Summary: Dominant Thought: God’s desire and rightful place is the first place in every aspect of our lives

There’s a new crisis forming in the Strait of Hormuz with Iran. That could lead to a gas price crisis. There’s a global economic crisis that keeps erupting in pockets in Europe. There’s a new worldwide crisis called Lady Gaga, but I want to direct attention to a crisis in our nation of even greater magnitude: There’s a character crisis in our nation.

Violence and fear of it continues. The border with Mexico continues to be unsafe. School and workplace shootings continue to happen every year. A month ago now, Rob Blagojevich became the 4th of the past 9 Illinois governors to go to be sentenced to prison. And last year, Forbes Magazine ranked Rockford #10 on the list of US Cities with the most violent crime occurrences.

Just another indicator that we’re in the middle of a crisis that’s at the root of all others.

Ill – 1991, in The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim:

74% of Americans will steal from those who won't miss it

64% will lie for convenience as long as no one is hurt.

93% say they alone decide moral issues, basing their decisions on their own experience or whims

84% say they would break the rules of their own religion.

81% have violated a law they felt to be inappropriate.

What’ll we do? Let me suggest there’s help to be found in what we call the 10 Commandments.

10 Commandments?

You mean that list that the ACLU keeps taking people to court over?

You mean the list that Bible-thumping people with southern accents keep throwing in other peoples’ faces?

You mean that list of things on a bookmark that I learned one summer in VBS but now I can’t quite remember #4 and 6?

You mean the stone tablets that Charlton Heston brought down from the mountain in the movie?

Yes. That list.

The Jews came to know them simply as “the 10 words.” That’s what another name, “the Decalogue” means. We commonly refer to them as the 10 Commandments. I’ll also be calling them God’s Big 10. I know that the Big 10 is actually the incorporated college athletics league that was started in 1895 as the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, and that actually now has 12 members instead of 10. Roll with it. I’m going to take 10 weeks in the 10 Commandments, which deserve a lot more attention in our lives. And I’m going to refer to them as God’s Big 10.

I probably don’t need to tell you that not everyone looks upon the Big 10 with favorable eyes.

Quote - Ted Turner, creator of Cable News Network, told members of the National Newspaper Association in Atlanta that the 10 Commandments don’t relate to current problems. Turner said, "We're living with outmoded rules. The rules we're living under is the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to 'em, because they are too old. When Moses went up on the mountain, there were no nuclear weapons, there was no poverty. Today, the commandments wouldn't go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded. Commandments are out.

Maybe you don’t really care what Ted Turner thinks of the Big 10, but there are other negative attitudes toward them that we need to consider first thing, because a lot of them are in the Church. Here are a few…

We’re NT Christians, so these don’t apply.

To glibly tell someone, “If you want to be saved, keep the 10 Commandments” misses their point.

I’m not interested in the Law as a way to be saved, but rather as a way to please God. Besides, these aren’t the only commands God gave on Sinai. If we were going to try to keep the OT Law to be saved, we’d have to also learn the other 603 commands, most of which are given right here in the book of Exodus. But God gave a special emphasis to these 10 commands. They represent a comprehensive code of ethics – one that everyone ought to live by – a kind of bare minimum. They work!

The 10 Commandments are just a bunch of “Thou shalt not’s”

This code of ethics must be received in its context. It was on their release from Egypt that God gave these to Israel. They needed the structure and order that comes from laws. They also needed to come to know and appreciate God as their only God. God didn’t free them from Egypt to enslave them all over again.

They’re active, not passive. And as we look at them over the next few months, we’ll be taking them that way. Where it says not to murder, we’ll talk about respecting human life. Where it says to not commit adultery, we’ll talk about keeping covenants. Where it says not to steal, we’ll talk about keeping “things” in perspective. Today, when it says, no other gods, we’ll talk about giving God first place in our lives. And in this way I hope we’ll begin to better appreciate the value of these 10 commands.

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