Between Sundays

Concerning the Lord’s Day
Bennie Tomberlin & David Harl

As we continue to record prayers, songs, and sermons for a Sunday service instead of gathering as a congregation, it is vital that we do not forget the nature of the church and the value of keeping Sunday holy. With the orders to stay home and the technological ability to receive all sorts of entertainment and spiritual nourishment—things for which to be thankful—it would be easy for our self-serving desires to get the better of us in this situation, which would shape how we live even after these times end. As we love one another by prudent social distancing, let us remember that lovers do not like to be separated for long. The Lord is testing us, and may he find—and give us—loving and faithful hearts.

The Lord is gracious to us. One way in which we see and access the wonderful grace of God is in his ordination of the Lord’s Day. We find the Lord’s Day from beginning to end in the Bible, and see it undergo some changes as it passes through the covenants. After creation was completed, God rested on the seventh day, blessed it and made it holy (Genesis 2:3). Moses repeats this famously as he delivers the Ten Commandments, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).

As we hear it declared at creation and commanded at Sinai, we can learn a few things about the Lord’s Day. First, that it is holy to the Lord. This day is to be holy, or devoted, totally to God. What makes this day different from the others? Are not all days to be holy to the Lord and for his glory? Yes, all days are to be kept in honor of the Lord. Yet, the Lord’s Day is distinguished since it is to be kept holy by resting on that day. Ceasing from physical labor is in mind here, but there is more to the commanded rest than that. Just as we do not live by bread alone, so also we do not truly rest by merely taking a breather. The rest on the Lord’s Day is holistic rest, which means rest for the body and the soul. This day is set apart to remind us to go to God alone for full restoration. Our sin wears us out, but God offers us in his presence nurturing rest for our souls. Finally, the Old Testament teaches us that the Sabbath is about fellowship with God in time. We are given a period of time to enter God’s rest, just as we are given a period of time to enter God’s work.

Many things changed as the New Covenant was established, including the Sabbath. In Matthew 12:1-8 we find, “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And 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 of the Sabbath.”

Well, Jesus says quite a bit in the passage above, but we will just note a few things. First, that Jesus fulfills the Sabbath. Therefore, all of the ceremonies that happened on the Sabbath for people in the Old Covenant are not practiced in the New Covenant (Colossians 2:16-17). Additionally, the holy day of rest has switched from the seventh day, Saturday, to the first day, Sunday. This change was established when Jesus was raised on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1), making it the day belonging to the Lord—the Lord’s day, as John calls it in Revelation 1:10. Since Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, we are to find our rest in him, leaving behind the vanity of our sin and finding peace in his forgiving face. Another thing Jesus teaches later on in Matthew 12:9-13 that we are to worship God through doing good to others on the Lord’s Day. Gathering on Sunday is the prime time to love one another, when the Lord allows us to meet again.

A final text, Hebrews 4:9-11, reminds us that we enter the eternal Sabbath by faith: “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” When we keep the Lord’s Day, we look forward in hope to rest of the new heavens and the new earth when all will be made right forever. Each Sunday ought to be a foretaste of the coming Paradise.

Although we are wisely kept from meeting together on Sundays as a whole congregation presently, let us strive to keep the Lord’s Day holy by giving our bodies rest from work, thanking God for what has been accomplished in the week, meditating on the Word, praying for all the needs of the church and the world, and delighting in our Savior whose yoke is easy and burden is light.


We have attached some further reading that is instructive and nourishing as you consider the Lord’s Day. The last one is a poem called Sunday by George Herbert, who was an Anglican priest in the 17th century. We encourage you to listen to a discussion of this poem and its topic can be found on First Baptist’s Facebook, YouTube, and website accounts.

Some prominent themes appear in this poem concerning Sundays, that: Sunday is a day of light, a day of salvation, a day of rest, a day of hope, a day of delight, and a day of excellence. Recall all the blessings of God you have received on Sundays. Can you imagine your relationship with God without them?

It might be helpful to have the poem paraphrased stanza by stanza as you read it.

Stanza 1: Sunday, you are the best day since you are the foretaste of the next world and the promise of delight written with Jesus’ blood. Dark time damages us, but you give light, refuge, and healing.

