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Archive for the ‘The Lord’s Day’ Category

In our theology class on Wednesday evenings, we were discussing the doctrine of the church and whether or not Christians have to attend church on Sunday or not?

That very question seems to me to start the whole discussion off on the wrong foot.  Once we think in terms of  having to go to church, it smacks  of church attendance as merely a duty.  I don’t  have to go to church on Sunday; I get to go to church on Sunday!  It’s a privilege!

Michael Horton recently wrote, “The very fact that we have to address this question, even in evangelical circles, demonstrates the true measure of the church’s worldliness. It is not a superstitious attachment to days, but respect for the Lord’s generous service to us, that gives us one day in seven to be swept into the drama of redemption. When the holy day is reabsorbed into the common week, the church is bound to be reabsorbed into the world’s bloodstream.”

After tracing the view of the Lord’s Day in historical theology and church practice, Horton then remarks,

“The key to a Christian use of the Lord’s Day is not drawing up a list of what can and cannot be done, but to give the whole day to basking in God’s Word, loading ourselves up with the treasures of Christ. Churches themselves are making this more difficult, as they trim down the public worship to a single service of an hour or so. Some churches suspend worship on “Superbowl Sunday”; others incorporate the new holy day into the service. Yet even in “rightly ordered” churches, the question has to be asked, especially by pastors and elders: Are we preparing a feast each week or are we contributing to the trivializing of the Lord’s Day and then blaming the people for not taking it seriously enough?”

I find that many Christians are increasingly adopting a less serious view of the Lord’s Day and of being with the body of believers when the church gathers on Sundays.  I encourage you to think seriously about your view of this day, even if you are faithfully attending the worship services.  Don’t fall into a mindset of having to go to church but view it as a great opportunity to worship, to serve, and to fellowship!

 

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In the past several weeks I can recall several meetings and/or conversations that I have wanted to be very prepared for so as to make them the most effective possible.

Whenever we go on  a trip to visit family or friends like we did this last week, I work hard at being prepared to go: packing, fuel in vehicle, pets cared for, house secured, etc.

Big home project:  again pre-planning makes the job more enjoyable and more profitable normally.

So would preparing for Sunday be helpful? What can we do to prepare for Sunday worship with God’s family in our church?  I have given some suggestions throughout the years to our congregation and implemented them in our family.  Paul Tautges has put together a great list of ways you can practically and spiritually prepare for the Lord’s Day–and it all begins on Saturday evening!  I’d encourage you to print it out, put it somewhere to be seen by all in the house and start doing many if not all of these suggestions!  Watch your heart and body be better prepared for worship:

Thanks for putting together this list, Paul!

When one reflects upon Hebrews 12:18-29, it is obvious that God considers corporate worship a serious matter, not the game that the modern church so often plays. Take a few minutes to open your Bible and read that portion of God’s Word.

If God, Who is “a consuming fire,” receives worship from sinners like you and me (indeed He seeks it! – Jn 4:23), should we not be intentional in how we approach Him? If worship demands reverence and awe should we not prepare to meet our God? It is questions like these that have spurred me to develop the following practical suggestions in preparing for Sunday worship. I have included practical, mundane preparations that free up more time for personal, heart and soul preparation. As you prepare for Sunday, may the application of this counsel lead you into a deeper, more God-centered, and heartfelt worship experience.

SATURDAY EVENING

  1. Practical Preparations [The purpose of these practical preparations is to limit distraction and decrease tension in the home, which often results in irritations and conflicts.]
    1. Prepare Sunday’s meals. Have breakfast made and table set. Perhaps choose simply self-serve breakfasts such as muffins or fruit bread, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, etc. Avoid a high sugar, high carb meal that may to drowsiness. Prepare the noon meal as well.
    2. Gas up the car (this was important when we lived in Missouri and had a 40 min. commute to church)
    3. Pick out clothes and take care of needed ironing
    4. Find Bibles (and shoes!) and lay them out
    5. Set aside your offering (2 Cor. 9:7)
    6. If you wear hearing aids put in fresh batteries.
    7. Teachers: make final lesson preparations
    8. Have children take baths
    9. Get to bed early. Avoid late night Saturday activities as much as possible. Avoid television, video games, and fluffy books.  Avoid anything that trivializes, or tends to put your mind in neutral. God’s thoughts are deep (Ps 92:5).
  1. Personal/Heart Preparations [The purpose of these personal preparations is to sensitize your heart and mind to meet the Lord in corporate worship. The goal is to go to bed with the Lord on your mind.]
    1. Delight in the Word.
    2. Read Psalm 32 or 51 and spend time in confession.
    3. Read some Scripture about worship (E.g. Heb 12:18-29; Ps 95-100).
    4. For communion Sundays: read a Gospel account of the crucifixion.
    5. For communion Sundays, especially, resolve interpersonal conflicts, seek forgiveness where needed (Mt 5:23-24).
    6. Read a chapter from a solid devotional-style book such as The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer.
    7. Devote yourself to prayer for tomorrow’s worship service and all participants: ushers and greeters, Scripture readers, musicians, choir, and songleader, preacher, nursery workers, Bible class teachers, visitors, unbelievers who may be present.
    8. Bible teachers: pray for your students, other classes and fellow teachers.
    9. Discipline your mind with song. Fill the house with worshipful music. Sing some hymns.

