Waynedale United Methodist Church
Monday, March 30, 2020
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!

Aug 23, 2015 Sermon

“God’s Top Ten”
Exodus 20:1 – 17
Ted Jansen  August 23, 2015  Waynedale UMC
1.)        As we explore the Ten commandments let us remember what Jesus said when He was asked what the most important commandment was.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself.”   (Mark 12:30, 31)  Let’s look at what God says about our relationships with each other. 
2.)                “Honor your father and your mother.”  (Exodus 20:12)
We may not have brothers, sisters, children, or spouses, but we all have parents.   From this primary and foundational relationship we learn our relational skills.  God desires us to learn the importance of honoring our father and mother.  We focus our appreciation on them. 
To honor means that we have a sense of respect, awe, affirmation, and value for our parents.  We lift up a value in them that is honorable and express or believe that.  (As a parent the reverse is also true in that we must live lives with honor in the values we seek to be known by.)   
What happens when we have or had had parents that were without honor?  That is the reality for some.  I encourage you to look and find at least one thing that you can honor.      
Imagine a big diamond that is of great value, like the Hope diamond in the Smithsonian, and when you see the diamond you say, “Wow!”  It fills you with awe because of the great value. 
Look at your father and mother that way.  See in them great value for your life no matter what their age.  It will help you honor them.
            We honor our parents by telling them, by showing them, by offering affection, by doing things for them, by giving them gifts of appreciation, by being with them.  Let them know what you have learned from them. 
3.)        You shall not murder.”  (Exodus 20:13)
 Murder is the final action in the de-valuing process of a person.  It is the taking of a life that begins with a pre-planned thought ahead of time.  I believe that whenever there has been a thought to take life and follow through with it is murder.  I understand this as I connect the Old Testament teaching with Jesus’ teaching.   
Jesus teaches this truth in Matthew 5:21 – 26.  “Anyone who says, ‘You Fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”  (Mathew 5:22)  When you devalue a person, you have made them less than what God has intended them to be.  When that happens, according to Jesus, you are in danger of judgment and of hell (separation of God).
Where do we experience the de-valuing of people in thought, conversation and or action?  What about the jokes that are told about people?  Do they de-value people or lift them up?  What about some of the shows that killing is common place?  Yet, what do we do with the Old Testament and the killings and battles there?  I don’t understand how all of that works with God commanding the Israelites to kill people.  It is vital to value people. 
4.)        When I think of someone that saw great value in all people I think of Mother Teresa.  She gave honor, respect, appreciation, affirmation and attention to all people and those who literally only had a few hours left of life.  When she saw the street people she cleaned them, kissed them and blessed them.  She saw all of God’s people as worthy of honor, from the child growing in the womb, to the beggar, to the heads of state she met.  Her lasting legacy is that she saw value in us.    
5.)        “You shall not commit adultery.”  (Exodus 20:14)  Those words are simple and straightforward.  Adultery in the Old Testament was the sexual relationship between two people who had broken the promise of faithfulness in marriage to their spouses.  Adultery was wrong in the eyes of God. 
Jesus spoke about adultery when He said, “You have heard it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Matthew 5:27, 28)
Jesus expands this teaching from the commandments and applies them to our thoughts, and attitudes.  Jesus wants us to know that it not just our actions, which seems to be the focus of the Ten Commandments, but our thoughts.  Jesus tells us that the first act of lust, the thought of adultery, is as sinful as the action.    This teaching was explained by Jesus one day.    
6.)        Jesus was in the temple courts when some religious people came up to Jesus bringing a woman to Him that had been caught committing adultery.  (I always wonder why they didn’t bring the man as well.)  They wanted to stone her, which was what the Old Testament Law said they could do.  They asked Jesus what He was going to do.  It was clear that she was guilty of adultery; that she had been sexually involved in a relationship of unfaithfulness.  Jesus looked down started writing something down on the ground and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  (John 8:7)  Then He went to the ground and was writing in it. 
            The older teachers of the Law and Pharisees began to walk away from Jesus and the woman.  Perhaps they had experienced lustful thinking in their lives as Jesus had taught about.  Though they had not committed the final act of adultery as this woman had they had an adulterous attitude of lust.  They all left that woman alone, except Jesus.  He had mercy on her and did not stone her but told her to go and sin no more.       
7.)        Keith Drury, from Indiana Wesleyan, has written a book “Money, Sex and Spiritual Power.”  In the fifth chapter of his book entitled, “Anatomy of Adultery,” he interviewed men and women involved in church who had committed adultery.  He listened to their stories and outlined 15 steps which led them on the path of unfaithfulness.  I want you to consider these steps and think about the relationships you have.  These are listed in a progression of unfaithfulness.    
