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Showing posts with label The Ten Commandments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Ten Commandments. Show all posts

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Ninth Commandment

Exodus 20:16

            We only have two more commandments to look at in this series on the Ten Commandments.  I want to start today by giving you a little background on the list I challenged you to memorize.  The list of the Ten Commandments I've used in this blog for the past 9 weeks is a paraphrase I developed back in 2003 as part of a Christian martial arts program I taught.  At the beginning of each class, students would bow in, have a moment for silent prayer, and we would recite the Ten Commandments.  Each student was required to memorize the commandments as part of our curriculum.  Usually, my martial arts students would have the commandments memorized within a month.  In this way, I have probably helped hundreds of students memorize the Ten Commandments—even if they didn’t stick with the Karate class for more than a couple months.
            The list I used is a paraphrase of the 10 Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-17.  I wanted my list to use simple language that was easy to understand and got straight to the point.  I struggled a bit with the Ninth Commandment and I didn’t really know why until this week when I studied it to prepare for this message. 
            Before we look at the 9th commandment, let’s recite the whole list together.  There are some blanks to fill in.  Let’s see how you are coming on memorizing the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments:
1.     Do not _______ any God except the Lord.
2.     Do not ____ _____ of any kind.
3.     Do not ______ the ____of the Lord.
4.     Remember to _______ the _______ ___ and keep it holy.
5.     Honor your ______ and _______.
6.     Do not ______.
7.     Do not commit ________
8.     Do not _____.
9.     Do not _______ _______against your neighbor.
10.  Do not _____.

Good!  Keep working on it until you have all 10 memorized.

Today we will look at the Ninth Commandment as found in Exodus 20:16
16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

As I said before, I struggled with how to word the ninth commandment in my list.  Here’s why.  I wanted to simplify the wording and just say, “You must not lie.”  But as I prayed about it, I felt the Lord was leading me to keep the words “testify falsely” instead of “lie.”  That phrasing is a little more awkward and complicated, but something told me it was there for a reason.
I know now why after studying for this message.  You see, the Ninth Commandment wasn’t originally concerned with ordinary, everyday types of lies.  The Ninth Commandment deals with the justice system of the community.  It’s about the court system.  That’s why it uses the term “testify.”  When a judge hears a legal case, he will call witnesses to testify.  Suppose someone has been accused of stealing.  The judge will ask if anyone saw the accused person steal or has any other information that will determine if the accused did or did not steal.  The integrity of the justice system depends on the honesty of the witnesses.  God wants His people to live in a just society.  For that to happen, the court system must be reliable.  For that to happen, witnesses must be honest. 
Justice is sometimes personified and depicted as a person holding a set of scales and wearing a blindfold.  The scales represent weighing the evidence.  The blindfold represents objectivity; i.e. it doesn’t matter if the person is a friend or an enemy, rich or poor, a citizen or a foreigner; justice is blind so everyone is treated fairly and impartially.  Therefore, witnesses must not twist the truth to sway justice one way or another.  