Stanza 2: “If I imagine all the days of the week to be a human form, then you, Sunday, are the face—the most attractive part.” (Orrick)

Stanza 3: We would have gone straight to hell if you, Sunday, had not called us to look to Christ.

Stanza 4: Sundays are like pillars, with the other days of the week like the space between the pillars. Sundays are also like flower beds, with the rest of the days being the space around them.

Stanza 5: All the Sunday’s of a Christian’s life are like jewels on a bracelet that beautify a bride.

Stanza 6: When Jesus rose on Sunday, he showed that we were to receive spiritual nourishment from him, especially on that day.

Stanza 7: “By his death and resurrection Christ abolished the Old Covenant and its Sabbath.” (Orrick)

Stanza 8: God has done what the law, including the Sabbath, could not do by sending his Son.

Stanza 9: Sunday, you are a happy day, and I wish I could leap from Sunday to Sunday all the way to heaven.


“Sunday” by George Herbert (1593-1633) from A Year with George Herbert: A Guide to Fifty-Two of His Best Loved Poems by Jim Scott Orrick

O day most calm, most bright,
The fruit of this, the next world’s bud
Th’ endorsement of supreme delight,
Writ by a friend, and with his blood;
The couch of time; care’s balm and bay:
The week were dark, but for thy light:
Thy torch doth show the way.

The other days and thou
Make up one man; whose face thou art,
Knocking at heaven with thy brow:
The worky-days are the back-part;
The burden of the week lies there,
Making the whole to stoop and bow,
Till thy release appear.

Man had straight forward gone
To endless death: but thou dost pull
And turn us round to look on one,
Whom, if we were not very dull,
We could not choose but look on still;
Since there is no place so alone,
The which he doth not fill.

Sundays the pillars are,
On which heav’n’s palace arched lies:
The other days fill up the spare
And hollow room with vanities.
They are the fruitful beds and borders
In God’s rich garden: that is bare,
Which parts their ranks and orders.

The Sundays of man’s life,
Threaded together on time’s string
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternal glorious King.
On Sunday heaven’s gate stands ope;
Blessing are plentiful and rife,
More plentiful than hope.

This day my Saviour rose,
And did enclose this light for his:
That as each beast his manger knows,
Man might not of his fodder miss.
Christ hath took in this piece of ground,
And made a garden there for those
Who want herbs for their wound.

The rest of our Creation
Our great Redeemer did remove
With the same shake, which at his passion
Did th’ earth and all things with it move.
As Samson bore the doors away,
Christ’s hands, though nail’d, wrought our salvation,
And did unhinge that day.

The brightness of that day
We sullied by our foul offence:
Wherefore that robe we cast away,
Having a new at his expence,
Whose drops of blood paid the full price,
That was requir’d to make us gay,
And fit for Paradise.

Thou art a day of mirth:
And where the week-days trail on ground,
Thy flight is higher, as thy birth.
O let me take thee at the bound,
Leaping with thee from sev’n to sev’n,
Till that we both, being toss’d from earth,
Fly hand in hand to heav’n!


The articles that we have included from this foundational and historic Baptist confession thoroughly contain the biblical doctrine of the Sabbath that Baptists have believed since our beginnings.

“22. Worship and the Sabbath Day” from The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689

  1. Under the Gospel [the New Testament order] neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship is tied to, or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is performed or towards which it is directed. God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth, whether in private families daily, in secret by each individual, or solemnly in public assemblies. These are not to be carelessly or willfully neglected or forsaken, when God by His Word and providence calls us to them.

7.As it is the law of nature that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, should be set apart for the worship of God, so He has given in His Word a positive, moral and perpetual commandment, binding upon all men, in all ages to this effect. He has particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy to Him. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ this was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ it was changed to the first day of the week and called the Lord’s Day. This is to be continued until the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week having been abolished.

