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10 Commandments – 6th Commandment

Hi, Jason Pankau here with another video devotional for you to help you walk in the Lord today. We are still looking at our series on the Ten Commandments together. We are looking at the 6th Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” Let’s read it out of Deuteronomy 5:18, “You shall not commit adultery.” There it is, straightforward. So what does that mean?

Let me take you over to Dr. Martin Luther’s perspective on this. He says, “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do and husband and wife love and honor each other.” Obviously in our society today, people get very far afield from this. Drawing back to a pure and decent life. Living a chaste life would be another way of saying it. Do not commit adultery. God intended sexuality to be expressed in the covenant of marriage and there alone and nowhere else.

Of course, Jesus took this, as He did with most of these Commandments, and really explained them. If you look at a woman lustfully, in your heart you’ve committed adultery with her. That’s why you need to see the greater meaning. A lot of the guys I mentor or counsel say, “Yah, I look at pornography from time to time.” They don’t see how that is destroying the kind of intimacy that God wants them to have with their wives and the purity of that.  They don’t see why God would want to encourage that intimacy and purity so strongly, because we are the ones missing out when we disobey. We absolutely are. Any kind of sexual deviancy from purity will have consequence. Lust, which flows out of adultery, is part of the seven deadly sins. It’s an anti-intimacy, anti-community sin. It moves people to treat one another like objects of desire rather than human beings for whom God died.

I’ll never forget, it was early on in my walk as a Christian, when I was in high school.  Tony Schwartz, by God’s grace, was discipling me.  He’s a Pastor out in Las Vegas now, but he was a Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church at the time. He challenged me in this area because I wasn’t brought up with that kind of training, to really understand how you live this out. Even though I went to church every Sunday of my life.  He helped me to think it through. These women are your sisters in Christ. From God’s perspective, they’re your sisters. They’re people, not objects. Even though the worldly training was moving me that way. It was that thinking that unlocked me. It helped me understand that from God’s perspective, I was going against the family. For me that was unacceptable. That was the truth God used to unlock my life and to help me understand the biblical view of chastity. So that we would not commit adultery. Don’t mess around with this area of your life. It has profound consequences and we miss out on what God has for us in intimacy and love and purity in community.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we pray that You would purify our hearts. That You would cleanse us from within. That You would purify our thoughts and our actions. That You would help us relate to one another in biblically functioning community the way that You designed. Father, help us not to commit adultery. Help us to walk with You. Heal our relationships. Lord, there are so many relationships that need healing in this area. We’re so grateful that Your mercies are fresh every morning. They are new. Father, forgive us. Help us to walk in Your ways, to walk pure. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

God bless you as you walk with Him.

 

10 Commandments – 5th Commandment

Hi, Jason Pankau here. I’m ready for another daily devotional to hopefully encourage you to walk in the Lord today. We’re in this series looking at the Ten Commandments. It’s just an exciting series looking at these laws that lead to life, I like to say.

We are now in the Fifth Commandment. We are in the second section of the Ten Commandments, looking at how God wants us to relate with one another in a proper way under him. I’m in Deuteronomy 5:17, which says “You shall not murder”. That’s the whole verse. It makes it pretty clear.

What I find though, is that most people don’t really understand the magnitude of what He is really getting at here. God is basically saying that murdering is killing relationships the way God intended them. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expanded onto this. In Matthew 5:21-22, He said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,’ (which means that I’m holding you in contempt, I think I’m better than you) is answerable to the Sanhedrin. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

People have said the foot of the cross is incredibly level. There is nobody who stands higher than another. No other sinful human being is better than another this side of heaven. God will clean us all up. That side of heaven either, because we’ll be all cleaned up. There is a sense to where we must approach one another with humility. Even though the sin in me and the sin in you will cause us to get angry against one another. There is a way to handle this. Jesus says that man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. What God wants is love and community. He wants us to stay connected, both to Him and to one another.Displaying anger towards another or thinking you are better than those who are different or acting in an evil manner obstructs the unity God desires for us. The only thing that makes us good is Jesus Christ and His grace that has clothed us in His righteousness. We need to keep that in perspective. That is why God can say, “Do not murder”. Murder is taking innocent life. It’s not saying you should not go to war or anything like that. It’s not going to that level. What this is saying is that you should do anything you can, as far as it depends on you, to live at peace with all men and women.

