(watch here: https://youtu.be/CeP781jo7-U)
3You shall have no other gods before me.
4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9For six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
This morning, we continue along with our series on the Ten Commandments. Last week we met with Moses as he was preparing to receive God’s commands. God had Moses remind the Israelites of how He brought them out of slavery and shown them great mercy and grace. It would be wise for them to heed his commands to ensure his good graces would continue, at least recognizably so. And God’s mighty grace and mercy wasn’t limited to the Israelites. God blesses you and me in equally amazing ways, whether we obey his commands or not. Our God is a loving God who wants nothing more than to shower us with his endless grace and mercy. Our sins keep us from receiving them. Our willful disobedience of his simple commands keep us from seeing just how much He loves us and blesses us! But we reflected on that last week as God was preparing Moses. This week we actually get into the first three commandments.
But before we dwell in them, I thought I’d lift up another list of 10 rules similar to last week’s rules pertaining to dogs. This time I want to lift up a list pertaining to dieting. Perhaps some of you have dieted before…perhaps some of you are currently dieting. It is a topic that becomes increasingly relevant the older I get but here’s a funny list of rules:
1. If no one sees you eat it, it has no calories.
2. If you drink a diet soda with candy, they cancel each other out.
3. When eating with someone else, calories don’t count if you both eat the same amount.
4. Foods used for medicinal purposes have no calories. This includes any chocolate used for energy, Sara Lee cheesecake (eaten whole), and Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
5. Movie-related foods are much lower in calories simply because they are a part of the entertainment experience and not part of one’s personal fuel. This includes (but is not limited to) Milk Duds, popcorn with butter, Junior Mints, Snickers, and Gummi Bears.
6. Cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breakage causes calorie leakage.
7. If you eat the food off someone else’s plate, it doesn’t count.
8. If you eat standing up the calories all go to your feet and get walked off.
9. Food eaten at Christmas parties has 0 calories, courtesy of Santa.
10. STRESSED is just DESSERTS spelled backward.
Again, another list with such profound wisdom…none of which is true…except the last one I suppose. Contrary to popular belief, lists of rules can be funny.
But God’s list of rules is far from funny; God’s list has actual wisdom and truth backing it up. And the first three rules, or commandments, are the most important of them all simply because they help structure our relationships with God. The other seven commandments help structure our relationships with each other which is, to some degree, important but not of the same caliber. Yes, our relationships with God are the most important. Why? Because they last through this life and the life to come. God is with us through all of eternity so we’d be wise to value our relationships with him. He will carry us through life in this world and the next world. It’s only right and fitting that his first and foremost command is for us to keep him as the one and only God of our lives. God doesn’t like competing for our attention. God wants our undivided attention at all times. As we hear in Deuteronomy, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (6:5) When He has our whole heart, our attention is undivided. Our focus is on loving him and him alone. We can’t have any other gods because we have no love left to give.
And there’s a reason why this is the first commandment. When we give him our whole heart, He opens our eyes and hearts in unimaginable ways. We see how He loves the world and our compelled to love it the way He does. Loving our neighbor becomes second nature once we see and love the way God sees and loves. The other commandments guiding our relationships with each other become moot when we love each other the way God loves us.
Of course, disrespecting his sacred name and not keeping his Sabbath ultimately keep us from loving him the way He wants to be loved. How can we love a God we fail to respect? We can’t! We must respect his sacredness and holiness if we are to give our hearts the way He wants us to. I loved hearing our children sing that song, “Our God is Powerful.” He is mighty and powerful indeed! He, above all else, deserves our undying respect. He freed the Israelites from an impossible situation! He no doubt frees us from impossible situations! Our God makes the impossible possible! We have no idea all the possibilities through our God! Our God created the universe and all that is in it. Our God is a creating God, creating anew all the time. There is no other god that can do all that our God can. We are fools to believe otherwise.
David sang, “With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.” (Ps. 119:10) David knew all his worries and struggles in this life were resolved through God. Let us have similar resolution. Let us acknowledge him as Lord of our lives and place our full and complete trust in him. We heard in our passage for this message that our God is a jealous God. He wants our whole hearts and anything that keeps us from giving him our whole hearts, well, He’s a little jealous of it. Let us give him our hearts lest we provoke a jealous anger. Our God is steadfast in his love for us and He deserves our utmost love. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.