Confidence 5

Exodus 20:15-17

One of the most difficult issues I have to cope with is deceit. I am very upset whenever someone tells a lie or is underhanded in their dealings with others. It is a big part of who I am to be as honest and open as I possibly can at all times.

The Ten Commandments conclude with three more laws from God that address how we deal with one another. What are we NOT to do? What is your understanding of what it means to "covet" something?

So often people who make reference to the Ten Commandments will say that one of the commandments is that we should never lie. While I would agree that lying should not be part of who we are or what we do, I think it may be an over-simplification of what is being commanded by God.

We are not to steal; that is, we are not to take things that do not belong to us. We are also not to give false testimony against others. This seems to go deeper than simply telling a fib.

To steal and give false testimony, to covet what others have, is a much deeper problem than simply taking and lying. These three commandments seem to me to be addressing an overall attitude. We should not deliberately and willfully bring about problems for others around us.

We should not take away from what others have managed to gather for themselves. We should not work to establish falsehoods that will cause problems for others. We should not desire what others have so much that it consumes us with envy and causes us to want harm to befall others.

Coveting what others have is more than just wishing we had more or desiring to have what others may have. It seems to be more of an attitude of willful destruction, a desire to take away and cause harm.

While we may claim that we always obey the Ten Commandments, there are many who present the fa├žade of being righteous when in our hearts we still covet and deceive so that we may improve our status. The Ten Commandments taken as a whole seem to address the need for us to keep God at the center of who we are and for us to live peacefully with others.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be certain you are living out all ten of God’s commandments?

Confidence 4

Exodus 20:12-14

I may have mentioned this before, but sometimes when our children ask us why they must do this chore or that small task we tell them, “So you can live in our house.” Being part of a family requires that you take part in the activities of that family, and sometimes those requirements are chores or work.

The Ten Commandments continue with some more rules to follow in life. What is our attitude to be toward our parents? What will be the result of this? What other restrictions are placed on us?

Now that God has established His place in our lives and set forth the laws regarding our approach to all things holy, He moves on with the Ten Commandments. The fifth, sixth and seventh commandments are regulations on how to function in a working society. We are to give due respect to our elders, specifically, we should honor our parents. These are the people who have brought us into this world. They are the ones who have provided for us, kept us safe, and given us a place to live. They are deserving of respect.

And more than just respect they are to be honored. That is, they should be obeyed and treated as special. This is part of being a human being in a workable, functioning community.

Likewise, we are not to take the life of another person. Nor should we violate the sanctity of marriage.

All of these regulations should not be that much of a challenge for us to obey. By following the Ten Commandments we are contributing to the stability of our culture and also, in an indirect way, giving honor to God who has set up our society.

This may have been a change for the Israelites at the time of Moses. They may have been accustomed to a culture where life was easily disposed of and where the sanctity of family was not respected.

We can also encounter differing attitudes in our modern culture. Life seems to be devalued by many and marriage is seen as a convenient union that may be ignored if we choose.

Like the Israelites under Moses we must have the confidence in God’s wisdom to obey the basic rules of God. In this way we give honor to life and to the ways of God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What must you do to obey these commandments of God?

Confidence 3

Exodus 20:7-8

As a child the general consensus was that a person should never use the name “God” as part of any curse, even though a common swear begins with it. For fear of uttering the Lord’s name incorrectly I almost reached a point where I was afraid to ever speak it in any circumstance. There are some who may agree with this type of thinking, but as I have matured I think the mandates of God are less about filling us with paralyzing fear and more about pointing our attitudes in the right direction.

God’s instructions to Moses and the Israelites continue in this passage. What is the third commandment? What is the fourth?

I don’t think we should be afraid of speaking the Lord’s name. I believe the misuse of God’s name is less about speaking incorrectly and more about the value we should give to God. Likewise, the Sabbath may not have to be a day where we refrain from all activity, but we should value time with God.

In our current society it seems more and more people toss the concept of God around in conversation without realizing or understanding the honor and respect we should be giving. The name of God is invoked in blessings and curses and bantered about in conversation without any recognition of how important God should be to us.

Similarly, every day of the week has become like any other. Our work and play fill our days from Sunday to Saturday, and we don’t allow ourselves any space to spend time in the presence of God. All of our other obligations and activities have begun to crowd out the Lord. We just don’t have time to worship, to pray, to be in the presence of God. And “God” is a concept that can be ignored or discussed without any emotional attachment.

I believe these are all violations of the third and fourth commandments. If we will truly worship God we must have the confidence to obey His rules, and part of this is offering due respect to God, treating any mention of the Lord with real reverence. And part of that reverence is to value the relationship we have with God, deliberately setting aside time in our busy weeks as a Sabbath to the Lord, time to be with God in worship and prayer.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you offer respect to God? How can you remember the Sabbath?

Confidence 2

Exodus 20:1-4

We like to gather as a family now and then and play various games. It’s a great way to pass the time, to have fun, and a great way to be together enjoying one another’s company. One of the essential parts of playing any game is understanding the rules. To sit together and move game pieces around the board with no purpose really accomplishes nothing.

The same thinking can apply to our journey of faith. In the history of the Israelites, a relationship with God began with Abraham and the relationship was simple. In Genesis 17:1 God told Abraham, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” That was the relationship.

Now that the Israelites had been delivered from Egypt it was time for the relationship to take on some structure. Who has delivered these rules? What is the first commandment? What is the second?

God has established some organization – rules – to the life of a holy believer. This is the beginning of what we have come to know as the Ten Commandments. They are the basic guides to holy living, the foundation of a relationship with God.

And where does it all begin? It begins by acknowledging that these commands have come from God Himself. And the first of the commands is to keep the Almighty as the one and only true God we worship and adore.

The second is like it. We are not to have any other idols, or gods, that will compete with God.

If we will be true believers in the Lord, if we will be obedient followers of the Almighty, we must first have the courage to leave the comforts we know and follow God. Then we must have the confidence to be obedient to the structure God places in our lives and in our faith.

The most essential part of this is keeping the Lord at the center of who we are and what we do. God must be the primary focus and center of our faith. With God as the core of our belief and the central guide of our actions we will have the confidence to obey whatever God asks of us, to go wherever God will lead.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you keep God at the center of your life?

Confidence 1

Psalm 119:41-42

I have been noticing more and more situations in television shows and movies where characters make erroneous assumptions about religion. Sometimes there are questions raised about the Christian faith. When I see these situations or hear the comments I feel like jumping up and giving my interpretation of religion. But, of course, that is somewhat pointless since the people can’t hear me.

At least I feel confident enough in my faith to be able to respond should any of these situations arise in my life. As believers we need to be prepared to deal with the misinformed, the misguided, and those who are just not seeing the truth.

The psalmist has his faith firmly grounded in the Lord in today’s passage. What does he ask for? What confidence does he hold? Where does it come from?

Just as we should face each new day with the assurance that God is with us and that we are called to share our faith with others, we should know in our hearts that God has promised us His unfailing love and our salvation. With that confidence in our hearts we can confront any situation or person who will seek to sway us from the holy path of our faith.

And where does this confidence come from? It comes from the Word of God. If we can become more familiar with the teachings of God as presented in the Bible, if we can build up our spiritual strength through worship and Christian fellowship, then we can walk with calm assurance through all the trials and tribulations of life.

Like the psalmist we must trust in the word of the Lord. We must live in the secure confidence of the promises God has made to us. The messages of the Bible are not just for distant people who lived long, long ago. The words of God are intended for us today.

We must move forward in life with the surety that Jesus was speaking to us when he said “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

DAILY CHALLENGE: What will help you trust in the word of God?