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Tuesday, June 3, 2014
We pass this sign advertising "Cute Bunnies For Sale" near Strasburg, PA. Has anyone seen bunnies that aren't cute! Notice the "No Sun Sales" at bottom of sign.
"Stirring Up More Wrath"
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“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Exodus 20:8). "In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath” (Nehemiah 13:15-18).
Sunday afternoon following church Brooksyne stopped by a hotel to visit some employees. She saw a man from a distance wearing a T-shirt with SUNDAY printed in large letters across the chest area. As she got closer she was anxious to see if it might be a Christian slogan he was sporting, but upon close observation she saw beneath the word SUNDAY, FUNDAY with the "U" turned into a mug of beer. It expresses the frivolous attitude so many have toward the Lord's Day.
My, how attitudes toward the Lord's Day have changed in our lifetime. If you are our age you may recall "Blue Laws" when stores were closed on Sunday and life really slowed down. We enjoy old reruns of the Andy Griffith show when they quietly sat on the porch strumming guitar and singing hymns on Sunday afternoon after church and dinner. It seemed about everyone in my small town in Belton Missouri went to church Sunday morning. The little town was essentially closed up. A study of church history reveals reverence for the Lord's Day was practically universal up to the last twenty-five to forty years.
When we first moved to Saint Marys, PA where we started a church in 1977, I met Rev. George Williams, the pastor of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church. He was a very serious man who would soon be retiring.
I still recall how he held strong convictions concerning the Lord's Day, including not even traveling except in an emergency so that he wouldn't need to fill-up his gas tank. I've always remembered his serious desire to honor the Lord in this manner.
The first daily text is the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." The breaking down of the sanctity (being set apart) of the Lord's Day eroded relatively rapidly in the perspective of church history. I recall in the eighties it was sports events when families would skip or leave church early so their children could play organized soccer games. In our present day, for most Sunday is just another day when you don't report to work, a part of the relaxing weekend and as expressed on the t-shirt "Fun Day". For younger generations there may be no awareness of how the day was set aside for worship and visitation to previous generations.
In our area we have reminders of the old ways expressed by our Amish and old-order Mennonite neighbors. Our rural area is dotted with homemade signs of items for sale. Most of them include this statement, "No Sunday Sales".
The de-evolution of the Lord's Day sanctity did not happen with purposeful forethought but rather essentially neglect. Is this one of the many areas as a society we have broken covenant with God and are slowly reaping the consequences?
In our second daily verse Nehemiah is speaking to the exiles who have returned after the Captivity (the calamity). "Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”
Among infractions was the desecration of the Sabbath. Nehemiah warned them that they were "stirring up more wrath." If he were living now I wonder what his warning would be to the Christian church today?
How are you practicing the Fourth Commandment? How are you honoring the Lord's Day?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, after the busyness of a work week, checking off our list of many obligations, coming here or going there and fulfilling our daily duties it is so fitting that we set aside a day where we consecrate our hearts for worship and fuel up spiritually for another week. You knew our need when You established the Ten Commandments that command us to remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy. Temptations come from many sources that would squeeze out our holy obligation to worship with other believers on the Lord's Day. Whether we are single or a family unit help us to establish the weekly pattern of gathering with other saints, to hear what You would have to say to us and to declare Your worthship in our worship. Like the Psalmist, "I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord'". Amen.
Further study notes:
2) Earnest Christians differ on the day to consider the day of worship and rest. Some maintain that it remains Saturday. Several weeks ago I spoke to a Messianic rabbi who worships on Saturday. Of course most in the church see the Lord's Day (first day of the week) as the pattern for a special day of worship following the Resurrection. The point is do we have a day set aside for worship and rest?
2) Earnest Christians differ on specific prohibitions. I recall how Geneva College, a devout Presbyterian school in western PA, forbade any athletic activity on the Lord's Day. I'm not sure whether this is still the case. Our Amish neighbors on the other hand have youth group on Sundays and play volleyball. Specifics have varied all through church history and was even a point of contention while Christ walked the earth. The point is do we have a day we treat as special and focus on worship and rest?
3) I suppose some will read this and reason, "But we are not under law but under grace" which can be an excuse for about anything we want to do or anything we want to disregard! (This is one of those verses like "judge not" that people often memorize without regard to context or original intent). Surely the point of this verse is not that we can disobey and neglect all aspects of the OT law. It is that we are saved by grace.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"On The Lord's Day" Video United Live
"The Lord's Day" by Charles W. Naylor (published 1911)
O day of all the days the best,
When—laid aside each earthly care—
We meet with God’s dear saints so blest,
And in their praise and worship share.
Not by a rigid code we’re bound
With death to all who disobey;
But through God’s love within us found,
We keep this precious worship day.
This day our Lord in triumph rose
To give us hope beyond the grave;
He conquered all our many foes,
And proved His mighty pow’r to save.
So in remembrance we will keep
This blessed resurrection day,
The pledge of all who wake or sleep,
That they shall live through Him for aye.
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber (Click on photo to enlarge)
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