God’s Take On Slavery, It Just Might Change Your Take On God

Slavery is wrong. Let’s just start with that. To force someone routinely against their own will – not OK. Personally, when I think of slavery, I think of the sex trafficking epidemic and I want to spit in someone’s face. (Monsters.) (I will never understand.) But maybe you think of the enslavement of blacks in the pre-Civil War days. Or an experience in your own home that’s left scars – lasting bruises too painful to talk about right now. (I know it doesn’t cut it, but I’m sorry. I wish I could give you a hug.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 21:1-11
Key Verse: “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.” Exodus 21:5-6


That being said, to turn the page after resigning ourselves to obey the Ten Commandments and see the title “Laws About Slaves” at the beginning of Exodus 21, well, it feels a little traitorous. Um, excuse me but, how could He? Is the LORD advocating slavery?

I know, I agree, it doesn’t feel right. But it’s not what the average passerby thinks. It’s actually quite beautiful, so let’s not be the average passerby.

The rules or judgments listed in these first eleven verses are for regulating what was already there. Slavery, or in this case maybe we should say indentured servitude, was a part of life. They knew it well. And actually, many depended on it. To disallow it would have been devastating to the poor community and/or those who found themselves in financially dire times.

Note in verse two it says, “When you buy a Hebrew slave.” (Emphasis mine.) In other words, when a fellow brother comes to you and asks if he can work for you in exchange for room, board, and wages, take him in if you are able. Let him serve you for six years, but in the seventh set him free (v. 3). (Keeping in mind their own redemption from Egypt.) But don’t just send him away empty handed. Provide him with any and every provision he needs for a fresh start (Deut. 15:12-18).

“If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him” (v. 3). However, if his master gave him a wife and she bore him sons and daughters then the wife and children belong to the master.

I know, you’re struggling with that one. I did too. A husband and wife should not have to separate. But they didn’t have to… “If the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever” (v. 5-6). (The ear is symbolic of the servant hearing and obeying every word of the master.)

The goal was for the master to treat his hired servants so well, they never wanted to leave. Can you imagine a society wherein servants decided to stay with their masters because life just couldn’t get any better? That’s the kind of slavery God was advocating. The kind that treated people as people. The kind that gave them second chances and warm beds at night and food on the table. The kind that provided comradery instead of condemnation.

It’s what God does for us. Plucking us from the grip of death unto life and provisions and peace and relationship. Offering us mercy and grace in exchange for a life of service unto He who is the most kind and loving master there is.

But this whole set up isn’t primarily to be a picture of us as the servant, but actually a picture of Christ. (Are you sitting down? This might blow your socks off.) Do you know what Isaiah 42 describes Christ as? A servant. (Of all the things, who would have guessed a servant?)

Philippians 2:5b-6 says, “Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.”

Christ lived every minute of his time on earth in perfect obedience to the Father. He served his time and could have gone free. But out of love for his people, his church, his bride, all the precious souls the Father had given him (John 6:39), Christ went to the doorpost (the cross) and didn’t just have his ear pierced, but his entire body, that he might stay with his bride forever.

David said in Psalm 40:6 “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.” Which can also be translated “ears you have dug for me.” When the master bore the servants ear through with an awl he was making a hole or opening in the ear.

This same verse is then applied to Christ in Hebrews 10 but instead of saying “open ear” it says, “but a body have you prepared for me.” In full surrender and obedience Christ’s body was opened for us. Holes in his wrists and side, holes that Thomas touched (John 21:27).

All so he could stay with his bride.

Now as we read further in the passage there are a still a few question marks to work through. Like the more stringent laws for women, who were not to be set free every seventh year as the men were (Ex. 21:7). I know it sounds wrong, but we have to keep in mind women had little to no rights in society at that time. So to set a girl free, was not to offer her freedom but more likely cold, hungry nights on the street. With no one to care for her or shelter her or keep her safe

God was not being commandeering towards women, but compassionate. He wanted his girls cared for! Furthermore, the hope of a father who sold his daughter to a man was that eventually the wealthy man might marry or give her as a wife to his son, thus improving her status and giving her the rights of a wealthy land owners daughter.

Much as God, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, gave us to His son, improving our status and granting us the rights of an heir. (Did you know you are the daughter of a wealthy land owner now?)

