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Life Commandments for Daily Living

Mark Finley

Description

Every one of us has certain “life commandments” we live by. Some people know they have them and others don’t. Once you define the life commandments you live by and focus on making them a priority in your life, your life will be much richer and fuller. You will be more productive and live a much more balanced life. In this seminar I will share the three life commandments that guide my daily decisions, influence my actions and impact my entire life. Each participant will receive my “Life Commandment” inventory analysis to help you define and craft your own “Life Commandments” so you can live the abundant life that Christ Himself offers.

Objectives:

1. Discuss the value and importance of having intentionally defined ‘life commandments’.

2. Identify the three life commandments that should guide our daily decisions.

3. Demonstrate how living by these commandments leads to a richer, fuller, more productive life, and can subsequently lead to increased positive outcomes for your patients. 

Presenter

Mark Finley

Assistant to President for Evangelism at the General Conference

Recorded

  • October 28, 2016
    3:15 PM
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Well, good afternoon and welcome to class. We're delighted that each of you are here. I have some handouts that we're going to use. I'm gonna ask my wife to come up. “Tinnie, could you come up and I'll give you some handouts.” And we'll talk a little bit about class. We're gonna pray. Thank you Bob as well. And I'll tell you just when to hand those out. “Will, I’ll tell you when to give them out.”  We’ll give them out shortly.

 

We are just delighted that each of you are here for class and we're going to pray together and then we will tell you a little bit about our hand out sheet and a little bit about our class before we dive right into the class. Let me do that now then we'll pray.

 

The class is entitled, “Life’s commandments.” Why do you act the way you do? Why do you respond the way you do? And how can we change commandments that are written into our, the very tissues of our fabric of our beings, things that we've inherited from our parents, environmental influences, decisions that we've made in the past that become ingrained in our personalities. And so we're going to look at scientific evidence as well as biblical evidence and evidence from the Spirit of Prophecy in dealing with life commandments - things that are built into the very fabric of our bodies, in our tissues. And then from there, I'm going to give you some questions that you can ask yourself and how you can develop your own life commandments and I'll tell you three life commandments that I've developed. We will, also during the process of the class, look at Jesus and I'm going to -I've just taken a look at the gospels particularly the Gospel of Matthew and I've looked at. I've tried to ask myself this question as I've looked at the gospels and that is –What are the life commandments? What, if you could boil down the essence of Jesus' life, what are the things that motivated His life? What are the things that drove His life? What are the very life commandments that Jesus Himself has had? And so we're gonna take a look at those basic life commandments as well.

 

Now, the sheet that you're going to get out is this - we're gonna work initially off the first side of that sheet. So.

 

Oh, thank you that'll be a help. Oh I just got a pulpit, that's really good. You know evangelists don’t used to use anything from a pulpit. We're ready to go, but that's very helpful. Thank you.

 

We're going to - I'm going to give you a sheet. And is this an obedient class? If I give you the sheet now, will you follow it like I suggest? Oh boy, that wasn't a good appeal that I just made. That was not a good appeal. OK. Here on your sheet, we're going to do this. You'll get the most out of class if you follow directions. Do the Physicians follow directions fairly well? Do the dentists follow directions? All right. So we're going to go over the first part of this and I want you to have it - to some outlining and so forth. Then I'm going to go into the rest of the presentation then at the end of class, will do the back of the sheet. OK.

 

So, let's pray and they will pass out the sheets.

 

Father in heaven, thank you so much for the opportunity to study your Word. Thank you that we can study about life commandments and how ingrained habit patterns, environmental influences, heredity tendencies, how we can see a reimaging of our mind as Romans 12:2 says, “renewing our mind.” So grant to us in the next 45 or 50 minutes some revolutionary thoughts in our very consciousness. In Christ's name. Amen.

 

“So Bob and Tinnie, could you pass out these sheets, please?” And then we'll go through them to get the most out of the class you need three things, oh four things. You need to be able to look at the Bible from time to time. So if you have a cell phone. I know you're not texting, I know you're looking at the Text, If you have a parchment copy of the Bible like I do, that will be helpful to you as well. And so we are. If you have a Bible; number one, that'll be helpful.

 

Secondly, if you have a pen and the worksheet that I've given you and we're going to look at the front side of the work sheet the back side will do later in class.

 

And, thirdly, if you have something to take notes on, you want to take some notes as we go home.

 

Let's go over the first side of the sheet that you're currently receiving I'll wait till everybody receives it and we will then go from there. If for some reason we run out of sheets, try to find somebody that has one that you can look on with and that will be very helpful to you. But if you have a pen, pencil, you can do some underlining on the sheet. And if you have a piece of paper, you can take some notes. We're gonna launch right into our topic just now because we want to take advantage of every moment.

 

Have you ever wondered why we act the way we do? Have you ever thought why did I ever do that? Have you ever said something and said, “Why did I ever say that?” Have you ever had that experience in your life? You've done something and at night you reflect back over it, you say, “Why did I ever do that?” You have said something to somebody, maybe you didn't sleep well the night before, you had a very difficult day in the office, and some of your staff said something to you and you snapped at them a little bit and you came back and said, “Why did I ever say that?” Maybe you have had a difficult time at the office and you've come home and said something to your wife or husband that you wish you would not have said. Have you ever had those kinds of experiences? Have you ever wondered what prompts my actions? What motivates my particular behavior? What factors actually shape our moral ideals? What factors shape our values? What factors shape our priorities?

