Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A New Perspective: Part 6

Hey, we’re half way though this marathon series. Thanks for sticking with me. In the previous command, we learned God is a God of authority structure, a God of order. Let’s move on and see what we can discover about Him in the next command.

6.     17 “‘You shall not murder.

I love the “duhs” in life, probably because I’m relatively simple minded. I’m not the brightest bulb in the box, but I can still light up a room. I love plain obvious things, and this is one of them. He’s ALIVE! He is the God of the living Jesus told the Sadducees in Matthew 22:32. Life begets life. God is NOT dead! Killing with malice a person made in God’s image violates the nature of His image. Not only is God alive He values life.

This frees me to see the value of my own life. It also frees me to value the lives of others and esteem them better than myself (Philippians 2:3). I can’t think of anything as mysterious or profound than the breath of God animating a human soul and placing His image upon it.

Christ fulfilled this command by taking on flesh and becoming not only living God, but living Man. The consummation of this command’s fulfillment is the cross; we broke this command that He might abolish sin death once for all. He took our death that we may have His life.

Our Father, Living God, may we, your children, enjoy Your life, enjoy living with You through time and eternity. Most of all may we value every living soul as Your image bearer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A New Perspective for a New Year: Part 5

I’m broiling steak in the oven right now. I need to watch the clock as I write because soon it will be time to flip them over. Both sides need to be cooked before I can enjoy my steak dinner. In much the same way God knew we needed directions in both of our relationships: vertical and horizontal, divine and human. At this point the Ten Commandments take a turn, and direct us in how we should treat people. Ooops! Wrote a little too long. Guess I’m eating steak on the well side.

1.     16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Hot, sweaty, and exhausted I sat up in the delivery bed as the nurse handed me my new born daughter. The room around me faded as my eyes transfixed on this new face of the future. It is an inexplicable moment, meeting your child for the first time, a wondrous, miraculous, even terrifying moment. Life begins with family. It is the primary human relationship. That’s why when God turns to telling us how to get along He begins with that essential relationship.

God made Adam and Eve and told them to go parent humanity. Why? Because God dwells in His own sort of family; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together in a mysterious unity beyond human comprehension. So, what about His family can we learn from this commandment? Together, the three live in an orderly existence.Though all in the God head are equally God, there is an order of authority.

He establishes the same order in human families. Children must learn obedience to their parents just as Jesus, Son of God, obeyed His Father perfectly. Our God is a God of order. This command is unique in that it gives a promise to those that keep it; “that you days may be long in the land
I am giving you.” This shows us God rewards those who honor Him by giving honor to their parents. He desires to bless us. That too is part of His creative order; blessing follows obedience.

Christ honored His Father. John tells us that the Pharisees considered Jesus an illegitimate child yet Jesus proclaims clearly Who his Father is and that he is honoring his Father, God, by doing all God sent him to accomplish (John 8:13-59). Not only did Jesus honor God, He is God, One with the Father.

When I honor my earthly parents, I am honoring God’s structure of authority. It frees me to flow with creations order and enjoy God’s blessing. It frees me from isolation and brings me into the fellowship of community, family.

Dear Father,

Thank You for earthly fathers and mothers that teach us obedience. That as we learned to honor them we are learning to honor You. Thank you that we are made from family for family. Thank You for calling us into Your forever family.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A New Perspective for a New Year: Part 4

Happy Valentine's Day! Did you ever think about the Ten Commandments being all about love? They are: the first four teach us how to love God, the last six teach us how to love each other. As I contemplated on the third command I discovered another division between the first two and second two. In the first two God establishes who He is. The next two, commands three and four, He invites us to have a relationship with Him. How can we refuse such a loving invitation, especially on Valentine's Day?


1.     12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.15 You shall remember that you were a slave[c] in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

I’m tired. I was born tired, and I’ve been tired ever since! So, for me this command sounds divine. Oh yeah, it is! Some love work and it's an idol to them. We call them workaholics. Others, known as sluggards and sloths, love sleep. The sin of laziness dominates their character. God revels a pattern to us born out of His perfectly balanced nature: six parts work, one part rest. 

The Sabbath reminds us God is never too busy to be with us. He's never hurried or out of breath. Nor is He lazy. God works diligently. His diligent rhythm includes rest. Just follow this recipe for successful living; successful at work and successful in our relationships, especially in our relationship to Him.

Can you hear Him pleading with His people? “I delivered you from slavery. Don’t be a slave to work. Rest with me. Let’s spend the day together.”

I believe practicing the Sabbath principle preserves our wellbeing. I’ve worked retail now for over a decade. It’s not uncommon for fulltime retail associates to work eight and nine days straight. I’ve seen what that does to them. They become less effective, short tempered, and just plain worn out. They haven’t gotten to spend a day with their families, let alone spend time with God. They haven’t had time off to rest.

