Summary: God calls us to be holy as He is holy. Is this even possible? Consider these thoughts about how we are holy.

From the beginning of time, God has desired to have a relationship with people. We saw it as we looked at the new creation when God placed everything under mankind’s dominion. It was evident as we looked at the new life as we saw how God provided even after people messed things up by listening to Satan. We learned more about it as we examined the new covenant when God made promises to Abraham that were ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

Today, we’re going to look at this idea of a new calling as we see that God separates His people from the nations. Just as He had told Abraham, Israel spent 400 years in slavery in Egypt. God sent Moses to deliver them out of Egypt and lead them to take Canaan as their own. They’ve reached Mt. Sinai, where God has given the 10 commandments. The book of Leviticus is full of instructions for how to be God’s people, summarized in today’s passage, Leviticus 20:22-26. (Read, pray)

When I lived on the north side of St. Louis, I would often go to the neighborhood park to play basketball and get to know my neighbors. The guys there would often pick me for their team so that I could go home and share about my experience of playing ball with the boys in the hood. You should have seen their faces when I pointed out that I lived just down the street!

It opened the door to share about my ministry and faith with guys who hadn’t thought about those things much. However, it often led to statements like, “I’ve got too much dirt,” or, “The hood is the hood, it’s always gonna be the hood, so I’m gonna be hood.” They had no hope.

It’s not only a problem in the hood, but everywhere. People have resigned themselves to “I was born that way,” and, “I’ve just always been that way,” or, “I really don’t have a choice about who I am,” and have decided that there’s nothing they can do to change. They’re living without hope.

I imagine they sound a lot like the people of Israel who had been in slavery for so long. But God steps in and calls us to come out of those things and be His people. What exactly is that calling? (read Leviticus 20:26) You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy. Holy is defined as “to be set apart” or “perfect.”

How do we live out this calling? First, we obey God (read Leviticus 20:22).

In youth group, we’ve been learning about the various sections of the Bible recently. The Old Testament is composed of books of law, history, wisdom, and prophecy. The New Testament consists of books of gospels, history, letters, and prophecy. As we looked at the books of law, we found out that God gave Israel 613 laws to live by. Now, James 2:10 (read), tells us that if we break one law, we’ve broken them all. But how are you going to remember all 613 laws?

Well, God gave Israel the 10 Commandments, which summarize the rest of the laws. However, if we had a pop quiz right now, how many of you would be able to name all 10 Commandments in order? So we looked for a way to simplify it either further. In Matthew 22, a lawyer asked Jesus, which is the greatest commandment? Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5, love God with all you got, and Leviticus 19:18, love your neighbor. He goes on to inform the lawyer (read Matthew 22:40). So there are two rules to live by.

For youth group, I’ve combined them into one rule, which I call the JOY of Respect. I got the idea from a children’s song set to the tune of Jingle Bells (I’m telling you that so I don’t have to sing it today). JOY is an acronym that puts Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between. I tell my students to consider, does this choice show respect for Jesus, respect for others, respect for yourself? If the answer is no, don’t do it. It’s that simple.

I first shared this concept with children coming to our ministry in the inner city. Their previous leader had a legal size sheet of paper filled with two columns of rules because he was convinced that every possibility had to be listed so that a child couldn’t claim they didn’t know. When I stood up and told them we removed the list and the JOY of Respect is now our rule, they got excited and cheered and rose to the bar set.

Today, we celebrate Mother’s Day. I know a big part of the celebration is to buy flowers and chocolates and make sure mom doesn’t have to cook. But what do Mom’s really want from their children? A day of obedience, respect for decisions Mom makes.

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