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Sunday, July 31, 2011

8/1/11- 7th commandment- Perspectives on adultery

Thou Shalt not commit adultery (Dt. 5:18)

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Mt. 5)

(Wedding at Lake Murray Presbyterian)

Thoughts: George Barna's 2007 research shows that the Sexual Revolution has won in America.  All the barrage of sexual innuendos, that became soft porn, that changed what once was x-rated (like Midnight Rider) into PG-13 has come.  A strong majority (59%) of those 23-41 years old in America believe it is morally acceptable to cohabit without marriage (formerly called "fornication").  44% of those 23-41 years old in America believe it is okay to have sex outside of marriage (hope my kids don't marry one of them!).  It is not that they do not know that the scriptures say it is wrong.  It is that the scriptures are seen only as one source for moral authority.  Feelings and desires, along with peers and psychological advisors (or "experts") are just as important if not more important than what is perceived as an ancient book that even some Christians do not believe.  Ironically, even those who call themselves "born again" who are under 30 believe cohabitation is morally acceptable today. 
    The old addage, however, that just because everyone else is doing it (or telling you to do it), does not make it morally right.  Does God really care about our sexuality?  That is really like asking does God care about us- for sexuality is an intimate part of who we are.  Sexuality is a gift given to us by God, and we are called to be good stewards of that gift, guarding that prescious and holy gift with boundaries, and committment. The question for those who say that it is okay if you "really love someone" is, "How do you know that someone really loves you?"  Committment was the standard way to know.  Promises can be cheap, and the road of life is littered with broken hearts and bodies of those who were promised "love" but were simply used for pleasure. 

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, in a culture that seems to be turning away from your standards, to have a listening ear to you.  May your voice sound loudly in my ears.

John Calvin Abridged: Though only one sin (adultery) is referred to, fornication and chastity are implied.  There are many New Testament passages that interpret this law as referring to fornication as well.  Thus the species refers to the whole genus.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

7/31/11 The Positive Side of "Do not Kill"

A word to live by: 6th commandment "Do not kill."
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:26)

Paul said, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!" [To the Philippian Jailer about to kill himself thinking his prisoners had escaped in an earthquake]. (Acts 16:28)

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited. 7 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Boy Scout Helping Little Old Lady Across the Street- image in Punch 1909 of scout helping Brittania)

Thoughts: There are a couple of positive sides to this 6th commandment: Do not kill.  Calvin always looked deeper into the negative commandment for a positive thing to do.  The command was not just about avoiding evil, but implied how we should do good.  The Westminster shorter catechism says that the positive requirement is to "preserve our life and the life of others."  It is not enough to refrain from killing (not enough to "live and let live"), but we should also seek to preserve the life of others.  This opens up a whole new ball of wax.  But this also gives us a huge task in helping the hungry, teaching hygiene, working with medical clinics among the poor.  This means caring for our neighbor even if it risks them saying that we are "butting into their business."  When someone goes out to far into the ocean- we should not be afraid to call them back.  When a neighbor cannot get to the grocery store because of surgery, we should be the first to offer to help. 
   Other theologians speak of not doing the dangerous, life threatening things as implied in this command.  But the other part also is implied- that we shouldn't live cooped up in fear and worry so that we do not live.  Christians have less reason to be afraid of death than anything.  For as horrible as murder is, it is not the end of life.  This is shown in Christ who was murdered because of false accusations, yet rose to show us that even murder has not the last word. Christians are called to not fear death as the heathen do, but to live meaningful, purposeful, fearless lives. 
Prayer: Lord, keep anger from welling up inside of me.  Instead, help me to honor you by seeking to preserve life and also living my life to the fullest today.

Friday, July 29, 2011

7/30/11 Cain vs. the Good Samaritan

The sixth command: Thou shalt not kill.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:6-8)

We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:11b-16)

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.]
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10)

(Cain kills Abel- Jan Van Eyck 1432)

Thoughts: The New Testament contrasts Cain vs. Love.  Cain's murder came from his anger and jealousy.  If we hate our brother or sister (1 John says) we are a murderer.  God even warned Cain to not let his emotions become action.  Jesus says if we are angry with our brother it is breaking this commandment.  But Jesus gives us a positive example to follow- the Good Samaritan.  Not only was he not angry or hateful to his Jewish enemy, he went out of his way to help him.  So we are called to love our neighbor- as Christ loved us. 