Institutional Lies
The language of the Ninth Commandment identifies it with the court system, but it applies to broader settings than that.  Remember, the Ten Commandments were written for the newly formed Israelite community after they left slavery in Egypt to teach them to live together as civilized people.  A civilized people must be able to trust their leaders to tell them the truth.
We have seen many instances throughout history where governments have lied to their people and led them astray.  Nazi Germany comes to mind as a particularly heinous example.  First, the government used propaganda to turn public opinion against the Jews--even convincing them that Jews were less than human and deserved whatever persecution and mistreatment the Germans dished out.  Near the end of WWII, as the Allies were closing in on Berlin, Hitler and his henchmen were still sending out propaganda saying they were winning the war even as their capital was crumbling around them.  They’re lies had turned into madness and a complete distortion of reality.
When leaders bear false witness, it erodes the bedrock on which society is founded.  We see the effects of this in our own nation.  Back in the 50s and 60s, most people trusted the government.  According to the Pew Research Center[1], public trust in the government was 74% under Lyndon Johnson in 1964.  But over the years as numerous scandals, lies, and coverups have come to light about leaders in various segments, the faith of the American people in their government has eroded.  In February of 2014, it was just 24%.  This is the effect falsehood has on society.
The Church is no exception either.  The year I was born, 1974, between 66-68% of Americans said they had great confidence in the Church.  Over the years, that number has gradually dropped to a low of 42% in 2015.[2]  As a 13 or 14 year old kid, I used to sometimes watch Jimmy Swaggart on the TV in the morning as I got ready for school.  Now this was unusual for me.  I wasn’t a very devoted Christian at that age, but something about Jimmy Swaggart grabbed my attention and I would watch.  I remember very vividly the footage of him crying and admitting he had “sinned against You, my Lord.”  It soon came out that he had been with a prostitute.  Such scandals make it hard for the public to trust the Church is telling the Truth.
But it’s not just the scandals of televangelists or catholic priests that damage the influence of the church.  Every Christian is an ambassador for Christ.  You are an ambassador for Christ.  The reality is, there are people who look up to you as an example of what it means to be a Christian that will never look at me.  I may be a pastor, but you are the person they know and value.  Does your life and your actions tell the truth about Christ or bear a false witness?
We can bare false witness in two ways as ordinary Christians.  First off, we could act in ungodly ways that do not set a good example for others.  But perhaps there is an even more sinister way we bear false witness with our actions.  It is when we pretend to be better than we are.  You see, no man is perfect.  We all have many, many flaws.  Just because we follow Jesus does not mean we do not make mistakes or have bad habits.  And yet, sometimes there is tremendous pressure within Christian social circles hide our flaws and weaknesses.  Looking around the church, one might think everyone is happy all the time.  All you see is smiling faces and most people keep their struggles and failings hidden.  We present ourselves as perfect (or nearly perfect).  But the reality is, the church is full of broken, fallen people.  We don’t have to be perfect; God accepts us as we are and just wants us to be honest about the good the bad and the ugly of our lives.  Anything less is to bear false witness and it erodes faith in the Church and hinders our own healing. 

Jesus and Lying
Ephesians 4:25 says, “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.”  We need to tell the truth--in both big and small things, and in our actions.  Christians should be known as the most honest people on the planet.
The people who lived in Jesus’ day struggled to know who they could trust.  The custom arose of using vows to guarantee a person was telling the truth.  So a person might say, “I swear upon my mother’s grave,” as a way of proving they spoke the truth.  In Matthew 5:34 and 37, Jesus said, “But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne...”  “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
In his blog called “9 Sins the Church is OK With,” Frank Powell writes, “Here’s what Jesus is saying. You should live with such high integrity that your word doesn’t need attachments to make it legitimate... So, typical phrases like, “I promise,” “I swear,” and “I put it on my mom’s grave” shouldn’t be necessary.”[3]   

Christians should be the most honest people on the planet.  And yet the honest truth is, we have all been a false witness at some point in word or deed.  James 2:10 says, “10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”  And one day, we will all stand before the Great Judge who will determine our fate.  The Ten Commandments testify against us that we have broken God's Law in many ways.
 Romans 6:23 says “The consequences of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Although we deserve death for our sin, God offers a pardon to all who trust in Christ’s death and resurrection.  For his death paid the penalty for our sin and his resurrection won the victory over death.  Like him, we too can be raised to new life--one free of sin and death--where we live at peace with God.
Would you like to take hold of this new life Jesus offers?  Then, pray to Jesus today and ask for forgiveness, ask him to save you, and decide to follow him from now on.


