CAN I RECOVER FROM THE FAILURE IN MY LIFE?

MARK14:69-72: “When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.” NLT

OBSERVATION: Have you ever failed God? I am not talking about disobeying one of the commandments, or even having a lapse of faith. I am speaking of a major event in your life when you failed your heart’s most precious commitment to the Lord. This is the type of failure that Peter was facing as the rooster crowed the second time.

When Jesus told his disciples about His coming arrest, and their impending desertion, Peter made a bold proclamation and promise to the Lord.

  • “…Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.” Mark 14:27-31 NLT

Peter meant what he was saying. He had committed his life to Jesus, left his fishing boats, and followed Him with all his heart and soul. When Jesus walked on the water, it was Peter who took a step of faith and walked on the water toward Jesus (this took courage!). Peter had taken a sword to the garden. He was prepared to defend and even to die for Jesus. Even if everyone else ran away, Peter promised the Lord that he would not.

Yet, we know how the story ended. Peter would soon face a major failure. He would be confronted with his weakness and inability to fulfill his promise to Jesus. Peter not only awkwardly failed to protect Jesus with a sword, he also ran from the garden when Jesus was arrested. Then Peter kept his distance from Jesus while He was being tried by the Jewish Council. And finally, when he was put on the spot about being one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter denied it, three times. Peter even denied it under the threat of a curse!

Jesus had prepared Peter for his failure by warning him beforehand. However, like Peter, none of us wants to believe that we could fall so hard. That is, until it happens – until we hear the second rooster crow.

I will never forget the day I heard “my” second rooster crow.

I was 35 years old and pastoring a growing church. I felt that the future ahead was filled with bright promise. In fact, I felt that I had a plan for the rest of my life and ministry. However, in my zeal, I was blinded to my own weaknesses. In all of my zeal to serve the Lord, I was neglecting my wife and my marriage. Over 5 years of working so hard to serve the church, I lost touch with my wife. And then it happened. Our marriage was in crisis. I was faced with a decision. It was the ministry or my marriage. I resigned as pastor, and began the long journey of rebuilding my life, repenting of my neglect, and trusting the Lord to rebuild the love and trust my wife and I once shared.

This was no easy task. And in the midst of it all I felt that I had failed God to such a degree that I was discarded. Rest assured, there were some who helped to foster this feeling. However, most of my struggle came from within. I had made such bold statements, such heartfelt commitments, and had shared these with others. And then…the second rooster crowed. Wounded, feeling like a failure, like Peter – I broke down and wept.

How could the Lord used such a broken vessel?

For over 14 years my wife and I rebuilt our lives. We continued to serve the Lord. I would get to speak every so often, or teach a class. My goal was no longer the “ministry”, but it was my relationship with the Lord, and with my wife. During this time, after 18 years of marriage, we had our very first child. It was as if the Lord was speaking to us through this wonderful life. Our daughter, who was an answer to my wife’s prayer, was God’s proclamation that He had not forgotten us. It was the tangible confirmation that His love was restoring us, and that His purposes would be fulfilled in us. Like Peter at the seashore, after Christ’s resurrection, I too heard Jesus say;

  • “…Simon son of John (Kirk) , do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter (I) replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John (Kirk), do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter (I) said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John (Kirk), do you love me?” Peter (I) was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He (I) said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17 NLT

After 14 years in the wilderness, learning to trust the Lord, and learning to love my wife and family like Christ loved the church, the Lord gave me an opportunity to “…feed His sheep.” He allowed me 15 wonderful years as the founding pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford. We started out as a rag tagged group of Peters, all who had felt that we disappointed the Lord beyond repair. And yet, one by one, God restored us. He built a wonderful church family, He restored gifts and ministries, He opened doors of outreach and missions, and He saved marriages, families, and lives. He spoke to each one of us – “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep!” We became a church, a family, restored by His love!

