THE SERIOUSNESS OF KEEPING THE SABBATH
“…the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him” (Numbers 15:30-31 ESV).
“While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:32-36 ESV).
“This seems to be a case of sinning ‘with a high hand’—and publicly, too—so that the offender is actually executed, not just left to be ‘cut off’, which applied only when the offender escaped human detection. In this case it is clear that the man has sinned, since all work on the Sabbath is prohibited (Ex. 20:10)…The mode of his execution underlines the importance of observing the Sabbath” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, [Numbers 15:32-36]).
How serious about sin is GOD in His command we keep His Sabbath holy? Our nonchalant attitude about the Sabbath proves we are not concerned about being kicked out of GOD’s presence.
As with other situations in life we are tempted to think just time passing will again allow us back into His presence. So many things we let time heal. Can we do that with our sins? Can we do that with defaming the Sabbath?
[“Blessed are those who mourn…” (Matt 5:4 NASB). We know people who are grieving; let’s pray for them. Fill the name in the blanks to this prayer.]
THE SEASON FOR MOURNING
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccl 3:1,4 ESV).
FATHER, I pray for ____; this is (his/her) time for weeping and mourning. Remind me to persevere in prayer in (his/her) stead since (him/her) time in this state may be unending or seem to be.
Push ____ to accept (his/her) loved one’s death. Aid (him/her) to begin moving in a healing way. Stir (him/her) to release (his/her) emotions. Motivate (him/her) to keep a record and prize the good memories of (his/her) loved one. Propel (him/her) to remake (his/her) identity—to reinvest in life (ref#136, p14).
Steel (him/her), LORD, when the bereaving process goes on longer than (he/she) thinks possible (ref#136, p31). And, through its length, do not allow satan to deceive (him/her) into using the pain as an excuse to sin (ref#136, p32). I pray that ____ fight temptation the way CHRIST did when He was tempted in the wilderness. FATHER, keep pushing ____’s thoughts back on You. Hope is found only in You. You will heal ____’s broken heart and bind up (his/her) wounds (Ps 147:3).
THY LOVINGKINDNESS IS BETTER THAN LIFE
Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, I will bless Thee (Ps 63:3,4) even when I’m a prisoner in the valley and have to backtrack to the elementary principles of CHRIST (Heb 6:1). Thy lovingkindness is better than anything, LORD—even when I’m feeling dejected and alone.
Certainly I would be hypocritical praising You with only the words: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God;…” (Isa 61:10 ESV) when I am so downcast. But, if I read on in this Isaiah prayer I discover a way to burst open the prison door.
“…for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isa 61:10 AMP).
LORD, You have given me a mantel of righteousness—glorious and beautiful (Ex 28:40)! Just by reading these words I find myself standing before You with no rationale to remain in the valley any longer.
FATHER, Your words break the snare of the negative cycle; the door is open and I can escape (Ps 124:7). You give me the strength to believe, “You have clothed me with the garments of salvation; You have covered me with the robe of righteousness.” I do not have to stay a prisoner.
All praise to You, FATHER, for if You are not on my side the enemy swallows me alive (Ps 124:2-3). My help is in You, LORD (Ps 124:8). You give me the faith I need, so with joy my lips bless Thee (Ps 63:3). Thy lovingkindness IS better than life.
“…whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17 ESV).
Anger is my announcement to myself that I am seeking my own way and not Yours, FATHER. And the announcement makes me madder—it tells me I’m failing at being righteous—the very thing I want to be known for.
You have taught me so much. I know so much of the right things to do. I’m irritated that I know so much which proclaims to me how often I fail. Ah, but anger clues me that I have fallen into the devil’s ploy of trying to be spiritually ambitions (ref#105, p68).
“The massive interest in self-esteem and self-worth exists because it is trying to help us with a real problem. The problem is that we really are not okay. There is no reason why we should feel great about ourselves. We truly are deficient” Edward T. Welsh (ref#106, p29).
“When a man really sees himself as the Lord sees him, it is not the abominable sins of the flesh that shock him, but the awful nature of the pride of his own heart against Jesus Christ” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, March 8th).
Pride makes me angry. But how can I let my selfishness upstage CHRIST? CHRIST a continual servant—excepting life as it came—never getting His way—never.
“All He did was for others. When He came from heaven, it was for others. When He laid down His life, it was for others….when He was raised again…it was…to justify others…the position He occupies…now in heaven is for others,…” Roy and Revel Hession (ref#100, p139).
“For every one look at myself I must take ten looks at Jesus” Edward T. Welsh (ref#106, p67). Anger begs a “time-out.” And a productive “time-out” is to squelch anger by looking to JESUS.
SCRIPTURE WRITTEN SO I MIGHT KNOW GOD
…FATHER, You, a GOD who needs nothing from me, puts at my disposal word-pictures that I might acquaint myself with Your majesty and love. You reveal Yourself through the Bible.
“…when we understand the words used, the historical background, and the cultural conventions of the writer and his readers, we are well on our way to grasping the thoughts that are being conveyed” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p844, “Understanding the Word of God”).
Without the SPIRIT’s help I will read the Bible from my vantage point, looking for facts that will help me know and achieve what I want. So, FATHER, I desire the SPIRIT to generate in me a passion for You.
May I seek You as I read noting Your attributes so I might strengthen my trust and love for You “not reading the Bible looking for information like an academic subject or trivia or doctrines, but a Person…” Dan Cummings (ref#141, Basking In the Light of the Glory of Christ, (sermon notes) Jan 1, 2005).
