Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Story 9: A New Hope

When you think of the Book of Ruth, Ruth’s story, what comes to mind? Many theologians call it a romance, a woman in distress, a man who rescues her. I can see that. But to leave it at that is to miss it altogether. And what is it that you are missing?

In the time line of the Story of God’s redemption, of His mercy and grace, Ruth falls in the period of the judges. It was a time where Israel was going through cycles of God delivering the people, then in turn they love God, then chase other gods, receive God’s discipline, repent, and then delivered, all over again. We are not sure who is the current judge, if there is even one. But whatever the case, this is where Ruth is. The people, through these cycles, aren’t getting any better. At one point in the future, they reject God completely and seek after a king.

What we have here are two people in two journeys that are about to merge into one. We have a single, overlying verse: Isaiah 55.6, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55 is about having a relationship with God.

We are not sure about the details of Ruth. We can reason that she was taught the ways of the Lord by her husband and father in law. So when it comes time to return to Bethlehem, for her, it was an easy choice. She would trust the Lord, she would follow Him, she would call upon Him. After all, she is a foreigner, not born of Israel.

Then there is Boaz. From our text, we can reason that he is an older gentleman. But he, too, is looking to honor God by redeeming Ruth. In a way, Boaz is a type, a taste of something better to come. Let’s read the text:

At midnight, Boaz was startled, turned over, and there lying at his feet was a woman! So he asked, “Who are you? ”“I am Ruth, your slave,” she replied. “Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.” Then he said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say, since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you, that’s good. Let him redeem you. But if he doesn’t want to redeem you, as the Lord lives, I will. Now lie down until morning.” (Ruth 3.8-13 NIV)

As you see, Ruth was in a hard place. Sure she was for now able to share in the harvest of the crop, gleaning after the harvesters. But long term, she really had no hope. But the Law of Moses provided for the redemption of someone who was in Ruth’s position. She can become a proselyte, an outsider adopting the ways of the Lord. And the Law also provided for young widows and an inheritance.

Now the inheritance of the Land wasn’t something that was an end-all. It was a shadow, a taste of what eternity was to be like. We would become heirs of the king. But our sin had to be dealt with. Just as Boaz redeemed Ruth, so Jesus redeemed His Church, His Bride, you and me. But remember, Boaz’s redemption is only a type, a shadow. It’s not an exact representation. Our sins have us separated. Yet, Jesus laying his life down for us, paying the penalty for our sins, we are able to approach God and call Him our heavenly Papa. Jesus took us to be His bride, washing us by His blood, laying down His life so that we wouldn’t taste death. He gave us his name, and a hope for something better, a new hope.

Ruth and Boaz also demonstrate how we should conduct ourselves as followers of God, of doing what is right. Ruth wanted to look after Naomi, her mother in law. She adopted her life, her faith. And then she conducted herself accordingly.  When times were trying, she trusted God. Boaz commended her that she didn’t pursue other men, younger, stronger men. She wanted to honor God by honoring His ways. She was declared noble by Boaz and by the rest of the community.

Boaz wanted to do what was right as well. Here is a younger woman, a temptation to be sure. Yet he knew that he was second place. It was another’s, perhaps his older brother, or closer relative, to redeem Ruth.  Honoring God meant that he would have to allow this other person the opportunity to do so. And I suspect that he was praying that the other would pass.

Now how were they able to do this? Following the way of God isn’t easy. It’s, if anything, contrary. Again to Isaiah 55, God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are above our thoughts. Yet we can know God’s way because He has revealed it through the Word. It was the Law of Moses that Boaz and Ruth knew and followed, just as now we can read God’s Word today to determine God’s will.

James says that the religion God finds holy and pleasing is to take care of the widows and orphans, those who are in need. Jesus said to look to the field, it is ripe for harvest. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He would send workers into the field.

And that is our take home. We need to be open to see the opportunities to serve those in need, to share God’s grace and love. The world is hurting, more than just widows and orphans. The world is lost. The world needs redemption and worth, which are already here. All we have to do is to be open to it.

We are open to it by spending time in the Word, the Holy Bible. The more we read about God’s love and grace, the more we will readily emulate that love and grace, the more it will fill us, and flow through us. Then as we pray for others, do you see the opportunities to serve them, encourage them?

Now there may be some you will come across who can’t fathom that God would be so forgiving. And that is where the new hope is underscored, that God will draw close. Isaiah 55, as long as we have breath, we can call upon Him.

