God has expectations for us. What are His expectations? And what happens if we fail to live up to His expectations?Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**
PART THREE: WONDER ABOUT THE EXPECTATIONS
The first day of school, or a new semester introduces new students to new teachers. Or familiar teachers with familiar students reunited. Teachers begin that first class by sharing their expectations of you and the path the course will take. After my freshman year of high school, I decided two could play at that game.
My inspiration for this idea was based on what I found at the fancy store they call Target. It was a t-shirt that had a “hello my name is” sticker printed on it. In the section for the name was printed, “Jack Squat, do not expect too much.” When I walked into that new school year or semester, that teacher would know exactly the student they would be getting.
All jokes aside, expectations are important. It gives us a goal to aim toward. And when it comes to life, God has expectations for us. As we continue you our “Never Again” Lent Series, today we will examine that with God we will never have to wonder about His expectations.
1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before me. 4 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. 5 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, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 8 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 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. 11 For in six the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all this in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 17 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.” (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
What are God’s expectations for us? Normally, I ask a question in the beginning, but the answer is given in the end. But today, our text gives the answer. The Ten Commandments are God’s expectations for us. When an expert in the law approached Jesus asking which expectation, Jesus doubled down by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) All Ten of the Commandments are summarized in these two.
VERSES 1-7 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 how love me and keep my commandments.
God shares His expectations with the Israelites, and ultimately all of us. When God shares His expectations, He does not use Moses. Notice what it says, “God spoke all these words.” And as God is introducing these expectations, He does not introduce Himself as someone to be feared. The Lord reminds the Israelites “I am the One who set you free.”
These first three commandments focus on “Love God.” God tells the Israelites that they are to worship no other gods but Him. He alone is worthy of worship. Contrary to popular opinion, there are not many paths to God. You cannot follow other gods, practice other religions, and worship the Lord your God at the same time. If you love God, then you worship Him only.
Not only does God say, “have no other gods before me,” He also says, “you shall not make any idols for yourself.” While this does mean we should not sculpt a monkey in Play-Doh and worship it, this also extends to making statues, paintings, and images of God then worshipping them. This also means the objects or methods used to worship God should not be worshipped in place of God. On a side note, the picture of a white Jesus with long following hair and blue eyes is not Jesus. And, there is another picture going around social media as Jesus, but it is not Jesus. It is Obi Won Kenobi from Star Wars.
VERSES 8-11 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.
The Law shifts from “love God,” although this one has an element of “love God.” We are supposed to take time in our lives to worship God. And the Sabbath day is a way for us to build time in to spend with God. However, God is the Almighty. After creating, would He really need to take to rest? No. God took this time as an example for you and me. Jesus, God in the flesh, did the same by going to the synagogue on the Sabbath and regularly taking time to get away.
When Jesus answered the expert in the law about, in the second command to love others, He said, “love other as you love yourself.” There is such thing as a healthy self-love, which is necessary to love God and love others. To not love yourself is to say God made a mistake, and He never makes mistakes. Taking time to rest is a way of loving yourself.
VERSES 12-17 Honor your father and 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.
These last commands have to do with “love others.” Honor your father and mother, have respect for the generation that has gone before. The faith must pass from one to the next. Do not murder tells us that human life is valuable. Other people’s stuff is not yours. Sex is for marriage.
The last command is unique. Coveting involves thoughts and attitudes. It is looking at what someone else has and saying, “I deserve that.” “Why do they have that and not me?” And when we stop to think about it, is it not an attitude of coveting that leads us down the paths of these other sins?
These are God’s expectations for us. We never have to wonder what they are, and His will is that we obey them all, all the time. Our obedience to these expectations is how we demonstrate our love to God. And by loving God in obedience to His ways, we would be living in a way that added value to those around us.
There is one problem though. Just because there are expectations does not mean they will be met. If you make laws, that does not mean they will be followed. People have a choice to live up to expectations and whether they will follow laws. In our case as humans, God’s law reveals our ineptness to be able to live up to them. As simple as His Ten Commandments are, we try to follow them and fail. Failure is sin.
Does this mean the Law is bad? Paul answers that question in Romans 7:7, “Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law.” The Law is not the problem, it tells us what we should be, revealing what we really are. We are sinners incapable of loving God, self, or others.
Charles Henry Mackintosh wrote, “The law demands strength from one that has none, and curses him if he cannot display it. The gospel gives strength to one that has none, and blesses him in the exhibition of it.” In other words, the Law reveals God’s expectations for us, never again do have to wonder about that. But it also reveals our ineptness. What happens when we fail to meet God’s expectations? Death, the inevitable path of sin. However, Jesus already died in your place for your failure! And He is offering you the grace to purge the inclination toward evil from your heart and form new patterns in your mind.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"