Matthew 1 1-17

I, along with probably most of you who are reading this probably am less than excited when I start reading anything concerning genealogy in the Bible, but it does have a purpose. Just as we are often identified to others by whose children we are and more than likely eventually by whose parents we are genealogy was important and still is important. The following genealogy, as listed in the book of Matthew highlights three important people; Jesus, David, and Abraham. As Christian’s we are heirs of the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ. Our actual genealogy is less important for salvation’s sake because if we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior then we are in fact sons and daughters of God, but for the Jewish people the genealogy of Abraham and David are very important because being their ancestor meant that your life was bestowed with a certain promise or blessing. Before we look at what those blessings and promises were let’s first take a look at today’s Scripture.

(Matthew 1:1-17, ESV)

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

In the beginning of the genealogy we are given three people of importance starting with most recent, Jesus who is the son of David and of Abraham. Being a son of Abraham was of utmost importance, especially to the Jewish people. God had blessed Abraham with a son, Isaac, when he was a hundred years old, just as He had promised. When Isaac was older God tested Abraham’s faithfulness when He instructed Him to sacrifice his only son. God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Abraham remained faithful and did just as God had instructed him to do and when Abraham got to the mountain Abraham and Isaac gathered the wood and Abraham built the altar in the place in which he was instructed. Then in faith Abraham bound Isaac, laid him on the altar on top of the wood and just as he was about to kill his only son God called out to him and provided for him a ram that was caught by his horns in a thicket (Gen. 22:1-13).

Abraham was faithful in following God and because of this God told Abraham, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (Gen. 22:17-18).

God bestowed a special blessing upon Abraham and an everlasting covenant with him and his descendants. With this blessing and covenant Abraham became who many call the Father of the Jews. It was upon his bloodline that God had promised to multiply the earth and to bless the nations. For the Jewish people it was extremely important for them to be able to trace their ancestry back to Abraham, it showed that they were children of God.

Being a child of God is a little bit different for most of us today, because through Jesus Christ we have direct access to God. Through Jesus we have become the branch that has been grafted into the tree.

Romans 11:17-24

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree!

Being a child of God through Abraham was very important for the Jewish people and still is; however, Jesus came so that whoever would believe in Him would have eternal life (Rom. 6:23). It is through acceptance of and faith in Jesus that we are saved and without which we are lost. For just as those who were naturally God’s children, the Israelites, were able to be cut off and the unnatural were able to be grafted in, the Gentiles, we all have a choice to make. We all have a choice whether to believe in Jesus Christ, to hold firm in our faith, and to follow Him or we can choose the path that leads to death.

Being a descendant of David was important as well because of what God had told David when He said, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16). Likewise in Isaiah the birth of Jesus and the recognition of the David covenant is reaffirmed. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing an upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Is. 9:6-7).

Being a descendant of David and the promise of David’s throne enduring forever meant that the family of David would be blessed and taken care of. This was something that every descendant of David was looking forward to and in the book of Luke the angel, Gabriel, went to Nazareth to see Mary, a virgin, to tell her that she would give birth to a son even though she had never been with a man. The birth that Gabriel was about to tell her about was the promised birth of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Gabriel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Lk. 1:30-33).

Genealogy might not be high on our list of things that we look at today, but it is important because the Bible is very clear in saying that we are either Children of God or we are Children of Satan. Isn’t it great to know that our salvation is not reliant upon being a part of a family line, that all we have to do is to believe in Jesus and follow Him and as a result we will have life. God fulfilled His promise to both Abraham and David when He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. We are royalty and part of a great genealogy because we have chosen to follow Jesus and the Good News is that we can bring others with us. God desires each and every one of us to follow Him and to abide in Him. He wants to take care of us and bless us, but it has to be our decision.

Living life for God means that we must make that decision to follow Him and trust in Him every day and when we do we will be filled evermore with His Holy Spirit. When we abide in Him we begin to see transformation in our lives and restoration of our past. The things that we did in the past are removed and we are made pure white. It is our choice to follow or not to follow and we will reap the consequences of our decision. If we choose life we will see our lives changing and being made new, but if we chose not to follow we will see our life begin to fade away. What will you chose? Who will you follow? God’s free gift is waiting for you and for your neighbors. All you have to do is say yes and follow Him and He will do the rest. Through acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we have been grafted into the vine that gives eternal life and we have entered into the family line of Abraham and David.