There is no failure, no disappointment, no sin that is outside the reach of the grace and mercy of God. The enemy would keep us hearing the second rooster crowing – over, and over, and over again. Yet, if we listen carefully we will hear the sound of the voice of Jesus. He is calling us to be restored in His love. He is healing the wounded heart, restoring the broken in spirit, and giving fresh vision for our hearts and lives. We have a choice to make. It is simply this. Which voice will I listen to? Will I continue to rehearse the memories of my failures, or will I run to Jesus to be healed?

  • “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:12-15a NLT

Lord, today I choose to run to you. Today I choose to enter into the throne room boldly through the blood of Jesus Christ. Today I choose to receive grace and mercy, and to be healed. Today I choose to be restored in Your love!

In Jesus Name!

P.S. Today is my wife Karen’s birthday. She is the love of my life for over 42 years. She is the mother of the most wonderful gift I have ever received, my daughter Hannah. She is now my partner in life and ministry. She is my inspiration, my best friend, and the kindest and most gracious person I know. Happy Birthday Karen. Thank you for hanging in there with me all these years and for believing in me. I am so blessed to do life with you!

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THE CURE FOR PROCRASTINATION!

MARK 13;32-37: “Now concerning that day or hour no one knows — neither the angels in heaven nor the Son — but only the Father. “Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming. “It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his servants, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming — whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. Otherwise, when he comes suddenly he might find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I living my life with expectancy? Is the blessed hope of Jesus Christ’s return impacting the way I live and the decisions I make each day?

As a believer in Jesus Christ I have been given eternal life. The wonderful promise in John 3:16 proclaims,

  • “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 CSB

This eternal life does not begin when I die. It began the day I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Yet, even though I have the hope of eternal life, my days on this earth are still numbered. And just like the return of Jesus Christ, I do not know what this number is. Therefore, there are two important things I should be looking to with expectancy. The first is my union with Jesus Christ in heaven, and the second is His physical return to earth.

The reality is – both of them could take place at any moment. In the twinkling of an eye I could be in the Lord’s presence. So how does this affect the way I am living my life today?

Living with expectancy affects my rest. My personal homecoming, just like the return of Jesus Christ, is in the Father’s hands. He has numbered my days just like He has numbered the hairs on my head. I cannot add a minute to these days by worrying. However, I can redeem each moment of this life for His glory by living to please Him. I should be living with the expectation that Jesus’ call to me might happen at any moment. My hearts desire should be to be found living for His glory when this time comes.

Tim McGraw recorded a country hit that was titled – “Live like you were dying.” It was about a man who, faced with a serious illness, began to confront the possibility that his life might be coming to an end. This revelation caused him to assess his future, and it changed his actions. The chorus shared these sentiments.

He said

“I went skydiving

I went Rocky Mountain climbing

I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu

And I loved deeper

And I spoke sweeter

And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”

And he said

“Someday I hope you get the chance

To live like you were dying”

Now, I am not recommending riding a bull name Fumanchu! However, the song does capture a great truth. We should not live like we have all the time in the world to do what we now is right. We should live each day like Jesus is coming at any moment, and we should do the things He has called us to do – TODAY!

Expectation is the cure for procrastination!

Lord, help me to live with great expectation. Help me to be alert, and to be obedient to Your calling in my life. Whatever You are calling me to do today, grant me the grace to do it now. Help me hold Your words closely to my heart.

  • “And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!”

In Jesus Name!

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THE BIBLE…AND THE WALL?

LEVITICUS 19:33-34: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You will regard the alien who resides with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Does the Bible have anything to say about immigration? Today in our nation this is one of the most debated topics in the news. Is it immoral to build a wall? Should we simply allow caravans of people to stream over our border without any due process? Does the Bible support open or closed borders?

It is easy to cherry pick Scripture to support both views. The verses above could be used to support open borders. It seems to suggest that we should simply welcome all people into our land, remembering that we too were once aliens from a foreign land. After all, isn’t this the loving and Christian thing to do?