Now those that are coming against you to kill you, that’s a different dynamic. You’re trying to live at peace, but now they’re forcing your hand. Now you need to protect your home. But for most of us, we don’t live in those kinds of environments every day, thankfully. For our soldiers, they do. But for us, we need to embrace this concept that God is trying to create this amazing community of love. Therefore we shall not murder it. We should not do even the little things that we might think are little things, but to God they’re big deals. Don’t stand in contempt over each other. Don’t let that anger, that human anger, turn into wrath. Live as meek people, people of grace. And in the power of Christ, stay connected to Him and build that unity in His church. That’s the 5th Commandment, “Thou shall not murder”.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we cannot do this without You. It’s a clear indicator to us of what You said that the law was given to show us that we can’t do it without You. We need the power of Your Holy Spirit giving us that grace for one another. Father, we know that Your grace is Your bridge to us and that’s the way that You reconciled us back Yourself. Father, empower us with that same grace, that in and through You, You might build that community of love. They’ll know you’re my disciples by your love for one another. Father, help us to protect that love for one another in a devoted way, as You would through us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God bless you as you do.

A New and Living Way

“A New and Living Way”
Hebrews 10:11-25

We begin this week with a sermon Jason did on Hebrews 10:11-25. We hope it will encourage you and help you to walk strong in the Lord this week!

Let’s pray. Father, may the cross be our glory, may You be our song. That’s our prayer today Lord. And we ask that by the power of your Holy Spirit, right here and right now, that you might give us eyes to see and ears to hear what that means for us. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.

This week has been a very interesting week for me. I’ve been travelling around to different places, speaking from Valparaiso University, to Joliet, to out on the East Coast for a couple of days and one reoccurring theme, as if God knew what He was doing, kept coming up. Whether I’m sitting down one on one with people or speaking to groups, the reality is that most people who call themselves Christians do not understand what it means to live in this new and living way. Most people who call themselves Christians are stuck in religion. They are stuck just trying to be good people. Do you know anyone who’s trying to be good people? Because that is our drift. That’s my natural drift pattern. I’m not trying to be a bad person, but if left up to my own devices, can I generate any good? No! And wrestling with that truth is challenging. Wouldn’t you agree? We sang this awesome song, “God you are good, you’re so good, you’re good.” We said that quite a few times, didn’t we? Well there’s a reason we did, because I forget. I start to believe that I might or could be good. You see, I don’t know any good people. I only know people through whom God does good. That’s the crux of what we are going to talk about today. This new and living way is the life-giving way of living by faith through grace and living by grace through faith.

I do a lot of couple counseling and coaching. Do you remember the phrase, “stop biting and devouring or else you’ll be destroyed by one another”? That’s what they were in the midst of, and so they called me in and asked me to help them sort this out. Have any of you had trouble in your marriage? Do you know what I’m talking about, where you’re biting and devouring? You can’t seem to forgive one another. You can’t seem to just let it go and move forward. Basically, they were standing one on each side, there’s the problem in between them, and they’re just lobbing bombs at each other. You see, unless you understand the new and living way of Jesus, the way of grace, living in and through Him by faith, we will continue to destroy one another. That is the way of man and women, of mankind. This new and living way though helps us get on the same side and look at the problem together. Remember that I am saved through grace and that I am not perfect. Remember that I need forgiveness and I should not stand in judgment of others, though they might have sinned against me or disappointed me and not lived up to my expectations. Now aren’t you glad that God doesn’t treat you that way? God very clearly proclaimed to us his expectations, didn’t He? In giving us the law, He gave us the Ten Commandments. Has anybody here ever stolen? Anybody here ever lied? Let’s get all of our hands up please. So we have disobeyed God. And God tells us that the wages of sin is death, separation from God. That is what we all deserve, but He doesn’t. He gives us grace.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people were taught this. They were given the Law and they were given the sacrificial system. They were told that not only does their sin separate them from God, but that there must be payment for sin. Blood must be shed. So they engage in this sacrificial system of rams, goats, bulls and all kinds of stuff. But that never actually took away the sin because it would require, if humans are the ones doing the sinning, a human sacrifice.

So that’s where we’re digging in today. Here’s the Scripture, from Hebrews 10. “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins”, as I’ve just said. All it’s doing is paying forward. All it’s doing is making sure we don’t forget that God’s righteous, holy decree must be satisfied and that there must be some payment for the disobedience and therefore blood must be shed. All foretelling what’s about to be talked about here in verse 12. “But when this priest had offered for all time” (Jesus is this priest) “one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” No more sacrificial system, no more doing the religion thing. It’s been done, by the new and living way of Jesus. Continuing with verse 13 and 14, “Since that time He (Jesus) waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice” this is the key verse, “he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Do you understand that you have been made perfect forever in Jesus Christ if you are living by faith through grace?

How many of you in here have been baptized? We want you to understand what is freely being offered to you in baptism: forgiveness for all your sins. Cleansed. Purified. For those of us who were baptized a long time ago, we still just live back into our baptismal promise, don’t we? That’s what we come to bank on. He promised that He would forgive. And that’s good news! He’ll never change. And those of us who are really engaging in what I just described, do you sense day by day that you are being made more and more holy? Do you see God, not only justifying you, but sanctifying and growing you in this grace? That’s normal for all believers, for us to be growing constantly and living by faith. Not just being saved by faith, but living by grace through faith.