 

You know our self-awareness and the image of who we are is the product of a number of things. It's the product of early childhood influences. It's the product of the impact of the words of those around us. You may or may not be aware that recent studies indicate that the most vulnerable time in a child's life for the words of those who speak around them are between eight and ten years old. When a child is between eight and ten years old, the words spoken by their parents, by their teachers have the most impact on their lives according to research. So why do we do what we do? Well, it's the, certainly we’re the product of early childhood influences. We are the product of the impact of the words of those around us. We are the product of our thoughts, our environment, our choices and so our hereditary tendencies and the environment that we live in plus our repeated thoughts and actions and choices. They often shape our characters and they become life commandments.

 

Now a sentence that I'd like you to underline is - what is a life commandment. So according to John Savage, you see we’re/I’m reading on the text in a book called ‘Listening and Caring Skill.’ Savage says this, He says, “Life Commandments are the deep inner belief systems that act as the internal guidance gyros in your mind.” So what's a life commandment everybody? It's kind of an internal system. Now these life commandments whether we know it or not govern our behavior. All of us have life commandments. Some of us know we have and some of us don't know we have them. They are the moral compass that directs our thoughts and actions. So are these life commandments like a moral compass. They are the result of our hereditary tendencies. They’re the result of our environment. They're the result of our choices. They're the result of our actions. So they/these life commandments govern our behavior. They're like a moral compass that directs our thoughts and actions. They are the deep personal belief systems we understand about ourselves our relationships in the world around us.

 

In short, a life commandment is the lens that you look at life through. It's the lens that you look at life through. Now what adjusts that lens? Some part of the adjustment of that lens has to do with our heredity. Some has to do with our environment. Some has to do with our past choices. Some has to do with the way we think and our self-talk. All of that is part of what forms these life commandments.

 

Now here's the incredible good news, the Holy Spirit is in the business of reshaping our thoughts of re, of empowering our actions and renewing our minds.

 

I want you to look at three texts and I want to look at it with me with new eyes. The first is John chapter 16 verse 13. John chapter 16 verse 13- I preached on this text for years and did not understand what it meant. And to me, one of the amazing things about the inspiration of the Bible is the fact that you can read the same text and new truth leap off the pages for you. We're looking at John chapter 16 and we're looking at verse 13 and Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit and He says, “Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come, He'll guide you into all truth.” I preach that text in evangelism for years with the idea that the Spirit of truth would come and guide people into the Sabbath truth, the state of the dead truth, etc. And I think that's true but I don't think it's the full impact of what Jesus meant by the text. When He says the Holy Spirit is gonna lead you into all truth. What Jesus is really saying is the Holy Spirit's going to lead you into truth about God. He's gonna lead you, would understand the nature of God, that God is loving and kind and gentle and compassionate. He's gonna lead you understand the truth that God is forgiving. He's gonna help you not listen to the lie of Satan because Satan says that you are so fallen and so worthless and so condemned that you can't possibly be saved. So Satan is gonna tell you lies. He's gonna say you're locked into your environmental tendencies or he's you're locked into your environment. Satan is gonna say you're locked into your hereditary tendencies. Remember John 8 verse 44. Satan is a liar and the Father of Lies.

 

So Jesus is the way, (the what?) truth, and the life. So, Jesus wants to tell us the truth -  the truth that we can change, the truth that we don't have to be locked into our hereditary tendencies, the truth that environment doesn't have to shape our behavior, the truth that no matter how we failed in the past, the Holy Spirit can renew our minds. So Jesus wants to tell us the truth but Satan wants to tell us lies. And the lies that Satan tells us are: that your actions are largely determined by your heredity and your environment; that you are locked into some genetic DNA code; that you cannot change. So, the Holy Spirit, and this is the good news, is in the business of reshaping our thoughts, empowering our actions, and renewing our minds.

 

Now, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can reimage our thoughts. Now what do I mean by the experience we can reimage our thoughts? We can change the way we think about a given situation. The evidence for that is Romans chapter 12 and verse 2 and if you look at Romans 12:2 it says this, “And do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable perfect will of God.”

 

Be transformed by the renewing of your what?- Your mind. And so the Holy Spirit renews our mind; he reshapes our thoughts and; he gives us new life commandments to live our lives by.

 

We can make positive choices to reset the life commandments that we have inherited down through the ages. Now, there's an article that impressed me a great deal. You're still seeing it in the text. We're still on the first page. There's an article entitled, ‘Science in the Bible and Epigenetic.’ It was actually part two of a series written by Mark Hodges and he makes this insightful observation and I wanna read it for you. You can do some underlining as we do a Hodges says this, “DNA has long been considered the library of bio information and the controller of the systems in cells in creatures.” And what does he mean by that? He means that for decades the thought was this - that in your DNA, there is a certain library of bio information and that controls your cells and that bio information that controls your cells predetermines your actions. That was the thought.

