Friday, April 24, 2009

Leave This to Me

The Christian Sabbath

I. Remember

A. The first obligation of the Sabbath is to remember grace; in its Biblical context the Sabbath is inherently holy. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

B. People who remember will keep the Sabbath. Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.” (Deuteronomy 5:12)

C. The Sabbath is not merely for fasting from work, worry, and stress but for growing in grace; sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” (2 Thessalonians 2:13) “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

D. God intended people to work; work was part of the human design before the fall. “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8) “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

E. Something is fundamentally wrong with people who do not plan their work and work their plans; faithful Christians prosper. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:” (Deuteronomy 5:13) “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)

II. The Sabbath Is Distinctive

A. What is obligatory on other days is forbidden on the Sabbath. “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. (Deuteronomy 5:14)

B. Rest had a heavenly quality even before work became a burden; genuine rest echoes God and in doing so conveys a blessing. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. (Genesis 2:2-3)

C. The Sabbath is a permanent refreshing expression of the relationship between God and Creation. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:17) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

D. The call to return to the Sabbath marks the dawn of reformation; restoration must begin with grace. Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

E. God does not make a promise about joining the institution, hitting the sawdust trail, or speaking in tongues; He does make a promise of abundant grace to those who turn from themselves and rest in Him.If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. ” (Isaiah 58:13-14)

The Way to the Top

Jeremiah 45:1-5; Mark 9:33-37 / Psalm 139:1-12

I. Who Is the Greatest?

A. Jesus caught the disciples squabbling; disciples must expect to be called to account for their behavior and their progress in their gospel lessons. “And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?” (Mark 9:33)

B. The disciples were being childish; there is no mature way to raise some questions. “But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. (Mark 9:34)

C. Self-centered pride makes people look bad; it reverses the graces of the soul, turning love into envy, humility into pride, and generosity into selfishness.Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10) “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

D. Christian courtesy encourages a climate of modesty. “But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:10-11)

E. King Jesus is not like the rulers of the world and His kingdom does not follow the world’s patterns. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

II. The Bible Reveals a Career Path to the Top

A. Jesus was honestly answering the question being proposed; there is a path to the top: Start at the bottom and do what is being left undone. “And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9:35)

B. Jesus illustrated the doctrine of advancement magnificently at the Last Supper. “And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:2-5)

C. The Lord of Grace took one final opportunity to do the least attractive job available before going out into the night and on to the cross. “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-15)

D. Disciples must never forget their station in the community of grace. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” (John 13:16)

III. Get the Question Right

A. Great writers and teachers create pictures in the mind; Jesus did this with a child. “And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,” (Mark 9:36)

B. A little child has nothing to offer but need and simple confidence that the need will be met; Jesus demands that the church focus its work at this level. Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” (Mark 9:37) Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

C. Instead of asking, “Who is the greatest?”, people qualified to lead the church ask, “Who will hold the wet, hungry, and tearful baby?” “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. (Matthew 18:3-5

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