Aligning Our Days
February 17, 2020

Getting Spiritually Aligned
“Aligning Our Days”
Matthew 28:1

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Most of you may not know that I’m a sports fan; whether it is football, basketball, and baseball, but mostly I watch when it gets to the playoffs. I even had season tickets to UNLV games many years back. But now I’ve had it with sports and I am no longer going to go to the games. You know why? I’ve made a list

• Every time I went, they asked me for money
• The people who sat around me didn’t seem very friendly
• The seats were hard and uncomfortable
• Not once did the coach call me and for my talents to help
• The referees make decisions that I don’t agree with
• I strongly suspect the people around me were hypocrites, because they were more interested in seeing their friends and what others were wearing than the game
• The band played songs I never heard, and they were too loud, and I don’t like that kind of music
• The games are usually scheduled when I want to do other things
• My parents made me go to too many games when I was growing up
• And, I want my children to choose for themselves the sports they want to attend

The alignment we’ll be talking about tonight, (and I feel like I’m preaching to the choir, because you’re here) is one that I believe is close to the Lord’s heart, and one that is given for our spiritual well being, and that is our need to align our days to the Lord’s Day.

This principle actually came into existence back in the very beginning of creation. It’s known as the Sabbath.

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” (Genesis 2:2-3a NKJV)

The word, “Sabbath,” means to cease and desist, and has come to mean the day in which God’s people would rest from all their works and worship the Lord. And so, just as God ceased from His labor on the 7th day, He set a pattern for His people to follow.

To insure this, He made it into a law, one of His top ten, the fourth one to be exact, and it became a sign of His covenant relationship with His people.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy … the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work” (Exodus 20:8, 10a NKJV)

It later developed into a day of the study of God’s word during the inter-testamental period, that is, between the Old and New Testament, with the development of synagogues. Here the keeping of the Sabbath became a day of worship and the study of God’s law, as well as ceasing from work related activities.

But by the time Jesus came, that which God desired for blessing His people turned into an unrelenting rule. To illustrate, by the time Jesus came, this one law of God to keep the Sabbath day holy had over 300 religious laws surrounding and attached to it. This is what Jesus had in mind when He confronted the Pharisees.

“He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27 NKJV)

Jesus was pointing back to the original intent of the Sabbath, and that is to provide rest for His people, and the miracles He performed on the Sabbath, like the healing of the man with a withered hand (Mark 3:3), taught a higher principle that God intended the Sabbath to portray, and that was mercy.

This was expressly taught when the Pharisees tried accusing Jesus’s disciples of breaking the Sabbath law by gathering grain to feed themselves.

Jesus said, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:7-8 NKJV)

And so God instituted the Sabbath, and the principle behind the Sabbath, so that His people could put aside the duties of life and concentrate on the spiritual side for the refreshment of the soul. And it is this Sabbath rest that Jesus came to give those who believe in Him, ceasing from their own good works trying to get themselves into heaven, and instead resting in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He provided upon the cross.

Therefore, there remains a rest for God’s people, just as Jesus promised when He invited those who labor and are weighed down by life, to come to Him and receive rest for their weary souls (Matthew 11:28).

Now, all this brings up a conflict as to when the Sabbath is celebrated. The seventh day is the last day of the week, which in biblical times was from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Yet, the church holds its Sabbath on Sunday, or the first day of the week.

Who’s right? Rather than getting all tied up in one day or another, let’s take and apply what the Apostle Paul’s said to the Colossian church.

“Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV)

To possibly say this another way, our assembly can take place really on any day, because it is not the day that we honor or worship, but the Lord God of that day. And if truth be known, the Lord should be respected and worshipped every day, and not only on one.

Yet, what I would like to talk about is how to get ourselves aligned with the Sabbath principal. It begins with Jesus’s resurrection.

“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb… (and the angel said), ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen.’” (Matthew 28:1, 5-6a NKJV)

“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:19 NKJV)

Someone has said that our great grandparents called the Sabbath day holy, our grandparents called it the “Lord’s Day. Our parents called it Sunday, and now we call it the weekend.

Someone else said that the first day principle shows the importance of placing God first in our week, and without out it, we become weak. But I also like to add, that coming just once a week to a church service also makes one weak.

Giving to God the first day then sets the rest of our week in order! The first day should be one in which we honor God, remembering what Jesus did for us upon the cross, and a day of renewal and rededication.

