Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday, December 15-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Colossians, Philemon
Today's scripture focus is Romans 14:5-8

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Verse 5 stood out for me today because my husband and I recently had a conversation about Sunday shopping. When we were the age that our children are now, there was no such thing as "Sunday Shopping" because everything was closed. Parking lots stood empty, you had to plan ahead if you wanted sandwiches for Sunday lunch, and thousands of people did not have to work. That all changed about 20ish years ago. I remember that I was working in a restaurant and I was considering changing jobs to work at the mall so I wouldn't have to work on Sundays. (I was never scheduled to work mornings so I never missed church, but I looked forward to knowing that I would have the whole day off. As I was asking around the mall, many stores indicated that it would not be long and the mall would be open 12:00-6:00 soon. It was just a few weeks ago that those hours were extended (and as far as I know...not just for the Christmas season).

The reason it came up in our household was that we were talking about Christmas gatherings in the future and as our children get older, they will undoubtably begin to find jobs and likely work on Sundays. We realized that they may not have been raised with the same outlook or convictions about Sundays. We also realized that our own practices, including the fact that we do shopping on Sunday, will not have set Sunday apart for our kids. We have not been good at setting aside the Sabbath as holy and different from the rest of the week. In fact because Conrad's store is closed on Sunday and a guaranteed day he is home, it becomes a day for us to get things done. We have not done a very good job at setting our kids up to observe a day of rest....although Sunday afternoon naps have become more frequent in the last few years, lol.

This commentary has this to say:
"One person may have grown up in a strict home where nothing could be done on Sunday. But after he or she grew in their own convictions, that was not such a binding restriction, although they still might not do certain things on Sunday because there are other Christians out there who would be bothered by it. Or, some people need the period of Lent for their amendment of life. If it is helpful for spiritual growth, fine. But if someone gives something up for lent, that has to be explained properly. If one needed to give it up in Christian piety, perhaps it should have been given up earlier—why wait till lent? There is much more to all of this, of course, but these are the kinds of issues Paul is addressing in this passage. The main point is that we are not all the same in our outlook on spiritual growth—how it is to be developed and what our convictions are; and if we start judging and criticizing others for the way they see it, or considering ourselves more spiritual, then that is wrong. Remember, we are talking here about doubtful things. This teaching of acceptance would not apply for someone teaching what is clearly false doctrine, or someone living in what the Bible clearly says is sin."

Have I just given in to society's pressure to make all days equal? Have I tainted my children's view of keeping the Sabbath holy? I'm not sure.

Again, this commentary adds:

Paul’s principle for doubtful things is this: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” It is a matter of personal convictions based on faith. You dare not do something if you have serious doubts about it—that is not walking by faith. So you are to think through your practice, be sure that you are doing it in the full conviction that right now in your spiritual life that is what you should be doing, and do it for the Lord (not because others think you should). Believers are to be examining everything they do, and they are to be sure that what they do they can do with a clear conscience. If there is hesitation or uncertainty or doubts, then it may be wrong to do it. Questionable things are wrong if they are indeed questionable.
Here again Paul is applying the teaching of the book. We are not under Law, but under grace. What is on the table is not important; it is what is in the heart that makes the difference. It is always a matter of walking by faith. We cannot live our lives apart from Jesus Christ; so that is our main concern as we decide if what we are doing is by faith. Can I do this for the Lord? Can I give him thanks for it? Will it honor and glorify him?

Good thoughts to chew on.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 14: 9-12
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ephesians


TammyIsBlessed said...

I found a few very interesting quotes from MacArthur that helped shed light on the Sabbath for me.....

God designed the Sabbath to be a blessing, to bring rest, to bring a day in the week when you could thank God for the glory of His creation and also be made aware that paradise had been lost. It was a day to show gratitude for the creation and a day to repent, to seek forgiveness. It was right in the middle of the Law because they lived in violation of that Law if not actively in their hearts. As Jesus said, “If you do these things in your heart, it's as if you've committed these sins,” in the Sermon on the Mount.

