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Showing posts from August, 2014

God's Gift of Contentment

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“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! A couple who had lived in the same house for 30 years grew tired of their surroundings. “Let’s sell and move!” they decided. So they listed their house with a realtor, who wrote an elaborate listing. Before the agent posted it, however, she showed the listing to them. It was a glowing description, noting the excellent location, solid brick exterior, comfortable rooms, large lot, and many other valuable features. The couple looked at each other. “On second thought,” they said, “we really are happy here. I’m not sure we would be content in another home.” This couple learned an important lesson about contentment. Contentment is not found in what we have, but rather by how w…

God Protects Our Reputation

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“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Perhaps the most ridiculous proverb in our culture is this one: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a dirty, rotten lie! Words can hurt us… to the core of our being. That’s why bullying is such a big issue. Child psychologists say it takes ten positive remarks to compensate for one negative remark—and I think that remains true for us as adults, too. Words can hurt. Their scars may be invisible to the naked eye, but they can last forever. The Eighth Commandment has to do with the power of words—particularly, as it applies to one’s reputation. How does one endure being falsely accused? Remember Richard Jewell, the security guard who was falsely accused of the bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics? Or how about the young men from Duke University who were unjust…

God Protects Our (His) Stuff

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The text for today is Exodus 20:15: “You shall not steal.” At first blush, this Seventh Commandment seems quite straightforward: “You shall not steal.” Duhh!!! Everyone, from the youngest child on up, knows it’s wrong to take something that doesn’t belong to you. Protection of private property is fundamental to stability in any society. How can you have any sense of order if everyone’s trying to take stuff from someone else? How can you be productive if you spend all your time trying to protect the stuff you’ve already got? But Luther’s explanation in the Small Catechism once again draws out the deeper implications: “We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.” As with all the commandments, there is a negative side and a positive side t…

Loving God and Honoring Marriage

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.” Christians get a little embarrassed when it comes to discussing human sexuality. In fact, if we took a poll here it might be interesting to see how many of your parents talked to you at any length about anything having to do with sex. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you never had that talk at all. And that’s a shame—because everybody else is talking about it, aren’t they? Our society, our televisions shows, our advertisements—they are all obsessed with sex. For Christians to ignore that and fail to present what God has to say about our sexuality is to leave an open door for the devil. So today, we will examine God’s holy will for us in…

God Protects His Image

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“You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! In this Fifth Commandment, God forbids us to take the life of another person (such as through murder, manslaughter, abortion, or euthanasia) or to take our own life. Only God has the authority to take a human life, to avenge wrong, and to punish crime. Now, as we heard in last week’s sermon on the Fourth Commandment, God does entrust this authority to others. Theologians call this “the power of the sword” based up Paul’s continuing instructions in Romans 13. Therefore Christians can in good conscience wage just war and punish and execute criminals under rightful government authority. God continues to protect His precious gift of human life through these human institutions. But before we go any further, we must ask an important question: “Why does God value human life?” Why does God value human beings above all His creatures? Why does Go…