Strange Laws for Strange People

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There are some pretty strange laws out there.

In Oklahoma it is against the law to spit on the sidewalk. I’m not sure what the penalty is though. But I do know the penalty for making an ugly face at a dog is a fine or jail sentence. I guess it depends on just how ugly of a face you make. In Texas it is against the law to milk another person’s cow, or to shoot a buffalo from the second floor of a hotel. In Alaska it is considered an offense to shove a live moose out of an airplane.*

While these laws sound pretty crazy, I bet if we searched the history behind them, some of them might actually start to make sense. Apparently someone at one time in Alaska must have tried to shove a moose out of an airplane. There is a spirit behind each of these strange laws, which is consideration for other people and creatures. Spitting on the sidewalk may seem innocent enough, until your ten year old son walks barefoot down a sidewalk that a man with a hacking cough just passed by! Making an intimidating face at a dog that brings it to the point of violent frustration is not very considerate either. Therefore we have come up with millions of laws, some of them quite bizarre, just because there are people out there who have no consideration for others.

In heaven Lucifer rebelled against God’s law of love. He thought it would be better to have a lawless society. Well, guess what? The more lawless a society becomes, the more laws it needs. The Spirit of God’s law is simple,

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  Luke 10:27

Apparently Lucifer thought being considerate of your Creator and His created beings was just too much to ask for.  However, if we would have just respected our Creator and His creatures we would not need all the millions of strange and not so strange laws we have today. If we loved others and were thoughtful of their needs, we would not need a law book at the courthouse telling us we can’t spit on the sidewalk or take milk from our neighbor’s cow. Likewise if we would just love our spouses we would not need divorce laws, alimony laws, child custody laws, child support laws and even restraining orders.

It is not so much strange lawmakers who create strange laws but rather strange and selfish behavior. Even in the Old Testament we have some laws that some people find quite strange, for example, why did God have to give this command in Leviticus 20:2?

Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death.

If parents would have just been faithful to their children we would never have needed this “strange” law.  It is not God who was strange, thus necessitating this strange law but rather a strange society. Strange and unnatural laws become necessary for a society that does not have natural love.  Natural love creates natural laws that are simple and brief, written on our hearts so that obeying them comes as naturally as following our own hearts.   As a matter of fact God’s law could be as simply stated this, “Have a heart people!” And with that one simple law being accomplished we would need no other law, for having a heart for God and his creatures would make laws about offering your children to Molech and shooting buffalo from the second floor of a hotel totally unnecessary.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

* http://www.dumblaws.com/

A World Without Sacrifice?

I am writing today from the beautiful Sandusky area on Lake Erie.

I am writing today from the beautiful Sandusky area on Lake Erie.

Has modern technology removed the need for sacrifice? Now everyone can have their own way. When I was growing up back in the  20th century, my family had one black and white TV. On Monday nights, at our house we had to make compromises.

My dad and me missed the first hour of Monday Night Football so that my mom and sister could watch Little House on the Prairie. Now everyone can record their favorite show while watching another one, or just go watch the TV in their bedroom, so that there is no need for compromise, much less actual sacrifice.

When we went out to eat, someone had to choose where to go. Sometimes we wanted pizza, sometimes Mexican. Well, I always wanted Mexican, but that did not mean I always got it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. That is until food courts arrived at the malls. Now everyone can eat at the same food court but still choose their own genre of food, while their friends choose theirs. No one has to compromise or sacrifice. Oh, and I almost forgot about waiting for my sister to get off the phone so I could call my friends! We only had, <gasp!> one phone line. We also had one bathroom for the whole family! Even so, in the thirteen years we lived in that house, I only remember twice having to run to the McDonald’s restroom four blocks away.  One of those times was a Thanksgiving with the house filled with guests.

Today we have our own cell phones. No one has to share. We have multiple bathrooms in our homes so no one has to wait. We have multiple restaurants to choose from at the food court so that everyone gets their own way. We have several TV’s in the home with recording devices so that no one has to compromise, and so that there will never again be an adolescent boy who has never seen a kickoff on Monday night.

So does this make the world a better place? A world without sacrifice? A world where your friends get what they want, but you always get what you want too? It may sound like Utopia. But wait a minute – we are talking about a world without love. That’s right. Love is the principal of putting others first. The law of love tells us in the first four commandments how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put others first. This is what love is, and if we don’t have to put anyone else first, then that means we don’t have to love. What kind of a world is that?

