Tell the Truth (Exodus 20:16)

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Commandment 9

How prone are we to lying! With a stroke of exaggeration here, and omitted detail there, or a misleading silence we distort the truth. Yet truth is the foundation and superstructure of all relationships. Remove the girders of truth, and society crumbles in on itself. This moral absolute is so self-evident that even criminals punish their own who lie to them.

The ninth commandment forbids purposeful deceit against our neighbor and underscores the sacredness of truth in all dealings. The two Hebrew words used for “false” in Exodus 20:16 and in Deuteronomy 5:20 mean “untrue” and “insincere.” Bearing a false witness against our neighbor, therefore, is any expression of insincerity and untruthfulness.

This commandment also exposes two underlying motives that God hates – malice and pride. When we lie, it is usually to cast a person in a bad light or to place ourselves in a good light. The first springs from malice, the second from pride.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). The closer we are to Him, the more truthful we will become with ourselves and with others. The question is, “Are we followers of Him who is the truth?Dennis J. De Haan

Lord, cleanse my heart of all deceit

And teach me what is true;

Help me to have integrity

In all I say and do. – Sper

Nothing weakens the truth more than stretching it.

  • September 19, 1994, Our Daily Bread

Keep Your Hands Off (Exodus 20:15)

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Commandment 8

Tom and Pauline Nichter were a homeless, jobless couple who had been living in their car or with relatives for months. So the wallet they found containing $100 bills looked like a windfall. But they gave it all back to the tourist who lost it. “We could have used that money,” said Pauline. “But weren’t brought up that way, and we didn’t want our son brought up that way.

If everyone practiced honesty like that, it would revolutionize society. Employee theft of goods and time would stop. Shoplifting would go out of style. Overcharging for goods and services would end. Prices could be lowered. And we would all have more of what is rightfully ours.

The eighth commandment reveals God’s desire for that kind of society. It’s based on the principle that everything belongs to God and that when we cheat an institution or a person we are stealing from the Lord. It also protects everyone’s right to be a property owner in the only sense that God allows – not to amass more and more for personal gain but to manage wisely what is His for the good of others.

A living relationship with Christ can keep us from being thieves. As that relationship grows, He will teach us how to be givers and not takers.Dennis J. De Haan

To take from others what is theirs

Is robbing from the Lord;

For all they have is from His hand –

It’s theirs by His own word. – D. J. De Haan

Christians don’t own their wealth – they owe it.

  • September 18, 1994, Our Daily Bread

Keep Yourself Pure (Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 6:18)

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Commandment 7

The Bible is up-to-date on sexual matters. Long ago, God warned against adultery and fornication. In effect, He said, “Say no!Now, in the 21st century with the awful threat of AIDS, many lawmakers, educators, and doctors are agreeing with the Almighty.

The Grand Rapids Press carried an article titled “Abstinence: The New Emphasis in Sex Education.” It told of 16-year-old Will Heiss, a “peer educator” who challenges younger kids to say no to sexual activity – and they are listening.

Author and campus lecturer Josh McDowell reminded a college audience that the seventh commandment is a gracious provision by God, given for our protection. Josh told of a man who had several sexual relationships. The man later received Christ and met a wonderful woman whom he married. “She precious,” confided the man, “but in the intimacy of our marriage I’m haunted by the ‘ghosts’ of those previous affairs.”

Abstinence until marriage is a sure safeguard. It protects the gift of sexual intimacy that is to be enjoyed within a lifelong relationship of commitment and trust. God hates sexual immorality because He has the highest good of men and women at heart. – Dennis J. De Haan

Lord, grant me strength from day to day –

How prone I am to go astray!

The passions of my flesh are strong;

Be Thou, my God, a shield from wrong. – D. J. De Haan

God’s commandments were not given to frustrate us but to fulfill us.

  • September 17, 1994, Our Daily Bread

Value Human Life (Exodus 20:13)

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Commandment 6

The Jews clearly understand that the sixth commandment refers to murder – the malicious taking of human life. It doesn’t forbid government to use the death penalty or to wage war. This commandment deals solely with private morality.

