1st December 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards - Dec 2091-2The final one of the Ten Commandments can be found in Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.” To a large extent our society today is built on covetousness. We are encouraged in this sin, it is an economic necessity. Our whole lives are increasingly defined not by who we are or what we do but by what we consume. We desire cars, holidays … our days are filled with the never-ending pursuit of more and more, therefore we are constantly breaking this Commandment. This is a very subtle sin, nevertheless, a very dangerous one. It often lies behind many other sins (1 Timothy 6:10). The action of adultery, murdering and stealing break the commandments, but all these begin when we break the 10th Commandment (James 1:14-15). It begins with a desire. It conceives sin. Sin brings death.

What is the sin of coveting? To covet is to strongly desire or delight in something. It is not necessarily a bad thing; a husband and wife should have a strong delight and desire in one another. However, the problem is we do not have the right to enjoy that which belongs to others. Covetousness is the big sister of the twins envy and jealousy. We are often determined in every way to match other people’s lifestyles. This is a destruction for the human heart (Proverbs 14:30, James 4:1-2). Jealousy clings to what we own with a grasping, selfish spirit. Howard Hughes, who died leaving a 2.3 billion estate, was a prisoner of his own fear of losing his own wealth.

Coveting holds firmly to what it has and will not open its hand to give (Psalm 62:10). The classic example in scripture of covetousness is found in 1 Kings 21 in the account of Ahab coveting Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab starts with making a fair offer for the vineyard and is not trying to rip off Naboth. But Naboth has a sense of this is a portion of God’s inheritance, part of his family’s identity. So Ahab sulks and won’t eat. Jezebel, his wife, says, ‘Aren’t you the king? I’ll get it for you.’ And Naboth is murdered. Such blatant wrong doing.

But we covet too. We go into debt to buy things we can’t afford. People covet when they play the national lottery, wanting to get money for what they have not worked. People covet when we spend our time, money and energy on acquiring more possessions and neglect to share with those in need.

Our nation has fallen far short of God’s standards. Advertising fills us with an insatiable appetite for more. The national lottery provides instant riches, yet robs those often least able to afford it. The message is clear – get what you can, however you can. Then we complain (James 3:16) and there is rising crime. We all, myself included, seccumb to the temptation and join in with the covetousness nature of our society. We may object to fat cats but very few of us would turn those salaries down if they were offered to us. We all have a covetousness spirit. And so we stand once again condemned before the Lord.

The problem with covetousness is it destroys contentment (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11). Our contentment is disturbed as our appetite for more of the world increases. We are guilty of being ungrateful to God, thinking that which He has provided for us is insufficient. Instead of thanking God for all we have, we complain we don’t have more – even though we have so much. God has blessed us so much. We have no contentment. There is a second sin, that of pride. We think we deserve more. The very first sin was based on pride. Satan insinuates God has forbidden Eve to eat of the fruit, stopping her being as all-knowing as God is. In Eve’s heart she thinks she deserves to be equal in knowledge with God. When we are envious, we think ‘Why should he have more than me?’ When jealousy grasps, we are saying we deserve it, we have worked hard for it. This is totally unfounded. The truth is, you and I deserve nothing but the wrath of God (I Corinthians 4:6-7). Is it true that because we have a bigger house, a bigger car that we are better than anyone else? We have not earned but received from God’s goodness. When we are not grateful for what God has provided we are guilty of the same sin as Eve. We are coveting. We accuse God of not giving us our just rewards we feel we deserve. What an arrogance! All sin leads to hell but none propels us faster than that of covetousness.

In the New Testament we are told a hallmark of a Christian is contentment. It is the hallmark of Christian maturity (Philippians 4:11, Hebrews 13:5). We are to be content. Covetousness is seen as a force that can shipwreck a Christian’s life (1 Timothy 6:6-10). It is also a sign that a person was not saved in the first place. The Parable of the Sower illustrates this; the seed that falls among thorns portrays an outward expression of faith which doesn’t have a true knowledge of salvation. There is something radically wrong when a believer thinks he deserves better.

The right sort of coveting. The word covet can be used in a positive way. The best way to avoid the wrong kind is to fix your mind on the right kind – coveting Christ, God’s Word and the life to come.

Coveting Christ. In the Song of Solomon we read of a girl who describes her beloved as one who is altogether lovely. She has an overwhelming desire for him. It is a picture of how we should covet the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the source of lasting contentment. The real desire that brings contentment is to desire Christ. It doesn’t matter then what else we have or don’t have. He is worth more than the whole world (Philippians 4:8). Have a heart full of desire to know Christ. Make Him the fairest of ten thousand to your soul. Dwell with Him. Think upon Him. Delight your soul in Him. Stir the depth of love in your heart for Him. He will satisfy your soul.

