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Something New

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(5/11) Today we celebrate the third most celebrated holiday in the whole world. Did you know that? First is Christmas. Second is Easter. And third is Mother's Day. That makes sense doesn’t it? You've got the birth of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and mom right up there together. Just as it should be right?

Now if you’ve got your Bible this morning, or can find a Bible under your seat, go to Exodus chapter 20. We’re going to read together of the Ten Commandments, but since we’re starting in the middle of the book, I want to catch you up to speed. Exodus is actually part of something called the Pentateuch, which is one book in five parts. So, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were all written by Moses. And the Ten Commandments are found right in the middle in Exodus 20.

And so, the story begins in Genesis after the fall of humanity into sin; that God picks a man named Abraham to be saved and used to bring forth the nation of Israel and ultimately Jesus Christ. So God promises to bring a family and a blessing through Abraham and Sarah. They have a son Isaac; Isaac has a son Jacob, and as we near the end of Genesis, we see that Jacob, has a family and a lot of sons. The youngest son named Joseph, is his dad’s favorite, who grows to become this arrogant kid who likes to boast about himself, and his brothers get really sick of it. So sick of it, that they actually sell him into slavery and tell their dad that he’s dead.

So Joseph ends up in Egypt as a slave. And even though he is far away from God’s people, he is not far away from God. Even though he is enslaved… God comes, loves him, and blesses him… even though he is imprisoned… he is used by God to rise up as a very powerful political leader.

So God reveals to Joseph that a great famine is coming and tells him to "Store up the harvest in preparation." The famine comes and while other nations are starving, the nation of Egypt is flourishing, because of the wise leadership of Joseph. Meanwhile his father thinks he’s dead, his family is starving to death, and his brothers come to Egypt seeking food. So there is this miraculous reunion between Joseph and his brothers. And though they sinned against him, he forgives them, and invites his whole family to move to Egypt.

Now four hundred and forty years pass between the end of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus, there’s a new Pharaoh, and Joseph’s family of about seventy people has grown. They have been blessed of God, becoming the great nation of Israel, a few million in number. So now this new Pharaoh who knows nothing of Joseph, hates, enslaves, and abuses God’s people. So they’re suffering, they cry out to God begging for redemption, and God answers their prayer.

God determines that he’ll set his people free, he will raise up one of their own, a mediator, a man named Moses. Now Moses was a man with a colorful history, but God chooses him, because God can do extraordinary things through ordinary people. And so God tells Moses, "Go to the Pharaoh and tell him that he’s not God, that there’s a real God, and the real God’s not very happy with the way he’s treating his kids." Tell the false god that the real God says, "Let my people go, so that they can worship me."

But the Pharaoh refused and continually defied and disobeyed God. But God is so very patient and he keeps sending Moses, warning Pharaoh with plagues, inviting Pharaoh to repent, and yet he refused. He refused that is, until the last plague… the death of all the first-born sons… his son was dead… all the mothers are weeping… there’s this massive funeral. With one exception… and that was those who had faith… God’s people. They belonged to the Lord and death literally passed over their homes.

These were those who believed… who demonstrated through a sacrifice… the shed blood of a lamb... who escaped the wrath of God upon an unbelieving nation. So God delivers his people. He parts the Red Sea. He saves his people and sets them free. So this is the first nineteen chapters of Exodus.

And now a nation of a few million former slaves are set free, but they’re not living free. They’re committing adultery. They’re stealing from one another. They’re coveting. They’re lying. They’re not raising their children to obey the Lord. They’re worshiping false gods. They’ve been set free, but they’ve chosen to remain in bondage. So God’s going to speak to them and he’s going to be just as loving and patient with them, as he was with Pharaoh, and as he is with us. And so that brings us to the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20.

And so, God speaks to his people: Exodus 20, verse one:

"And God spoke all these words. 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 a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath 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 animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

"You shall not murder.

"You shall not commit adultery.

"You shall not steal.

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." (Exodus 20:1-20, NIV).


