What do you think of other people?
What do you hope happens to the other guy?
What are you going to do for that woman?
The natural thoughts that come to our minds as we consider the above questions will largely supply a motivation for how we respond to God’s command – “Do not steal”. We often think that if we haven’t broken into someone’s house or committed grand theft auto, then we are keeping this command but God has much more in mind here. God knows that if our heart is in line with his we will live in a way that would “invest” in others instead of taking from them.
I could put forth a pretty solid argument that virtually nothing is so naturally offensive to God than stealing. God just gives and gives. When we think of grace and mercy we can’t help but see how aggressively God stands against taking in any way that could be comparable to stealing. When God takes away it is always ultimately to give something better.
Jesus wants us to clearly understand what He desires to bring to us. From beginning to end Jesus came to heal us and bring us what we need. Jesus is all about giving us life no matter what it will cost Him. People matter, you matter to Jesus.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -John 10.10
This is one of the ways in which Jesus calls us to be like Him. Join Him in blessing others in every way that you can. Our very lives are to be a continuation of the work of Jesus. If this is a new perspective for you or a time to confess failure – well, do it and enjoy following Jesus.
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. -Ephesians 4.28
This is described in a very accessible way in our small catechism that we use for Confirmation.
“You shall not steal.”
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or goods, nor get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his goods and means of making a living.
Let’s bring life to each other,
One of the benefits of being a pastor is that I get to perform weddings. What a celebration; a man and a woman declaring their love to each other and throwing a party because of it. All the pieces of a wedding have the opportunity to be meaningful but without a doubt the most amazing part of the wedding is when the couple speaks their promise and vows to each other. It is a thing of beauty and I am moved by it each and every time I witness it.
The last wedding I was involved in was my son Jack’s and his beautiful bride Taylor. The words that follow are the exact words from the ceremony.
“Jack, will you have Taylor to be your wife, to live with her according to God’s Word in the holy relationship of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor her, and care for her in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, will you be faithful to her, as long as you both shall live?”
Jack said, “I will.”
Then he said the following words.
“I, Jack, take you, Taylor, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, until death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance and in these I promise to be faithful to you.”
Taylor spoke the same promise and vows to Jack. They gave each other rings as a symbol that they will keep their word until they are parted by death. The rings also are a symbol that they each believe the words that were spoken to them. Wow, what a gift to give to each other.
This is what a Christian marriage is to be like. It is to be modeled after the way that Jesus gave himself to the Church. He gave His very life because He said He would. He did not wait for us to earn that gift. He gave and we respond to his actions. He alone is our Savior and our Lord. We are to worship him alone and no other.
“Do not commit adultery.” -Exodus 20.14
This commandment is meant to define our lives with our God and our lives with our spouses. It is a gift from God to be enjoyed all the days of our lives. It may not always be easy but it is always right and it is filled with God’s blessings.
God is always right,
“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” -David Frost
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” -Mae West
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” -Oscar Wilde
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” -Mark Twain
Those are just a few quotes to get you thinking about LIFE. I would like you to think for a few moments about the fact that your life is a gift from God. His intention is that my life and your life would also be lived out as gift from us to others. None of us live our lives in isolation; so what is the impact our lives have on others?
This question brings me to the Commandment that is the theme for our message this upcoming Sunday: Do not Murder!
Most of us read those words and quickly decide “Awesome, I have easily kept that Commandment.” Then along comes Jesus and tells us that if we are inappropriately angry or if we belittle people with our words - we are guilty of breaking this command. We are murdering someone’s character or harming their wellbeing and Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that we are on very dangerous ground before our God – We are guilty of “murder”.
God desires that the impact we leave throughout our life is that we are “givers of life”. Are we actively seeking to deliver life to others? Are we aggressively seeking to destroy hopelessness, meaninglessness and loneliness in the lives of others as we walk through our day?
Far too often, people leave a trail of destruction, pain and even murder. Maybe there is no actual dead body that is visible but people have been torn apart through our words, our actions or our apathy that communicate to them “you are insignificant” or “you just don’t measure up”.
As followers of Jesus we are carriers of eternal life and a love that brings new life. We are proclaimers of a truth that sets people free from drifting through life on their way to death. We are believers that every life matters to God and therefore should matter to us as well. We are firm believers that no matter the mess, the failures or the lies that have been believed the power of the resurrection can bring life today just as it did to Jesus 2000 years ago. So, in a world filled with “murdering” attitudes, words and actions; we bring LIFE!