Covet the Word of God. Because you love the Lord Jesus Christ you desire to find Him, to see Him, to fellowship with Him in His Word, the Bible (Psalm 19:10). William Tyndale was publically executed in 1536. Why? Because he translated the Bible into English. He wanted the plough boy to read of Christ. The world desires to fill our mind with covetousness thoughts. The Bible fills our minds with praise to our lips and praise to our soul.

Covet the life to come. Set your desires on the lasting blessings of the world to come (Matthew 6:19-21). The attractions of this world are empty baubles compared to Christ and the riches of glory to come. Let us not covet material things of this world and war against spiritual well-being. Let’s covet Christ, His death on the cross which secured life for us.

November 3rd 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards-Nov 2019The commandment most frequently broken is the 9th. This commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour,” (Exodus 20:16). The reason why it is the most deliberately ignored commandment is this word translates as ‘false testimony,’ not just committing perjury. It is a word that means speaking anything useless, worthless and unfounded. It is speech full of innuendo, slander, gossip and lies.

The way we use our limited vocabulary to constantly break this commandment is an affront to God, and is a cause of much devastation in the world. A few words can destroy a relationship, a job, a reputation. James 3 warns of this destruction, of the destruction the tongue can do. It is a small part of the body but it makes great boasts. The 9th commandment deals with the great many sins of the tongue.

Whilst we’ve been accustomed to lies playing a great part in our lives – politicians, advertising, tradesmen who say they will be with you at 8 a.m. the next morning but don’t turn up, the truth is it is not just other people who lie, it is me and you. We are all educated in the art of lying. A central part of our fallen nature is to lie as we follow the example of Satan (John 8:44). We may say ‘honesty is the best policy’ but we don’t live by that. There is a story that George Washington, as a young boy, on receiving an axe used it liberally. One day he took the hatchet to a beloved tree. It was so badly damaged that it could only die. Washington’s father asked who had done it. George replied, ‘Father, I cannot lie, it was me.’ The father embraced him and said his honesty made up for his action. This story about honesty, however, is not at all honest. It is a lie! It never happened.

We are all aware of what it means to lie, but we often justify its significance claiming it is necessary, only a white lie or we are only being economical with the truth. We can become so accustomed to lying we no longer recognise when we are doing it. We use lies to cover up embarrassment. However may justify it, a lie remains a lie. The uncomfortable truth is by nature and practice we are all liars – some more accomplished than others. What is more, we can become so used to telling lies we no longer realise when we are doing it. We convince ourselves we are justified.

The remedy to lying is to have a conscience that is welded to the truth. We must be godly, like God, whose word is truth (Titus 1:2). We are to be like Him. The only way we can be like God is to be united by Christ in faith. We need to be guided by the Holy Spirit, shaped by the teachings of God’s word so we can become godly. We will never be perfect until that day we are called home to glory. We can never be perfect in this world. We are to pray for the enabling of the Holy Spirit as we commit ourselves to truthfulness in all our ways.

Slander and gossip. We all recognise slander as wrong yet we’ve all done it at some time or another. The Bible forbids it (James 4:11). The Bible also forbids gossip on the same basis. Slander and gossip are both relatives. They are often found together. Gossip is never totally true. There is often a grain of truth, but it’s always wrapped in layers of half-truths. Gossiping is lying, worthless, unfounded, idle speech that is destructive. The book of Proverbs has quite a few references to gossiping and its effect (Proverbs 11:13, 16:28, 26:20).

The best way to stop a quarrel is very easy. Stop speaking. It’s as easy as that. It is a grievous sin to slander and blacken another’s character through gossip. It is amongst the most dangerous and damaging of human activities. In engaging in it we break the 9th commandment. It is particularly sad that among Christians so much gossip is found. We have so much to speak of together – of God and His grace to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. How much more should we fill our conversations with glorious, heavenly thoughts rather than gossip? If we must speak of others, do so as little as possible and be totally sure we are speaking the truth. We must never speculate or give way to innuendo. Instead, we must give way to truth (Zechariah 8:16).

Scripture is always concerned that there be two or three witnesses to any accusation (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 1 Timothy 5:19). A good rule is if you haven’t spoken to the person concerned, don’t speak about it to anyone else.

