Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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15. Take the Name but not in Vain – Part 1

Exodus 20:7

“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

 As we continue in our series “Relationship not Rules” we come to the third commandment, You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” Sadly, today the reason for the misuse often has to do with the misunderstanding of this command. When it comes to misusing the name of the Lord our God we tend to focus on our words. But this commandment not only encompasses our words but also our walk. It has to do with our reverence which is at the very heart of worship. What we revere we not only respect, but we will reflect. We are not just called to be worshippers of God but a witness to God. This means that honoring the Lord has to do with our lifestyles not just our lips. My prayer as we look at our call to be authentic worshippers not just on the weekend but throughout the week is that our lips and our lives will be a witness for Jesus to a lost and dying world. The third command starts with an:

  1. Admonition

To respect and revere God’s name. So, let me ask you how important are names? Most often when people see my name Giles they think it’s a g not a j sound. I tell people not to worry if they get my name wrong because it happens all the time. But regardless of whether or not people butcher your name when they pronounce it our hope is that when they hear it good things come to mind. That’s why it hurts so much when someone drags your name through the mud or attributes things to you that you’ve never said or done. I’m reminded of Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” The converse is also true according to 1 Samuel 25:25: “May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name – his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.” Your name is tied to your reputation, but don’t get too wrapped up in your reputation instead you need to be more concerned with your character. Why because as John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”All you need to do is hear the name Judas Iscariot or Hitler and strong negative images come to your mind. On the flip side what kind of images are created when we hear names like: Washington, Lincoln, or Martin Luther King Jr.Some names are so well-known that they’ve become synonymous with a product. For instance, most of us don’t reach for a “tissue,” we reach for a “Kleenex.” “Band-Aids” and “Scotch Tape” are example of this as well. Companies know the importance of their name, even putting trademarks on it so no one can use it wrongly. What you call God is a big deal to Him because His name reflects His character and nature. We could say that its copyright protected, and we show respect for Him when we handle His name with care. This command like many commands has both a negative and a positive side. Here the positive side is implied, that we revere and give honor to His name. Where the negative is stated, don’t dishonor and misuse the name of GOD. As we look a little more in depth at this command, we see the first phrase

  • “You shall not take” –The word “take” means, “to lift up, to carry, to bear. We can do this when we lift up our hand in taking an oath, to lift up our eyes as in love or desire of men or of God, to lift up our voice in worship or worry.
  • “The name of the Lord your God” – In the Bible, a name was not only identification but an actual identity. It represented their nature. To know someone’s name is the first step in beginning a relationship with them. When we meet people one of the first things, we do is tell them our name. As we look back at verse 2 we see God declaring who He is: “I am the Lord your God” and in verse 5: “…For I, the Lord your God…” The first name in verse 7 is Yahweh and means “I am who I am.” It is often translated Lord and is used over 6,500 times in the Scriptures. It’s the name God told Moses to call Him when He commissioned Moses at the burning bush. God invites us to call Him by name and we can find safety and shelter in His name as Proverbs 18:10 states: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” While many Orthodox Jews today don’t write out or say out loud the name God, we are invited throughout the Bible to call Him by name. God does not forbid the use of His name but its misuse.
  • “In vain” – The word “vain” means “empty and useless, wasted. We take God’s name in vain when we use it in a casual and careless way. When we do, we are saying “Your name is weightless and therefore worth nothing to me.
  • “For the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” – This phrase refers to “being laid bare.” It’s a command that comes with a consequence. It’s the story of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6. When King David told the men to bring the Ark of God, which incidentally “is called by the Name, “the name of the Lord Almighty” back to Jerusalem, they carelessly put it on a cart, which was a clear violation. The Levites were to carry the Ark using two poles that went through rings on the sides. When the oxen stumbled, Uzzah reached out to steady it and was immediately struck dead. In verse 7: “The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.”Taking the Lord’s name lightly can result in severe and swift divine retribution as Ananias and Sapphira also discovered in Acts 5. So, let me ask you how are you handling God’s holy name? Are you treasuring or trashing God’s name? Because how you care for God’s name will determine not only how you carry His name but also how you communicate His name to a watching world.