  1. The Sabbath is kept holy to the Lord by those who, after the necessary preparation of their hearts and prior arranging of their common [ordinary or domestic] affairs, observe all day a holy rest from their own works, words and thoughts about their worldly employment and recreations, and give themselves over to the public and private acts of worship for the whole time, and to carrying out duties of necessity and mercy.
Bennie Tomberlin & David Harl


Sheltering in Place and the People of God
by Bro. Bennie Tomberlin

Brothers and sisters, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak few of us could have scarcely imagined the possibility of the kind of sweeping proclamations to “shelter in place” that have now become an eerie reality. These restrictions issued from the state governments across our beloved country are unprecedented for most of us. The knowledge, wealth, technology, and industry of the nations have not shielded us from the rapid spread of this novel virus which has emerged from the east and has virtually covered the entire globe.

As I think about the situation in which we find ourselves, a hymn of Isaac Watts, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” comes to mind. The hymn, based upon Psalm 90, reminds us that the people of God know about the need to shelter in the care of our sovereign and powerful God. He is “our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). While we “shelter in place” and as that terminology looms large in our present moment, it may be helpful to meditate on the words of this great hymn and the Psalm that inspired it.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home!

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thy arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A Thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home!

Charles Spurgeon once told about a man who said to a dying believer, “Farewell, friend! I shall never see you again in the land of the living!” The dying Christian replied, “I shall see you again in the land of the living where I am going. This is the land of the dying!” Truly, brothers and sisters we live in the land of the dying because of the curse of sin. Yet, in Christ, God has promised, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8).

Our custom is to number our years, but it is far wiser to number our days (Psalm 90:12). Life is brief and uncertain. Real security and lasting satisfaction will only come as we seek to rest in the steadfast love of the Lord seeking His favor and doing His will (90:13-17).

As we shelter in place let us pray and praise and let us, with the Lord’s gracious help, emerge from this time a more humble and dependent people. I pray that we will daily walk through this trial with gospel urgency and boldness to share our “Shelter” with those who are unprepared for the day of the Lord’s return. We do not know what will come – we have never lived a day when we have – but we do know Who will come!

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”

(Psalm 91:1)

Yours in Christ,

Brother Bennie


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Looking Forward 10/28/2018

Get a sneak peek at next Sunday’s sermon John 20:19-23

After the Sermon 10/21/2018

Each week we will be talking about the sermon from the previous week.  This week’s sermon was from John 20:1-18.

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He’s Not that Kind of King

Luke 23:36-37

The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying,

“If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 

He is not that kind of king. He did not come to save himself. Praise be to God. Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many (Mat. 20:28).

He did not appear to save himself
that is clear to see.
Strange to our ears and veiled to our eyes
this King is deity.
He could have beckoned legions
to save his wearied life,
But had he escaped his captor’s clutches
we’d remain victims of cosmic strife.
No, he is not the kind of king,
who his own life would save.
He is the King immortal, invisible,
God-only wise,
who in great humiliation,
took on frail human flesh
that we, to his glory, should be his prize.

The Blessing of the Wilderness

Psalm 63 is a song from the wilderness, perhaps when David was on the run from his adversaries and he finds himself needing God more than anything.  He says as much in the first verse, “earnestly I seek you… as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Maybe he wasn’t being pursued; perhaps he was retreating to the wilderness merely to pray, to write, to do whatever necessary to see God and to hear his voice.  Most likely, there was a trial behind the insatiable longing for God.  This it seems is the way God in His wisdom has put us together.  Certainly it is the way the fall has affected us. When all is well we tend many times, after a while, to drift, to leak, to wander in our heats from our Lord.  It is the sobering reminder that a trial provides that shakes and awakes us to the reality that we are not God, and we desperately need Him wherein we cry, “O, God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You; as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Praise Him.  We know more than water is needed for our cleansing, and God has graciously provided more.  There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins and sinners, yes sinners, plunged beneath its flood lose all there guilty stains.  “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleaness… They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, “The are my people; and they will say, “The Lord is my God.” Zechariah 13:1,9b

Michael Card is a prolific and accomplished theologian, musician, and songwriter.  His song In the Wilderness came to mind this morning as I read this psalm.  I encourage you to listen and become familiar with his work.

[audio:|titles=In the Wilderness – Michael Card]