VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

SABBATH REMINISCING

12/1/2016

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-2-46-26-pm“God seeks to bring His holy remnant into the power of eternal life, even now….God wants a free people, a remnant totally detached from all that is earthly…” David Wilkerson (ref#138, p164).

This quote has been inscribed on my heart since I first read, Set Thy Trumpet to Thy Mouth back in the 80’s. David Wilkerson’s words and prophecies are still relevant.

My Sunday posts for the year, 2016 have ended. I have talked about the Sabbath every which way. So, how has my posts affected me?

First, those Sunday words have sobered me. I no more take the Sabbath lightly. I have internalized the truths expressed and experienced a humbling and an unction to be more in GOD’s presence.

The change gives me something to work toward and something to find joy in. My heart is more than ready to be detached from secularized society—this is where my joy lies. And my future work is to make that a reality—as unnatural as that is.

One reason GOD initiated a Sabbath was to offer a place where His people could be seen as different than the world. Sabbath observance would set them apart.

However, I am not set apart by just attending church on Sunday morning. 35-40 million people do that in this country; secular society has accepted that. Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: God’s Work, God’s Way, Sermon#: 1761, “Threats to Spiritual Wholeness,” Part Two of Two, November 28, 2016). But, I can be labeled a fanatic if I set the rest of the day apart.

Thanks be to GOD who “built-in” a way to set His remnant apart. Observing the Sabbath is a weekly 24-hour opportunity to detach myself from all that is earthy and prove to the world that my spiritual life is more important than my physical.

And as I obey the keep-the-Sabbath command I will have my joy—joy in praising GOD as Creator, thanking Him for last week’s provisions and, by faith, next week’s, and taking advantage of the occasion to rest my body and soul. It is a time on earth to be immersed in eternity.

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SABBATH

THE BLESSINGS OF THE SABBATH

“The believer…keeps the law of God, not believing by keeping it we gain acceptance or approval with God, but rather we keep God’s law as a declaration of our grateful response to His love” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: Pathway of Freedom, Sermon#: 1692, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part One, Oct 3, 1993).

“Since the law is spiritual, there is no escaping the fact that the holy Sabbath is a spiritual institution….the Sabbath…was to be devoted exclusively to things that are spiritual” Allen Walker (ref#204)

On Sunday what joy it is to say to myself, “No thinking of weekday obligations, I’m free to pursue the things that make me happy spiritually.”

“Cease striving and know that I am God…” (Ps 46:10 NASB). It is a labor of love to plan and accomplish all weekday obligations so I can have Sunday free.

“There is nothing the Christian desires so much as this delighting of himself in the Lord. There is one sure way to the experience of it—keep holy the Lord’s day. God delights to reveal Himself to those who obey and honor Him” C.E. Hunter (ref#171).

Daily devotions are uplifting but close afterward comes the demands of the day. Sunday, though affords an extended time for prayer, for spiritual study, for visits to family and friends—things that are difficult to do on weekdays. How very freeing it is to stop all thoughts about the week ahead and think of the spiritually “now.”

“Isaiah 58:13-14…’call the Sabbath a delight…Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.’ The Sabbath was always to be a refreshing time when men were in a special sense to delight themselves in the Lord” C.E. Hunter (ref#171).

“When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday” (Ps 42:4 KJV).

SABBATH

PRIVATE LORD’S DAY ACTIVITIES

“The time for performance of individual and family religious duties is before or after church….Private Lord’s Day observance includes prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and follow-up teaching after church” John Owen (ref#176).

“The Sabbath must be a day of spiritual improvement—improvement which comes in…families having time around the Lord Jesus, His Word, and His purposes” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).

Spiritual improvement comes from religious reading. (It’s possible to read through the Bible in a year by reading approximately 18 Chapters each Sunday.) Improvement also comes from secret prayer and holy meditation. (ref#165, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).

“Church history informs us that after their private devotions, the members of the family in primitive times met for united prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, the recital of doctrinal and practical sentiments and mutual edification generally. This indeed, to some extent, was done every day. Each day was also closed by similar devotions. But, the Lord’s Day abounded in them” William S. Plumer, (ref#183).

Another LORD’s Day suggestion would be praising God for His mercies. But, this and the ones above are only suggestions. Though our desire would be to have a list of steps to follow, there are many temptations present in simply checking off a list.

