SABBATH

IS THE SEVENTH DAY SATURDAY, SUNDAY, OR ANY DAY?

“…Genesis 2 contains nothing whatever that enables us to determine which day of our week this primal “seventh day” was….All we do know—and it is all that is necessary for us to know—is that the seventh day was the day that followed six days of manual work…” Arthur W. Pink (ref#177).

“…the holy rest day should be one out of every seven….The command is simply work six, rest one. Every seventh day should be a Sabbath” John Piper (ref#169). So to keep the Sabbath means that one day a week we do not do our normal work. Since some people have jobs that include working on Sunday, they are free to choose another day, however every effort should be made to make their Sabbath the day their local Christian fellowship meets to gain the benefit of corporate worship.

“The Lord Jesus kept the Sabbath day. The change from the seventh to the first day of the week rather confirms than abolishes this divine institution. Call it the Lord’s day in preference to the Sabbath, if you so desire. The term “Lord’s day” rather enforces than diminishes our obligation to its proper observance” C. E. Hunter (ref#171).

“…the apostles were divinely inspired to make that change, and at the same time wisely directed to make no public decree about it. The decree would only have raised a ferment in the Jewish mind and caused needless offence; the change was one that it was better to effect gradually, and not to force on the consciences of weak brethren. The change did not interfere with the spirit of the Fourth Commandment in the smallest degree: the Lord’s Day, on the first day of the week, was just as much a day of rest after six days’ labor, as the seventh-day Sabbath had been” J. C. Ryle (ref#178).

The Old Testament saints looked forward to CHRIST, while we look back to CHRIST. GOD rested after completing creation. (It is the Jewish Sabbath.) CHRIST rested after completing redemption. (It is the Christian LORD’s Day.) And CHRIST’s return (second coming) is heaven—our final rest (ref#169)!

 

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SUPPLICATION

PRAYING FOR FELLOW CHRISTIANS

[Our brothers and sisters in CHRIST need our prayers.  We can even pray for ourselves in our spiritual battles.  Fill in the blanks with your desired name.]

DISCIPLESHIP

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 3.06.31 PM“Luther had said that grace alone can save; his followers took up his doctrine and repeated it word for word. But they left out its invariable corollary, the obligation of discipleship” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p49,50).

FATHER, I bid You teach ____ to not be content to just be a witness and preacher and teacher of JESUS CHRIST. You did not give the Apostle Paul simply a message to proclaim, but, instead, brought him into a personal subduing relationship to JESUS (ref#7, January 24th). “Paul was devoted to a Person not to a cause” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, January 24th).   Please constrain ____ also, to CHRIST.

O FATHER, open ____’s eyes to look for Your control over (him/her) (2 Cor 5:14). Like the Apostle Paul, You overrule (him/her), capturing (him/her) by the love of CHRIST (ref#7, February 4th). Hasten ____ to be still and know that You are GOD (Ps 46:10).

You desire ____’s whole life to be overmastered—changed so much that (he/she) has no end, no aim, and no purpose but Yours (ref#7, January 24th). You have not regenerated (him/her) to merely represent CHRIST.

Disciples are not witnesses of CHRIST—not witnesses of what JESUS can do, but disciples are witness unto Him. FATHER, give ____ a small sense of who CHRIST is. Grant ____ a face-to-face meeting with CHRIST that makes (him/her) forget about witnessing all together. ____’s interaction with JESUS will naturally make (him/her) a model disciple. (He/She) will then make disciples by example.

____ is representing CHRIST bodily now on earth. Teach (him/her) to take everything that happens to (him/her) as happening to CHRIST, “whether it be praise or blame, persecution, or commendation” Oswald Chamber (ref#7, February 4th).

O LORD, control ____ that (he/she) might be a living disciple. The reputation of JESUS CHRIST is at stake in (his/her) life (ref#7, Sept 19th).