Monday, June 15, 2015

The Second Commandment

Copyright June 9, 2015 by Chris Mullis
Exodus 20:4-6

            Obviously, people struggle to remember the Ten Commandments.  Even Christians—who value and seek to follow the Ten Commandments—struggle to remember them.  That’s a shame, because the Ten Commandments are a fundamental element of our faith.
Exodus 31:18 says the Ten Commandments were written “by the finger of God.”  This is the only example of scripture in the Bible being written directly by God.  There are 613 laws written in the Old Testament, but The Ten Commandments represent the essence of them all.  They must be important, because Jesus often quoted them in the New Testament.  Not only do the Ten Commandments show us how to live a godly life, they also show us how desperately we need God’s grace and forgiveness because we fail to keep the commandments so often—even when we try hard to be good.
We will study the Ten Commandments all summer longer—looking at one commandment each Sunday.  As we go through the list, I challenge you to commit the Commandments to memory and to come each Sunday to learn how they apply to your life.  Today we will look at the Second Commandment.  But before we do, take a moment to read all 10 together. The following list is my paraphrase of the 10 commandments from Exodus20:1-18. 

The 10 Commandments
1.     Do not worship any god except the Lord.
2.     Do not make idols of any kind.
3.     Do not misuse the name of the Lord.
4.     Remember to observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
5.     Honor your father and mother.
6.     Do not murder.
7.     Do not commit adultery.
8.     Do not steal.
9.     Do not testify falsely against you neighbor.
10.  Do not covet.

Here's a cool (cough, cough) video that might help you remember them. 
Exodus 20:4-6
“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for 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.

            The second half of verse 5 is very troubling.  People often ask me about the statement, “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children… [to] the third and fourth generation…”  That is a very troubling statement and I promise I will address it.  However, before we get to that, let’s look at the second commandment itself.  I promise I will come back to verse 5 in a few minutes.

            The second commandment says, “Do not make for yourself an idol of any kind…”  You might think that is an easy commandment to keep in our time.  Modern Americans are not is the habit of casting golden statues to worship the like people in Old Testament times.  However, we may struggle with this second commandment more than any other.
            We engage in idol worship anytime we put something or someone (even ourselves) before God.  It is the very definition of Sin—letting something else besides God be the first priority in your life.  This is not what God created us for.  God created us in His image to worship Him as the center of our lives.
Pastor Timothy Keller wrote an excellent book on the subject of Idolatry called Counterfeit Gods.  I highly recommend it.  In his book, Keller writes, “…the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.”[i]
Our sin-infected hearts tend to take the good things God gives us and turn them into ultimate things.  We give them power they do not have.  We can make an idol out of anything when we trust it to give us what only God can give. 

“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.  A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing. It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry…  An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.””[ii]

Some idols we worship today are:

·       Money.  Many people will agree that money can be an idol.  We understand that greed can be a powerful and negative influence that destroys lives and break the hearts of its worshipers. 

·       Children.  I have known parents who make idols out of their children.  All good parents want the best for their children, but some parents go too far by spoiling their children rotten or by overprotecting them or by pushing them relentlessly to succeed. 

·       Success.  Some professional athletes take performance enhancing drugs because they have to be the absolute best.  They are already phenomenal athletes, but that’s not enough for them.  They will risk their bodies and the reputations for their “idol.”  It’s not just athletes.  The same idol of success is found in the workplace, in churches, and even in families.  Anytime you have put succeeding before God, you have made success and idol.

·       Love.  Some people stake all their hopes and dreams in love.  If they could just find that special guy or gal, their problems would be solved.  If they could just find someone who really cares, they would be fine.  Yet even love becomes and idol when we expect it to fulfill us the way only God can.

Again, we make an idol out of anything we trust to give us what only God can give.  Idol worship is a severe problem in America.  And it is just as abominable to God today as it ever was.
          Idolatry is such an affront to God because it fundamentally goes against the very core of who God is, who we are, and our whole purpose for being.  When we make an idol, we attempt to change the whole order of creation.  We try to make God the way we want Him to be.  We make Him in our image instead of recognizing we are made in His image.  We switch the roles of our relationship around until we pretend to be the creator while demoting the God of the universe to our underling.  It is a reversal that is an outrage to all of creation, and an abomination to God.
            Idols always disappoint us.  They do not have the power to fulfill our hopes and dreams.  They turn to dust in our hands.  The leave us empty, broken, frustrated, and discontent.  And so God commands us, “Do not make idols of any kind.” 