My friend, verse 16 is clear, it’s not slavery God is advocating here, but service and respect and providing for one’s neighbors. But most of all God is advocating love, knowing one day, His own Son would graciously and willingly bore his body through.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What does the servant boring his ear through with an awl picture in this passage?
Have you “bore your ear” by promising to faithfully serve the LORD? Does your life reflect such a commitment?
How is God and good and loving master?

awl to bore a slave

We Bring Nothing to the Table

If there’s a character quality that binds us all together, I think it’s this: We want to bring something to the table. Something of importance or necessity. Something we can be known for. Whether it falls in the category of showmanship or salesmanship we want to be good at something. To be a team member the team can’t live without. Or the missing piece to a puzzle.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:22-26
Key Verse: “An altar of earth you shall make for me…If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.” Exodus 20:24-25


We may squawk about the necessity of alone time (at least I do) but deep down it feels good to be needed. In the work place or the home place or the places we favor in between, it’s nice to think we provide (at least in some small manner) a benefit helpful to someone else. A skill, a strength, a shoulder, some smarts, a home cooked meal for a new mama, or at the very least some level headed common sense we’d be happy to share if the world would just listen.

And if none of that is needed, then excuse me while I go eat a tub of ice cream and head back to bed. Because disappointment will abound.

Perhaps that’s why it’s hard for some to accept Christianity. Because truth be told when it comes to salvation, we bring nothing to the table. No works in and of themselves are good enough to get me into heaven. There’s no quota I can fill. No talents or abilities that can help. No amount of good I can accomplish to get me on the right side of eternity.

Because plain and simple, I’m a sinner. We all are. Imperfections and short comings thrive in each one of us. (Sorry for the bad news.) So apart from the righteousness of Christ placed in the account of a believer, we’ve got nothing. “For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:22b-24).

To try and justify ourselves apart from Christ is like offering God a pile of menstrual rags and asking, “Here is this good enough?” Disgusting right? But that’s what scripture says our best efforts amount to (Isaiah 64:6).

Now to be clear, I’m not talking about the works we do in Christ. God finds those beautiful. Spirit rendered fruit is not rags. It’s a tapestry God himself is weaving. One that will line the walls of heaven for all eternity.

No, what I’m talking about is the stuff we do beforehand. The things we try and do to prove our worth to God prior to coming to Christ. And every time we come up short.

Look what God says to the Israelites just before entering the Promised Land. “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people” (Deut. 9:6). It wasn’t because of them, it was because of Him. God did it all. They brought nothing to the table.

Which brings us to our text today. Directly after the Ten Commandments God gives instructions concerning altars. The main point being this: Any altar they built was to either be of dirt or unhewn stone. Meaning no tools were to be used on the altar. No work of man was to be added to the altar of sacrifice.

But why? That’s the question we want to search out. Why was it so important for no chisel to be used? Because the altar pictured the cross, upon which the Lamb of God, would give His life. And to chisel on the altar was to bring works to the cross. And man can add nothing to the cross. It was all Jesus. It was all God.

It’s God who chooses us.

“Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:4).

It’s God who draws us.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

It’s God who nails our sin to the cross.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2: 13-14).

It’s He who grants us repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25). It’s He who gives us life (Eph. 2:4-5). “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Cor. 5:18).

To think we’re responsible for any of it is to bring tools to the altar. But every bit of salvation is the powerful working of God (Col. 2:12). From the drawing to the choosing to the saving to the sealing.

Then on the last day it’s Christ who will raise us up (John 6:40). It’s Christ who will and already has declared the victory (Col. 2:15). We’ve got no reason to boast, but every reason to bow. We have done nothing; He has done everything.

In addition, there could be no steps up to the altar as the pagan shrines often had. Because there could be no going up to God, it is God that would come to us. Redeeming every sinner willing to recognize His ability to do so.

Truly, to realize I bring nothing to the table, yet understand I now belong there, is to sit in the depths of God’s amazing grace.

Think of it this way, the instructions for the dirt or unhewn altar of stone are given on the heels of the Ten Commandments because God knew they would break every one of his rules. So out of mercy God wasted no time in telling them how to construct an altar for when they did. An altar with rough, jagged, perhaps awkward, sometimes difficult to handle, unhewn stone. Because neither they, nor we, can bring anything to the table of salvation. It’s God who does the work at the altar and God who works in our life.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you see salvation as something you’ve earned or something you’ve been given? How should the depths of God’s grace effect our day to day living?

50 Gifts God Has Given Us

It’s Christmas which means three things: 1. The UPS man has been here more times than I can count. 2. I am desperately trying to find time to make Christmas cookies. 3. It’s time for my annual Christmas post. (If you’d like to revisit last years, just click HERE – A Letter To Mary.) So a few weeks back I asked the Lord, “What would you have me share this year?” to which one word kept coming to mind: gifts. Not surprising since I love presents and like to remind my husband on a regular basis “gifts” is indeed my love language. But gifts Lord? Yes beloved, gifts.