Flattery and favouritism. One way to ensure lies are perpetuated is to show favouritism (Exodus 23:3). We are not to be people who show favouritism. There is a type of lie people wouldn’t recognise as so – the silent lie, the keeping quiet because you don’t want to upset a friend, not saying something in relation to someone you know who can promote your own cause (Leviticus 5:1). Equally, we are to avoid flattery – so we might gain an advantage (Psalm 12). It is a very subtle lie when we excuse some and condemn others for doing the very same thing, or highly praise some and not others. This is bearing false witness. We are to remind ourselves that all are created by God in His image and all are to be treated equally. Even if someone is our enemy we are to love them (Romans 12:17). The remedy for flattery and favouritism is respect and fairness for all. This is especially true in our church life. There have been many a minister who has made the grave mistake by showing favouritism to some in the congregation. It leads to division in the congregation. Whilst it is true for preachers, it is also true for everyone in a congregation. It is the responsibility of all Christians to avoid even giving the impression of favouritism.

Religious lies. This, perhaps, is particularly offensive to God. The third commandment warns of this. How evil it is to anyone to prophesy falsely in God’s name, not only to lie before God but to lie in God’s name. That is why in the Old Testament the penalty for this was death (Zechariah 13:3). There are many today who practice false prophesy, saying ‘In the name of the Lord …’ saying do what they suggest because it is the Lord’s will. It is not the will of the Lord at all. I doubt such people are conscious of the evil they are doing. Some manipulate people, knowing full well it is not the Lord who has spoken at all. That is a terrible, terrible thing. They are lying in the Lord’s name.

When we are sharing what the Lord has done, good things, perhaps we embellish it to make it better. It is not a good thing. The most dangerous day of the week for religious lies is Sunday (Acts 5:3). On Sundays we are tempted to pretend I have a piety and spiritual life I do not possess. Singing hymns of praise, singing wonderful experiences of Bible truths is wrong if we don’t mean it at all. Perhaps the biggest lie of all is when we abuse the name of God. We must always remember God sees everything and knows everything. We cannot deceive Him so why should we be so foolish to do so?

The remedy: Stand in awe of God, be slow to speak, ready to hear Him speak and quick to obey.

Forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross. Our Saviour died on that cross as a direct consequence of lies (Mark 14:56, Luke 23:2). The lies which sent Jesus to the cross are my lies and my breaking of the 9th commandment. He loved me so He willingly bore the punishment for my lying mouth and heart, that I might be forgiven of all these sins. The God of all truth desires to save me from my sin and sent His beloved Son to die that I should be truly forgiven. Praise be to the Lord. What a Saviour! “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6).

August 25th 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards - July 2019‘You shall not murder.’ Exodus 20:13

A Sunday school teacher, in the process of teaching the Ten Commandments to her class, reminded them that they had learned the commandment to honour their fathers and mothers. She then asked if there was a commandment that refers to brothers and sisters. One girl replied, ‘You shall not murder!’ We smile and enjoy the humour of the story, but if we stop for a moment, there is a disturbing truth. All of us have harboured murderous thoughts towards others. They may be hateful glances, ‘If looks could kill …’ All of us have been angry enough to throttle someone for what they have done to us. It is extremely unlikely someone here has murdered someone. However, we’ve broken this Commandment in thought, word and deed and we are in need of forgiveness.

What is murder? The modern versions of the Bible has replaced the word ‘kill’ with ‘murder.’ In certain conditions the taking of life is permitted, for example, animal life. Some argue we should not kill animals, but Genesis 9:3 gives permission to kill to eat. Equally, God ordained capital punishment, allowing the state to kill one who deliberately kills another (Leviticus 24:17, Exodus 21:12-14). The Bible allows for the pursuing of a just war, which inevitably leads to death (Deuteronomy 20). Outside of these exceptions the destruction of life is murder. Therefore the murder of another, whether a baby still in a mother’s womb, or an elderly person coming to the end of their days, is an evil act.

There are three reasons why we should not murder another person:

  1. The sanctification of human life. God made us to enjoy fellowship with Him and gave us the capacity to have fellowship with Him. That’s what distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. We proclaim all people, irrespective of lifestyle, are to be respected. This does not mean we have to agree with them or endorse their sin, but they share in the same dignity by being created in His image (Psalm 8:5-6). Each and every human being has a God-given life that is sacred and He alone brings it to a close. For man to destroy another man’s life is to usurp the authority of God. It shows utter contempt for a God-given life (Genesis 9:6). Murder is an act of evil.

