You have no doubt already heard much about planning for the New Year. You have been challenged to look over the past year and learn, to look within to see where you are, and to look ahead and make plans. You have heard the call to look up and seek God in all of your ways. Perhaps you have considered much in the way of specific application to those four looks (back, in, out and up).
What plans have you made for the 2013 Lord's Days? Or could it be that you have not thought so specifically?
My purpose is not to debate the various views on the Sabbath verses the Lord's Day but instead to challenge you to seize the first day of the week for God's glory, the good of others and for your own good.
Sunday can and should be a great day. The Puritans viewed it as the best day of the week. However, you must seize it, embrace it and purposefully delight in it lest you lost it.
Often times professing Christians tend to view church attendance/participation as negotiable imagining that they will normally come to church unless "providentially hindered" and sometimes that statement is defined very loosely. It may mean to some people that they will come to church if they are not surprised by visitors to their home. Or they will attend church if nothing comes up. Certainly there will be exceptional occassions during the course of a year when a person cannot attend church. Yet even those exceptions must be carefully considered and weighed.
Have you considered planning for interruptions to your Lord's Days? How can you plan so that it would be a very rare thing for you and your family to miss a gathering with the people of God?
Have you considered planning each Lord's Day in such a way that you take advantage of God's great blessings of the day for you and your family's spiritual and physical well-being, for the worship of God, for deeds of mercy done for the good of others? What are your plans in 2013 to love the Lord and to love others on the Lord's Day.
J.I. Packer in his book, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, wrote in reference to the Lord's Day:
1. Preparation must be made for the Lord's Day. He said that "the battle for Sundays is usually won or lost on the foregoing Saturday night, when time should be set aside for self-examination, confession and prayer for the coming day."
2. Public worship must be central on The Lord's Day. He writes: "Puritan services might last anything up to three hours, but the Puritans had little sympathy with those who complained at their length." This was because the public worship of God was fundamental in Puritan theology and society.
3. The family must function as a religious unit on the Lord's Day. Packer quotes from the Westminster Larger Catechism which charges the head of the house to make sure to take care of the souls of those under his charge. A major part of that duty is to gather the family for the public worship of God.
Congregational worship is front and center on Sunday but gathering with the church is not the only opportunity of The Lord's Day. What are some ways that you can improve the day for the benefit of your family, church, community and yourself?