Sat. March 9

Saturday March 9, 2019

Today’s Focus        The “First Table” of the Ten Commandments

Scripture Reading for the Day                Deuteronomy 6

“These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10 “The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. 11 The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, 12 be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. 13 You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name.

14 “You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, 15 for the Lord your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth. 16 You must not test the Lord your God as you did when you complained at Massah. 17 You must diligently obey the commands of the Lord your God—all the laws and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so all will go well with you. Then you will enter and occupy the good land that the Lord swore to give your ancestors. 19 You will drive out all the enemies living in the land, just as the Lord said you would.

20 “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the Lord our God has commanded us to obey?’

21 “Then you must tell them, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand. 22 The Lord did miraculous signs and wonders before our eyes, dealing terrifying blows against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his people. 23 He brought us out of Egypt so he could give us this land he had sworn to give our ancestors. 24 And the Lord our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day. 25 For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us.’

Daily Reflection         Luther’s Explanation to the First Three Commandments

 (excerpted from “Luther’s Small Catechism, Study Edition,
Augsburg Fortress, 2016)

The First Commandment
            You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?
            We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

The Second Commandment
            You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.

What does this mean?
            We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.

The Third Commandment
            Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.

What does this mean?
            We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.

Some Questions for Reflection

  • The “first table” of the 10 Commandments, deals with our relationship with God. How do you keep your relationship with God “fresh, vital, a daily part of your life?”
  • In what ways do you share your relationship with God with people who are important in your life and to successive generations?

Today’s Pilgrimage Challenge

  • Is there a person who you might be able to invite to join you in one of the ways you deepen your relationship with God? Perhaps you could invite someone to church.  Perhaps you could ask someone if you could pray with them.  In some way share an aspect of your faith that is important to you with someone else.  Discuss how this made you feel with your group and what the results were.

Today’s Prayer

By Your word, eternal God, Your creation sprang forth, and we were given the breath of life.  By Your word, eternal God, death is overcome, Christ is raised from the tomb, and we are given new life in the power of Your Spirit.  May we boldly proclaim this good news in our words and our deeds, rejoicing always in Your powerful presence; through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.  Amen.

8 thoughts on “Sat. March 9

  1. Pastor Jerry

    A brief theological thought at the beginning of today. In the ancient world, a day when people’s illnesses were seen as cursings from God, a day when natural disasters were witnessed as punishments from God. The word “fear” denoted different connotations. Throughout my seminary experience, I struggled with this notion of “fear.” One of my professors shared perhaps a better way for me to view this is to see “fear” as an awesome respect. In other words, God could easily contend with a mere mortal, but God’s love inhibits our Lord from doing so. It’s kind of like a fully grown person being in the presence of a toddler. The toddler has a realization that they could not “out physical” an adult and the adult must be constantly aware that when handling a toddler they have to exercise caution. I do not want to take away from the words offered in Holy Scripture or in Luther’s explanation, but simply wanted to share an alternative explanation of “fear.”
    Peace, blessings, and love,

    1. Mel Olenwine

      Yes!! Just read an interesting article on why it’s “terrible” that churches dance around the devil and hell these days and don’t preach about it. And it reminded me of training a dog. Do you get anywhere smacking, hurting, or terrifying the dog? Or does the dog learn to love and trust the master with praise, love, kindness, leading and teaching in a gentle manner? The rod guided the sheep, it didn’t beat them… You can make anyone listen to you with terror and fear, but you can’t get them to trust or respect you.. I like to think the church has gotten away from the hell hath such fury preaching for good reason. But that’s just me.