 

Now I continue reading Hodges. This is what he says, “Beginning largely in the 1990s, scientists have been finding this view unsatisfactory.” What view satisfactory? The view that the DNA genetic make up of your heredity largely controls your behavior in what you do. What we see in the DNA of the cell or creature is not fully what we get in its body or behavior. Something else is going on between the instructions contained in DNA, that's the genotype, and the result product, the phenotype. This something else has been termed epigenetics – meaning - above genetics or outside genetics. So, it's not the genetic predisposition to sin that leads a person to sin. There's something outside this and that thing that outside is called epigenetics.

 

Now, Hodges goes on. You can underline this sentence if you'd like. “Thus far epigenetic has been considered a biochemical switching system that turns bio information in DNA on and off or dials it up and down depending on the internal needs of the cue or cues received from the environment.” In other words, what Hodges is saying is this, you have certain genetic predispositions but because you have that genetic predisposition doesn't mean that that gene has to be turned on or that gene has to be turned off. There are environmental factors outside, namely: your choice that turns that biogenetic thing on or off.

 

Is there anybody that didn't get the work sheet? Just raise your hand. We'll put worksheets in your hand. Thanks so much. My wife gets good exercise by doing that.

 

We're still on the first page or to at the bottom of the first page and then we're going to jump off our worksheets and go to some Bible studies and look at some other experiments and will come back to our worksheets at the end.

 

So here's Hodges point, our DNA, don't miss this, our DNA is not the final arbiter of who we are and how we behave. Our choices can either turn on or off genetic markers in our cell system.

 

Now, research indicates that our heredity or genetic predisposition is not the major determinant of our attitudes, our choices are. Now we're going to stop there. We're not going to go to the back of the page because I want to share with you two or three things. Some recent studies in epigenetic that were done at Duke University and then I want to look at Jesus and epigenetic. I want to look at Jesus' pedigree, His lineage and see and we're going to compare Jesus' lineage to statements in the spirit of prophecy, the writings of Ellen White. And then we're gonna look at some life commandments, ways they form in our lives, and how we change life commandments.

 

Duke University studies in epigenetic. In the year 2000, Dr. Randy Jirtle and one of his graduate students, Dr. Jirtle is a professor of radiation cardiology at Duke, and Robert Waterland designed a groundbreaking study in epigenetics. Some of you may be familiar with this. The study was done on agouti mice. The reason these are called agouti mice is because they have agouti gene. Now, agouti mice are really interesting. This agouti gene predispositions the mouse to be overweight and it predispositions it to be like a yellow pin cushion. The word agouti is A.G.O.U.T.I. and so the mouse that is born is, with this agouti gene, has, it's always overweight. It always is not beautiful brown-like mice are but it's this sickly yellow. Secondly, which really interested Dr. Jirtle and Waterland is the mouse always had a predisposition to cancer, and it had a predisposition to heart disease and diabetes, and these mice were ravenous. They overeat a great deal. And so they had the gene. Their lives were shortened by life shortening disease. So Jirtle and Waterland said, “Is there anything that we can do to affect these mice that are predisposed to heart disease and cancer? And you know what they did? They changed the diet. They gave these mice a plant based diet. They gave them a lot of onions to eat, a lot of leeks to eat. They change their diet. When the baby mice were born, they had the exact same DNA. No change in the DNA of the baby mice (but they were yellow.) They were no longer yellow, they had brown skin. They were no longer overweight, they were healthy. And Dr. Jirtle said, “Wow.”What is going on here? And he was so shocked because something as simple as an external factor like diet did not turn on the genetic predisposition of the DNA.

 

And let me read to you simply part of the research which I thought was so fascinating. “Remarkably, the researchers affected this transformation without altering a single letter of the mouse’s D.N.A. Their approach instead was radically straightforward. They changed mom's diet starting just before conception, Jirtle and Waterland fed a test group of mother mice a diet rich in small chemical clusters that can attach to a gene and turn it off. These molecules are common in the environment. They're found in many foods including onions, garlic, beets, in food supplements often given to pregnant women, often being consumed by the mothers, the methyl donors work their way into the developing embryos and chromosomes and into the critical agouti gene. The mothers passed along the agouti gene to their children intact but thanks to their metho-rich pregnancy diet they had added to the gene a chemical switch that dimmed the genes till it dilatory effects.” That it's remarkable stuff!

 

It was a little eerie, Dr. Jirtle said, and a little scary to see how something as subtle as a nutritional change in a pregnant mother rat could have such a dramatic impact on the gene expression of the baby. Jirtle says the results showed how important the genetic changes could be.

 

Environmental factors. OK. How do you apply this to Christianity? Every single one of us are born with heredity tendencies. There is not one person here that has a bloodline that's perfect. Every single one of us has skeletons in our closets. And you look back at the heredity - visiting the sins of the fathers to the third or the fourth generation, what does that mean? Does it mean God punishes you for your grandfather's sin, your grandmother’s sin? Not at all, but this is what it means that because of their moral failures, you have a predisposition to sin and a weakness towards sin that you would not have otherwise. It's not that Jesus punishes you because of the sins of them. It's that that the biological bloodline affects every human being and so we have heredity tendencies. Not only do we have heredity tendencies towards sin but there's another problem. We've chosen to sin and so we've strengthened those heredity tendencies. And so these tendencies and our choices become life commandments that are built within us.

