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God’s Solution for our Impossible Predicament

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Episode Synopsis

Jani and Heidi talk about what God’s law teaches us about ourselves and God’s answer to our greatest need. They also share how to use this series for family devotions.

Audio Transcript

Jani: Welcome to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund where you can find encouragement for your busy life through God’s renewing mercies. Hello everyone. Welcome to our podcast. Heidi and I are so excited to have you with us today. I wish you could get to know my co-host Heidi Howerton. She is so fun and I’m getting to know her better through our times together recording. One of the things I learned about her today, you won’t believe, when she was in fourth grade, she played the trumpet. Tell them what you were telling me Heidi.

Heidi: So I played the trumpet in fourth grade and I had such a hard time making that buzzing noise, Jani, that my cheeks were always big and blown up and all my other fellow fourth-graders, they played the trumpet with nice tight cheeks and I looked like I had a bubble in my mouth but that was the best way I could do it. But it was so much fun. Mike loves that fact about me too. He always laughs when we talk about my trumpeting days. I thought you guys might find this fun. So my co-host, Jani Ortlund, loves to ride horses. When they lived in Scotland, she was in an English jumping show with her daughter. That’s right. Krista and I took riding lessons together and I remember one show in particular, I was so proud because I won second place. I do have to admit though, there were only two competitors in that show but I made it over each jump well enough for them to say I qualified to win a ribbon.

Heidi: Oh, I love that Jani.

Jani: It’s fun to get to know each other and we hope our listeners are getting to know us a little bit. We’re getting to know them a little bit too, aren’t we, Heidi, as they send in their questions and as they email us. We’re so grateful.

Heidi: Yes, any feedback you guys give, whether you’re leaving comments on the Instagram or our social media accounts, or sending in questions for “Ask Jani”, we absolutely love hearing from you guys. You’re the best. Here’s where you can connect with us: www.herestoresmysoul.org.

Jani: Well, we’re continuing on in our series on the “10 Commandments: His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy.” Why are we doing this? Oh, I believe it’s so important today to see how God loves us through his law. That his law is not just something from the Old Testament days that we disregard now in our age of grace, but it’s something important to us now. I hope you’re catching a vision for that. Heidi and I also want to illustrate how to teach this to our children. Our prayer is that many of our listeners will want to begin teaching 10 Commandments to their children. Now, why is this such an important topic today? Well, because we all love to be blessed and the purpose of the law is to bring us blessing. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 112:1-2 that one of the keys to raising godly and courageous children who are surrounded with God’s blessing comes from a parent fearing the Lord and taking great delight in his commandments. Heidi, will you read that verse for us?

Heidi: “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

Heidi: We all want that, don’t we?

Heidi: We do.

Jani: We want to be blessed and we want our children to be blessed, so that’s why we’re going to talk about this over the next several weeks. Why should we care about the 10 Commandments anymore? Isn’t that just Old Covenant stuff? No, no. It’s not. Listen to these verses from the new Testament. Ephesians 5:15 says, “Look carefully then how you walk…” Paul is telling us to examine our walk. I love Philippians 2:12, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” Please notice, as we said last episode, it’s not work for your salvation, but work it out. Part of that is understanding law and grace. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Do you see this? Grace does not undermine the law. Grace is the larger wraparound truth explaining why the law deserves a whole hearted “YES” from every one of us. Let’s just review a little bit. What does the law mean to us today? Well, under the Old Covenant, the people of Israel were in an if-then relationship with God. If they obeyed God, there would be blessing, but they couldn’t. They failed. They just couldn’t do it on their own. In the New Covenant, God promises to write his law in our hearts. The New Covenant doesn’t do away with the law, it puts it inside us. It internalizes it. God has done what the law could never do.

Heidi: I’m so thankful for that, Jani, for the Holy Spirit. Have you ever had moments when you’ve been reading scripture and you just feel a good conviction about sin or when you’re in conversation and you think, “Oh, I’m about to gossip and Lord, help me not to do this.” This is the evidence of the Holy Spirit inside us internalizing that law and helping us see what pleases God.