Alright, let’s go through the first principle. Jesus, not only is our high priest, but He is the sacrificial Lamb of God that takes away, not just pays them forward, the sin of the world. It’s done, it’s gone. Past, present and future. He’s our High Priest. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Let’s continue in Hebrews 10, verse 15. “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.” A covenant, a new expectation, a new agreement. “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write the on their minds. Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” You’re being made more and more holy through baptism and as we’re growing through Him. The more I understand the will of God, the more convicted I am of my sin. Does that make sense? The more I understand how egregiously I’ve offended and do offend a holy God, the more I am going to understand that He is God and I am not. And boy do I need His grace! That’s not a one-time thing. That’s an ever-growing awareness of my need for His grace and my receiving of that grace. It only grows, it only magnifies, as you come to know him. So aren’t you glad that as you come to have that written on your mind and on your hearts, you can be for sure that it’s forgiven. He’ll remember it no more. It’s a very important point. “And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin”. It’s done, it’s over.

Let’s continue with verses 19-21, “Therefore, brothers (and sisters), since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God “. So let’s understand this a little bit. We now can enter the Most Holy Place. He’s talking about the temple. Inside of the temple was the Holy of Holies. What separated us from the Holy of Holies? It was the curtain, which on the cross when Jesus was dying, tore in two. Miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit, it tore in two, symbolizing there’s access to God. What’s separating us from Him is over. The sin is paid for. We can all have access to God now through Jesus, through His blood that has been shed once for all. The curtain is torn. Talk about a great High Priest! What do you think? Back then they would have known the high priest. They would have gone one time a year. They’d tie a little rope around their leg and they’d go into the Holy of Holies. This is a holy God and to connect with Him requires awesomeness and that’s what Jesus provides to us. Forgiveness of our sins, cleansed, so that we can move into that space unafraid. So here’s the challenge. Will you do exactly that? Verse 22 says “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart”. Will you draw near to God? Do you draw near to God? How do you draw near to God? Do you walk daily with him? Do you hold on to him as if He’s life? Because He is. “With a sincere heart”, that means a humble and contrite heart. This is not just doing what I want to do anyway and then asking for the Lord to bless me. This is “You are God and I am not”, apart from You I can do nothing. I need Your grace. Take me deeper into that understanding Lord, use my life as You will. “Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come”. “On Earth as it is in Heaven”. Continuing now with verse 22, “having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” (sprinkled through the shedding of his blood) “and having our bodies washed with the pure water.” Verse 23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly” (drive a stake in the ground and remember that this is the core of life) “to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Let’s hold on the fact that He is faithful. Me, not so much. How about you? Do you mess up once in a while? The good news is He is absolutely perfect, so let’s hold on to Him. So let’s live by faith in him, not in us. That’s what it means to live in full assurance of faith. I have faith in him. I have full assurance in Jesus, not so much assurance of me.

Next is Principle #2: We live by Grace through FAITH. Not only are we saved by grace through faith, we live by grace through faith in God. Through faith in His sacrifice for us, we can be forgiven, cleansed from our sins and reconnected with God. That is what life is all about: connecting with Him and with one another. Then as He uses our lives, He’ll use us to connect others in His calling that He’s given us. Look what it says next in Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” You know God is love. And good deeds are what God does through us. Let’s consider all the myriad of ways that we could do that as a body. How many of you here have taken the Body Life Basics training we’re doing? Hopefully you’re going to be soon, by God’s grace. Because that’s what we’re trying to help each other get on the same page about. This is what it means for us to be the body of Christ. To do exactly what He said: to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:25 continues, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The Day is the final day when Jesus comes back again. He is going to consummate history.

