Ten Words to Live By: Your Life Motto

We had a great Sunday recognizing our graduates from Cowan High School and Cowan Elementary School! Congratulations again! We’re proud of you and will continue to pray for you as you continue your education!

We continued digging into the Ten Commandments with our series, Ten Words to Live By. This week, we talked about coveting. When we covet others’ possessions and decide that we need to have those things right now, we tell God that we’re not satisfied with what He has given us.

You can listen to it here (FYI: the first sentence or two got chopped off accidentally).

Here’s the manuscript if you’d rather read it (behind the jump):

 

Although school is out for the summer, it’s time for a quick little test. It’s actually an oral exam and we’ll be grading based on the responses I hear. Many organizations and companies have mottos; sayings that sum up what they are about. I’m going to name a few organizations and I wonder if you can tell me their well-known motto…

Boy Scouts of America (Be Prepared);

US Marines (Semper Fidelis – Always faithful);

Nike (Just Do It);

McDonald’s (I’m Loving It);

United States of America (In God we Trust)

The motto on the Great Seal of the United States of America is E Pluribus Unum – “one from many.” And that was used for many years. But during the Civil War, it was decided that our nation needed to remind itself that we all answer to a higher authority. So in the 1860s, it was decided that “In God we Trust” needed to be imprinted on the nation’s coins. And after that, it was declared our national motto. It has been a continual reminder that, no matter what some people might want to argue, that we answer to a higher authority and that we should be relying on Him to guide us as a nation and as individual people.

We aren’t the first nation to have a statement like this as a foundation of its national identity. When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they were destined to be a different nation. They moved from being God’s chosen people to God’s chosen nation. And the unique thing about this chosen nation is that they were not going to have a person as their king. All other nations were led by a person as the head ruler. But not so with the nation of Israel. At the founding of their nation, it was established that they would look toGod as their King. And if God was going to be the King of Israel, it had to begin in the hearts and minds of the people. They had to rely fully on Him as their provider, protector, and King.

But as they lived in the midst of their neighbors who did not rely on the Lord for provision and protection, God knew there would be this growing temptation to become like their neighbors. As they watched the neighboring nations, they would see their apparent short-term success. And on paper, the neighboring nations were more successful. They were larger, stronger, and better equipped. They had resources and money and some even had strong diplomatic ties with other nations. God knew that it would be tempting to look around and see all of the apparent success of their neighbors and want to become just like them by making their own success. But that’s not the nation God wanted Israel to be. He wanted them to be a nation that was reliant wholly on Him for leadership, protection, and provision. Time and time again, He demonstrated to them that He would, in fact, provide for them. Time and time again, He also demonstrated that He would, in fact, protect them, too. He wanted the motto of the nation, as well as the motto written on the hearts and minds of the people to say: “In God We Trust.”

That is the main concept behind the10th Commandment. If you have your Bibles with you, please turn with me to the book of Exodus, chapter 20. If you don’t have your Bible with you, you’re welcome to use the one in the pew in front of you. Exodus 20 is found on page 63 in those red Bibles.

We’re continuing to look at the Ten Words to Live By that God gave the children of Israel when He took them from being just a really large family to an actual nation. You know them best as the Ten Commandments, but they have historically been referred to as “the Ten Words.” When God’s rules and laws were established, they weren’t given to us as a condition of our relationship with Him. They were confirmation of that relationship. There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more, but following these Ten Words does help you draw closer to Him. Because loving God means you’ll follow His commands. And today, we’re looking at the last of the Ten Words. Look with me, if you will, at Exodus 20:17

Read Exodus 20:17

Of all the Ten Commandments, this is the only one that can only be measured by each individual person. If you have a bunch of mini-idols sitting around your house and pray to them every day, it’s pretty apparent that you’re committing idolatry. If you’re not seeking rest, that makes itself visible, too. If my children talk back to Christy, I’ll tell them that they’re disrespecting their mother and that won’t be tolerated. It’s obvious that they’re not honoring their parents.

But this last one really looks to the heart of all who are following God. If your life motto really is “In God We Trust,” then you’re not going to try to be like everyone else. You’re not going to look at all of the things your neighbor across the street or any other person and wish your life was just like that person’s – because you’re finding your identity in Christ. The word covet carries with it the deep desire to see something and want to have it…right now. Seeing something and wanting to have it right now can be used to define another word – lust. When we covet or lust, when we see something and wish we had it instantly, we’re placing our trust in ourselves or in other things. Sounds a lot like idolatry, right? As followers of Jesus, we are called to rely on Him to provide. We are called to live out the motto, “In God We Trust.”

Time and time again, Jesus reminds us, His followers, that God is a loving Father. Look at the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields. Do you see how well they’re taken care of? How much more is God going to take care of us, His most valuable creation? Following Christ means you are adopted into His family. And God is our loving Father. He has promised to provide all of our needs. So we need to trust Him. “In God We Trust.” Is that your life motto?

If it is, this means when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office and you hear news you didn’t want to hear…God will provide. In God we trust.

When you open yet another bill, line it up with the ledger on your checkbook, and realize that although you’ve been careful and tried to live a frugal life, you’re still not sure how you’re going to be able to make ends meet…God will provide. In God we trust.

The story of Abraham is a story of a man learning to live by the motto “In God We Trust.” But that wasn’t always the case. The story in Genesis 12 is a good example.

