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Mike,
The Ten Commandments are essential for us. As Christians, we need not follow the civil and ceremonial laws from the Old Testament, but God's moral laws (such as the Ten) are eternal. Your image above of the commandments on 2 tablets--one for those commandments related to loving God and one for those related to loving other people (our neighbors) is a nice representation of The Greatest Commandment (which we just read yesterday in Matthew)--Jesus says: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself." Isn't Jesus telling us that this is the most fundamental, essential truth of our faith?
In saying this is "the greatest commandment", Jesus calls us to look outside ourselves in directing our love--upward to God and outward to others if you will; not inward to ourselves. I suspect that by our own human nature we are already so self-absorbed that we don't need to focus more inwardly on ourselves. Rather, our challenge is to humble ourselves (as Jesus did) and focus outwardly on God and other people. Read Philippians 2:3-11 (perhaps some of the most beautifully stated theology in the entire Bible) in this regard.

Your friend in Christ,
Jeff

Regarding slavery, it is unfortunate that we look at the Bible after having seen the results of centuries of sin with regards to slavery. Don't forget that this is God's word to the people that He called out from the world. They themselves had been in Egypt for 400 years. Slavery was all about employment in their world. It was normal to them-- as was the trading of daughters for marriage to strangers. They definitely lived in a more primitive culture and did things differently. However, if one looks at Ex 1:8-11 you will see that a new king came to power and intentionally decided to abuse the Hebrews. This person intentionally chose to sin against them. They did not start out as slaves in Egypt. They were actually a huge economic force as shepherds and did contribute a lot toward their economy. The king was the one who felt threatened by the Hebrews, their numbers, their blessings, and their power. It was a war of light vs. darkness. The king brought sin and oppression into the mix.


By giving this word regarding slavery, God is making His own special people aware that they need to live differently than those around them. In the promised land, they would need to also set up an economic system that would provide for both business owners (land owners) and workers. As we read on in the Bible, we will discover that God had a pretty radical economic system in mind under His perfect will. His people were to own their own land by tribe and work at it together as brothers and sisters. However, even God’s people were corrupted by sin and they gave up their land, refused to work, abused and enslaved each other. So then it becomes quite interesting that the people to whom God speaks here had recently been slaves themselves. One would think then that they would already know not to enslave each other again. But God who knows men's hearts brings the issue up to the surface and lets them know that He expects them to live counter to the culture around them. These commands were actually quite revolutionary to them. It reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matt 18:23-35 where Jesus describes a servant who is forgiven a huge debt by His master then turns around to demand payment from someone who owed him money.


We can certainly relate to this big issue of employment, sin, corruption and abuse in the economy of today. It may be more palatable and politically correct to say that we are employees with employment contracts than to say that we are slaves with masters. However, anyone who has worked in an environment where the workplace is full of sin and corruption knows that we might as well call ourselves slaves and masters. Here’s where a complete reading of the whole Bible becomes essential. In my mind one of the most appropriate passages that reveals what God intends for employment is found in Philemon. Paul speaks to Philemon about the changes necessary now because sin needs to be taken out of the employment arrangement of Philemon and Onesimus. Now they are brothers in Christ and things need to change. It’s a whole new and radical way of thinking. And the truth is that had masters and slaves treated each other the way God teaches, our world would not have experienced the huge tragedy of abuses known as slavery.

hi, you ask if the 10 commandments are important to me..i dont think anythings changed im still supposed to strive to keep the ten commandments just as the old testament people were but the huge difference is Jesus has paid the price already for the fact that i keep failing,my salvation doesnt depend anymore on my ability to keep them but on my acceptance of Jesus as my saviour for which how can i ever be thankful enough!thank you for all the comments on here by you all im learning so much..God bless, stef!