Jani: Yes, the kindness of the Lord to help us that way, not just to tell us what to do, but enable us to do it through his Spirit. That’s so true because in the Old Covenant, God would tell us what to do. He said, “You shall not steal. You shall not lie. You shall not commit adultery…” This is how you are to act, but in the new covenant, he enables me to be good. As you were saying, Heidi, he knows I can’t stop wanting other things, so he gives me a generous heart in Christ. I love that. Or think of this under the Old Covenant, I would believe that God would love me more if I were good. The Old Covenant said, “I obey, therefore I am accepted” but the New Covenant says, “I’m accepted, therefore I obey.” God cannot possibly love me any more than he already does through Christ. I’m totally depraved and just as totally loved. Now parents, let me talk to you about the 10 Commandments. When you pass on this wonderful legacy of God’s loving law, you should deploy the Old Covenant. You want to teach your children the 10 Commandments. Let’s say the Bible says that you’re to honor me. “I need you to make your bed. That’s one of the rules in our house. You honor me by obeying me right now.” That’s the Old Covenant. Then you come alongside your child in the New Covenant and say, “Now I know we’re running late this morning. Could I help you make your bed?” That’s the New Covenant. Let’s remember also as we go through the 10 Commandments with our children, that God is not speaking out of a void in Exodus 20 when he gives us the 10 Commandments. He was and is and will always be intimately connected with his people. Think of the prologue to the law. Heidi, will you read that?

Heidi: Sure. Exodus 20:1-2, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Oh, think of all that God had graciously done to bring his people out of slavery and free them. It took 19 chapters to describe that freedom, that rescue. First grace, then law. In just three short months, we talked about this last week. I won’t take time to review, but think of all the things, the Plagues the Red Sea, the Oasis at Elim, Joshua defeating the army of the Amalekites. These were amazing. The Bible tells us that he led the children of Israel with chords of kindness and bands of love and redeemed them in love and pity. God is the God who leads his children out of slavery into freedom with him. And I believe that freedom calls for a loyalty. Grace does not undermine the law. Grace is the larger wraparound truth explaining why the law deserves a wholehearted “YES.” I keep repeating that because I want that to go deep into our hearts. When God says in Exodus 20:2, as Heidi read, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,” he’s describing you if you believe him. He’s describing Heidi and me, he is describing each believer’s salvation. You see, if you know Jesus Christ, your conversion was your Exodus out of your own personal slavery and into a New Covenant with him. And now he is writing his law on your heart. So as you teach your child, try to be aware of the nature of the human heart. The 10 Commandments, they tend to feel to our rebellious hearts like a list of things to do to keep on God’s good side.

Speaker 2: Yes, it reminds me just as I raise my children just how dis-obedient our hearts are. I have to remind myself that they are only five and seven and that I shouldn’t expect them to know another way. How many times do I mess up and struggle too? It helps me extend more grace to them when I just remember the broken state that we are in.

Jani: That’s good Heidi, yes. Now the law does tell us what to do, but more importantly, it shows us who we are. The law deals with both the external and the internal. It reminds me of what you said last week, Jani. I loved how you compared the law to a mirror and how, when I look in the mirror, I can see where I’m dirty, but I would never take the mirror off the wall to try to wash my face with and how in the same way the law shows us where need cleansing but we would never take the law and try to cleanse ourselves with us. Only Jesus can do that.

Jani: Yes, that always helps me. I got that illustration from Donald Grey Barnhouse. He compared the law to a mirror and that really struck home with me. It really helped me because the law tells us to do good and then it proves to us that we can’t. Righteousness is never humanly manageable because Christianity is not a behavior modification system. Real Christianity and Jesus Christ is a miracle. When God gave us the 10 Commandments, he knew that our inability to keep them would lead us to Christ because as we come to God’s law, we are all, every one of us, faced with one of two responses. Either we will feel that God is too hard a master and we’ll withdraw into a moral universe of our own making where we write our own laws. We see this in the book of Judges. It’s happened ever since Adam and Eve were brought into the world and first sinned. The second response is that we will turn to God who offers us Christ as the perfect savior of sinners. When we turn to Christ, our guilt over that image in the mirror of his law will turn to true sorrow and repentance and God will begin doing a deep work in each heart that is turned to him. God will put his very spirit within you and his spirit will get to work, breaking the reign of sin’s power in your life. He will transform you into a law loving servant of God Almighty who makes much of Christ’s transforming power and little of your obedience. Heidi will you read from Ezekiel where we get this?

