What God Expects of Us
I would like to begin a series on the 10 Commandments – but let’s not start there. Let me give you a simple illustration – how do you tie a neck tie? My dad taught me how to tie a tie – he tied a Half Windsor knot and a Windsor Knot.
Place the tie around the back of your neck, with the ends hanging down across your chest. Adjust the tie so that the wide end is hanging about a foot longer than the thinner end – unless you have a big belly like me.
Wrap the wide end of the tie around the narrow end. The wide end of the tie should be back on the side where it started. Wrap it around the narrow end again, but instead of taking it all the way around, bring the wide end up through the back. – Half Windsor knot.
Hold the loop that is now in the front of the tie loose with your finger. Thread the wide end of the tie through the loop.
Then tighten the knot.
Practice makes perfection but you got to start with the instructions, first right? Wrong - you got to start with the tie and then you have to have the Instructor. No difference when it comes to understanding the 10 Commandments – you have to start with the Commander, the Creator of the Law, and then the Instructor – Jesus Christ.
I mention parts of the tie assuming that we have a tie. Many commentaries immediately begin with the commandments or the instructions just assuming the presence of the Lord. Just like tying a tie you can’t assume the tie – we can’t just assume God is there when we talk about His commands.
We are going to focus not only on the commands but also on the One who gave the Commands. But let’s first hear what the Instructor has to say.
WHAT DOES GOD WANT FROM US? (That is a question we all ought to be asking – whether we believe in God or not we need to ask that question)
WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT FROM US?
DO YOU KNOW WHAT GOD DESIRES? LOVE AND OBEDIENCE & OBEDIENCE AND LOVE.
Listen to God’s Word
Matthew 7:24 (NIV) "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 12:50 (NIV) For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
Proverbs 3:1-2 (NIV) My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.
John 14:23 (NIV) Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
1 John 2:17 (NIV) The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
I. Here is what Jesus says about what God wants form us, be obedient – Love God And Love Your Neighbors. Rather simple and to the point. And to make it even clearer Jesus was asked about which command was command was the most important. The greatest the most important command is not one of the 10 but we got to understand and follow these 2 Command so that we might be able to follow the other commands.
A. The rabbis counted up these commands in the Law – first 5 books of the Bible known as the Torah or the Pentateuch. The Scribes the Law Interpreters figured there were 611 commands.
1. 365 Negative commands and 246 positive ones. They must not have had much to do to know how many were negative and how many were positive commands. Then they interpreted all of those commands. I wonder what they would do with all the websites we have today that talk about ways to get something illegal done without being caught.
2. At one of the breakfasts Michael asked us if we could do the 10 Commandments in order – wow we didn’t do too well.
B. One day a man with a Doctorate in Religious studies asked Jesus – which one do you think is the most important one? Gee he didn’t ask Jesus how many commands were there and can you do them in order.
Mark 12:28-34 (NIV) 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." 32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
C. This what God wants from us – LOVE. It all comes down to love. That is what God cares about. And it is not just love for God that could somehow ignore people – God gave His Son to die on a cross because He loves us. The 2 most important commands go together.
1. When we love God and we love others – that’s what God desires of us.
D. The good news is that what God wants anyone can do. You don’t have to have a degree in theology – you can be a fisherman or a lumberjack. It makes no difference how much money we have, no matter what we look like, or what you have gone through we can love God and love others.
E. That is the good news – that all qualify to love God and to love others. But the bad news is we don’t do it.
II. We think we can get away with Loving God and Neighbors with Only a Portion of Ourselves. We love God with some of our heart and a little bit of our soul and a fraction of our mind and a portion of our strength.
A. The reality is we have these pockets of rebellion in our hearts where we resist God and do not surrender to Him in love. We love Him to some extent but we also keep him out certain areas of our life.
1. Could be your kids
2. Could be over money – now I’m meddling
3. Could be work
4. Could be in your relationships
B. Are there areas in your life that you just haven’t allowed God to have total access in? I know how hard it is to totally trust in God in every area of my life. How do we get to the point of fully loving God?
C. Why do we find it so hard to do what Jesus said about loving God with everything we have? Do we love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind and our whole strength? How do we get from let’s say 65% to 95%?
III. The answer to that question is not that complicated. It comes from the Power of Saying Yes to God. But what am I saying “yes” to? In order to know the answer to that question we have learn to listen to God.
A. That doesn’t come easy to us because most of us are busy with everyday life and are easily distracted and by the end of the day we are so exhausted we find it impossible to hear God. So we end up having nothing to say “yes” to.
B. If we slow down enough to really listen to God; one of the first things we are going to hear from God is, “I love you!”
1. We might second guess what we are hearing. That is what the preacher told me or maybe that is what Grandma was trying to tell me. It’s not God talking to me.
2. When God talks to us He talks to us in love. Even when He corrects us and He will correct us He does that in love.
C. We need to accept His love. O we can make all kinds of excuses why we think we haven’t heard God. But sometimes we ignore the message – like we hang up on God or ignore the call. How do we hear God?
2. Through reading and meditating on the Scripture
3. Through prayer
4. Look out the window or take a drive and enjoy God’s creation. When we were going to see Emily for Christmas; Mary Beth drove up and I drove back it’s amazing what you see while you’re sitting in the passenger seat (other than your eyelids). A bald eagle flew over our car. White tail and white head were amazing.
D. And especially we can listen to God through the Word. If you read the Scriptures for each day this past week – you would be listening to God’s moral code to Christian living.
1. Soren Kierkegaard (A Christian theologian, philosopher and writer) wrote about us when he wrote “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”
2. Kierkegaard was simply saying what don’t you understand about Jesus equating anger with murder, lusting with adultery or what don’t we understand about loving our enemies and pray for those that persecute you.
3. The book the 10 Second Rule puts it this way - … how do you define a follower of Jesus? “Followers of Jesus have made it the priority of their lives to love God and be like Jesus.”
E. When we say yes to God’s love we will find it a lot easier to do the 2nd part of loving our neighbor. What we are experiencing from God we begin to pass on to others. If we experienced God’s forgiveness then through His love and grace given to us we can do what is necessary to forgive someone else.
Matthew 25:31-46The Message (MSG) The Sheep and the Goats
31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
Do we understand the loving others is a form of loving God.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.