Prayer: Give me grace to not be like Cain, but to be like you, Lord.  Give me grace to love and not let my anger, hatred, and jealousy control me.  But let love fill every cell, every atom of my being.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

7/29/11 Murder affects creation

Devotional on the Ten Commandments with attention to the New Testament.
Sixth Commandment: You shall not murder.

 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Because of this the land dries up,    and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away. (Hosea 4:1-3)

Romans 8:19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

(Picture of drought)

Thoughts: Hosea 4, Jeremiah 7 & 19 all speak of murder as one of the causes for the exile of the people of God from their promised land and peace.  It is as if God says, "If you do not choose to live in peace, you will not have peace in your life."  Hosea even implies that murder affects the whole land and weather.  Romans 8 in the New Testament also speaks of the whole creation groaning for the day when evil (including murder will cease).  The spiritual and moral act of murder affects the physical creation.  On the positive side, if we love (not sexual love- but sacrificial, serving love), it fulfills the whole law of God (Romans 13).  Real love does not seek to harm our neighbor.  There have been tomes written in our murderous society trying to describe the definition of murder.  Today's society debates whether abortion (or what kind is murder and what is humane), euthanasia (or what kind is murder and what is humane).  But the test described here is do we harm our neighbor?  Do we love our neighbor?  It is a good test for us as individuals.  The peaceable kingdom is a kingdom where love reigns and there is no room for murder.
     Certainly there are parts of Zambia and the Congo where hospitals, farms, infrastructure were destroyed by war as well as men, women, and children.  Killing affects creation.  Look at the "no man's land" in pictures of World War I or the aftermath of the nuclear destruction in Japan.  Killing is the opposite of loving our neighbor and the peaceable kingdom.

Prayer: May my heart grow in love for neighbor, Lord. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

7/28/11 Moses the Murderer

The Ten Commandments (with New Testament references).  Thou shalt not kill (murder). 6th commandment

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. (Exodus 2:11-15)

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:19-20)

(Moses kills the Egyptian beating a Hebrew- Egyptian drawing)

Thoughts: Moses was guilty of murder.  He became the protector of his people, and yes, he would later be the judge of his people. True Moses came to the aid of one of his people when he killed, but there is still a sense of guilt that Moses bore.  As great a man as Moses, was not perfect.  This showed in another time when Moses, in reaction to his anger, hit a rock.  The sin of anger and murder are similar Jesus said, and both come from within.  Jesus is concerned more with our heart than with the exterior actions. 

Prayer: May my heart be at peace with you and others, Lord. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

7/27/11 Murder not Unforgivable

  1. 1 John 3:15
    Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
  2. Revelation 21:8
    But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
  3. Revelation 22:15
    Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
(Uriah handing letter to Kng David- Peter Lastman 1619)

    Thoughts: Murder is a terrible sin.  While all sin pollutes us- keeping us from heaven, murder is a sin so very serious that in itself it would keep us from God's presence and rest.  Murder on purpose is a capital offense in scripture.  Murder abolishes someone that God has made.  It obliterates the image of God given to them.  Yet, there is grace and forgiveness In the Old Testament there were cities of refuge for someone who killed another accidentally.  David was given forgiveness, though punished, after he had Uriah killed.  Jesus said to his murderers, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do."  Murder is a horrible sin, but it is not in itself enough to keep someone from heaven.  However, unrepentant murder is unforgivable.

    Prayer: May I hold onto your forgiveness, Lord.  Keep me from quickly condemning another, even a murderer.  Yet, help me to value life highly. 

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    7/26/11- Anger as Killing

        21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  (Mt. 5:21-22)

    Adam and Eve Mourn Abel's death- William Adolphe Bougereau 1888

    Thoughts: In a day in which many try to water down especially this command (some rationalize away abortion and euthanasia)  - so that it says only what we ecpect it to say- and not challenge us- Jesus does the opposite. Instead of watering down, he ratchets up the restrictions.  Every day anger is the breaking of this command.  Cursing another is breaking this command. 

    Prayer; May I see the importance of your loce- even in the face of death.