So our Lord has given the Sabbath to be a blessing to man, to give him rest from his work, a taste of Eden where all was rest before the Fall, to give him an opportunity to thank God for the creation and then to examine his life against the Law. And seeing the sin there, seek for forgiveness and mercy and the result in joy and peace and salvation. Again He is Lord of the Sabbath. He is greater than the Sabbath. The Sabbath will be whatever He desires it to be, whatever He designs it to be, nothing more and nothing less. It is not moral, it wasn't even given until the time of Moses and abrogated in the time of Christ.....

When Jesus came, He brought the rest, the true rest. The child of God is now a new person. Under the New Covenant we are healed and washed and found and accepted. We have entered into rest with none other than the Creator Himself. We have been given righteousness. We rejoice in that gift. We cease all effort to earn our salvation. Jesus literally did away with the Sabbath....

There is never a command in the New Testament to keep the Sabbath. All Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament some numerous times except the fourth is never repeated in the New Testament, not one single time. It was in the midst of the moral law a sign and a symbol to lead the people to rest and repentance. But when you come to the New Testament, there's never a repeat of that command. The rest that the New Testament is concerned about is the rest that comes to the soul from hearing and believing the good news preached. That's the rest the New Testament offers.

TammyIsBlessed said...

And then, in another sermon, MacArthur discusses the Lord's Day (Sunday) and why we worship on Sundays.....

It is on a Sunday that they know He is alive from the dead. It is on a Sunday that they know the Old Testament is being fulfilled. It is on a Sunday that they know the Father has affirmed His redemptive work on the cross. It is on a Sunday that He pledges to them that they will receive the Holy Spirit to be empowered for ministry in the future. It is on a Sunday that all the past of His ministry and His death comes to make sense and what a Sunday.

Jesus rose from the dead on that Sunday. Appeared on that Sunday in the morning. Appeared on that Sunday in the afternoon. Appeared on that Sunday in the evening. Showed Himself alive to the women on that Sunday. They had the first worship service on that Sunday. Jesus preached the first sermon on that Sunday. Met two disciples on that Sunday. Broke bread with them and disclosed Himself to them and then miraculously vanished. He met that night with the eleven, minus Thomas on that Sunday, and twice pronounced peace on them and ate with them. He must have taught several times on that Sunday, not only on the road to Emmaus but no doubt in the upper room again as He told them that He had indeed come to fill the Old Testament promises.

On that Sunday He told His disciples that forgiveness of sins was now available through what He had accomplished and it was available to all who would repent and believe. On that Sunday He stated the great commission that they were to go out and proclaim the gospel. He launched, as it were, the unlimited worldwide mission of evangelism by commissioning His disciples and Apostles to take the gospel and proclaim it to the ends of the world. And on that Sunday, as I said, He pledged to them that they would have the power of the Holy Spirit. The great New Covenant had been ratified. Forgiveness of sins for all sinners of all ages who came to God was accomplished...what a day...what a day! And it was a Sunday, and prior to that Sunday had absolutely no significance...none. But from that day on, Sunday took on a completely different meaning. Sundays would never be the same again.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Sunday became New Covenant resurrection day in their minds because God had chosen that day. If the seventh day was designed by God for delighting in Him as Creator, and then having been corrupted by the Fall, if the seventh day was also designed by God to put fear in the heart because of the violation of His holy Law.... was another day. This was not a day to celebrate creation or to celebrate sin...or the sinfulness of sin, this was a day to celebrate salvation. Resurrection was the dawning of a new day and so the New Covenant has a new day. The Sabbath is gone and the new day has come and it is the day of celebration of the work of Christ.....

It is the worst thing possible for people who call themselves Christians to take restrictions intended for the Mosaic Sabbath and try to impose them on Sunday. That's opposite the intention of our Lord. Don't let anybody hold you to a Sabbath day. You're not under the Mosaic Law anymore. You're not under the constraints and ceremonies and restrictions and restraints of the Mosaic Law. We have a new day. We left Judaism behind. We left the Sabbath behind. We left the leaders of Israel behind. We have a New Covenant. We have new ministers of that New Covenant and we have a new day. It's not like the Mosaic Sabbath, not at all. Oh, you can still, I think, think of the seventh day, Saturday, in a sense as the day that reminds us that the Lord created everything in six days. I think that's a wonderful thing to do. You can still be reminded it was the Law of God that came down on people's heads with regard to the Sabbath and it's good to remember that You're a sinner. But there's nothing in the New Testament that takes Old Covenant restrictions and restraints from the Mosaic Sabbath and imposes them on the first day of the week.