Father God, Help us to honor you, to honor your word, and to realize that freedom is not to do what we want, but to do what we were made for. So I thank you for dying in our place for our sins, satisfying the requirements of the law, and giving us freedom. And even walking with us in that freedom. Lord, help us to get this message into our lives, our relationships, and our families. Help us to understand what it means to be set free, and by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, help us to live free. In Jesus’ name. Thanks.

1. The Command

Now I gave you all this background, because if we only start in chapter 20, we’re going to read the Bible like a moralistic Jew, Muslim, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, or Mormon. Do this and don’t do that. But that’s not what God is trying to convey to us. I gave you the background so you can grasp the context. God has already loved, already served, already set free, and already adopted these kids into his family. So as they’re standing at the foot of the mountain trembling with fear because of the thunder, lightning, and smoke… this is not about obeying him so that he will love you; it’s about him loving you and helping you to obey so that you experience his best. The context is very important. We can’t ignore the first nineteen chapters and launch into some kind of self-righteous morality in the twentieth chapter.

Now having said that… I think it’s sad that we only celebrate Mother's Day once a year. I mean who made that rule? Maybe it should be once a month, because moms, you are really very special. You have a way of saying things that are so profound, so thought-provoking, that we remember them for the rest of our lives. Things like, "Because I said so, that's why." Or, my favorite, "Just be quiet and eat."

And I don’t think this is something new. I have a feeling that moms throughout history have said some rather memorable things. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Christopher Columbus' mother said, "I don't care what you and your friends discovered... You still could have written!"

I could just imagine Jonah's mother saying, "That's a cute story. Now tell me where you've really been for the last three days."

I think that mothers have been saying the same things for centuries, because even in changing times, mothers haven't changed at all.

On the other hand, mothers do go through a sort of evolutionary process as their family gets bigger. With each new child, the rules, standards, and expectations change. I know because I was the first of seven kids and so I really noticed the difference. There were about 500 baby pictures of me. There are about 200 baby pictures of my next two sisters. And when my next younger brother David came along, my parents were like, "You know, he starts school in a few years. Let's just wait and see how his class picture turns out..."

That's kind of the way it is… isn’t it?

With the first baby you begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. With the second baby you wear your regular clothes as long as possible. With the third… your maternity clothes are your regular clothes.

With the first baby you practice Lamaze breathing every day. With the second baby, you don't practice as much, because you remember that it didn't really help last time. And then with the third… you ask for an epidural in your eighth month.

Or how about this… with the first baby, at the slightest whimper, you rush in and pick up the baby. You pick up the second baby if you think they're crying loud enough to wake the other. With the third baby you just teach the oldest one how to restart the swing.

I am serious, with the first baby, you spend hours just looking with amazement at that little miracle. With the second baby you keep a watchful eye to make sure the older child isn't hitting, poking, or squeezing it. By the time the third one comes along, you spend a little bit of time every day hiding from your children. Isn’t this true…? You’ve got to… right?

2. Evolving

So there’s change… an evolving of sorts… yet one thing never changes. As the Lord said through Isaiah, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). And maybe you feel the complexity of what I’m up against today, teaching on the Commandment to, "Honor your father and your mother." For some of you, when you think of your father and mother you smile. As we consider what it means to honor them… for you its fairly easy… you have a good relationship.

For others of you, it’s more disheartening… discouraging… and even painful, but as we deal with this great commandment in verse 12. As we look at the fifth of the Ten Commandments this morning. It’s very simple: "Honor your father and your mother." And I want you to know, that there’s no fine print, there’s no footnotes, and there’s no exception clause. So for those of us who have had less than positive experiences at the hands of our parents, this can usher in a lot of emotions and even resistance.

So, what I want you to do… is I want you to trust me, because I have the great opportunity today to be in the position of your spiritual father. And so I want you to know the first four commandments are about our relationship with God. There’s one God; we are to worship him alone, and that worship begins by how we speak of him, by not taking his name in vain, and by honoring him with a day that is set apart to worship him.

