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DAY 1: The Ten CommandmentsExodus 20:1–20 (also see Deuteronomy 5:1–32) Today is the first day of a 10-week series on character, morality, virtue, and vice. Bobby Clinton, professor and author on leadership, says it simply: “What you focus on expands.” For the next 10 weeks, we will help you focus on and walk the road of and the way to character. Each week, Day 1 will introduce you to a longer section of Scripture where a list is provided that describes character. It may be good character (what we call virtue) or bad character (what we call vice). Today is one of the most famous and well-known texts of any religion—The Ten Commandments. As you read through and become more familiar with the biblical teaching on inner character and external actions that display it, you will see a consistent pattern and message appear. It has been said many times and by many people, “These are the Ten COMMANDMENTS, not the Ten SUGGESTIONS.” But when you evaluate how we actually live, it seems that many of us do view them as optional suggestions and not normative commandments. Every day you will think, reflect, pray, and act. As the weeks go by, you’ll and your moral thinking becoming sharper and more biblical. You’ll experience being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1–2) and the “eyes of your heart being enlightened” (Ephesians 1:17–18). God’s Words will become normative, powerful, and attractive. So, think about this: • What is the difference between a command and a suggestion? • Why do you think God gives commands and not simply suggestions? • Why do we have such difficulty following commands, even when they are obviously good for us, our relationships, and our society? • Which of the commands do you need to pay closer attention to? Pray for the grace and the strength to do so.
DAY 2: The Character of Our GodPsalm 36:5–9; Exodus 34:4–7 Character: A characteristic is a quality that belongs to a thing. You may be tall or short; young or old; male or female. You have characteristics of race and ethnicity. There is nothing moral about these features. Morality: Qualities of good and evil, right and wrong. Virtue: Good character Qualities like kindness, gentleness, patience, etc. Vice: Bad character Qualities like lying, stealing, cheating, etc. These internal qualities (virtue and vice) are inevitably expressed in actions, words, and relationships. God is a moral God. In other words, there are qualities of moral character about God. God is good. God is holy. God is just. God is righteous. God is gracious. God is merciful. God is not evil. God is not abusive. God is not unjust. God is not hateful. God is not selfish. A good God created humanity in his moral image. We were good. Sin entered the world and we became bad. All of us are, to some degree, bad. You will never meet a single person who has no element of badness. It is God’s plan to forgive our evil and restore our goodness. That is what Jesus did on the cross. He made forgiveness and renewal possible. Forgiveness comes first. It is instant. It is a pure given . You simply receive it when you receive Christ. Transformation and renewal is the lifelong process that continues after forgiveness is given. God’s will and plan is to completely renew and remake you back into his beautiful moral Image. That is why it is so important to know what God is like and how he is remaking you. • What did you learn about what God is like in these passages? • Are you drawn to and inspired by the moral goodness of our God? Pray as you need to pray.
DAY 3: Jesus is the Light of LifeJohn 1:1–18; 3:16–21 Every week in our character series you will take a close look at Jesus, the Son of God, who reveals the goodness of God more clearly than anything else. In the Gospel of John, there are certain words/themes that stand in close connection to one another. Light, life, love, grace, and truth all describe Jesus. These are the moral qualities of God and of Jesus, the Son of God. God is light. Jesus is the light of the world. God is love. God so loved the world he gave Jesus. Jesus so loved the world that he died for it. What God is, God the Son is as well. And what Jesus the Son of God is, is what we are to receive, enjoy, and become. God is light. Jesus is light. We receive light and live as children of the light (Ephesians 4:8–14). Jesus is the supreme and exemplary fullness of God on display (see Hebrews 1:3). Jesus shows us what God is like and Jesus shows us what the way of God is like. It is a way of goodness, holiness, righteousness, love, humility, and so much more. Jesus’ way is contrasted with the darkness of the world. Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness does not like the light. The light is greater and the light overcomes darkness. We all have some darkness in us. Some of us have a great deal of darkness. The light of Christ shines, illumines, and others a better way. Christ invites you to live in his light and experience his light overcoming your moral darkness. Today, your life will either be attractive to others or not so attractive. • What will people see and experience as they interact with you? • How will they describe you to others? • How does Jesus want you to let his light shine into the lives of others today? Be prayerful about this all day. Be intentional about living in the light of Christ all day.
DAY 4: The Heart of the MatterMicah 6:8; Philippians 4:8–9 On Days 1 and 2 you looked at longer passages in the Bible that described character. Every week you will also look at short “gold nuggets.” That is what I call them. These short passages are rich, deep, and powerful. They are moral GOLD. Today’s passages are of major importance. Old Testament scholars believe Micah 6:8 is the summary of the character and the will of God. Commentators believe Philippians 4:8–9 is a summary of what followers of Jesus should become. After you read these two passages, make a list of the core Qualities of character. For each word, write a short description. If you need help, look the words up in a dictionary for additional insights. These qualities matter a great deal to God. For each word/quality, shape a prayer that Jesus would form this quality in your life. For each word/quality, consider how you can actually live out that quality today. Or, think about who can benefit if you act in those ways toward them. Ask Jesus to empower you to live in those good ways with the people around you. All day long think carefully and prayerfully about these things.
DAY 5: The Will of God - Flourish in GoodnessPsalm 143:8–10 What do you desire? What do you want Jesus to do for you? What do you think about most often? What do you want your life to stand for? What would you like to accomplish with “your one wild and precious life”? What do you want your life to be remembered for? I hope and pray that as part of your answer you desire to be renewed in the image of your Good, Good Father and to be about the imitation of Christ by the indwelling Spirit of God. Psalm 143:8–10 is a prayer you should pray often, especially verse 10. Remember, what you FOCUS ON will EXPAND in your life. We are providing many resources for you to use in the next 10 weeks. • Sermons • Daily devotionals • Blog post ideas to go deeper • Seminars • Small group guides Think, reflect, pray, have conversations with friends, and constantly seek to put into practice what you learn. Here is an extra resource for you: A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments: How, for Better or Worse, Our Ideas about the Good Life Come from Moses and Jesus by John Dickson. It is short, powerful, and engaging. To go deeper, check it out.
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