There is a foundational principle in the interpretation of Scripture. If we abide by it we will avoid all sorts of false turns and misguided understanding. This principle is context. When we pull one or two verses from a complete chapter and book of the Bible, we can make it say anything we want it to say. However, when we look at the verse or verses in context the true meaning comes into focus.

The context of these verses in the book of Leviticus is the holiness code for the nation of Israel. If you read the entire chapter you will see it deals with some pretty edgy topics of human behavior and sexuality, as well as social and religious norms. It is in the context of these words that we need to understand the two verses we are observing.

  • “The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:1-2 CSB

In this chapter the nation of Israel is warned against the practices of the nations around them. They are called to live pure lives, follow God’s commandments, honor their parents, observe the Sabbath, and remember the poor. It is in this context that the verses about aliens or foreigners is given. It is not a call for open borders, but for borders that allow the foreigner, who wants to observe God’s law, to live among them, and to be treated equally.

God warned Israel against associating with those who did not respect God’s law, and who would endeavor to erode their culture. When Jerusalem was built and rebuilt, it was surrounded by walls to keep those who dishonored the Lord and His commandments out of the city. Yet, the doors were always open to welcome those who professed their faith in Yahweh, and who desired to openly assimilate into the Jewish culture.

This principle supports the very platform of legal immigration. Legal immigration has been the hallmark of our nation. Our nation was built by legal immigrants who left their homeland to make America their new home. They did not come to create small enclaves of their former nations. They came to be Americans, to learn and support the culture and laws of America. They were not asked to forget their heritage. However, they were asked to give their first allegiance to their new nation.

Illegal immigration runs counter to these values. It runs counter to common sense. While voices cry foul when ever immigration laws are supported, or a wall is suggested, they lock their doors at night, turn on their alarms, and call the police at the first sign of danger. They would not allow someone into their home who would not respect the culture and values of their families. And yet, they want to allow thousands and thousands to stream over our border without due process, or without knowing their real intent.

My great grandfather came to America from Germany in the 1800’s. He came legally. He came with hopes and dreams to find opportunity in this new land. And all of his 12 sons and daughters, including my grandfather, and my father, although German, were first and foremost Americans. My father served in World War II defending our freedoms. It was the freedom to live in safety, to cherish our liberty, and to explore all the opportunities this wonderful country had to offer.

We build walls around our homes to protect us. We build walls on the freeways to mitigate sound and protect homes that could be endangered because of an accident. We build walls around our theme parks, baseball stadiums, even our White House. We lock our doors, turn on our alarms, and take every precaution to be safe. It is not because we hate people. It is because we understand that not everyone has our best interests at heart. Laws and walls are not evil, they are common sense expressions of love.

I believe the Bible supports walls and legal immigration. Nehemiah wept over Jerusalem because her walls were torn down. And when he led the tattered nation of Israel’s exiles, now returned to their homeland, to rebuild the wall, he was met with great hostility. The wall was not built to keep people out, it was built to protect the people that were within. Each day the gates were opened, and those who were coming in peace and to benefit Israel, were welcomed in. This is legal immigration.

I hold no anger toward those who do not agree with this assessment. However, I would warn them. If you are going to use Scripture to support your view of open borders, please check the context. As a student of Scripture all my life, I know of nowhere in the Bible that supports the type of open border policy that is being purported today.

However, I am also aware that those who support legal immigration and a wall must not wall up their hearts. They must heed God’s call to welcome the foreigner who truly wants to be a productive part of society. One who is willing to get in line, observe the rule of law, and assimilate into the culture they are entering.

There can be great errors on both sides. Lord, give us open and compassionate hearts as we debate this issue. Help us to have eyes to see and ears to hear.

In Jesus Name!

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STAY IN THE BOAT!

MARK 4:41: “And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” CSB

OBSERVATION: Why does God permit the storms of life? I have often pondered this question when reading this account in the Gospels. Here is the full account.

