January 23

Exodus 19-21, Psalm 23

When we lay our head on the pillow at night, what are the thoughts that continually run through our minds? Realize it or not, these are our idols or gods, if our thoughts do no meditate on the One True God. For some, their god is pleasure, in the Old Testament, the god of pleasure was called Molech. For others, their intellect is their god, in the Old Testament, he was known as Baal. For others, their driving force is power and money, consumed with how to acquire more and more. In the Old Testament, this god's name was Mammon. For others it is lust and sensuality, in the Old Testament, this god was known as Asherah. Every individual is governed by some ambition which finds itself at the center of their lives and their thoughts and is the driving force for their lives. Whatever this passion that masters our lives, this is our god. This thought does not have to be something bad or of the flesh, even if we are consumed with our spouse, our children, our health, our house, our vacations, etc, these are our gods. These things are good and are certainly meant to be important, but not as important as God. God has to be the Lord exclusively in our lives, He is not to be shared or be overshadowed by anything else. I can't find the citation, but I remember reading about a Dear Abby column many years ago, where a survey or poll was referred to. In it, those polled were given a list of twenty items and were asked to place them in their position of importance. On the list were things like parents, spouses, children, money, houses, jobs and God. If I remember correctly, in that poll God came in last, or close to it.

In Exodus 20:2-3, we read the first commandment, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me." The first four laws or commandments deal with our vertical relationship with God, which is of most importance. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Once our relationship with God is correct, then we can focus on the last six laws or commandments. These are horizontal commandments and have to do with how man deals with man. Most people who are asked to name the 10 commandments, cannot do so. If they can name a few they are always in the last grouping, for instance, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13). For whatever reason, many want to ignore or lessen the importance of these initial commandments. In Exodus 20:22-23, we read, "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. You shall not make anything to be with Me...". But just before this we read in 20:19, "Then they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." Interestingly, in the generation after Jesus ascended, a movement called the Gnostic movement, which was heresy was gaining popularity. In it, people questioned the reality of the humanity of Jesus, separating the spirit from the material. We read in 1 John 1:1, we can almost feel John shaking them as the last apostle alive to understand the reality of Jesus, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-".

So, we must ask ourselves is God the focal point of our thoughts and affection? Do we keep God at arms distance, or do we truly desire to be in a personal relationship with Him? This is not to mean that we don't love our spouses, children, parents, friends, etc. But if we were polled in that Dear Abby poll, and responded honestly, where would God rank in true importance in our lives. Do we seek His guidance and advice as of first importance, or others? Our relationship with God, needs to be a real and true relationship. We can not relegate it to the church leader. We can not put our time in once a week on Sunday and think that God is most important. We relate to Him through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through prayer, through worship and through other believers. When the Rich Young Ruler was asked to give up his riches in Matthew 19:16-30, he couldn't part with it, for his god was his money. May we all spend time meditating on God's first commandment and make Him the focal point of our lives.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster