150308 Exodus 20:1-6

Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Exodus 20:1-6
Theme: Why Will I Make The Lord #1?

It is that time of year again. It won't be long and "March Madness" will be in full swing. During this time of year many basketball teams are playing in playoff games to determine which team is #1. Today the Lord God comes to us in his Word and he has something to say to us about being #1. The one and only true God isn't happy to be #3 or even #2 in our lives. He wants to be #1. So the question before us this morning is why? Why will I make the LORD #1? Listen now as I read a portion of the First Lesson I read earlier from Exodus chapter 20. The verses we consider this morning are the first six verses of that chapter. We read from God's Word:

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 who love me and keep my commandments."

Why will I make the LORD #1? There is a one-word answer to that question. And that one word is "fear." But fear can have a couple of different meanings. Most often we use the word "fear" in the sense of "being afraid of something." For example, someone may have a fear of the dark, or a fear of snakes or spiders, or something else. One reason to make the LORD #1 is because we have every right to be afraid of the one and only true God. We read, "For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God (that is, he doesn't want to share the #1 position in our lives with anyone or anything else), punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..."

God's Word clearly teaches that you and I are born into this world with a sinful nature that is hostile to God. This war against God shows itself as we sin against his Commandments by what we do, say and even think. Anytime you and I fail to make the LORD #1 is our lives, anytime you and I sin against our God's Commandments, our sinful nature shows that it hates the LORD and his will for our lives. And what your sins and what my sins have earned for us is God's anger and punishment. As you and I read God's Law, knowing that we deserve a life that never ends in the flames of hell, that Law of God places fear in our hearts; fear that will drive you and me to make every effort to make the LORD #1 so that we are able to avoid his anger and punishment. Think of it like a student who is willingly to obey the rules of the school out of fear; fear of being punished by the principal.

But, knowing that you and I can't do enough on our own to win our place in heaven, confessing our sin of not always making the LORD #1 in our lives, you and I plead for the mercy and compassion of our LORD. Trusting the LORD's love for you and me, we rejoice in the Good News of this Lenten season. Last Sunday, we heard the Good News from Romans chapter 5 that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." And what did the love of God our Father, what did the perfect life, the suffering and death of our Savior, Jesus, accomplish for you and me? It did away with fear. Through the body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, you and I don't have to be afraid of the LORD. Jesus willingly was punished in your place and mine. Jesus won the forgiveness of your sins and mine. Because of Jesus, you and I enjoy peace with our Father in heaven. Again, from Romans chapter 5, we read, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

Look up the word "fear" in a dictionary, and you will find this definition as well: "Extreme reverence or awe." This is the meaning of the word "fear" that Martin Luther had in mind when he wrote in his Small Catechism about the 1st Commandment that "we should fear, love and trust in God above all things." Why will I make the Lord #1? Because I fear him; that is I stand in awe of him; my jaw drops open in amazement as I open my Bible and I read about his great undeserved love for me! As the LORD gave his Commandments to his people, he reminded them of his love for them; love that moved him to act on their behalf. "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." And it is this same LORD who promises here in Exodus chapter 20 that he will show "love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments."

In thankfulness for the full and free forgiveness of all of our sins, we say thank-you to our Lord for his love by a life filled with fear; that is, a life filled with awe, reverence, respect and honor for his great love. Because of the LORD's great love for us, you and I find great joy in making the LORD and his will #1 in our lives. It is the love of our Savior-God, and the forgiveness that Jesus won for you and me, that motivates you and me and that gives you and me the power to live a life of thankful service to his glory. Why will I make the LORD #1? In fear, in awe, in thankfulness for his love, you and I join our voice with the Psalmist where we read in Psalm 130, "Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared."

Many basketball teams will be working hard this month to come out on top. They want to be able to say, "We're #1!" Why will I make the LORD #1? The closing words of Psalm 130 give us the answer to that question "why" when we read the Good News that "with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption." Amen.

 

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