Now we will sing our song of dedication.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Story 8 Gideon

Gideon: A Guy Like Us

How would you react if God sent an angel to appear before you? You know that this is a messenger of God because one moment, you are alone, and the next, there he is, standing near you, or perhaps leaning on the wall. He didn’t climb in, he just appeared. Then he tells you that God has something great in store for you. It’s a monumental task. Actually there were two tasks, one a bit more uncomfortable than the second. But both would take you from your comfort zone. Could you gladly accept the assignment?

As we continue our story of God’s love and grace, this week, we find ourselves in the Book of Judges. Chapter 6 to be exact. Of this book, many characters would be good studies, so it was difficult to decide who would be the best person to look at. Yet Gideon seems to be like you and I today. 

The Book of Judges can be called a repetitive cycle. After Joshua dies, Israel stops driving out the people from the Promised Land, and instead, accepts them, first as slave labor and then as equals. Israel even begins worshiping their gods, forgetting about the Lord who delivered them from Egypt, who took them into the promised land.  So the Lord burned with anger and allowed the foreigners to become thorns in the side of His children. 

After a time of oppression, the people would wise up, repent and return to the Lord. He would show mercy and deliver them through people called Judges. Then after the judge would die, the nation of Israel would fall back into the sin of idolatry, forgetting the Lord once more. 

This is the setting for our text this morning. Let’s see Gideon in verses 11-16:

Then the Lord's angel came to the village of Ophrah and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer. His son Gideon was threshing some wheat secretly in a winepress, so that the Midianites would not see him. The Lord's angel appeared to him there and said, “The Lord is with you, brave and mighty man!” Gideon said to him, “If I may ask, sir, why has all this happened to us if the Lord is with us? What about all the wonderful things that our fathers told us the Lord used to do — how he brought them out of Egypt? The Lord has abandoned us and left us to the mercy of the Midianites.” Then the Lord ordered him, “Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you.” Gideon replied, “But Lord, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family.” The Lord answered, “You can do it because I will help you. You will crush the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man.” – Judges 6.11-16

Why a winepress? First, the winepress is an elevated building. I can see the floors being a good 5-6 feet off the ground. And with the crops and land in ruin, the winepress would be abandoned, full of dust. It was easy for Gideon to hide while he repurposed the building. 

So how is Gideon like us? Like him, we are given a mission. His mission was to deliver Israel. Our mission is to share the great news of Jesus, and what he’s done for us. And though we are not oppressed as he was, we are still inundated with multiple cultures and a cry for acceptance and tolerance, which comes to be that we accept and celebrate others while keeping mum on what we believe. (A side note here: Jesus said that He is the ONLY way. He’s not one facet of a deism that comprises all the religions of the world. He is the only God. All others are false gods or idols. Apart from Jesus, there is no assurance, no hope of eternal life.)

Gideon is hiding out. Did you notice that he asked “why”, but the angel didn’t answer him. The reason is not that he was ignored, but that Gideon missed the answer when the prophet came with the news. And also, Gideon knew why. He was changing subjects because he was uncomfortable with the news that God sees value and worth in Gideon. We can see the same thing happen in John 4, the woman in the heat of the day, is shown she has worth, and she is uncomfortable with it. “Lord, where is the right place to worship, here or in Jerusalem?”

So I must ask, does that news make you uncomfortable? You realize that God saw so much worth in you that Jesus came to die in your place, in my place? From there, all God wants in return, because it’s a gift, not something we’ve earned or hope to earn, is for us to tell others. 

“But how can I carry out this mission? I am the weakest of my family, and we are the least in our tribe.” That was Gideon’s excuse. And there is the solution. God answered him. “Am I not sending you?” God will be there, and He was for Gideon. Gideon went down to the camp to eavesdrop on the enemy, and they were already afraid. So then the Lord tells him to whittle his army of 32000 down to 300 men. And rather be armed with weapons and tools of soldiery, they each were to be armed with a torch, a trumpet and a pitcher. The marvelous part is that tradition tells us that a horn is used per 1,000 men. And with 301 men surrounding the camp blowing their trumpets, that’s 301,000 soldiers in the middle of the night. God was there creating confusion. Midian defeated Midian. God defeated them. 

