Monday, February 23, 2009

The Ten Commandments (not The Ten Suggestions...)

From time to time I am compelled by an inexplicable urge to discuss my Faith. It is (usually) my center now.

I am going to try very hard not to preach, because after all I am not a preacher. I can only write what is real to me based upon my life-experience. After all, I am almost 60, which is quite young to many of my wiser friends.

I'm just a guy. I am grateful that God has given me a measure of understanding of Him. I did NOT figure it out by myself - my mind is not capable of that. He helped me every step of the way...through study of The Book and listening to sinners and saints alike.
I am not nor will I ever be better than anyone else - I'm just forgiven...

Based on His Word, I now believe the measure of a man (or woman, of course) is directly related to his or her obedience to God as laid down in His Law millenia ago. Obedience is really very easy, come to think of it. Just do as He says!

There was a time in my life when I did not pay much attention to my relationship with God. I ignored Him for the most part, except on Holidays, Funerals, Weddings, bad times, and after curious unexplained events that could only be described as Miracles.

I understand now that despite my rejections, He still loved me and wanted me to become one of His. He patiently waited for me to choose Him. I finally did on Easter Sunday 1993. My wife and children saw me being born-again, and I shall never forget that day. My wonderful wife Barbara prayed for me and also convinced a whole church full of believers to pray for me as well. This spiritual power cannot be ignored by Jesus, and it had a lot to do with my decision to become a Believer - and I love her more for that! As long as I have her, Heaven can wait!

Most everyone who has been paying a little attention to the Bible has heard of The Ten Commandments.

When I think of the Ten Commandments I think of the story of Moses. Then the images of Charleton Heston as Moses in the 1956 movie "The Ten Commandments" always pop into my mind. If you have never seen this movie you missed a good one.

I review the Ten Commandments from time to time just to remind myself that Yahweh is a very serious God who tolerates some things and does not tolerate others.

He is God and does what he wants - and He loves us and so has given us rules to obey. They are not optional. I cannot disobey because I know that God’s surveillance system is on me 24/7. He knows my thoughts and sees everything I am doing every moment of every day.

Here they are - no matter how many times you have read them, or even if you have never read them, here is an opportunity to read them.

Here is Moses (played by Charleton Heston) with the tablets on which God carved the Ten Commandments.

And God spoke all these words:

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."

"You shall have no other gods before me."
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

An “idol” is anything we regard as the center of our lives, as if we “worship” it: education, love of money, career, self-centeredness, greed, recreation, sports, physical fitness, partying, over-working - any activity that keeps you exclusively busy, interfering with your relationship with God. He wants us to focus on Him as the source and center of our lives...this is hard for me but I’m getting a little better every day.

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."
Don't swear. It's not Jesus' fault that you smashed your thumb with your hammer. His Name is holy and to be revered as sacred. We are talking about the Creator of the universe that surrounds you. Even that air that just left your lungs belongs to Him. Be very careful with your mouth.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
I like this because it ensures that I always have a day off for rest and worship every week, and there is nothing anybody can say to convince me otherwise. Yahweh knows our frail bodies need a day of rest every week. After all He designed and created them.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

God expects parents to be respected, loved, and acknowledged by their children in every way, no matter how old the parents or children become. God has given parents wisdom for many more years than their children. Children are not to ignore thier parents, or dismiss their ways. Sadly, I did, and it was a serious mistake. God is right. I now understand that learning, wisdom, intellect, and experience cannot cancel this, for this Commandment is from God. Our fathers and mothers will always love us unconditionally - unlike authors, experts, teachers, politicians, or friends...

"You shall not murder."

Almost everyone I know can say that they have never murdered anyone. Murder ends the precious life of a person created by God, and that act is the ultimate insult to God.
I suspect that it goes deeper. 
The Creator, as taught by Jesus Christ Himself, is very likely pleased when we engage in the very opposite of murder. This is when we exhibit dignity, respect, and agape love to every person we encounter, because they are God's created beings. 
Agape love, if you are not familiar, is completely selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the "love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as brotherly love, affection, good will, love, and benevolence.
Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit).
If I am selfishly benign in my relationships and neither love or hate, I am lukewarm to God, and thus a stranger to Him...I have murdered myself!

"You shall not commit adultery."

Even thinking about adultery is committing it in God's eyes, according to the Bible. Once unfaithful to a spouse, I understand the adulterer lives a tortured life of regret and self-loathing that can never be relieved...

"You shall not steal."

Not even a paper clip at work, mis-counted change at the check-out counter, or that false number on a tax return. Don't steal another man's thunder, or his time, or his dignity, or any thought, thing, or emotion. When you cause sadness, you steal joy. But when you cause joy you diminish Satan's power...

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."
Don’t lie. God knows. Lies display complete indignation and disrespect upon the those being lied to. 'White lies' are lies we tell to protect a person's feelings and that's OK, right? Wrong!
Does God care about that person's feelings, or the growth opportunities offered to them by learning the truth? 'White lies' promote weakness and deceit.
Bottom line: Lies at all levels of "society" have caused more sadness, depression, hate, violence, death and destruction in this world than any other activity.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

To covet is to be selfish.
It is wanting something that does not nor ever will belong to you.This is the prime driver among the affluent in our world. A very significant number of the affluent are very distant from or do not even know Jesus. Thus, there is a self-inflicted deficiency in their lives to always try to gain what they want, including wealth, power and influence over others who have what they want for themselves.
They constantly long for the things that other people have, believing that is the solution to the void in their heart. They are sure that this is how their happiness will be fulfilled. Even our founding fathers mentioned the "pursuit of happiness" as a life-goal in a very revered document, but perhaps they were a little off the mark..?
If you find yourself in this dark place, drop to your knees and let God help you out of this mindset. It is self-destructive and an open window for Satan's arrows.

[Exodus 20:1-17]

This is the scene where God parts the Red Sea for Moses...

That's all I have to say about that.

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