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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Being On the Same Page as God

“And God spoke all these words:” Exodus 20:1 NIV

Today I am waking up to a cold January morning. The real garden is dead and the only evidence that growth lies beneath the soil are ugly stalks of last season's dead perennials and the faith that believes that those plants will bloom again next spring.

I am so blessed that the garden of my heart has beautiful flowers and shrubs, climbing vines and flowering trees, evergreens and deciduous trees all blooming continuously year round! Believe me…it’s a God thing! And so this morning, though I am cozy inside my home, I will sip my coffee and escape to the warm garden of my heart. The imagery of the year round garden may be fantasy but the truth that I will learn today and everyday in the garden with Jesus is and always will be is real! The close relationship that I have with the Master Gardener is indescribable. Jesus is tender and merciful, forgiving and kind. This amazing love is fresh and new every morning.

And so I walk down the sun filtered path stopping at a beautiful clump of pink coleus. Beyond the coleus rests a stone with the Ten Commandments carved into the stone as if God had placed the words there himself. I pause and remember a time when God did give his law to Moses for the people. Each law was engraved in the stone by the finger of God.

My mind goes back to a time when our children were middle school age. I had posted the Ten Commandments on one of the cabinets over our breakfast bar. Sometimes our children’s friends would be setting there at the bar having a snack and would comment on the Ten Commandments. I remember one young man asking if I thought that keeping the commandments would get a person into heaven. I remember sharing with him that each individual must believe in Jesus Christ and accept the blood of his sacrifice as a covering for his or her own personal sin. I further explained that it is that blood that offers us an opportunity to be forgiven. That forgiveness comes to us as a free gift from God. Each living soul must choose to accept that gift if we want to be allowed to enter heaven. Without accepting that gift there is no entrance into heaven. I did say however, that it was a good idea to pay close attention to the Ten Commandments because they are God’s guidelines that are specifically designed to help us have a happy life. I pointed out that the first commandment was the most important of all because when we love God and put him before, anyone and anything else we most likely won’t have trouble knowing how to keep the others. Realizing that we are a lost sinner and then accepting God’s forgiveness is the first step on our journey of loving God.

For me there are a few familiar passages in the Bible that seem to float meaningless through my brain because I have heard them so many times. Scriptures like the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, and the Ten Commandments. I do believe that from time to time these precious scriptures need to be revisited. So this morning I choose to sit at the feet of Jesus and meditate on the commands of God that are perfect in every way.

God's instructions to us:

# 1 - Don’t love anything or anyone more than you love me.

# 2 - Don’t worship anyone or anything but me because I am a jealous God and there are consequences if you do. I will punish families and nations for this sin. I will punish you, your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren, your great, great grandchildren, and your great, great, great grandchildren if you ignore and hate me. On the other hand, if one person turns away from hating me to loving and respecting me from that moment on I will show blessing and love for a 1,000 generations.

# 3 - Don’t abuse my name by swearing or misrepresenting what I stand for. When you slander me or damage my name you cast a shadow on my reputation.

# 4 - Remember to take one day a week to rest and carve out time for me. Make this a holy time to rest in my love and care. It is my will for you to be refreshed, renewed and rested!

# 5 - Honor and respect your parents. I don’t care how old you are, or if your parents are living or deceased, it is important not to do anything that would shame your parents as a result of your sinful behavior. Always show love and make sure that your integrity is intact. This is honoring and respecting your parents.

# 6 - Do not murder. Do not take someone’s life or damage their reputation by speaking falsely against them. Lying about someone’s character is killing their reputation.

# 7 - Do not commit adultery, physically, mentally or emotionally.

# 8 - Do not steal anything that does not belong to you. Do not steal property, money, or ideas from anyone.

# 9 - Do not lie about anything or anyone. White lies are only one nanosecond away from a full blown lie!

# 10 - Do not want what someone else has so badly that you will do anything to take it away from them.

Jesus’ New Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt. 22: 37,39b NIV Treat everyone as you want to be treated.

So how do I want to be treated? I want to be treated fairly, honestly, and with respect. I want to feel love and appreciation from others. I want to experience kindness and mercy. I want to be a recipient of love, kind words and encouragement.

I find that rule is not too hard as long as I am able to select those to whom I want to show love. As long as my love can be selective and conditional I am in good shape. But here lies the rub. Sometimes I base my love on whether or not I feel someone is deserving of or in need of my efforts of love. Most of the time it is very difficult to love those who do not treat me well, those who take advantage of my kindness, those who don’t treasure me and my ideas, those who think and behave different than me, and those who are different than me. Then there are the people who are mean and discourteous and set out to cause me harm. Those who abuse, persecute, and falsely accuse me. Yet Jesus says, love them as you want to be loved. This is not a suggestion. It is a command. It is times like these that I realize that I am NOT on the same page as God. I see clearly that I desperately need my Savior’s example of unconditional love for me that he displayed on the cross. I need his example of mercy and forgiveness that he offers me every single day of my life. I also need the power of the Holy Spirit to assist me during my times of need. I will not get it right every time but I must continually desire to aspire to this high calling and command from God. I so desire to be on the same page as my loving Father.


How do you feel about loving others as you do yourself?

When was the last time you got it right?

When was the last time you failed?

Why do you think you failed?

Do you think that loving God more would help you love others more?

Read: Exodus 20:1-21 and Exodus 31:18


Dear Awesome, Almighty God,

You God are the great “I AM” and your ways are higher than my ways. You know the pathway of life that will bring me joy and you honor. Help me to glorify you by choosing to keep your laws. God I confess that sometimes I don’t love you more than I love myself. Forgive me God. Please fan the flickering flame in my heart that desires to be on the same page as you. God my desire is that I will love you more than any one or any thing. I need your grace and the power of your Holy Spirit so that I will love others as I love myself. Help me to fall in love with Jesus to the point that I cannot help but love others unconditionally, just as your Son loves me. Help me to love your laws and daily walk in obedience to your laws.

In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.