“Sharing common interests, Mentally comparing with my mate, Meeting emotional needs, Looking forward to being together, Tinges of dishonesty, Flirting and teasing, Talking about personal matters, Minor yet arousing touch, squeeze, or hug, Special notes or gifts, Inventing excuses to call or meet, Arranging secret meetings, Deceit and cover ups, Kissing and embracing, Petting and high indiscretion, Sexual intercourse.”
The first step to the fifteenth one is a big one, but when you walk in each step, perhaps even innocently with another person that is not your spouse, you can move from attitude to action. 
8.)        “You shall not steal.”  (Exodus 20:15)
When you steal something you are taking something that is not yours and possessing it.  One thing we fear today in our information age is identity theft, meaning all of our electronic information.  This may be more important than the “things” we own that can be stolen. 
If you have ever had something stolen from you you know how unsettling it feels to you.  You look at people differently. 
            Stealing comes from the evil intentions of desiring something in illegal or unethical ways.  You are not “content” with your possessions and are not willing to work or follow the right process for attaining something.  You have an attitude of discontent and this leads you to the action of stealing, somehow blurring your thought process. 
            When you steal from others it is a devaluing of them and taking something from them and their spirit.  It can be stealing from a store, or an employer in your work habits. 
9.)        “You shall not give false testimony.  (Exodus 20:16) 
We are people who are called to convey the truth at all times.  Conveying truth about a person speaks of what you can know about them.  When you convey lies, give false testimony, about a person there is a desire to de-value them or dishonor them.  This is not what God desires.  It is better to not say anything about a person than to lie about them.
Jesus said, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ ‘No.”  (Mathew 5:37)  Say what you know; no more and nothing less.  When we lie we are creating a false image of a person. 
10.)      “You shall not covet.”  (Exodus 20:17)         
            Coveting comes from a heart that is not content.  Being content means that we don’t exert our life’s energy for the outward possessions or expressions in life.  To covet something means in a spiritual sense that your life is not OK unless you have what someone else has.  This can take your energy for God and dry it up for useless pursuits. 
Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”  (Mark 8:36)
We are to be content in who we are and what we have in spiritual sense.  We need to be joyfully generous in our sharing of our things. 
11.)      God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the people to show them how life works best.  God gave them out of love.  The commandments show us that God is Holy.  We see through these commandments that God is the LawGiver. 
It was clear to understand the law and which side of the Law you stood on.  You either kept the law or you didn’t.  Some people had a false sense of righteousness based on the Law.  They felt good because they kept the law.  That is what happened to many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  They felt good about the ‘right’ things and believed that they were righteous and holy.  This allowed them, they believed, to be Lawgivers to those around them.  They gave the law and judged people.   
12.)      Jesus expanded the commandments in his teaching and seemingly made it impossible to keep the law.  He made comments about thinking about someone as a fool in your heart,  thinking about someone with lust in your heart, having an attitude of desiring something more than you have, etc.  He linked attitude and action together.  
            Imagine you are a high jumper and the height is set at a distance that you have jumped before.  You say to yourself, “I can jump that height!”  Then someone comes and triples the height.  You say to yourself, “No one can jump that!” 
That is what it must have felt like in Jesus’ day for the people.  No one can keep all the commandments the way Jesus describes. 
This creates an image of ourselves as Lawbreakers.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We might have a sense of hopelessness because we deserve judgment.  We fall short of the standards.  We keep some of the commandments and laws but we fail to keep them all.     
13.)      Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 – 18. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” 
            Jesus Christ reminds us that the Law is still in effect, He did not cancel it, but in His life he fulfilled all that the law required.  The law required judgment and penalties for lawbreakers.  Jesus took that penalty upon His body, mind, heart and soul.  It cost him His life to fulfill the law.  Yet, Jesus did it willingly, out of love, for you.
            We see in Jesus Christ the Lawfulfiller.  We give thanks to God because our response is not of hopelessness but one of delight and abundant joy.  When we have faith in Him we receive the gift of His life.  We have love, Christ’s love, in our heart and not the law, when it comes to our relationship with God. 
14.)      Is your relationship with God based on DO or DONE?  DO is the idea that I have to do things in order to please God.  I have to act a certain way, I have to do certain things.  I have to live a good life, I have to avoid some habits.  If I do these things then God will let me into heaven.  God will be pleased and I will gain the favor of God.  Is this your concept of God and faith?  This is what the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments was focused on, the do of life.    
            DONE is the idea that God has restored my relationship with Him by sending Jesus Christ into the world.  Jesus died on a cross for my sins and was raised to life on the third day.  This allows me to have life, according to John 3:16, not because of what I do, but because of what God has done.  The Gospel is Good News because of what was done and not because of what I have todo. 
                This is great news.  The Ten Commandments show the importance of the DO but in Christ we realize that it is DONE.  
            I pray that we hold on to the Ten Commandments and to our Faith in Jesus Christ.  Our culture would be better if we knew the commandments, if we lived by them, and communicated the love of Christ.