praying for a change (3)

 
“Then the LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants so that you love the LORD your God with all your mind and with all your being in order that you may live. … But you will change and obey the LORD’s voice and do all his commandments that I’m commanding you right now.” (Deuteronomy 30.6,8 CEB)

LORD God,

Your wishes are commandments to me.

That your commandments would ever be my wishes is my prayer.

But how can I hear your voice unless I change?

And how can I change unless I obey?

You express your confidence in me that I will change.

And so I cling to your confidence, and pledge now not to break it.

Give your servant rest this evening that I may obey you with my whole being in the morning.

Make tomorrow a day in my life where living your ways are my greatest desire.

Amen.

praying for a change (2)

 

“Then the LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants so that you love the LORD your God with all your mind and with all your being in order that you may live. … But you will change and obey the LORD’s voice and do all his commandments that I’m commanding you right now.” (Deuteronomy 30.6,8 CEB)

My LORD, I want to live!

So yes, crack open my chest, cut into my heart, and excise any and all things dead.

With your great love, stitch me back together and help me find my rightful mind.

Do all this to this end: that I may live rightly, loving you supremely.

I will not return to my ruinous habits that put me here on the table.

I will change.

Amen.

rock solid: reflecting on the Ten Commandments

This coming Sunday morning at MoSt Church, most of our English-speaking adult Bible classes (9:00 a.m.) will conclude their study of the Rock Solid: The Ten Commandments with something of a summary of their study of the Ten Commandments. Make good use of the following questions to assist you in your preparation for class.

1. List the Ten Commandments in order. Which ones are easiest for you to remember and which ones are the most difficult?

2. There are over six hundred commands in the OT Law so why do you suppose there are “Ten” Commandments? Why not nine or a dozen? What might be the significance of there being “ten?”

3. The exodus, God’s deliverance of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, preceded God’s giving of the Law to Israel at Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6). Exodus preceded Sinai; grace always comes before law. Why is law without grace unable to produce people of real character?

4. The first four commandments deal directly with our relationship with God and the last six commandments pertain particularly to our relationship with other people. There are a few statements of explanation or justification, as well as motivation, in the giving of the first four commandments, but with the exception of the case of the fifth commandment, there are no such statements connected with the last six commandments. Why do you suppose this is the case and what difference does it make?

5. All of the Ten Commandments are woven together and are critical to a healthy life together as people of God. Imagine a community where one of the commandments is missing completely (e.g. – all of the commandments are kept except the principle of Sabbath). How might that gap in ethics come to affect the other values in place?

6. By means of the Ten Commandments, God deliberately planted his values in his people, Israel. What is wrong with allowing people to “discover their own values?”

7. Augustine once wrote: “We do not walk to God with the feet of the body, nor would wings, if we had them, carry us there. But we go to God by the affections of our soul.” How would you say the practice of the Ten Commandments shapes the affections of our soul for God? That is to say, how is it that a person who practices the Ten Commandments is opening themselves up to a better understanding and deeper relationship with God?

8. While the Ten Commandments are obeyed by individuals, they were given to a community, Israel. How is living in community with others who share these same values critical to the development and reinforcement of the Ten Commandments? In other words, why do we need each other in order to live out the Ten Commandments?

9. What are some ways you might be able to work God’s ten teachings in the Ten Commandments into your everyday conversations with your friends?

10. What is the best thing you have personally gleaned from this study of the Ten Commandments?

the seventh commandment

This coming Sunday morning, May 1, most of our English-speaking adult Bible classes (9:00 a.m.) at MoSt Church will study Rock Solid Commitment, a study of the seventh of the Ten Commandments (“you shall not commit adultery”; Exodus 20:14; Deut. 5:18). Utilize the following questions to help you prepare for your part in class this Sunday.