  1. Committing murder is following in Satan’s footsteps. It is the way of the devil to murder (John 8:44). From the very beginning it has been Satan’s purpose is to destroy human life through sin and death. In the Garden of Eden he pretends to Adam and Eve he is on their side. His desire is to bring death into the world and upon Adam and Eve. From the very beginning Satan has been a murderer.

  1. Murder is the elevation of self. Murder is a great evil. It’s the ultimate experience of selfishness. It’s the taking over the right of someone else to life. It is out of sin-ridden selfishness (Mark 7:21-23). Murder is one of the clearest experiences of the fallen-ness of the human heart as it is gripped in its own selfish concerns.

We are living where the respect of the sanctity of human life is in decline. We have become immune to scenes of murder in television programmes. People are enthralled by blood thirstiness. We are confronted by images of people being shot, maimed or killed. When we hear of teenagers being stabbed to death we think or feel nothing. We may say it’s sad, but then just carry on. Computer games encourage people to act out violence. Every week scores of unborn children are murdered simply because it’s an inconvenience for them to be born. People are increasingly concerned for animal rights. Dear friends, life is becoming increasingly cheap as we, as a society, turn away from God and indulge our self-centredness. Oh how we need to pray that God would have mercy on us.

Whilst we have not physically murdered anyone, the characteristics of murder are to be found in our hearts. Haven’t we refused to acknowledge the dignity of another, refused them common courtesy? It is seen in the racism of our age, where one group views another with disdain and contempt. We may despise an individual. Haven’t we taken devilish delight in bringing someone down a peg or two or been cruel in thought or action?

The Lord rightly points out the keeping of the sixth commandment includes dealing with the murderous attitudes of our hearts (Matthew 6). Inside each one of us lurks a murderer. We are all guilty of breaking the sixth commandment and all need to admit it.

But there is forgiveness. Amongst those who God forgives their sins are murderes. Even Moses, who the Commandments were given to, was a murderer (Exodus 2:11-12). Then there was King David, who arranged for Uriah to be murdered so his sin could be covered up (II Samuel 11). David was a murderer. Throughout the centuries there have been those involved in the most evil murders, including one of the closest associates of Paul Pott, yet who was saved through faith.

How can God forgive murderers? Because Jesus died in the place of a murderer (John 18). Here, this morning, no-one has picked up a knife or gun, but we are all guilty of that sin in our hearts. May be someone here has had an abortion. But there is forgiveness because the Lord Jesus Christ died, even for murderers. The good news is God forgives the sin of murder because Jesus identified Himself as responsible for the murder that lurks in your heart and mine. As we stand condemned by murderous thoughts we can rejoice the Lord Jesus Christ died for us. If we come to Him today all we have to do is repent, acknowledge our sin and no longer indulge in excuses. As your word examines me, I stand convicted. I throw myself on the mercy that is yours and can be mine. What a great God!

Finally, if you come to Jesus Christ and repent of your sin and are restored to a right relationship with God, everything changes. Instead of murder comes self-sacrifice. It leads us to make positive contributions to the life of others. Love does no harm to its neighbour. You have no difficulty in loving yourself. We are to desire to work towards our neighbours good, even more, to fellow believers (1 John 3:15-16). Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. Dear friends, in so many churches it seems we’re more intent on murdering one another than laying down our lives for one another. The Christian should be willing to lay down his life for another. We need the mind-set of Christ (Philippians 2). We are to enter into the Saviour’s mind-set. We are to become increasingly like Him in our union. We must love one another, we must lay down our lives for each other. We must put the interests of everyone else above our own interests. When we do that we fulfil the sixth commandment.

Replace murderous thoughts and actions with true love. You cannot walk with the Lord whilst wishing harm to someone else. We are to be willing to suffer loss to secure that well-being for others, to give up everything as He gave up the glory of heaven and even His life for our salvation. Surrender all rights and privileges, then the love of God is with us.

June 2nd 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards-June19Exodus 20: 8-11

Our great grandfathers called it ‘Holy Sabbath,’ our grandfathers called it ‘The Sabbath,’ our fathers called it ‘Sunday.’ Today, it’s referred to as the weekend. The fourth Commandment has increasingly become ignored as Sunday becomes just another day of the week. Previously we learnt that Sunday is a holy day devoted to specially to Him, a day of rest, a day free from the rest of the week, a day in which we can enjoy fellowship with God. It is a day of blessing; God grants us the benefits of His presence.How can we make the best of this special day, maximum its benefits?

  1. Sunday is a day for reflection.
    2. Sunday is a day for renewal.

    Sunday is a day for reflection:

The first word of this Commandment is ‘Remember.’ Most commandments begin with a negative, ‘You shall not’ but this one begins with a positive call, a call to reflect on the past. It points back to the rest of God after six days of creation.

