Waynedale United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Aug 9, 2015 Sermon

“God’s Top Ten”
Exodus 20:1 – 17
Ted Jansen  August 9, 2015  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        When a teacher meets their students at the beginning of school one of the things that every teacher seeks to establish are rules and expectations.  What does the teacher expect of their students?  What type of environment will work best so that the students can learn and grow in knowledge?   When a clear expectation is shared and there is understanding as to how the classroom works students can thrive, grow and learn.  
The same is true with our relationship with God.  When we have a clear understanding of the expectation of God’s desire and design for our lives we will grow.  I want to focus on God’s Top Ten, the Ten Commandments, and how they apply to our lives.  We see from this scripture the rules and expectations.      
 
2.)        We need to understand how the Ten Commandments were communicated.  They came from God’s heart of love.  I want to focus on the Character of God before we look at the Commandments of God. 
            a.)        “And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”    (Exodus 20:1, 2)
            The Israelites were living in the desert no longer under the oppression of the Egyptians.  The journey that they had been on included various miracles and other experiences of deliverance.  They might have wondered how far God’s love and compassion would reach.   Was there a limit to God’s love? 
When the Israelites heard these words, I believe they knew that God’s love was real.  God delievered them.   God loved them.   
            The people of Israel knew God’s love.  God character was communicated before the commandments. 
God loves you.  It is vital to hold that truth in your heart before you hear a command from God.  When you are loved it makes it easier to listen and obey.      
 
3.)        Along the coast of the vast Atlantic Ocean there lived an old man.  Each day when the tide went out he would make his way along the beach for miles.  Another man who lived not far away would occasionally watch as he vanished into the distance and later notice that he had returned.  The neighbor also noticed that, as he walked, the old man would often stoop down to lift something from the sand and then toss it into the water. 
One day, when the old man went down to the beach this neighbor followed to satisfy his curiosity and, sure enough, as he watched, the old man bent down and gently lifted something from the sand and threw it into the ocean.  By the time the old man made his next stop the neighbor had come near enough to see that he was picking up a starfish which had been stranded by the retreating tide and would, of course, die of dehydration before the tide returned.  As the old man turned to return it to the ocean the neighbor called out with a degree of mockery in his voice, “Hey, old timer!  What are you doing?  This beach goes on for hundred of miles, and thousands of starfish get washed up every day!  Surely you don’t think that throwing a few back is going to matter.”
            The old man listened and paused for a moment, then held the starfish in his hand out toward the neighbor.  “It matters to this one.”  (“It Matters” by Jeff Ostrander,   Stories from the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray, page 35)
            It matters to this one.  God looks at you as if you are the most important person in the world.  You are and love from God comes to you each day. 
            You matter to God.  We need to know God’s love as we hear God’s Word from the Ten Commandments.
 
4.)        The Ten Commandments express how God desires relationships with Him and with others to be. 
There are four commandments that address our relationship to God and six commandments that address our relationship with others.  One way to illustrate that is by showing two lines, a vertical line representing our relationship with God, and a horizontal line representing our relationship with other people.  What do you see when you look at these two lines?  We see the cross.  The cross makes us think of Jesus Christ.    
Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)  Jesus spoke this in regards to the Law. 
            Let’s look at the first two commandments.   
    
5.)        “You shall have no other gods before me.”  (Ex 20:3)
            a.)        In a world that believes there are many gods we are to believe and live as if there is only one God.  The god of self, the god of pleasure, the god of convenience, the god of the good life, the god of wealth, the god of doing it all, the god of pride, the god of evil, the god of apathy, the god of pessimism, the god of the force, the god of the animals are just a beginning list of the many gods that some claim exist.  Some religions claim that there are literally hundreds and thousands of different gods.  We can be overwhelmed with this understanding of the many gods of the world.  How do you keep track of them?  How do you serve them?   
One day Jesus was speaking to a crowd and told them, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.”  (Matthew 6:24).  The fact that Jesus speaks this clarifies to us that we can only serve one God.  You only have one primary allegiance in your life.
The greatest threat to making God number one is the temptation we face each day and that is to make ourselves god, the god of self.  This was the sin that tempted Adam and Eve.  If they ate the forbidden fruit they would be like God.  (Genesis 3:5)  When they ate the fruit and realized that they were not God they felt ashamed.       
            b.)        What is your understanding of God?  Most of us have too small of an image of God.  God is greater and bigger than we can imagine.   
One way of looking at this commandment in relation to your life is checking your attitude about worship.  If you have no other gods before God worship becomes the top priority and focus.  When God is the “God” of my life worship gives your entire life meaning and order.  Worship is what we do in public and in private to give God worth.       
Let me ask a personal and probing question.  Why do you miss participating in a public worship service?  Why do you miss private times of devotions and prayer with God?  When you “skip” worship what is it that becomes more important than the worship of God?  What are the gods you are giving greater allegiance to when you choose to not worship God? 
This command tells us that God does not want to be relegated to the status of one of many gods in your life.  God wants your undivided attention and affection.
 
6.)        “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything.” (Exodus 20:4)
We are not to make any image that we call God because the image of God is unknown.  God cannot be defined, limited, controlled or made tangible.  God cannot be compartmentalized and segmented. 
We all want tangible proof that God is real and one way is to create an image of God.  We are not to create an image of God.  We can be thankful that we have glimpses of God through the pages of scripture and our life of faith.    
           
7.)        What do we do with commandments?  Do we refuse to do them?  Do we consider them?  Do we do them right away?  Do we do them hesitantly, reluctantly?  I don’t think any of us likes being told what to do.  We are used to having freedom to make our own choices.  
            Years ago I was riding with a Police officer and I asked him about his work.  He told me that he recently stopped a car because it was swerving.  The police officer pulled the car over and tested the man for alcohol.  He was legally intoxicated and the officer was driving him to spend the night in jail. 
This intoxicated man was arguing and being obnoxious to the officer.  The drunk man said that if he had not been caught it would have been all right.  He was getting home safe and was almost there.    
The police officer was holding this man accountable to the law and was being criticized and condemned for it.  The intoxicated man did not want the law to affect him. 
            When I am driving above the speed limit and I pass a parked police car with the radar pointed at me do I want the law to be upheld?  What do I want as it relates to my life and the law?  How do I deal with the commandments?    
              
8.)        In an Upper Room devotional, there was a story that Bonnie Grau wrote when her Aunt Caroline came to visit.  Her aunt opened the door to the family “junk room” and looked around.  Then during a walk Aunt Caroline suggested that she wanted to see the basement.  Well, Bonnie knew that it was messier than the junk room and laughingly told her it was off limits.  Caroline did not mention it when they got home.
Bonnie writes, “After my aunt had gone, I thought about her remarks and my relationship with God.  When God first became real to me, I opened the doors to the uncluttered areas of my life.  But then God began to open doors and ask what was going on in the hidden areas.  Finally, one day God’s searching Spirit approached my ‘basement,’ the biggest mess of my life, and I was forced with a decision.  Would I allow God to enter, or would I say that this area was off limits?  I knew I was at a crossroads, and I decided to let God enter.”   (The Upper Room, September 25, 1997)
 
9.)        God’s love and God’s commands will cause you to look at your life, like the rooms of your heart.  If you are honest there will be places that you would prefer that God not open.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will use the Ten Commandments to grow your faith and your relationship with Jesus Christ.