“That we gain heaven, that we are delivered from sin, that we are made useful to God—these things never enter as considerations into real abandonment, which is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, March 12th).

THANKSGIVING

IMPORTANCE OF CORPORATE PRAYER

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.58.00 PM…FATHER, how profusely I thank You for the institution of corporate prayer (Matt 18:20). Praying with one another not only heightens my concentration, making me learn to be more articulate, but it causes me to be more disciplined, that I might linger longer in Your presence. I can think better and be still longer when I am with others.

But, the most joyous advantage of corporate prayer is to be ushered into the spiritual world by hearing others testify, FATHER, of Your interaction with them. Their witness strengthens my faith and gives me courage.

If I didn’t submit myself to the time of corporate prayer, I would have very little experience with what really goes on in Your spiritual world. My experience plus hearing the experience of others pushes me out of the physical world. The more I think about the spiritual world, the more real it becomes.

I also thank You for corporate prayer for the obvious reason—gathering a long list of prayer requests. This gives me the opportunity to add to my list the names of people others pray for.

Corporate prayer unites me with my brothers and sisters in CHRIST. And Your presence becomes more sure and real as I participate on a regular basis. This kind of prayer does not trumpet its worth until it is experienced. Thank You, FATHER, for the grace of corporate prayer.

CONFESSION

NEW BIRTH

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.48.03 PM…FATHER, increase my understanding of regeneration—Your ability to alter my natural-born heredity. My “natural virtues are the remnants of a design that has been broken, and that the only way the design can be fulfilled is by…being made all over again” Oswald Chambers (ref#83, p90). However, “…when the new disposition is put in the old physical case is not taken away. It is left there for me to discipline and turn into an obedient servant to the new disposition” Oswald Chambers (ref#118, p35).

 “Jesus says—If you are My disciple you must be right not only in your living, but in your motives, in your dreams, in the recesses of your mind. You must be so pure in your motives that God Almighty can see nothing to censure…” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, July 24th).

CHRIST is the only one who is above censure. And He is the only One who can put His own disposition into people who ask for it. “The purity which God demands is impossible unless I can be remade within…” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, July 24th).

“From the divine side, Christ is living in us and enabling us to live the way he teaches us to live. It’s his work. But from our side, it’s experienced by trusting him moment by moment to be with us and to help us” John Piper (ref#92, p87).

FATHER, I desire to take hold of CHRIST’s disposition and mold my life after His. And, praise You, that He will accomplish that when I give myself over to Him.

ADORATION

GOD GIVES WHAT HE COMMANDS

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.34.43 PM… “THOU ART THE BLESSED GOD,

happy in thyself,

source of happiness in thy creatures,

my maker, benefactor, proprietor, upholder.

Thou hast produced and sustained me,

supported and indulged me,

saved and kept me,…” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p115).

FATHER, how vast is the ways You demonstrate Your love. You stand so majestic over Your creatures and yet go to such great lengths to establish relationship. We are like sheep—created needy. You are a Shepherd—life-sustaining.

You are so very high—holy and righteous and command me to rise up to a similar position. Since I cannot, You reach down and bring me up. You call Your covenant with me an “everlasting covenant” (Gen 9:16), because it is kept by You keeping Your part as well as mine.

The Psalmist knows very well his weakness when he writes: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart” (Ps 119:32 ESV)! Or: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant…” (Ps 119:176 ESV).

I reminisce with joy that covenant keeping does not depend on me. You say: “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you…” (Gen 9:15 ESV). You do not ask me to remember for I am prone to forget, but You remember.

“It is not my remembering God and my laying hold of His covenant, but it is God’s remembering me and His covenant’s laying hold of me” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Aug 13th PM). Truly, “in His sovereign grace He gives what He commands and delights in the result (Phil 2:13)”  The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1739, “Pleasing God”).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

JUST LIKE PETER

1/15/2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.25.40 PMToday I identified myself with Peter in the Matt 16:13-23 story. Animated by the HOLY SPIRIT, he declared JESUS was CHRIST, the Son of GOD and then turned around and doubted JESUS’ words causing CHRIST to call him a “stumbling block” (Matt 16:13-23). That was me this morning.