  2. Mel Olenwine

    I struggle a lot with the Old Testament. You must obey and you will enjoy a long and wonderful life, but if you do not, “his anger will flare up against you and he will wipe you from the face of the Earth.” I don’t feel that I struggle as much with these commandments as I do with many of the ones that follow. Is that true of everyone? Probably not. I have a close personal relationship with God. I am not afraid to show that publicly. When in my life I have turned away from God in times of stress or need, He has certainly placed Himself back in the forefront of my life in different and unusual ways. Once I was terribly angry with someone; it was eating me up alive and day to day functions were being affected. I was depressed, I was tense, bitter, short-tempered. One morning I turned on the TV expecting the usual gloom and doom of the morning news and there was Joyce Meyer. Had no idea who she was, laughed at most televangelists, didn’t know her story or her style of teaching. The first words out of her mouth that day were “Are you so angry with someone that you feel it’s changing you inside? Does that person even care that you’re holding this much anger? They have moved on with their life and don’t even think about you. The only person you are hurting is yourself. Can you not let go??” My head snapped back, I felt like someone had smacked me in the face. I was mesmerized for the next half hour listening to her. I truly believe God somehow was responsible for the TV even being ON that channel. He needed me to hear her that day. He was going to get through to me once and for all. In some ways she reminds me of myself the way she talks. Cut to the chase….tell it like it is….no sugar coating. I’m not sure that’s good or bad….but again…God was placing a person to whom I might actually listen right in my path. She made me realize the best thing I could do was pray for this person….pray only….and let God deal with what had happened. Nothing about karma, nothing about getting even…just let it go…. Things like this (a TV channel nobody in the house ever watches being on the TV) happen to me all the time, and maybe I’m crazy thinking it’s God, but I certainly always do. I’d be lying if I said hearing her message didn’t change my life for the better that day. Brought me back to God; had me reading my Bible daily again…what was the catchphrase? “If you want to be happy, then get yourSELF off your mind!” …finding peace and happiness in the only place and only person we truly can. I’m not sure what relevance this has to ANY of the readings today. I was trying to answer in what ways I keep my relationship with God fresh and vital and a daily party of my life. Now I read a Joyce devotional book every morning and usually read a few chapters in my Bible. I’ve also been having some conversations with my daughter’s Jewish boyfriend every now and again, and we are teaching each other a bit about our different religions. So I feel I do share my relationship with God, and acknowledge the beauty and existence of other beliefs as well. WE are all living under the same God ultimately, aren’t we??

      1. Karen Favinger

        I agree with Mel that we have come to realize, thankfully, that the “rod” was meant to guide, not beat people into submission.

        Many years ago I heard a sermon similar to what you heard Joyce say about holding onto anger only hurts ourselves, not the person we are angry with. I feel that is why the Bible speaks do often about forgiveness because God knows what heals our souls. Thank you, Mel, for reminding us of this important biblical teaching!

    1. Pastor Jerry

      Wow! That’s a very powerful story, thanks so much for sharing that with us! I think one of the absolutely beautiful parts of our faith is understanding that no matter how much we think we understand God there is always room for other thoughts, other religions, other viewpoints. For me that is truly one of the strengths of our church that we reach out to a wide variety of people and value and appreciate their traditions and thoughts while maintaining our core beliefs that God’s grace is amazing!
      Over the course of my time in the ministry I have truly come to appreciate and value passages such as this in the Old Testament. Yesterday’s Psalm really touched my heart. The passage at hand today really struck me in the heart when it said “Listen Israel, obey them, and all will go well.” I often think in the ancient world they didn’t quite understand nature or science in the same manner we do today. Remember they were convinced the world was flat, they weren’t allowed to open human bodies until the 17th century, so the thought and reasoning behind things that went wrong in life were blamed/credited to God. Yet even in this environment, I can feel the authors desire to share that God wants us to follow these commandments so that we have a happy and prosperous life. When we are able to place God at the center of our lives and attempt to live according to God’s will, our lives and the world in which we live, will be happier, filled with peace and contentment.
      Thanks for your great thoughts, really helps me to know and appreciate you a little better.
      Peace, blessings, and love,

      1. Mel Olenwine

        I thank you and all the pastors who we are blessed to have in our midst for helping me sort out the parts of the Bible I do not understand…which is a LOT of it! thanks 🙂 Peace and love.


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