HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, June 27, 2021
Message on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTmGFHMMJeY
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Hearing from God – Obeying His Commandments” – Communion Sunday
Text – Micah 6:1-8; Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 6:1-8; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:37-40
When a parent asks their child, ‘Did you hear me?’ it involves more than just the act of being able to repeat what has been said, but entails comprehension and often some needed action. The same is true of the child of God. When God speaks to us, He isn’t looking for us to merely mimic back His words. His desire is that we will understand and obey.
We often look at God’s commands as rules—things we must and must not do. Today, I want to challenge that notion. Rather than looking at God’s Laws, and specifically the Ten Commandments, as a list of rules, we should view them as a gift, a means by which we can express our love for God.
As foreign as that may seem to us, is that not exactly what Jesus meant when He said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love others? In fact, He further explained that all of the Laws (there are more than ten) and words of the prophets are based on these two commandments. The undergirding principle of our faith is to be love and devotion. Unfortunately, we often turn our relationship with God into one of dutybound compliance, rather than loyalty that stems from our adoration.
God does not want to have a loveless relationship with anyone. It is only when love is our primary motivation that we will experience what it means to be a child of God, to experience the joy of the Lord, to know peace, confidence and contentment as Christ-followers. The same was true for the newly freed Israelites; so with God’s own hand, He wrote them a “How to Show God Love - Manual for Dummies”—the Ten Commandments.
EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE AND LOYALTY TO GOD
Exodus 20:1-11 – “Then God gave the people all these instructions:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
3 “You must not have any other god but me.
4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[b] who love me and obey my commands.
7 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”
In Egypt, the Israelites had known of a number of gods and many of the newly freed slaves would have adopted the practice of worshiping them. The Lord God was going to be taking them into new territory where they would learn of even more of these false gods. But He makes it clear to them, that no matter what gods others might serve, they were not to regard any but Him, the great “I AM,” as their God. And He also makes it clear that He is to be worshiped differently. He and His creation are not to be reduced to mere pieces of carved stone or wood, or even objects of silver and gold; their worship is to be directed to Him—He will not be reduced or contained in an object that can be stolen, misplaced or be treated like a ‘lucky rabbit’s foot.’
Most of us don’t have statues as idols, but idolatry is never far from the human heart. In our day and age, what types of things do we idolize? What competes with God for your affections? [money, spouse, children, reputation, possessions, education, ideologies]…the list could truly be endless.
The first two commandments are pretty straightforward, but what about the third? What does it mean that, ‘you must not misuse’ God’s name, or as the King James Version of the Bible reads, ‘you must take the Lord’s name in vain.’ How have you heard this explained? For those who have understood this to mean that you shouldn’t use God’s name as a curse word, I want to expand upon this.
Inclusion of God or Jesus’ name in the list of our bad word vocabulary definitely falls into the category of ‘misusing’ God’s name, but it only represents the tip of the iceberg. While it is often those who do not have a relationship with God that are quick to misuse God’s name in this way, religious people are guilty of a far more repugnant form of using God’s name in vain. Anytime that we dishonour God through our thoughts, words or actions, we are misusing His name because as His representatives, we have misrepresented Him. It’s part of the reason that the crimes against First Nations children in residential schools is so heinous. The abuse by itself was horrendous; the fact that it came at the hands of individuals who claimed to be doing the work of God, takes it to a whole new level.
Anytime we use God to give credence to our own agendas, we are guilty of breaking the third commandment, because we are using our relationship with God to simply get what we want or justify a means to an end. Rather than demonstrating the love that we have for Him, we make Him an accessory in our bad decisions and in our attempts to spiritually bully others. History is full of examples. The Crusades, which were little more than land grabs, were given the blessing of the Church. Galileo was first excommunicated and then died after years of house arrest because he disputed the Church’s understanding that the earth was the centre of the universe. When abolitionists called for an end to slavery, others pointed to texts of Scripture to shore up their support of slavery.
Sports teams pray for God’s help to win their games; movie actors thank God at award nights. Televangelists bring in millions of dollars and live in luxury; politicians tell Christians what they want to hear in order to win their vote. All can be guilty of misrepresenting God, feigning a relationship with Him only to gain an edge or approval. Whenever we are tempted to score a point in an argument that begins with, “God says…” we must be very careful that we aren’t misquoting Him for our own purposes.
We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, His representatives on earth. We need to take our lead from how He walked on this planet. Speaking truth, but loving unreservedly. Spending time with sinners and the self-righteous. Pointing everyone to the Father and not trying to build up His own reputation. When we follow His example, we will not be found guilty of misusing God’s name, but of bringing Him honour.
And then the fourth command, “Keep the Sabbath day holy.” How? Just by not working? Going to a church service? No. The Sabbath is God’s gift to us, not just another restriction placed on our lives to keep us compliant. Think of this commandment as our opportunity to spend time with God, much like a family might get together to hangout or like a couple might set aside regular time for date nights. God wants to spend time with us and He knew that without the Sabbath—a deliberate time set apart to spend with Him—He would be squeezed out by the business of life, just as can happen to our time spent with family and friends when we are not intentional.