Trouble happens when we simply follow lists—no manner how good the list is. We can fall into the category of sacrificing instead of obeying—just acting and not feeling.

God’s Word binds us only to Him and to His Word. We are free in matters of faith and worship from every man-made list. CHRIST has purchased the right to be our only Master. (ref#165, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon#: 2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999).

So, we must ask Him directly. We should ask Him every Sabbath what our agenda should be for the day.

SABBATH

WORK ON THE SABBATH

“Our Lord’s reply…’Though my Father rested on the seventh day from His work of creation, He has never rested for a moment from His providential government of the world, and from His merciful work of supplying the daily wants of all His creatures….I do not break the fourth commandment when I heal the sick, anymore than my Father breaks it when He causes the sun to rise and the grass to grow on the Sabbath’” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. Three, p277, [John 5:16-23]).

“…the Sabbath was not meant to be a day of total idleness, and of entire cessation from all kinds and sorts of work. ‘The Sabbath was made for man,’ for his benefit, comfort, and advantage” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. Three, p280, [John 5:17]).

“This Sabbath is kept holy…when men…are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).

“Works of piety are to be performed on the Lord’s Day, yea, on this day especially, as being the proper works of the day. And such are not only those that consist in the internal operations of the soul, as heavenly meditations and spiritual affections; but such also as consist in the external actions of the body, as oral prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and preaching of the Word” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#184).

“Not only works of piety, but works of necessity—and of great convenience—may also be done on the Lord’s Day. And [these] are such without which we cannot subsist or not well subsist. Therefore, we may quench a raging fire; prevent any great and notable damage that would happen either to our persons or estates…without being guilty of the violation of this day…And not only those works that are of absolute necessity, but those likewise that are of great convenience may lawfully be done on the Lord’s Day: such as kindling of fire, preparing of [food], and many other particulars too numerous to be mentioned” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#184).

“Another sort of works that may and ought to be done on the Lord’s Day are the works of charity and mercy….God prefers mercy before sacrifice….Works of mercy, therefore, are to be done even to beasts themselves, whatsoever labor may be required to the doing of them. How much more, then, [should we do] works of charity to men like ourselves! [This] charity is to be shown either to their souls or their bodies, for both many times are extremely miserable” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#184).

JESUS is LORD of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). We will not break the Sabbath law if we follow His example of acting responsibly and compassionately.

SABBATH

THE SIX DAYS BEFORE AND AFTER THE SABBATH

“In creation GOD rested from His work not because He was tired but because He was establishing a cycle of life—six days work, one day rest” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: The Sabbath Sermon#:2096, “Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath,” July 11, 1999).

“He hath mercifully considered our state and our necessities here; and, as He hath consulted the good of our souls in appointing a seventh day for the immediate duties of religion, so He hath considered our outward necessities and hath allowed us six days for attendance on our outward affairs. What unworthy treatment therefore will it be of God, if we refuse to allow Him even the seventh day” Jonathan Edwards (ref#186)!

“The Sabbath is a covenant sign that represents a lifestyle of devotion to the Lord, for it requires the practical reorganization of every week around him (cf. Ex 31:12-17; Ezek 20:18-20)” The ESV Study Bible, (ref#125, p1342, [Isa 56:2]).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH – TO REVIVE US PHYSICALLY

“The Sabbath is given as a gift to man (for physical…refreshment)” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1897, [Mark 2:27-28]).

“…this day…has been instituted in order that we might withdraw from all earthly anxieties, from all business affairs, to the end that we might surrender everything to God” John Calvin (ref#168).

“This day is a gift from God to be experienced as a delight and a joy—a day that shapes and frames your life, creates purpose, and structure and order and cohesion and a day that goes a long way to relieving panic ad stress” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon #2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath,” July 18, 1999).

“The Sabbath is good for man’s mind….The testimony of the famous philanthropist, Wilberforce, on this point is very striking. He declared that he could only attribute his own power of endurance to his regular observance of the Sabbath Day…he was satisfied that in every such case of mental shipwreck the true cause was neglect of the Fourth Commandment” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“The Sabbath is good for man’s body. We all need a day of rest. On this point…all medical men are agreed. Curiously and wonderfully made as the human frame is, it will not stand incessant work without regular intervals of repose” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH – TO REVIVE THE SOUL

“The Sabbath is given as a gift to man (for…spiritual refreshment)” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1897 [Mark 2:27-28]). “’The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath’ (Mar 2:27). It was made for the profit and for the comfort of our souls” Jonathan Edwards (ref#186).

