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 8th 2018: Mike Viccary

Mike Viccary-April182 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, Perfecting holiness in the fear of God

What is wrong with the world? We hear tragic stories, terrible happenings, news that more murders have happened in London so far this year than in New York. The world is the way it is because of you and me. When Adam sinned it shattered everything; every one of us is a sinner. Sin is the matter in the world. The world lacks holiness, the presence of God, ‘Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14).  We need to be a people of peace, a people of holiness.

  • We need to be yoked.
    2 Corinthians 6:14 states, ‘Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?’ (There is also a reference to this in Deuteronomy 22:10). Jesus promises, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). Who are you yoked to? When you wake up in the morning you may be yoked to an idea or you might be yoked to an ambition. You need to be yoked to Christ. Don’t be yoked with the world. You are either yoked to Christ or something else. Is your life spent serving Christ? Whatever you do, do it all in the name of Jesus, as though you are doing it as Jesus (Colossians 3, 1 Corinthians 10). Do all to the glory of God. Ultimately, if you have an unbelieving boss or spouse, if you love Christ, you will love your unbelieving boss or unbelieving spouse.
  • Meditate on who you are.
    2 Corinthians 6:14-16 gives an incredible description of the kingdom of God. We are in the world but this list of things shows us the kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. If you are yoked to Christ the kingdom is within you – in fellowship, communion, accord, portion and agreement. The Lord has delivered us from the power of darkness and put us with the Son, His love. Everything you think about and do changes when you are in Christ, your whole life is completely changed.

Collectively, we are the temple of God (2 Corinthians 6:16). We are a precisely constructed building with a definite way of doing things. The temple of God is perfect. Peter says we are living stones. Even when you are amongst your friends, at work or with unbelievers, you are a temple of God. Meditate and think often on who you are.

  • We need to cleanse ourselves (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Cleansing ourselves is rooted in scripture (Isaiah 52). We are to forsake the world. We have been adopted into God’s family. Come out from the world’s system. We get so influenced by the world but we still need to be amongst the world to share the gospel (Ephesians 4:17-5:1). Thank God we have so many promises.

It is our responsibility to cleanse ourselves (Isaiah 1:16-17). Holiness is 100% We need to cleanse ourselves of all filthiness. The Old Testament illustrates this in detail in Leviticus 14. The whole of us must be sanctified. This task is impossible for us. Who can cleanse themselves in this way? Cleansing can only come from the blood of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit. Christ loves the church and washed the church with His speech. Psalm 51 shows us the heart that is so given to Christ, the heart we want to know.

We are to operate in the fear of God. It is not just a question of reading God’s word – to hear is to obey. If you fear God, if you respect Him, you will hate all evil because He is holy. The fear of God spurs us on. 2 Corinthians 5 spurs us on to witness. It is also a key to mission (Acts 2).

How should we receive it? Proverbs 2:1-5. Receive the word of God, treasure it and apply it. Draw back to God. Choose it, seek it. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Pray, ‘Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.’ (Psalm 86:11).

Remember, we are yoked with Christ. Take great care and diligence with the word of God. To who are you yoked? What is the principle of your life? Do you review and check the principle of your life? Are you taking the opportunity to daily cleanse yourself in the word of Christ? Have you chosen to fear God – to be holy, to be like God, to be so in love with Christ that nothing else matters?

 

Sunday 17th January 2016 – Morning Service

Aaron-Jan16

Our guest speaker on Sunday was Aaron Whitfield Davies of Calvary Church, Haverfordwest. He continued the study of Philippians, preaching from the first five verses of chapter 2.

He reminded us that Paul was encouraging the believers in how the Gospel had powerfully worked in their lives and how they needed to stand for the marvellous  good news and ultimately how they were to live by this good news.

Paul wants us to live out the Gospel, this amazing good news about Jesus. Let our life look more and more like Jesus. Christianity, in the true Biblical way, is a Christ of knowledge, a Christ of experience and a Christ of evidence. Christianity has to be known, felt and seen. It must be experienced in our hearts. We have minds to know the truth, it must be seen. We must know the truths, experience the truths and live the truths out. Romans 12.

Jesus said people will know we are His disciples by the love we have for others, the evidence of a changed life, the evidence that has changed the sinner into a child of God. It is not easy, it’s challenging. The unity of the trinity is described here. Our God is the mystery of three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is unity in the Godhead, a perfect love, one for another. If there wasn’t unity in the Godhead we wouldn’t have Salvation. The love is so rich, so perfect, a marvellous mystery. This is the example we follow. He is the highest, the greatest, most glorious. Because there is the glorious unity in the Godhead we need to be like-minded, of one accord, of one mind. The true church is united. As God’s people we must put aside our differences. If we do not find it easy to love someone we must ask God’s help. We are all sinners saved by Grace. The very beginning of the church came in unity, The Holy Spirit always comes in unity; unity in truth, unity in Christ.

True Christianity is the whole man. It changes us into a new creation in Christ Jesus. It is born by the Spirit of God, changed on the inside and seen as different on the outside. God changes our hearts and minds. We can’t do this ourselves.

The life of love is a miracle of new birth. God works in us (v.13). It is the veins of the church.

Jesus was love itself. He is the altogether Holy One. No-one could have lived such a pure, glorious life, full of love, unless they were God. His life outshines all. Because His life was the perfect life He was the only one who could cover our unworthy life. His righteousness is the only righteousness. Jesus was absolutely perfect.