I’ll begin with the stumbling. Started the car to warm it up which gives me 10 minutes to get myself out the door. The strategy usually works. But today—not . Discovered more things I had to do so I hurried, then slammed, then growled at Jerry. Suddenly a thought stuck: “I’m irritated just like I was Sunday because things are not going my way.” So, my problem is not just Sundays. I verified that conclusion with a little reminiscing.

It sobered me and I responded with a heartfelt apology to GOD. And apologized to Jerry and confessed to my prayer partner since I was warming up the car to go pray with her.

The situation was good for it clued me that I have a deeper more universal sin in myself than I thought. My first clue was anger.

FATHER, please put Your face in front of me the moment I start with anger. I need to be sobered by Your presence.

***

The exciting thing that happened was a revelation from the SPIRIT over breakfast: Always in the back of my mind is my desire to keep the Sabbath holy and I’ve said it before, conversations before and after church are my biggest problem. I don’t seem to be able to conjure up any affinity for it and am at a lost for a place to begin.

But, as I ate breakfast daydreaming about the process of praying the SPIRIT apprehended me by revealing I could use the same process for conversations as I do with prayer.

When I’m praying with a sister, as she prays her words trigger for me subjects I would like to pray about. So, by the time she is finished I find fixed in my mind the prayer subjects my next prayer can consist of.

The thought about prayer is the answer to my quandary of what to discuss with my fellow believers before and after church and the rest of the day… or for that matter, any day. I can be running across my mind spiritual subjects that relate to what the other person is saying. I just have to teach myself to think spiritually as I listen to conversations. “What can I share that will spiritually encourage or teach?” Please SPIRIT, as You animated Peter, animate me during conversations with my sisters and brothers.

SABBATH

MY REST

The Sabbath rest is to remind myself that GOD rested after He ceased the work of creation, and JESUS rested after He ceased the work of redemption. These two facts should be the subjects I attend to on Sundays. But the “rest” the Hebrew’s writer speaks of is a daily rest.

“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Heb 4:10 NASB).

Since I believe CHRIST JESUS has given what GOD requires from me, I enter into rest (ref#15, [Heb 4:10]). My experience of rest is ceasing from my own works of righteousness, and from the burdensome works of the law (ref#18, [Heb 4:10]).

Since CHRIST impresses the FATHER I don’t have to impress the FATHER. Resting in CHRIST is a state of happiness. My salvation does not depend on my continuing work of being righteous!

“Externally, that meant ceasing from his ordinary tasks in order to meet with God. Internally, it involved ceasing from all self-sufficiency in order to rest in God’s grace” Sinclair Ferguson (ref#193).

Yet, I need to keep myself abreast of situations that threaten my rest. Situations continually rise to steal what GOD freely gives me through CHRIST. Happiness disappears when I lose fellowship with my LORD and default back to trying in my own strength to be righteous.

Impress upon me that if I don’t rehearse the Gospel I will fall back into burdensome works and be void of rest. I know preaching the gospel to myself each day will equip me with more boldness to believe what GOD says. I’ll recognize and benefit more from His grace and be more willing to embrace His commands (ref#60, p52). By reveling in CHRIST I retain my fellowship with GOD and find my rest! As I rehearse the Gospel, “give me that rest without rest, the rest of ceaseless praise” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p172).

“…we must praise God – in the morning and every night, not only on Sabbath days, but every day; it is that which the duty of every day requires. We must praise God, not only in public assemblies, but in secret, and in our families, showing forth, to ourselves and those about us, his lovingkindness and faithfulness” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]).