Exodus 20:13 is based on the divine truth that human life is sacred and that we must protect and preserve it. Every human being bears God’s image. Even an embryo is marked with a unique identity from the moment of conception. Life is God’s most precious gift, and only He has the right to take it. Abortion, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide must all be viewed in the light of God’s right to our life.

Jesus brought the sixth commandment to everyone’s doorstep when He said that to be angry at someone without cause makes us guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-22). And John wrote, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15). This makes us all murderers in desperate need of God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love and forgiveness. Help us by Your Holy Spirit to love others as You have loved us, and in so doing to value life, protect life, and enrich life as a gift from You. – Dennis J. De Haan

Points To Ponder

What did John mean when he said that if we hate someone we are murderers? (1 John 3:15). How does this truth help us to forgive those who hurt us?

Anger is just one letter short of danger.

  • September 16, 1994, Our Daily Bread

Honor Your Parents (Exodus 20:12)

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Commandment 5

It was a sad, unsigned letter from an elderly mother.  “I have an only son,” she wrote, “who does all sorts of things for other people but hates to do anything for me. He rarely visits me although I live only 8 minutes away. He seldom even phones.

God puts a high priority on family relationships throughout life – so says the fifth commandment. On the surface it seems directed exclusively to children, but parents must set the example. Children learn to honor, respect, and obey their parents when they see Mom and Dad honoring one another, when they feel respected, affirmed, and loved by their parents, and when they observe their obedience to God. This commandment to children actually touches us all.

How many of us have been as thoughtful of our parents as we could have been? And who of us as parents have been to our children all that we should have been? Although we’ve broken this commandment, our guilt has been removed by Jesus’ death on the cross. He gives the courage to ask forgiveness of our children and our parents. And if they are not living, we can show the sincerity of our repentance by strengthening our other family relationships.

We honor our Father when we honor our parents. – Dennis J. De Haan

Children who honor their parents

Are doing what’s good in God’s sight;

Parents who love and admonish

Are teaching to do what is right. – Sper

Honoring our parents is learned by example.

  • September 15, 1994, Our Daily Bread

Is He Safe? (Psalm 34:11)

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We will not get very far in our relationship with God unless we understand that He is to be feared. In The Chronicles of Narnia, an allegory by C. S. Lewis, the author tells about two girls, Susan and Lucy, who getting ready to meet Aslan the lion, who represents Christ. Two talking animals, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, prepare the children for the encounter.

Ooh,” says Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

That you will, dearie,” said Mrs. Beaver. “And make no mistake, if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

Then he isn’t safe?” asks Lucy.

Safe?” says Mr. Beaver, “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you!

The psalmist understood this awesome wonder when he wrote, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! (Psalm 34:8-9). We need not cringe in terror, but we must live before Him with reverenced and awe. Our holy God isn’t “safe,” but He is good. – Haddon W. Robinson

Oh, how I fear Thee, living God,

With deepest, tenderest fears

And worship Thee with trembling hope

And penitential tears! – Psalter

If you fear God, you need fear nothing else.

  • September 14, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

A Life-Long Issue (Psalm 90:10)

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Scientists predict that the average lifespan in the United States may reach 100 by the end of the 21st century. They say the genetics that control aging could be altered to extend life beyond the 70 to 80 years referred to in Psalm 90:10. Life’s final chapter, however, will still read, “It is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Moses, who wrote those words, likened our existence to grass that flourishes and withers in the evening (vv. 5-6). Although he lived to be 120 (Deuteronomy 34:7), life’s brevity was never far from his mind. That’s why he prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

D. J. Pree, a longtime member of the RBC Board of Directors, took those words literally. He calculated the number of days from the date of his birth until he would turn 70. At the end of each day he’d reduce his total by one. To see that figure decline reminded him to make each count for the Lord.