Principle #3: “Biblically functioning community”, states that if you want to live by grace through faith you need the body of Christ. That’s why we are here for one another and God in and through you is a blessing to me. So I want to connect with that. I want to talk to you about my sins and what I’m struggling with. I want to ask you to pray for me and help me grow in Christ. I was back in New York and it’s just interesting again how God knows what He’s doing, right? So I’m talking with 3 or 4 people about New Year’s resolutions. They’re kind of funny when you think about it, right? How little traction we actually get, especially when they are done alone. So we are all contemplating the reality that we could lose a few pounds. Ok, so my number was 40. That’s the number I felt convicted about. So 4 or 5 of us all at the same time are saying “me too”. It was just awesome. I’ve known these people a long time. We’ve journeyed together, we’ve wrestled together, we’ve prayed together. So we’ve all committed together, for the next year, to go on a journey together. We’re going to encourage one another. We’re going to try and spur one another on towards love. This is love for God, to obey His command. Don’t be a glutton. Aren’t you sometimes? The only way to stop it, isn’t just pray “Father”, it’s pray and get together with the body of Christ and encourage one another daily. So we grow in this new way of Jesus, this way of grace and community, not isolation, not self-help, it’s God. As we live by faith together in biblical functioning community, whatever the Bible teaches us, however it teaches us how to relate to one another, that’s what we will do. We will spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Now Mark 13:1 says, “As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent building!” Then Jesus responds in verse 2, “Do you see all these great buildings? “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” So that was them leaving the temple. They walked through the valley, they’re thinking on these things, like that’s one of those things you don’t forget, right? They get back up to the other side of the valley and they are on the Mountain of Olives. Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, opposite of the temple, so now they’re looking at it. It’s a beautiful scene if you’ve ever been there. There are Peter, James, John and Andrew. You can almost picture the conversation between them: “You ask him”. “No, you do it. I’m not doing it. Last time he said get behind me Satan, I’m not doing it.” Peter’s out. “Don’t say it’s not going to happen, just find out when”. “No Lord, that’ll never happen.” “Get behind me!” “It’s going to happen, don’t stop that again. When?” So they try. In verse 4 they ask, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” Verse 5 continues, “Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you”, that no one shows up and says “Hi, I’m Jesus back for the second time”, which has happened quite a few times, in some of our lifetimes even. Continuing in Mark 13:6-7, “Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, (like what is happening right this moment in the Middle East) do not be alarmed.” That’s the way people disconnected from His love and grace, that’s the way they are going to act with one another. Until He comes back, that’s part of the deal. Mark 13:7-8 continues “Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains

So Jesus comes, consummates history and brings in the new Jerusalem. He ushers in the new way of heaven No more sin, no more struggle against evil. We will be living with our Lord, abiding in Him, all day every day, serving the King. Mark 13:9 says, “You must be on your guard.” Are you on your guard this morning? Are you ready? Do you understand the deception of the evil one trying to drag you back to religion? Trying to be a good boy or girl, not living by grace through faith in Jesus every day in every way. Because it is a very slippery slope. Because here is the reality, things are going to get worse. Mark 13:9 continues, “You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues.” And every one of the people, those four guys that were asking, they all died for their faith. That happened. And that isn’t just a truth for them, it’s also foretelling a truth for us. This is the way it will be at the end of the times. Continuing verse 9, “On account of me you will stand before governors and kings (they actually, literally did) as witnesses (to Jesus) to them.” Does that make sense to you? Do you embrace the reality that as I am living in this new way, as He is growing me and sanctifying me, it is normal for Him to bear witness to who He is through me? And I will stand for him. When people come against me with hatred and anger, I come with love and forgiveness because that’s what Jesus did. And sometimes, they will want to take our lives because of it. Do you understand that more people are dying, are being martyred for their faith right now than ever before in history? Did you know that? It’s easy to miss that sometimes, living in America. You should know this is true. By the way, where that’s taking place, the Kingdom of God is expanding, multiplying. I was talking to one of my buddies in New York. He just came back from Africa, the church is expanding like wildfire in Africa. Praise God. People are finding life by grace through faith. It’s awesome and they are living in that way. They’re not being proud. They’re not standing against God. They’re submitting to Him. They’re living. It’s awesome. They’re being God’s witnesses and they’re receiving that witness. They’re living boldly for the Kingdom.

Moving on to Principle #4, “There will be increasing trouble and persecution in this world, and we will bear witness to God’s love in the midst of it all!” Because He will do it through us. Guaranteed, as we live by faith. And then He says this in Mark 13:10, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial,” (it might be painful, no doubt about it, it was painful for Jesus, but here’s the thing you have as a guarantee, don’t waver on this) “do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” So let Him speak. Be used of God.

How many of you have had the privilege of being used of God, in any circumstance, and you’ve seen God change lives? You know that’s God doing that, right? And we get to be used as His instruments to bear witness to His forgiveness and His bringing life into us and then life through us. That is good news. It’s very good news. So God will speak through us. He will give you words to speak. Don’t be afraid. Then He goes on to say this. He’s really trying to make sure you get it, how hard this is going to get. Continuing with Mark 13:12-13, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child.” I can’t even imagine that. “Children will rebel against their parents,” (that I can imagine) “and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Guaranteed, because He who promised, is faithful. Remember, He who promised is faithful.

