The Ten Words, more famously known as the 10 Commandments, has been a very abused and forgotten piece of our Bible.  Remember, God first gave them to us in Scripture not on the plaque that hangs in your kitchen.  It is not a secular moral code that is common to all cultures and religions, it is the gracious direction and covenant stipulations from God for our enjoyment of Him.   Exodus 19:5-6 is why we need to treasure these gracious words of the Lord, “if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

     The format of this covenant, is much like the format of all covenants occurring in the Ancient Near East.  The suzerain (in this case, Yahweh), initiates a treaty with the smaller and weaker vassal (in this case, the nation of Israel).  There is a historical prologue (in this case, Exod. 19:4, “you yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself”).  There are stipulations laid out (ie. the Ten Words).  And there are sanctions laid out (blessings/curses for obedience/disobedience).

May we be faithful in understanding the role of these gracious words for our lives, even now when our justification does not lay in the old written code but on the blood of Jesus, yet may we be diligent to consider the whole counsel of Scripture in our worship Jesus.

This is a prime time of year to stop and consider the weight of the incarnation of the God-man, Jesus.  Here are a few helpful texts to meditate on by yourself and with your family. 

John 1:1-3, 9-11

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men…The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not recieve him.”

John 17:5-6

“And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.  I have manifested your name to the people…”

Colossians 1:15, 17, 19

“He is the image of the invisible God…he is before all things…in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”

Consider all of the glory and constant worship that Jesus left in the Father’s presence to come and get murdered by the very people he had created.  Considering the incarnation leads to a healthy consideration of the cross.  That is the heart of the incarnation.  Jesus left the Father’s presence to a cursed world to redeem it.  Do not be lazy about the doctrine of the incarnation, it is a huge piece of our Gospel.  It is the prototype for how we do ministry – we go to be with  those we minister to.  Merry Christmas!

Matt Chandler is a 34 year old pastor in Texas.  He took a pastor job at a dying 160-member church in the heart of the Bible belt.  In 7 years, the church grew from 160 to over 5,000.  His message: the Gospel.  On Thanksgiving Matt had a seizure and went in, found out he had a brain tumor, had surgery, found out the tumor is malignant and the doctors were unable to get all of it.  Things are uncertain, please pray for Matt and his family and his church.  Here is a video from Matt Chandler prior to his surgery. 

http://fm.thevillagechurch.net/blog/pastors/?p=363

1) Meditate – Encounter God through the text

     – Soak it into your mind, read it over and over, out loud, to others, etc

     – How can I worship the Father through the text?

     – Where is Jesus in the text?

     – What is the Spirit saying to me with this text?

     – What do I need to repent of with this text in mind?

2) Exegesis

     – Context (sentence, chapter, book, covenant, Bible)

     – Observations (words, themes, form, structure)

     – Meaning (theology, author’s intent)

     – Application (So what?)

3) Repeat

“I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed.

I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;they fell under my feet.

For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.

You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed.

They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.

I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets.”  (Psalm 18:37-42)

King David was a dude’s dude.  He picked fights, and he “beat them fine as dust”.  Why is this commendable?  Because it was passionate obedience to God.  He was not a weak-wristed church boy.  God “equipped [David]  with strength for battle”.  God “made those who rise against me sink under me.”  And God ignored David’s enemies when they cried to him. 

I commend you men to be like David in his passionate obedience to God.  This is not a license to pulvarize every punk that doesn’t meet your fancy, but it does mean that you can “heap coals on their heads” by giving them water when their thirsty, food when their hungry, clothes when they are cold.  Equally brutal.  King David was a B.C. ultimate fighter who loved Jesus.  What has happened to our men?

This is atheist Penn Jillette of the popular magician duo Penn & Teller.  Take a look.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/11/17/how-much-do-you-have-to-hate-somebody-to-not-proselytize/

Skipping ahead in the book of Acts to chapter 20, we see that the gospel has infiltrated one of the big business cities in the ancient near east–Ephesus.  Paul had planted a church there that boomed with gospel fruitfulness.  Paul stayed for years, building up the Ephesian church.  In Acts 20, we see how Paul leaves the Ephesian church.  This is of particular importance to this youth group and to me, Jordan, and Alex right now.  Paul goes about this endeavor in a very noteworthy way that I hope to imitate.

First, Paul convinces the Ephesians that he is leaving out of obedience and not desertion.  Though the church would have loved to have had an apostle hang out for a long, long time, building up and teaching in their church.  Who wouldn’t want Paul in their church?  However, Paul considers the gospel of higher value than building a flawless ministry.  The Ephesians had heard the gospel and many have embraced it.  It was time to bring the gospel elsewhere. 

Paul then issues a warning, “pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock…after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”  When healthy doctrinal teaching leaves a church, and there are leaders who are not valuing the gospel above their ministry, those feelings of desertion birth bitterness which births spiteful and twisted teaching, which is the bullhorn of Satan.  We see that some years later, Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus to correct and rebuke false teachers.  And in Revelation, Jesus warns the Ephesian church to “repent…If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand”. 

Thirdly, Paul blesses the Ephesian elders, ““And now, I commend you to God and to the word of grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

That is, though now you may be concerned about your church and your leaders, know this—God holds you, his word builds you up and you will inherit the reward of eternal life.  It was never me or Alex or Jordan.  It was God, it is God, and it will always be God who takes care of you, his word that instructs you, and his grace that sanctifies you.  You have godly leaders to look to who understand this: Sonja, Deanne, Heather, and Lydia.  Pray for more godly leaders to come, specifically men.  God gives leaders a gift to his church.  Churches do not function without biblically qualified leaders who submit to Jesus.  So pray for leaders.  It may be some of you whom God raises up to lead in different roles.  All of you are capable. 

Here is my plea: Support the advance of the gospel message.  Do not allow bitterness or a sense of desertion to creep into your heart.  Be alert, stop unbiblical truths from finding any place in your youth group.  And be blessed, trust God, be built up by his word, be sanctified by his grace.

Now, if you remember one thing from all of the Wednesdays that I have spoken you will understand the singlemost prominent truth of the entire Bible.  Some of the most renowned biblical scholars do not understand this:  IT IS ALL ABOUT JESUS.  Everything, all things, anything contributes to Jesus’ glory.  It is not about us, it is about Jesus.  I don’t care what situation you tell me about to try and contradict this point–it is all about Jesus.  There is nothing that does not concern Jesus’ glory:  “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

We love all of you.