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.

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VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

SABBATHING-UP

4/10/2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.38.31 PMGOD does as He pleases but until I see His obvious moves, I go along day by day, or I should say, Sabbath by Sabbath following His prompting on my heart. Lately my mind has been selecting activity options to fill these Sabbaths. 24-hours is a lengthy period to have to fill with spiritual activity living in a physical world.

Lists prepared for Sabbath pursuit sound a bit legalistic—law centered, instead of faith centered. And GOD has given me an experience on this Sabbath that proves list making is a mistake.

As I was at a time of private reading this LORD’s Day, He caused the words in the book to penetrate my heart and fill it to almost bursting. It was a similar experience D. L Moody had as he sought the fullness of the HOLY SPIRIT:

“…one day, walking down a street in New York…suddenly God overwhelmed him with this mighty blessing. It was so mighty that Moody felt he would be killed by it, and he held up his hand and said, ‘Stop, God’” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#194, November 20th)!

I can identify with “Stop, God!” I’ve had enough of His spiritual truth to certainly last me until next Sabbath just in my private reading today.

I am familiar with reaching a point in public or private prayer where I know I am finished. There is nothing more my heart wishes to say to the LORD. I have a friend that calls such a phenomenon, “praying up.”

GOD has just caused me to experience, “Sabbathing up.” Even though there are hours left before Sabbath’s end, I have taken in all that I can assimilate today.

I have to smile, I am like those who are fearful about impeding retirement wondering if they’ll be able to find satisfying activity to replace the job hours. Most surprise themselves by finding their days fuller than before. Sabbath living is the same.

Leaving the workweek behind, I’ll watch the LORD fill my Sabbaths with purposeful activities that will give me great spiritual joy and strength whether it take 24 hours or one. He knows my needs and desires.

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]).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

A CHEERLEADER FOR THE SABBATH

3/1/2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.22.17 PMAnother Sabbath came and went with nothing to report. All is quiet on the Sabbath front—not even a lone chipmunk running across the dry landscape. Seems I’ve just begun making my Sabbath holy and now everything is dried up. The path forward has evaporated.

I’m wandering. I identified it this morning. Taking my mind back through recent history, I see I’ve been moving away from my daily routine.

I could blame the start of drifting on no longer lighting a candle in the prayer closet. (My closet scent is no longer manufactured and I haven’t decided on a new fragrance.) I no longer get up ½ hour before the start of my day to spend it with the LORD. Since my daily “work” is with the LORD, I have rationalized closet time not a must-do.

But, my “work” has lately been too much replaced with other obligations making me a little nervous about my approaching blogging deadlines. I’m even allowing myself to entertain the stressful thought of not having anything to post about the Sabbath.

I keep saying to myself I’ve got to get back organized but just as the day ends and I’m too tired to do my exercises, I find I’m still not keeping up with my “work.”

But then there is GOD—the One Who surprises me and I react in irrepressible joy.  So He started with me today.

I had not met Him in the prayer closet but was, out of habit, reading Scripture while eating breakfast. (There is something to say about habits. For me, more often than not, Scripture over breakfast is the door He comes through to meet me.)

So there was Joshua, the Old Testament leader of Israel after the death of Moses. He knew he was GOD’s chosen:

“And the LORD commissioned Joshua…’Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you’” (Deut 31:23 ESV).

With the LORD’s words fresh in his ears, he led the people across the Jordon River and into their first battle victory over Jericho by specifically following the LORD’s commands. Then Joshua sent men to spy out the next town, Ai. He anticipated another battle victory as the spies came back with an optimistic estimate of the challenge.

Not. They were soundly defeated (Josh 7:4). Why? “…there was…the apparent negligence of Joshua…in failing to seek divine direction for the Ai campaign…” (ref#125, p404, [Josh 7:10-12]).

I thought, “how quickly he forgets.” But then I have forgotten GOD, too, by moving away from my daily routine.

Before I finished breakfast I received a text from my friend. Periodically she will text me saying she is praying for me. Today I text back a prayer request about my retreat from the LORD. So now I have made myself accountable therefore I am spurred to address my drifting. I smile as I understand the LORD’s orchestration of my situations.

***

Now it’s 4:30PM. I have just come from my prayer closet. Wondering why it is I ever resist the morning time with my FATHER. I have emerged totally psyched—totally refreshed—enough to get me through the rest of the week, I’m sure. I had no idea I was so spiritually cracked and dry until my DADDY recharged me. He has given me enough strength and faith and reason to get back on schedule. Boy, do I feel better—and I didn’t even know I felt bad!

And, moreover, I know that rejuvenation is one of the very important reasons GOD initiated the Sabbath. Indeed, because of His leading today I can again be a cheerleader for keeping the Sabbath.

“…The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 NASB).

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).

SABBATH

THE DELIGHT OF THE SABBATH

…We really would love to have a list of steps to believe, honor and obey GOD (ref#164, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon#2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999). Oh, to just apply a list of dos and don’ts…

But, trouble happens when we look for lists. We fall into the category of sacrificing instead of obeying. The LORD desires we see our enjoyment of His blessings through obedience. Sacrifice is not pleasing to Him when we weary ourselves following a list of man-made rules. (1 Samuel 15:22)

God’s Word binds us only to Him and to His Word. We are free in matters of faith and worship from every human directive (from any kind of list).

“We are free from the doctrines and commandments of men” [Westminster Confession of Faith] (ref#164, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon#2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999).

CHRIST has purchased the right to be our only Master (ref#164, 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.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

MONDAY MORNING BLUESScreen Shot 2015-10-20 at 2.57.17 PM

Took stock of my Sabbath. Pronounced myself very lacking. Honestly, with the Apostle Paul (Rom 7:14-25), I decided my actions did not attest to my heart’s desire.

So, how do I do better next Sunday?

I thought of the next chapter Paul wrote after he admitted failure:

“…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13 ESV).

I began to think of what I might “put to death” next Sunday—certainly not give myself permission to take a 3-hour nap like I did yesterday!

With that thought my meditation stalled out. I retreated back into Rom 7; even by the SPIRIT I know I cannot put to death all my sin.

Oh, I could push ahead and make a list of certain activities to engage in next Sunday but that would translate into following laws. With this thought my meditation came to a final halt.

But, later in the day I read the first chapter of 1 Peter. The following phrases were illuminated to me:

“…he has caused us…” (1 Pet 1:3 ESV).

“…by God’s power…” (1 Pet 1:5 ESV).

“…grace that will be brought to you…” (1 Pet 1:13 ESV).

“…you were ransomed…” (1 Pet 1:18 ESV).

“…you have been born again…through the living and abiding word of God…” (1 Pet 1:23 ESV).

Ah ha, Paul’s word in Romans chapter 8 does answer my Romans 7 complaint. It is what the SPIRIT does, not what I do. The SPIRIT is always successful; I am never successful.

So, I’m not worrying anymore about what I should do next LORD’s Day. GOD shall give me rest and enough strength to conquer the weekdays if I focus on reviewing His activities toward me and trust Him with the details.

“…’What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent’” (John 6:28-29 ESV).