 

And I want to meditate a little while on Jesus genetic code. Have you ever looked at Jesus family tree and evaluated His pedigree based on His family tree? I want you to Matthew the first chapter. Let's look at some of the interesting people in Jesus' family tree.

 

Jesus family tree. By developing spirit indited new life commandments, we can change our pedigree, our lineage and our family tree. So I want you to look at Matthew chapter 1. And we're looking at Jesus' family tree. And let's think about a few people that are in Jesus' lineage. We're looking at Matthew chapter 1. And the first we're going to look at a few women and a few men.

 

Look at, for example. Matthew 1 starting with verse 1, the book of genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David, the son of Abraham. The son of David. David certainly didn't have a pure blood line, did he? to pass on to Jesus. David had adulterous tendencies. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. He, in addition to that, had Uriah murdered. So David had some weaknesses, didn't he?

 

But you look further in the bloodline of Jesus; the Bible says Judah begot Phares and ZarabyTamar. Who was, who was Tamar, anyway? - That was Judas’ daughter-in-law who pretended to be a harlot and Judah fell for her lie and he slept with her and got to see two twins. And that's in the bloodline of Jesus.

 

We’ll, we go back. Notice what it says, it says there's Rahab. Who was Rahab, she was the harlot that delivered the spies at Jericho. And if you look also, there is Ruth in this pedigree, this bloodline. And you'll notice it there. Verse 5, Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab. Boaz, Obed by Ruth. Who was Ruth? She was a Moabite who was, they were a hostile foreign people.

 

There is Solomon who's mentioned there. And you know Solomon took multiple concubines and he was fascinated with pleasure.

 

So when you look at Jesus' lineage, would you agree with me that His lineage from the human side, from the human side. Was Jesus fully God? Was He fully man? Can you explain that? Great is the mystery of what? Godliness. God was manifest in the flesh. So, but was Jesus fully man? Yes, He was. Was he fully God? Yes, He was.

 

Now I want you to think of Jesus' human lineage. Ellen White makes some interesting statements. I’ll read 3. ‘Review and Herald, July 28, 1874.’ That's Review and Herald, July 28, 1874, “Christ took human nature and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race.” He [Christ] took human nature and bore the infirmities and the degeneracy of the race.

 

Next reference. You'll find it in the book ‘Desire of Ages.’ It’s a very familiar statement. Many of you are in familiar with this. “It would have been almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin.”“Like every child of Adam,” this particular quote I'm doing is from ‘7thBible commentary’ for 452, the ‘Desire of Ages’ text. The one is next with this is actually a Bible Commentary quote “Like every child of Adam He accepted that the results of the working of the great law of heredity. So Jesus accepted the working of the great law of heredity. So was that a law of heredity that came through David, that came through Tamar, that came through Rahab, that came down through Solomon, that have any impact on Jesus' humanity? Yeah, it says here. He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations to give us example of sinless life.

 

Next reference, ‘Desire of Ages,’ 117 – “For four thousand years, the race had been decreasing in physical strength, mental power and moral worth.” Now, I've wrestled with this and I'll come back and give you an explanation of it. Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of His degradation. What does it mean that Christ has been decreasing in physical strength? Did Jesus have the physical strength of Adam when He was born four thousand years or did He? Not at all, not a chance. So when you look down the generations of the progressive degeneration, we see it physically, don't we? We can all accept that. What then does it mean that Jesus when she says for four thousand the race has been decreasing in physical strength and mental power? Is the brain a physical organ housed in the mind? So was Jesus mental alertness the same as Adam's? It was not, not in as his humanness. That's what Ellen…

 

The one we struggle with was moral worth. What does it mean that Jesus moral worth was different than Adam's? Here's how I understand that. Because of the deterioration of the human race with sin, Jesus’ ability as a human being to resist temptation was not as sharp or clear as Adam's was before sin. So when I look at moral worth I see that as weakness. Weakness. That when Jesus was born, there is a physical, mental, and moral weakness on his human side as it comes to resisting temptation.

 

Because in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 14 to 17, we read, “in all things he had to be made like unto His what? brethren.” So the issue with Jesus was not that he was exempt from human weakness. It was rather that he was so committed to The Father's Will that sin lost its appeal to Him. To please His Heavenly Father was His life commandment. His life commanded His moral compass governed all His actions. Now as the result of Jesus being prompted by, notice my language, prompted by, motivated by, and empowered by the Spirit. As the result of that the negative influences in His genetic DNA were never turned on. It was not that He did not receive DNA. It was never, He never chose to sin. Therefore, He never turned on those negative influences.

