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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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Keeping God First
Exodus 20:1-7

Series Introduction:
When I first went through the parsonage what amazed me was that it was built upon a rock – a solid foundation.  Jesus encourages us to build our lives on a solid foundation – that solid ground is Him and His Word.  But many of our lives and homes today are built on the sand are easily destroyed when difficulty come. Many of our homes are wobbling under crisis and disrepair of family values.  God’s Word lays out blueprints for living – as individuals, families, the church, and the community.  The master plan is to follow the Word.     
The question that we need to continue to ask ourselves; are we as individuals, families, churches and communities following God’s plans / blueprints.  Families are seeing the fruit of not following God’s directions.  Families (as well as individual lives) are in need of foundational repairs.  We are going to begin a sermon series today on the solid foundation – God’s blueprint for the Christian family.  You might be thinking why are we looking at the 10 Commandments? “Gee it is Mother’s Day shouldn’t we be looking at mothers and families.”  We are!  We are looking how to have a healthy family and it begins with us following and being obedient to God’s commands. Over the next 6 weeks we are going to take a look at the 10 Commandments as they apply to families. God commands us to "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 (NIV) Let us look at the first few commands that God lays out for families: 

Exodus 20:1-7 (NIV)
 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.  "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

And if you look closely at the Ten Commandments, you’ll see that they are broken down into 2 basic categories — those that have to do with loving God and those that speak of loving others. That is not a coincidence!
The first four all have to do with loving God:

                No other God’s before me — God is number One!
No idols — No substitutes for God!
God’s name is holy — Don’t take God for granted!
The Sabbath is holy — Time spent with God (and others) is a priority!
And the next six all have to do with loving others:
Honor parents — Respect and submission are critically important skills!
No murder — Life is priceless!
No adultery — Commitment is priceless!
No stealing — Don’t deny others what God has given them!
No lying — A truthful God expects truthful people!
No greed — Be satisfied and content.

Let’s start off with the first three commandments.

  1. God spoke these words – they are God’s commands so listen up. "YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.”  Nothing comes before God. God is number one.  Later in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NLT) God expands this command of having no other gods by directing Israel.   “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
  2. What the first commandment speaks to making God our number one priority. We are to love Him with all our passion. Love him with all our emotions, with all our spirit, and with all our physical strength. Love him with everything we have, and love him more than anything or anyone else. This is the starting place to having a solid foundation for you and your family.

 

  1. This first commandment is really all about choices.  Our lives are full of choices. We make choices concerning our lifestyle, our allegiances, our commitments, our priorities, our affections, our relationships, and so much more.
  1. Will we live our lives for ourselves? Or for someone else? For an idea or a dream?

 

  1. Or will we live our lives for God? Will we let God be God, or will we let someone or something else crowd its way to the top spot in our choices?
  1. We / humanity have designed false gods to meet our needs just like it is recorded in the Old and New Testament times.   Our gods today may be more spiritually destructive than the physical idols of Bible times.  Take a look at our every day practices and our moral choices and we can see what idols in our culture.   Let me name just a few:
  2. One of the most powerful modern gods is sex.   Sex sells; people buy things if they are sexy.  What would be considered pornography when I was a kid can be seen on TV it is just rated R.  Abercrombie & Fitch got in trouble for admitting they weren’t selling to the large and X large people of the world. I wondered if they would ask me to leave because I am not sexy / I mean I’m too big.

 

  1. Cars and other things have become gods.  There are web sites for everything and people worship things.  It amazes how much we can get enamored / infatuated by cars.  Some are hooked on older cars and some are obsessed with fast street cars.  Nothing wrong with things as long as we don’t worship things. 
  1. Work can become a god.  If everything is centered on work where does that leave the Lord Jesus Christ, family and the church?

 

  1. Others: family especially our kids, science, stars, music world, etc.
  1. The first commandment is saying, “I am the Lord your God.  I am your Savior.  Your Deliverer. You belong to me.  I created you and I have rights over you.  I am your, you are Mine.  Therefore you shall have no other gods before me.

Illustration:
Some time ago a Scottish newspaper someone placed an unusual advertisement in the paper.  On the front page a conspicuously placed notice asked the reader to look on the back page.  When the reader turned to the back page it was empty.  But those who looked closely saw in the lower right corner in small print these words.  “Is this where you are putting God?”   Is it.

  1. The Second Command tells us that God tolerates no rivals.  "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.  
  2. Have you ever thought – well I have never made an idol so I am safe on this command.  Let me ask you a question.  Why did they make idols?  Why are there idols?   Let me mention a few reasons that idols were and are made:
  3. Because the worship of God is not physical it is spiritual.  The Old Testament followers of God and gods wanted something they could see.   Jesus address this issue with the woman at the well who asks Jesus where the right place was to worship either in Jerusalem like the Jews believed was the place or as the Samaritan believed in the mountain For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 (NLT)
  4. The physical limits God and tries to ground Him.
  5. Where should God be worshiped?  In our hearts.

 

  1. An idol is created by the person / craftsman.  Be careful that you don’t just minimize this point because we can create God in our image – just the opposite of what the Scripture says.  Listen to what Jeremiah tells the God’s people:   “For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.  They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.  Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good." Jeremiah 10:3-5 (NIV)
  1. One of the ways we make idols is when we bargain with God.  In the Bible culture people created gods to increase their crops as well as making a woman fertile son a son will become heir, and to defend their land.  We do that when we bargain with God:
  2.  A salespersons bargains with God to get a name on a contract. 
  3. An executive aims for a victory in negotiations and bargains with God – I will give you 20% instead of 10%.
  4. Parents bargain with God in getting help to fund college

 

  1. As idols seek to make God smaller and manageable they also make us smaller.
  1. The 3rd command directs us - "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7 (NIV) Pretty clear don’t you think.  Damn is not God’s last name. 
  2. Some folks even those that attend church on a regular basis when they get to work or by Monday morning the name they had prayed to now is being misused.  It is so common that we don’t even notice people using God’s name.
  3. I use to make responses when Jesus’ name was used inappropriately – “I know Him.”  People would just quizzically look at me and I would say “Jesus Christ is my friend and Lord.”
  4. They would apologize but you know what they don’t apologize anymore.

 

  1. Here is the thing we normally are less careful in our homes and the place we slip up with our language probably is in our homes and in our cars. 
  2. Like the woman that gave Miriam an obscene gesture the other morning on her way to school – she got angry that Miriam allowed someone to pull out in front of her – Miriam was being nice and this woman got angry over her niceness and they would not have gone through the light anyway.

 
Proverbs 21:23 (NIV) He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. – Absolutely true – I speak from experiencing hoof and mouth disease.

Ephesians 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Conclusion:
Joshua put it the best - Joshua 24:15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

God and God alone
Created all these things we call our own
From the might to the small
The glory in them all
Is God's and God's alone

God and God alone
Reveals the truth of all we call unknown
All the best and worst of man
Can't change the master plan
It's God's and God's alone

God and God alone
Is fit to take the universe's throne
Let everything that lives
Reserve its truest praise
For God and God alone

God and God alone
Will be the joy of our eternal home
He will be our one desire
Our hearts will never tire
Of God and God alone

Words and Music by Phill McHugh
Copyright 1984 River Oaks Music Co. (BMI)
This arrangement copyright 1986 River Oaks Music Co. All rights admin. By Tree Publishing Co., Inc.
8 Music Square West., Nashville, TN 37203. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Please click here for attached slides to the sermon.