SABBATH

SABBATH BREAKING: WARNINGS FROM NEHEMIAH

The prophet, Nehemiah, was instructed by the LORD to warn the people. “He reasons the case with them… and shows them that Sabbath breaking was one of the sins for which God had brought judgments upon them, and that if they did not take warning, but returned to the same sins again, they had reason to expect further judgments…” Mathew Henry (ref#18, [Neh 13:15-22]).

“At the heart of Sabbath-breaking is idolatry, having other gods before the true God (Exodus 20:3). The basic…spiritual manifestation is…subtle and dangerous. It is putting anything above God: money, a job, a house, or even a spouse! If anything becomes more important than God, idolatry is committed. Thus, if in the weekly observance of the Sabbath we do anything that becomes more important to us than our relationship with God, we have broken the Sabbath and committed idolatry….We must make a very real distinction between the Sabbath and the other days. The Sabbath was ‘made for man,’ as Christ points out (Mark 2:27), but that does not mean mankind has the authority to use it for his own purposes—rather, God made it on man’s behalf, for his benefit. The seventh day still belongs to God, and He shares it with those whom He has called and sanctified. We have a key responsibility in esteeming the Sabbath in our conduct, in our conversations, in our attitudes, and even in our thoughts. By entering into this covenant with God, we have been entrusted with the knowledge and significance of this day, but we have also been warned, as stewards of God’s truth, to be very careful with it” David C. Grabbe (ref#201).

My youth was influenced by “blue laws”—no shopping, no eating out on Sundays. Our family’s church attendance was so regular that I remember with glee the one Sunday there was a miscommunication with the churchmen and the boiler was not stoked so church had to be called off. Dad never farmed on Sunday even if it was a perfect day to combine the wheat. All these Sunday-only events set the day apart making it perfect for remembering GOD.

“Blue laws, also known as Sunday laws, are designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Most blue laws have been repealed in the United States, although many states still ban the sale of alcoholic beverages or cars on Sundays” Wikipedia (ref#202).

Is there a modern-day prophet who will cry against the repealing of the blue laws?  “This breach of the Sabbath was that which let in upon them al the waters of God’s wrath” Adam Clarke’s Commentary (ref#15, [Jer 17:21]). Is there still time to save our nation, or will we succumb to GOD’s wrath as the Old Testament Jews?

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ADORATION

POWERFUL IS YOUR ARM

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-2-37-48-pm “I…submit to Your unfathomable judgments, Lord;

You alone are truly great.

Immeasurable greatness!

Uncrossable sea” Thomas a ‘Kempis (ref#147, p149)!

Powerful is Your arm! Strong is Your hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength (Ps 89:13).

Not only is Your arm and hand mighty and strong to save Your people, but also to destroy Your enemies. None can resist the force of Your mighty hand. Not one of Your enemies shall flee away. Even if they climb up to heaven You will bring them down (Amos 9:2). Your lifted right hand is a signal of Your power. Your right hand does valiantly (Ps 118:15).

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants (Ps 89:14). Righteousness and judgment inhabit Your throne. Your rules of equity and wisdom never vary. Mercy and truth go before You. These are all Yours in perfection (ref#18, [Ps 89:14]).

Powerful is Your arm to save. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me” (Ps 138:7 ESV).  I will meditate on Your strength.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

HOLY SPIRIT – unholy spirit

5/27/2015

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-58-31-pmIdentified the problem that was making me feel miserable. But it wasn’t the current problem.

Each day I was moving further away from the SPIRIT who I beheld so clearly over the weekend. He was fading like the morning dew. And there was no way I could find to go back treading the wet grass with Him. The ground was dry.

I definitely feel like I’ve lost a best friend. I mourn—longing for the exhilaration of “knowing” I was beside GOD Himself and able to obey Him exuberantly. The joy of it was addicting. Who obeys exuberantly when we’re in the room with just ourselves?

My journal is full of mountaintops and valleys where GOD is close, and then gone. My life marches to those ebb and flows. So, the logical question is, “How can I get myself again close to the SPIRIT?”

But, as soon as I ask that, I must be cautious reminding myself that the SPIRIT is like the wind (Acts 2:2)—hard to capture. And, I’ve read enough about revival to know mankind gets in trouble seeking to keep the SPIRIT after He’s made Himself known in an extraordinary way.

So the answer does not have anything to do with what I can do to get him to stay or to return. And, does it do any good to make a conscious effort to wait for Him—just sit and wait until I feel Him once again? Well, I have done that and sometimes it has worked.