  • “On that day, when evening had come, he told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” So they left the crowd and took him along since he was in the boat. And other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” Mark 4:35-41 CSB

So let’s break it down. Jesus was in the boat with His disciples. The disciples began to battle a great windstorm with the possibility of the boat capsizing and sinking. Where was Jesus? He was asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat. While the disciples began to panic, they awoke Jesus. Their first impression was that He didn’t care!

  • “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?”

We love the rest of the story. Jesus stood up, rebuked the wind, and spoke to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” He then rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. Yet, the question still remains. If Jesus could simply rebuke the wind and the waves, why did He allow the storm in the first place?

This is where everyone lines up with their favorite answers. Now, everyone of these answer can be true, but they are not necessarily true for every storm we face in life. Here are some of the common answers.

We live in a fallen world.

To deal with our sin.

To test our faith.

To build up our faith.

To teach us patience.

To purify our lives.

To bring us closer to God.

While all of these may be true, or are certainly the fruit of enduring the storms of life, they may not necessarily be the reason God allows these storms. May I suggest a reason that no one likes to talk about?

WE DON’T KNOW!

That’s right. Many times we face storms in life, and we don’t know the reason God is allowing them to crash against our boat. It doesn’t make sense. Why? Because we can only see the storm. We do not see the pathway that our boat is taking, nor the destination that the Lord is leading us to. During these times it may feel that we are totally alone. We may feel like the disciples and wonder – “Who then is this?” We know that God can still all the storms of life, but why has he left me in the boat?

In these times this is what I need to remember. Jesus is always with me! He never left the boat His disciples were in, and He will never leave me.

  • “…for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 CSB

He also is able to still the storms of life with a single word. Jesus has been given all power and authority from the Father. He stands always before the Father interceding for us, and He stands always ready as our High Priest to bring us grace and help in time of need. I may not understand the storm, but I need to acknowledge the One who can always say – “Peace, be still.”

As the boat, which is my life, is tossed and turned at times by the tempest of life, I have but one thing to do.

STAY IN THE BOAT!

Jesus is with me. I am safe and will arrive to His destination for my life if I simply – STAY IN THE BOAT! This is a simple principle, but also a powerful life changing one. When I am discouraged, I do not stop praying, reading my Bible, or going to church. I STAY IN THE BOAT. Throughout the storms in my past, and through the storms of my future, He will always be with me.

Lord, forgive me for the times I demand to know why I am facing the storm I find myself in. Forgive me for the times I have given others pat answers that simply ring hollow during their time of duress. Help me to stay in the boat with You, and encourage others to do the same. Help me always to look to You, and to help others see You for who You are. You are the one who always leads us safely through the storms of life and always brings us to Your destination and place of rest.

  • “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” Psalms 23:4-6 CSB

In Jesus Name!

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AM I READY FOR GOD’S CHANGE IN MY LIFE?

MARK 2:21-22: “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new patch pulls away from the old cloth, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins. No, new wine is put into fresh wineskins.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I ready for the new wine of the Spirit in my life? Do I welcome or fear change? This is a very relevant question for me, as once again my wife and I are in a totally new environment as we adjust to a major move from Texas to Florida.

We left a very blessed and comfortable life in Texas. We had a great church family, wonderful neighbors, and our family living closer than they had ever been. There was nothing about our life that we did not love. The only thing missing in our life was that our daughter lived in Florida, and was planning to make her life there permanently.

Yet, we did not move just to be closer to our daughter. I had just purchased a 5 year customized license plate in Texas. If you knew me, you would know that I would never have made that investment if I was not intending to stay. Yet, over the year before we moved, the Lord began to pour new wine into our wine skin. He was calling us to change. How would we respond?

When we were packing up to move my sister graciously took several boxes of our family’s old photos that had been sitting in my garage for the past 10 years. They were filled with photos that went back as far as the early days of my grandfather and grandmother. As she has shared these photos periodically through texts, it has made me think of the times I grew up, and the examples that I had in my grandparents.