A World of Tribulation

By Nicolas Raymond
By Nicolas Raymond
“…in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). There is so much trouble in the world today and it makes my heart grieve. It used to make me angry, and it still does a little, but it grieves me in my soul and it makes me wonder why. Why are there troubles in this world? Why do terrorism, and racism, and classism, and sexism, and all of the other isms’ exist? The only answer that I have is HATE! Even writing this right now I am grieved at the amount of hate and destruction that there is in the world. Where is all of the love at in the world?

1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this love, not that we have loved God but the he loves us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

So again I ask…where is all of the love at in the world? If there are supposedly more Christians now than there ever were than where is the love? I have experience hate and anger. I have experienced the desire to kill after being attacked by the enemy in war. I know the power that hate can have and it eats away at us inside. I remember longing to “get back” at the enemy for what he had done. I remember feeling like nothing else mattered other than staying in Iraq and being in battle so that I could play my part in winning the war against terror.

That was then, when I did not know God. That was when I was so filled with anger and hate that I was blind to God’s love. That was when I felt justified to feel the way I did. That was then…

But this is now. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn. 4:16). In the beginning was a quote from Jesus that stated “…in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). If God is love and Jesus is God, and Jesus has overcome the world, then where is all of the love? Jesus died so that we could be reconciled in Him and be made a new creation. It is through Him that we are no longer slaves of the world but are ambassadors for His sake (2 Cor. 5:17-20). Does this mean that anger does not creep in from time to time, or fear, or hate even? Of course not! Satan wants us to turn from God and to help him advance his own kingdom and he is sneaky. He attacks us in ways that make us feel justified in our actions or in the way we feel. When things hit close to home they take on a different meaning, but “God is love, and whoever abide in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 Jn. 4:16)”.

So where are you at today? Are you choosing to follow God or to follow Satan? Is it time to consecrate yourself so that God can do a work in you? Have you thought about praying and fasting in response to the troubles that you see and endure? What will it take for you to find the love beneath the hate, or anger, or fear? “Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:17-18).

The good news is that we all have a choice because through Jesus Christ we have been given a way to be made new and to be made one with God. We have a choice to turn to a God that loves us and cares enough for us to walk with us daily and guide us through life, if only we listen. The good news is that through the power of Jesus Christ the world and its ways have been overcome, but it requires calling on His name and His name only.

Father my heart grieves for the world. There is so much hate and violence that at times it seems insurmountable, but I have confidence in you God that you know what you are doing. I have confidence in knowing that though I may struggle and will be persecuted that it is all for your glory. I praise you in all of your might and your wisdom. You have overcome the world, but instead of condemning all of us that did not yet know you you have given us time to come to know you and to share you with others. God, fill my heart with overflowing love so that all fear and all hatred is completely removed from me. Give me the courage to take a stand against Satan and the evil that surrounds him and share your love with the world. I want more of you God! Guide me in my path to righteousness so that I may be humbled and made weak as to exalt you in all of your glory. Humble me so that people see only you in me and nothing of myself. Thank you Daddy for being there and gently guiding me along the path leading home to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

If this was helpful or encouraging to you please feel free to share it with others. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to make a comment. We all have a purpose and can be used to help others draw closer to God. God bless you in your journey to knowing Him deeper than before and accepting yourself with all of the qualities that God desires for you to have.

Brotherly Love

Most Christians know that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8) and “love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Pt. 4:8) but do we know that as Christians we are to “bear with one another in brotherly love” (Eph. 4:2) and further more do we know what that means? I have to say that I fail miserably at this sometimes, as we all do, but when we do it correctly it has the unifying effect on the body that God desires (Eph. 4:3). It has the ability to create strength within the whole body and to create growth in love (Eph. 4:15-16).

So what exactly does it mean to bear with one another in brotherly love? Some would argue that it means simply to stand by one another and give them encouragement and help when they are struggling, but it goes so much further than that.
Colossians 3:12-17 says,

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Paul listed attributes of one who bears with another in brotherly love as someone who is compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, forgiving, and thankful. He also stated that the “message of Christ” should be living inside of us and around us as we teach and admonish one another with wisdom. We are to “teach and admonish” one another bearing with one another in brotherly love. Paul’s message to the church denotes relationship within the body. It requires commitment to one another and to love one another as we would love ourselves. There are many who say that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sins, which I whole heartedly agree, but it is the duty of the Christian brother and sister to walk with their fellow Christian teaching and admonishing them along the way while expecting the same thing in return.

