Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for August 2015 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Sabbath Rest

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."  

This week, we will finish what is called the 'first table' or the 'vertical table' of the Ten Commandmetns.  These commandments govern our relationship with God:

  • You shall have no other gods before me.
  • You shall not make for yourself an idol ... you shall not bow down to them or worship them.
  • You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
  • Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.

They point us towards God.  They show us that the goal of life is to be attuned to God.  There is a need for us to turn away from things that we seek that are apart from God.  They remind us that God cares about our words and even how we use our time.  

Sunday, we will be looking at the fourth commandment.  The beauty of this commandment is found in the realization that it was spoken to a people coming out of slavery.  The thought of taking a day off would have been foreign to the generations serving under Pharaoh.  

Inside this commandment, we must slow down long enough to hear God's whisper, "You are mine now and my graciousness is deeper than a one-time event- I want you to be reminded of my possession of you weekly."

It is my hope that you will join us Sunday as we celebrate that we are God's beautiful possessions, whom He purchased through His Son!

No Other

This week, we are moving to our second commandment, "You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea." (NLT)  This commandment is closely related to our first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me."

Our second commandment asks a simple question, "What is it that we place before God in our lives?"  

This question will be our guide for this Sunday.  We will look deeper into this question and ask the question, "If God and His grace are not at the center of your life, then what other things are your ultimate values?"

When we put something else before God, we are placing them as an ultimate value in our lives.  The Ten Commandments are a reminder that God is the only one who deserves that sacred place in our lives.

What is at the center of your life?

Pastor John

Nineteen Comes Before Twenty

“Nineteen comes before twenty.”

This is a quote from professor David Lose. It is a simple, yet profound introduction to the Ten Commandments. I know you are probably thinking, “I have no idea what it means.”

Let me explain. Exodus 20 is where the Ten Commandments are recorded in our Bibles. Many people read Exodus 20:2 as the introduction to the commandments, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

If there is a chapter twenty, then we can assume there is a chapter nineteen. After all, nineteen comes before twenty. What happens in chapter 19?

The people have left Egypt and arrive the wilderness of Sinai. They stop and set up camp before the mountain. Moses goes up the mountain and God says:

“Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

There is where the ‘profound’ part comes. Lose writes, “The point is that the relationship God establishes with the chosen people comes first -- it is literally primary. The law, with its ethical demands on our behavior, comes second -- it is literally secondary.”

You see, keeping the law does not earn you salvation. God’s relationship with us is first and our salvation comes through God and Him only.

One last point from this passage that we cannot overlook. Many times, we look at the commandments as restrictive on our lives. Look at God’s language in this passage: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.”

God is telling the people (and us), “Remember how I brought you out of slavery and defeated your captors- I did this to set you free to soar in relation with Me.”

Old Testament theologian Rolf Jacobson writes, “These commandments are not meant to limit our freedom by telling us what things we are not free to do (although these laws do precisely that). These commandments are what lives freed in Christ look like. In order to love God’s law, we must always remember that through Christ’s death and resurrection we have been freed from the power of sin. And now that we are free, the law shows us what that free life looks like.”

It sounds a lot like Paul’s declaration in Galatians 5:13, “ For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

May we find freedom in our Lord.

Pastor John

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