 

 

 


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14. Idols – They Didn’t Bow, Bend, or Burn – Part 4

Daniel 3:19-30

19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames. 24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. 25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke! 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.

What if instead of being confident in their convictions they had:

  1. COMPROMISED –

What if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednegohad COMPROMISED their faith and cowered to the culture? It would have been easy to not only do but to try and justify. After all everybody else is doing it. It probably won’t hurt if I do it just this 1 time. I’ll do it in secret … no one will know. I’ll do it now … and ask forgiveness later. I’ll go through the motions, but not really worship the idol in my heart … God knows my heart. Every day we face the pressure to COMPROMISE our faith, to make up EXCUSES for not obeying God and JUSTIFY our disobedience. Everybody was watching these 3 men Hebrews and like it or not Everybody is watching YOU! What kind of a witness are you being to a watching world? They didn’t compromise because they had:

  1. CONFORMED – 3:19-23

They didn’t “fall down” because instead of conforming to the culture and following the crowd they conformed to Christ. Romans 8:29 says“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers and sisters”Romans 12:1-2 tells us that what you conform to will transform you. We live in an information age, but informationwithout application will not equal transformation. James 1:22 says “Do not merely listen to the word … Do what it says.” Are you conforming to Christ or the culture? Are you being transformed by truth, or by trash? The world is trying to shape you into its image, but we are not called to be shaped by an outside force but by the inward working of the Holy Spirit. Which force will win? The force that has the most pressure. The more of Christ you allow to control your life, the greater the force to CONFORM to Him. While those who stood for Christ were conformed those who bowed to the culture were consumed by the fire. The men who threw them into the fire had worshipped the worlds idol and despite being the strongest soldiers they were burned alive. When we bowed to idols in our life we will get burned. It’s here in the midst of their crisis that we see:

  1. COMPANIONSHIP – 3:24-25

Jesus was with them in the fiery furnace. God didn’t protect them FROM the fire He protected them IN the fire. God is not always going to protect you from trials, troubles and tribulations. It’s not about a problem free life it’s about the presence of the Lord of life. Today we think peace is the absence of problems but its really the presence of Jesus. Are you trying to pursue a problem free life or the presence of the Lord of life? Look how Christ cares for His kids, “Not a hair on their heads was singed”The only way to fight Fire is with Faith! So, let me ask you are you living by faith or living in fear? It’s here that we see what it really looks like to be:

12. COMFORTABLE – 3:26-28

They didn’t even smell like smoke! They probably didn’t want to leave! Look comfort isn’t based on your circumstances it’s based on being with Christ. Are you more COMFORTABLE walking around in the fires of life WITHOUT Christ or WITH Christ? If you’re more COMFORTABLE without Him, then you better check and see if you are saved. If you’re more COMFORTABLE living in the world and conforming to the culture, then you may not be a Christ One. If you are truly a child of God, then you won’t be very COMFORTABLE living for the world. He’ll convict you, and you will be miserable, until you repent and return to Him. Why were these 3 Hebrews COMFORTABLE in the fire? Because they were walking with Christ. He’s always there to give you comfort, strength, hope, and peace in life’s fiery trials. Lastly, we see who gets the:

13. CREDIT – 3:28-30

NOTICE who Nebuchadnezzar gives CREDIT to, Christ the God of the 3 Hebrew men. When Nebuchadnezzar challenged Christ, who fought the battle, Jesus. Don’t get caught up trying to fight God’s battles just be found faithful. Because when you are faithful God gets the glory. What if we would give God some CREDIT! He’s able! Ephesians 3:20-21 says: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”The King promoted them because God honored their faithfulness to Him. But it wasn’t about their promotion it was about God getting the praise. Are there any idols in your life? Things that you are trusting in more than Jesus? It’s time to take a stand for Christ but in order to do that we have to step away from the crowd.