Abram and Sarai, his wife, left their home and came to live in the land God promised to them and to their children. Their experience showed time and time again that God will provide. All went well for a while and Abram became wealthy. Then trouble came. A great famine came on the land. That means there wasn’t enough rain for the crops to

grow. The grass died, so the animals didn’t have enough to eat. Abram began to worry.

 

Should he have worried? After all, the Almighty God who is in charge of the weather andof the whole universe was his friend. God promised to take care of Abram, and so far He had done a great God. This time, though, Abram didn’t trust God to take care of him. He thought he’d

better take care of things himself.

 

Abram heard there was food in the land of Egypt, so they packed up and moved to Egypt. That was bad enough to be in a place where God didn’t want them to go. There trouble was just beginning, though.

Sarai, his wife, was a beautiful lady. She was so gorgeous that the men of Egypt noticed her. Abram began to worry again “I know just what will happen,” he told Sarai. “One of these pagan Egyptians will see you

and decide to marry you. He’ll kill me so I won’t be in the way. Don’t tell anyone I’m your husband. Just say I’m your brother. That way I’ll be safe.”[1]

And they did just that. Abram knew that God would provide for him. God had promised to do that very thing. And God might have eventually even led them to Egypt to get food. But Abram decided to do this on his own terms. He saw that his neighbors had something that he lacked…something that was necessary…and decided to do whatever was necessary to get what he lacked. He even set his wife up for an adulterous relationship in order to preserve himself. And a whole lot of trouble happened because Abram and Sarai tried to do things on their own. They knew God would provide. But they chose to attempt to have their needs met on their own terms. And it almost ended up in disaster.

 

Just like, Abram it is easy to live by the motto “In God We Trust” when things are going well. But when things get difficult, what is your life motto? Does it remain “In God We Trust”? Or does it change to something like “In Me I Trust”? Or maybe “In Government I Trust”? You fill in the blank… “In _______ I Trust.” What is your life motto?

 

If you’ve been filling in the blank with something or someone other than God, I want you to know that things can change. You can begin putting your trust in Him with everything. Because God has promised that He will provide for you. Of course, He might not provide in the same way you want for Him to provide – people still get sick; our loved ones still die; companies still go bankrupt; life is hard sometimes. But even through all that, God will continue to provide for you. He wants you to put your trust in Him for everything.

 

There’s another story from Abram’s life that shows that he learned from his past mistakes. Abram, whose name was changed to Abraham, was promised that God would use him to make a great nation. The problem was, of course, that he and his wife, whose name was eventually changed to Sarah, were well along in years – far beyond the regular age for childbearing. Even though Abraham and Sarah tried to rely on themselves again to fulfill God’s promise through the birth of Ishmael by Sarah’s servant, Abraham and Sarah learned that God does keep His promises and God does provide. In His own timing, He provided Abraham and Sarah a son – Isaac.

 

But then the unthinkable happened. And you can read about it in Genesis 22. God asked Abraham to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. Surely, if there was ever a time to try to figure out your own way to do something…to try to live as your neighbors lived…this would be it, right? I mean, giving up your one and only son? How could he do such a thing? How could God even ask him to do such a thing?

 

But Abraham had learned from his experience – God will provide. In God we trust.

 

As they walked up the mountain together, Isaac realized that there was no animal to sacrifice. So he asked his father what they were going to do. “God will provide,” Abraham said. In God we trust.

 

When they reached the top of the mountain and Abraham had Isaac begin to build the sacrificial altar, Isaac asked again where the animal sacrifice was. “God will provide,” Abraham said. In God we trust.

 

Surely, even as Abraham bound his son and placed him on the altar, he kept reminding himself (and his son) that God will provide.

 

And as he drew back his knife to kill his one and only son, looking in his son’s terrified eyes, he surely whispered to him, “God will provide.” In God we trust.

 

And God did provide. At the moment when all hope seemed lost, He sent an angel to stop the sacrifice. God provided a ram to offer in his son’s place. God will provide. God will provide. In God we trust.

 

God has called us to live by the same motto: In God We Trust. As we trust in Him, we cannot give in to the temptation to become like everyone else. We cannot attempt to conform ourselves to the patterns of this world, coveting what our neighbor has and living life by our own rules. We must continue to trust God and allow Him to provide and to transform and shape us into becoming more and more like Him. Because God will provide. In God We Trust.

 

And God has already provided more than we could even begin to imagine. On a hill called Calvary, He gave His own son so that you and I could have a right relationship with Him. He spread out His arms and died so that we won’t have to face the punishment required for our sins. God has already provided. We must trust in Him.

 

If you haven’t done that yet, if you haven’t made a conscious decision to follow Him and be obedient to His example by participating in His death burial and resurrection through the act of baptism, then I encourage you to consider being obedient to Him today. There’s nothing you have to do to earn the friendship He is offering. In fact, there’s nothing youcan do. You don’t have to get things right before you come to Him. You don’t have to have everything figured out before coming to Him. And you certainly don’t have to have your life straightened out before coming to Him. Because God will provide. What are you waiting for?  Why not start down that path towards Him today?

 

The question before us this morning and the challenge for us the rest of our lives is “What’s your motto?” Are you living on your own, or are you placing your trust in God to provide your every need?

 


[1] http://www.sherwoodbaptist.com/ministries/lifelessons/LifeLesson008.pdf (italicized words)
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