    John CalvinAbridged:  The purpose of this commandment is this: the Lord has bound humankind together by a certain unity; heace each one ought to concern themselves with the safety of all.  To sum up, all violence, injury and any harmful thing at all that may inure our neighbor's body is forbidden to us.  If we find anything to use for the salvation of our neighbor we should employ it.  If it leads to their peace we are to use it. 

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    7/25/11 The sixth command

    17 “You shall not murder. (Deut. 5:17)

    17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’(Mark 10:17-19)

    (Jesus and the Rich young Ruler)

    Thoughts:  The KJV translation- "Thou shalt not kill" is not the best translation of this command.  The idea is of a violent and unauthorized killing.  Christ reaffirms that this violent unauthorized killing is an important concept.  Jesus had a high view of human beings.  For Jesus, life was to be valued and lived to the fullest.  He says "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly" (Jn. 10:10).  Naturally, one who came to give eternal life (which begins now) would not be in favor of inflicting death.  So, we too should value life above death.  God gives us life, and we should be careful to be good stewards of his greatest gift. 

    Prayer: Lord, help me to value and treasure each moment as a gift from you.  Help me to value others and life itself. 

    Saturday, July 23, 2011


    Devotional on the Ten Commandments with New Testament reference:
    5th Command: 16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

    11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
    13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
    17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
    “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
    21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
    22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
    (Luke 15:11-23)
    (The Prodigal Son - James Tissot)

    Thoughts: The Prodigal (or Lost) Son is the story of someone who did not honor his father.  The fifth command has the promise that when we honor father and mother we have a better opportunity to live long and well where God places us.  The Prodigal was starving to death and miserable.  In his misery he repented.  This is a lesson that when we dishonor the father (as surely the prodigal son did when he made his father give him his inheritance when he was still living), our heavenly father still seeks to draw us back.  There is always room to return back to honoring God.  He always welcomes us back.

    Prayer: Help me, Lord to honor you and those you have placed above me that it may go well with me.

    Friday, July 22, 2011


    Devotional on the Ten Commandments- with attention to the New Testament.  Fifth Commandment: "Honor your Father and Mother." 

    9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:9-13)

     18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ (Mark 10:18,19)

    Thoughts: Jesus shows He respects God's commands and respects Parents.  However, He did not have resepct for those who tried to find a way around God's commands.  Today there are many who want to get their way even if it means breaking God's commands.  But then they rationalize it away by redefinitions of the command and watering them down to nothing.  Here, Jesus brings revival not by neglecting the law, or avoiding it- but by embracing it.  He does the same with the Rich Young Ruler.  Jesus reiterates the Law. 
         In a recent book by George Barna ("The Un-Christian: What a Generation Really Thinks about Christianity" (2007), Christian point to their keeping the Law ("being good, doing the right thing") as their priority.  However, the same survey found that those who call themselves "born again" still do the same things as though who do not believe (including gambling, looking at pornography, driving drunk).  So in many ways we are like the Pharisees who speak of the Law, but look for ways around it.  We need to heed Jesus' words of admonition to respect God and to listen to those over us in the Lord.

    Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to have ears to hear, and a heart adn courage to obey. 

    John Calvin Abridged: The God established degrees of preeminence should be inviolable to us.  This command means we are to look up to those placed over us by God and treat them with honor, obedience, and gratefulness.  We should not detract from their dignity by contempt, stubborness or ungratefulness. God's titles of honor are shared with earthly leaders.  The universal rule is to him whom the Lord has placed over us we should render reverence obedience and gratefulness, whether he is worthy or unworthy of that honor.  The length of earthly life is not a blessing in itself, but it is a symbol of God's blessing.  We should obey parents only as long as they do not incite us to violate the Law. 