Now, obviously this can take place on any other day, and indeed on every day other than the first day, but Sunday has become the symbolic day all the way back to the first church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). And if we truly want to see God move today as He did back then, then this would include what is part of God’s laws of first things, like seek first the Kingdom of God, but in our study it would be this first day principle.

Why the first day? Well, as we just saw, it was on the first day that Jesus rose from the dead. What’s important about this is that this day was also the Feast of First Fruits. This biblical feast always falls on the first day of the week, that is, Sunday, following the Feast of Passover.

Paul addresses this in his letter to the Corinthian church. First, however, let’s go back to our earlier passage when Paul said, “Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV)

The fact that Jesus rose on this feast is a shadow of things to come as seen in what Paul then writes to the Corinthians church.

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV)

And so, Jesus has become the first fruit of the resurrection, of which we all follow.

But this first day of the week being the Sabbath for the church is also seen in the next feast, the Feast of Pentecost, which comes 50 days later, or again, on the first day of the week.

It was one this day, 50 days after Jesus’s resurrection, and on the first day of the week that the Holy Spirit descended upon those in the upper room who were praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall. And the Holy Spirit came in power and it was then on this day that not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but the church was formed (Acts 2).

Justin Martyr, one of the early church fathers, who lived in the early 100’s AD, said, “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read … Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.” (Justin Martyr)

In the second century, the church made the following decree in its Apostolic Constitutions.

“On the day of the resurrection of the Lord – that is, the Lord’s Day – assemble yourself together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ.”

Unfortunately, today Sunday is no more than the second day of a two-day weekend. In a USA Today survey it was found that almost 50 percent of those who attend church to so one day a month. Isn’t it interesting that people commit to 20 days a month to work/school, but on one day, and that for an hour or two, to come to church to worship Him?

You see, a shift has occurred in the mindset of the American Christian, and that is the church is now about what they can get out of it rather then what they can give to it. Church is now just another commodity to be consumed that competes for our time and devotion.

Given this shift, what we need is a Psalm 27:4 attitude.

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4 NKJV)

The goal then should be to develop a “one thing” desire towards the Lord and His house.

In Psalms 92:13 it says, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

And so, are we planted in God’s house? If we are, then our spiritual lives will flourish.

But there are several thieves when it comes to our gathering as the church.

The first thief is our Hurried Lifestyle

Here we pray for a job, or a promotion, so that we can support our family, but what happens is that we become so busy that instead of serving God in and through our jobs, we allow the job to abuse our time. Now we find it hard to come to church, to study God’s word, pray, and attend smaller fellowships. And that’s because these don’t fit our new hurried lifestyle.

On top of this, the average American spends around 9 hours a day on entertainment, and then complains about how they’ve missed the last 10 years of their lives.

To break this hurried lifestyle thievery, we need to follow this Sabbath rule or principle and set aside at least one day a week to honor the Lord and rest in Him. And when we do, we’ll start letting the Holy Spirit do some serious remodeling of our souls and spirits, that is, of His temple within us.

The second thief is Society’s Changing Values

By value I mean something that is esteemed and thought to be of great worth. Within the church we see three major value trends that are shifting.

1. Regular Church attendance is now irregular
2. People are attending multiple churches shopping for the best of each
3. Non-church activities are replacing regular church commitments.

There is an identity crisis happening within the church, where traditional values are being replaced by a new set of values, and ones that promote a new set of morals.
• Committed relationships are now more relationships of convenience
• Where once our word was our bond, not our word shifts with circumstances
• Where once God was the center of life, now humanity is at the center
• And the church was worthy of our commitment, now it is just one of many commitments.

Let me just say that loving God and His people are worthy values to hold, and therefore, loving and being committed to the local church and setting aside a day to worship the Lord with His people should likewise be a worthy value to hold.

And while I’ve kind of laid out why we meet on the first day of the week, or Sundays for these gatherings, the Sabbath principle is that we need to set aside at least one day a week to worship the Lord with the Body of Christ, that is, His people in church.

Someone wrote this rather humorous letter to his pastor.

Dear Pastor,

You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons.

Christmas, the Sunday before and after, Independence Day, School opening and closing, Easter for a holiday getaway, Mother’s and Father’s Day to take time with them, family reunions, sleeping in late, deaths in the family, anniversary, sickness for each member of the family, business trips, vacation, children’s sports, bad weather, unexpected company, and TV specials like Super Bowl Sunday.

Therefore, you can count on our family being at church on the 4th Sunday in February and the 3rd Sunday in August, all things going well”

Faithful Member

Let me end with these two verses from God’s word

“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13-14 NKJV)

And then there is Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)

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