A Troubling Statement
            I promised I would come back to the troubling statement in the second half of verse 5.  Let’s read it again.  “…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.”
            This is troubling, because we don’t like to think of God being jealous.  That emotion seems too unappealing to belong to a righteous God.  Furthermore, doesn’t it seem rather unfair for God to lay the sins of parents upon their children—even to the third and fourth generation?  Do you feel you should be held responsible for sins of idolatry your great, great grandparents committed?  Such emotions and behaviors do not seem fitting for the Christian God.  We would much rather think of our God as treating each person individually and being unbegrudging rather than jealous.
            Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  What are we doing when we think like this?  Are we not wanting to re-make God into the image of what we want God to be like?  What do we call that?  Isn’t that idolatry?  We are trying to make God the way we want Him to be.  What gives us the right to do that?  We are the creatures and God is the Creator.  But we want to switch things around.  We want to create a perfect god according to our concept of what is perfect.
            God is who He is.  We do not get to re-configure Him to be the way we want Him to be.  Even if the best we can do in this instance is say “We don’t understand this verse or we are confused by it,” let us not try and manipulate the character of God and make it what we want it to be.  That is idolatry.
            I think I can say something helpful about God’s jealousy and generational punishment.  First of all, God’s jealousy is not like human jealousy, which is so often misplaced and corrupt.  God’s jealousy flows out of righteousness.  He made us.  He has every right to demand our faithfulness.  He shouldn’t even have to demand it.  Our love and honor and admiration for God ought to be the most naturally flowing characteristic of our lives—it is what we were design by God to do.  And yet, we trade in our affection for God for almost anything else—things that are not gods at all, only figments of our imagination (idols that have no power, no life, nothing at all to offer).  It is no wonder at all that God should be jealous, that He should be angry.  On the contrary, it is amazing to me that God has not obliterated humanity from the face of creation because we have turned our backs on Him so many times. 
            And the truth is, the sins we commit have dire consequences—not just for us but for many others as well.  Like a stone tossed upon the waters of a still lake, our sin sends out ripples that spread out to affect many others.  Those ripples even span across generations—to the third and fourth (or even more) generations.  If you ever find yourself thinking, “My sin does not affect anyone else,” think again.  Even if you do not see it, your sin has contributed to the pain, suffering and evil of the world, and it might even affect your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.  In this way, I understand that it is not unusual at all that Exodus 20:5 says, “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children…”  I will tell you what is truly amazing though—verse 6.
            Verse 6 says,I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”  This is statement is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  For even though we have all broken the second commandment in one way or another at some point in our life, even though we are worthy only of God’s jealous wrath, instead we receive grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 10:13 – “All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Ephesians 2: 9-10 – “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” 


            The Ten Commandments show us how sinful we are and how desperate we are for a savior.  The Good News is, Jesus can save you!  Forgiveness, mercy, and grace are available to you through Jesus Christ.  If you recognize your need, call out to Jesus today.  Pray to him and beg for forgiveness.  Surrender your life to him and ask him to lead from this day forward.  Commit to follow Him and you shall be saved.  Then when God looks at your heart on judgment day, he will not see your sin.  He will see Jesus living in you and you will be redeemed.


[i] Timothy Kelly – Counterfeit Gods page xiv
[ii] Ibid. – page xviii

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The First Commandment

Copyright June 1, 2015 by Chris Mullis
Exodus 20:1-18

Let's play a game.  Let’s see if you can finish these famous commercial jingles! 

Ok.  Try this one without the music:  “Two All Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese…”
            How'd you do?  I bet you did pretty good.  At least 90% of my church congregation knew them all!  I guess those jingle writers did there job well and made some memorable commercials.  Now, let’s try something a little different.  How many of the Ten Commandments can you name?  Too hard?  How about this then:  What is the first commandment?
I'm guessing you didn't do as well remembering the Ten Commandments.  Perhaps we need to refresh our memories.  My message series this summer will be about the Ten Commandments and how they apply to our lives.  I would like to challenge you to memorize the Ten Commandments this summer and to come hear the message each Sunday.  We will take one commandment each week.  Today, we will look at the first commandment.  But before we do, let’s list all Ten Commandments.

