Exodus 20: 1-20 (NCV)  –  Then God spoke all these words:  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt where you were slaves.
“You must not have any other gods except me.
“You must not make for yourselves an idol that looks like anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the water below the land.  You must not worship or serve any idol, because I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.  If you hate me, I will punish your children, and even your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  But I show kindness to thousands who love me and obey my commands.
“You must not use the name of the Lord your God thoughtlessly; the Lord will punish anyone who misuses his name.
“Remember to keep the Sabbath holy.  Work and get everything done during six days each week, but the seventh day is a day of rest to honor the Lord your God.  On that day no one may do any work:  not you, your son or daughter, your male or female slaves, your animals, or the foreigners living in your cities.  The reason is that in six days the Lord made everything–the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.  On the seventh day he rested.  So the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother so that you will live a long time in the land that the Lord your God is going to give you.
“You must not murder anyone.
“You must not be guilty of adultery.
You must not steal.
“You must not tell lies about your neighbor.
“You must not want to take your neighbor’s house.  You must not want his wife or his male or female slaves, or his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
When the people heard the thunder and the trumpet, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke rising from the mountain, they shook with fear and stood far away from the mountain.  Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself, and we will listen.  But don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”
Then Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, because God has come to test you.  He wants you to respect him so you will not sin.”

I have been working my way through the early books of the Bible.  The stories are fun and interesting.  But the rules!  Oh my!  Rules, rules, rules!  This kind of animal sacrifice for this reason.  The grain sacrifice for that thing.  So very strict, regimented.  One slip up and you could be dragged out of the camp and stoned to death, or struck dead on the spot!  I often wonder why.  And how in the world did they ever remember it all?  In Numbers 15 a man was stoned to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath.  Then God told Moses to tell the people to make tassels out of thread.  Put a blue thread in each tassel, and then attach the tassels to the corners of their clothing.  When they look at the tassels, they would be reminded of the Lord’s commands and obey them.  I’m sorry, but a tassel tied to my clothes would not help remember all of the commands!  The 10 maybe, but everything else?  Not a chance!  

What a relief to be able to jump ahead to the New Testament, and read the2 commandments that Jesus gave!  Matthew 22:37-40 – Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command.  And the second is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’  All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.”  

The key word is love.  Oh, I know.  This is not nuclear science or an amazing spiritual breakthrough.  It could, I suppose, be brought to the level of duh.  Not on Jesus’ part, on ours.  We had to ask, what is the most important of the commandments (Matt. 22:36), after all.  Jesus was just simplifying the code for the sheep to understand.  Take the first three of the ten commandments.  If we love God, we will not have any other gods before Him.  If we love God, we will not make idols to worship in place of Him.  If we love God, we will not use His name thoughtlessly.  Take the second of Jesus’ commands.  If we love our neighbor as ourselves, are we going to steal from them?  Lie to them, or about them?  Murder them?  Of course not!!!

It is all about the love… of God, for God, from God!  I have been battling against a self-serving attitude.  I become upset, lose my temper with my children, my husband when things don’t go the way I don’t want them to.  I have spent a great deal of time in prayer about this.  And have boiled it down to selfishness.  A self-serving attitude.  I am angry and frustrated with my family because they don’t do what want.  They don’t behave the way Iwant them to behave.  They don’t speak the way want them to speak.  You get the idea.  But GOD boiled it down even further.  THE BRASS TACKS??  LOVE!!!!!!!  IF I DO NOT LOVE MY NEIGHBOR (OR MY CHILDREN, OR MY HUSBAND) AS MYSELF, THEN I SERVE MYSELF.  And how can I say that I love God, but not love the most precious people He has put in my life with the kind of love that He loves me with?

Whatever your battle is, God’s love is the key.  Join me in praying: Father God, fill our weak and broken earthly vessels with Your love. Pour it out of us onto those closest to us.  But Father, don’t stop there.  Seep it out of the cracks and wholes of our lives to all those we come in contact with each and every day.  May Your love be seen in and through us.  And may You be glorified because of it!  In the precious name of our Savior and Lord, Jesus…Amen.

God bless you all!!!