In Exodus 16 we remember that the Israelites were not to collect more manna than they needed for that day. They were to depend upon the Lord each day for their daily needs. The exception was the Sabbath, when they were to collect no manna at all but collect two days rations the day before.

We are to remember that God rested on the seventh day, to remember that God declared that manna was not to be collected. Later, when Moses reiterated the Commandments, they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. So another purpose of the Old Testament Sabbath was to reflect on God’s dealings with them as their Saviour. He is Creator, Provider and Saviour who brought them out of captivity in Egypt.

The New Testament Sundays have the same purpose, ‘On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight’ (Acts 20:7). A central part of the Sabbath was to remember the Lord’s death in partaking of the bread and wine. When they gathered, they listened to the Apostles’ teaching, reflecting on who God is and what He has done. The Sabbath remains of great importance as a day of rest from the business of life, set apart to praise God’s name as we reflect on who He is, what He has done in providing all our needs.

We are to set aside Sunday as we remember God and His goodness to us. It is a day to praise and thank Him. If we don’t guard our Sundays we will soon forget about God. There will be a rapid decline in zeal for the work of the gospel. Keeping the Sabbath is essential to our spiritual health.

Attendance at church services is so important. It is the best means of fulfilling the purpose of the day. Of course, we can reflect on our own, but it is best done in the company of the Lord’s people. We hear the Word of God preached and we reflect deeply upon Him. We are to be as devoted to the teachings of the Apostles as the early believers were. It is the heart of the worship of God. It is in the Word was encounter our risen, glorious Saviour. It is in the preaching of the Word that we remember the Lord Himself and grow in our love for Him. As we come together around God’s Word we encourage one another. We come to remember the Lord’s death until He comes, by sharing in the bread and wine, to remember His sacrifice at Calvary. It is important we are present when church gathers around His table to remember His death until He comes. The best way to keep the Sabbath holy is to come together to honour God and give maximum benefit for our souls. It is a priority for our spiritual health.

 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).

Sunday is a day for renewal:

Exodus 31: 12-18. There are two things about the Sabbath:
(i) it is a day of renewing commitment. God says people’s obedience to keeping the Sabbath holy was a sign of their Covenant commitment. God will be their God, they will be His people. A sign of their commitment was to be the sharing of His day. If they broke the Sabbath, they broke the terms of the Covenant, they no longer regarded themselves as His people. That is why the penalty for breaking the Sabbath was to be death. We might think this over-the-top, but what was involved was a clear renunciation of God, a bold act of treason and rebellion. It was an incredibly serious thing. However, when the people kept the Sabbath, it showed renewing of this commitment to the Covenant.

The Sabbath is a day in which we renew our commitment to God in keeping it holy. Being bold enough to say or show commitment to the Lord’s Day is a reflection of our commitment to the Lord. If we renew our commitment to God Himself only as far as it suits us, we are not committed at all. Of course, there are occasions when something crops up that keeps us from church – demands that need our urgent attention. Jesus understands this. Our commitment to the Lord’s Day is a testimony to the world that we put God first. There is no doubt, people can tell what our priorities are by the way we behave. It applies to the Lord’s Day as it applies to anything else (Eric Lidell).

(ii) Sundays are a day for renewing the soul. Exodus 31:12 links observance to the Lord’s Day to holiness, sanctification, ‘And the Lord said to Moses,  “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you’ (Exodus 31:12-13). Sunday has a role in increasing the holiness of God’s people. Sundays spent in the presence of God, in fellowship of other Christians, is the best preparation for the week ahead. God equips us to serve Him in the days ahead. Sundays are important to our spiritual growth and serving the Lord. Sundays are most spiritually profitable. Ensure maximum spiritual benefit.

So we are to look forward to Sundays and delight in praise and fellowship with God’s people. Know the delight of the Lord’s Day with the Lord’s people and the Lord’s Word. If we want to grow as Christians, to be sanctified, to be better servants, we will keep the Lord’s Day and make the best use of it and be present in services and encourage one another. The Lord’s Day is a day of reflection, a day set aside, given to considering the greatness of God as our Creator and Provider and Saviour. It is a day to renew our commitment to the Lord, who committed His all to us in dying on the cross for our sins. It is a day for spiritual renewal, in fellowship with one another as we praise the Lord and encourage one another. It is a day to cherish and look forward to. May the Lord so encourage us. Have joy in knowing the Lord’s presence, worship His majesty and splendour in the company of His people.

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.