Homer_Simpson_2006

The Ten Commandments are about love. Loving God and loving your neighbor. Working for the good of God’s ways and working for the good of your neighbor.

The First Commandment.

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

“You must not have any other god but me.”

We notice immediately God emphasizes freedom. We worship a God who sets free and delivers from bondage.

So, if you don’t want that God what god would you choose?

Something that brings you back into bondage again?

Who would want that god?

The god of bondage?

Homer Simpson said, “Alcohol is the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

Well today this sounds like politics.

In the mainstream world today, everything is politicized. As if politics is the center of the world.

Or, ‘politics is the cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems.’

No, actually politics is bondage. Trying to seek solutions to the world’s problems using human means. Good luck on that. If we choose not to follow God and his agenda, we are left with the bondage to relying on humanity to save us.

Your god is simply that thing you place the most trust in.

Martin Luther said it this way.

“We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”

Your God is that which you focus on, that which you rely on. If you trust in anything other than God, your god simply doesn’t have enough power.

Sorry to have to tell you this, but President Trump is not the Messiah and he’s not the Antichrist.

He doesn’t have all the answers and neither do those who would “Resist” him.

Even though our media and our universities are working full time to convince us that they have all the answers, they know what’s best for us, this is worshiping a false god. We have to “Just say no.”

In today’s world we have to say “No” to the false power we attribute to our political agendas in order to say, “Yes to God.”

But, why do I have to say no to other things to say yes to God?

We can’t believe 2+2=4 and that 2+2=5 is also correct.

We can’t say God creates us, rescues us and empowers us, and then at the same time believe some other power does these things, as well.

God demands we love him alone.

And if we choose any other God other than the LORD our God, this will not only destroy us, but our neighbor will have to pay.

Beginning with the closest, most intimate neighbor. Our own families. The next passage of Exodus 20, after the first commandment, explains.

“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

That seems clear to me. God specifically comes as Jesus to carry out his mission to rescue and restore the world.

Logically, it makes sense to follow Jesus. It makes sense to pass down his message and model it for the next generations. There may be other ways to know the things of God other than through Jesus, but, what if I’m wrong? I may have just screwed up  the life of my kids and their kids.

Practically it makes sense to follow Jesus. Just take the Christian worldview and live out any part of it. Don’t take revenge, for instance. Or, work for the good of your enemy the way Jesus would if he were you. Work to relieve innocent suffering.

You see, Christianity matches reality better than any other religion or philosophy when it is actually practiced. Go ahead and try other ways if you must. But, if you are open enough and honest enough, you will always end up with the truth of Jesus.

But, if I don’t surrender my life to God’s ways, and don’t really attempt to seek him, there will be hell to pay. Hell to pay for me and hell to pay for the rest of you.

The first commandment.

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I want what God wants…a recipe for abundant life

what he does

Exodus 19

You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’

 19, our relationship with God the Father.

And only then, do we get to the commandments. That’s 20, as in  Exodus 20.

Exodus 20.1-2

20 And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

And then he follows with the commandments..

So, 19 comes before 20.

Our obedience, following the laws of God, comes as a response to our relationship with God. Our identity.

We notice the Bible introduces the commandments as “words.”

And God spoke all these words

The Hebrew word for this is dabar. Dabar is translated “word”. The same word, dabar is also the Hebrew word for, “promise.”

So, you could call the ten commandments the ten promises.

What do these promises do? Why does God give them to us?

The Ten commandments describe a way of life.

Loving God and loving our neighbor. They are not a formula about how we get God to love us. That is how we often mistake the meaning of the commandments. It’s like an inverted covenant triangle.

We are obedient to God, then he becomes our Father, then he loves us and gives us our identity as his people.

No.

The reason we so often make this mistake is because we think God should act like we act.

First you do things and then you get rewarded.

In fact, all religions, except ours, have people doing good things in order to get rewarded. Human effort is the center of all religions except Christianity. In Christianity it is not what we have done that counts. It is what Jesus has done for us.

We are special to God and he loves us first. We don’t have to do anything to deserve it.

So, because he loves us first, as a result we want to obey him, as a sign of our thanksgiving. Our loving Father gives us the commandments to guide our response.

In other words, 19 before 20.

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We don’t need to seek new wisdom about how people can live in healthy and thriving community. We do need to try what God has already handed down in teachings like the ten commandments.
Relationships with parents, spouse, family, friends, work, community…it’s all here

Part three of a four part series on the Ten Commandments

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The first commandments address our relationship with God. How do you love God? Here is what it looks like.

 

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IMPACT! is middle school ministry for 6th-8th graders.  Together with adult guides, the young people spend time building relationships and exploring their faith. During the year we have retreats and service opportunities. This year our theme is Basic Christian Teachings. We will look at the ways God chooses to come to us and how he guides us. We will use a biblical approach informed by the teachings of Martin Luther and others as we grow in living out our faith.

If you know any young people who might be interested in this journey we are taking together, email Pastor Dana, pastordana@lifehouse.la

 

In order to get a handle on the ten commandments it is helpful to look at the commandments through the eyes of Jesus.

Mark 12.28-31

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Jesus organizes the 10 commandments around what we call two tables of the law.

The first table is summarized as: Love the Lord your God. The second table is summarized as: Love your neighbor as yourself.

So we see, the purpose of the commandments is love. We don’t keep the commandments for our own benefit. We keep them as a way to love God and our neighbor. In order to understand this, we have to go back to the where the Ten Commandments come from.

I heard a good way to describe this is from Pastor David Lose. He uses the phrase, “19 comes before 20.”

First, Exodus 19.

19 Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.

Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

Here we see that everything begins our relationship with God. We are God’s sons and daughters. His people. God makes a covenant with us. Makes a promise. God is our Father. We are his people.

Author Mike Breen shows this using what he calls, A Covenant Triangle.

covenant

God is our Father. We receive our identity from him as his sons and daughters. This comes first. Only then does God make a claim on our behavior. Our obedience. This comes second.

The order is important. First, our identity comes from our relationship with God. Then God calls out our obedience to Him.

In other words, 19 comes before 20.

Exodus 19

You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’

 19, our relationship with God the Father.

And only then, do we get to the commandments. That’s 20, as in  Exodus 20.

Exodus 20.1-2

20 And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

And then he follows with the commandments..

So, 19 comes before 20.

Our obedience, following the laws of God, comes as a response to our relationship with God. Our identity.

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First in a four week series on the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 19 speaks of God establishing a covenant, a promise, with his people; his sons and daughters. That’s relationship. Our identity is given to us freely by God.

Then in Exodus 20 God gives us the Ten Commandments. Only after he has established the relationship does he call out our obedience.

In other words, 19 comes before 20…