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    7/22/11 A Motivation for Honor

    16 “Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother.”
    Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 27:16)

    20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
    21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:20,21)

    (Return of the Prodigal Son- Rembrandt 1519)

    Thoughts: The New Testament prohibition gives a secret motivation for Christian submission.  First, we listen to others (especially those God has placed over us) not because they are right all the time, or because we agree with them, but because listening to them pleases the Lord.  The every next command softens the harshness in that children are not to be abused or embittered simply because they are to obey the parent.  Out of love for Christ children are to listen, and out of love for Christ fathers are to be kind and encouraging. 
         The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a living image of honor and dishonor.  Throughout the father was not harsh with either son.  The son- who cursed his father with his actions- was cursed. 
         This would apply to all those who are placed over us.  A person under the authority, should respect those in authority.  But it is also true that those in authority do not need to lord it over them.  Jesus showed us that He is worthy of our respect in that He humbled Himself, washing our feet, dying on the cross for us.  So the employee is invited to be humble, but also the employer is invited to be humble. As we humble ourselves before the Lord, honoring one another, God blesses us with peace with each other. 

    Prayer: Lord, help me to listen, and humble myself before those I meet this day. 

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011


    The Ten Commandments: 5th Command: Honor Your Father and Your Mother

    1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
    4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

    (Becca Hancock with Ugandan orphans- in the name of Christ)

    Thoughts: The command to honor parents is not just an Old Testament command, but one that is good for every age. As a general principle, the ability to listen and follow advice leads to safety and health.  This command does not just obligate children toward parents but implies an obligation of parents to the children.  To expect your children to honor you, you should be honorable.  In the Roman world a patristic son could not own property until his father died.  The son could be imprisoned, sold as a slave by the father.  But to Christians, children were not to be enslaved or possessed as things.  Rather children were also treated as people created in God's image.  Jesus welcomed the little children and protected them from those who would harm them.  So Christians are called to care for these "least of these" who are dependent and vulnerable. 

    Prayer: May I have grace, O Lord, to be a respecter of people of all ages and abilities. 

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    7/20/11 Honoring Parents

    A devotional on the Ten Commandments with attention to the New Testament;
    Fifth Commandment: Honor your Father and Mother that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

    3 “‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.(Leviticus 19:3)

    [Jesus said]: 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’(Mark 10:19)

    (Parents bringing children to Vacation Bible School at Lake Murray Pres. 7/19/11)

    Thoughts: We did not create ourselves.  Life is a gift from God through our parents. God has given us a tatoo reminder to us of that: our bellybutton/navel.  We are made to be dependent on God and on others.  That dependence puts us in a position to be in continual rebellion against others, to seek to love others, or some mixture of the two.  Christ told the Rich Young Man that one essential for inheriting eternal life was to honor our parents.  There is a natural tie between honoring our parents and honoring God.  Rebellion and ingratitude toward one spills over toward the other.  Perhaps this is why this command is so important, even in Jesus' mind. 
         Parents have the opportunity to be the first priests of God to us.  They have the opportunity to tell us of God's love and forgiveness. In response, we are called to be grateful and honor them.
         Jesus certainly set us an example of honoring his parents.  Tradition says Joseph was older and died when Jesus was still young.  Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30 when his younger brothers and sisters would have left home.  He stayed to support his mother and family, all the while preparing himself for his ministry.  When his family tried to protect him from harm- even accusing him of insanity, Jesus did not call them names in return.  His first miracle was done in some ways in respect for his mother's wishes (Jn. 2).  On the cross, one of Jesus' last requests was that John would take care of his mother.  If He sets us such a sacrificial example for his half (adopted) family, should we also not care for those in our own family? 

    Prayer: Help me God to be kind to my parents as you were kind to yours.

    John Calvin Abridged: We are to obey our parents only "in the Lord" (Eph. 6:1).  For they do not sit in that position in which they have been placed by the Lord, who shares with them a part of his honor.  Therefore honoring our parents is a step toward honoring the highest Father. If they encourage us to break the law, we have a perfect right to regard them not as parents but as strangers who are trying to lead us away from our true Father.  So we should also act toward all princes, lords, and every kind of superiors.  It is unworthy and absurd for their eminence to be placed so highly as to degrade the loftiness of God.  On the contrary, their eminence depends upon God's loftiness and ought to lead us to it. (Institutes 403-4).

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    7/19/11 Honor Your Father and Mother

    Devotional on the Ten Commandments with attention to the Ten Commandments
    5th Commandment: "Honor Your Father and Mother"

    16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 5:16).