SUPPLICATION

NON CHRISTIAN, RESISTERS

[We all have friends and family that do not want anything to do with Christianity so it is up to us to pray for their salvation. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]

BACKSLIDERS CAN BE RESTORED

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.31.23 PM…FATHER, You restore souls (Ps 23:3). You convert a “soul from sin that it may not eternally perish” Adam Clarke (ref#15, [Ps 23:3]). You bring back life from destruction, heal backsliders, and restore them to Your favor (ref#15, [Ps 23:3]).

“He breaks down the hard heart, arrests the soul in its onward progress of departure, places upon it some powerful check, lays it low….” Octavius Winslow (ref#61, Sept 1st).

FATHER, I plead to You for the same power You used to initially draw ____ to take up again Your work in ____’s heart (ref#61, Sept 1st). Even though (he/she) presently plows a wicked way, reaps a crop of evil, and eats a salad of lies (Hos 10:13), You will kindly give (him/her) another chance to turn (himself/herself) around again.

It is encouraging to know that since ____ is not in the pit of hell, (he/she) is on the ground of mercy and that You, FATHER, see a way for (him/her) to escape when I see none. I will depend on You and call on You for You only give a promise of deliverance (ref#124, p89-90).

THANKSGIVING

CHRIST’S VICTORY OVER SATAN

 Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.22.50 PM…FATHER, satan began his spiritual war with mankind by deceiving Eve, but his beginning was his end. As soon as the devil revealed himself, You, FATHER, prophesied his demise.

“I will make you and the woman enemies to each other. Your descendants and her descendants will be enemies. One of her descendants will crush your head, and you will bite his heel” (Gen 3:15 NCV).

“Christ baffled Satan’s temptations, rescued souls out of his hands, cast him out of the bodies of people…by his death, he gave a fatal and incurable blow to the devil’s kingdom, a wound to the head of this beast, that can never be healed” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Gen 3:14-15]).

You, FATHER, established a perpetual overthrow of the devil and will shortly cast him into the lake of fire where he will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev 20:10). Praise to You, FATHER, for overwhelmingly assuring me that You were, are, and always will be in complete control of my arch enemy.

CONFESSION

GOD IS BOTH JUST AND JUSTIFIER

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.15.28 PMWhat do I do with my guilt? FATHER, I am to be perfect as You are perfect (Matt 5:48)! Since I was born in Your image (Gen 1:26) the deepest desire of my heart is to live with You, but I don’t do the things I know I should do (Rom 7:15). I disappoint and have no ability to clear my own name before You (Rom 3:23). I just can’t always do what I know is right—sometimes I can, but not all the time. And You demand that I be perfect… (Matt 5:48).

But, what I could not do, You did (Isa 52:10).   Since You require justice, You, Yourself, must be the justifier (Rom 3:26). And this You did, all on Your own, without any help from me. So, You are both just and the One who brings justice.

Even though I am a sinner (Rom 5:8), You confer—You reckon—You count me as righteous (Rom 4:22). You consider me righteous when I am a sinner. You pronounce sinners righteous! You don’t change me so I am righteous, but You “pronounce” me righteous.

FATHER, You give the free gift of a right standing before You because of what Your Son JESUS did. I am drawn into Your favor because You have accepted the blood of Your Son in His death to soothe Your anger for all my sins—past, present, and future (Rom 3:25).

CHRIST’s dying on the cross does not automatically defuse Your anger toward every sinner.   You confer righteousness only upon sinners who support Your way of reconciliation—who believe CHRIST provides the only way to make peace with You—in contrast to believing that any efforts on my part has any power at all for my justification (Rom 3:28).

“Sinful men and women can be changed into new creatures, not by their repentance or their belief, but by the marvelous work of God in Christ Jesus which is prior to all experience…I am not saved by believing; I realize I am saved by believing. It is not repentance that saves me, repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. The danger is to put the emphasis on the effect instead of on the cause” (ref#7, Oct 28th).