Our [g]ods

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day six)

Exodus 20:4
Our gods are of our own making. Even when we think on God we tend to “make him in our own image.” We keep the things we like and cast off the things we don’t. Every culture and every generation does it. A new way of thinking about God began anew when God told Moses His name, “I AM.” The name was a clear statement of His holiness; that he was distinct and separate from humanity, that He had a character and nature all of his own that wasn’t dependent on human invention.

That’s why the Law was so good, because it was God revealing to the Hebrew people (and humanity) that you can’t make gods in your image anymore, because I AM your God. The giving of the Law exposed our god-making nature. The Law takes us back to the earliest days in the garden when the Serpent tempted Eve with the notion that she would become like God if she ate of the fruit. Ever since we have been exalting ourselves by fashioning our own gods. The Law says, to be like God you must lay down your god-making ways and worship God only, and then will you clearly see that you were made in the very image of God. The Law reveals our tarnished God-like image; it did back then and it does today.

The Law, and then ultimately Jesus (he alone fulfilled the Law on our behalf) is a God ordained means to restore His image in humanity. Which is why Paul wrote in Romans 8:29, “those who he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son.”

 

Be thankful for the Law; it is good!

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Remember, Remember

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day five)

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the 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.

What a splendid thought and picture…  The Creator of the Universe commanding us to intentionally and regularly pause, rest, look, listen and worship!!  As we remember and set apart the Sabbath, through His creation, we gain understanding and appreciation for God’s power, wisdom, and divine nature (Romans 1:20).

As Moses reminds the Israelites later of God’s Commandments (Deut. 5:15), he challenges them to remember in the Sabbath observance, another facet of God’s work and character (provider and rescuer).  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.”

God not only created them (us) but saved them (us) as well.  The focus (our remembering) is on God as both creator and deliverer.  A humbling lesson learned and celebrated by keeping the Sabbath Holy:  We did not create ourselves and we could not save ourselves.  Makes a heart turn to God in wonder and gratitude!!

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Written in Stone

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day four)  We have a saying…”It is written in stone!”  We mean that it is established, unchangeable, and permanent.  God’s 10 commandments were written in stone.  As important as they were to the Israelites then, God had even greater plans for His Laws.  Romans 2:12-16 tells us that those who have the Law will be judged by the Law, those who do not have the Law will be judged by the Law written on their hearts.  God’s intention was never justification for the Israelites alone.  He wrote His Law on the hearts of the Gentiles as well.  We are each judged by our obedience to God’s Law.  It is not the letter of the Law that saves, it is Christ in our hearts…God’s Law written on our heart off flesh.  When we, by faith, respond to the invitation of Christ, we receive justification before God that was never achievable through tablets of stone.

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Score

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day three)

“And God spoke all these words.”  These Ten Commandments call us to a whole life; they cannot be separated from one another and mean the same thing that they mean together.  The man who will not observe the Sabbath will surely believe that the world will not function without him, and therefore will place himself as a god before the Lord.  The one who refuses to honor his parents will desecrate family ties and is therefore only a step away from destroying another family through adultery.  God spoke “all these words” not some of these words.  Separated, they just become an occasion for measuring our lives up against others, and when we do that, we covet everything our neighbor has.  God calls us to a life, not to a score.

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Barriers and Views

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day two)

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. Romans 7:7

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good. Romans 7:12

If you heard Pastor Don’s children’s sermon this week you will remember the picture of a boy looking over a cliff at the ocean waves crashing against the rocks hundreds of feet below. You will also remember the gate that was put up to protect people from going over the edge. If you have been to many monuments or parks like these you know these barriers exist. If done well they will protect you, but not hinder the majesty of the view. You are aware of their presence by the way the guard you from danger or intrusion. God’s law is like this. By it we know where sin is, and what we ought to be wary of, but it does not hinder our view of God. Like any warning or barrier, they serve to articulate what is not good for us and how we should monitor our choices. In the end our view is spectacular and we are safe.