1.     Do not worship any god except the Lord.
2.     Do not make idols of any kind.
3.     Do not misuse the name of the Lord.
4.     Remember to observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
5.     Honor your father and mother.
6.     Do not murder.
7.     Do not commit adultery.
8.     Do not steal.
9.     Do not testify falsely against you neighbor.
10.  Do not covet.

Exodus 20:1-18
            This list is my paraphrase of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:1-18.  Let me read the full passage.
1Then God gave the people all these instructions:
“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.
“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for 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.
“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You must not murder.
14 “You must not commit adultery.
15 “You must not steal.
16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
Explain the Passage
These Ten Commandments are listed in two places in the Bible—Exodus 20:1-18 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.  They were given to the Israelites in the dessert after they were freed from slavery.  After 400 years of slavery, this brand new community was unaccustomed to living on their own.  Gone were the masters who formerly told them what to do every step of the way.  The Israelites needed someone to teach them how to live as a civilized, free people.  And so the Lord gave them His Law—rules for how to live as a community.  And these Ten Commandments were the essence of the law distilled down into 10 easy to remember principles that covered every area of life.  Exodus 31:18 says the Ten Commandments were written “by the finger of God” on stone tablets.  God gave the tablets to Moses and they were placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:21).  The original stone tablets were presumably lost along with the Ark of the Covenant a few hundred years later. 

The Purpose of the Ten Commandments
Obviously as we have stated, the commandments gave instruction to the Israelites fledgling community on how to live a moral life and thus avoid the consequences of sin.  They can serve the same purpose for us today.  However, the Ten Commandments serve another purpose.  They show us how sinful we are (Romans 5:20) and thus our desperate need for grace and deliverance. 
If we are honest, we will each admit that we have broken many (if not all ten) of the commandments at one time or another.  Have you ever stolen something?  Even something small like a pen?  You have broken the 8th commandment.  Have you ever told a lie (even a little, white lie)?  You have broken the 9th commandment.  Have you ever committed murder?  (Jesus said if you even hate someone in your heart, you have committed murder in your heart.)  If so, you have broken the 6th commandment.  Have you ever misused God’s name (have you ever used God’s name in a trivial way)?  OMG!  You have broken the third commandment!
It doesn’t take long to see even the best among us are very sinful when we examine the 10 commandments in this way.  As Romans 3:23 says, “All fall short of God’s glorious standard” and are in desperate need of God’s saving grace.
So, with that being said, let’s examine the first of the Ten Commandments (or rather, let us allow God to examine us with the First Commandment). 

The First Commandment 

            Exodus 20:3 says, “You must not have any other god but me.”  In other words, “Do not worship any god but the Lord.”  It is notable that the command doesn’t speak to the issue of whether or not other gods exist.  It simply states, “You should have no other god but me.”  Whether or not there are other gods is beside the point.  (We will see in a moment that we often turn things into gods.  Whether or not these things are really gods is irrelevant.  They sometimes become real to us.  And the Lord warns us not to have any other gods in our life.)
            The people of the tribes and nations who lived around the Israelites worshipped many different gods.  Undoubtedly, the Israelites had seen this and would be tempted frequently to worship the gods of other nations.  But God says, “I am the one who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.  I am the one you should worship.  You should not worship any other god.  I am your God.”
            In our time, we put other “gods” before the Lord all the time.  Anytime we choose our desires instead of God’s will, anytime we put our hopes in the things of this world, anytime we seek fulfillment from people, places, or things that we can only find in a relationship with God, anytime we give honor and praise that belongs only to God to someone or something else, anytime we place anything before God, we have violated the first commandment.  We may not call these things “gods,” but we make them our gods when we put them before the Lord.  And these little gods will always let us down and leave us empty and broken.  They cannot deliver us the way the Lord has.
            Exodus 20:2 says, “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you out of the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.”  Egypt is a figurative place for us.  We weren’t slaves in Egypt like the Israelites.  Nevertheless, each of us has been enslaved in some way.  Some are enslaved to depression.  Some are enslaved to pornography.  Some are enslaved to the scars of the past.  Some are enslaved to worries about the future.  Some are enslaved to what people will think about them.  Some are enslaved to your money, possessions, power, or influence.  Some are enslaved to their own pride, or guilt, or shame, or greed.  We are all enslaved by sin.
            Enslaved.  It means you have lost the power to choose.  When you are a slave, your master controls your life in every way.  Just as the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, you are or were a slave to whatever controlled you in this life—even if it was your own warped, inflated sense of self (which always falls short of the grander plans of God which are far greater than the individual self).
John 3:16 tells us, “God so loved the world that He gave His one, and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Through Jesus Christ, we can be delivered from slavery to whatever little gods control us.  If you trust in Jesus and follow him, you have been set free!  And the words God spoke to the Israelites all those millennia ago when he gave the Ten Commandments, now apply to you.  Exodus 20:2, “”I am the Lord your God, who rescued you out of the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.”  And God gives you His first commandment:  “Do not worship any god but the Lord.” 