Somehow, I view the menservants and maidservants mentioned in the bible much like we have "butlers", "maids", "attendants", and "nanny's". Maybe I am wrong but I don't necessarily see all people who were working as servants as being slaves.

hope I'm not too late to comment on the ten commandments. To me, they are what our society is made of, the bedrock of our laws and mores. Not that we need to become jewish. Jesus has set us free from the letter of the law and has promised to write his laws on our hearts. {and does}. one cannot put new wine into old wineskins, one cannot put the new testament into the old. Jesus is our new High Priest after the order of Melchedek. there is wisdom in the ten commandments, the old testament is a teacher. blessings

Good morning!

The Scripture that really got to me this morning was Exodus 19: 23-24,
"Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, 'Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.' " The LORD replied, "Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or he will break out against them."

In my 64 years I must have read this Scripture more than 100 times and it never registered until this morning that Moses was not alone on Mt. Sinai when God gave him the Ten Commandments! WOW! I always picture Moses alone clinging to the side of the mountain while God carved the commandments in stone, just like in the Ten Commandments movie. My concept was totally wrong - there were two of them together when God gave the commandments. Moses went up on that mountain alone but God sent him back to get Aaron and bring him up too so Moses would not go through this traumatic experience alone!

God does not intend for us to face any traumatic experience alone or even daily life alone. He doesn’t expect us to try changing the world alone, or spread the Word alone. Just think about how many times we have already seen this in our study of Matthew. When Christ called His first disciples, he called the two brothers James and John (Matt 4:21). Christ sent out disciples in pairs of two to spread the Good News (Matt. 10:1-4). He stated, “When two or more come together in my name there I am with them (Matt 18:19). That's why Christ puts so much emphasis on family, friendships, and church!

I pray that all of you will have someone with you today to lift you up and have someone with you today that you can lift up!

God Bless!
Pat

Yes, I'm reading The Message version of the Bible this year. I find it very helpful.

Good Morning Mike!
I just wanted to say thank you so much for putting the time and thought and prayer into our daily Bible readings. I am learning and growing so much and enjoying reading the Bible more than I EVER have before! We are only on month 2 and already this has been a life-changing experience for me! I can't wait to wake up every morning and read our verses and your commentary! I am enjoying this journey so much...and just wanted to say thank you and how appreciative and grateful I am for you and for this time to dive into God's word with brothers and sister! God bless exceedingly, abundantly, above ALL you could as or even imagine!!!

Verses that stood out for me today:
Exodus 19:18 "All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently".
And of course The 10 Commandments!!!!
Matthew 23:23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
Psalm 28:6 "Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy".
Psalm 28:8 "The Lord gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king".
Proverbs 7:2 "Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.
Proverbs 7:3 "Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart".

Can't stay too long today, we have guests over for dinner. Brothers and sisters from church. I did my readings this morning when I woke up.

I do have some amazing news: my cousine Lisa (14 years) went to the teen-ralley yesterday and she made her choice!!!! My little cousine is saved!!!!! We're really close, she's like the little sister I never had. I love her so much and I'm so happy she's saved!!! Hallelujah!!! God is so good!!!

Wonderful Sunday everyone!!!!
Bless you all!

I have been reading The Message along with the NIV version of the Bible. Sometimes various passages of the Bible become so familiar to us and are written in language that we are so familiar with that we so often forget to pause and consider the full impact of what we are reading. By reading The Message as well as other translations, I find myself often looking deeper into passages and finding insights that for years through many readings I have missed.

I do not favor The Message as a primary source of my daily reading, although it might be for others, but I do consider it an important book for my better understanding of Scripture.

About The Message Bible, I have it but only use it when I want to "read a story". I don't use it to study or meditate on God's word...when I'm in the mood to just read, I enjoy the translation.

I absolutely think we can complicate the Gospel! I know that when I'm sharing, if it becomes difficult to explain, then it's not from God and I need to stop. It really is very simple!

The verses in Matthew are great for a heart check. It's easy to get caught up in the outside appearence of things - but what's really happening in our hearts...that's the real question.

Lifting my hands...I do it a lot in church during the worship time. I also do it at home in my alone time, but not often. It does change things for some reason. Maybe it's that I'm more focused when I'm on my knees or have my hands lifted - I want to do it out of reverence though, not because I think I have to to get closer to God.

