Posts Tagged ‘Exodus 20’

Bible Reading by Becky Porter

I’ve read the familiar words in the Decalogue many times (Exodus 20:8-11) and I’ve heard, maybe, a couple of sermons on it, maybe a couple of radio teachers speak on it. I’ve developed a comfortable picture of what it looks like in my own life which causes me to look a little different from the unbelieving world… a little.

To be sure, I usually delight to gather with the church on Sunday mornings, particularly having found a fellowship of saints who seek a worshipful submission to the Word of God in whatever form that might take – missions and outreach, prayer, hospitality,worship, study, service, self-sacrifice. All are sinners, it is true, but I have much to learn from these dear saints and look forward each Sunday to sharpening my iron on the iron of their lives.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God… I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:1,2,10).

As blessed as I am by this weekly gathering, this has really been the extent of my Sabbath-keeping – gathering with the church in the morning; that, and trying to maintain the long-gone blue laws of my childhood of no shopping on Sundays. That is, unless there’s a really important reason or major convenience to be gained by disregarding them. Eating out is not a part of that code, of course, nor is antiquing or using the library or a number of other activities which cause others to work through the Sabbath even if they wanted to keep it.

When I consider amping up my Sabbath-keeping, I fear the legalist in me may rise and I might get so carried away someday that I, too, would balk if a lame man were to be healed on the Lord’s Day. Of course, when I’m objective about myself, I realize that I am in no real danger of overemphasizing the day and I wonder why my foolish heart wants always to run to rules and law-keeping in these days of grace.

Years ago I read Karen Mains’ book Making Sunday Special which sparked high hopes in me for my burgeoning family. If I would have ears to hear, I sense that the Lord would teach me anew about God-given rest as I begin my first week of summer vacation.

Because of an internship for my son-in-law, he and my daughter and our grandson have recently moved and now attend a fellowship that strives to keep the Lord’s day (which I use interchangeably, here, as a New Testament form of Sabbath-keeping), not so much as a list of can’t do’s, but an embracing of get’s and get-to-do’s. I look forward to hearing how this plays out in the lives of the church there. Along these lines, the Lord, faithful God that He is, has brought a couple messages my way on the subject which challenge me to a more mature, less child-like, keeping of the Sabbath.

The first was a sort of theology of rest. It comes from a Bethlehem College and Seminary (BCS) chapel message that instructor Joe Rigney gave a while back called, “The God Who Loves Us by Giving Us Rest.” I have revived his message which is dealt with in Part II. The other message came from a High Calling blog, part of a series of invitational posts on Sabbath-keeping. To add to my growing convictions on the subject, on the second day of my summer vacation, our dear Pastor Greg brought us to and through Psalm 130, emphasizing the eager anticipation expressed in the word wait: I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his Word I hope: my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning (vv. 5-6). I’m beginning to see that a sustainable, joy-filled Sabbath-keeping has more to do with an eager anticipation of discovering the LORD than in a careful tithing of my mint, dill, and cumin (Mttw. 23:23).

Dana and I, long ago (before we were married), threw our trust onto the Lord to sustain us and meet our needs even if we were to give away 10% or more of our money. He has proven himself a faithful Father and provider in this. Why, then, does it seem so difficult to trust the Lord to meet our productivity needs if we would give away 14% of our week in exchange for delight in the Lord? When I was praying about this last night, I realized my fear is the horrors of cramming seven days of work into six. I already put in long days; what would it mean for me to add those activities I usually leave for Sundays, like bookkeeping (and what if I sort of like a few hours of this anyway?), laundry (does it matter that this doesn’t take a lot of extra time?), and school prep (well, I admit, I’m not usually energized by this one) to the other, already full, six days? I guess embracing the unseen based on God’s say-so alone, is the very definition of faith (Heb. 11:1), isn’t it? Perhaps he would have me test him in this.

What follows is Katie Kump’s short May 23rd post on Sabbath-keeping.  In it, she identifies three profound lessons she has learned as one who once embraced, then forsook, then re-claimed Sabbath keeping in her life (for her, Saturdays).

“Sabbath-Keeping” by Katie Kump

In the middle of my college career I first found Sabbath rest to be a relief rather than a rule. The message of God’s power and sovereignty pressed deeply as I navigated the over-achieving culture at Georgia Tech. We were doing, having, and achieving it all. As a first-born, perfectionist, people-pleaser, my soul needed to know who God really was.