SUNDAY MORNING

  1. Practical Preparations
    1. Get up early
    2. Keep the television off (the latest news from CNN can wait).
  2. Personal/Heart Preparations
    1. The Word – read a Psalm or two
    2. Prayer – Pray for yourself and your family, your pastor, the worship service and all who will be present.
    3. Song – Play psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as background music in your house. Listen to hymns and praise songs in the car on the way to church.
    4. Get to church at least 15 minutes before the service begins so that you may take care of miscellaneous details, give a word of encouragement to at least one other person, take babies to the nursery and have other children use restrooms. Remember to silence pagers, cell phones, and other electronic devices (consider leaving them at home).
    5. Be seated in the sanctuary. Spend time looking up songs and Scripture and/or pray.
    6. Worship the Lord with all your heart in the company of the redeemed (Ps 107:1-2).

There’s a bit more here.

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If you go to church every Sunday morning and attend an adult Bible fellowship you will hear approximately 100 sermon/lessons every year. If you are a Christian for 10 years that means you will have listened to 1000 in that time.

But how often do we really listen as we should.  The Constructive Curmudgeon has a challenge for us:

Listen . . . with all your might; hear the living and active word. The teaching and preaching of God’s imperishable word is truly a sacred event whereby the Truth penetrates hearts and minds, consciences are quickened, sin is disclosed, salvation is offered, wisdom is imparted . . . if we listen, if we actively engage ourselves in hearing, if we participate as the Holy Spirit works in our midst.

We are all too accustomed to being entertained and passively amused. Television often hypnotizes or anaesthetizes us; it demands little response and by its very nature stimulates stagnation, not spiritual encounter. Video games, cell phones, and internet access offers an endless source of possible distraction. But when we come together as the Body of Christ we come as participants not as spectators, we come to hear and obey the Truth not to be entertained. Neither Moses nor Paul captured their audience through eloquence or style. They were not entertainers but Truth-tellers: they spoke God’s word with a power that provoked response. Our Lord, when teaching by parable, alerted his hearers: “Therefore, consider carefully how you listen” (Luke 8:18). We are to be engaged in listening, intent on hearing.

The rest is so good!  So before you head off to church for another week, read the whole article here!  It won’t hurt you and it will likely help you to listen better this Sunday!

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“If we would stop treating Sunday as a second Saturday, one more day to run to Home Depot, one more day for the kids’ soccer games, another day for getting ready for Monday, if we would rediscover Sunday as The Lord’s Day, focusing on him for just one day each week, what would be the immediate impact between today and one year from today?

By one year from today, we will have spent 52 whole days given over to Jesus.  Seven and a half weeks of paid vacation with Jesus.

He’s a good King.  Maybe we should put him first in our weekly schedules.  Not fit him into the margins of our busy weekends, but build our whole weekly routine around him.”

Just a thought.

–Ray Ortlund

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“An incomparable blessing awaits God’s people whenever they come to God’s house to hear God’s Word.  True spiritual growth necessitates that believers regularly attend the gathering of worshippers and sit under the Scripture being taught. Wherever the Word of God is proclaimed, the glory of God is manifested, and the grace of God is magnified in the hearts of the saints.  Whatever the distance a person must travel to receive the Word, the effort is always eternally  rewarding. Singing praises to God with other like-minded believers makes the journey worth the while.  Nothing is more important to one’s spiritual life than hearing and living God’s Word.”–Steve Lawson, Psalms 76-150, The Holman OT Commentary Series, p. 261

 

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That’s the question that has been asked every Monday night for decades and it will be back very soon.

But Ray Ortlund asks, “Are You Ready to Resist?” Some good thoughts for all of us who love the gridiron:

The NFL season starts soon.  Great.  I love football.  But if only it were that simple.  The NFL in its televised grandeur and inflated drama claims too much for itself.  It claims too much of our attention on Sundays especially.  Let’s get ready now to resist its over-reaching.  Let’s get ready to put it in its true place, under Christ.  So it’s like this, as August is soon upon us: “Hey Mr. NFL, good to see you again.  Glad you’re back.  Sure, I might be able to fit you into my iPhone calendar somewhere here.  Umm, no, that’s filled.  And that won’t work either.  Uhhh — Oh, here’s an opening.  Sure, I might have some time here . . . .”

Jesus, community, mission — I submit to these claims.  I manage all others.  Jesus alone is Lord.  Jesus alone is joy.  I will set no limits on him.  I will set proper limits on everything else.

“What an utter denial it is of the whole of the New Testament, this foolish suggestion that one service a Sunday is enough, one that takes place at nine o’clock in the morning, to get rid of it, as it were, in order that you can then really go and enjoy yourselves and have real happiness in looking at the television or in rushing to the seaside or in playing golf!

But what happens when people are baptized with the Holy Spirit — as you read throughout Acts — is that they want to keep together, to get together as often as they can — they continued daily, steadfastly, talking about these things, singing together, praising God together.  This was the thing that was first above everything else.  Everything else came second; even their work was something they had to do.  It was right that they should do their work, of course, but this was the thing that meant life to them, joy and salvation.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable (Wheaton, 1984), page 102.  Italics original.

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Let us, therefore, forsake the vanity of the crowd and their false teachings and turn back to the word delivered to us from the beginning, “watching unto prayer” and continuing steadfast in fasting, beseeching fervently the all-seeing God “to lead us not into temptation, even as the Lord said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

—Polycarp (69-156)

(HT:  Christian Persecution)

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