Lastly, Principle #6, “Persecution reveals Character!” How do you find something out? One of my mentors and I were sitting in a mall food court. We were having this mentoring time. I was wrestling with some stuff and he was looking at me all weird. This guy is a very wise man of God. He took the cup of juice and he picked it up in his hand and said “watch this”. He got really close to me and smashed the cup and the juice got all over me. And I said “Jim, what’s up? That’s not cool dude.” And he said, “That’s how you find out what’s in somebody. Pressure!” The real them comes out. I said “you could have just said that Jim”. He said, “well this way the point will stick.” Real sticky, now I have to go wash my clothes. But that’s how you find out where someone really stands. And Jesus is trying to help us all understand. If you stand with Him, live by grace through faith, not only will He strengthen us, not only give us words, not only change the world through us, He will bear testimony to his goodness. And He is good. We will experience and express His love in ways you could never even ask for or imagine for yourself. It’ll be awesome. That is us who are being made holy. That is the journey of faith that we all get to be a part of. Is that not good news? Let’s pray.

Father God, we are grateful that You invite the likes of us, not only that You would come and die for us, but that You use our lives to bear witness to Your glory, to Your holiness, to Your goodness. Father, we all proclaim that You are good and we are not. We are so grateful that we get to be cleansed and purified, that you create in us new people. Teach us how to live in Your ways, Lord. Help us to walk with You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

10 Commandments – 4th Commandment

The Ten Commandments – 4th Commandment
Hi, Jason Pankau here with another video devotional to help you walk in the Lord today. We are continuing along our devotional series, looking at the Ten Commandments. The Fourth Commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” So this is the “honor you father and mother” Commandment.

As I described in our last devotional, depending on the numbering system you’re looking at, this is either the Fourth or Fifth Commandment. I believe it to be the Fourth Commandment. But there is a shift that takes place, depending on the numbering system you use. The first 3 or 4 Commandments look at “How do we connect with God?” Now, God’s turning the discussion to “How do we connect with one other?” “How do we have a proper view of loving your neighbor”? Because Jesus is going to sum all the law and the Prophets up to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

So this is where it begins. Loving your neighbor as yourself begins with honoring your earthly authorities. For those of us who have been children at one time, that’s all of us, we’re born into families. If you’re an orphan, hopefully you have other foster parents. My wife and I, for example, have been foster parents. God uses parenting in a divine way, to author (built into the word authority) the lives of young children. It’s such an awesome experience to have that kind of authority.

Of course, the key here is walking in the Lord. First, “have no other God before me” and “do not use the name of the Lord your God in vain”, all that is so vital. Stay connected to the Lord, so that it’s God doing the parenting through us. That is such an important and difficult dynamic to engage in. That’s why God is commanding the opposite side of the equation here, that children “honor your father and mother as the Lord your God has commanded you”. What makes this a difficult process is that children don’t obey. I have four kids and I can tell you, sometimes it feels like herding cats. If you know what that feels like, you know what I’m talking about.

I’m also taking us through the Small Catechism. I really love Luther’s take on the Ten Commandments. He says, “What does this mean?”. “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities”. This also includes other people who live in authority over you. It begins with your parents, but this is talking about understanding the proper relationship to authority. Luther continues “but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them”. I can tell you for sure, one of greatest transformations that God has brought about in and through my life, in my heart, soul, mind and strength, is my approach to authority in my life. There was a time in my life when it was about what I thought and what I wanted and God humbled me and showed me that that life leads to death. There is a way that sees right into a man and leads right to death. But humbling yourself and following divine authority, godly authority, in a proper way, by honoring your father and mother, is vital if you are going to grow and stay connected with the Lord.

Another thing I think about when I talk about following human authority is the Apostle Paul who said it this way, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. There is a reason why this is not the First Commandment. Only as you see divine authority moving through, that’s what you want to follow. Of course we follow God first, but God wants to use the human authorities in our lives to show us the life that is truly life. So honor your father and mother and it will go well with you. Let’s pray.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for the parents that we’ve all had. For some of us it meant foster parents, for some of us it meant being adopted into families. None of that parenting was perfect and you have now connected with us in such a way that You are now our Father and You are completing our parenting. So we honor You and we serve You above all things. We want to consistently obey this Commandment to honor the good that You did through our parents and the human authorities that you’ve put in our lives. Help us to live in a righteous way with them. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

God bless you as you do.

10 Commandments – 3rd Commandment

The Ten Commandments – 3rd Commandment
Hi, Jason Pankau with another video devotional for you today. We’re in a series looking at the Ten Commandments. The Third Commandment states, “Honor the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy”. You may be wondering why I’m not making this the Fourth Commandment. “Is my numbering getting off?” I am following a Lutheran version of numbering the Ten Commandments, which I find to be the most accurate way to number them. I’ll explain when I get to the Tenth Commandment why Lutherans break up “You shall not covet” into two, because there really is two there. I will also explain why we include “You shall not make any idol” into the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me”. The first few Commandments talk about how you relate to God and the others talk about how we should be relating to one another.