Indeed, I’m instructed to ask for Him (Luke 11:13), but “waiting”—sitting and waiting is risky. It’s the same as in the great revivals where people loved His appearing so much they forgot all about who’s Spirit He was and only concentrated on Him. But, the SPIRIT does not initiate anything. He is obedient to the FATHER and the SON. So, I cannot wait expecting something from the SPIRIT directly.

The enemy is the great imitator. He is quite able to act in all the ways man has enjoyed the HOLY SPIRIT. But, he is the unholy spirit acting without the FATHER’s or CHRIST’s authority.

So now the question becomes: “How can I distinguish the real SPIRIT and guard against following the devil?” The words, “Holy, Holy, Holy” begin to give me the answer.

The Godhead, three in One, is “holy, holy, holy.” And I am not; so because I’m sinful I will be unable to feel myself in the SPIRIT’s presence continually. My journal entries do not lie—ebb and flow is how life is.

I flail around in the valley and continue to do so until I act in faith. I get that opportunity to act when the LORD puts spiritual information in front of my face. By faith only am I transported to the mountaintop.

A true mountaintop is always achieved by operating in faith; it is never achieved by waiting to “feel” the SPIRIT move. True, I may be aware of the SPIRIT when I am on the mountaintop but faith provided the foundation for Him. Faith always forms the foundation for the SPIRIT. Faith is a spiritual act; it is never accomplished by my human fleshly nature. The below quote helps me distinguish between the HOLY SPIRIT and the unholy spirit:

“Carnal pleasure, worldly profit and honor, the things of sense and time, are the things of the flesh…The favor of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit” Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible (ref#18, [Rom 8:5]).

SABBATH

A SONG FOR THE SABBATH DAY

“The proper work of the Sabbath is praising God” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]). GOD has blessed the Sabbath and we keep it holy by blessing Him (ref#18, [Ex 31:1-11]).

Our GOD shows forth His lovingkindness and faithfulness. “Being convinced of his glorious attributes and perfections, we must show them forth, as those that are greatly affected with them ourselves…” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]).

“We cannot comprehend the greatness of God’s works, and therefore must reverently and awfully wonder at them, and even stand amazed at the magnificence of them….From a joyful remembrance of what God has done for us we may raise a joyful prospect of what he will do, and triumph in the assurance of it…” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]).

 

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord,

to sing praises to the Most High.

It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,

your faithfulness in the evening,

 

You thrill me, Lord,

with all you have done for me!

I sing for joy

because of what you have done” (Ps 92:1,2,4 NLT).

CONFESSION

PARDON IS NOT TO MAKE ME MORE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 11.13.44 AM…LORD, as I approach Your throne, my natural reaction is to cry out like Isaiah, “I have unclean lips” (Isa 6:5), and so desire to spill out my confessions of sin before I come close to You.

In the prayer JESUS taught His disciples, the first half of it is words of worship and honor to You. Confession of sin is toward the end of the prayer and then takes up only ½ a sentence.

Remind me FATHER, You do not throw the robe of CHRIST upon me so You can tolerate looking at me. You do not demand I confess my sin before You let me approach You. You know my frame (Ps 103:14) and my sinfulness does not give You pause.

A woman may forget she is nursing a child, but You will never forget me. You engraved me on the palm of Your hands (Isa 49:15,16) before I did anything right or wrong (Rom 9:11).

You seek and solicit my love constantly. You love me at the expense of Your Son’s blood—at the expense of condescending to beseech me (ref#18, [1 John 4:18]). Have You not rend the heavens and come down to be constantly beside me (Isa 64:1)? You are willing to call me Your bride even when I am unfaithful to You (Hosea 3:1).

I have mistaken thoughts about confession! My natural thought is to dwell on Your assurance of pardon to convince myself that I am now good enough to come into Your presence. FATHER, remind me once again that I am good only because CHRIST has made me His own, not because I have confessed my sins and received Your pardon.

Isn’t this what Job was so upset about—justifying himself before You? Job wanted You to speak to him about his sin—or lack thereof. Did You do that? No, You instead overwhelmed Job with Your majesty (Job 38:1-41:34).

Astonish me like You did Job. I want to spend the majority of my time with You losing myself in Your love.

“…if the heart be…much taken up with…the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him” John Owen (ref#35, p128).

ADORATION

CLOTHED WITH THE GARMENTS OF SALVATION

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.44.08 PM“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,…” (Isa 61:10 ESV).

FATHER, I will rejoice with holy joy, to Your honor. For the beauty of Your grace has clothed me with a durable covering. You have provided this garment for protection and ornamentation. It is the image of the church—how You defend it and make it beautiful (ref#16, [Isa 61:10]). 