 

You say what about when He was a child? I don't understand all that. But I understand this. The Holy Spirit protected Him in ways that we can understand. The Holy Spirit protected Him in ways as a child; but from the moment of the dawning of His consciousness, from that moment, He had certain basic critical life commandments. “He was tempted in all points like we are but yet never fell to sin.” And now it's incidentally Jesus would not only tempted in all points like we are. Never. Not only that, but he was tempted with all power Satan.

 

You know, I've had people ask me, what does it mean that Jesus was tempted in all points like we are? What does that mean? Jesus never - How was He tempted to be a cocaine addict? Because He never experienced cocaine. Did He ever have the withdrawals of somebody coming off heroin? Did He ever show? Did He ever go through the withdrawals of alcoholism? How could He says understand a cocaine addict or alcohol addicts or how if He was tempted in all points what does that mean?

 

My response to that is this, when Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, the physical desire for food was greater than any cocaine's addicts’ desire for cocaine. So the body does not necessarily, the body does not necessarily know the difference between the strong physical cravings of a Christ for food magnified by Satan than it did for cocaine. And so Jesus when He fasted for 40 days in the wilderness went through every physical temptation that any human being will go through. Does Jesus understand what it means for a woman whose husband has left her for somebody 20 years younger and leaves her alone in her late forties crying at bed at night because now her kids are out of, out of the home and she is lonely and alone? Jesus knows what it's like to be betrayed because Judas betrayed him.

 

The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to be hurt. The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to be hurt. Because Jesus has an infinite capacity to love, He has an inconvenient capacity to hurt. And so He understands the pain of a woman. Does Jesus understand what it's like to for somebody to go through physical pain? When He hung on the cross, all the physical pain of the universe was, was upon Him. So, Jesus was tempted physically, mentally, spiritually in areas far beyond anything we can comprehend. And anything we experience, He has already gone through. Not only did Satan tempt Him on all points, but he tempted Him with all power. And so you have that aspect as well.

 

Now Jesus depended on divine power for victory and that same powers available for us. Therefore we can come confidently, Hebrews 4 verse 16, to the throne of grace.

 

Now, Jesus reversed. He reversed the negative effects of weakened genetic make up because of His positive choices to live in harmony with the Father's will. The Holy Spirit prompted those choices and empowered them.

 

I want to look at five (5) life commandments. What I've done recently is I have taken the Gospel of Matthew and some ancillary text and other gospels and I've said if I were trying to boil down Christ life commandments. A life commandment is something we - we inherit life commandments built into our DNA. There are certain genetic predispositions. We inherit life commandments from our early childhood. What is a life commandment? It is your moral compass. It's what’s coil; it’s what drives you. It's your purpose in life. In all of that is shaped by heredity and environment; but when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior, we make a choice to have the Holy Spirit write new life commandments in our mind. And we find the model for those life commandments in the life of Christ.

 

So I wanna look at five things that gave Jesus' life purpose meaning and direction. Five models for life commandments. Then I'm going to share with you three life commandments that govern my life personally for a personal testimony. Then I'm going to take you through life commandment inventory that will be helpful to you. Ok.

 

First, Jesus' life commandment was that He lived to please The Father. That was a life commandment. Jesus made a conscious choice. So life commandment number 1 - choose to make it your highest priority to live a life pleasing to God. You find that in John 8 verse 29.

 

John 8:28, here as of an old preacher used to say is the problem to solve all problems in the Christian life. The problem to solve all problems in the Christian life is the surrender of the will. And you can solve a million challenges in your life if this life commandment is yours. If you get on your knees and say, “Jesus, I want you to write into my mind this life commandment. I want this life commandment to govern my behavior. I want this life commandment to govern everything I say.” This life commandment is found in John 8:29. Here it is, John 8, “And He who sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I always those things that please Him.”

 

“Lord my life commandment is this - whatever pleases you, I wanna do. I don't have to argue with You whether I should eat pork or not. I don’t have to argue with You. I don’t have to argue with you whether I should eat meat or not. Lord, all I want to know is what pleases You to glorify You in my body. I don't have to debate whether I should watch this T.V. program or that T.V. program is wrong. All I need to do is be honest with God. Just be honest with God. I just have to get on my knees. I got already made a decision that I want to do is please You. Reveal to me by your Holy Spirit whether this pleases You or not.”

 

That is a life commandment. Look at Matthew 26. You know the Gethsemane story. Do you think when Jesus was walking to Calvary; He was singing the doxology – “Praise God from whom all blessings flow?” Do you think He was in Gethsemane, He was thinking Praise God from all blessings flow? I can't wait for those nails to be driven through my hands, can’t wait for the crown of thorns? It's almost blasphemy to say it, isn't it?

 

Matthew chapter 26. What does Jesus do? Verse. You're looking there at Matthew chapter 26 and here you find it in verse 39, 38, Jesus says. “Then He said to them, my soul is exceedingly sorrowful even to death. Stay here and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: but not as I will, but as Your will be done.”

 

Jesus saw the cup of the cross. He saw the denial that would take place by Peter and the betrayal by Judas. And Jesus saw the nails that would be driven through His hands and the crown of thorns upon His head. And Jesus said, “If it's possible, let this cup pass from me but not my will but what? thy I will be done.”

