May 5th 201: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards-Jan18Exodus 20:8-11

The American actor of the early twentieth century, W.C. Fields, was not a nice man. He was an alcoholic, an ardent atheist who was very anti-Christian. So it was a great surprise when a friend walked into his dressing room and saw him reading the Bible. Fields, embarrassed, claimed he was ‘just looking for loopholes.’ Of all the verses examined for loopholes, those we are looking at here are probably high on the list. This Commandment, ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8) is most contentious: what day shall be observed? What should and shouldn’t be allowed? Today we shall hear part 1 of a 2-part study.

  • The Sabbath is a holy day
  • The Sabbath is a day of rest
  • The Sabbath is a day of blessing.

The Sabbath is a holy day. God set apart one day in seven to be a holy day. It is God who established a pattern of a seven day cycle with one particular day set apart, consecrated, holy, for Him. God requires we set apart one day in seven in which we seek Him and worship Him. During their time in Egypt the children of Israel had been used to a ten day week and not one of those ten days was set aside for the Lord. Even before the giving of this Commandment, God re-establishes the creation cycle of one in seven. This is then enshrined in this Commandment. In the Old Testament the people observed this day on the last day of the week but in the New Testament it began to be observed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), in commemoration of the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 16:2). Nevertheless, whichever day it was , it was a day set aside by God in which man was particularly to worship Him, to acknowledge in a special way one day in seven (Exodus 31:12-13).

In the New Testament the title of the Lord’s Day was introduced (Revelation 1:10). The Sabbath is a holy day. God has given us six days to do all the necessary things in life. Only one is set aside to worship Him. We are to worship Him in all that we do, on all days – in our job, home-life, church life, worship Him every day. But He is to be particularly honoured and worshipped on the Lord’s Day.

However, there is a problem. People are increasingly reluctant to give Him one day. Perhaps I can be a little provocative and say it is the Lord’s Day, not just in the morning, but also in the afternoon. It is particularly appropriated to attend church gatherings and to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. If you can’t attend services for the Lord’s people, the day is still the Lord’s. It is not the Lord’s half day, it is the Lord’s Day.

We should be prepared for the Lord’s Day. Good practice is to go to bed early Saturday night so you are refreshed, alert and ready in body, mind and soul, having prayerfully sought the Lord, even before coming to a church service.

The Sabbath is a day of rest. It is very important we understand what the term ‘rest’ means here. We are to imitate God, who after six days of creation, paused to rest on the Sabbath. This doesn’t mean God was tired, for He never tires. Neither does it mean God entered into an inactive state, for He was still sustaining all He had created by His power. God rested. Having seen everything He made was very good, He ceased from His labour to enjoy what He had made. Likewise, we should cease one day in seven from all labours so we should enjoy God. Don’t make a mistake in thinking ‘work’ means paid employment. No. What is referred to is all those activities which stop us from worshipping.

The Sabbath is not a day of inactivity but a day full of worship and activity for God. The Sabbath was provided as a gracious means for everyone to draw near to God. To take advantage of the day instead of pursuing everyday pleasures brings great blessings (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Sundays are not meant to be a day of laziness, leisure and lie-ins. Sunday is meant as a day of enjoying God. It is not for catching up on the backlog of work, DIY jobs, being on the golf course. If it is, then you are too busy and need to look how you are use Monday to Saturday. If we can’t give Sundays to enjoyment of God then we are in real trouble spiritually. Tell me what you are doing on a Sunday and I will tell you what your future will be. Sunday is a family day but it is not to be spent on the beach but with the Lord and His people – the whole family praising the Lord together in church services, in the company of the Christian family we belong to.

The Sabbath is a day of blessing. It follows on that the Sabbath is meant to be a day of blessing (Exodus 20:11). God’s intention always was that this day, consecrated to Him, would bring great joy and blessing (Psalm 92). Unfortunately, later generations forgot the joy of the Sabbath and turned it into a legalistic nightmare. By Jesus’ day the Pharisees had 1,500 rules. This is why Jesus attacked them. The Sabbath should be observed in the right way for the right reasons. It is meant to be a day of rejoicing (Mark 2:27). The blessings and joys of the one day in seven also points to the Sabbath rest, fellowship with the people of God. It speaks of heaven.

Have you ever contemplated that a Sunday is intended to be a foretaste of heaven? The thrill of His Resurrection power that we know is at work in our own lives?  We should know such blessing of our souls as we gather around His Word, seek Him in prayer and praise. The blessings that we experience on the Lord’s Day are a little bit of what awaits us in heaven. If you don’t like Sundays, you won’t like heaven.

Sundays are to be enjoyed, not in the pleasures of this world, but by experiencing and anticipating the blessings of God that will one day fill our lives. Those who believe Sundays are boring are radically wrong. Perhaps we have forgotten how to enjoy God, failing to appreciate His blessings. Keeping the Lord’s Day is about separating ourselves from normal daily activities to be in fellowship. Blessings of a Sunday can be only known by those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and whose place in heaven is secure. They have great joy in their souls not only because they’re forgiven but because they know Him who died for them at Calvary. These are the blessings because Christ has secured them for us. If we value these things then the Sabbath will be special to us. Christ is our Lord and Saviour. The Sabbath – a holy day, a day of rest and a day of blessings.