We called my grandmother Nanny. She was a remarkable lady. Nanny was alway ready for a political debate, and she always had something nice to say about everyone. There was one thing else that was unique about Nanny. Nanny was hip! What I mean was she stayed current. She was not afraid to change. She always dressed with the times, and always stayed current on music and trends. When she was 86 years old she referred to the lady of 90 who lived next door as the “elderly woman.”

I know that simply dressing current and keeping up with trends does not make one a change maker. However, it does speak to the attitude of the heart. When the Lord began to work in my life, at first my parents did not know what to make of it, but Nanny did. We would talk and she would listen with her whole heart. Nanny always welcomed the changes in my life.

As I think about the changes my wife and I are experiencing, as we sense the Lord pouring new wine into our lives, and as we are uncertain about what lies ahead, I want to be like Nanny. I don’t want to be an old wine skin that bristles against the changes that are coming my way. I want to be open to the Lord. I want to joyfully and obediently walk through the doors He is opening. I want the latter years of our life to be renewed with the fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God!

Lord, thank you for the heritage You have given me in my family. Thank you for helping me to remember the wonderful openness that my grandmother always showed to me. Her acceptance and encouragement. Help me to have the same position and heart toward You. Help me to trust you each and every day as You pour the new wine of Your Spirit into my life.

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

EXODUS 34:5-7: “The Lord came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed His name Yahweh. Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:

Yahweh — Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What is God like? Is He loving, benevolent, compassionate, gracious, and merciful? Or, is He a judge who hate sins and stands ready to punish those who transgress His laws? Your concept of God will determine both your worship and your obedience.

One common mistake that is made when trying to understand God’s nature is to only pick the parts of His nature that appeal to us. You can see this in the way many pastors approach their messages. There are some who love to preach hell fire and brimstone. Then, there are those who only focus on the love of God. Who is right?

As I have studied Scripture over the years I have felt the tension between so many truths. The Bible tells us that in Christ we are saints. Yet, I am fully aware that I am still a sinner. The Bible also tells me that I am fully pardoned from my sin. Yet, it calls me to confess my sins to the Lord so that I might be forgiven. I am seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. And yet, my feet are firmly planted on the ground. Tension between Biblical truths is a common thread in the Bible.

When I grew up my mother used to hang our sheets on a clothes line. She liked the way they smelled when they dried in the air. Most people today have never even seen a clothes line. It was simply two metal poles with a t-bar, and two strings hung between them in tension. Without the tension your clothes would drag into the ground, or fall altogether in the dirt. Without the tension of Biblical truth our theology will do the same.

It is important to understand that Moses was not recording what he thought about God. He was recording what God proclaimed about Himself. If we want to understand who God is, we must accept His full revelation, even when it causes us tension. Let’s look at it again.

  • “The Lord came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed His name Yahweh. Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: Yahweh — Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.”

Not only did the Lord reveal His nature to Moses, He revealed it through His revelatory name. Yahweh is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. This is where I want to camp. This is the place I would want to say “Amen” and let everyone go home. But this is not the full revelation of the nature of God.

God is also just. If He is fully loving, He must also be fully just. He cannot and will not leave the guilty unpunished. He will deal with wrong doing, both in our lives and in the lives of our children and grandchildren. When we dismiss the justice of God, and only focus on the mercy of God, we open ourselves to a false concept of God that will impact our worship and our obedience. How?

A focus only on the love and mercy of God will cause us to struggle with our faith when we are disciplined by God. Yet, Hebrews is very clear, whom the Lord loves He chastens. And a focus only on the justice of God will keep us from developing an intimate life of communion with the Lord. We will keep our distance, always fearing that His judgement is ready to come upon us. Both of these extremes are wrong.

