by Duane Maust
Third Sunday of Lent
March 19, 2006
Those words that God spoke to the children of Israel are still good for us today. God wants us to follow his rules. The Ten Commandments have gotten attention the last several years because of the court case in Alabama. We see the Ten Commandments all over our community. I am glad for that visibility. I just hope people realize what they say. Yes, God gave us them to guide our lives.
For many people, these commandments represent the basis for all behavior – and the basis for whether God is pleased or not with his people. God was setting down expectations for the people. They might not have realized that when God brought them out of Egypt, he was giving them a new chance on life. Now he is showing them how he wants them to live.
If you look closely at the ten commandments, you’ll see that they are broken into two basic categories- those that have to do with loving God and those that speak of loving others.
The first four all have to do with loving God:
No other gods 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 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.
I see this as a map that God has set before us. This gives us some basic ways of living.
At the cabinet shop I travel all over the county and state for jobs. I keep a map in my pickup all the time. In fact, I keep this atlas and a county map with me all the time. Most of the time Elaine and Ashley have small maps that they drew to tell me that it will be the third house on the right with window shutters on it. Sometimes I still get messed up. Or lost. With all this help, I get lost. Two weeks ago I got lost and called the contractor’s cell phone. He told me how to get there from where I was. But he had an extra turn in his directions.
When I went by his house, fortunately he saw me go down the read and called me on the cell phone and I turned around and went back.
Look at the banner here in front of the church. We see the road winding up through the meadow. We try to take short cuts.
Well, God gave the children of Israel some good maps to live my. But they messed up. We have those same directions to live by. We mess up at times to, don’t we.
Read the confessing and reconciling on the back of the bulletin.
Leader: God of wisdom, through Moses, you gave us your law.
People: God’s law is perfect.
Leader: we disregard your law, saying it is too difficult to follow.
People: God’s commandment is clear.
Leader: We ignore your commandment, saying it is obsolete and irrelevant for today’s world.
People: God’s decrees are sure.
Leader: We have disobeyed your decrees, saying they are foolish according to today’s wisdom.
All: In your mercy, forgive us. AMEN
Read Psalms 19:7-14
The law of the Lord is perfect. Look at some of the words that explain the law.
Perfect- reviving- trustworthy- wise- right- radiant- glow- pure- sure- righteous- precious- sweeter
Let us see, who wrote this Psalm? David did, did he not? How close did he live by the law? He had committed a murder and had an affair. So he messed up. He did not always follow God’s road map like he should have.
In the Layman’s Commentary it says, “The Law refreshes the inner man, bringing joy and peace. How precious is God’s Law: more desirable then refined gold; sweeter than the best honey which was a valued commodity in ancient times. The psalmist prays that he will be kept from both unintentional and deliberate sins.”
With all this said, what is the problem?
Read verse 12 and 13
You know what? We mess up. I can have my road maps, but I get lost. With all the rules we have to live by, we do wrong.
This past week if you listened to the news, you would have heard of people messing up. There was child pornography on the Internet. The guys in Alabama that burned churches, they messed up. What have we let come into our minds that didn’t belong there? What is our relationship to God? What do we need to be asking God for forgiveness?
That is where Jesus Christ comes in. We need Him to help us get back on track.
Read 1Cor. 1: 18-25
I think that verse 18 makes it the clearest. To us that are saved, the cross has power. Here we have a bare cross in front of our church. This can stand here to remind us of what Christ has done on the cross for us. It is an empty cross. That is where the power comes from. Jesus did not just die. He died for our sins and is waiting for us in heaven.
I am glad we have a rough looking cross here on the wall. It was not a pretty sight. David needed forgiveness. We all need to come to God and ask for a new start from time to time.
We know where we need to be going sometimes, but things don’t work out. We have our maps along. But things just don’t connect. We have the Ten Commandments, but it just doesn’t work out that way. That is why we need the cross. I guess I should really say that is why we need Jesus. We all need his cleansing power.
With our faith in Jesus Christ, may we sincerely pray this prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight; O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” Ps 19:12