Heidi: Ezekiel 36:26-27, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”This is like what we were talking about earlier Jani, the Lord within us. What an amazing miracle!

Jani: Yes, we trust in that promise, don’t we? Where would we be without it? Oh my. Well we want to review quickly some of the methodology Heidi and I use when we teach children the 10 Commandments and then we want to help you get started this week in how you can begin teaching your children the 10 Commandments. First of all, make sure and keep it simple and short. Truly it’s much better to keep it short and then pick it up again the next night than to make it too long. I usually recommend one minute per year of life. So if you have a five-year-old, I would keep it between five and six minutes. Try not to get too long. Also keep it sweet. We used to do our family devotions during dessert. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” we would say as we’d give our kids their dessert and then open the Bible together. We want you as we have tried to both teach and tantalize your children. You want them to know what the Bible says, but they also need an example to follow. They need to be able to see it being lived out as well as hear it. That means you need to know it. So, how can you get started this week? Well, I’m going to ask you to prepare three things for yourself and then I’m going to tell you three things you can do with your children. I do want to say here, and we might remind our listeners at the end, that if you’ve forgotten, you don’t have a pencil, you’re driving, you’re listening and you can’t remember what verses Heidi and I referenced, there is a written transcript of each podcast on our website at herestoresmysoul.org and you can check out the verses there. So how can you get started in your own life, in your own walk with God? I recommend this: camp, read through, meditate on chapters 1-20 of the book of Exodus. Also, look at Jeremiah 17:9-10 this week and Jeremiah 31:33. We’ll go over those verses again at the end. So we recommend that you read this story of the Exodus from Exodus chapters 1-19 and then meditate on Exodus 20:1-2. Put your own name into this verse. Think through what enslaves you. Heidi, do you remember that verse from 1 Peter we’ve talked about before? Would you read that for us?

Heidi: “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”

Jani: The second thing I want you to do this week as you’re reading through Exodus 1-19 and meditating on those first few verses of chapter 20 is to think of what enslaves you, what is Christ freeing you from? Think about what captures your heart, what dominates your thoughts and actions? Really that’s truly your master. What do you need freedom from? Well, I can give you a few examples and maybe Heidi, you might want to. Some of the things I’m enslaved to these days, one is sugar. I am craving sugar. I have my breakfast, a healthy breakfast. I’m at my desk at 9:30am and am looking for chocolate and I don’t like that. My mind is always going there or I play two games on my iPhone. I love to play them. I find my mind wandering, “Oh, maybe I should check and see if my competitor has played me back or if Ray has played me back.” It tends to take too much mental energy that I don’t like. Another thing that’s enslaving me these days, to be truly honest, is my gray hair. You know, I travel a lot, Heidi and I need to make those appointments to get it colored. And I’m just wondering, maybe we should take a listener vote, if I should just let it grow gray. I think it’ll age me 20 years, but that’s okay. It’ll be a lot cheaper and easier. But I think about that a lot. What captures your heart these days that you’re struggling with a little bit, Heidi?

Heidi: Oh, so many things come to mind, Jani. I relate to you with the sugar. I think when things get stressful around the house, my tendency is “Let me just go eat a cookie” or I just had a really hard conversation and for some reason I want that instant sugar fix. I’m stressed and I want to eat a cookie because I know that’ll make me feel better. And every time I do that’s not satisfying. I know that that’s wrong, that I need to come to the Lord’s feet with that. or I think of social media, I actually just deleted the Instagram app off my phone and then I’ll pull it up every once in awhile like re-download it and post something. But so many times it’s easy to be pulled away and to think, “Oh, five minutes here, the kids are playing.” I’m spending too much time doing that when it’s not really adding anything to my life. And the last thing I think of is just a grumbling heart. I think as things get hard, I hear in my own mind just complaints. And I think that’s really sad. The Lord calls us to have a joyful heart, a thankful heart. And so I’ve just been convicted of that and asking him to help me where I’m weak. ‘m so weak Jani!