Now in the fifth Commandment it transitions from God to neighbor. So commandments five through ten are about loving your neighbor and God starts with our parents… the first priority is family. And I think God puts this first, because for some of us, if you could love your parents, you could love anybody. If you could forgive your parents, you could forgive anybody. So God says, "Honor your father and mother…" and like a right and a left hand, mom and dad are supposed to be working together to love and lead the family. And so here, we see that honoring your father and your mother is both your father and your mother.

But what does it mean to "honor" parents? Well the issue of honor means to respect, to defer, or to submit. And so for us to live in peace we need to respect authority. For us to build strong families it means to have love, appreciation, and affection for our mother and father. So in a sense, it means speaking well of them and politely to them, but it also means acting in a way that shows them respect. Now this does not mean to obey if it means disobedience to God. It means following their teaching and example of serving and putting God first. And even those parents who are more difficult to get along with, those who are unbelievers, we’re still commanded to honor them.

So how do we do that? Well honor is something that begins internally and then it manifests itself externally. As you honor from your heart it comes out in your words. Jesus said it this way, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). So it’s a process that begins in our hearts and its also the first commandment with a promise attached.

God says, "So that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). Now the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for over four hundred years. God had brought them out, they’re on a journey, they’re walking toward the Promised Land, but they’re not there yet. It’s a promise that God has set before them but they haven’t yet experienced. And our lives are a lot like that too. They’re lived by faith. You just continue to walk with God until he brings you to that next season of life, the next stage, or place that he intends for you.

3. Remember

And I know particularly for moms it's easy to get discouraged. It's easy to feel overwhelmed with all your responsibilities. It's easy to feel under-appreciated at times, and inadequate at others. Everybody feels this way some of the time, but moms especially, because you take care of people who don't always appreciate what you do, who don’t always want to be taken care of, and who don't always respond the way they should.

So today I want to remind you that what you do every day of your life matters. You are important. Maybe sometimes the people around you don't show it, sometimes it may seem like they don't even know it… but you know it and your father in heaven knows it. You are important and more than important… you are essential. The people in your life need you more than they are often able to realize. And without you, they’ll probably fall apart… seriously, that’s what God says...

"A child left to himself disgraces his mother" (Proverbs 29:15).

You see without your correction, your discipline, your guidance, your training, your comfort, and your loving care, your kids don't stand a chance. You are that important and you are influential.

Consider, the first miracle that Jesus performed. It was a wedding and the couple had run out of wine during the wedding feast. This was a socially humiliating situation. Jesus mother Mary went to him and said, "They have run out of wine." Jesus said, "Why do you involve me? My time has not yet come." His mother said nothing more, she just turned to the servant and said, "Do whatever he tells you to do." Jesus told the servant to fill some jars with water which he then turned into wine (John 2:1-12).

It was Mary whom God used to tell Jesus that his time had come. That's how much influence she had with her son. That's why it's so important to take your power of influence seriously. For those of you who aren't moms, this is true for you also. You can influence people's opinions as well as their actions. Make sure that you are a good influence and bring out the best in people.

Also, think about how this applies to your mother. What good things in your life today do you owe to your mother's influence? If you have a chance today thank her. And this week make it a point to put that influence into practice in your life. Remember that she is enough.

Verse 12 simply says, "Honor your father and your mother." Many times the father is not involved, he's working, he's not providing the proper leadership, he's not a believer, and so on. Many times, mom, it falls on you to be the glue that holds the family together. Many times, you may be the only one seriously involved with shaping the future of your children.

It may seem like an impossible task, you may feel like you have the biggest, most impossible job in the world. And you do, actually, but you're up to the task. You are enough. Even if you're doing it without any help… you are enough.

For those of you who aren't moms, it's the same for you. The challenges before you may seem to big for one person to face all alone, but you are enough. Why? Because you are not alone. Listen to what God has promised you ...

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God" (Isaiah 43:2-3)

Sometimes the job of being a mother, or just the job of being a believer, seems too big for one person to handle. But you are not alone, and because of that, you are enough to do what God has called you to do.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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