Serving the Lord of Life together,
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. -Exodus 20.12
I am a father and a son. With that reality come a set of gifts and responsibilities.
Gary and Karen Mundis are my parents and I am their son. This is a truth to me like the sun will rise this morning and it will set again tonight. I was born into love and support. I didn’t earn it but I was given it because my mom and dad related to me as God intended parents to relate to their children. It didn’t cross my mind one single time that they would abandon me. I had all the typical doubts and fears of kids but I had the security of home, forgiveness and a place that I belonged as the backdrop of my life.
Since my parents loved me so much I wanted to love them in return. It was a response that made sense really. I wasn’t drumming something up out of the blue. What I was doing was as correct and expected as a reflection in a mirror. I learned to love, forgive, respect and care because those were the things given to me all the days of my life in Karen and Gary’s home. In a nutshell, my parents exposed me to the best of being a member of a family and that is the context of my life with them - even today.
Now, some of you might have a picture running through your minds of perfection, continuous smiles and no need for discipline. You would be wrong! Our family had raised voices, occasional punishment and plenty of need to forgive each other. We have had our moments of tension and like many kids I had plenty of “know-it-all” moments that were no fun for my folks. But in the end, I knew I was loved. I knew dad and mom would do anything to protect me and care for me.
Another wonderful aspect of my upbringing was an extended family dynamic that exposed me to the way my mom and dad treated their parents. Their respect, honor and gratitude were so continuous and consistent that I would have needed to be blind to miss it. I saw what it meant to honor your parents – no matter what age a son or daughter is. This isn’t just for the pre-adult years. So, I knew that just as I mattered to my parents; my grandparents mattered to my mom and dad as well. They didn’t just throw out words without weight. My folks gave time, energy and their lives to the people that had many years earlier raised them.
Then I became a dad. As glorious and terrifying as that can be I believed I knew what this fathering and parenting thing was primarily about. That was because of Gary [and Karen]. I remembered that I was loved, forgiven, picked up, disciplined and in the end it was all Good. I knew who I was and that is what I want for my kids – to know who they are in this world. They are mine and I am theirs!
I am an imperfect son and I am an imperfect father. I am desperately in need of grace and I receive it from my parents, my kids and my wife. They have an overflow of grace to give because of our perfect Heavenly Father and His perfect Savior Son Jesus.
Thankful for my earthly family and my heavenly one too,
I have a problem sleeping. My mind races and I just struggle to shut it down. I am currently in the midst of one of my worst stretches with this problem in quite some time. It is no secret to me that there is really only one cause to this problem and it is ME. Sure, I have a lot going on and there are some “stress” points but I am well aware that running them through my mind in the middle of the night doesn’t solve anything.
I’m not exactly sure when I began to struggle with this, but one thing I know is that it wasn’t when I was a little boy. I believe the primary reason I didn’t worry in those days was simply “I didn’t worry." I know – what a blessing that circular logic is Nick! The thing about those days was that I just didn’t worry. I knew that I was in the care of my family and I had a “child-like faith” in my God. My place was defined and I “rested” in it confidently.
I knew that my primary identities in life were places of security, care and love. I was a member of Gary and Karen Mundis' family and I was a Child of God. I was very aware that nothing would come my way that my family and God wouldn’t get me through. Jesus loved me so much He died for me and God Almighty said I could refer to Him as “Daddy." And if my Father in Heaven loved me even better than my daddy that played with me then all was really quite good.
What has changed? Nothing really, except me.
This is why God keeps inviting me and commanding me back to Sabbath-Rest. A set in stone weekly reminder is needed due to my tendency to doubt, fear and forget. I sometimes try to run out on my own and claim more of a “God identity” than my Child of God identity that is pure gift. I tend to think I know better than God or that I know how things should all play out and when they differ from that I freak out!
Obeying the Third Commandment and “Keeping the Sabbath” is both the same as always and different from the time of the Exodus. It is the same, in that we turn again to focus on the God who created us in worship and confidence as we rest, because He knows just what we need. And it is different in that it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ so that it becomes an eternal reality. Hebrews four tells us that Jesus’ brings a “better rest” than what was available before. In fact, all the previous descriptions of rest find their ultimate goal completed in Jesus.
So, I am invited to rest just like I used to – confident that God is God and He will take care of it! He has been faithful and He will continue to be faithful. Trust God to know what we need.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”
Resting, even when I struggle to sleep,
Pastor Nick Mundis