Jani: Yes. Oh, I’m with you there, Heidi. Thank you for sharing that. So your assignment this week, dear listener, is to think about what enslaves you, what do you need Christ to rescue you from? So we’re asking you to read through Exodus 1-19 and meditate on chapter 20:1-2, to think through enslaves you and then finally we’re asking you to get a large, red poster-board. Hopefully you have a station or shop or a school supply shop nearby or…

New Speaker: …we love the Dollar Tree. Buy a poster board for a dollar.

New Speaker: Yes, that’s great at Dollar Tree. So I want you to buy a large, red posterboard and a small mirror. Don’t make it more than three or four inches. You’ll also need tape, index cards, markers, scissors, and a burned out match or candle stick when you teach your children but those things I assume you have around your home, but before you begin this lesson with your kids, buy that red poster board and a small mirror. So those are the three things that you need to do this week. And then with your children, make sure that your child knows the story of Moses and the Exodus. Read it to your children in different translations throughout the week. Make sure your child understands the Israelite’s slavery to the Egyptians. What did it mean that you’re a slave to someone? It’s such an important concept for your child to understand that God was freeing his people from slavery and they needed to know how to live in that freedom. Talk about being slaves to something today. Share an example with your kids of something that enslaves you, so make sure your child knows this story of Moses and then, secondly, with your kids, draw a huge red heart on your poster board and cut it out with your kids and then tape that small mirror, smack dab in the middle. Now next, this will be kind of fun and you will have to plan this out ahead of time, but from a burned out match stick or maybe a candle stick wick that’s been burned. Smear some soot on your face and then as your children notice it, joke with them about using the mirror to wipe it away. “Oh, let’s see if mom can wipe this off with a mirror!” Talk to them about what mirrors are for. Then discuss how God’s word, how God’s law is like a mirror. And it reminds us of how dirty we all truly are inside because we do bad things and we can’t stop ourselves and that helps us to turn to Jesus who is the Living Water who can clean us. With your children, read Jeremiah 17:9-10 and talk about it together. Copy it on an index card. Maybe your children are good enough writers that they could do that and tape it to the very top of your heart right at the very top. Then share your own testimony. Tell them how you came to faith in Christ, how Christ became your rescue, your freedom fighter. You might want to use props. One of the ways that I felt I needed Christ was that as a child, I stole my best friend’s pop beads. They were a little bits of jewelry that you could pop in and out and build longer necklaces. I didn’t have any and I really wanted some and my mom wouldn’t buy me any, so I stole Trisha’s. The problem was after I stole them, I couldn’t wear them because my mom would know where they came from and so would my best friend and I realized how wrong that was. I needed Jesus because I knew I was a sinner. Help your kids identify with your sin and then help them try to see sin in their own lives, but keep it short. Then finally, read Jeremiah 31:33 with them. Copy a shortened version on an index card. Put these words on an index card with your kids, “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts.” I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts. Then I want you to take that index card and tape it right under the mirror. That’s it for this week. I hope you have fun with your kids. Let me pray for you as we close. Oh Lord, we thank you for this new study. You’re helping us to begin together and I pray for my listeners that you would help them understand the purpose of your law, how you love us through it, how it points to our need for Jesus. Open our eyes, Lord, that we might behold wondrous things from your law. Lord, help us to see that our hearts are stone unless you come in and remove our hearts of stone and turn them into hearts of flesh. Oh Lord, how we need you to write your law within our hearts. I pray for that mother who would like to teach her children from the Bible and is not really sure what to do. Lord, I pray that you would help her, guide her, encourage her, strengthen her, and help her teach her kids. We love you. This is for you, Lord Jesus. It’s through you and for you. In Jesus name, Amen.

Heidi: Thank you, Jani. I wanted to remind everyone too that if this study is helpful to you, but you want to go a little bit deeper, Jani wrote a book called “His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy” that does a great job expounding on these things that she’s sharing with us today.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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