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The Ten (der) Commandments

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day one)

It is our privilege, this week, to reflect on the 10 Commandments.  It is not unusual for moderns to claim that the law is no longer binding on believers,  an “Old Testament thing”.  I disagree.  Jesus said, “Whoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.”–Matthew 5:17.  God’s law and God’s love are not separate things.  Over and over, God makes the point that they are given ”that it might go well with you.” (Deuteronomy 12:28, Ephesians 6:3)  God is not arbitrary.  He is not power hungry.  Why should He be?  He gives laws to live by, because, in the very nature of things, our lives will be better for the following.  None of us can say WE LOVE HIM if we ignore His laws.  All of us can say that HE HAS LOVED US by giving His Ten (der) Commandments.

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Merciful and mighty

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 19:1-12, 16-22 (day seven)

“Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. . . the whole mountain trembled violently.”–v. 18.  The true God is both tender and terrifying.  Believers know both sides of our Great God.  His first words to us are grace.  See v. 4.  He offers a life of peculiar blessing/opportunity.  See v. 5.  None of this, however, must be interpreted as weakness. He is fearful, holy, and dangerous!  Just as a child first experiences his mother’s tenderness (first stages of life) only later to experience her firm discipline,  learns to love her and then fear her, so, God is tender with us in salvation and tough on us as we begin to grow into maturity.  “Therefore, knowing the FEAR of the Lord, we persuade men”, said Paul in 2 Corinthians 5.  The God we serve is both tender and terrifying, grace and government, merciful and mighty.  May the Lord restore this balance in every Christian heart.

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Bible Togetherness

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 19:1-12, 16-22 (day six)

His nation was in spiritual tatters, the Temple in disrepair, and young king Josiah did not follow in his father’s footsteps. Rather he began initiatives to restore his people. In the process of restoring the Temple the high priest stumbled upon the Book of the Law and brought it to Josiah’s secretary. When Josiah’s secretary began to read to him from the Book of the Law, “he tore his clothes (2 Kings 22:11).” He grieved at the thought of he and his people disobeying God for generations, and he was fearful of God’s wrath. The Book of the Law broke the heart of Josiah.

It was that Law that was about to be delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai. Save for the incarnation their might not be a greater event in human history; God’s inaugural written revelation delivered to humanity. We find the people in Exodus 19 instructed to “consecrate” themselves as they prepare to act as over-hearers at the base of the mountain. This was no small thing; this was not life in the mundane.

When we posture ourselves to listen to God’s revelation; when we yield to the voice of God we can’t help but be transformed. We can’t help but see ourselves for who we are in light of His revealed Word, and that is grace to us. The thunder and lighting, smoke and fire, and the written Law was an extraordinary work of grace that day on Mount Sinai. Even the slightest glimpses of God lay us bare, exposing all our deepest and darkest frailties, and that kind of self-knowledge is the beginning of restoration. Let us expose ourselves to the majesty and glory of the Gospel, that Jesus may lead us in ongoing restoration in all of our life; even the most broken and shameful parts he can redeem! Will you “consecrate” yourselves this week? Will you remove yourself out of the mundane in order to be ready to see glimpses a glorious and majestic God who redeems?

Praying for multitudes of “Josiah” moments in the FBCSA family! Pray with me!

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ID

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 19:1-12, 16-22 (day five)

The main task for adolescents is to solve and settle one fundamental question, “Who Am I?”  Identity formation is a long (social scientists indicate longer now than ever) and complex process.   What’s important?  What is true? Who can I trust?

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’

Throughout Exodus and the Old Testament (for the Israelites) and all through the New Testament (for believers) (see 1 Peter 2) God continues to answer this crucial question.  We best understand and discover our ID (Who We Are) in covenant relationship with God where we value, obey, and trust Him.  As we examine our hearts and lives today, how do our perspectives, personalities, and priorities echo the Character and Promises of God?

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Unshaken

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 19:1-12, 16-22 (day four) 

It was a fearsome experience…the children of Israel had never seen anything like it.  The Lord descended on Mt. Sinai with thunder and lightning…smoke and earthquake…trumpet and fire.  The people trembled.  What an awesome display of power!  The writer of Hebrews said, “But you have come to Mount Zion…” (Hebrews 12:18-24)  If you think His warning on earth was fierce, wait until you see His warning from heaven.  You do not want to refuse Him!  (Hebrews 12:25-29)  The earth trembled at Mt. Sinai, but at Mt. Zion, the things that can be shaken will be removed.  The new covenant promises a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  We must serve God with acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.  With gratitude, we serve a holy and omnipotent God!

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