A Little Time With The 1689: Day 285

Day 285

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 6.

“…and in secret each one by himself,…”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 6:6

Reflection

Private devotions are the hot thing in evangelicalism right now. It is the ultimate in Christian self-care: get your mocha nice and hot, your essential oil diffuser going, colored pencils sharpened and at the ready, maybe throw in a spa treatment and – oh yeah, almost forgot about the Scripture and prayer! Such visions of a peaceful, comforting quiet time light up Instagram and make money for booksellers and coffee vendors. But despite what the Christian bookstore wants you to think, while a cup of tea with your Bible reading may be nice, it is not necessary.

To worship God individually is to set aside time to pray and praise Him. This is the Lord who “searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9). Jesus, who knows the thoughts and intent of the heart, warned against publicly displaying private piety for all to see. Consequently, our times of devotions ought not to be ostentatious. When we come before God as the sole worshiper, all pretense is gone. We have nothing to boast about, for nothing we do can make us acceptable before Him. All is owed to God alone.

What if you do not have a time to be by yourself? Mothers of little ones (and sometimes bigger ones too!) do not often get a break. The expectation of sitting down for uninterrupted prayer can quickly lead to frustration and sin when we resent those who can have a mocha and five minutes’ quiet. Yet Christian women throughout the centuries have been able to spend time worshiping God individually without coffee, babysitters, or sometimes even a copy of the Bible. Reflecting on the passage preached on at church, pausing throughout the day to offer up prayer, singing a hymn unto the Lord in your mind, are ways to worship God alone without removing yourself from everyone around you.

Everywhere God is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. He is to be worshiped with the body of believers, and in our own families. He is also to be worshiped in secret by ourselves. May we intentionally set our minds on things above no matter where we find ourselves.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you publicize your private devotions? If so, why?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 284

Day 284

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 6.

“…daily,…”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 6:11

Psalm 55:17

Reflection

The Confession states that family worship is to occur daily. Honestly, the first reaction to such a directive is to throw up my hands in frustration. There is so much going on each day, what with work, school, chores, extracurriculars – how can a time of family worship be managed every day? Such thinking may be common, but it fails to recognize the proper place God should have in our lives.

When Jesus instructed His disciples to pray in Matthew 6, He didn’t say, “Give me this day my daily bread.” Instead, the prayer is to be the prayer of a group of people. They are not praying for a irregular provision, but a daily one. Families are to ask together that God would provide for them, and they are to praise Him and ask for His blessing each day. When you stop and take the time to gather together to worship God, you are stating that He is a priority in your family’s life. You demonstrate your dependence upon Him to provide what is necessary for that day. No longer do the world’s priorities dictate how time is spent.

Christian wife and mother, you are called to worship God. Not only with your local church, but with your family. And your family is called to worship Him daily. Set aside time to worship Him together.

Questions to Consider

  • If family worship is not happening regularly, what may have to change to make it a priority?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 283

Day 283

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 6.

“…as in private families…”

Scripture Lookup

Acts 10:2

Reflection

Everyone everywhere is called to worship God. Each man, woman, and child is called to offer prayer and praise to the Creator of all things. As individuals we are to spend time worshiping Him, and also when we gather as the church to formally worship Him. There is another group that should gather together to worship God, and that is the family.

Family worship is not a term that is heard much in mainstream evangelical churches. Often the extent of worship done by the family is in the church setting on Sundays, and then through individual times of devotions. But parents are instructed to raise their children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Gathering together as a family to worship God is an opportunity to do just that. Children are shown that worship is not just a “me and God” thing during the week, but a time to learn who God is and what He requires of us.

When we worship as a family, we are also to worship in spirit and in truth. It does not need to be elaborate. A sincere, heartfelt simple song, chapter of Scripture, and brief prayer is enough. Don’t run through it to get it over with so you can move on to the next thing. Also, we must be careful not to add anything to that time that God has not permitted. For example, lighting candles and bowing before statues are not parts of acceptable worship. Why would they be part of your family devotion time, then? That is an extreme example, but it is important to keep in mind lest you be tempted to add “visuals” to keep your children’s interest.

God has established families so that they might worship Him together. As a parent, you have a responsibility to teach your child to worship God. Take the time to worship Him together in your home.

Questions to Consider

  • Are there any parts of your family worship that you may need to stop doing?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 282

Day 282

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 6.

“Neither Prayer, nor any other part of Religious worship, is now under the Gospel tied unto, or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed; but God is to be worshipped everywhere in Spirit, and in truth;…”

Scripture Lookup

John 4:21

Malachi 1:11

1 Timothy 2:8

Reflection

It doesn’t matter where we meet for worship. A church can gather under a tree, in a fancy building, or on a second floor. It doesn’t matter if we face the east, west or north in our worship. We do not need to face Jerusalem when we pray.  There is a tremendous amount of liberty granted the Christian when it comes to where we worship God. We are merely called to worship Him in the places we find ourselves.

