4-22-2023 New Life
Spring is now in full bloom (and budding). The earth is waking up after a long winter’s nap. Okay, winter may have been pretty mild this year (where I live – Md, anyway) but still cold enough that nothing has really bloomed until now.
Easter Sunday we celebrated the promise of eternal fellowship with the Father through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. PTL! Jesus gave Himself for us over 2000 years ago by allowing the Romans to hang Him on the cross. But, praise God, Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, the promise for us – eternal life. A new life in Jesus Christ! Yet, what does Father ask of me? This promise of new life also brings a responsibility. We have to ask ourselves “How can I show my thanks to Jesus for what He did?”
The answer is easy. We show our appreciation by abiding in His love. Again you say “But how?” Glad you asked.
Jesus says that if you love Me “Keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Oh. And that includes all those “Thou shalt not’s”, right? Okay, but what about the ‘Thou shalts’?
The Ten Commandments are a basic list of what God expects from us and are ten ways in which we can express our love for Him. Let each one of us take a look at God’s list and ask what do those items really mean to “me”.
Most of us ‘get’ the “Thou shalt nots”. or do we?
But first, I’d like to mention two of those ten which actually are not a “Thou shalt not”.
Exod. 20:8-11 The 4th commandment says “Remember the Sabbath Day”.
When God provided the manna for Israel (as they wandered around the desert) He told them that they had six days “to do their business, but the seventh day would be the Sabbath, which is holy unto the Lord. Each day, each man would gather what he needed, then on the sixth day, there would be double the manna for there was no manna on the 7th day, that is the Sabbath (Exod. 16:1-36). God explains that no one should work on the Sabbath for God created the world in six days (Gen. 1:1-31) and rested on the seventh from all His works (Gen. 2:1-3). God knows that we also need rest from our works, so the seventh day was intended to give us that day of rest. This ‘spare time’ also gives us time to reflect on our relationship with the Lord. Now, I’m not going to argue which is the ‘true’ Sabbath. The Jewish tradition sets it on the day which we refer to as ‘Saturday’, the day after the crucifixion. Yet most of the Christian community celebrates the Sabbath on the day our Lord rose from the grave – Sunday. Arguing over this is a moot point because God tells us to meditate on the ‘law (His Word) day and night (Psalm 1:2) and Paul tells the Philippians (and us) to think on these things: what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely good report, has virtue or is worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8). Then Paul reminds the Thessalonians (and us) to rejoice (have a joyful spirit), pray without ceasing and be thankful for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Daniel prayed to God three times each day – AM, PM and lunch time too (lol, Dan. 6:10). Paul tells the Ephesians (and us) to pray with all our supplications in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18). In short, we should be talking with our Lord on a daily basis, glad what God does for us, giving Him thanks. Or should I say we should always ‘touch bases’ with Him in all that we do – no matter how many times a week or a day. A prayerful attitude might be “Lord, what should I do or say in this situation?” I mean actually ask Him. No we don’t have to get down on our knees every time but we can speak it in our heart or ‘under our breath (aloud, softly). What Father is saying is give Him some time and seek His direction. Not just on the Sabbath but, again, every day!
Exodus 20:12 The 5th commandment says “Honor your father and your mother”.
Honor mom and dad? This commandment actually gives us a definitive return for our obedience – long life in this world. So why do we honor dad and mom? As their children, God has put dad, then mom, in authority over us to guide and direct us in the paths we should follow. Or, at least, this is God’s intent. And dad’s and mom’s authority should be Jesus Christ, whose authority is God, the Father. When everything lines up from God (the Father) to us (the children), then the family lines up and thrives. So we show respect to dad and mom by being obedient to them because of their obedience to God.
NOW, the ‘shalt nots’!
Exodus 20: 3 The 1st commandment “You shall have no other Gods before Me”.
Do we say “Duh!” here? God created all that is (Gen. 1:1-31), even us (man). As Creator, all things are then subject to God who knows all things (Matt. 24:35-36). And as Creator, He deserves all respect and obedience for what He has done and how He’s done it. Right?
Exodus 20:4-6 The 2nd commandment “You shall not make any graven images or likeness of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath nor that which is in the water or under the earth”.