The 10 Commandments are very important to me. I am a student at the on-line School of Biblical Evangelism through Way of the Master and they teach that the way to share your faith with someone is to use the 10 Commandments. They are the mirror that leads a person to repentance. I never put much thought into them before I was saved, even though I had to memorize them in school, I didn't think they were still applicable today - that was for "back then" - boy was I wrong!

Oh - and along with Mae's exciting news....my friend Kellie called last night to share with me that "Jesus had asked her to take His hand and accept Him as Savior" and she said "YES"!!! Praise Jesus! Woo - Hoo!!

In the 10 commandments, the first 4 deal with our relationship with God, the rest deal with our relationship with man. They are for sure standards God wants us to live by, but not there because that's God's standard of righteous, we are none righteous, we all fail. but rather they are there to show us we are sinners, that we fall short. We know Jesus came and fulfilled the law. Honestly, I dont sit and meditate on the 10 Commandments. If I have Christ abide in me and me in Him, that is the life He wants me to have and He has imparted the Spirit to direct me and give discernment...I cant be 'more righteous', I can only have Christ's righteousness imparted to me. I'm careful not to be too legalistic because i was a bit in the past and God had to show me that wasnt the way He wanted me. I found myself burdened and unhappy. I was too focused on my actions, ‘myself’. Then it becomes about me and my good works...thats religion n that’s against God. He wants my undivided heart focused on Him and if He has my heart and I love Him, I will obey Him...I have the Holy Spirit in me to direct me. His laws are written on my heart. The Commandments are good, but we must remember its not our outward actions, its our hearts God sees. Ultimately our hearts will be reflected in our actions.

I may not have physically murdered someone, but I have hated, which is murder in my heart in God’s eyes, but if I repent and turn, He will forgive. How on earth do ppl murder? Its cause they allow hate n sin to infest them inwardly for so long that eventually the inward sin manifests itself into a physical action. You often hear of ppl who have committed murder and the murderer’s friends, family, neighbors are shocked as can be…that’s not the person I knew! Its because we don’t know another’s heart. We can appear to be anything we want on the outside, but we can be totally different inward. Our hearts are wicked, we have to keep them in check, that’s why Jesus talks over and over about our hearts.

Golly, about the Message...I was looking through one cause I wanted to send a Bible to an unbelieving friend and honestly, my discernment told me to put it back. Like Bible Dude said it tends to go a bit far out and I wanna stick to what I know to be the Word, I want the actual translation, not a paraphrase. I've heard some criticism that it distorts things in the NT and omits/adds things. people want a more modern translation'? well, Jesus is the same today yesterday and forever and His word doesnt need to be adjusted. If we have questions, which we all do, we have study Bibles with notes and commentaries available, we have pastors who discuss the word, we have a lot of resources to help us if we have trouble understanding something. Most important, we have the Holy Spirit to reveal things to us, and apart from Him we are blind.

I love Matthew, ‘meek, mild’ Jesus was greatly angered by sin. As we are reading in the OT also, God is loving and compassionate, but sin and disobedience angers Him! God was seeing the Pharisees hearts…they looked good outwardly, but as He said, they are filthy inwardly. More on the heart issue.

Good thing this law isn’t in literal effect still: "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.” We’d have no ppl left! Seriously. myself included, haha,I was awful!
Psalms is great as always.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:
“ Since we've arrived at the Ten Commandments in our readings today, now is an appropriate time to ask - are the Ten Commandments important to you? Why? Have they always been important to you?…Do you think that we should meditate upon the Ten Commandments and our actions? …”

I have been aware of them ever since they were taught to me as child and since I have been a Christian they are even more so. I don’t think the Devil would be trying so hard to keep the Ten Commandments out of schools, courthouses and other government buildings if they were not important to God and were not important for us to know and keep them. We are saved by grace but grace does not make us exempt from God’s moral laws. They are important also because as part of the whole law they show us where we have sinned and make us aware that we are sinners in need of a Savior. None of us have kept the Ten Commandments perfectly and we have broken them in thought if not in deed. The Ten Commandments are important enough for me to me to display them on the wall in my home so that I am ever mindful of them. Our actions in relation to the Ten Commandments and all of God’s commandments says something about how much we love God.