Teaching and admonishing is a difficult pill to swallow for many of us today because we lack true relationship with people. In the United States we are busy people and we are self-centered. Our focus is on ourselves and our families the majority of the time and it is causing great damage within the church. Most of us do not have enough relationship with others or a deep enough relationship with others to care so greatly for them that we would have the courage to teach and admonish as is necessary. For the most of us we present ourselves to be perfect and hide the dark parts of our lives so that no one will know our struggles and will never truly know us.

If you don’ t believe me take a moment and try to think about how many times abiding in Christ, Christ’s love, your personal sin, your prayers, etc. were talked about with others this past week. Is there someone in your life who knows these things that would help correct your path if you started to veer off and would you listen? Would you be willing to do the same thing for them in order to save them from allowing Satan into their lives? How many times have you sought the Bible for wisdom and direction this week? How many times have you called a fellow Christian to encourage them or to help them work through something they are going through?

Certainly in our society there seems to be a place for everyone’s opinion with social media, but does the message of love really come across when we make posts out of frustration or discouragement? What about hatred? I know that some of you are thinking that it is your duty to let people know that they are sinning against God and I would agree to some extent, but probably not in the way that you are thinking. If you are in a place of frustration, discouragement, fear, hate, or anything other than love then you are wrong first and foremost and nothing that you say or do will bring unity within the body of Christ nor will you draw people to Christ who do not know Him.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to delete posts that I have written because of these things. Sometimes when I look at the world I become so consumed with all of the evil that I cannot help but to feel this way and I want to let the world know, but the reality is that as Christians we are strangers in a foreign land (1 Pet. 2:11). “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me [Jesus] before it hated you. ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you’” (Jn. 15:18-19).

The end times are coming, just as they were foretold, and in the end there will be wars and rumors of wars and Christians “will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and will be hated by all nations because of me [Jesus]. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Mt. 24:9-14).

I point out these things not to scare you, but to help you realize that when we look upon the world and see war, and persecution, and rampant sin we know that things are progressing the way that they have been foretold to progress by Jesus. Notice though that He said that many will grow cold in their love and they will turn away from their faith, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

It is not our job to “fix” the world. It is our job to abide in Jesus, to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to trust God. This means that we must know the Word of God and hold fast to it, we must use it to teach others and rebuke others when necessary. This all is to be done in brotherly love. It should also be noted that we cannot hold non-Christians to the same standard, because unfortunately they have chosen to abide in Satan rather than God. Our duty to the world is to show them love and that to follow Christ means actually living a different life. We have an obligation to share the Gospel message of hope to the entire world as we live our lives according to the Word. We must unite as a body of believers in all that we do. We must encourage each other to stay on the straight path and help each other get back to it when they turn way. We must encourage always and strive to live in a way that is holy and pleasing to God.

God sent His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us while we were still sinners. Jesus paid the ultimate price for you and me thousands of years before we were even born. Through the intervention of loving Christians and the prompting of the Holy Spirit we have come to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and because of this we share in the honor of presenting the Gospel to a lost and broken world. We cannot force people to accept God, we cannot manipulate them into believing what we believe, we cannot guilt them into saving their own lives by given them up. All that we can do is be there and love on them and share the truth out of love and respect for Jesus who died so that we could do even greater things than He did. We are to be a light in a dark world (Mt. 5:14-16).

May God richly bless your life and the lives of those you encounter. May He guide you and direct your path in a way that you seek Him in all that you do and in all that you say.

My Hero Saved my Life

child-164318_640I had the pleasure of meeting a woman today who was on her way to be with her son and her granddaughter. Her son has been in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant and has been searching for 3 ½ years for a suitable donor. Recently his daughter, who just turned eighteen, decided that she would be the one to donate the bone marrow that he needed to save his life. She is sacrificing her body and will endure pain so that her father can have a fighting chance.

When someone saves someone else’s life we consider them a hero. This young lady will be considered a hero to her father and many others around them. It is people who perform selfless actions that protect or save others from harm that receive such honor of being called a hero. They put their own health and safety at risk for other people, but they don’t do this for the praise of men, rather they do it out a place of selflessness within themselves. They do it because they are more concerned about others than themselves.

When I was thinking about this today it struck me that we have all had someone who endured pain and suffering to save our lives, to give us a fighting chance at life. Jesus gave up his life on the cross so that we could have life. He endured mockery, beatings, insults, and even death on a cross so that we could have life.