The Sabbath is as old as time. God made the world for man in five days. Then He spent a day making man. Finally, He took the seventh day off to spend a day with the man He made.

 That very first Sabbath Day Adam, Eve, and the Lord just chilled together. They listened to birds sing and frogs croak. They watched the sunrise and the sunset. They smelt the fragrance of fresh flowers, and tasted the sweetness of ripe fruit as they enjoyed a meal together. I can see them in my mind laying on a grassy hill looking up at the brand-new sky. I can hear them sighing in repose, content to just be quiet in one another’s presence. What a joy to be with each other and God!
If we are too busy to take one day off, then we are too busy, too busy at the wrong thing. We’re in bondage to our own agenda. This command frees us to rest. We need to rest from our frail attempts at success. We need to rest from the notion that it’s our job to provide for ourselves. He is Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides. Let’s just take a day to say “Thanks! We love You, Lord!” Better yet let’s gather with His people and do it together.

Personally, I practice Sabbath on Sunday, the Lord’s day. I worship at church, but also at home. I worship by napping, and ignoring my dishes until Monday morning. Through this simple routine I am refreshed and blessed. Jesus sabbathed too.

The Pharisees often criticized Jesus because he chose to heal on the Sabbath. For Jesus healing was not work, but a releasing of bondage. To remember God’s deliverance is exactly what this command requires. Jesus not only kept the Sabbath, He is the Lord of the Sabbath. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Dear Father,

Thank You for taking a day to be with us in a special way. Thank You for giving us rest. May we by faith enter Your rest.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

A New Perspective for a New Year: Part 3

It’s been longer than I anticipated since my last post. I intended to start a series and post weekly. I still intend to do this series, but contemplating what I need to say about the third command has taken me much longer than I expected. I also had a divine appointment to fly out to California for a few days to be with my aunt. She’s on hospice. I needed to say good-bye and tell her one last time that I love her. Now that I’m back, I’ll get back to it.

3.     11 “‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Before we can discover what this commandment reveals about God, we need to make sure we understand the command. The first time I remember hearing the third commandment I was in first grade. In her thick southern drawl my little friend declared, “Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain!” She must have heard my mother swearing. I asked her what she was talking about and she said it was sin to use God’s name as a swear word. This was news to me growing up in a sailor’s home with my French mother. I didn’t really think any more about it.

Years later, when I became a Christian I just assumed that’s what it meant. I think a lot of Christians are content with that elementary understanding of the third command, but there is so much more to it. This isn’t a simple rule against using “Jesus Christ!” as a superlative. This prohibits using the Lord’s name in a deceptive manner or treating His name like a good luck charm. The word for “vain” can be translated not only as futile, but also deceptive and idolatrous.

In the book of Jude, an epistle warning us against false teachers, three examples are given of a false prophet (a prophet who claims to speak in God’s name). These three serve as examples of taking God’s name vainly.

The first is Cain. Cain brought God an offering that God rejected. Why did God reject Cain’s gift? Because Cain gave with a wrong heart attitude. Cain gave God not the first fruit, but the leftovers. Cain believed he owned his possessions. If we claim to be Christ’s but think we own our things and give begrudgingly, we take His name in vain. As Creator of all He is owner of all.

Balaam used God’s name in vain when he became a prophet for profit. Do we go to church to network, build our own platform? Do we claim to belong to the Good Shepherd so we can fleece the sheep? Jesus came to serve not be served. We follow Him and honor His name when we serve Him by serving His body.

Last, Jude mentions the rebellion of Korah. Korah rejected God’s leadership by rejecting His leader Moses. Do we reject God’s leaders in our lives? Over and over Scripture calls us to submission. When we call ourselves Christians, but reject the authorities God places in our lives we are taking His name in vain.

Jesus asks us, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord but don’t do the things that I say?” Luke 6:46. To call Him Boss and not respect Him as the Boss is what it means to take His name in vain. OUCH! Fortunately, the prophet Joel assures us, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Joel 2:32. By His grace we can call upon His name and He calls us His own, restoring us as His image bearer and revealing through us the power of His name. His name is not vain. It is mighty to save!

The third commandment reveals a God Who seeks relationship with us. He introduced Himself by name to Moses and the nation of Israel so they could become His community. He created people in His image so He can enjoy fellowship with His image bearers. This privilege must not be taken lightly. God will not be mocked. His name is Wonderful. We must not lose sight of the wonder of being His, of knowing Him by name.

This command frees me to know One far greater than myself. It frees me from a self-centered existence ushering me into a right relationship with my Maker. It frees me from the power of sin and death because I can call upon His name and be saved!

Jesus, the Son of God, completed the work God gave him, never claiming God's name in a futile or deceptive manner. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11
 Dear Father,

As image bearers in a saving relationship with you let us bear your name well.