Keep in mind, please, that from Genesis 2 where God rested until giving the Mosaic Law, hundreds, centuries, centuries later through all that period of time there were no restraints on anyone's behavior on Saturday. It was just the day that you remembered God as Creator, even though men were sinful. There were no restrictions and no restraints, that didn't even come till Moses. It started with Moses and it ended with the abolishing of the Old Covenant and the establishing and the ratifying of the New Covenant.

New Covenant Sunday then is kind of like old....old Sabbath from Genesis. You remember God blessed the Sabbath day, made it a day of blessing to remember your Creator. Well He's blessed the first day and made it a day to remember your Redeemer. When God instituted a day of rest originally, it was a day of rest. Under Moses, it was a day of anything but rest. But the Lord's day for us is to be a day of delight. It's to be a day of blessing. It's to be a day not fraught with external regulations. I guess, in a sense, in Christ the rest originally identified in Eden is recovered.

What is the point of the first day? The soul is to be refreshed. The soul is to be refreshed with joy, peace, with spiritual delight. The soul is to be refreshed with divine truth. The soul is to be refreshed in worship, with teaching the preaching of the Word of God. This is a sweet gift from God.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Sorry, this got really long, but it really just clarified so many things for me, i just had to share it!

What does the Lord expect of us on His day? All I can say is that what He would expect of us would be obvious, wouldn't it? That we would celebrate Him as Savior, that we would rejoice in His cross, that we rejoice in His resurrection , that we would pray together, fellowship together, break bread together around His table and that we would listen to the Apostles' doctrine and hear the preaching of the Word and embrace its glorious truth. I'm not talking about legalism. We're not talking about some kind of Old Covenant Sabbath laws imposed upon us. But grace certainly doesn't require less than law, does it?

I guess the question is how much do you love Christ? How strong is your desire for worship? We're not going to drop any external rules on you. Everything about the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant, everything, including the day...including the day. Because this day is not burdensome, it is joyous. And I know you feel that way because when Clayton gets up here on Sunday morning and packs this place with all the musicians, you sing with all your might out of the joy of your heart. I never want to see people come to a service as a stop off point on the way to whatever else they need to do. That doesn't mean you can't do some work in the afternoon. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy some recreation, some fellowship and do some other things, it just means there's a day that God Himself has ordained for you to focus primarily on the glory of your salvation. Take every opportunity you can to fill it with worship and praise and fellowship and divine truth.

We're not...we're not under the Old Covenant regulations. We're not under a system of condemnation. We don't need shadows, we have the reality, the true rest in Christ. And this is a day to rest...not to rest in the sense of celebrating creation but to rest in the sense of celebrating new creation...salvation.

So, rather than ask what shouldn't I do on Sunday, ask what should I do? What is my love for Christ ask me to do? What does my heart for Him ask me to do? I'm not forbidden to work. I'm not forbidden to play. But the high ground is to say this is a day of all days in which I will find my greatest delight. And what is my greatest delight? My greatest delight is to worship and fellowship with God's people. And you can't do that if you just bring your body here without your heart. Search your heart. Is this really the Lord's day for you? I hope so.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Something else that jumped out at me in this passage is that the motive is the same for both the weak and strong believer - they are both doing what they're doing because they believe it honours and glorifies God. And they should, then, do what their conscience is telling them to do (even if they're technically "wrong"), because we should never purposefully violate our conscience. Our conscience is what tells us that we've done wrong, and if we purposefully violate it, we can eventually damage it almost beyond repair.

Miriam said...

I am a little bit careful what I plan for Sundays. Not because I think that it is sinful to work or clean the house or run errands on Sundays (I do occasionally run a couple of errands on a Sunday), but because I find that if I set Sunday aside for church and family activities, I have a better attitude all week knowing I'm going to have that time to relax, and it starts my following week off right as well. I don't think it necessarily has to be Sunday that one has that rest and relaxation, but I do think that God planned for us to have a day of rest for a reason, so whether we do it on Sunday or another day, I think it is important to set aside some time. I also choose on Sundays to not listen to secular music or catch up on a missed workout, just as a personal way of setting the day apart from all the other days of the week. Again, doesn't have to be Sunday, but it works well for me that way.