Jesus is the ultimate hero. He gave everything that he had so that you and I could have life eternal, and all that He asks in return is that we confess with our mouth that He is Lord and believe in our hearts that He was raised from the dead by God (Rom. 10:9). When we do this we are promised life. We are promised to be saved from the impending death and judgement that awaits all people. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24).

Jesus gave his life for you and he gave his life for me. I have accepted him as my Lord and Savior, have you? If you have not I invite you to simply ask for Him to come into your heart and to lead your life. You are precious in God’s eyes and He wants to embrace you in his arms and protect you. All you have to do is say yes, He’s always listening and He’s always waiting.

God bless you all!

Are the Ten Commandments Still Pertinent? (Part 1)

Photo by George Bannister
Photo by George Bannister
Is God’s Word alive and well today? Is it a driving factor in society? In church? Or has it become a thing of the past only to be used to manipulate or to support a position when it is beneficial? Does our government recognize the one true God? Does the church recognize the one true God? Do we as individual Christians recognize God? John 10:27-30 says this, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

This passage starts out with Jesus saying “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” This sounds simple enough right? All we need to do is hear His voice and to follow Him, but is this what we are doing? Below is the passage from Exodus 20 when Moses descended from the mountain after God gave him the Ten Commandments. I have labeled each commandment to make them easier to pick out.

Exodus 20:1-21, (NIV)
And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
1.) “You shall have no other gods before me.
2.) “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3.) “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4.) “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5.) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6.) “You shall not murder.
7.) “You shall not commit adultery.
8.) “You shall not steal.
9.) “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10.) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

The_Ten_Commandments_(Bible_Card)God started out by reminding the Israelite’s all that he had already done for them and how he had provided for them. Then came the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (v.3). Basically speaking there is to be nothing in our life to receive the worship that is due to God alone. You might be thinking that God is in the right place in your life and that this first commandment is easy, but let’s look at it a little deeper. Some of the greatest gods of this day are technology and stuff such as phones, tablets, computers, music, cars, houses, jobs, friends, social media, etc… You see these things alone are not bad, in fact they can all be good, but what happens when you know you should or you want to read the word, but instead you check your Facebook status, hop on the computer to do a little shopping or maybe just to browse around? What happens when your desire for stuff outweighs your desire for God to have his rightful place in your life? Maybe you spend a little extra time at work so that you can get that promotion or that overtime so that you can buy something else. Maybe you simply work hard so that you can receive praise from others and lift yourself up. Or maybe you are just saying that I love God while there are more important things in your life, things that you want. Can you ask God to bless that?

God is the creator of the universe and the maker of man. He breathed life into us and He is worthy of all our praise and adoration. There is nothing that is more important than God. If you desire something, with the right attitude and heart, then ask God and it will be given. But, without the right heart it shall not. God just finished reminding the Israelite’s that he brought them out of the oppression of the rule of Pharaoh, made passage for them to escape his massive army, led them through the dessert all the while giving them the food and water that they needed to survive, and still God tells them that they should have no other god. How much has God done for you today, this month, this year? How have you honored him?

God is active and alive in our lives whether we recognize it or not. When I look back on my life I know that I have not given God the praise and honor that he deserves and looking forward I can only pray that I will become more aware of His power and glory so that I will turn to Him first and to him alone in all circumstances. “You shall have no other gods before me” (v. 3) is as easy of a commandment to follow as I initially thought. It takes great reflection upon motivations and upon the heart. What is God revealing to you when you seek Him in the quiet places?

The second commandment is this, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (v. 4-5). At first glance this may seem the same as the first, but really it is more about only worshiping the one true God, that even to worship an image of him is unacceptable as God is not found in any object on this earth, perhaps the closest thing would be man but we are definitely not God. God can be found everywhere if we simply look for him. We do not need to create idols to worship because He has made himself known to us through the embodiment of Jesus Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When I look back on my life to a time when I walked away from church I can tangibly recognize God leading me through situations. He didn’t leave me, I left Him, but He also brought me back to him. He was always there, even if my perspective at the time could not recognize Him. The only thing I needed to do was to look and see how he had been protecting me; how he had been guiding me out of certain situations and in others.

