Saturday, April 20, 2013

How the Commandments Relate to Me: Commandment #1 + an Update

Greetings to all my readers.  Remember me?  :P  It's been a while!  Life has been packed to the brim with activity lately, but fortunately summer is less than 2 weeks away for Caraline and I.  I'll be taking a vacation to visit family soon so hopefully I can get my act together and post about it.  The past... how long has it been?...Weeks?..Months?...have been full of school, extracurriculars, and just plain enjoying God's blessings. 

So I wanted to write a series about how the  Ten Commandments relate to a teenage girl.  Reading the Bible can sometimes be confusing because things were so different when it was written compared to things now, but really the truths remain the same.  A fourteen-year-old Hebrew girl in Moses' time would be pretty different from me or any other teenage girl - she would probably be betrothed to be married, even married, trying to listen to God's voice during this strange period of camping out after the Exodus.  I live a much more comfortable and modern life and I'm not planning on getting married any time in the near future :P, but even so the command which God gave to us in the Ten Commandments apply to anyone, any age, at any point in history.

I'm taking the commandments one at a time, because there's so much to say just about one.  And, even if a teenage girl in today's time has difficulty extracting applicable instruction, there's so much to learn about them.

"And God spoke these words, saying, 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:1-3

You shall have no other gods before me.  That's the first commandment.  The footnote for the word "before" says that the word "besides" also applies. 

This one's difficult because I'm pretty sure none of you are bowing down daily to some figurine you carved out of wood or anything like that.  But the kind of gods we are more inclined to make for ourselves are idols.  An idol is basically anything that we value more than God.  I would expand that definition to say that it is also anything that comes close to God, as well.  This is something I personally struggle with, because it's hard for me to see what my idols are.  As I said, I'm not bowing down to any material idols, but there's so many things that can be overshadowing your love of God in your life:
- Money/possessions
- Reputation/honor/pride
- Pleasure
- A relationship
- Intelligence/skill/a hobby
- A current problem you have to figure out
- Fear
- Insecurity
- And many more.

The first step to figuring out if there's an idol in your life is to ask God if there is one, if it's not at first obvious.  The second step is to ask Him to remove it.  Not that He will remove the thing (this only applies for some of the list above, like money or possessions or relationships), but that He will remove the idolatry. 

The next step is probably the hardest, for me, at least.  And that's to let it go.  Not to materially give up the item, if that applies, because sometimes you can't do that.  But trust God with it. Trust Him to provide for you, instead of desperately trying to gain enough money with your own abilities.  Trust Him to steer your relationship or reputation in the direction He wants it to go.  Trust Him with the problem, insecurity or fear.  And trust me, this is hard.  Letting go is really hard sometimes.  But Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.  That's the great thing about being a child of God.  You can let things go.  You can give idols up to God, and He will help you. 

The last step is to do what you can to stop the idolatry.  You will probably need to correct sinful mindsets and make limits for yourself.  Of course, those things can't be done without His help.  And it won't be easy.  But it's worth it.  Because when you can worship God, and Him alone, without Him being clouded by any other gods, it's so much better.

I heard a saying that was something like, "Don't hold onto things too hard, or it will hurt when God takes them away."  That's why I struggle to make sure I don't become too attached to anything.  All the things we idolize will pass away, but our relationship with our King lasts forever, so that's what we should hold onto with all of our might.  I'm so thankful He will never take that away! 

I ask for your prayer as I personally try to fight idols in my life, and I hope that God blesses you immensely this week.  Or month.  Or however long it is until I post again!  :P  Have a great Lord's day tomorrow, everybody!

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