For the first time in my life I considered how Sabbath rest was meant to rightly swell my view of God, giving life, relieving stress, and demolishing worry. I found how expanding my heart with the glory of God was key to expanding my lungs with the very breath of grace. God of the heavens breathed life into my lungs and said, Trust Me. I gave Him my Saturdays, and Sabbath became the exhale of dependence. I could rest because He never needs to.

Keeping Sabbath means all my abilities and success are found in Christ.
When I graduated from college without a full-time job, I began babysitting to support myself while I figured out what in the world I would do with my life. I needed to make $400 each week in order to pay for my rent, insurance, gas, and meals. When each hour of childcare represented one portion of my sustenance, turning down jobs seemed out of the question. My boundaries evaporated, and before I knew it, Sabbath rest had vanished.

It wasn’t until I was exhausted, exasperated, and frustrated that I realized I was working seven days most weeks of the month. As soon as my time represented a dollar amount my bank account seemed to sorely need, God’s sovereignty over all my time was forgotten. It took all thoughtfulness and self-control, but I began to decline jobs so as to keep one day each week for resting. Sabbath was soul care. My generous God poured into me all the love and affection I was paid to pour out into little hearts the other six days. I never went without.

Keeping Sabbath means He loves to provide for my every need.
In this current season of life, where full-time work and marriage and ministry vie for all my time and energy, Sabbath takes deeper meaning still. Sabbath reminds me I am in no way able to be all things to all people. My life is limited. But the limitations birth sweet reliance on my Maker; He is able to do exceedingly more than all I can ask or imagine.

My identity is freed by Sabbath rest from all its striving to be the perfect wife, very best friend, and brilliant homemaker. Sabbath reminds me my life is hidden with Christ in God. Sabbath, both the hard work and the harder rest, are the outworking of my trust in His promises: He who calls me is faithful; He will surely do it.

Keeping Sabbath means I am defined not by my performance, but by the sufficient, saving work of Jesus on my behalf.
In all these seasons Sabbath has been an idol-slayer. Where success, material needs, and performance could consume my heart with anxiety, Jesus, whose blood frees me from slavery to sin, has invited me to rest. Keeping Sabbath is not an added demand on my time or conscience.

Keeping Sabbath renders to God His own glory as I rest in the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps. And keeping Sabbath is a means of grace, an invitation to live in the freedom and love Jesus died to provide, humble King washing my feet and calling me His own, week in and week out.

Bible Reading, original oil by Becky Porter, ©
(used by permission)

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Mom and Dad

Well, here we are… the bridge between July and August has come.  While growing up, this always meant a celebration. You see, July 31st is my mom’s birthday (1942-2004) and the 1st of August is my dad’s birthday (1940).

In their honor, I share a message I recently listened to from Chip Ingram on his radio program, Living on the Edge. The series on the Ten Commandments was entitled God’s Boundaries for Abundant Living.   Part II of his message, “A Word to Families in an Age of Chaos,” dealt with the fifth commandment:  Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long (Exodus 20:12).

“To honor” – to respect, to speak well of, wanting to please – I do.

Here’s Ingram’s outline:

I.       What does it meant to “honor” your parents?
II.      Why did God give this command?
III.     What does it look like to “honor” our parents?
IV.     Are there times when we can’t honor our parents?
V.      Application questions

I.  What does it mean to “honor” your parents?

A.  Definition: “Honor” literally means “to be heavy, glorify, to ascribe value and worth, to respect, to hold in high regard.”

B.  How is this word used in the Old Testament; the exact same Hebrew word and same form?

1. Leviticus 10:3 awe, respect, fear as in given to God

2. Deuteronomy 23:19 – praise, enhancing the reputation of, speaking well of

3. 1 Samuel 2:29-30 – wanting to please, wanting to obey someone in a relationship

II.  Why did God give this command? 

A.  The family is the foundation for human relationships.

1.  The family is the glue of humanity; as the family goes so goes the nation

2.  Biblical definition of family?  A man and a woman in a monogamous, covenant (vs. contractual)* relationship for life and their offspring, both natural and adopted

B.  The family is the foundation for respect of authority

1.  Latin word for “parent” means “in loco Deo,” “in the place of God.”

2.  Learning to obey a parent (in loco Deo) whom they can see, helps them to obey a God they cannot. 

C.  The family is the foundation of human development. 

1.  Sociologists agree that the most socializing agent in the whole world is the family (for better or worse).

2.  The family gives us our views of self, of life, our sense of being loved, of self-esteem, sexual intimacy, and moral values.