April 7th 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwrds-Feb 19Exodus 20:7

The third Commandment. It is often said a man’s most precious asset is his good name. People are very quick to clear their name from slander, liable or injustice. Even those who are guilty of crimes will protest vigorously in order to protect their name. If it’s important for a man to maintain his name, how much more is it important for God to maintain His name?

The third Commandment is not to misuse His name.

 1. What does it mean?
2. In what ways do we break this commandment?
3.  What are the consequences?

  1. What is this Commandment telling us?
    It is clear how much importance God places upon His name. He has given us His names to represent His character to us. In the Bible, names are not just means of identifying someone; names in the Bible express something of the character and personality of the person concerned. For example, Genesis 25:25-26 we read of Esau, who was given his name because he is reddish in colour and hairy. And that is what the name Esau means. The second twin, Jacob, means ‘heel catcher’ and denotes how he came out of the womb holding Esau’s foot. Names are a statement of the person, their character.

 

And so it is that God’s names reveal His character, much more than titles, more than what He has told us to call Him. El Shaddai means the strong one, Elohim refers to the most high, Eloham is the everlasting God and Jehovah Jireh the God who provides. In all His majesty, splendour, holiness and authority of His works, God’s name is inseparable from His very being. God’s name is holy as He is holy. Psalm 145:21

To misuse God’s name is to denigrate His character, to treat Him without the respect rightly due to Him. To dishonour God is such a terrible sin. We are called to praise Him. In abusing His name we dishonour Him. Psalm 103:1

When we use the name of God we must always do so with reverence and with humble respect. We must always speak of God and to God with the utmost reverence and deepest respect, as we realise who He is. If we pay honour and respect to earthly kings and queens who we call ‘your majesty’ how much more we should honour and pay homage to God? We do homage to the Almighty, to the glorious exalted Lord, the one who is altogether holy. We must address Him as such.

  1. In what ways do we break this Commandment?
    There are three general ways:
    (a) profanity and flippancy. For many today, the name of the Lord is nothing more than a swear word. The Lord’s name is shouted in drunken revelry. Many do it thoughtlessly, following the model of others. Instead of God’s name being praised, it is blasphemed. Men scoff and ridicule God’s name in jokes. Today, even Christians use the Lord’s name flippantly, even telling jokes about the Lord Almighty from the pulpit, or addressing God in a casual flippancy. It is not acceptable to refer to Him as ‘Daddy.’ It is wrong for Christians to speak of God in an overly familiar way, as if He was our best friend. Praise God He has drawn us graciously into close communion with Him, blessed us beyond all measure with a great privilege. But that should not lead us to speak of Him as we would speak of a friend. We must never, ever treat God lightly.

If you are guilty of profaning the name of the Lord, may I plead with you to stop? If you use the name of the Lord, let it be only to praise Him, and not as some profanity. Endeavour never to get used to hearing the Lord’s name used in vain, blasphemed. Don’t become accustomed to it so you tune it out. Rather, wince whenever you hear the Lord’s name taken in vain. May it be like a dagger to your heart, something that pains you.

(b). Broken through oaths and lies. Leviticus 19:12. The Bible does not so much deny swearing an oath in God’s name, but it does call for the death of anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord (Leviticus 24:16). Perjury is still recognised as a serious crime in our age of dishonesty. If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, anything that does not come to pass, they are guilty of using God’s name in a blasphemous way (Deuteronomy 18:14-22). Anyone who says’ Thus says the Lord,’ but gives his own words, has linked the name of the righteous God of heaven to a lie and God says he must die. The best way to avoid misusing God’s name is only to tell the truth. Unfortunately, today some make claims in the name of prophecy, blatantly false prophecy. The individuals probably don’t realise they are breaking the third Commandment.

(c) With a fearful hesitancy, I even mention hypocrisy. We are not to misuse God’s name in our speech but also in our lives. In many ways, the professing Christian is guilty of breaking this Commandment than the non-believer. There is no greater misuse of God’s name than praying His name with our lips but living our lives without Him. Titus 1:16. Some claim they are Christian when they are not truly born-again. When we sing together great hymns and songs, we are taken the glorious name of God on our lips, but our thoughts may be far from Him. Therefore, we do not show the reverence God deserves. In our daily lives we claim His name but then do we live our everyday lives as everyone else does, and break this Commandment? We bear the name of Christ.