We’ve the same promise. When we are clothed in Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit. Paul tells one church that he prayed that they would realize that each one has the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.  This is why the Scripture reading this morning came from Romans. It is a reminder that if God is for us, then what can’t we do? Because we are enlightened people, do you realize that we tend to not rely upon the Spirit, that we try to do things by our own strength? 

But perhaps like Gideon, there is something else present that prevents us from seeing God’s hand in our lives. It’s a four letter word that preachers try to shy from using because using this word can make people uncomfortable. It was true in Gideon’s time, as well as the rest of the Bible time period. It is still true today. That word is sin. Yes, I know that sin is only 3 letters, but the fear of saying it makes it akin to a 4 letter word. Sin doesn’t have to be sexual as our culture is currently looking at. It could be something different, lying perhaps, cheating, maybe even just gossiping. Whatever that sin is, it will hinder us, as sin hindered Gideon and Israel. 

Gideon was told to make the land right. He had to tear down the false idols and make an altar to the Lord. He would use the idols’ material as wood for the burnt offerings he made on the new altar. When the people woke the next day, they quickly learned that Gideon tore down the idols. I suspect his dad was the local priest for the idols. And yet even dad knew his son was right. Who will defend Baal? If he’s a real god, let him defend himself. Joash learned and I believe repented that day because of his son’s lesson.

I have had people tell me that they don’t feel God like they use to, that they don’t experience his presence as once they did. I’ve talked with them, and it comes down that somewhere along the way, they’ve allowed life’s storms, many of their own making, to remove their focus from God, from seeing and trusting in Jesus. And I have to ask, if you can relate, is there something in your life that is blocking you from God? Is there a sin that you hold on to that needs to be laid at the cross? As long as you have breath, God has love and grace. Let it go. Allow God to work through you.

Perhaps it’s not sin, but a matter of not knowing where to start the mission. Gideon’s mission started at home. He’s a grown man, and yet he had something to teach his grown family, his father, his brothers, and his neighbors. Our first start is with our family, those closest to us. Then we take the mission further out, to our friends, neighbors, and even community. But once we start, the next step becomes easier. God will bless it. One the same hand, you should probably be prepared to be called nuts.

Now here is where are not like Gideon. Gideon was still timid. He was still afraid, and unsure of himself. So God allowed him to set a couple of tests. Yet we don’t need those tests. Instead Paul tells Timothy in his 2nd letter that we don’t have a spirit of fear, but we have the Spirit of power, love and sound judgment. Let us not be ashamed of our message, of the Gospel. 

That is the mission God does give us. At the end of Matthew, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them everything I have taught you.” This includes the writers of the rest of the New Testament where we are encouraged to live higher than the world around us, all the while sharing the good news, loving the people as God loves us and them, serving them as we have opportunity. 

But a final warning here: We are like Gideon in that we are still prone to sin. Gideon messed up. He made an ephod, a type of idol. It was a snare to him and to Israel for the rest of his life. We must be careful as well. Yet Paul does encourage us, though we fall often, God still declares us in Jesus to be pure. Don’t allow anything to ensnare you. Carry out the mission.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Story 7 Horrible History?!

A Question to begin the message, "Can we put God on trial?" This seems a little out of left field, but it is a legitimate question to consider this morning. It is a question that often the world will ask us when we tell them of their need of Jesus. It is a question that the world is asking given what is happening.

Earlier in the week, ISIS released a video of a Jordanian pilot being burned to death. The King of Jordan on Wednesday, took the lead position in a squadron of fighter jets. The President on Thursday morning had this to say: "Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ." 

Now I am not being political. It is not my intention to do so. Yet the headlines gave me a great introduction to one of the hardest to explain books in the Bible. It's difficult because the Church has not undertaken to help us understand the conquests and complete obliteration that God called for. 

Let’s work our way back to Joshua. Let’s take up the Crusades and what the president has alleged. Yes, we Christians tend to confuse ourselves. Like Moslems who kill one another, our Irish brothers and sisters killed one another because they didn’t belong to the church of Ireland, the Holy Catholic Church. Of course, Irish Catholics have fought against other Catholics. It’s not about Jesus, these wars.

I like how Abraham Lincoln said it when asked which side would God be for. “He said that he hoped that we would be seeking God. More often than not, we seek our own means, our own ways, and then ask God’s blessings, as if it were a bit of a spell, a charm.

