Sunday, February 5, 2012

A look at the commandments: Part 1

Exodus 20

 1And God spake all these words, saying,
 2I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
 3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
 4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
 5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
 6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Many of us have seen the "10 Commandments" movie, or seen them posted on a wall somewhere. Many of us have at least heard them at some point of our lives, or even read them a time or two. But, have we ever truly studied them? Perhaps we should take a closer look and see what nuggets of truth are there for us to dig up and treasure!

First of all, GOD spoke the 10 Commandments. These were not man made rules. God said for us to follow these COMMANDS! I was a soldier once on man's Army. The commands from my superiors were called ORDERS. We had to obey the orders of our superiors whether we liked them or not. How much higher a superior can there possibly be than God? When HE issues orders (commands), we need to follow them to the letter.

He next says for us to remember what he's done for us- and especially WHO DID IT for us. If you have been biblically born again (Acts 2:38), then you are no longer in bondage! You have been brought out of the sin you were once in and have been allowed to walk in freedom in his marvelous light! Why? Because you (or I) were so great and awesome? NO! 

Psalm 23

 1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

He did it because he loves us and to show forth the Glory of HIS name! He is the awesome and great one! We don't deserve even the smallest of his blessings. He reached down and drew us (not made us to- we had a choice) out of our hog pens, cleaned us up, and set our feet upon the rock that we might be able to stand to show forth HIS glory!

Because of what he's done for us, he has a few rules he'd like to lay down for us to follow. These are not suggestions. We belong to him. We were bought with his precious blood and belong to him. He has a right to command these things from us. 

The first one seems simple enough: 

 3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

So what does it really mean? Does he mean that it's OK to have other gods, as long as he is number one on our list? Sounds ludicrous doesn't it? How many folks actually live that way, though? We give God a portion of our lives- maybe even the best parts- but do we give him our all? We sin on Saturday and serve him on Sunday. We check the blocks of Christianity:

A) Prayer: check (we said prayers with our meals and at bedtime)
B) Bible study (We read a verse or two this week)
C) Helping others (We bought a soda for our coworker)
D) Witnessing (we agreed with someone that God is real)
E) Gathering together with other saints (We went to church Sunday AM)
F) Modesty (we don't dress too much like the world)
G) Godly conversation (we didn't cuss this week)
H) Godly living (we don't smoke and drink. The shows we watch and the things we read aren't too bad- are they?) 

But, is that all God expects from us? Jesus said the greatest commandment is: 

Mark 12:30
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, andwith all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

What does he mean? 

The heart is our emotions. We are to love God by submitting our emotions to him! God is an emotional God. He gets happy and sad. He loves and he hates. He is judgement and mercy. God expects us to love him by submitting our emotions to him. Emotions are wonderful things- if used within the guidelines of scripture. But, they are terribly destructive things if they are left uncontrolled! Be angry and SIN NOT, we are told. LOVE, but don't love the wrong person in the wrong way. HATE sin, but love the sinner. WITH MALICE, we are to throw away our sins as something we abhor- but don't have malice for your brother or sister. Let God have control of our emotions and they work wonderfully. If we retain control- it can be deadly.

The soul is who we are. Many believe that man is: spirit+body+soul=man. This is not what scripture teaches. We don't have time to break it all down today, but suffice it to say that the real computation is: body+spirit=soul (man). The soul is the sum totality of who we are. And we are to love God with ALL of who we are! ALL of us- not some of us- belongs to him. He demands our all. He deserves our all. He bought our all. There is no room for any other god or any small piece set aside just for us. It's ALL or nothing with God.

The mind is our thoughts. You mean he even wants our deep thoughts and desires? YES! Why? Our emotions are primarily guided by our thoughts. If our thoughts are under control, our emotions will be. Our actions follow our emotions. So is we have Godly thoughts, our emotions will stay under Godly control. Then, our actions will be Godly. If our thought life is NOT submitted to God, then our emotions get out of control. Then, our actions can go haywire! This is why scripture warns us: 

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,think on these things.

Finally, what is our strength. These are the things that we are good at. The gifts that God has given us to benefit our families, society, and his kingdom. But, like anything else, our gifts can become a curse if they are not submitted to God and used in Godly ways. How many pop singers were "discovered" singing in a church? Yet, they were pulled out and began singing ungodly songs. They made millions! But, their lives are in shambles. And how many of their fans were led astray by following them? 

It's easy for us to trust and submit to God in the things we are not good at. We pray, "God help me". But, when it's something we are confident at because we are good at it, we tell God: "Stand back, Lord. I can do this." It may go good for a while, but it will fall apart and cause damage at some point if we don't give our strengths-and their uses- to Jesus!

3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

So what does this mean? Look at the words BEFORE ME. In the Hebrew in means IN HIS PRESENCE. So where is his presence?

Psalms 139

7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
 9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
 10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
 11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
 12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

God is omnipresent! He is everywhere. There is NO PLACE where God is not!So what do we do with this commandment? 

This is not simply placing God at the top of the list and we can do what we want with the rest. This is making God our end all be all. It's about giving him complete control. It's about handing HIM the pen and paper of our lives and saying: "I trust you Lord. I am yours. YOU make the list. YOU do what you feel is best for my life. 

There is NO room for all the little gods our society says are so important. God needs to be our focus- our all in all.

So, whatever little gods we may have been hanging on to- we need to throw them away, repent, and give our ALL to the one who died for us- Jesus! He is the whole list! He is the first and last, beginning and the end. He is the single most important being in the universe! He is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere. Why would we hesitate to give him control of our lives? He loves us. He died for us. He shed his own blood for us. He gave his all! Why would we not give our all to him!