  1. What are the consequences?
    ‘For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain’ (Exodus 20:7b). God will never let anyone escape punishment for misusing His name (Leviticus 10). Everyone here this morning deserves to be consumed by the same fire as consumed Nadab and Abihu. But God, in His mercy, has saved us. For the fire that should have consumed me fell upon another, who in every thought, word and deed honoured His Father. In His perfect life He brought only praise and honour to God. He kept the third Commandment but died for me. He paid the price to every blasphemy of my life. In my place, condemned He stood. Hallelujah! What a Saviour! And we cry out to people today, friends and family, turn to the Saviour. We want them to come to the Saviour, that’s the only safe place to be. He died for me and offered Himself up to the fire of God’s wrath in my place. May the Lord help us to go and sin no more. We will never be sinless in this life, but our desire is to honour His name and His sacrifice.

February 3rd 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwrds-Feb 19

‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ Exodus 20:3

The first four commandments are about our relationship with God and lay the foundation for the remaining six, which refer to our relationship with others. To be right with God is our first priority, it gives the basis on which we can be right with others. Even within the first four commandments there is a logical progression. The first commandment acts as a cornerstone on which the rest are constructed. ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3) is the prime directive for life.

Each of the commandments is expressed as a negative, ‘You shall not.’ The purpose of the commandments being presented in negative language is to underline a positive. The first commandment tells us that we are to worship God alone. God is demanding an exclusive commitment to Him alone. All must be put aside (verse 5). The Lord speaks about Himself as being a jealous God. He will not share us with anyone or anything else. God is jealous for His people. They are His, they belong to no other. He is jealous for all His creation. Therefore, the devotion of our lives in worship belongs uniquely to God (Isaiah 42:8).

Why is this so? There are no other gods. He is the only supreme God (Isaiah 44:6). There are no other gods, but men invent them. When men refuse to worship the true God they make false ones. They have a natural desire to worship. If they refuse to worship the one true God, they will worship a lie (Romans 1). There are no gods – just the foolish rebellion of men (1 Corinthians 8:4). God expects the exclusive worship of our lives. He alone is deserving of worship.

He alone has done all. The Ten Commandments are set against the context of God saving Israel against tyranny (verse 2). They were to worship God not only because of who He is, but also because of what He has done for them. For them and for us there is nothing better than to spend our lives in the worship of the one who gave us life in the first place, and whose grace has brought us spiritual life through the death of His Son at Calvary.

It’s unjust and ungrateful that we should give away our worship to anyone but God. It is He who gives us life, He who gives us our daily blessings, He who gives us new birth and eternal life.

What are the implications of the fist commandment?

  1. The Almighty is God alone, therefore we should render to Him alone the adoration and worship of our lives. This is the very purpose of our existence – to fulfil a calling to worship God and to give to Him the unadulterated commitment of all we have. The Westminster Confession begins ‘The chief end of man is the glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.’

Psalm 144:15. There’s nothing more worthwhile then the worship of the triune God in every part of our lives. It is a particular grace and blessing of God that we come together to enjoy worshipping Him. That’s the purpose of this day, a day set apart in which we come together to glorify His name and to enjoy Him. Did you come this Sunday morning to have the privilege of worshipping God and to enjoy Him, to meet with Him? The songs and sermon are the means to the end, to enjoying God.

We were made to know God. When we sacrifice our lives for His glory we experience what it means to be truly human. This commandment is for our blessing.

  1. What fools men are. They will worship everything and anything rather than the one true God. There are those who will worship idols – the gods of man’s imagination. Romans 1:21-23. God declares men either worship Him or waste their lives in the pursuit of imaginary gods. Those who reject Him come under His curse. Malachi 2:2.

Men, in their sin, reject God and are rejected by Him. Our nation is under the curse of God. The lives of our friends and family members are under the curse of God because in their sinful rebellion they do not worship Him. They have gods of their own imagination and creation. There are those who will think they are so intellectually complete that they think they are wise and can look disdainfully down on us. Were we once not with them – devoted to other gods? Did not God, in His grace and mercy, have compassion on us and open our eyes to see, open our ears to hear and open our hearts to know Christ? How gracious God has dealt with us. He has called us to Himself. Will we not pray for our friends, our family, the people of Roch, of Wales, Europe and the world, that God will have mercy upon them as He has mercy on us? Their greatest need is to know Him, to know that there is but one God and that He is to be worshipped for who He is and what He has done. Will we not tell them, preach to them, by the lives we live, declaring here is the Lord Almighty, and you must know and worship Him, have your sins forgiven? Man is a fool until God’s grace comes.

  1. You cannot worship God half-heartedly. He demands our all (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30. He’s unwilling to share this with anyone else. This doesn’t mean we can’t serve our community and others. What it means is it’s shaped by our desire to glorify God in all that we do. In our love for our family, to do a good job of work, primarily our deepest desire in doing all of these things is that He will be glorified. In all we do we are to have a single-minded dedication to the Lord which puts Him first, above all else. We must guard against doing anything in the name of the Lord which, in fact, we are doing for ourselves, for our own praise. That is a denial of the first Commandment. We cannot play games with God. This is the most serious business, the worship of the Lord Almighty. Because it is so serious we need the help of God, God the Holy Spirit, when we fail in this duty, which we so often do. We need to know the saving grace that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh gracious God, grant to me the strength, the faith, the desire to honour you in all things. You are worthy to be praised.