The crusades, now. Is this Christians going after other people because land was tight and over populated? It certainly made the 4 call to arms easier to answer. Each of the Crusade periods, however, came from the Emperor of Byzantine asking the Pope for help since Moslems invaded the holy land, and Asia Minor, or the Middle East. These 4 calls resulted in less than 2 dozen major offenses. Hollywood and writers tend to make the Crusades deadlier than they were, though there were rogues out for themselves. Basically, Crusades were about defending brothers in the faith.

Now let us move further back in history. Why did God want Joshua and the Israelites to completely destroy those before them? Let us remember, this morning, we read in Paul’s letter to the Romans that God has placed a moral compass within everyone’s heart. There is an innate sense of right and wrong. For those who die foreign to the Gospel and to the Law of Moses, God will judge accordingly. Even amidst the pantheistic Druids, or Celts, there was at the time of Jesus’ birth, a not so small minority of druids who knew that there was one creator, a sole sure swift hand, who is over all things, that all else are his creation. 

Let us also remember that after the flood of Noah, each people group had the ability to remain faithful to God. Yet no one did. The oral traditions seem to have stopped. People turned away from God. So was it fair for God to have them destroyed? Yes. We were all created for His good pleasures. He wasn’t a post creation construct of a single people of a single region.

In that a farmer who wants alfalfa crop but ended up planting Burmuda grass, then yes, that crop will be pulled and burned and the new seed will be placed. Yet let us be careful. Total, earthly destruction is not an indication of one’s destination for eternity. Jesus is said to have preached to souls who’ve passed apart from his Gospel. 

Yet here is what I can take home. Jericho was the first city. God commanded that all of it be put to the sword. All treasures put into the tabernacle. And with the exception of one man, they did so. God wants to be first in our thoughts and actions. When He is less than our first thought, trouble abounds. The second city of Ai embarrassed Israel until Israel sought the Lord’s advice.

After Jericho, The Lord allowed the Israelites to have the best for themselves. The people are reminded of this. The land is given, houses built that the Israelites didn’t build. Farmlands and herds that Israel didn’t plow of round up. Just as God provided for them, so Jesus tells us that he is preparing such a place for us. This is a rest that we look forward to. 

Finally, let us consider the message that God has sent. If we are seeking to bring glory and honor to God, then He will be with us. He will go before us. And though God has in the past used war as punishment against those who had become blind to him, He did set Paul straight one the Kingdom of Grace was instituted some 2000 years ago. 

God wants us to be as forgiving and graceful today as ever. Do you have such a relationship?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Story 6 How Big is Your Faith

How Big is Your Faith?

A story is told of a discussion between a terminal patient and his doctor. It remarkable because the patient is unusually calm given a man in his estate. The logical question for the patient was how he could remain so calm in the midst of tragic news.

The patient told of his dog and when they moved to their new house. There was a room that the patient was preparing. And yet the dog was at the door, scratching to come in. The dog didn’t know a whole lot of what was on the other side of that door, but what he did know what his master was there. That’s all he wanted. For the patient, death was but a door. That is faith.

We are called to live faith. God’s people have always been called to live by faith, from the days of Noah, to Abraham, to David and now after Jesus. We are called to take steps of faith. The question is do we? Can we point to a time in our lives that says, “Only by God”?

Where we are this morning in the journey through the Story, the Israelites are called to take a step of faith. For a year, they were camped at Mount Sinai. They prepared the place of worship for God, they received His Law. And now it was time to move on to the promised land. As they drew near, God had them send out a leader from each tribe. 12 men would spy out the land. 10 came back afraid of what they saw. 2 came back excited. One might wonder if they were together, but we know that they were. Their faith was dampened.

READ Numbers 13.30-14.10

Why didn’t they others have the faith that Caleb and Joshua had?  What affects the size of one’s faith? These are two questions that came to mind.

1. It’s a bitter pill to hear. Sin affects the size of our faith. The people were content being where they were. They were enjoying the year long rest, so to speak. Yet they had sinned. A few weeks after hearing the 10 commandments, they handed Aaron all their gold jewelry, who then in turn threw it into the fire, “and out came this calf.”

Sin tends to warp our view of God as well. Look to the parable of the talents, of which we read. The last one was too afraid of his master so he buried his talent. When we hold onto sins, we forget that God is gracious, forgiving. It doesn’t mean that he won’t spare us the rod. No, he later in the chapter hears the people’s prayer to die in the wilderness. No one over 20 years of age will enter the promise land, except Calen and Joshua.