1. What’s the biggest lie that Satan tries to sell people today about marriage? About sex? About fidelity?

2. What is a Biblical definition of adultery? Is adultery always spoken as being sexual in nature?

3. What does adultery have in common with the previous six of the Ten Commandments?

4. How is it that adultery and deceit naturally accompany each other?

5. Why do you think the OT prophets used adultery as a metaphor for idolatry? How are the two alike?

6. This commandment, “you shall not commit adultery,” is a clear call for us to never ignore, exploit, manipulate, or use people. Someone has said, “Disposable sex makes for disposable people.” How does it feel to be used and then discarded, to be treated with unfaithfulness?

7. What do you suppose are some of the drivers behind adultery?

8. How has adultery affected your family? Friends of yours? Our church family?

9. Why do we automatically think “it would never happen to me” when it comes to adultery?

10. Sexual adultery is rarely the first reason a relationship goes south, but it is often “the last straw.” What do you sense are some of the biggest and most common pressures placed on marriages today?

11. What are some situations you face that are potentially dangerous to your marriage?

12. If you were to give advice to a couple about to get married, what advice would you give them as to how to help make their marriage “adultery-proof?” What practical steps do you take to avoid compromising your integrity and purity yourself?

13. How can you best help a struggling friend who has an unfaithful mate? How can you help a friend who is being unfaithful?

the sixth commandment

“Though shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13 ASV)

“You shall not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17 TNIV)

At MoSt Church this coming Easter Sunday morning, Apr. 24, most of our adult Bible classes will study the sixth of the Ten Commandments (“you shall not murder”). Following are sixteen questions to help you think about this commandment as you prepare to engage in class discussion this coming Sunday.

1. How do you define your worth? How do you define the worth of others?

2. Since we are all made in God’s image, what are the implications of such thinking for how we treat others, all others?

3. “The Hebrew word ‘to kill’ does mean ‘murder’ in certain contexts (cf. 1 Kings 21:19), but it can also refer to unintentional killing (Deut. 4:41-42), as well as to execution of a duly convicted killer (Num. 35:30). … Murder is too limited a term to encapsulate the concern of this commandment.” (Stanley Hauerwas & William Willimon, The Truth About God: The Ten Commandments in Christian Life, p.80) How does this knowledge affect your understanding of the application of the sixth commandment?

4. How do you square this commandment not to kill/murder with other portions of the Law regarding the exercise of capital punishment, making war, etc? Are these thoughts contradictory or what?

5. Someone once quipped: “I love humanity; its just people I can’t stand.” Give some examples of how we live so.

6. Would you say your sensitivity and emotional reaction to hearing the news of a murder today is: (a) less sensitive, (b) more sensitive, or (c) about the same as it was twenty years ago? Explain.

7. What sort of things cloud our vision and so, obscure our seeing the life of every person as something sacred?

8. Brainstorm some examples of things we commonly encounter or experience that demonstrates basic disrespect for the sanctity of human life.

9. How does Jesus extend, and intensify the scope of this commandment in Matthew 5:21-26?

10. Paul the apostle once write: “The commandments, You shouldn’t commit adultery, you shouldn’t murder, you shouldn’t steal, you shouldn’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You should love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom. 13:9) The apostle John said: “Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” (1 John 3:15). How do these statements expand your understanding of what is being conveyed in the sixth commandment?

11. How does the sixth commandment fit with the text of last Sunday morning’s sermon (Matthew 5:38-48; particularly vs.39,44) and Jesus’ call for us to be a completely non-violent people, a people incapable of retaliation?

12. How does this commandment inform and affect your understanding of Christ’s crucifixion and the events leading up to it?

13. In light of the sixth commandment and Jesus’ commentary on it, is it God’s will for his people to be pacifists?

14. How do we apply the spirit and teaching of the sixth commandment to the following: Abortion? Capital punishment? Poverty? Personal self-defense? War?

15. As someone seeking to do God’s will at all times and in all situations, and given your understanding of his will expressed through Moses in the sixth commandment and Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, what could/should/would you do if a violent person attempted to harm a loved one?

16. If you were to start strictly applying the spirit and teaching of the sixth commandment to how you treat yourself, not just others, what sort of habits and ways in your life would need to change?