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Flawed and Transformed

God's Law, God's Way

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Loving God’s Law

God’s law is a measuring stick.

It is a school teacher.

It is a life-giving force.

Art -  Cranach, Lucas, 1472-1553

Deuteronomy 30:16 is part of a sermon and Moses is the preacher:

If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.

To Follow God's Way Is a Choice that Gives Life.

  1. It is a blessing to seek God through God's Law.

    “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” - Psalm 119:2
  • When Moses gave the commandments, they were considered a gift to the people of Israel. It was God showing the people his way for them.
  • Moses told the people that there were many blessings that would come from observing God’s commandments.
  • David understood this when he wrote the psalm. Whole-hearted seeking of God’s ways brings blessings.
  • The idea was that we seek God by meditating on his instructions because he reveals his hear through them.
  1. It is Jesus who shows us God's intention in the Law.

    “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time … but I say to you” – Matthew 5:21a, 23a
  • In today’s gospel reading, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly uses this formula: “You have heard this said, but I tell you this.”
  • Jesus takes the Law that Moses delivered and helps us understand it and apply it.
  • He was not contradicting the law. He was reminding us of what God intended when he gave the law.
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s law.
  • Jesus summarized the law as loving God and loving our neighbor.
  1. We have received many teachers pointing the way.

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” – I Corinthians 3

  • Moses was a teacher and he challenged us to follow God’s way.
  • There is an epistle reading for today from 1 Corinthians 3. Paul speaks of a controversy in Corinth. The people in the church were divided over who was their favorite teacher, Apollos, Paul, or some other. Some were planters. Some were cultivators. Some were harvesters.
  • Many people come into our lives to teach us God’s way. Moses. Apollos, Paul, our Sunday School teachers, our pastors, and maybe our parents are all among these. They are important, but it is God’s message that matters.
  • Even today, we are taught by preachers, teachers, and books that help us understand what it means to follow Jesus, to love God, and to love others.
  • But we must remember that our primary teacher is God himself and a lone Christian, isolated in a place where no teachers are available, with a Bible can understand enough about following Jesus to do so faithfully.
  • Be grateful for your teachers but seek God in your own study as well.
  • Walk in God’s ways.
  1. The choice is always ours.

“… I have set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

  • Moses reminds us, in his sermon, that we must choose.
  • God’s way is the way of life.
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
  • Jesus has provided for our forgiveness through the cross, our life through the resurrection, and our power to live through Pentecost
  • The same choice of life that Moses called the people to choose, is ours.

Moses_Viewing (1)

Art - Church, Frederic Edwin, 1826-1900


Wholehearted Seeking 

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” - Psalm 119:2, Aleph

There are countless blessings in God’s Word, but they don’t jump out from between the leaves and into our hearts. They come to those who seek God in His Word with wholehearted passion. They come as a result of digging for the treasures that are to be found in the pages of the Bible. God is found by those who most earnestly desire Him and look for Him.

God testifies of Himself and, in so doing, He sets forth His expectations for us. His purposes are higher and greater than those we have for ourselves. His calling is loftier and grander than any we can imagine. His very presence and nature compel us to come forth and enter into fellowship with Him.

We are truly blessed when we seek Him with the whole heart.

Wholeheartedness for God is a rare thing indeed. It is the deer panting for water. It is the hunger that knows no satisfaction apart from the manna of God’s truth. It is the little baby that can find no consolation apart from the comforting embrace of her mother. It is full engagement and absolute focus on seeking Him.

The psalmist knew what he was looking for every time he opened the scriptures. He was not seeking information or even inspiration. He was seeking God himself. He was looking for encounter and nothing else would do.

This is not a question of superficial concern. It is the great question of our lives: “What am I seeking and what am I willing to invest of myself to find it?”

In the answer lies the secret to our spiritual success. The answer must be: “God and everything.”

I will then go to Jesus who says that we may acknowledge God’s law without understanding God’s real intention in it.

It Has Been Said, But I Say

“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time …” – Matthew 5:21

“My Momma always said.”

What exactly did she say?

She said a lot. Some was dead right; some was her opinion; some was partly, but not one hundred percent accurate.

Much had been said in the old times before Jesus.

He takes statements from the Torah in his sermon and reinterprets them, aiming for God’s intention in the law.

His statements begin with the words, “Ye have heard that it was said …”

Of course, it had been said:

“Thou shalt not kill,” but there was more. One must not desire to kill or let anger fester or kill the soul with words.

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” but it is not enough to just refrain from consummating an act of adultery. Do not feed the desire.

“Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths,” but go further and tell the truth always.

“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

That way of teaching continues with a purpose.

Jesus lets us know that life in the Kingdom of God is a call to a higher, grander, and loftier purpose than just getting by.

The standards are so high that we may never fully realize them, but we keep aiming and we keep calling on him for help.

You may have heard is said, but now Jesus is saying even more and trusting you with a greater calling.

We jump over to Apollos and Paul for a brief moment. Apollos came to Corinth before Paul, teaching the law in the new light of Jesus. He prepared the hearts of the Corinthians. Paul came with deeper truth and took the disciples further in God’s intent. But they chose to remain immature.

Many Teachers

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” – I Corinthians 3:6

How many people have invested in the harvest that is your life? How many hands and hearts have been involved in your progress toward maturity? Coming to the place of graduation from an academic regimen or from one stage of life to another has been a gradual process.

That is why it is called graduation!

The answer is many, too many to innumerate.

Each has had a role. Each has unselfishly poured his or her life, wisdom, and time into your life. Each is due a debt of gratitude. Each one reminds us to so pour our lives into others.

There have been planters. These are those souls who have deposited seeds of knowledge, sparks of insight, and fragments of dreams into the ready receptacles of our lives with the hope that they would grow into something greater than they were when they started.

There have been those who have watered the seeds, cultivators, and tillers of the soil who have not avoided the hard work of steady time commitment. They have counseled, coached, and mentored. They have taught us when we were hard to teach. They have consistently demonstrated truth. They have labored long and hard with high hopes of our lives bearing good fruit.

There are harvesters who were in the right place at the right time when we were ready to demonstrate our readiness to step up and step out. They have given us the opportunities to shine and to lead. They have ushered us the final steps of our journey.

Then there is God who was working in all of these and who ultimately brings the harvest. It is He who is present at the beginning and at every step of the way.

Finally, we visit with Moses, through whom God gave he law.

Choose Life!

“… I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

Moses brought the children of Israel to a crossroads. It was a place of crossing and a place of choice. The cross of Jesus is a crossroads of choice for us as well.

Whatever happened to the cross?

To the Romans it was merely another two pieces of wood that could be used again until wear and tear rendered them useless for their grotesque purpose.

To the believer, they represented an intersection of time and eternity, death and life, hope and despair. The two timbers are for us, the symbols of a crossroads in our lives – a place of choice.

Life is a choice.

That is part of the message of the resurrection. That is the message of repentance. That is what makes the gospel good news.

We can choose to reject sin, death, and hopelessness and embrace life. We can make a binding, decision to embrace the future that God has planned for us. There is no darkness so deep the light of the resurrection cannot disintegrate it, but we must choose.

It is like A-B-C.

We must Acknowledge

Acknowledge that we have not always chosen life. In fact, we have chosen the opposite. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and we have chosen all three: wages, sin, and death.

We have chosen wages because we so full of pride as to believe that we must earn everything that is coming to us when in fact we can only deserve condemnation in our own efforts.

We have chosen sin because the comforts of pleasure and the familiarity of our rebellion is less threatening that trusting God with everything.

As a result, we have chosen death over life because life divorced from God’s purpose and peace in our lives is death and denial of who we were fashioned to be.

We must Believe.

We must believe that some other choice is possible; that the message of Christ’s death and resurrection is real and that it is for us.

We must believe that repentance is an option and a mandate and that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We choose a gift we cannot earn or deserve, a relationship where He is Savor and Lord, and as a result, we choose life.

We must Confess.

Start today. If you believe it, confess it at the first opportunity. Confess before men and women that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, that you have chosen life over death, significance over meaninglessness, and hope over despair.

Don’t wait; do it now and then live out your confession daily in discipleship loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself.