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The Greatest Commandments

The Greatest Commandments:

Mark 12:28-31 (ESV):
28 One of the teachers of the law  came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus,  “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

The Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:1-18 (ESV): 

1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

Further References:

Andy Stanley has an informative video on God’s Commandments applying on two levels: (1) One level is to love your neighbor, which is the horizontal, and (2)  the other level is to love God, which is the vertical level. The visual above reinforces this message using the imagery of the cross.

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80-ply dough baklava (which is usually 40-ply)...

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In our modern day, a wide variety of vitamins and supplements are available. What nutrients are necessary and beneficial? What if scientists had the original manna God sent the Israelites from heaven for food to analyze to see its’ nutritional value to engineer similar diets & supplements?

When it comes to our health, diet is important. For our soul, diet is insufficient. Even with a God-given diet of manna and meat, God was spiritually disappointed with most of the people, illustrating the lack of spiritual value in observing numerous ‘religious’ dietary restrictions that seem godly merely on the surface. The Lord is much more interested in our following him. The Son of God made this clear, explaining it’s what emanates from the heart that defiles a person rather than what one eats.

What is manna? It is a flaky white bread like honey flavored wafers provided by God. Because this was a key part of the people’s diet, either God fortified this flavored bread with added nutrition or the bread contained nutrition naturally.

The description of the flaky manna bread described in the Bible is reminiscent of Baklava, though it is not Baklava. Baklava is present in Turkish and Greek food, and other cultural food, with the Greek variety having a greater honey emphasis.

Exodus 16:32-35 (ESV):

32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord  has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.'” 33 And Moses said to Aaron,  “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the  Lord  commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

Matthew 15:16-20 (ESV):

15 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

1 Corinthians 8:8-9 (ESV):

8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

Exodus 16:12-15 (ESV):

12 “I  have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At  twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.'” 13 In the evening  quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing,fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

Exodus 16:31-32 (ESV):

31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord  has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.'”

Baklava

(1) http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/Baklava.htm
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baklava
(3) http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Baklava
(4) http://www.sarahmelamed.com/2010/04/baklava-arabian-delights/
(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_cuisine

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presently unknown fungus on an Ash log

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When analyzing God’s miracles, one wonders if sometimes God uses keen scientific knowledge to accomplish the results. God can change matter, yet God may choose to use simpler natural means. God had Moses place a specific log into bitter water to make it sweet. The 2011 Physics article about the berry that makes bitter food taste sweet challenges us to wonder whether God used a scientific means to transform bitter water into sweet water. Did God leverage specific knowledge of what made the water bitter, to put in biological agent/s to permanently counteract that bitterness?  As scientists continue to learn more over the decades, centuries, and millennia, it’s possible greater scientific insights will emerge to inform speculation as to whether certain miracles showcased in the Bible were achieved by God leveraging science & nature knowledge, or instead due to God simply using his intervention powers to change nature. Faith, trust, and turning to God makes all the difference under either scenario, since God can act using a variety of techniques. After God counteracts the bitter water, God assures his people at that same location, that if they observe his commands & statutes and do what is right in God’s eyes, that none of the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians would afflict them. At first glance, what would bitter and sweet water have to do with diseases? It was not until thousands of years later, that a more advanced understanding of diseases & viruses & bacteria emerged with modern scientific knowledge. God making that statement at this location suggests a possible linkage to biological processes to transform bitter water into sweet water. Let’s move beyond these speculations, since God is mysterious and powerful and did not reveal this to us specifically. At an abstract level, God healed the bitter water by making it sweet, showing his care and protection for his people. God offered an extended level of care and protection from diseases, which could prematurely end a person’s life or increase life’s bitter struggles. God’s timing in making that promise after transforming the bitter water into sweet water, serves to reinforce God’s ability to fulfill his promises. Do you take advantage of the protections God offers through his promises, and also through the tools science provides?

(1) Exodus 15:23-26 (ESV):

23 When they came to Marah,they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he  cried to the  Lord , and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he  tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”

(2) Researchers uncover secrets of ‘miracle fruit’, September 27, 2011 by Bob Yirka,
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-uncover-secrets-miracle-fruit.html

(3) Holman Bible Dictionary on Diseases, http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T1622

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Wisdom

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Why is the fear of the Lord wisdom and turning away from evil understanding? Ponder the ways.

* The Who: The wise know there is a ‘Who’ named The Lord out there who evaluates us compared to what is righteous, leading the wise to seek the righteous paths the Lord prescribes.

* Judgment Day: Knowing the Lord has the power to forgive or punish or reward now and for eternity, gives the wise pause to consider their ways, to obtain eternal life.

* Evidence Recorded: Knowing God sees all we do, and have done, and records works as evidence, means the wise know to depend upon the mercy of the court through faith, and do all they can to reduce any evidence by changing present behavior.

* Logic Limited: When figuring out the wisest move, when human logic suggests evil looks the best thing to do, yet knowing God is watching us and can even intervene, means the wise know this type of thinking has limits, and that really the best move is to do good.

* Communication Heard: Knowing God hears all we say, means the wise are right to carefully review and reword what they communicate before the words are transmitted.

* Thoughts Known: Knowing God knows all our thoughts, means the wise consider how they think about life to avoid sins like lust toward people and things, and to stay away from hatred of others.

* The Heart: The wise know the Lord sees our heart’s motives, so that the wise seek to do the right things for the right reasons, and ask the Lord’s help to fix their inner heart and motives with a new heart as a new creation.

Job 28:28 (ESV):

28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'”

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Retouched versions of this picture from the ge...

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God shows the Egyptians mercy by advising them to place their animals and all they have into safe shelter to escape the next plague of hail. To follow the Lord’s advice made sense and was the wise thing to do, given the power the Lord already demonstrated with prior plagues. What one believes greatly influences what one decides to do, even in the face of compelling evidence, so we must all carefully consider our beliefs. Belief in the Lord seems foolish to some, so they ignore God’s valuable instructions to their own harm. To others, they follow the Lord’s precious advice found in the Bible and delivered by his followers to their own benefit. How does what you believe influence your decision-making for better or worse? Where do you turn to find the Lord’s advice? Do your beliefs cause you to embrace or ignore mercy freely available to you from the Lord?

Exodus 9:17-21 (ESV):

17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.'” 20 Then whoever feared the word of the Lord  among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the  Lord  left his slaves and his livestock in the field.

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What are the Lord’s blessings? Under what circumstances are different kinds of blessings bestowed?

Psalm 84:11-12

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

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The key to the Lord being with you is continually trusting him with a devoted heart from which flows obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

2 Kings 18:5-7

5 He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. 7 And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him.

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