“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown…to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations” (Isa 61:11 ESV).

May I be pleasing to You with the righteousness and salvation that JESUS CHRIST clothes me. I rejoice to think of the fathomless blessings that shall spring forth for future ages and spread to distant regions—from generation to generation. How great is Your salvation that shall be published and proclaimed to all the world and the ends of the earth shall see it (ref#18, [Isa 61:10-11]).

SABBATH

HELPS FOR OBSERVING THE SABBATH

“Let the whole day be consecrated to the service of God, especially in acts of worship, public and private. This weekly recess from worldly cares and avocations, affords a precious opportunity for the study of God’s word, and for the examination of our own hearts” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

Use physical refreshments so we can feel strong and well in our worship. God does not require fasting and weight loss on this day….Always practice self-control so that you do not even begin to sin, and so that you do not lose alertness from a full belly.

Work very hard to make this day spiritually beneficial….Naps are not a religious part of the Lord’s Day except as they help us to attend to its duties….All pains and labors on the Lord’s Day are lawful if they help us keep it as we should.

Do works of love and necessity. Visit the sick. Revive the poor. Help the distressed. Rescue perishing people or even animals.

Be careful about sports and recreations. Good sense about these on Sunday is found in ancient legislation of emperors and nations. We can summarize the best sentiments by reminding you that the Lord’s Day is supposed to be full of joy in Him that He might be praised and glorified” John Owen (ref#176).

“…a people truly flourish when religion flourished among them. And this is the effect of Sabbath-sanctification; when that branch of religion is kept up other instances of it are kept up likewise; but when that is lost, devotion is lost either in superstition or in profaneness. It is a true observation, which some have made, that the streams of all religion run either deep or shallow according as the banks of the Sabbath are kept up or neglected” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Jer 17:19-27]).

SABBATH

ACTIONS TO IMPROVE KEEPING THE SABBATH

“The offence of Sabbath-breaking was one for which there could be no excuse….Transgression of it was therefore a presumptuous sin, and was punished accordingly” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Numbers 15:32]).

In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day.  People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, ‘What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day?  Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath’” (Nehemiah 13:15-18 NIV).

“The desecration of the Sabbath is first brought into prominence among the sins of the Jewish people by Jeremiah (Jer 17:21-27). It could not but have gained ground during the captivity, when foreign masters would not have allowed the cessation of labor for one day in seven. On the return from the captivity, the sabbatical rest appears to have been one of the institutions most difficult to re-establish” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Neh 13:15]).

“When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day.  Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem.  But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy….” (Neh 13:19-22 NIV).

Nehemiah “not only expressed his own dislike of it, but endeavored to convince them that it was a great sin….Those that are jealous for the honor of God cannot bear to see his Sabbath profaned” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Neh 13:15-22]).

“If reformers will but put on resolution, more may be done towards the breaking of bad customs than they can imagine” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Neh 13:15-22]). Are we willing to be reformers? Will we vow to not buy or sell on the Sabbath? Can we convince our local church to make that vow? Other churches? Our government representatives?

ADORATION

YOUR STEADFAST LOVE EXTENDS TO THE HEAVENS

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 2.27.08 PMYour steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds (Ps 36:5). It is “so high that it does not change with the weather…” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (ref#18, [Ps 36:5-12]). Your mercy is so exalted it is more extensive than I can conceive—above all visible space—to the eternal regions (ref#15, [Ps 36:5]). Your mercy and loving-kindness is infinite, Your loyalty astronomic.

Constant and unfailing is Your love. Indeed, Your faithfulness binds You to fulfill the promises and covenants made by Your mercy and love.

Your righteousness is like the mountains; Your judgments are like the great deep (Ps 36:6). Your justice, O GOD, is as fixed as the everlasting hills—sure and immovable. Your judicial dealings are immeasurable and vast—beyond comprehension as the ocean (ref#16, [Ps 36:6]). You are “a God of unsearchable wisdom and design” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (ref#18, [Ps 36:5-12]).

With You is the fountain of life (Ps 36:9). You give life-giving streams of providential goodness—that living water (ref#15, [Ps 36:9]). It includes “the fullness of happiness” because no foes can take away life and blessedness that comes from You, FATHER, the “Fountain” JFB Commentary (ref#17, [Ps 36:9]).

So, let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away (Ps 36:11). Reveal to me the preciousness of Your mercy; teach me to value it beyond all treasures; I want to know how to prize it (ref#68, [Ps 36:5-9]). Forever bless me with Your steadfast love O LORD, my righteousness.

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]).