    3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
    8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    9 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules. (Matthew 15:3-9)

    Thoughts: Respecting those God has placed over us is a healthy thing.  To be in continual rebellion, unable to trust others keeps us from trusting in God, and puts us against a power that we cannot win against.  John Calvin said that this command had to do with respecting all those over us.  This was not said lightly.  The Queen of France had tried to kill Calvin.  The Pope excommunicated him.  Despite rumors in our day to the contrary, Calvin had little political power, little physical money, but much spiritual power- from his gifts. Jesus also taught respect for authority.  Yet he was killed by both the Roman and Jewish authorities of his day.  Christ told Pilate that the only reason he had authority was that he was given it from above.
         This command, then, does not mean that authorities placed over us in God's providence do not make grave mistakes.  Certainly, any parent will make mistakes.  Some will be horrible.  It is problematic to honor the dishonorable.  Yet our parents are not alone responsible for our failures and inadequacies.  Jesus reminds those in his day to quit making excuses for not caring for their parents.  We are not called to blind obedience.  But neither are we called to open rebellion.  Jesus sets us an example of how someone may triumph over those more powerful, yet without rebellion. 

    Prayer: May my journey here be humble toward my own selfishness, and generous toward others.  Give me grace to listen, to learn, to grow, and to ultimately honor you. 

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    7/18/11 A Need for Rest (updated 12/25/11)

    The Ten Commandments: The Fourth Command: Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy

     28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

    ("Come Unto Me" Carl Heinrich Bloch 1834-90)

    Thoughts: Americans have willingly embraced a part of their inheritance while disowning the foundation (and motivation) for what they do.  Americans embrace the Protestant work ethic.  It is the ethic that says work and productivity is good. However, the ethic was founded on the belief that we are created to glorify God with our lives and with our work (not so widely embraced today).  So today, 35% of Americans work on weekdays as well as weekends (  Americans work 30% more than their European counterparts- and this has risen from equal work hours in the 1970s ( 
    At the same time, Gallup polls indicates that American sleep habits have decreased.  In 1942 84% of Americans slept 7+ hours a night.  Today that is only 56%.  Depression (often a sign of weariness) has risen to epidemic proportions as well.  30% of American women are depressed.  There is a striking rise in depression among children ( 
    Americans are more in debt, and so they work to ease themselves out of debt (I owe, I owe so off to work I go).  We know we need self control and restraint but we are unwilling to bite the bullet of stopping ("Sabbath" means stopping). 
         This is easily seen in the demagoguery of our politicians who loudly indicate that we need to stop going into debt, but are not willing to make enough spending cuts.  It could be argued that while America defeated the idea of Marxist materialism when the USSR fell in 1989, yet it succumbed to the very materialism it defeated- living for work and visible things.  One check against materialism, and slavery to work was a corporate day of rest.  To say that there is no effect of the elimination of a Sabbath in the last generation would be naive.  In the South the practice of keeping a Sabbath kept the pace slower.  In the Western world, the Sabbath was instituted legally by Constantine in 321 when Christianity itself became legal.  Sabbath laws are still in effect in much of Europe (which may account for the 30% difference in work habits since the 1970s).  At the same time, pagers, cell phones, Internet accessibility, email, text messaging, social/business networking keep some from escaping work- even on days off and vacations.  We may easily buy/produce/sell 24/7.  The bigger question is "whether we should?"
         Christmas Day is perhaps the last remnant of a true Sabbath in our culture, and even that is being eroded.  It still is amazing that the tail-light to tail-light mall rush is stopped for one day between the last-minute-gift buyers and the returns or after-Christmas-sales.  One Christmas song that is appropriate is (From "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear")- "But you beneath life's crushing load whose forms are bending low; who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow; Look now for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing; and rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing."  Isaiah said when the Messiah came, he would bring "comfort" (Isa. 40:1).  Jesus said to come to him when we are weary, lacking peace, seeking comfort.  He is the comfort of our soul.  The Sabbath is one gift to us from God that keeps us from being slaves to our work, our earthly focus, or our debt.  Without a social consenus that we need more peace and more break it cannot happen.  But American history is full of weeks (until the 1960s) when we stopped and caught our breath and were renewed to dream, think, worship, and pray.
         In a culture busily spinning out of control with materialistic greed and lust for more, perhaps a call to come back to values and the Sabbath should be heard.  In a too-busy world, Jesus calls us to come to Him- when we are weary and heavy laden and He will give us rest to our souls. The Sabbath was not meant to be an inconvenience to us, as much as a break- a holiday for us.  It is a time to catch up on what is most important- our relationship with God, with others, and peace within our own hearts. 

