept the Sabbath religiously and taught His disciples…to keep it in its essential spiritual sense as ordained by God” Archibald A. Hodge (ref#181).
“I find Him speaking eleven times on the subject of the Sabbath, but it is always to correct the superstitious additions which the Pharisees had made…about observing it and never to deny the holiness of the day” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).
Also, the Apostles kept one day a week as a Sabbath (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). They called it the LORD’s Day (Rev 1:10).
Even as Scripture defines yet unfulfilled prophecy the Fourth Commandment is mentioned: “’And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,’ says the LORD” (Isa 66:23 NASB).
How important is it? Bishop J. C. Ryle says, “…the Ten Commandments…is just as important to expound and enforce…as to preach Christ crucified” (ref#167).
A HUNGER FOR GOD & HIS TRANSFORMING POWER
[Because we are Christians and live in the world we will always need prayer for our walk and for witnessing to others about CHRIST. Here’s an opportunity to pray for others or even ourselves. Fill the name in the blanks.]
“Jesus says to Simon Peter…do you have a love for me called out of your heart by my preciousness to you, a devotional love that impels you to sacrifice yourself for me? Do you consider me more precious and thus love me more than these [fish]?…” (ref#37, p266, [John 21:15]).
FATHER.ç “What Christ died for is not that we might help him, but that we might see and savor him as infinitely valuable” John Piper (ref#92, p83).
FATHER, I pray for ____, that (he/she) rest in CHRIST’s love. Remind (him/her) that the moment (he/she) was regenerated (he/she) automatically became “a holy temple fit for habitation of the Holy Spirit” Roy and Revel Hession (ref#101, p13). Hasten ____ to dwell on this truth as much as (his/her) new birth. “God has given a new life plus the indwelling of the very Person of the Holy Spirit” Roy and Revel Hession (ref#101, p14). It is through the SPIRIT that ____ will find CHRIST waiting for a relationship with (him/her). I pray ____ develop a hunger for fellowship and for CHRIST’s transforming power so that (he/she) may experience a vigorous and joyful life (ref#78, p25,26).
GOD’S LOVE – FRUITFULNESS: MY LOVE – THANKFULNESS
“The Father communicates…his love…through Christ; and we make no return of love…but through Christ. He is the treasury wherein the Father disposes all the riches of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love…” John Owen (ref#35, p117).
FATHER, all Your fullness You poured into CHRIST. It pleased You that all divine fullness should dwell in Him permanently. (Col 1:19). And I receive that fullness of Your love from Him by faith—communing responsively to You through the treasury of CHRIST.
Because You love me You bless me with all spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3). These blessings are an ever-flowing fountain. Your love descends on me in bounty and fruitfulness. These blessings are absorbed into me and create goodness in me (ref#35, p118). Your love descends through CHRIST and I experience growth.
My love, on the other hand, ascends to You in thankfulness (ref#35, p119) for Your provisions. My love also ascends to You in the duties I perform in response to Your love. Your presence demands I behave. But, behaving becomes a duty of joy for me because of Your presence through CHRIST.
Yes, because of Your love, I gladly give You Your due as my FATHER. What can I do to honor You (Mal 1:6)? I do not love You for no reason—I love You for the “excellency, loveliness, and desirableness” that is You (ref#35, p120). It becomes my joyous work to follow, running along behind You with CHRIST (ref#10, p 58).
“…faith is not a once-in-the-past action, but faith is always a way of seeing, a seeking for God in everything” Ann Voskamp (ref#130, p114).
FATHER, someone recently asked me to pray for strength and courage that they might live their life reflecting CHRIST’s image. This is what we all want; FATHER, this is what we all have trouble with! I feel like I’ve prayed this prayer into the ground for myself and my friends!
But, this is a prayer You will not answer, for You can do nothing more than You already have to prepare me to reflect CHRIST. FATHER, You have done Your part, I am required to do my part. I must begin.
“We have to battle through our moods into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus….All our fears are wicked, and we fear because we will not nourish ourselves in our faith” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Nov 13th).
Give me strength to step out and trust You. My reach must be further than my grasp (ref#7, May 2nd).
“He calls us to do impossible things or to become something we think we could never become. This is His way of teaching us how much we need Him. He breaks us to pieces so that He can put us back together in His image” Michael Card (ref#137, p85).