While Christians have been given great liberty with regards to the circumstances of worship, God has given some guidelines concerning the nature of worship that are to be followed carefully. In this present Gospel age, we are to worship in spirit and in truth. Both are to be pursued in order for worship to be acceptable to God.

When we worship in spirit, we are relying on the work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and increase our faith. We worship with “understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear” (LBCF 22.5). God is not pleased by an ignorant, haughty, faithless worshiper. We come to worship realizing our place as creature and He as Creator. We realize our sin, and the price He paid to redeem us. We acknowledge the work He is doing in our life, and how utterly incapable we are of doing it on our own.

As important as the inward aspects are, though, the outward form of our worship matters as well. We worship in truth; we align ourselves with the truth revealed in God’s word. The worship service directly reveals our view of God. Do we carefully seek His will in how we are to worship? Or do we worship in a manner that we choose? The elements of worship prescribed by Scripture are to be part of a worship service no matter where it is held.

When we worship in spirit and in truth, we can know with certainty that God is pleased with our worship.

Questions to Consider

  • Which needs more improvement: your attitude in worship or the content of your worship?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 281

Day 281

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 5.

“…and thanksgivings, upon special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner.”

Scripture Lookup

Exodus 15:1-19

Psalm 107

Reflection

There is a time when special religious services are appropriate. Fasting and thanksgiving are special parts of religious worship. There are times that call for deep prayer and supplication before the Lord, where we put aside those things that are lawful to more earnestly seek the Lord’s face. There are also times that call for joyous thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving should always be a part of our prayers, but there are occasions where thanksgiving should be the primary focus of our worship. In this time of thanksgiving we praise God especially for what He has done for us. The Israelites, after their deliverance from the Egyptians, paused and thanked God for how He cast the chariot and the driver into the sea. While we might not have such a miraculous deliverance from our enemies, there may be times when He delivers us from a great danger. There may be times of unprecedented blessing. Setting aside time to praise God specifically for those things are acceptable parts of religious worship.

Coming together as a church for a time of thanksgiving is an appropriate part of religious worship. When your church calls for such a time, prepare yourself through prayer for the service. As His redeemed people, we have much to be thankful for.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you setting aside special times of thanksgiving?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 280

Day 280

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 5.

“…are all parts of Religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover, solemn humiliation with fastings;…”

Scripture Lookup

Esther 4:16

Joel 2:12

Reflection

Scripture, preaching, singing, baptism, lord’s supper – all along with prayer are part of religious worship. We do these things out of obedience to God, who has directed us in this His acceptable means of worship. We perform them with understanding, with faith, reverence, and godly fear.

Fasting, although not a regular part of worship, is also a permissible element of worship. What is fasting? Fasting, according to Arden Hodgins, is the abstention of food or other permissible things of the world. There are times when a special setting aside of our enjoyment to seek the Lord’s face is in order. Fasting is meant to be a means of directing our energy towards prayer.

Solemn humiliation should accompany our fasting. This is not a glib diet or a publicity stunt to draw attention to world hunger. It is important that fasting be performed in a holy and religious manner.  Fasting is a practice that is often associated with works-based religions, and as a result we may view it with suspicion, yet it is a biblical practice that Jesus expected His followers to observe. “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.” (Matthew 6:16) It is not done to gain favor with God. It is not done to demonstrate our level of holiness. When we fast, we realize in a stronger way our dependence upon God.

Questions to Consider

  • When was the last time you fasted as part of worship?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 279

Day 279

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 5.

“…and the Lord’s Supper…”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 11:26

Reflection

Like baptism, the Lord’s Supper is a public demonstration of union with Christ. Rather than an individual declaring her union with Christ, communion is that individual joined with the church in declaring their union with Christ. When we partake of the bread and wine with fellow believers, we remember the night the lord Jesus was betrayed. We remember His death and resurrection. We remember the benefits of our union with Him. and we look forward to the marriage feast of the Lamb in glory.

It may seem odd that eating a bit of bread and drinking wine together in a religious service would have any real benefit, but communion nourishes the soul of the believer. When a Christian participates in the Lord’s Supper, she, and those with her, “do then inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally, and corporeally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified and all the benefits of His death” (LBCF 30.7). With the death of Christ, with His being made sin and a curse for us, He satisfied the justice of God, obtained reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in heaven for those who are His (LBCF 8.8). Those benefits are what we feed upon spiritually in the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that redemption has been one for us by Christ, the captain of our salvation who brings many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10).

-Richard Barcellos, More Than A Memory

The Lord’s supper is an act of worship. It was instituted by Christ, and is to be part of religious services. As we eat the bread and drink the wine, may our hearts and minds be turned to Christ and His sacrifice for us, and look forward to the hope of His return.

