Summary: “Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract

Theme: The Commandments of life

Text: Deut. 4:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

The revelations being made at the National Reconciliation Commission gives us reason to really examine ourselves and see ourselves as we really are. We have always been known as a nation of very peaceful and friendly people and the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality is acknowledged all over the world. Yet we hear of horrendous and disgusting crimes that were committed here in Ghana and by Ghanaians. How could such a thing happen in this modern civilised world? How could Ghanaians behave in the way they did? How could they torture and kill human beings and feel nothing? Does all this not serve to reveal our true nature? We should stop deceiving ourselves and stop denying that what happened never did. Rather we should accept our guilt and come before the Lord and ask for His forgiveness. We need to follow God’s direction to humble ourselves, and pray, and repent from our evil ways and turn again to the Lord and observe all His commandments. These commandments are contained in a manual that God has given to us, the Bible. As ever customer knows, manufacturers normally provide their customers with operating manuals. Whenever we buy something new, whether it is a car, CD player, washing machine, TV or video recorder, a manual is given with it to teach its use and to ensure its maximum performance. The manual tells you how the product works and what needs to be done to keep it working efficiently. I once read a story about a young man with a small Ford car. The car broke down on his way to work one day and refused to start again. Suddenly a well-dressed man pulled up at his side in a big car and offered to help. The young man did not expect such a well-dressed man to know anything about his small Ford but he was desperate enough to let him have a look. The man took a look at the engine and after a few minutes asked the young man to again start the car. When he did so, the car not only started immediately but the engine sounded better than it did before. The surprised young man was full of thanks and asked the well-dressed man for his name and how he knew what was wrong with the car. Well replied the man, “my name is Henry Ford and I invented this car.” He knew all about the car because he made it. And God knows everything about us because He made us. He knows what we need to make a success of life and He has met that need by giving us a manual containing the commandments of life.

The commandments of life apply to everyone. We either obey them or we disobey them. When we do not obey the voice of the Lord and carefully observe all His commandments and His statutes we cannot enjoy His blessings. Instead we come under a curse and experience a lot of difficulties in our lives. If, however, we diligently obey the voice of the Lord our God, to observe carefully all His commandments, we also enjoy His blessings.

The commandments of life are specific instructions, which set out basic areas of behaviour. Instead of obeying these laws we often interpret them to suit our own needs or we simply refuse to obey them. We are actually confronted with this behaviour on a daily basis in life. Sometimes, more often than not, we ourselves are the cause of it. We are constantly misinterpreting or disobeying laws that are designed to preserve life. All around the world in every society, law and order seem to be under attack, and many people think that they would be better off if they had complete freedom. In Ghana today many people pay little attention to the law. People are being murdered, instant justice is being meted out to thieves who are killed instead of handing them over to the authorities, and innocent people are being lynched without being given the chance to defend themselves. In recent years Ghana has been rated among countries with the highest recorded cases of traffic accidents and deaths. The main reason for this is that drivers and other road users have no regard for traffic rules and see traffic lights only as street decorations. Many drivers appear to be colour blind and drive through red traffic lights. They do not even find anything wrong with their behaviour. Unfortunately this behaviour is also evident in every area of our lives including the way we respond to the commandments of life. We do not only disobey them but we also change them to suit our needs. No human being with limited wisdom and knowledge can edit God’s perfect commandments. To presume to make changes to God’s commandments is to assume a position of authority over God who gave the commandments. The religious leaders at the time of Christ did this by elevating their own perceived ideas of the law to the same level as that of God and the practice still continues to this day.

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