Today, we are focusing on the Third Commandment, “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.” This is from Deuteronomy 5:12-14, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath (a Shabbat) to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (I love that phrase). Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath Day.”

In my opinion, the Sabbath Day is intended to be a day of recalibration and yes, a day of rest. But there is something that God is trying to teach us, I believe, about the rhythm of life. That one day out of every seven, you need to just shut down. If you let this world turn you into a workaholic and a do, do, do guy or gal, you will disconnect from the Lord. You will start to trust in yourself more than you trust in the Lord. You will work yourself into the ground. We need to spend that one day in seven being with the Lord, observing worship with his community, taking in the preached word of God, engaging in the sacramental life and the means of grace and all this wonderful life that God has provided for us, so that we can stay connected, vital and vibrant.

I like the way that Luther talks about it in the Small Catechism. “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” I know how most of us American Christians engage in this. We go to a worship service. We love the preaching of God’s word and take it in. But I want to take you deeper here. Part of the Sabbath Day is to then meditate on that word all day. We should think, “What did God just say to me?”. “How am I now intended to live differently because of what the word of God spoke to me about today?” So go home and get into the word yourself. Talk with your family and friends about how God is trying to change our lives together. Remember, it is a day of recalibration, of staying connected with God and rightly connected with those closest to us.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, help us to honor the Sabbath Day. Teach us how to make that day holy unto You. Of course, every day is holy unto You. Work is holy too, but you called us to one in seven days to rest, to worship, to listen for Your voice and then to learn and talk about how you’re trying to change our lives going forward. Father, I pray that would become the practice of everyone who is listening, that we would know that peace that passes all understanding. But we must first be still and know that you are God. Father, deliver us from our busyness, from all the work. Teach us to rest. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

God bless you as you do.

Conquering Our Minds

Conquering Our Minds

It is common for many of us to feel frustrated about the tendency of the human mind toward unruliness.  We can be very sincere about our desire to keep our thinking “on the straight and narrow” only to find that our minds have wandered onto a dangerous piece of terrain far off the road. Here are several approaches to reducing this tendency:

First, know that God is near you as your rock or fortress.  This point is commonly understood as divine protection, which is right, but it can also be understood as divine stability, the kind of fulcrum or place from which to remain unmoved and even from which to exert leverage against something that threatens to overpower us.  “He says in his heart, ‘I shall not be moved.’” (Psalms 10:6).

Resting on the Rock is real, paradoxically, even when we need to be moving forward.  If we are constantly in a striving state of mind, we become exhausted quickly.  But controlling the mind might be likened to controlling a car: A light grasp on the steering wheel works best. The same is true of a rifle in the hands of a marksman: He doesn’t grip it tightly; neither does he just let it drop. Similarly, if we cling to tightly to control and don’t submit ourselves to God’s divine guidance and power we will be powerless against our minds tendency to wander.

Second, make a decision.  If there is some particular thing we should avoid thinking about, such as an incident that gives rise to pointless resentment, we are helped by making a decision about it.  Then when the temptation appears we can calmly remind ourselves that the relevant decision has already been made.  This is especially effective if the thought has an addictive aspect to it.

Some thoughts may actually emanate from dark spiritual forces.  A rational perspective is to be aware that such forces can indeed impinge on our consciousness, especially if we’re tired or suffer in some other way, but not to suppose there’s a demon behind every tree.   We are not powerless regarding these forces; we can take firm authority over them, speaking the word of God.

Third, be watchful.  It’s important to avoid mental drift, because the mind tends to drift toward things that are negative rather than toward things that are positive.  We can maintain a relaxed watchfulness, and we can also use the in-between times of life, where we don’t have to focus intensively on any particular thing, for filling our minds with affirmations that prevent us to drift toward negativity.

Fourth, react to things constructively.  Any of the circumstances in our lives, whether positive or negative, can be used to engender in us a closer connection to God and His power.  In this regard, it is important to keep our focus on the answer rather than on the problem.  This doesn’t mean being in denial about a problem, but it does mean we should avoid adding life and power to the problem through our focus on it.

Finally, develop kingdom thinking.  We can gradually discipline our thinking with the help of scripture over a period of time so that the kingdom is increasingly present within us.  Like the comparisons Jesus made to the leaven and the mustard seed, progress in the kingdom tends to be a matter of gradual growth — and of impressive results.  A person who is frequently immersed in the word of God, including promises such as abundant life, the peace that surpasses understanding, and completeness of joy, cannot help but move closer to what St. Paul called “all the fullness of God.”

10 Commandments – Second Commandment

Hi, Jason Pankau here, with another video devotional for you to help you walk in the Lord today. We’re in a series looking at the Ten Commandments. The Second Commandment says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name”, out of Deuteronomy 5:11.