Do you have a sin that needs to be turned over to God? Do you fear God because of it?

2. Remembering, or forgetting, what God has done. Where as the nation as a whole had forgotten that for the last year, they’ve needed nothing, that they were miraculously delivered from slavery, the plagues that God worked in their sight. They have had food to eat that they did have to harvest daily. So with all of this, many had forgotten that if God can do all of this, then how hard would it be to go into the promised land? The most powerful nation, Egypt, was already defeated by God.

Yet have we forgotten what God has done in our lives? Look back at your hardest storms in life. Can you see how God has moved? We can look around us and see that God does move, he does in ways that defy expectations. During my sojourn, there were times that I fretted about making ends meet, I couldn’t find employment. But through it all, God was faithful. We always had food on the table, and a/c cooling the house. God is good.

3. This is the most important step to determining the size of your faith. How much time do you spend in the Word? How much time do we devote to talking about the word with our family, with our spiritual family, or our friends?  I suspect that when God spoke, Caleb and Joshua listened and took it to heart. We are told to talk about the Word.

When the people were commanded to wear Scripture boxes, it wasn’t just to wear them and look weird. It was also an opportunity to talk to one another about what Scripture was within. It was an opportunity to talk to others, outsiders about faith in God.

Do we take time to talk about God, His word, His love and grace?

These are how we expand our faith. Repent of the sins in our lives. Remember what God has done for us. Spend time in fellowship and discussion of His Word, which requires us to read it daily.

And yet, perhaps you’ve not surrendered your life. All the above is for naught if you do not have Jesus in your life. After the service, if you need to get your life right before God, come and let’s talk.

The Story 5: The Ten Commandments for Today

I am not sure if you caught the theme this morning. Yet our Scriptures have to do with the Word, with the Law. I want to encourage you this morning to consider how we view the Word, the Covenant of Moses and the Covenant of Grace through Christ Jesus. It is why the call to worship comes from a few places within Psalm 119. It is why Mark 6 was our text reading. Even the benediction will be about the Word.

Jesus towards the beginning of the sermon on the mount made a promise, that He had not come to abolish the Law, but fulfill it. Since that time, there has been a bit of debate in Christendom about what that means. 

We have the law, and interesting trivia about the law, one of which I didn’t know until Miss Terry pointed it out Wednesday evening. 
1. There are 613 commands in the Torah. 
2. James says in 2.10 if you break one, you’ve broken them all.
3. Of honoring the Sabbath, God exempted wives from keeping it.
4. There are supposedly 1050 commands in the New Testament.
5. When people think of the Law of Moses, they think primarily of the 10 Commandments.

Of this, I will not be concentrating on the two systems. I do not see that Christ has fulfilled one set of rules for another set. Rather in this point in history, God has given them the Law so that for one, they can be different. Most of the law had regulations that kept people clean physically as well as spiritually. Another purpose was to define what is sin. Another was to be an overview of daily life, how to worship God, how to live with one another.

Of these 10, they are separated because when God gave them, Moses was with the people. It was after “Do not covet” that they begged Moses to go up to God so that His presence wouldn’t make them die. They knew that from what they have heard, they were in trouble. Not too different when Paul writes that he knows what he should do, but does what he shouldn’t. 

But then that brings up the question of how do we handle this? Going back to the difference between Old Testament and New Testament, our faith isn’t about a bunch of rules. It is about what Jesus said was the greatest command. “The greatest commandment is to love the Lord will all your mind, all your heart and all your soul. And the second one is like it; love your neighbor as yourself.” 

It’s a bit ambiguous. But it’s there in Deuteronomy. And if that wasn’t ambiguous enough, Jesus then addresses the 10 commandments in his first public teaching that Matthew records. You’ve heard it said do not commit adultery, but I tell you if you look at someone in lust... It is said, do not murder, but I tell you that if anyone is angry with his brother...

Jesus had the habit of getting to the spirit of the Law. It isn’t so much about what not to do but how to do something else. Yet we are finite creatures. We must have things spelled out. If not, we look for loopholes. Back in the founding of the country, a bill was one page on average. Today, it’s a small bill if there is only 300 pages. 

There is another observation I want to make as we transition to the text: It is a bit of a reverse keystone. Oh the first 5 have to do with loving God, whereas the second 5 have to do with loving one another.