To understand how important it is to set aside intentional time to spend with God, it might be helpful to think of God as waiting for us to slow down for an opportunity to truly connect. He is always with us, but too often we ignore His presence in our daily lives. He cherishes the time we take to spend with Him, talking to Him, reading His Word, hanging out with the other members of our heavenly family, even just sitting comfortably in silence with Him. Spending time with Him is an expression of our continued and tangible love and loyalty of our God and Father.
But that’s just the first four of the Ten Commandments. The next six focus on our relationships with people. They are not just a list of rules, but provide us with the means to express our love and respect of others, which is equally important to God.
EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE AND RESPECT TOWARDS OTHERS
Exodus 20:12-17 - “12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You must not murder.
14 “You must not commit adultery.
15 “You must not steal.
16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
How are each of these commandments to be expressions of love and respect toward others?
· Honour your parents—Parents are to be held in high esteem, respected and valued. The relationship we have with our parents is to be for a lifetime. As they met our needs in our growing up years, we are to take care of them as they age. God will honour those who honour their parents, throughout their lifetimes.
· Do not murder—We are to value human life—no matter the age or condition; human life is not to be seen as disposable. We are not to take life, but are to protect, nurture and sustain it. Rather than taking life, we should be looking for ways to improve the lives of the living.
· Do not commit adultery—Just as we cannot expect God to share our affections with multiple gods, we are to exercise fidelity in our relationships with people. God made us sexual beings, both for pleasure and procreation, but He also provided the boundaries for healthy sexual expression—one man and one woman committed for their lives to each another. When a couple unite physically, God views them no longer as two, but as ‘one flesh’ and expects them to be as faithful to one another as to Him. Adultery results in the breaking of that covenantal union.
· Do not steal—Respect other people by acknowledging that what is theirs belongs to them and no one has a right to simply take it. We are to be people who are willing to give and share, never taking what isn’t ours, either by force or covertly.
· Do not testify falsely—Do not lie about another for your own gain; lying about someone is in the same vein as murder. It involves destroying another’s life through the ruination of their reputation. Valuing life involves more than just sustaining a heartbeat.
· Do not covet—Bottom line, we are not to be envious of what another has. Jealousy does not produce love and respect, but rather tears apart. Our aim is to learn to be content with what God provides. Jesus drew a further comparison between coveting and lust. Even if you do not break the seventh commandment by committing the act of adultery, but you ‘want to,’ you break the tenth commandment that tells us not to covet ‘your neighbour’s wife.’ Not only the physical act, but the forbidden desire to do so demonstrates a lack of love and respect of others.
A CALL TO WHOLEHEARTED COMMITMENT
Deuteronomy 6:1-8 - “These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, 2 and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. 3 Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
The atrocities that happened in residential schools to children while in the care of the Church, remind us that it will never be enough simply to be able to parrot God’s commands. I dare say, that many of the perpetrators of these crimes could recite more Scripture than any of us. This only demonstrates the fact that the ability to recite the Words of God can never replace our call to embrace them wholeheartedly by living in obedience to them. Our love for God should cause us to commit fully to His expectations, including loving others. Love is the marked difference between adhering to a religion and being in a faithful relationship.
When Moses told the Israelites to repeat God’s commandments, to teach their children, to talk about them and to tie them on their hands and foreheads, he was not telling them that talk was enough; he was saying that to be truly committed to following God’s commandments, they must stay fresh, not forgotten, that they should be practiced often as part of daily life.
Moses’ affirmed the people’s need to ‘love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.’ It was the necessary motivation for obedience so that their adoration didn’t become obligatory adherence. Jesus further expanded on Moses’ words by including love for others in the greatest of commandments and declaring that we are to treat others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
Do we love God and others as we ought? Don’t be too quick to answer. Do you treat all others the way you want to be treated? All people? Children and the elderly. Your surly neighbour and the more pleasant ones. Those who love God and those who reject His existence. The CEO and the cashier ringing in your groceries. The well-kept and the ‘people of Walmart.’ Those like you and those from other races, religions, the LGBTQ community. If our answer is ‘no’ to any of the above, I wonder if we have truly comprehended what it means to love God either.
Deb’s Story - https://www.christianityexplored.org/Articles/469304/Home/CE_ORG/Real_Life_Stories/Transcripts/04_Debs_Story.aspx
References, Further Study & Encouragement
Residential Schools in Canada - https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/residential-schools
Christianity Explored: Real Life Stories - https://www.christianityexplored.org/Groups/276318/Home/CE_ORG/Real_Life_Stories/Real_Life_Stories.aspx
Sunday, July 4, 2021- “Short Term Memory – Golden Calf” (Exodus 24-32) – In-person and Online
Weekly lessons are now being made available on Youtube – “Pastor’s Study” - Go to our website: hopechapelcollingwood.ca and click on the Youtube icon or click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrF8GWFnLjTmRyXjYnq1Ytw
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!