God’s Second Greatest Act of Love (It Might Surprise You)

If you know me, this won’t come as a surprise, but I’m a rule follower. Mostly because I strongly dislike getting in trouble. However, when it comes to driving the speed limit, I tend to curb the rule following. Especially since nine times out of ten, by the time I have everyone in the van, with appropriate attire on their feet, we’re running late.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20
Key Verse: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7


I’ve tried to leave earlier – I don’t know why it doesn’t work. Though in almost twenty years, I’m happy to say, I’ve only had one ticket and it happened not long after acquiring my license. (Watch, I’ll probably get one tomorrow.)

The worst part was the police officer pulled me over in the parking lot of our church Thanksgiving dinner. (Hello there so many people who know me.) To put it mildly, I was devastated and no longer in the mood to be thankful. One look at my hot mess of a face and my mother let me go home to sit in the bathtub. The fact that I’d just gotten in trouble in front of well, half my church, left me in need of bubbles, not turkey.

(Ugh, I hate getting in trouble.)

The problem is, not everyone shares my fondness for rule following. In fact, the Bible says even my preconceived notion to follow the rules (minus the speed limit) is a hoax. Psalms 3:2-3 states, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

Not even one – we’re a sad case. But if we did follow after God, after his precepts and rules, oh the life we would lead. Not because all would be well and dandy with wild flowers doting our every path but because of the closeness of God we would know and experience.

Obedience is the soil by which the knowing of God will grow.

1 John 2:4-5 says, “Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”

If you want to know God – you’ve got to obey him. Why? Because the law is the essence of God’s heart. Consider this..

God called David a man after His own heart not because he lived life perfectly (i.e. Bathsheba), but because he loved the law (see Psalm 119) and the law reflects God’s heart, expressing His nature in multiple ways. The law is good and righteous and true and so is God. “Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules” (Ps. 119:137).

But unfortunately rules have gotten a bad rap. Gaining the reputation of boring, restrictive, stuffy, tiresome, tedious. A technicality not worth following. Especially God’s rules. Which the world now views as relative for some and not for others depending on how you feel that day. Or your upbringing. Or your circumstances.

A sad delusion that’s significantly damaged our relationship with God.

Because His ways are not restrictive, they’re freeing. Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (NLT). When God’s commands are followed blessings abound (Ps. 1:1-2). Peace is given (Ps. 119:165). Understanding is gained (Ps. 119:99). The heart overflows with joy (Ps. 119:111). Comfort is received (Ps. 119:52). And something more valuable than gold is attained (Ps. 119:72).

God’s rules are like a map for living the best life possible. Turn left here, turn right there, leading to the most amazing treasure we could ever receive – God himself.

“Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me” (Ps. 119:175).

Therefore, God’s second greatest act of love is right here in Exodus 20: the giving of His law. It’s not the first because “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV). Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for a people like us – yeah, nothing tops that.

But for God to come down from Heaven and speak the outpourings of His heart to a people He knew couldn’t follow it and wouldn’t follow it – this is love. Yet for the purpose of guiding us and them unto himself through the work and person of Jesus Christ, God shared His desires anyway.

We call them the Ten Commandments. So important were these rules to God, He wrote them himself on two stone tablets that were to be kept in the ark of the covenant. They weren’t to go anywhere. Their permanency guiding generation after generation; even in the New Testament.

Though today the church no longer needs to follow the ceremonial law (the sacrifices) or civil law (the rules that governed Israel as a nation). The moral law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) are very much still in play.

Why? Because God’s heart didn’t change. His guidelines for life and joy and holiness are still the same. What changed was our ability to follow them. So important are these rules to God He put his own spirit within us to help. “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:27).

No longer would it be done in the old nature but with the new. In the Spirit, instead of the flesh. In Christ’s strength, instead of our own. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). (The true essence of that verse.)

Yet God knew we couldn’t keep His rules perfectly and it’s perfection he requires. Thus, we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by keeping the law. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, just as Israel was. (Giving us all the more reason to obey Him!)

God’s heart is before us in Exodus 20. Just as we set rules for our kids because we love them, our Father cared enough to set rules for us. It’s not out of spite He’s asked us to live a certain way, it’s out of love. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7).

He’s not only a God who loved us enough to give us His son, He’s a God who loved us enough to give us His law.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you view God’s laws? As suggestions? Commands? Relevant or no longer necessary?
Are the Ten Commandments something you still try to live by today?
Why is the giving of the law a loving act of God?

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The Role of a Believer. It May Surprise You.