“…there must be a special day set apart; there must be a regularly recurring time for examining the state of our souls; there must be a day to test and prove us, whether we are prepared for an eternal heaven. Take away a man’s Sabbath, and his religion soon comes to nothing” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167). “It is but a few steps from ‘no Sabbath’ to ‘no God’—J. C. Ryle” (ref#185).

“…our Lord only asks that this day be spent in hearing his Word, in offering common prayers, in confessing our faith, and in observing the sacraments…And when we have spent Sunday in praising and glorifying the name of God and in meditating on his works, then, throughout the rest of the week, we should show that we have benefited from it” John Calvin (ref#168).

God’s objective in commanding this day of rest is for the development of our spiritual nature. Therefore, it is a day set apart from even our words and thoughts about our worldly employments and recreations [Westminster Confession of Faith] Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993). Can you imagine speaking only about spiritual things before and after the church service?

SABBATH

THE SABBATH DEFINED

“…remembering the Sabbath by keeping it holy is integral to…life as the people who are sanctified (or ‘made holy’) by the Lord…” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p 196, [Ex 31:12-17]).

“…actual intent of the Sabbath – to bring rest and well-being…” (ref#125, p1844, [Matt 12:8]).

“The Sabbath is given as a gift to man (for physical and spiritual refreshment)” (ref#125, p 1897, [Mark 2:27-28]).

“…the Sabbath was not meant to be a day of total idleness, and of entire cessation from all kinds and sorts of work. ‘The Sabbath was made for man,’ for his benefit, comfort, and advantage” J. C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. Three, p280, [John 5:17]).

“Our Lord’s reply…’Though my Father rested on the seventh day from His work of creation, He has never rested for a moment from His providential government of the world, and from His merciful work of supplying the daily wants of all His creatures….I do not break the fourth commandment when I heal the sick, anymore than my Father breaks it when He causes the sun to rise and the grass to grow on the Sabbath’” (ref#13, Vol. Three, p277, [John 5:16-23]).

“The Sabbath is a covenant sign that represents a lifestyle of devotion to the Lord, for it requires the practical reorganization of every week around him (cf. Ex 31:12-17; Ezek 20:18-20)” (ref#125, p1342, [Isa 56:2]).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH, OUR JOY AND DELIGHT

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 11.00.53 AM“The LORD’s Day is supposed to be holy and honorable…need to protect the LORD’s Day from improper activities. Calls us to careful, thoughtful use of our time…not a day for idleness or simply doing as we please but neither is it to be a burden…because it is an exquisite delight…a day for reverential thoughtful use…coupled with genuine joy and the determining factor of our conduct…does this or that activity defile or honor the sanctity of the Day” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon# 2098, “The Gift of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999).

“What is the chief end of man? It is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever” John Piper (ref#165, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon# 2098, “The Gift of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999).

Consider yourself, what are your feelings about observing the Sabbath? Does it make you happy that GOD commands your attention on His Day?

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV).

If you are willing to obey the command but not happy about it, you need to consider if you are only acting like a Christian instead of being a real Christian. If you suspect that might be a little true or a lot true, GOD provides a way for you to find joy in Him. In the Scripture below He gives the means. Repentance is always accepted.

“…If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me….” (Jeremiah 15:19 ESV).

And, if you think lightly of the Sabbath command, you will want to read Jeremiah 17:19-27.

SABBATH

APPLYING THE LORD’S DAY

…As with all GOD’s commands there is great benefit in keeping them (Psalm 19:11). But we, (I’m pretty sure that will include all of us) have strayed so far from keeping the Sabbath that we have not experienced most of the benefits.

GOD’s objective in commanding this day of rest is for the development of our spiritual nature. Therefore, it is a day set apart from even our words and thoughts about our worldly employments and recreations [Westminster Confession of Faith] (ref#164, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993). Can you imagine speaking only about spiritual things before or after the church service?

“This Sabbath is kept holy…when men…are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy” [Westminster Confession of Faith] Alistair Begg (ref#164, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).