We are all part of a rapidly passing scene. That should sober us, but not discourage us. Moses affirmed God as his “dwelling place” (v. 1). That’s the way to face the life-long issue of our fleeting earthly existence. – D. J. De Haan

To gain a heart of wisdom takes a lifetime,

And we are told to seek it all our days;

But whether life is long or too soon ended,

God’s lovingkindness fills our heart with praise. – Hess

A life lived for God will count for eternity.

  • September 13, Vol. 11, Our Daily Bread

Nice Is not the Point (Romans 3:24)     

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Your two closest neighbors are Ernestine Quibbles and George Smiley. Ernestine has a sharp tongue and is quick to inform you when your kids’ soccer ball goes into her yard. George, the nicest man you’ve ever met, is always friendly. He loves to play ball with your boys. He gives you vegetables from his garden, and he helps you whenever you need it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Mrs. Quibbles would become a believer in Christ? If God were to work in her life, she might become as nice as Mr. Smiley. It’s obvious she needs the Lord, so you pray for her. It never occurs to you to pray for Mr. Smiley too.

But could it be that we’re missing something here? Jesus did not die on the cross merely to make difficult people nice. Every person, difficult or nice, need salvation. He came to pay the penalty for our sins by His sacrificial death (Romans 5:6-8). He offers forgiveness to all who place their trust in Him (3:28). Once people are born again, they should become nicer people – but that is not the Lord’s primary purpose for saving them.

Mrs. Quibbles and Mr. Smiley both need the Lord. Without Him they are lost and need His salvation (just as you and I do). That’s why Jesus came – to offer us new life from above. – David C. Egner

The goal was reached, the price was paid,

To ransom all of Adam’s race;

Our guilt and sin on Christ were laid,

And now He save us by His grace. – Anon.

We all need salvation, whether we’re nice or not.

  • September 12, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread

Household Security (Proverbs 29:25)

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After the United States was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, President Bush called on congress to create a Department of Homeland Security. The job of this agency is to do everything possible to keep citizens safe.

Our individual households also need a plan for “homeland security” if we are to keep others from endangering our children. But in a world of easy access to harmful outside forces, how do we do that? Here are some suggestions for household security:

  1. Take charge of the media. Instead of allowing makers of TV programs, movies, and CDs to dictate what you watch and hear, use biblical guidelines to evaluate the language and morality of what your children see and what they listen to.
  2. Check out their friends. The standards of your children may not match yours. Make your home a haven where their friends are welcome. It’ll help you get to know them.
  3. Build shields. By teaching your children biblical principles and encouraging their faith, you’ll help them to be discerning and to build inner shields that will protect them from the dangers they face.

How good is your household security? J. David Branon

Our children need a home where love

Provides security,

Where what is taught is not confused

By what they hear and see. – Sper

The best safeguard for the younger generation is a good example by the older generation.

  • September 11, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread

When It’s Hard to Pray (Psalm 139:4)          

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The Bible tells us that God knows our every thought and every word on our tongue (Psalm 139:1-4). And when we don’t know what to pray for, the Holy Spiritmakes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).

These biblical truths assure us that we can have communication with God even without a word being spoken, because He knows the intentions and desires of our heart. What a comfort when we are perplexed or in deep distress! We don’t have to worry if we can’t find the words to express our thoughts and feelings. We don’t have to feel embarrassed if sometimes our sentences break off half-finished. God knows what we were going to say. We don’t have to feel guilty if our thoughts wander and we have to struggle to keep our minds focused on the Lord.

And for that matter, we don’t have to worry about a proper posture in prayer. If we are elderly or arthritic and can’t kneel, that’s okay. What God cares about is the posture of our heart.

What a wonderful God! No matter how much you falter and stumble in your praying, He hears you. His heart of infinite love responds to the needs and emotions of your own inarticulate heart. So keep on praying!Vernon C. Grounds

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,

Unuttered or expressed,

The motion of a hidden fire

That trembles in the breast. – Montgomery 

Prayer does not require eloquence but earnestness.

  • September 10, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread