The Lords’ Day (Exodus 20:8–11)
A Time for Rest and Worship
The Sabbath—which means “rest”—is the seventh day of the Hebrew week (Ge 2:2–3). The Israelites were commanded to keep this day as a holy day of rest, reflection and recreation in honor of the Lord (Ex 20:8–11).
The Sabbath served to remind the Israelites of their identity as God’s covenant people and of their deliverance from Egypt (Ex 31:12–17; Dt 5:15; Isa 58:13–14). It was a day that offered refreshment from work, both spiritually and physically (Ex 23:10–12). Traditionally, Jews spend three days each week in eager anticipation of the Sabbath, then after it has passed, three days reflecting on its joy. The Old Testament has very sharp reminders to keep the Sabbath day (Isa 56:2; Jer 17:19–27; Eze 44:24), as well as harsh punishment for a person who broke the Sabbath (Nu 15:32–36).
The Lord’s Day, by comparison, was considered to be the “first day” of the week. A sign of the new beginning marked by the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, the Lord’s Day quickly became the day on which the early church met for weekly worship (Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:2). Yet rest remains an important part of the Lord’s Day.
The Lord’s Day is not to be filled with legalism, for that is what Christ frequently rebuked in his day. It should be the joyful focal point of the week, a day eagerly anticipated by the believer. We should approach it physically rested and attitudinally ready for the Lord to reveal himself to us (Ps 118:24).
Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible
Something to Boast About
For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
The New Testament correlates faith and grace to make sure that we do not boast in what grace alone achieves.
One of the most familiar examples goes like this: “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). By grace, through faith. There’s the correlation that guards the freedom of grace.
Faith is the act of our soul that turns away from our own insufficiency to the free and all-sufficient resources of God. Faith focuses on the freedom of God to dispense grace to the unworthy. It banks on the bounty of God.
Therefore faith, by its very nature, nullifies boasting and fits with grace. Wherever faith looks, it sees grace behind every praiseworthy act. So it cannot boast, except in the Lord.
So Paul, after saying that salvation is by grace through faith, says, “And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Faith cannot boast in human goodness or competence or wisdom, because faith focuses on the free, all-supplying grace of God. Whatever goodness faith sees, it sees as the fruit of grace.
When it looks at our “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” it says, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30–31).
The next friend to speak is Bildad. Job responds to Bildad and then expresses his confusion to God.
An Anguished Argument
“‘You formed me with your hands; you made me, yet now you completely destroy me. Remember that you made me from dust—will you turn me back to dust so soon? You guided my conception and formed me in the womb. You clothed me with skin and flesh, and you knit my bones and sinews together. You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love. My life was preserved by your care.
“‘Yet your real motive—your true intent—was to watch me, and if I sinned, you would not forgive my guilt. If I am guilty, too bad for me; and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high, because I am filled with shame and misery. And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion and display your awesome power against me. Again and again you witness against me. You pour out your growing anger on me and bring fresh armies against me.’”
In frustration, Job jumped to the conclusion that God was out to get him. He could only see life from his human perspective and had no idea of the bigger picture or the end of the story. His focus, quite naturally, was on his current predicament and not on God’s purpose and goodness.
Like Job, our perspective is extremely limited—we cannot know the future or all of the other events that are occurring in the world. So we should be careful about using our experiences to make assumptions about life in general. Wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions.
Job began to wallow in self-pity. When we face baffling affliction, our pain can lure us toward feeling sorry for ourselves. At this point we are only one step away from self-righteousness, where we keep track of life’s injustices and say, “Look what happened to me; how unfair it is!” We may feel like blaming God.
If you find yourself doubting God, remember that you probably can’t see the whole picture. And when you are struggling, don’t assume the worst. God wants only the very best for you. Many people endure great pain, but ultimately they find some greater good came from it.
Remember that life’s trials, whether allowed by God or sent by God, can be the means for development and refinement. When facing trials, instead of asking, “Who did this to me and how can I get out of it?” ask, “What can I learn and how can I grow?”
Streams in the Desert – May 31
You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. (Job 5:26)
A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.
Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.
Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.
So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.
Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character.
—Louis Albert Banks
When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks.
When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.
“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”