Do I have regrets for the time that I turned my back on God…YES and no. I pray that it never happens again, but through walking in the darkness God showed me just how much light is in Him. He showed me what love really looks like. It was God who gave my life purpose and meaning. It was God who gave me life and a hope for the future. God gave me it all because He knows what I need and He made himself known through multiple different facets in my life. He was not any of these things but he used them to reveal himself. God showed me his power and his love for me when he sold both of my houses within 24 hours when I had nothing left. Do I worship the house or the people who bought my house? No, God is not those things, but He worked the situation to reveal more of himself to me. We can find God in many things, but he is not those things, he is only using them to reveal himself to us. All of our worship and praise must go to him, not some image of him. God is not an image. He has made himself available to all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and is all around us when we seek Him. So praise God in all that you do and wherever you are because He sees you and hears you in all that you say and do.

The third commandment is, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” I don’t misuse the Lord’s name you say, but is this really true? When is the last time that you said OMG, or oh my God or goodness or gosh? When is the last time that you said gosh dang it or golly or any other statement of the likes? Certainly some of these phrases don’t even say God, but what is your intention in saying them? My intention is not to limit your vocabulary by any manipulation, but we all need to think long and hard about what we really mean when we are saying these things. I think it is clear in some instances that God’s name is being misused; well actually I think it is clear in all situations, but I will leave that up to you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:27-28). If God looks at sin this severely then how far away from sinning do you need to stay in order to not be in sin in God’s eyes? We have a way of justifying ourselves and convincing ourselves that our actions are appropriate, but God does not falter. His Word is fully true and is unchanging and our truth must be looked at next to His truth because Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (Jn. 14:6). Scripture says that God will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name (Ex. 20:7). How much of a chance are you willing to take?

The fourth commandment is this, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Ex. 20:8). This commandment is quite possibly one of the most broken commandments that we have been given. When is the last time that you observed the Sabbath day? Even God rested on the seventh day and reflected on all that was good. Most of us live in a society where we are always on the go. We are always busy doing something. We are told that we have to work hard to achieve great things, to be a success. We are told that we will be happy if we do certain things or if we have enough wealth, but these are all lies. True happiness cannot be found outside of God; “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). Knowing God is the key to love and to fully know God we must follow His guidance because He knows what we need.

God doesn’t tell us to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it Holy to hold us back or to keep us from happiness. He tells us this because He is a good father and he knows exactly what we need. When we were children we longed for the attention of our parents. We would go to great lengths to get their attention and keep it. When they would pay attention to us it would let us know how much we were loved and cared for. It let us know that they were there for us. I submit to you that it also blessed them and that God deserves and expects the same thing. Our Father is working hard for us and deserves our devotion to Him. He knows that we need a time to rest, a time to not worry about what must be done; a time to focus on Him and all that is His. It is also a time where we are blessed by reflecting on His great love for us.

The Sabbath day is to be kept holy and pure. As we lean in further to understand what this means I believe that our observance of the Sabbath will be made increasingly beneficial. I know that I do not take enough time to focus on God and all that He has done and is. I know that I often take for granted my need for him and think that I can do things on my own, but I also know that I cannot. Keeping the Sabbath gives us time to reflect and to give God all the honor and praise that is due to him. It is a time of rejuvenation for us. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:28). God does not give us a yoke that is hard to bear, instead He gives us rest when we follow Him and learn from Him. Starting to observe the Sabbath can be difficult so simply start by setting aside some time and I know that you will be encouraged to observe the Sabbath fully.

Jesus when asked what the greatest commandment is said this quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” The first four of the Ten Commandments is summed up in this statement. The first four commandments are all about giving the proper honor and glory to God. They are packed full of substance and require much of us, but remember that “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Lk. 12:48). How much have you been given? How much have you been entrusted with? Let us give God all of the glory that He deserves in word and in deed. Let us follow His commandments with a willing and joyful heart. Let us show God how much we love Him and how thankful we are to be loved by Him.

Stay tuned for part two of “Are the Ten Commandments Still Pertinent” where the last six commandments will be discussed and explained. Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect upon this writing. Let’s pray and ask God to bless this message and to put it in the proper place in our hearts and minds.

Father, we thank you for all that you have done for us. We have been so blessed and we know that even when things are difficult that you are always near. Increase our faith and our devotion to you God as we step out and trust you more. Let your Word dwell in our hearts and stir us. Guide us with your Holy Spirit into every place and situation that you want us in. Lord we do seek your protection from Satan and the lies that he places in our lives. Help us to recognize the attacks of the enemy as they arise against us. Help us to trust you in these moments and to lean upon you for understanding in what to do and how to respond. Bless us Lord as we learn more about you and give you more of the honor that you deserve. Use us Lord however you see fit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.