Also, pretty much self-explanatory. We don’t bow ourselves down to any man-made image or serve them. For the Lord, your God, is a jealous God and visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. When we worship (adore) something else, we are saying we don’t respect you, God or maybe even we hate Him. Yet, He has mercy on those who love Him and keep His commandments. Until the book of Revelation (13:14-15), idols can neither see nor, hear, walk nor talk (Psalm 115:4-7). What good can they really do for us? They just sit or stand with a blank stare in their eyes, not even seeing what is right in front of them?
Exodus 20:7 The 3rd commandment “Don’t take the name the Lord, your God, in vain”.
In vain? Lie about His name, use His name and not giving Him the respect due and realizing that when we invoke (call upon) His name, His intent is to accomplish what is said. He created all things by speaking it into existence so His word does not come back void (Isa. 55:11, Heb. 4:12). We should not use His name in vain, or should I say ‘flippantly’, that is just an expression. When we ask God’s damnation over something, what do we really mean? At best one ‘hell of a time’ here on this earth or at worst eternal damnation in the lake of fire (Rev. 29:12-15). Is that what we truly want for anyone or anything? Do I need to go into detail?
Exodus 20:13 6th commandment “Thou Shalt not kill”.
Don’t kill? Slay. Cause to cease to exist (that is live), make deader ‘n’ a doornail! Yet Jesus carries this one step farther. He who hates his brother is a murderer and no murderer has life abiding him (1 John 3:15). When we truly hate someone, we withhold the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ from them, thereby potentially condemning that soul to eternal death. Jesus says to ‘love’ our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:39) and that means to provide what is best for them and to help them draw closer to God. Amen?
Exodus 20:14 7th commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery”.
In the natural, adultery is having a physical relationship with someone other than one’s spouse. In the spiritual, adultery is worshipping any other thing or god than the One who created all things – Yaweh, Jehova, our heavenly Father. This falls back to commandment ‘no other gods before Me’. But, worshipping other things or gods is doing just that. We bow down before an idol (or maybe even a person) and recite words. Here, Father is talking about seeking after and trying to develop a relationship with that false deity. A relationship where we put all our energies, our trust, our heart, into pursuing that false god, while attempting to maintain a relationship (of some sort) with our heavenly Father. A man can’t serve two gods at the same time. He’ll hold on to one but despise the other (Mat. 6:24). His heart cannot be with both at the same time.
Exodus 20:15 8th commandment “Thou shalt not steal”.
Needless to say that stealing is taking that which belongs to someone else without proper compensation. Satan attempts to steal our affections from Jesus. He comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10a) and encourages us to do the same. We keep our ‘paws’ off that which we don’t own. It just be might someone else’s livelihood.
Exod. 20:16 9th commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. We should not say something that is not true about another. Bluntly, we should never lie about another person. That is saying something untrue to get that other person into trouble, to make them look bad or just ‘gossiping’ untruths about another. In a court of law, this is called perjury.
Exodus 20:17 10th commandment “Thou shalt not covet”, your neighbor’s house, spouse or anything that is his. It is one thing to desire something like what another person has, but to desire what that person actually has, owns or possesses is a nono. Making it a little plainer, if a neighbor owns an expensive car. You like the car, his car and you desire to have his car, you are coveting his car. If you desire a car like the one he has – no problem.
Jesus says that if we love Him, we should keep His commandments (John 14:15). Israel was more concerned about ‘doing’ while neglecting the motivation behind the action. Their faith was predicated on what they did, not what they thought. Yet, as we read through the bible, we see where God was always been looking at our heart – even in the Old Testament (1 Sam 16:7, Luke 16:15). Enoch so pleased God that He took Him (Gen 5:21-24, Heb. 11:5-6). King Saul lost the kingdom because his heart was not with God (1 Sam. 13:14). God, then gave the kingdom to David because David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). David said I delight myself in your commandments, which I have loved (Psalm 119:47).
When we love God, we do our best to love Him and that means doing as He has told us. That is doing what He has said, but doing from our heart. What is the greatest commandment? Love the Lord God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30). That is we love our Lord with every ounce of who and what we are. Sold out to Father, through Jesus Christ, lock, stock and barrel. We endeavor to please Him in all that we say and do. To be a living example of His love in this world. Do I dare say that our lives should be a living testimony (witness) to God’s love?
As we give our hearts to the Lord, we discover that He will continually renew (Rom. 12:2) us so we can love Him even more!
Translated that means is that as we abide in His love, Father is continually growing us in that love. He is giving us new life!