I’m holding it high over my head—the last puzzle piece that locks all the other pieces of my life in a tight fit. Oh, the ebb and flow of earthly living will eventually scatter the pieces again, but for now I see a completed picture-puzzle. I understand the difference of going from the tossing and turning, no-foundation, “blind” faith to reaching-across-the-chasm, “knowing” faith.
The piece that bridges that gap—that missing piece is prayer. (This is so simple I’m almost embarrassed to write it.)
Elijah said to Ahab, “Go…for there is a sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” Elijah had prophesied that it would not rain, and it did not. But, three years later, in 1 Kings 17:1, he prophecies it will rain.
He could’ve just stood there and waited for GOD to deliver, even though there was not a cloud in the sky. In blind faith he could’ve said, “GOD promised,” and just folded his arms and waited.
I can say, “GOD will bring about revival,” and fold my arms. Oh, but this would be blind faith—hoping only faith—no positive assurances as to when. Blind faith is accomplished by refusing to be in relationship with my FATHER.
Elijah prayed until GOD formed a cloud. He prayed until he knew GOD was going to answer. The repetitive, pestering-to-death, reiterating-the-promises, prayer is the piece that makes for me a “knowing” faith.
THE TIME REQUIREMENT FOR SABBATH KEEPING
What motivates me to action is remembering a previous joy of similar activities. I have never moved myself into the LORD’s presence and been sorry I did. So each remembrance is sweeter. But time is required to get into His presence.
Preparing to take mushroom pictures is easy, however sometimes it is not pleasant doing it. While getting into GOD’s presence is difficult, once there it becomes the greatest joy. The hard part is moving myself into His presence.
“We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our own mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him…” John Calvin (ref#187).
“God’s rest is the rest of contemplation on the work that He has made, with all the penetrating influence, and sustaining power, and blessed oversight, that the divine contemplation must involve” R. A. Finlayson (ref#188).
“The worship due to the great Creator requires time for the contemplation of his attributes, as revealed in his glorious works. It requires time, also, to recollect all the manifestations of his wisdom and goodness in the dispensations of his Providence, and to give vocal expression to feelings of gratitude for the benefits received, and the happiness bestowed” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).
“If you are…in need of a spiritual tonic, go to the book of Acts, and there you will find this irrepressible joy that these people had in confirmation of the Lord’s promise” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 16th).
NON CHRISTIAN Pursuers
[We all have friends and family that sit in our churches but only act like they are Christians. It is up to us to pray for their salvation. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]
BEGGING TO BRING MY FRIENDS WITH ME
…FATHER, You multiply mercy and peace and affection to those You dearly love. You set them apart and keep them for CHRIST (Jude 1-2). How I’d love to have ____ in CHRIST, growing in peace and love.
“DADDY, can I bring ____ with me? My enjoyment of Your glory—the blessings that You give me through CHRIST will not be so joyful if (he/she) can’t enjoy Your presence with me.”
I will only be completely happy at the “supper of the Lamb” if all my family and friends are around the table. DADDY, You are the only one who can give consent for them to come with me. To You, DADDY, I will beg and bagger (Luke 11:8) and wear You down (Luke 18:5) in hopes You will relent so they can come. I’m not one of Your constantly obedient children, but remember You have said that even if I’m not a perfect child, if I persist You will answer me (Luke 11:8-10).
DADDY, remember You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth, and…You forgive iniquity (Ex 34:6-7). I look at You and see no reason why You would not let ____ come with me. DADDY, I will continually beg and bagger You about this.
THE LOVE BETWEEN THE FATHER AND THE SON
…FATHER, before the foundations of the earth, You chose creatures to make Your own and wrote their names in Your book (Eph 1:4) (Rev 17:8). And throughout time You have been drawing them to Your Son for salvation (John 6:37).
We belonged to You first, then You gave us to JESUS (John 17:9). And then JESUS gave us back to You:
“Now…they know and understand that all You[(FATHER] have given Me [JESUS] belongs to You [is really and truly Yours]” (John 17:7 AMP, brackets mine).
“Jesus…promised to work for us in such a way that the very love that the Father has for the Son would be the experience of our own hearts….The love the Father has for the Son is nothing but infinitely joyful admiration and fellowship….” John Piper (ref#94, p38-39).
FATHER, because I’m steeped in sin, my old nature, that cannot be regenerated, feels Your wrath and therefore thinks that You hate me and concludes JESUS came to save me from You. But You, Yourself love me (John 16:27). I am precious in Your eyes and honored and You love me (Isa 43:4). You demonstrate Your own love toward me by the coming of JESUS (Rom 5:8).
FATHER, You love me even as You love JESUS (John 17:23). I’m thrilled that the love You have bestowed upon JESUS, can be in me (John 17:26). Thank You.
FLESH TOO BUSY
…FATHER, Richard Lovelace has labeled the world as our “corporate flesh” (ref#108, p86). The world’s a busy place—people actively doing what seems best in their own eyes—displeasing You, FATHER, whether they are displaying open rebellion toward You or simply ignoring You.
My “private flesh” is busy, too—busy ignoring You to the point of exhaustion. In attempting to please You my flesh can never work hard enough. The laws the Pharisees created for Sabbath observance is a good example of flesh too busy.
“…the Pharisees…hedged it (the Sabbath) with repressive regulations so as to avoid the possibility of breaking the Sabbath” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1464, [Luke 6:1]).
Paul accuses the Galatians of observing days, months, season and years all in an effort to train the flesh to please You (Gal 4:10).
When I find myself exhausted it is because I overextend myself—trying to perform beyond my capacity (ref# 101, p122). “Permit me not to labour at work which thou wilt not bless…” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p134). Motivate me to obey Your voice, not my flesh. Motivate me to obey what I hear from You today—only today. You do not strap heavy burdens on my back—You do not require the hectic pace the world requires.