 

 Jesus had a life commandment and Jesus' life commandment was this – “I will do nothing that (please) displeases the Father. Whatever my heredity, whatever my tendencies, whatever my DNA, I can make a positive choice prompted by and empowered by the spirit that I want to do nothing that displeases God and God writes a new life commandment in my mind and keeps just like a switch.”

 

See your epigenetics is like a switch. You can switch the light on or you can switch the light off. Empowered by the Spirit, we choose not to yield to the tendencies that the DNA says we should. But with that, there is an external force. And what's that external force? The power the Holy Spirit.

 

Second Life commandment that Jesus had. There are basically five, if you look at the Gospel of Matthew can summarize them nicely. The first life commandment is Jesus made a decision to live a life totally pleasing to God. The second life commandment - Jesus made a decision. Jesus lived to minister to others. His life was a life of service. People mattered to Jesus. Jesus did not live an egotistical self-centered life. Matthew chapter 20.

 

Matthew chapter 20 verses 20 to 28. Matthew chapter 20 verse 20 to 28. Notice what Jesus says and we would just read verse 28. Matthew 20 and we're going to read verse 28. And Jesus makes this amazing decision. He says, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.” The lot, the decision that Jesus made was a life of service. His life was not wrapped up in himself. It was a life of service.

 

Here is life - here is life commandment no. 2 - Choose to make service rather than being served your ultimate goal in life.

 

Now, Tinnie and I would just flying back from Orlando a week or so ago, two weeks ago now. And I was sitting on the window seat. We had an empty seat in the center and Tinnie was sitting on the aisle seat and I noticed a woman walking down the aisle. She was dressed in all white. She had a white veil over her head. She was dressed in white from shoulder to feet. She looked like a nun, but I knew she wasn't a nun. She looked like a Muslim, but I knew she wasn't a Muslim. And she walked straight down the aisle and she came in to sit between us and I said, “Madam, would you mind if I sat next to my wife? I thought were going to have the empty seat.” I want to be able to talk to Tinnie on the way, so I sat in the center seat and she sat by the window. As we were coming along we hadn't eaten lunch, eaten lunch yet, so I pulled out my little plastic bag with my almonds to eat. I noticed, she pulled out her little plastic bag with her almonds to eat. And she said to me, “Would you like some almonds?” And I said, “Madam, I have some almond.”

 

So, we flew along a little bit. And I said, “Now, where might you be from?” She said, “Egypt.” And I said, “That's rather interesting. Are you a Coptic Christian?” She said, “How did you know that?” I said, “I know a little bit about travel.” And so, we began to talk. I said, “You know, might I ask you, what are you doing in the United States?” She said, “I'm on a lecture service circuit. I'm traveling to universities lecturing.” Well, now that really piqued my interest up, I wondered who is this woman that I'm sitting next to. And I said, “There must be a story behind this. What do you do?” And she said, “Oh, I work with a few orphans.” And I said, “Oh, that's kind of interesting. Have you done this all your life?” And after a while, we became, we had a very cordial conversation, and she said, “Let me tell you my life story.” She said, “I was a professor at American University in Egypt.” And she said, “I was living a life of affluence. And one day, I went out to visit one of my student’s children. My, went to visit one of my students, had adult students and had a child, and went out to visit my student. I saw their children. I saw the abject poverty they lived in. And as I walked around the slums, I could no longer continue to live a life of affluence. I could no longer continue to have a prestigious position at the chair of this university. So I made a decision that I was going to give my life of service to the children in the slums.” I said, “How many, do you have any facilities now, orphanages? She smiled and said, “Well Pastor, she said, “I have 90 facilities that I oversee now.” She said, “Everyday we feed 30,000 children.” She said, “I have committed my life to the poorest of the poor. I've committed my life to service.” We had wonderful time. I open the Bible. We study the Bible with her.

Incidentally, I said to her, “How do you finance all these?” And she said, “Well, donations.” “Ninety facilities?” “What vision, what faith.” And I said, “What is your biggest challenge?” And do you know what she said to me, this humble godly woman. You may wanna read the New York Times bestseller on her life. She's called Mother Maggie. Mother Maggie. She's in her mid sixty's. She is amazing woman. I said, “What's the biggest challenge you face?” And she said, “The biggest challenge I faced is myself.” I said, “Could you please repeat that for me?” She said, “The biggest challenge I face is myself - to keep focused on living the life of Christ of service.”

 

I came away from that discussion over that period of an hour with this thought in my mind; Jesus was motivated by one thing - a life of service that was part of his DNA. Jesus was not preoccupied with Himself. He was not wrapped up in the egotistical life of Himself.

 

Second life commandment. What is it? Jesus’ first life commandment - If I adapt that to my life, choose to make it my highest priority to live a life pleasing to God.

 

Second life commandment of Christ - choose to make service rather then being served your ultimate goal.