So, are you flippant with the name of the Lord? I don’t know about you, but I wander into all kinds of settings where people are misusing the name of Jesus, or the name of the Lord. When people say OMG, they’re not really revering and keeping in awe that name, which is the name above all names. And so if we are going to be impacted by our world, we might drift into that way of thinking or acting. And it’s a very, very dangerous way of acting. In the Small Catechism, Luther talked about “what does this mean?” and described it this way, “we should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks”. That is how we are to use the name of the Lord rightly, and then of course there’s a way to not use it rightly.

So, have you ever dabbled in that? Have you ever been challenged or tempted to deceive, even in the name of God? To curse others, literally, saying, “you’ll never amount to anything”. Our words have power, and what you speak into peoples’ lives can have a dramatic effect on them. God wants us, if you look at James 3, to be careful about the tongue. It’s a deadly fire, full of deadly poison. Be very careful what you say into peoples’ lives. God is, of course, encouraging here, to speak to Him and to use His Name in a holy way.

I remember when I first came alive in Christ as a senior in high school. I used to be someone who would swear and curse, using Christ’ name in an awful way. And I remember how the Spirit just brought my soul alive, and I used to feel the impact of hearing the other athletes that I was with, using the name of the Lord in vain. It just started to wreck me inside. I was usually a very good athlete on the team, so I had a little bit of influence on the team. I would start to tell guys to not speak like that around me, that it was starting to bother me. And I sensed them reacting, “oh you’re becoming a holy roller, I get it”. Part of me wanted to say,  “I guess I am.” You need to have reverence for God. I used to live as a man who didn’t. I didn’t live under the authority of God, and now that I’m following the First Commandment, living under the authority of God, he is my God and I am his servant. I’m not the Creator. I am the creature, and if I want to live the best life, I need to live it in Him. Part of that is, in the second commandment, I need to honor the name of the Lord. It is special, just like our names are special. God knows all of our names, but His is set apart: the name above all names. So I challenge you today to honor this commandment. And “do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks” in the name of the Lord.

Let’s pray. Lord, we do give you thanks for loving us the way you do, for providing for us the way you do. You are so different from us. You are the Creator. You are our God. And Your name truly is above our names, above every name. Help us to live in a way that honors You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. God bless you.

10 Commandments – 2nd Commandment

The Ten Commandments – 2nd Commandment
Hi, Jason Pankau here, with another video devotional for you to help you walk in the Lord today. We’re looking at the Ten Commandments, we’re in the series, and we’re looking at the Second Commandment now. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name”, out of Deuteronomy 5:11.

So, are you flippant with the name of the Lord? I don’t know about you, but I wander into all kinds of settings where people are misusing the name of Jesus, or the name of the Lord, or the OMG stuff. When they’re not really revering and keeping in awe that name, which is the name above all names. And so if we are going to be impacted by our world, we might drift into that way of thinking or acting. And it’s a very, very dangerous way of acting. I like it in the Small Catechism, Luther, when he talked about “what does this mean?” described it this way, “we should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks”. That is how we are to use the name of the Lord rightly, and then of course there’s a way to not use it rightly. So, have you ever dabbled in that, have you ever been challenged or tempted to deceive, even in the name of God? To curse others, I mean literally, “you’ll never amount to anything”, you know, our words have power and what you speak into peoples’ lives can have a dramatic effect on them. God wants us, if you look at James chapter 3, to be careful about the tongue, it’s a deadly fire, full of deadly poison. Be very careful what you say into peoples’ lives. God is, of course, encouraging here, to speak to Him and to use His Name in a holy way.

I remember when I first kind of came alive in Christ as a senior in high school. I used to be someone who would swear and curse, using Christ’ name in an awful way. And I remember how the Spirit just brought my soul alive and I used to feel the impact of hearing the other athletes that I was with, using the name of the Lord in vain and it just started to wreck me inside. I was usually a very good athlete on the team, so I had a little bit of influence on the team and I would start to tell guys just don’t speak like that around me, it’s starting to bother me and, you could always sense, “oh you’re becoming a holy roller, I get it” and part of me wanted to say I guess I am. You need to have reverence for God. I used to live as a man who didn’t. I didn’t live under the authority of God and now that I’m following the First Commandment, living under the authority of God, and he is my God and I am his servant. I’m not the Creator, I am the creature and if I want to live the best life, I need to live it in Him. Well part of that is, number 2 Commandment here, I need to honor the name of the Lord, it is special. Just like our names are special, and God knows all of our names, but his is set apart. The name above all names. So I challenge you today to honor this commandment. And “do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks” in the name of the Lord.

Let’s pray. Lord, we do give you thanks for loving us the way you do, for providing for us the way you do. You are so different from us. You are the Creator, you are our God. And your name truly is above our names, above every name. Help us to live in a way that honors you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. God bless you.