Well okey-dokey then, gifts it is. Never did I imagine the blessing that would come with studying the many gifts God has given us. It’s breathtaking. It’s humbling. It’s by no means exhaustive, but has served to remind me of the vast goodness of my God every time I’ve read through it. I urge you to not just read the first word but the verse too; that God’s love for you this Christmas might sink in a little deeper. But remember it’s through Christ Jesus alone we know and experience these gifts as God intends. So without further ado, I present you with 50 Gifts God Has Given Us:

  1. Light – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5
  2. Food – “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” Psalm 145:15
  3. Rest – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
  4. Presence – “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
  5. Peace – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
  6. His Spirit – “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
  7. Life – “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus…” 1 Timothy 6:13
  8. Breath – “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10
  9. Steadfast love – “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1
  10. Mercy – “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Psalm 145:9
  11. Warning – “For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”” Hebrews 10:30
  12. A Future – “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
  13. Rain – “He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields.” Job 5:10
  14. His life – “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
  15. An eternal kingdom – “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
  16. Justice – “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?” Luke 18:7
  17. Victory – “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
  18. Leadership – “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry…” Ephesians 4:11-12
  19. Eternal Life – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
  20. His Word – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  21. Riches – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
  22. Worth – “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7
  23. Shelter – “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…” Isaiah 25:4
  24. Counsel – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
  25. Possessions – “Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil – this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19
  26. Righteousness – “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction.” Romans 3:22
  27. Reconciliation – “More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:11
  28. Adoption – “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
  29. Grace – “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7
  30. Evidence – “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
  31. Confidence – “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17
  32. Inheritance – “Born again…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4
  33. Acceptance – “But in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:35
  34. Belonging – “And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Cor. 3:23
  35. Security – “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37
  36. Wisdom – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
  37. Repentance – “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31
  38. Kindness – “…for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Luke 6:35
  39. Unity – “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” John 17:22
  40. Purpose – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
  41. Freedom – “And by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39
  42. Strength – “I can do all things through him who strengthens” Philippians 4:13
  43. Hope – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
  44. Every Good Thing – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
  45. Children – “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3
  46. Joy – “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
  47. Forgiveness – “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28
  48. Salvation – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
  49. Love – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
  50. A Sign – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

Merry Christmas!

7 Evidences God is Good (Found in the Most Unlikely of Places)

“God is good.” Have you said it? Perhaps on the heels of a promotion or a problem solved or a pleasant night with family or friends, you’ve felt the words swell in your heart until it broke through on your lips.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:13-21
Key Verse: “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8


Nothing wrong with that! I praise the LORD alongside you for his kindness toward mankind. Though it’s not our circumstances that make God good. It’s not the outcome of a situation that determines God’s virtue. He is good with or without us. He is good whether we’re happy or sad. Whether our dreams come true or crumble to pieces.

All the time, His steadfast goodness pours forth, in ways we can’t even comprehend. Even amid the Ten Commandments, His goodness shines brightly. Though on the surface, it may not seem like it with a list of “you shall not’s” a mile long.

A list that reads like this: “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:13-17).

Phew! And if that isn’t enough, Jesus took each of these rules a step further by making it not just a command of action but of heart.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

And then He went on…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

It’s condemning, isn’t it? How can any man live that perfectly? The answer is, we can’t. It will never happen. It’s impossible to measure up to God’s perfect standards. Which is why salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of the law (Galatians 2:16).

(Our first evidence that He is good.)

But we should still try. Because God’s law is not just a list of “shall not’s” for the sake of making life hard on us, but as a parent sets rules for a child, they are there for our protection! Take the sixth commandment for example, “You shall not murder.”  Not only is it flat out wrong to unjustly take the life of another, but the hatred that comes first will ruin anyone who embarks on such a path.

And the envy and anger and bitterness that comes before the hatred will eat you alive. Holding you captive. Keeping you from a life of peace and joy. Therefore God said, “Don’t even think about it.” Not because He’s mean but because He’s loving. Caring so much about the life we’re living He gave us the stipulations necessary to live well. Making the sixth commandment more than just a command not to murder, but a protection over life, the very life we’re living right now. (Our second piece of evidence that God is good.)

(Side Note: If it’s not okay for us to do it, then why is it okay for us to watch it on TV? Just a little something to think about.)

But what about the seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” can we see God’s goodness there? You better believe it. It’s God who gave us marriage. It’s God who brought the first man and woman together. (Evidence enough in my opinion.) Establishing an intimacy so deep and fragile it’s to be guarded with a valid effort.

An effort that involves not even looking on another with lust. Because if you do – it’s like pouring gasoline all over a dry wheat field and then waiting for the lightning to strike. And God knows the lightning will strike. And it will hurt. And it will leave you scarred and broken. So don’t even look He says. Guard your mind and heart and body. Give it only to the one you’ve pledged your life to because the alternative is crushing.

