September 19, 2017- The I AM God- Exodus 20:1-6, Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-5

in the beginning

I AM, the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject Me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:1-6 (NRSV)

The Ten Commandments are about healthy relationships and safe boundaries. The purpose of the Law is to maintain harmony and order and keep our lives productive and safe.  It is God’s will for us to have a right relationship with Him and with those in the world around us.  The first three Commandments have to do with our relationship and our boundaries with God.  The final seven have to do with our relationships and boundaries with others- rules for harmonious society.

Genesis 1:1 introduces us to not only our journey in Scripture, but to the Source of everything: In the beginning, God. John 1:1-5 expands upon that beginning, letting us know that Jesus is the Eternal Life and Light and Hope.

In the First Commandment as in Genesis 1:1, and in the introduction to the Gospel of John, we are reminded Who God is. This revelation about the being and nature of God is important for us to bear in mind.  He is not a material object.  He is not someone or something we can dismiss or ignore.  We may choose not to believe in God, but God is real and active as He has been and will be throughout all of time. He is the One from Whom all creation springs forth.

Because God is God, He commands certain respect and exclusivities from us.

Idolatry is not confined to golden calves or various venerated man-made icons. We can worship at the altar of money, or status, or attention, or pleasure.  We can set up mortal people as idols, especially ourselves.

There are some that claim that the ultimate idolatry- the sin of the Garden if you will- is the condition of pride. Instead of surrendering the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “thy will be done,” in our own weakness and arrogance we insist that, “my will be done.”  It’s the rebellion of man that is old as time, and that we struggle with daily as long as we have breath and walk this earth.  Pride is the sin of Eve believing the serpent when he tempts her with, “If you eat of it… you will be like God.” (Genesis 3:4-5)  We all know how that one turned out.

For our own good, God set a boundary around worship. In the First Commandment, He says to us, “Worship Me only, because I made you, I am your Creator, and I have only good for you in My heart.”  When we worship God and put Him first, our lives reflect His sovereignty.  The Law shows us the way to run toward Jesus and the Gospel- so that His light and love in the Holy Spirit are free to flow in and through us.

February 12, 2017- Choose Life, Deuteronomy 30:19-20

enjoy-life

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19 (NRSV)

Choose life.  Exactly how can we do that?  God determines when we are born, when we die, and He has the hairs on our heads numbered.  God has it all covered, and nothing gets past Him.

Theologians and sages and teachers have pondered on the question of free will for centuries.  If God is indeed omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) and exists beyond His creation (He is in, through and with His creation, but is not created and is beyond creation,) then why should we concern ourselves at all with what we do?  If the events of the universe are all predetermined anyway, then why should we not just live as if anarchy is the law?  These are questions that can be argued (and have been for centuries,) and it is good to question authority, but in practical application, is anarchy- the absence of laws and standards- a viable answer to the question of how we should live?

If for no other reason, we should strive to live as God wants us to live, because He is God and we are not.

lord-purpose

Sometimes we have to go back to looking at God as our parent- to see God as Jesus addressed Him, as “Abba” or “Daddy.”  When we were five we didn’t question when Daddy said, “You need to eat your vegetables, ” or “Eight o’clock is bed time.”  We simply trusted that Daddy or Mommy knew what was in our best interest, and we did it.

In this passage from Deuteronomy- the final book of the Torah, or Jewish law, God is telling His people what things He wants them to do for their own good, so that they will live long and prosperous lives.  These are loving instructions from our “Daddy,” given to us for our own good.

god

Love God (and this is primary,) obey God (do what He tells us to to do, as best we can with the Holy Spirit’s help) and hold on to God (have faith that He provides for us and has good plans for us.)  These are God’s instructions for life as He intends for us.