Transformative Power of Believing

There are some beliefs that form the basis of our whole view of reality as Christians. For many Christians these are enumerated in one of the creeds. There are other beliefs that sustain us from moment to moment in times of serious difficulty and where mere human willpower is frustratingly inadequate.

First, what are we believing about the power to subdue our sin tendencies and the power to grow in character strength? With the best of intentions, some have sought to accomplish these things with their own willpower, perhaps even congratulating themselves on taking responsibility for aiming toward these praiseworthy objectives. But God wants us to be in relationship with Him. This is a matter of submitting ourselves to Him, depending on Him and trusting in Him, all of which is opposed to the mere exercise of human willpower. We have a vital assurance from Romans 6:14: “Sin shall not have dominion over you.”

Second, what are we believing in regard to other practical situations? For example, some Christians place a burden on themselves in the area of self-discipline, believing that it reflects a praiseworthy sense of responsibility. Then they find themselves frustrated by repeated failures. But they might be likened to an employee who keeps walking long distances without realizing the company car is available. In other words, God wants us to move forward, even in continuous forceful action, toward achieving practical goals using the discipline He grants to us. If the discipline in a given situation is what we need, we can believe in Him for it.

Third, what are we believing for regarding other people? If, let’s say, we have loved ones living unwisely, we can begin believing for God’s wisdom to take root in their lives. Believing for God’s blessing for another never removes the need for people to seek God on their own, but until that happens and even after that, we can take faith responsibility for them in times of difficulty.

Even though a small amount of faith can make a great difference, Jesus doesn’t want us to be like those He spoke of as “of little faith.” For instance, do we suppose God loves us just a little, or do we believe in a tremendous “John 3:16″ kind of love (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…”)  Do we believe He has enough love to forgive us? Enough to cleanse us from unrighteousness when that has been repeatedly manifest in our lives? Enough to help us even with minor difficulties?

May our belief be so wholehearted and all-encompassing that we depend on the greatness of his power toward us (Ephesians 1:7) and are thankful to Him accordingly. Let’s have a big picture of how much power can be exercised by believing. Let’s believe that God is giving us power for conquering sin, building up character strength, drawing on healing, joy, and peace, and for living like people who are forgiven and loved. Let’s react to things in terms of believing that God has promises and purposes for us and, as we believe these things before they become manifest, we will discover over time that we can thank Him on the basis of our actual experience.

10 Commandments – First Commandment

Hi, Jason Pankau here, with another video devotional to help you walk in the Lord today. We’re in our series, this is going to be number two in the series looking at the Ten Commandments. The last one was just an intro, so this is actually going to be looking at the very First Commandment. And I’m just going to continue forth, he said, and this is by the way found in Deuteronomy chapter 5 in the 6th verse, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments”.

Ok, so this is obviously the first and most important of the Ten Commandments. And basically, what does this mean? God is first. There is one God and there are no other gods. And it’s wonderful, and in your bible, it’s probably just like mine “I am the Lord your God”, capital ‘G’ God, “who brought you out of Egypt, out of land of slavery. You shall have no other gods” small ‘g’ gods “before me”. You know, when I think about it, we can go into a long list of ways in which we are tempted to make other things our god. To worship, whether it’s money, or fame, or you name it. To bow down, and look again, he tried to bring a little bit more clarity to that, “do not make any idols”, so it makes you think of American Idol and all this kind of thinking. So there is no other thing or person, that you will see as the source of all life, as the Creator, as the One to whom you will devote yourself. So how do we devote ourselves? “You shall not bow down to them or worship them”. So bowing down is a wonderful picture of worship. I like to talk about this in terms of submitting to authority. When we submit, we place ourselves underneath the authority of another. So what God is saying here, is submit to me and to me only, as the source of real life. Live by faith in me, in my guidance and my power and my provision for your life. That’s what it means to make me your God. Jesus, for example, is our Lord and our Savior. He is our God. There is one God in three persons, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, all fully God.

So how are you doing with that? Who’s really competing for your devotion? To whom or to what are you really serving and submitting and seeking guidance and strength and trusting in, in your life. The Scriptures would encourage us and I want to encourage this as strongly as I can, to submit to God, to have no other small ‘g’ gods. Don’t even let them compete. Even though we are all tempted to let them compete and the evil one is trying to get them into our lives at every turn. The encouragement is to have no other gods but Him.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, if there is any ways in us that we are drifting away from seeking you and you alone, you purely, as our Lord, as the only true God. Father, we want to repent and ask for your forgiveness, ask for your recalibration, your redirection. Father, we want to live in alignment with you. We want to submit and bow down to you and to you alone, for we believe that you and you alone have life, and in and through faith in You, there is life and life to the full. So Father help us to live that way today. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. God bless you as you do.

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