    Prayer: In a world that has a hard time resting, Lord, help me to find my rest in you.  Give me grace to take one day in seven to honor you.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    7/17/11 The Sabbath Means Freedom

    1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
    3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
    6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
    9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
    10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.  (Luke 6:1-10)

    (Jesus walks through grainfield on the Sabbath)

    Thoughts:  The reason given for keeping the Sabbath was to remember that the people of God are set free from the slavery of work (specifically the slavery from Egypt).  The keeping of one day of rest in seven was a gift- a celebration that we no longer have to be slaves to this world, or to materialism or to productivity or success. 
        When Jesus came, he freed up the idea of Sabbath even more.  Instead of a negative thing in which we were boxed into restraint, Jesus saw the Sabbath as a time for spiritual peace.  So,  eating and meeting needs is allowed.  So, healing someone captivated by pain and deformity is allowed. 
         Jesus also makes the amazing statement that He is "Lord of the Sabbath."  That is a claim to divinity- to be the Lord over one of the Ten Commandments.  The Sabbath sets us free from slavery to work, materialism, the ratrace, and debt.  The Sabbath makes a claim upon our time and rhythm.  Jesus sets us free from slavery to the Sabbath.  He frees us to celebrate it in a positive light- with joy, rest, healing, deeds of mercy, smelling the roses, worship, resetting our priorities, renewing our relationships, strengthening our very soul.  He makes a claim upon the Sabbath's idea of time and rhythm- for He is Lord over both our work and our rest. 
         If Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, how much more appropriate that we celebrate it differently after His resurrection? 
        The Sabbath is meant to be a symbol and a deposit of our freedom.  When practiced, it actually is a setting free from work and worry, debt and commerce.  One day we will ultimately be set free to rest in peace.  Hebrews 4:1 says there remains a Sabbath's rest for the people of God.  One day we will be set free from the toil and labor or work.  It is not that we won't work in heaven, but we will find our work freeing and peaceful instead of burdensome and stressful.  The Sabbath is a gift for us- made for us, to remind us we are free.

    Prayer: May we remember that you set us free indeed, Lord.  May we see a day of worship and rest not as an imprisoning thing, but a gift of freedom for us.  Help us to find rest here, and long for our ultimate resting with you.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    7/16/11 Sabbath Practices

    15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day...21 But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. (Nehemiah 13:15,21)

    16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, (Luke 4:16)

    (Jesus in the synagogue on the Sabbath- Greg Olson)

    Thoughts: Jesus regularly kept the Sabbath (cf. Lk. 4:31; 6:6; 13:10; Mark 6:2). He sets us an example of faithful worship from the time he was a boy.  Jesus later expanded his idea of the Sabbath to include healing, gathering food when hungry, and deeds of mercy.  Nehemiah, in the revival that occurred when the exiles came back to the land, was strong about trying to please God by being pure.  Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel indicated that the breaking of the commandments led God to forsake their protection and allow them to be taken into exile.  Nehemiah had little sympathy for the merchants who were constantly trying to sneak in and sell goods on the Sabbath.  Nehemiah's vision was of a renewed people with renewed values- as well as a renewed Tenmple, renewed wall, and renewed covenant with God.  When we come to worship each week, onr our Sabbath, we are renewing our covenant with God.  We are leaving the world behind to do what is more important. Jesus example is worth following.

    Prayer: May I follow your example, your relationship with the Father.  May I keep the covenant relationship by keeping the Sabbath.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    7/15/11 Jesus as the Sabbath

    A Devotion on the Ten Commandments: "Remember the Sabbath Day"

    19 This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and stand at the Gate of the People,[c] through which the kings of Judah go in and out; stand also at all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20 Say to them, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah and all people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem who come through these gates. 21 This is what the LORD says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. 22 Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. 23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline. 24 But if you are careful to obey me, declares the LORD, and bring no load through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing any work on it, 25 then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this city with their officials. They and their officials will come riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by the men of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever. 26 People will come from the towns of Judah and the villages around Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin and the western foothills, from the hill country and the Negev, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the LORD. 27 But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses.’” (Jeremiah 17:19-27) [See also Ezekial 20:13-21]