            If we are honest, we will certainly see that we are all guilty of putting things before the Lord from time to time.  As Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  And Romans 6:23 tells us the consequences and also the wonderful Good News.  “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  So though we have broken the First Commandment many times and deserve only God’s punishment, instead we receive grace because of Christ. 
            Each time I receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, it reminds me how much God loves me and how His grace cleanses my sin.  The bread represents how Jesus gave his own body to be punished for my sin.  The wine represents the blood he shed on the cross that washes away my sin.  He was innocent, yet he willingly gave himself to pay the price for my sins.  Therefore, all my sins are forgiven.  All yours can be too.  Won't you ask Him to forgive you and wash you clean today?
Here's a simple prayer you can use to help you do just that:

            Thank you for loving me enough to die for my sins.  I'm sorry that my sin broke God's heart and cost you so dearly.  Please forgive me.  I don't want to sin anymore.  Come into my life and lead me and I will do my best to follow.  Please save me and be my Lord.  Amen.

If you prayed this and asked Jesus to save you today,
I would like to hear from you. 
Please email me at


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

The Ten Commandments
            I hear a lot of Christians complain the Ten Commandments have been removed from the public sphere.  I often wonder if those same Christian even know the Ten Commandments.  I was talking to someone the other day and she could only name 4 or 5 of the Ten Commandments—even though she goes to church every week.  I suspect that is the true for many Christians.  What are the Ten Commandments?  I invite you to join me at Pleasant Grove UMC each Sunday this summer as we study the Ten Commandments and learn how they apply to us today.

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-8, 12-17
1Then God instructed the people as follows:
2“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt.
3“Do not worship any other gods besides me.
4“Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish.
7“Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
8“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
12“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God will give you.
13“Do not murder.
14“Do not commit adultery.
15“Do not steal.
16“Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17“Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns.”

God gave us rules like the Ten Commandments so we can get the most enjoyment out of life.  Nobody wants to have a tragic, unhappy life filled with sorrow and disappointment.  God doesn’t want us to have lives like that either, so He gave us rules to guide our feet away from the valley of sorrow and despair—rules that lead us toward happiness, joy, and contentment. 
            But the world has rules too.  And the ruler of the world—that fiend the Devil—tells us all kind of lies about what will make us happy.  On TV, he glorifies promiscuous sex outside of marriage; he shows people dancing around and drinking at wild parties; he shows men with expensive cars, cool clothes, and a girl on each arm.  And they all seem so happy.  But it’s a lie that Satan fabricates through fancy camera angles, special affects, paid actors and actresses, and lots and lots of money.  Those who have lived the wild lives the world promotes and escaped from them can tell you, it doesn’t lead to happiness; it only leads to sorrow.  It leads to broken families, broken dreams, and broken hearts. 
            So if you want to live “the good life,” follow God’s plan.  Perhaps you can start with the Ten Commandments.  Of course, I’m no expert and certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

God loves you and so do I,