“ For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
- 1 John 5:3 ( KJV )

EXODUS 19:16-21:21
I believe that “ the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud “ ( 19:16 ) that “ sounded long and waxed louder and louder” ( 19:19 ) is the same “ trump of God “ ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ) that Christians, whether in the grave or yet alive, will hear when Christ comes again for His Church and the same one that the Apostle John heard and wrote of in the Book of Revelation: “ After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter “ - Revelation 4:1.

The Ten Commandments are simple and generally easy to understand but I would like to comment on a just a few of them:

1st Commandment -” thou shalt have no other gods before me “ ( 20:3 ): no promotion of religious pluralism or tolerance of false religions, no ecumenical dialogue or gatherings with adherents of other religions for the purpose of religious unity, no participation in the Parliament of The World’s Religions.

2nd Commandment - “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: …” ( 20:4-5 ): Idolatry was rampant in ancient times among the nations when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the children of Israel. The Egyptians had worshipped many such idols as this as did the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. For example, the god of the Philistines was “ Dagon” ( Judges 16:23; 1 Samuel 5:2-7; 1 Chronicles 10:10 ), the fish god who was later called Neptune by the Romans. God was forewarning them against this but later Israel likewise fell into idolatry. Today that would also apply to those who worship at shrines and before statues even the ones that some view as figures in Christianity. Christianizing idolatry does not make it acceptable or right.

3rd Commandment - “ Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain “ ( 20:7 ): includes cursing, blasphemies and speaking of God in a flippant, careless, irreverent manner. A common one I see often today, especially on the Internet , is “ OMG “ which is an abbreviation for “ Oh my God! “ A lot of people do so not really thinking about what they are saying because these are common expressions that people use in everyday conversations.

6th Commandment - “ thou shalt not kill “ ( 20:13 ): You don’t have to go out and kill someone to break this commandment. According to Jesus if you are angry with someone without cause you have sinned ( Matthew 5:21-26 ).

7th Commandment- “ thou shalt not commit adultery “ ( 20:14 ): Again, even if you don’t actually do the deed but the thought is in your heart then ye have nonetheless sinned according to Jesus ( Matthew 5:27-28 ).

Concerning slavery, I don’t believe God approves of slavery as a concept. It was no doubt originally devised by wicked men who did not want to work with their hands but had the power to enslave other men to do their labor for them. However, it is clear from the Bible that God does judge nations by sending them into captivity into other lands because of their iniquities as was the case with Israel in Babylon and Rome. So slavery serves God’s purpose in punishing evil but He did not create it. Even so, God in His mercy has ordained laws for humane treatment of slaves and to prevent perpetual enslavement. Granted, in the history of man those laws have not always been obeyed.

Here the Bible prescribes the death penalty for murder ( 21:12,14 ), for kidnapping and human trafficking ( 21:16 ) and even for what most in our society would consider a much lesser offense which is cursing a parent ( 21:17 ).

Also in this passage are laws setting the precedent for alimony payments ( 21:10 ) and laws of restitution and liability for bodily harm resulting from physical assault and battery ( 21:18-19 ).