Questions to Consider

  • With what attitude do you approach the Lord’s Supper?

 

A Little Time With the 1689: Day 278

Day 278

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 5.

“…as also the Administration of Baptism,”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 28:19,20

Reflection

As someone who didn’t come from a Baptist background, the idea of getting baptized was a little intimidating. Having been sprinkled as a baby had been so much more convenient, as I did not have any say in the matter. Later, as an adult that came to faith, I was faced with Christ’s command to be baptized. Yes, I loved Christ, but to demonstrate that by being dunked while everyone was watching? That was taking it to the next level, a level that I wasn’t sure I wanted to attain.

Baptism is a visual sign that the one being baptized is no longer her own. Through going down into the water and coming up again, baptism demonstrates the union the redeemed sinner has with Christ. She is united with Him in His death and resurrection. He has washed her sins away. She is no longer who she once was, but is “giving up unto God through Jesus Christ to live and walk in newness of Life,” as the Confession describes it in Chapter 29. It is an act of humility, of publicly separating yourself from what you were before to follow Christ. To be acceptable in God’s sight, it should be performed according to His will. Reformed Baptists see the professing believer being immersed in water as what is pleasing to God concerning baptism.

If you profess to know Christ but have not been baptized, what is hindering you? Rather than a ceremony devoid of feeling, baptism is an act of worship. We are thanking God for His gracious provision in Christ, and demonstrating in a visual sense our union with Him. Do not be afraid to enter the waters, for His commands are not burdensome.

Questions to Consider

  • Why is baptism considered an act of worship?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 277

Day 277

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 5.

“… teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in our Hearts to the Lord;…”

Scripture Lookup

Colossians 3:16

Ephesians 5:19

Reflection

Come, Christians, join to sing, Alleluia! Amen!

-Christian Bateman

Singing! Voices raised in unison and melody to the Lord!

The problem is, we aren’t used to singing anymore. Aside from “Happy Birthday”, there aren’t many places where people sing together. When we come to church, we may not know the hymns, or the music may be too loud to hear ourselves or anyone else. And so many times rather than teaching and admonishing each other, we are quiet, mumbling through the songs or listening to the worship leader instead.

When Christians join together to worship God, they are commanded by His word to sing “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Singing His word to one another encourages us in the faith, teaches us about God, and contends with us to hold steadfast.  Joining with the voices of our fellow Christians, we are reminded that we are called to a community that is to care for one another. When we sing joyfully and faithfully, no matter how out of tune we may be, we are “making melody with our heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

So how can you improve in your singing unto the Lord? If you can pick up a pop song and sing it in your car, you can pick up a hymn and learn to sing it. If your church has hymnals, ask to borrow one. Listen to them until they are ingrained in your memory. When it is time to sing, sing unto the Lord the best you can. Pray that the Lord would accept your singing as an act of worship. As Hercules Collins wrote,

If we are not in Christ, we are certainly out of tune. It is Christ must put acceptation upon this Service as well as others. Here the Altar must sanctifie the Gift. Christ perfumes the Prayers of Saints, Rev. 5.8. And he must articulate their Singing. Though we have Esau’s Garments, he can give us Jacob’s Voice: if we are in him, we can raise our Hearts to a pleasing Elevation.

The Lord is not looking for only those with the talent of Luciano Pavarotti to sing His praise. He is pleased with sincere melody from His children. Alleluia! Amen!

Questions to Consider

  • What is your attitude towards congregational singing – are you mumbling or singing heartily unto the Lord?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 276

Day 276

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 5.

“…Preaching, and hearing the word of God,…”

Scripture Lookup

2 Timothy 4:2

Luke 8:18

Reflection

Sermons. Sitting and listening to someone talk. To the unenlightened mind, it is one of the most boring parts of a church service. That is why “seeker-sensitive” churches present a “message” with rapid-fire delivery and lots of movement by the preacher. On special occasions, there is no sermon at all, making way for special music, children’s performances, and other exciting events.

Yet preaching, when done correctly, is a strenuous act. It is commanded by the word of God, calling the preacher to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 2:4). More than just someone’s opinion on what Scripture has to say, preaching takes a text from the Bible, clarifies it, and points the listener to worship and obey the great God whose word it is. Because Scripture is most necessary to know the truth and to comfort and establish the Church, preaching should never be allowed to take a backseat to anything else in the worship service.

Rather than waiting for a sermon to end, the Christian ought to examine the Scriptures and listen intently. Yes, listening to a sermon takes work on our part as we reflect on what is being preached. Rather than filling tickling ears with what we want to hear, the sound preaching of the Word nourishes our souls with what we need to grow in holiness. Proper handling of the Bible by the preacher is God speaking to us through His word. The preaching of the Word should be central in our churches. Instead of dozing off, we should be eager to hear what He has to say.

Questions to Consider

  • With what attitude are you listening to your pastor’s sermons?