The Synod of Dort on the fourth commandment

From Sabbath to Sunday?

Is the Sunday the Sabbath day of the New Testament? This is a question that is being discussed widely among Christians. Even among those who claim to stand in the reformed tradition[i], there are those who believe that keeping the Sunday as a day of rest is not a biblical command. In 2005, the synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, which were until two years ago our sister churches, adopted a position as formulated in a report, in which they claimed that the Sunday as a day of rest is a good tradition. It is a tradition which came into the churches under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that we as much as possible should keep the Sunday as a day of rest. However, the Sunday as a day of rest is, according to this report, not based on a biblical command[ii].

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Moses’ mum

Exodus 1 tells us that a new king had arisen in Egypt. Unlike the kings before him he was hostile towards Israel. To contain their growth as nation he made the Israelites perform hard labour. As this had no effect, he instructed the Hebrew midwives to kill all new born baby boys. The midwives, however, outwitted him and so his final desperate instruction was that every son born to the Hebrews had to be cast into the Nile, to drown. It was not a good time for this Levitical couple to get married, for the wife to become pregnant and give birth to a boy, as we read in the next chapter of Exodus. Such, however, was the world that Moses was born into. 

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Every Congregation’s Battle: Sexual Temptation

Pornographic websites. Indecent apps. Movies with racy content. Chat groups with lewd language. Sexting. Books that entice rather than entertain. Pre-marital sex. Extra-marital sex. The list goes on, but it can be summed up in one phrase: sexual temptation.

The title of this article alludes to, and slightly alters, the title of a Christian best-seller: Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time (WaterBrook Press, 2000). Published twenty years ago by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, this book has sold more than a million copies. It has also spawned study guides, DVDs, conferences, and other books specifically oriented toward women and teenagers.

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Practically speaking

There’s a gap between what I know to be true and what I do. I know that I should not be anxious, the Bible reminds me of this command so many times. Yet, when someone I love is finding life difficult or when something is going wrong, I worry. Even though I can call so many different bible verses to mind about why I should not be anxious, when something is hard for someone else, I am anxious. I also know that procrastination is a sin. I believe that every moment is a gift from God and that I live and walk in his presence and am called to do everything to His glory. Yet whenever I am faced with a challenging task or something that is out of my comfort zone I will procrastinate.

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Care of the Aged in a Culture Devoted to Self

Introduction

Parents are a great gift from our heavenly Father. God has given parents an amazing amount of love for their children. Who else would be willing to wake up two or three times a night for the sake of another person over the course of several months? As parents we need an incredible amount of patience and willingness to make numerous sacrifices to provide for our children as they grow up. But the time comes, when the tables are turned. As our parents reach old age, they face many limitations. They can’t see and hear as well. They get various diseases. They experience pain and are limited in what they can handle mentally, physically and emotionally. It is the task of the children then to assist their parents in their old age and ensure that their needs are met. So what does that mean real life?  Let’s first consider the Biblical mandate, and then work that out in our context.

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What a Picture! What a Message!

He wore an ordinary T-shirt, but the printed matter on it was very eye-catching indeed! I was looking at his back first and thought, “What a gruesome picture to wear on your shirt, especially when you are (and he was) a Christian young man!” But then I saw the front of the shirt; it had a similar picture on it, but with a small difference – which made a huge difference!

It happened in the early 1900s that an altar boy accidentally dropped a glass of wine during mass. This happened in a small church in Croatia. The priest became upset, slapped the boy and told him to leave the altar and never come back. The boy never came back, but grew up to become Tito, the communist leader of Yugoslavia.

About the same time another altar boy, Peter John, was assisting a priest at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois. He likewise dropped the glass of wine during Mass, and years later wrote of the experience. Peter John recounted, “There is no atomic explosion that can equal the intensity of decibels in the noise and explosive force of a wine cruet falling on a marble floor of a cathedral in the presence of a bishop; I was frightened to death.” Presiding over Mass that day was Bishop John Spalding. Bishop Spalding looked at the broken glass and kindly said, “Someday you will be just as I am.” Peter John became Archbishop Felton Sheen later in life.

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Thanksgiving

1 Chronicles 29:14 : But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 : So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Thankfulness

Synod Armadale 1956 decided to advise the churches to arrange an annual service for prayer and thanksgiving for harvest and labour on the third Sunday of the month of February. That is 16 February for this year.

Thanksgiving, that is something that comes from the heart. We cannot be thankful on command: we are thankful because we know that we have something to be thankful for. Because we have received blessings. Then we see our blessings and rejoice.

Out of thankfulness we then offer to the LORD our sacrifices of thankfulness.

In Romans 12:1 the apostle Paul beseeches us to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Our entire life is a life in thankfulness, because we know that we are saved by Jesus Christ and now want to live for Him.

There are moments that we show our thankfulness in a specific way, for instance by giving our financial donations. Many of us do so especially on the Thanksgiving Sunday. The Bible teaches and encourages us to do so.

I quoted two texts at the beginning of this meditation, in which the Bible emphasizes that those sacrifices of thankfulness must come from a willing heart and should not be imposed on the congregation.

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New Year’s Resolutions

I read a story some time ago about a high school principal. At the beginning of a new year he decided to post his teachers’ New Year’s resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board to read one another’s resolutions, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining: “Why weren’t my resolutions posted?” She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. Her first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year.

Or how about this one? A son called his parents from overseas to wish them a happy new year. When his Dad answered the phone, he asked his Dad: ”Well Dad, what’s your New Year’s resolution?” His Dad replied: “To make your mother as happy as I can all year.” When his Mom got on the phone he asked her the same question. His Mom replied: “My resolution is to see that your Dad keeps his New Year’s resolution.”

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As grain once scattered on the hillsides

Many of the churches within our federation have celebrated the Lord’s Supper in the past couple of weeks. This celebration is a command of our Lord Jesus Christ, who told us through His apostle Paul: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)

We know that when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we have communion with Christ and communion with each other. Paul speaks about the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 11, of which we are all part. That is so beautifully symbolised in the Lord’s Supper.

Hymn 61

We have a beautiful hymn in our Book of Praise, Hymn 61, where we sing:

                As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,

                was in the broken bread made one,

                so from all lands your church be gathered

                into your kingdom by your Son.

This hymn was probably sung in several congregations on the Lord’s Supper Sunday. The element of being one with the church of all times and places receives even more emphasis when we realise that the words of this hymn were taken from an old liturgy, which probably originates from the first century: the first generation after the apostles. We can find it in the Didache, or The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations. Most scholars date this document to the first century.

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The deceiver

The deceiver is a subject that we don’t normally like to talk or write about and when you see the above title you will no doubt shudder. Why write about the deceiver, the devil, our arch enemy? That’s not a nice and pleasant subject you will say. And I agree. You are quite correct, the devil is not nice, never has been nice and never will be nice. That’s also the reason why I wrote his name in the title with a small letter instead of a capital letter, for he doesn’t deserve a capital letter. Sometimes he pretends to be nice but that’s his deceitful character for he is the deceiver and liar from the beginning. We shudder when we think of him. And for that reason it certainly is an awful subject to write about. Most likely that is also the reason why we don’t read much about this topic. Yet we ignore the devil at our peril.

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