MATTHEW 23:13-39
Jesus had some very harsh words for the scribes and Pharisees. He said that they were keeping themselves and others out of the kingdom of heaven ( v.13 ). How so? I think it was because of their continual opposition to Jesus’ teachings and in doing so they no doubt influenced many of the common people not to believe in Jesus as well. He also accused them of robbing widows and their long public prayers to impress others ( v.14 ). Jesus also condemned their proselytizing ( v.15 ). Was it wrong in itself to proselytize other nations? No, because that is what Christians do as well when being obedient to the Great Commission ( 28:19-20 ). What did the Jewish religious leaders do wrong? They were teaching the traditions of men as the commandments of God ( 15:3-9 ). In the Church Jesus would say the same things to those who are preaching false gospels and teaching false doctrines. False gospels do not save anyone and only serve the cause of Satan in keeping others out of the kingdom of God. Jesus also took note of how they love theological debates ( v.24 ) for they debated with Him often. He said they looked good on the outside with their form of godliness but inwardly their hearts were corrupt ( vv.25-28 ). He called them “serpents “ and “vipers” which implied that they were under satanic influence ( v.33 ). Jesus also prophesied that they would be judged for persecuting His Church ( vv.26-39 ).

PSALM 28:1-9
“ do you periodically lift your hands in prayer? Do you kneel when you pray? Close your eyes? Bow your head? What do you do to really signify your worship and praise of God? Do you think lifting our hands or doing other body movements can change the way we pray to God - rather than doing nothing unique with our body?”

I generally pray on my knees and with my head bowed. However, I am also blessed by seeing other believers raising up their hands and lifting up their eyes to God and worshipping Him. Personally, I have never been moved to worship that way with the hands though I do look up to Heaven sometimes when I pray and worship. I have tried the hand movements but it didn’t feel natural to me. I guess I am just a little more reserved than some other Christians are or else I am just not used to that style of worship. I am more of a traditionalist.

PROVERBS 7:1-5
This passage ties in beautifully with the Ten Commandments. Remembering and taking heed to the 7th commandment: “ thou shalt not committ adultery “ ( Exodus 20:14 ) will cause men to be less vulnerable to being easily seduced by “the strange woman” ( v.5 ). Although the Ten Commandments were originally written on two tables of stone by God Himself we need them written on the tables our hearts ( v.3 ) so that they become second nature to us and so we will not forget them. This will instill the fear of God in our hearts and we won’t want to sin against Him.

“ Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. “
- 2 Corinthians 3:3 ( KJV )

Hi, I have a question about the Sabbath Day. The Bible says that we should leave the last of the seven days (sunday) as a holy day, and not to do any work on that day. But how do we define work? Does it only includes office work and school work?

And another question: How do I know if I had really forgiven someone? And is it possible to forgive without the latter repenting? Sometimes I really wish to step in front of those who have hurt me and say, "I forgive you. Can we be friends again?" But they (my classmates auctually) are always shunning me and saying bad things behind my back. I really don't know what to do. Help anyone?

Heartbroken girl in Christ :"(

I must agree with Mary' comment regarding the terms; men servant & maid servant. I have always viewed them as caregivers not so much as a slave. But then again as the commentary makes mention slave today was definitely different from 1st century slaves.
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Umm the Ten Commandments are important to me and how I live my life however I am more of a N.T disciple. Not to dimish anything from the O.T. and I am aware Jesus came to fulfill the Commandments, however I believe the greatest commandment of all is LOVE. If you obey that then you really won't need to focus on the rest b/c loving will not allow you to murder, hate your neighbor and keep you faithful in marriage...etc
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I only read the Message version when I am reading a difficult passage of scripture, like Jeremiah, Isaiah or Revelation. I read the Message version, then the CEV then NIV or NKJV. I am glad we have so many version b/c the bible must reach so many different people where they are in their life.

I would disagree with the postings here, I do not strive to keep the 10 commandments, but rather "For me to live is Christ" Romans 7 identifies the believer dead to law, and alive to God. Now that does not mean that the 10 words or commandments are not demonstrated , or really exceeded in the Christian life. 9 of the 10 commandments are reiterated in the NT , the exclusion being the Sabbath, the Christian remembers the Lord on the "Lords'day". We should do much more than "thou shalt not steal" but " let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him work with his hands" grace compels us to higher ground than the law can call.

Christ repeats nine of the ten commandments in his teaching. The only one not mentioned by him is to keep the sabbath. He was chastised for healing on the Sabbath and had an appropriate response.

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