Understanding God’s mercy, love, and compassion, leads us to a healthy understanding of our Heavenly Father. We joyfully and boldly come before His throne through the grace of Jesus Christ to find grace and mercy in our time of need. When we sin, we know that we have an advocate in Jesus Christ. We run to Him, confessing our sin, and we are forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness.

Understanding God’s justice and judgment gives us a reverence and fear of God, and a clear understanding of sin. Sin is not to be treated lightly. Sin destroys the work and purposes of God. Sin is the reason He gave His only begotten Son to redeem us. It cost Jesus His life! We must deal with sin in our life. When we are disciplined as children by the Lord, we rejoice. Why? Because we know that godly discipline leads to life and the fruit of righteousness. We do not fear God’s judgment, for we are fully pardoned through the blood of Jesus Christ. Yet, we welcome His discipline, for we know that it flows from the heart of His love.

Lord, forgive me for the times when I have swung to either extreme in my understanding of who Your are. Help me walk in the full assurance for Your love that is expressed in your mercy and compassion, and in your righteousness and justice. Help me see You as You have revealed Yourself.

In Jesus Name!

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THE WAR AGAINST THE 10 COMMANDMENTS…

EXODUS 31:18: “When he finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Why is there so much objection to the 10 Commandments today? When I grew up the 10 Commandments were seen as the basic moral guidelines for our culture. Yet, over the years a growing opposition has called for the removal of the 10 commandments from our schools and from the public square. What is behind this?

There has always been those who do not believe in God. Yet, as a child we proudly said the pledge of allegiance, including the phrase – “…one nation under God…”. As the Bible was taken out of schools, and prayer was seen as a breach of the separation of church and state, the battle against the 10 commandments was emboldened.

When you look at the following commandments, still in today’s culture, there is a general agreement of this common morality.

  • “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
  • Do not murder.
  • Do not commit adultery.
  • Do not steal.
  • Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  • Do not covet your neighbor’s house.
  • Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:12-17 CSB

Anyone with common sense would agree that these values are worth teaching in our schools and are needed in our culture. However, as schools have taken out the 10 Commandments, they have tried to replace them with a general teaching of virtues. Yet, trying to teach the virtues of the commandments above does not work. Why? Because it is the first three commandments that give strength to the latter 7.

  • “Do not have other gods besides me. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.
  • Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name.
  • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:”. Exodus 20:3-4, 7-8 CSB

The first three commandments are the reason the 10 Commandments are being rejected in our culture today. They are the backbone of the other 7. In fact, all 10 Commandments were written with the finger of God. They are not negotiable. They are – commandments! Our culture rejects the concept of a Sovereign God. They reject the the notion of a narrow way. It is not the moral code of the 10 Commandments that is being rejected in our culture today – it is the Author!

Without a Sovereign God they become merely suggestions. Yet, if there is a Creator, if God is Sovereign, if He alone is the one true God, then we must embrace all of His commands. These commands are the basic moral code for mankind. Without them we open the doors to a culture and civilization that not only rejects God, but one that dismisses common decency and morality. And in such a culture we find ourselves.

The first two commandments were followed by a stern warning.

  • “Do not bow in worship to them (idols, other gods), and do not serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ iniquity, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands.” Exodus 20:5-6 CSB

There are consequences when we dismiss God from the public square. We are seeing these consequences in our culture today. While people debate gun control when there is a mass shooting, there are not many who are calling out the elephant in the room. It is not the access to guns that has led to the increase of violence in our culture. Rather, it is the lack of access to the 10 Commandments. A nation that turns its back on God and His commands opens the door to every sort of evil.

Lord, forgive me for failing to honor You and Your commands. Forgive me for failing to understand the importance of the 10 Commandments. Help me to see them as Your call to live a life that is empowered by love. First, a love and devotion to You as the one true God. And then, a love and devotion to others as I respect and honor them in my life. Your 10 Commandments show me love at work!

  • “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:36-40 CSB

In Jesus Name!

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