Monumental spiritual moments don’t come every day. Though I wouldn’t mind if they did. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? The undeniable moments God makes his power and faithfulness so clear, you must cease what you’re doing to take it in. At times it’s simply been a verse leaping off the page of my Bible into the gaps of my anxious heart; filling me with assurance I’d prayed to gain the day before.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 19:1-8
Key Verse: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9


Other times, it’s been an answered prayer, a protection, or a perfectly timed word of encouragement from a friend. A vivid reminder, my God is faithful. Perhaps I’ve jarred your memory to a few of your own monumental moments. Well, I think it’s safe to say Moses had a few as well – some more obvious than others. And I’m willing to guess one such moment took place at the beginning of chapter nineteen -with Israel’s arrival at Mt. Sinai.

Why was this such a big deal? Because Mt. Sinai is the mountain where God first called Moses. Also called Mt. Horeb, it’s where the burning bush took place. It’s where God soothed Moses’ anxious mind with the following promise: “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Ex. 3:12).

A lofty promise. One only attainable by a sovereign God. But here in Exodus 19, it’s fulfilled. They’d made it, just as God said. With every Israelite young and old accounted for, God brought the people safely to the mountain, safely to himself (v.4). (Is there any better place to be?)

Then while all the people camped below, Moses went up to God. As though he was headed to the neighbor’s house to say hello.

(But honestly, isn’t that the goal? A relationship with the Father so embedded in my life it’s the most natural thing to knock on His door the instant I get home?)

And God said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

In other words, remind them Moses how faithful I’ve been. How I protected them. How I’ve provided. How I carried them, while they had nothing to do with it. And then say to them:

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:5-6a).

Freed from slavery it was time to talk about obedience. Time to talk about the guidelines, a.k.a. laws. But note God didn’t bring this up until after he saved the Israelites. If obedience to the law had been required for redemption, there never would have been a redemption.

Saved by grace to live for His glory, it’s important not to get the order confused. It wasn’t the law that saved them, it was God. But it was living according to the law that would bring them blessing.

Huge, wonderful blessings like being God’s treasured possession among all the nations.

Can we just sit in that for a minute? The world is God’s. The universe is God’s. Created by Him and for Him and through Him. Yet his most valued, most cherished belonging – is a heart fully devoted to him. Specifically, a people fully devoted to him. It’s why the church is the bride of Christ.

God loves it. It’s why His eyes “run to a fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Additionally, the other big blessing Israel would have (if they set their minds on obedience), is to be a kingdom of priests.

Not that it was God’s desire to have them all walking around in robes with an ephod on their shirt. But a kingdom of priests in the sense that every person declared the glory and goodness of God by what they talked about, how they acted, responded, and lived in a world always a little off kilter. Pointing people to the Creator with every breath they took.

With that definition in mind, can you imagine the effect on a broken world if and when there was an entire nation of God following priests?

Yet this was God’s desire! This was God’s plan! For Israel to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. That they might know the blessing of sharing God’s love with others. And be the pathway by which the rest of the world could experience their own monumental spiritual moments.

But did they do it? No, they didn’t. They forsook God for idols. They set aside His laws and made up their own. Getting pulled in by the world instead of pulling the world toward God.

Then the most amazing thing happened. The most glorious of all monumental spiritual moments – God himself hung on a cross and paid the penalty for their sins. Our sins.

That we too might be His treasured possession. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

And it’s His desire as it was for Israel that we be a holy people, a priesthood, living day after day not in robes with an ephod on our clothing, but in such a way that we lead others to Him. Declaring day by day the marvelous majesty of a God who saved us out of darkness and brought us into the light!

It’s every believer’s job to preach in this world, but not necessarily from a pulpit, though God calls some to do just that. But from the kitchen table. From the grocery store checkout lane. From the family room. From the office. (You get the idea.) Living in such a way that holiness speaks louder than hell, we preach grace and peace and love and truth to a world in desperate need of knowing Him.

But the question is, are we doing it? Are we preaching the excellencies of Christ so not just we, but they, the world, may have their own monumental spiritual moments?

It’s a job God’s granted us because he knows there’s great blessing in doing it. And a position I think it’s time we recognize. We aren’t just a people sitting around with little to do. We’re the priesthood my friend. God’s treasured possession and we’ve got a job to do.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Whether we like it or not, everyone is preaching something. So by your actions and attitude what have you been preaching lately?
How does thinking of yourself as part of the priesthood make you want to change your behavior? Would you say you are a worthy member of the priesthood? Why or why not?

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