So we have our first command, have no other gods besides me. It is a simple declaration. So often we are a pantheistic world. We say that Allah is good for one region. The God of Abraham is good for Jews, Jesus for America, Buddha for the Orient, as well as a bunch of other gods. No, this is God saying, just as He told Moses, “I am”. There are not regional gods as Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, et al, believe. Trust Him, HE IS THE ONLY GOD. 

Do not make an idol  for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Now here is where it becomes a bit sticky. What is an idol? Is it something we worship? Not necessarily. I know that when my parents traveled to Hawaii, they picked up Tiki, idols. They have them on display in their living room. Do they worship them? Is there harm in having them? Paul did tell the Romans that all things are now permissible, but not all things are beneficial. What is it about other cultures that we are so fascinated? Do we allow idols into our lives?

You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,  punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations  of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands. This is where we make idols of our own liking. They may look like the Patriots. They may look like a suburban. Or they may look like our values, our heritage. When we have something we are not willing to lay aside, that is an idol. Worshiping them has led Israel to captivity in the land of idols of Babylon. Did it help? Let’s talk about that later after the service. Short answer is no. 

Finally, Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name. This commandment is about how holy they were to keep God’s name. The Jews were so afraid of mispronouncing the name of the Lord, or taking his name in vain that they removed the vows. There are some Christians today who want to refer to Him by His ancient name. Personally, I rather love being able to call him Abba, or Papa.  

God has given us these 4 commandments so that we would know how to put Him first. One theological theory as to why we were made was to worship God. I agree. We were created for His purpose, not for ours. These give us an idea as to how. And then the next two are of benevolence. 

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.  Here we have it, wives are exempted. Is this because if we are honest, wives/mothers are seldom a day of relaxation? We guys get sick, oh boy are we going to milk it. And I love that Carol does that for me. But when she is sick, well let’s move on. They remembered the Sabbath because God wanted them to rest. In a way, it is a foreshadowing of coming kingdom, that toils and labors will cease being hard, that we will rest in the presence of the Lord. 

Honor your father and your mother  so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. They represent the first and foremost authority in our lives, and there was a time that you could count on your parents’ love, just as we can count on God’s. 

Now how do we love our neighbor, how do we live with our neighbor? This is a bit of a pyramid. Do not murder. It’s a great start that we don’t murder them. Can you imagine what it is like? After all, this isn’t the land of West Virginia. We don’t have Hatfields or McCoys to fight. So how do we avoid murdering? 

Don’t commit adultery, don’t take someone else’s spouse. How many crime tv shows are there that have that as the basic plot. Someone wasn’t faithful so someone else killed them. It’s a crime of passion, murder is at that point. So how do we keep from committing adultery?

Don’t steal. If you are able to steal in the first place, small things, office supplies, neighbor’s lawnmower, an apple while shopping, then it isn’t a far stretch to imagine that one might steal his neighbor’s spouse. So how do we avoid stealing?

Don’t lie. Now a definition of a lie is to deceive. That means that if you bend the truth to make someone believe something, or you leave out a fact, etc., you’ve lied. If you give a factual account that was 99.9% true, then it’s still a lie. We get to see it now that it seems the presidential campaign seems to be gearing up. So how do we avoid lying?

Don’t want what someone else has. That is the definition of covet. Paul tells us that the secret in life is to be content with where we are and to trust the Lord for what we need, not want, but need. 

So that is a lot to consider. What is our take home from this? Some might say, Preacher, for someone who doesn’t believe we should follow the 10 Commandments, you seemed to have preached that. Perhaps I have. Yet my intention was to look at it in a different light. 

As I have said, we are not a religion of rules. We are a faith, a relationship. If we want to have a fuller understanding of what Jesus did, then we need to see the Old Testament. By the way, the Passover Lamb was to live with the family for 2 weeks, and then the head of the family would take the lamb, along with the family, and then he slaughters it in the presence of the priest.  Your sins and mine, the knife that sacrificed the last Passover Lamb. 

Praise God that Jesus has fulfilled the law for us. This week, consider the Law in a new light. Consider all the Scripture, not even a fraction, that we saw dealing with the Word of God in our thought, call to worship, Scripture Reading, and benediction. 

Are we reading His Word? Are we living his Word? If not, come, talk to me. Let’s get that right with Him. 

Now we will sing our song of dedication. 

May you take the Word that it might be a light for your path, glasses to help you see the opportunities of love and service to whom the Father allows us to meet.