    There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.  (Hebrews 4:1)

    (Peacable Kingdom, Edward Hicks 1780- 1849)

    Thoughts: Jesus is our rest.  He embodies the Sabbath.  He is our source of peace.  He gives us our time.  He brings us peace with God- and peace with others- and peace within ourselves.  He keeps us from over-valuing this world- it's work (which rusts and fades- except as it glorifies the eternal God); it's money (which we cannot take with us).  Hebrews 4 speaks of their being "a Sabbath rest for the people of God."  That is the heavenly rest in the presence of Jesus. 
    When we reject our rest, we reject how we are made and who made us.  We cannot live without sleep.  We at first are grumpy. We don't think clearly.  Then we start hallucinating.  We lose weight.  Sleep deprivation studies show we need rest to survive.  We may not like it, but that is the way we are made.  We are made to have to stop and be re-nourished.  When we don't there are terrible consequences.  So, Jeremiah says the Sabbath was a sign (of the covenant) the people had with God.  When they rejected the Sabbath, God rejected them and gave them 70 years rest to catch up on their Sabbaths.  When the people rejected Jesus at his first coming, they rejected the peace with God He offered them.  Today, many are rejecting God again.  A visible sign of rejection is going our own way on the Lord's Day, thinking our time is our own and our rest with God is not important.  It is time to stop, look, turn around and find our rest again. 
    The Bible calls us to the ultimate peace when the wolf lies down with the lamb, and there is no more hurt or harm in God's holy presence.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    7/14/11 Do You Want to Rest?

    A Devotional on the Ten Commandments (for the summer) with attention to the New Testament
    The fourth Command: Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy

    21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”
    24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”
    27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:21-30)

    1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
    “So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
    And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”[c] 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” (Hebrews 4:1-4)

    (Gathering of Manna- Bacchiaca Francesco 1540/55 Natl Gallery Washington DC)

    Thoughts: "Rest in Peace" used to be the common Christian statement on a tombstone.  Our ultimate rest and peace is found not in this life.  But the keeping of the Sabbath is a pointer, a deposit toward our great treasure of rest in God's presence (described in Hebrews 4).  The Manna was given as a visible lesson that God provides what we need each day when we trust in Him, and that we should rest in God one day in seven.  At the very beginning of the nation of Israel, they were taught to rely on God daily, yet also to stop and rest for their own good.  In a time when so many value work, productivity, entertainment and sports- busy-ness all the time- God calls us to rest. We need to be able to trust in God's daily bread, to rest in Him.  The question before us is do we really want rest and really want peace in our lives? 

    Prayer: Help me to see the keeping of one day in seven- a Sabbath as a gift from you, O Lord.  Help my soul to catch up with my body and mind. 

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    7/13/11- The Sabbath was Meant for Good

     23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
    25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
    27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
    1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
    4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
    5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
    (Mark 2:23-3:6)

    13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day,
    if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (
    Isaiah 58:13,14)

    (Disciples Pick Grain- Pieter Coeke Van Aelst 1502-50)

    Thoughts: There is a lot about how Jesus kept the Sabbath in the New Testament.  It is clear that Jesus honored the Sabbath.  He just didn’t honor it with a long list of rules of things not to do.  He said here He is Lord of the Sabbath- and that indicates two things- one that He saw Himself as the one who instituted and rules over how the Sabbath should be kept; and that the Sabbath is still important- for He is not Lord over nothing.
    Jesus saw the Sabbath as not a bunch of rules but a gift to us.  It helps us to rest so we are not slaves to our work or money; The Sabbath helps us to take time for God in worship- setting our priorities right; The Sabbath is not broken by deeds of necessity (oxes in ditches or feeding ourselves).  It is not broken when we show mercy to others (encouraging, visiting, and healing the sick).  Our homes and souls are healed when we take time together to stop and worship God. 

    Stephen Covey in his bestseller, The Habits of Seven Highly Effective People speaks of the need for renewal.  He tells the old story, “You come upon someone in the woods working ferishly to saw down a tree.  “What are you doing?” You ask.  “Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply, “I’m sawing down the tree.”  “You look exhausted!  How long have you been at it?”  “Over five hours,” He returns, “and I’m beat. This is hard work.”  “Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?”  The man says emphatically, “But I’m too busy sawing!”