Think about this: Jesus in Gethsemane asks His Father if there was another way to save the world besides the awful sacrifice He was facing.

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”Matthew 26:39 NLT

Now you would think, if mankind has come up with enough technology so that we don’t have to compromise, share or put others first, much less have to sacrifice, that heaven could have come up with a better solution, than for God Himself to have to make a sacrifice! Yet heaven, with all of its infinite wisdom and resources only found one way to save the world. Sacrifice. Even the sacrifice of God’s own son!

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:32 NLT

While we dream of a world without sacrifice, we had better remember that a world without sacrifice would be a world without love. Heaven was filled with love, and heaven itself could provide no other solution for mankind other than sacrifice. Heaven is a place where people have to share, compromise, put others first and at times sacrifice. That is what makes it heaven! That is what makes it a world of love!

For our world to be a world of love, it must include sacrifices. It must include putting others first instead of making sure everyone gets exactly what they want when they want it. God has given us the Sabbath as a systematic way to put God and others first with our time. God has also given us the tithe and offering system so that we can systematically put God and others first with our possessions. Without a systematic way to always put others first, our world would have no way of exercising love.

Even in today’s hi-tech society, the need for sacrifice has not been totally removed. A few years ago, a friend of mine received a kidney from his wife so that he could live. Now here is a way technology has created a way that we can sacrifice to save others! What a beautiful love story: Is there a more beautiful way to say you love someone than to give an organ that you may need later to save your own life? My friend Plessie, gave her kidney and maybe even later her own life to save her husband Jim.

I love the world I live in, not because it is filled with cell phones, DVR’s and a multiple selection of restaurants. Having more than one phone in the house or multiple restrooms in the house does not make this world paradise to me. It’s people like Plessie who make this world worth living in! It’s people like Plessie, who are not afraid of the word “sacrifice,” that make my world paradise on earth!

All the modern technology can’t make this world a paradise or heaven on earth. It can only make us self-centered, which is what caused Lucifer to fall from paradise. I can still remember seeing Jim and Plessie lying in their hospital beds after the transplant. I see the smile on Plessie’s face, satisfied that her sacrifice has saved her husband’s life, and that is when I see heaven on earth.

Jim and his wife Plessie, who knew you can’t have paradise without sacrifice.

You may study this week’s SS Lesson here.

Love And Obedience In Light Of The Cross – With New Living Translation

Commandments and Cross 002

You may download a printable copy of In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides- NLT here.

Love and Obedience

 

Brief Overview: The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Savior. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is an evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow men. (Ex. 20:1-17Ps. 40:78Matt. 22:36-40Deut. 28:1-14;Matt. 5:17-20Heb. 8:8-10John 15:7-10Eph. 2:8-101 John 5:3Rom. 8:34;Ps. 19:7-14.)

Why it is important to know the truth about love and obedience: The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness.

Why it is important to know the truth about love and obedience in light of the cross: “It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him.” –Desire of Ages, Page 480.

 

Further study on Love and Obedience

 

What are God’s people to walk in?

How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.  I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.  Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. 2 John 1:4-6 NLT

 

What warning is given about some Christians?

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Timothy 3:5 NLT

 

What will some last day Christians do?

 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT

How are we saved?

So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.Romans 3:28 NLT

 

Does faith abolish the law?

 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.Romans 3:31

Faith without works is what?                                                                                               

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? James 2:17-20 NLT

Note: If a child who can’t swim has faith in their father they will jump in the pool when the father says, “jump in and I will catch you.” If the child does not have faith in their father, they will not obey. Likewise we show our faith by our good deeds and obedience. I will not lie on my tax returns because I have faith God will provide for me. I obey Him because I have faith. If I disobey Him, that shows Him I don’t really have faith.

How does faith work?                                                                                                            

What is important is faith expressing itself in love. Galatians 5:6 NLT

faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6 KJV

Is more required than “lip service”?                                                                                       

So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. Ezekiel 33:31 NLT

Who is fooled and who is blessed?    

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. James 1:22-25 NLT

Who receives salvation?                                                                                                       

In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. Hebrews 5:9 NLT

What did Jesus say we must do?                                                                                     

 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17 NLT

What happens if we break even one commandment?                                                               

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.”So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.  So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. James 2:10-12 NLT

Who are the wise and who are the foolish?                                                                         

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws. ’Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:21-27 NLT

What does Jesus say?                                                                                                              

“If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15 NLT