III.  What does it look like to “honor” our parents?

A. As a child… I honor my parent by obeying them. 

1.  Upon hearing their word, I do what they say. 

2.  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4).

3.  The only commandment given specifically to children in the Bible – obedience. 

4.  Three elements:

a.  Immediate (“Delayed obedience is disobedience” Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo)

b.  Complete (Matthew 21:30-32)

c.  With a good attitude

B.  As a young person… I honor my parents by respecting and cooperating with them.

1.  Honoring looks different as we grow.  There is a maturity and growth toward independence, but I am still in my parent’s home or care (ex: away at college)

2.  Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old (Proverbs 23:22).

     If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness
(Proverbs 20:20).

C.  As an adult… I honor my parents by affirmation and provision.

1.  How do I affirm my parents?

a.  By your godly character and life

     The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son
will be glad in him (Proverbs 23:24).

b.  By your actions, how you communicate thoughtfulness (ex: cards, letters, and calls)

     Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,when it is in your
power to do it
(Proverbs 3:27).  

c.  By making requests (ex: asking for prayer, asking their advice).  You don’t have to necessarily always take their advice, but ask what they think.  One can be in a wheel chair and still give counsel.    

2.  Provision? 

a.  Non-nogotiable.  Along with all other plans one makes, make financial and
mental plans to provide for the welfare of one’s parents in their latter years.


      But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God (1 Timothy 5:4).


       But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8)


b.  Note to parents:  Since our children will be morally responsible for our care, we should consider how we can prepare for those years so we don’t wipe our children out, asking how can I set my life up in such a way that I’m not too much of a burden?

IV.  Are there times when we can’t honor our parents?  Four things that take priority:

A.  The priority of salvation – in putting our faith in Christ, we may need to go against the desires and wishes of our parents (Matthew 10:34-35).  

B.  The priority of service.  Not in a hypocritical or overly-spiritualized manner (ex: Matthew 15:1-9), but there are times when we are called to serve God and leave house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for the Lord’s sake and for the gospel (Mark 10:29-30).  

C.  The priority of marriage.  When a parent would seek to put a wedge between their child and their spouse.  Ingram:  “If you want to pit me against my wife, hear me, you lose.  If you want a relationship with me, it’s me, my wife, and our family; if you want it with me alone, you lose it all”  (Ephesians 5:31-33).

D.  The priority of wisdom (Proverbs 9:7-9).

1.  At times we may need to honor the office of the parent, but we must protect our family (ex: if the parent is a mocker, is hostile, has an affecting alcohol or drug addiction, will swear or drink in front of grandchildren, does not filter media content, manipulates, etc.) 

2. It may be necessary to in effect say, “Look; the door is always open,  but until this is resolved, we won’t be back.”  Then pray.

V.  Application questions, adapted

A.  Reflect on why God makes the family such a high priority?

B.  What are the temptations to interpret the fifth commandment in light of our culture’s view of both authority and aging?

C.  Consider about which aspects of “honoring” your parents do you feel good.  Which aspects need some attention?  How will you address these?

D.  Where do you find it difficult to know exactly what honoring your parents look like?  Of what might Scripture or the body of Christ inform you?

* Thank you to Pastor Dave Monreal for distinguishing between a contractual (legal) agreement and a covenantal relationship in his 06.23.13 sermon “The True Design for Marriage” (10:00). Biblical marriage is meant to be a covenantal relationship, but many in our day treat it only as a contractual agreement.

A contractual agreement is a legal understanding.  Winston Smith in his book Marriage Matters  identifies a contract as a formal agreement “to give to get.”  It is often put into place to manipulate others or to assure fair play.  It conveys, “If you do your part, I’ll do mine.”

In contrast, a covenant marriage is entered as two people make vows to each other before the Lord; they willingly invite the Lord into their public agreement. Their vows, then, are a pledge to self and a vow before God, regardless of how one’s spouse responds in that circumstance. It is a pledge of sacrificial love.

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