Monday, March 27, 2023

            In Exodus 20, God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses.  The moral law of God is captured in these commandments.  The first four concern our relationship with the Lord.  The last six concern and govern our relationships with other people.  Exodus 20:1 says, “And God spoke all these words.”  Moses made it clear that it was God who was speaking.  We remember that God spoke the creation into existence.  And God spoke His Law or moral standards into existence as well.  Scripture made it clear that the commandments did not come from Moses or by majority vote of the newly freed Israelites.  God declared the commandments.  And because God declared them, they were and are good and right.  We are reminded that when God has spoken, we are to pay attention.  When God has declared His expectations for how we are to live, we are to pay attention.  God’s ways are designed to protect us from sin and the terrible consequences of sin.  God’s standards are not burdensome or onerous.  Indeed, they are the only way to enjoy freedom, life and fulfillment.  The enemy is the one who oppresses us and imprisons us.  The freedom that Satan offers is nothing less than slavery in disguise.  God’s ways bring freedom.  God’s Word and ways always set us free and lead us to abundant life.
            In Exodus 20:2, the Bible says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  God made it clear to Moses and the people of Israel that He was the reason for their freedom and release.  No one else had set the people free from captivity.  Israel did not win release by overwhelming power on the battlefield or by cunning negotiation and diplomacy.  God acted in history to set the people free and to fulfill the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Reading these words in Exodus reminds us of the promises that God has kept for us.  Perhaps you have experienced His promise of forgiveness, peace, contentment and strength.  Maybe you have experienced His healing power.  Maybe He has set you free from the awful shame or guilt that kept you enslaved and humiliated.
            Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  God does not share His glory, majesty or throne.  No one is to take a higher or greater place in our lives than the Lord Himself.  There is only one God—revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He reigns without equal or comparison.  The word “before” can occasionally be translated as “besides.”  We are to have no gods besides the Lord God.  We can easily find ourselves giving great attention and devotion to lesser gods—the habits, hobbies, noise and tugs that can easily lead us away from the Lord and to devotion to something lesser than Him.  We may not be quite so brazen or cavalier as to build an idol from stone, wood or gold and worship it.  But we can easily allow something (or anything) to capture our thoughts, wishes, ambitions and motivations.  We can trade our lives for very common things that are not worthy of such dedication and devotion. 
            This first commandment calls us to surrender ourselves to the Lord—wholly, completely and willingly.  A friend of mine shared a devotion recently where he challenged those of us who listened not to be committed to the Lord but surrendered to Him.  He further noted there is a difference between commitment and surrender.  A commitment can easily shift, shape and shuffle into something less than devotion and dedication.  Some commitments hold on only as long as there is not something better to do or if something different has not surfaced.  But surrender is to live for nothing less than the Lord while putting away any desire to pursue or chase after other things.  We may have to ask ourselves if we are surrendered to the Lord or committed?  May we surrender to Him—each day and every day!  There is nothing greater or grander than the Lord and knowing and walking with Him.  Have a great Monday.  And remember you can access our Sunday worship at    

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