 

The third thing you notice about the life of Christ is this - Jesus lived a life of self-sacrifice. He lived a life of self side; not simply of service. And you find that outlined throughout the Gospels, if you look for example at many passages in Scripture. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him (do what?) deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”

 

If you look at John the 12th chapter, for example, when Philip brings to Jesus the Greeks, Jesus says in John chapter 12 verse 25, “He loves his life will lose it and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” “If anyone serves me let him follow me where I am, so my servant will also be.”

 

So the third life commandment that you see in the life of Christ is a life of self sacrificial service.

 

You remember the story well of Dr. Harry Miller. Dr. Harry Miller, of course, was a protégé of John Harvey Kellogg. And John Harvey Kellogg tried to influence Harry Miller not to go out to China. He saw him as one of his most brilliant students. And Harry Miller said, “I have a burden. I've got to go.” And Kellogg said, “You know, you're gonna waste out your life out in China.” Well, Miller went and you know the story well. Established hospitals all through China, all through the Orient, he helped to develop soymilk, helped to do the very foundations of the Seventh Day Adventist work in China. He was a personal physician to Shanghai Sheikh and many of the royalty, sowed principles of truth, and today we have over 400,000 Seventh Day Adventists in China; largely the result of these early influences of missionaries that went and sacrificed everything for Christ.

 

Three life commandments of Jesus'

 

Life commandment no. 1 of Christ. I will do nothing that displeases my Father.

 

Life commandment no. 2 of Christ. I will live a life (of self of) service.

 

Life commitment no. 3 - self sacrifice will not be a galling yoke upon my neck; it will be a joy to advance the cause of the Father.

 

Fourth life commandment of Christ - Jesus lived a life with the end in mind.

 

Here's life commandment no. 4 - choose to focus on the end at the beginning. Choose to focus on the end at the beginning. Make your end goal the purpose of your life. I want you to think about that. Jesus lived life with the end in mind. Most people do not live life with the end in mind. They live life with today in mind. How am I gonna get through today? How am I gonna pay my mortgage? How am I gonna deal with the problems of my work today? How am I gonna to pay off 225 or 250 thousand dollars as a medical student that I just graduated with, with many medical students come out with over 200,000 today debt? You know, how am I gonna deal with that, you know? How some of you understand what I've just said, others of you don't. You're too old, you graduated too many years ago, will forgive you for that.

 

John chapter 17 verse 4, here it is, choose to focus on the end at the beginning. Live life with the end in mind and I'll explain to you what we mean by that.

 

John 17 verse 4. The end is coming for Jesus and Jesus says this, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work that You've given me to do.” Jesus says, “I've finished the work.” From the time of Jesus dawning consciousness, He understood that He was sent to this world for redemptive purpose. In fact, in Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” So Jesus had this dawning consciousness upon His life that He was here for a special purpose – the redemption of the human race. All of His life, He lived with the end in mind. All of His life moved toward that climax of His life on the cross of Calvary.

 

How do you live your life? Do you live your life with the end in mind? With the recognition that we are, if Jesus doesn't come, we're all here for a short period of time. They and. I always wondered why this was true - when you are young, a year goes by so slow. And the older you get, the faster time goes. You know what my theory is on that? For example, when I was in the first grade at eight years old, it seemed that that year would never end. And now, some of you in medical school, and you think it's never gonna end. But anyway, you thought, I thought it was never gonna end. Now, a year goes by so fast for me, why? When I was in the first grade, my measurement of time was like it was only one eighth of my life; but now, a year would be one eighth of my life. Now, a year is 1/71st of my 71 of my life. So now, my perception to look back over my life, seems, I look back over 70 years. It seems so long and one year seems so short. But the child at eight can't comprehend those first seven years as clearly; so their time seems to go so long in that first year.

 

When you come to the end of your life, if Jesus does not come, have you lived your life with the end, the end in mind? How do you wanna die? How do you wanna die? What epitaph would you like to be put on your tombstone?

 

Jesus lived His life not caught up with the immediacy of life. He did not allow the tyranny of the urgent to crowd out the magnificence of the important. He never was controlled by the tyranny of the urgent. Jesus lived His life always with the end in mind. He never was distracted from that end.

 

I am, I had a remarkable experience some years ago, I was interviewing, I was interviewing Joni Erickson Tata for T.V. program that we're gonna to do. And many of you know Joni Erickson Tata was in a terrible diving accident and paralyzed from her, from her neck down. And I was sitting in her studio; she had these pencils in her mouth- colored pencils like blue, green. And she was paint--; she was drawing with these pencils in her mouth. And she, if you've ever listened to a radio program, Joni and friends; it's always just such a delight to listen to. When she was painting with these in her mouth, and I said, “What's the most difficult thing to paint with these or write with these in your mouth? And she said, “The most, the hardest thing is the lousy taste of the pencils.” And we laugh together, you know. And she took it out. And I said, “Joni, have you ever wondered why you were not healed?” And she said, “You know, when I first had this diving accident, it was really tough for me. I wondered, you know, I was late teens. Why I wasn't being healed? People said, if you pray hard enough, you can be healed and so forth.” And she said, “You know Mark, John chapter 1 solved that for me completely.” And I said, “Help me with that.” And she gave me an exposition of, rather Mark chapter one. She gave me an exposition of Mark 1 that was just amazing. She talked to me about how Jesus had healed people all night and the disciples came to Him the next morning and they asked Him to heal and Jesus said He left sick people. And He said, “I must be going on to other cities too because the purpose of my life is to preach the gospel.” And she said, “So the purpose of my life is not to be healed. The purpose of my life is to share Jesus with others.” She developed a life commandment and she lived her life with the end in mind. If she only lived her life with the immediacy of the situation in mind, her crippled, being crippled, being paralyzed, she would have been most miserable; but she lived with the end in mind, that she knew one day, she would be walking and running in heaven and that the end of her and that Christ had given her the opportunity, the privilege of sharing His grace with others.