                We can sharpen our saw physically by taking time to exercise and paying attention to diet.  We can sharpen the saw mentally by educating ourselves and watching what we read/see and educating ourselves.  We sharpen ourselves socially by purposefully and attentively interacting with people- in the church we call that fellowship.  But we sharpen ourselves spiritually by putting God first, and that means taking time for God.  The Sabbath is God’s reminder that we are to take time for Him.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    7/12/11 The Day of Worship Changed

    A devotional on the Ten Commandments with special reference to the New Testament.
    Fourth Command- Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.

     7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

    On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (1 Cor. 16:3)

    10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (Rev. 1:10)


    THE following General Order has been issued respecting the observance of the Sabbath day in the army and navy:


    The President, Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest; the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors; a becoming deference to the best sentiments of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine will, demand that Sunday labor in the army and navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity. The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer, nor the cause they defend be imperiled by the profanation of the day or the name of the Most High. At this time of public distress, adopting the words of Washington in 1776, "Men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality." The first General Order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded, and should ever be defended: "The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and privileges of his country."

    Harper’s Weekly 11/29/1863.

    This was NOT made up by the Roman Catholic Church.  Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic even (some of the ancient churches that preceded the Roman Catholic Church); Every major Protestant Church, Evangelical Church, - celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday- remembering that the resurrection of Christ (who is Lord of the Sabbath) changed the day from a national Jewish day to a universal "Lord's Day" for all people.  There is no ancient Christian church that celebrates the Sabbath on a Saturday.
    The scriptural evidence is that all the apostolic churches were in the habit of assembling at regular times for their common worship (1 Cor. 11:17,20; 14:23-26; Heb. 10:25). 
    These assemblies were on the first day of the week according to Paul in Troas (Acts 20:7).
    Paul said to regularly take up offerings as a part of worship on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:3).
    John said that he was in the spirit on "The Lord's Day." So this indicates by the end of the scripture Sunday had it's own name for Christians, "The Lord's Day." 
    There is also evidence in the very early church fathers that Sunday was the Christian holy day.
         Ignatius- a friend of the apostles, and martyred in Rome said "Those who have come to the possession of new hope, no longer observe the Sabbath (seventh day), but living in observance of the Lord's day, on which also our life has sprung up again, by him an db his death.  He calls the Lord's Day "the queen and chief of all the days."  (Epistle to the Magnesians 9).
        Epistle to St. Barnabas says, "We celebrate the eighth day with joy on which, too, Jesus rose from the dead."
        Justin Martyr (d. 140 AD)- "On the day called Sunday is an assembly of all who live either in cities or in the rural districts, and the memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, ...because it is the first day on which God dispelled the darkness and the original state of things and formed the world, and because Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead upon it." (Apologies 1:67 Dial. v. Tryph).  "Therefore it remains the chief and first of days.
        Tertullian writing at the close of the second century said, "On the Lord's day Christians in honor of the resurrection of the Lord...must avoid everything that would cause anxiety, and defer all worldly business, lest they should give place to the devil." 

    Christianity was illegal up until the time of Constantine- so there could be no great gathering or collection.  Constantine's immediate predecessor sought to burn all Bibles and kill all the clergy.  Constantine gathered the Christians from all over the world together in 321 at the Council of Nice.  His famous edict said, "All judges with the civic population, together with the workshops of artisans, should rest upon the venerable day of the sun." 
    In the Western world, the Sabbath has regularly been kept until this generation.  Every one of the thirteen colonies had laws about keeping the Sabbath on Sunday.  Both North and South kept the Sabbath during the American Civil War.  Today few states have such rules.  But Christians are still called to keep the Lord's Day holy. God has blessed America partly because of our ability to show restraint in materialism (standing against the materialist atheists and Marxists), and the ability to not give ourselves solely to things, work, and money.  However today, even in a recession, we are consumed with things.  Perhaps God is calling us to rest, to stop and worship and call out to Him?

    Prayer: Give me grace to keep your day holy to you, for you are the author of all of time, and worthy of my time and worship and rest.