 

Are you living your life with the end in mind? - One other life commitment of Christ. So we say choose to focus on the end at the beginning. Make the, your end goal - what do you want when you die?

 

Fifthly, Jesus lived a life of transparency. It's incredible transparency. Jesus lived a life of total absolute transparency. Jesus could go to bed at night because He had nothing to hide. It was totally transparent. I wish we had time to develop that thought, we don't.

 

Ellen White says, “Everything the Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight. Truth is of God. Deception and every one of its forms is of Satan. And whoever in anyway departs from the straight line of truth is betraying himself into the power of the wicked one. Man of Blessing, page 68.

 

Doing right because it is right, you sleep well at night. Doing right because it is right, you sleep well at night.

 

Jesus was not influenced by forces around Him to compromise His integrity. He constantly lived a life of open transparency. He was very open in His transparency.

 

So here's five principles from the life of Jesus. Let's go over them.

 

No. 1 - Jesus had a life commandment and what was it? He chose to please God in every circumstance of His life.

No. 2 - Jesus chose a life of self sacrificing service.

No. 3 - He chose a life of self-sacrifice.

No. 4. What’s the fourth principle about Jesus' life? Jesus lived a life with the end from the beginning always. He was always think of His end goal.

And fifthly, Jesus lived a life of transparency.

 

Now I have three life commandments and here's what my three life commandments are:

 

No. 1 (and I write them out. I think about these.) No. 1 - Pleasing God is my greatest aim, my highest desire, my supreme goal. That's a supreme goal in my life. I live my life by that commandment - that the most important thing for me is to please God.

 

No. 2 - My relationships are more important than my accomplishments. That is a life commandment for me. My relationships are more important than my accomplishments. This does not mean that doing and accomplishing isn't important to me, it is. What it means to me is simply this - to accomplish a certain personal goal at the expense of hurting people is contrary to my value system. That's, that's, that's part of my D.N.A. that's who I am. I have consciously thought about life commandments. If I had a choice between accomplishing a certain goal and hurting a human being I would rather not accomplish the goal than accomplish the goal and hurt somebody. That's a life commandment.

 

Third, service is my greatest joy - blessing other people with a sermon, a seminar, personal counseling, health program, individual discussions are my greatest joy.

 

So I live by three things: one, pleasing God is my high aim. Secondly, relationships are extremely important to me. Thirdly, service is the essence of my life.

 

Now what are your life commandments? What motivates you? What's the moral compass you live by? What criteria have you chosen to live your life by? Have you written out your life commandments?

 

Now I've given you and can I just borrow and look at your sheet? Thanks. Now I've given you a Life Commandment Inventory. So here's what I'd like you to do. Here's your homework/ assignment, you'd expect me to give you a homework/assignment, wouldn't you at the end of the seminar?

 

OK, here's your life inventory. It's on the back of your, your work sheet. OK.

No. 1. Do you periodically take an inventory of your motives and your actions? So I will suggest that you spend some time taking an inventory of your motives and actions.

 

Secondly, do you? (Thanks). Secondly, do you spend time to reflect on what's important to you in life? Take time. Get out by yourself, reflect on what's important.

 

Thirdly, have you analyzed what you do and why?

 

Fourth, set aside a time, a minimum of an hour to review your life, evaluating your life commandments.

 

Five, reflect on Jesus' life commandments as outlined in the following text and how do these principles relate to your priorities. Read the text.

 

Six, what principles guide you in developing your own life commandments?

 

And seven, based on the principles outlined in the gospels, write three life commandments as your moral compass.

 

So what I like people do is take time. We won't do it now. In meditation and prayer, and write out three life commandments. Post them some place. Look for Bible support for your life commandments. Yours may be a little different than mine. Write out your life commandments and say, “these are the criteria that I'm going to live my life for.”

 

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, thank you so much that we are not shackled by a deterministic behaviorism; but thank you that our D.N.A. does not have to determine who we are. Thank you Father that the Holy Spirit can enable us to write new life commandments in our heart, in our mind; that we can be more like you every single day of our lives. We long for that. Thank you for the new science of epigenetics that helps us to understand that the choices we make, make a dramatic difference to turn on genes or turn off genes. We know that there is an influence from our heredity and from environment but there’s a greater influence and that's through the Holy Spirit, who can renew our minds. May focusing on Jesus, by beholding Him, may we become changed by the things that motivated His life, may they motivate our life. May the gospel of grace warm our hearts, fill them with love, and change us to be more like you. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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