Then the eighth, “You shall not steal.” With God over everything, there’s no need to take from another. He is the provider. So stealing is not just a sin against a brother, it’s a lack of trust in the Almighty and a pitfall to much worse. Like pride for example. By taking what rightfully belongs to someone else we place ourselves in the seat of God. For if all things are His, is it not His right to determine who they belong to?

Therefore, the eight commandment is not just a protection of property but a protection against pride. Against falling into a pit so deep we’re not sure which way is up. Only a good God would give us such a parameter. (Offering us our fourth piece of evidence.)

But what about the ninth, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Does it declare God’s goodness too? When viewed in light of what it protects, which is truth, relationships and integrity, His goodness regarding the ninth commandment cannot be denied. In reality, it’s a protection against falling prey to the father of lies (John 8:44). It’s a push to live in step with a God who is truth (John 14:6). (Our fifth piece of evidence.)

Then we come to the tenth. “You shall not covet.” Do you know what this really is? It’s the secret to a happy life. Stuff does not bring joy. It does not lead to satisfaction; it leads to emptiness. But “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). To be content with what you have is to possess a peaceful heart. And could there be any greater earthly possession? (Other than the certainty of eternal life of course.)

And you know, God didn’t have to share that secret with us. But He did. Giving us our sixth piece of evidence today that God is indeed good.

As a loving parent does, God set the rules, though he knew we’d break them.  He knew we’d fall short. But instead of punishing us as we deserve, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for us. To bear the iniquity that is ours. And that my friend is our seventh piece of evidence. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) And there is no greater evidence of His goodness than that.

A goodness independent of my circumstances. Independent of my good days and bad. Unchanging in nature. Unyielding. A goodness able to soften even the hardest of hearts. Indeed, God is good my friend. Indeed, He is good.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you generally view God’s commands, as parameters with a purpose, or as a bunch of rules that zap all the fun out of life?
Do you truly believe God is good all the time? Why or why not?

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5 Reasons You May Not Have Thought of to Discipline Your Child

Parenting is HARD. There’s no clocking out. There’s no “I’m tired of this job. I think I’ll look for a new one.” There’s not even sick days for cryin’ out loud. It’s all day, every day. Holidays. Breaks. Nights Weekends. It’s tiring. So believe me, I get it. I can barely make it into bed at night. Which translates to not washing my face. Which means eventually my skin is going to look like something along the lines of an elephant’s ankle. (It’s a good thing God made me a writer.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:12
Key Verse: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12


And you better believe I will blame my children! (Do you see these wrinkles? You put them there!) (Just kidding.) (Maybe.)

But tiredness is not a Biblically mandated excuse for not doing my job as a parent. Actually, there are no excuses. “Children obey your parents” – the fifth commandment – yeah, it’s on us.

(Side note: If you’re just joining us we’ve been making our way through the book of Exodus and we’re currently in chapter 20 – The Ten Commandments. Click HERE if you’d like to go back and start with the first commandment. Or click HERE if you are in need of a laugh and would like to read my take on motherhood. Or click HERE if you’d like to subscribe and never miss another Deeper Devo. I don’t promise all fun, all the time. But I do promise honesty and truth and a deeper look at the Scriptures. Or feel free to ignore me, and just keep reading. I ignore me all the time.)

Anyway, my job as a parent isn’t to make my children happy. It’s not even to successfully get them through another day. (Though I do see that as a nice byproduct.) No, my job as a parent is to raise responsible God-fearing adults.

And the bottom line is, they aren’t going to get there on their own. For some reason we’ll go through great pains to train a puppy but our kids? Eh, they’ll catch on eventually. (No they won’t.) We have to teach them to do so. We have to, dare I say it, discipline. There, I said it.

And here, my friend, are five reasons to motivate us to do so…           

  1. It shows them love.

I know it sounds like the opposite of love, but discipline is a facet love. Which is why God says he disciplines those whom He loves (His children).

Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

So to NOT discipline my children is to NOT love them to the best of my ability. I do them a disservice every time they do wrong and I choose to ignore it.

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof gives wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

To discipline (in an appropriate and loving manner mind you) is to teach them the way to life, but to not discipline is to put them on a path of futility.

Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Sometimes the Bible just says it like it is.)

  1. You will gain their respect.

I respect those who say they’re going to do something and then do it. And you know what, it’s the same with our kids. When we follow through with expectations – it harbors respect in their hearts.

Hebrews 12:9 “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”

But when we don’t follow through. When we lack consistency. When we lay the boundaries out and they choose to cross them, yet no consequences follow, they may be relieved in the moment but with time, respect will wane because we didn’t mean what we said.

Proverbs 29:17 “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to you heart.” Because his/her respect will run deep.

  1. It shows them the Father.

Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciples the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

If God disciplines those he loves because they are his sons and daughters, yet we don’t discipline our children, what does that teach them? Honestly, I’m afraid to answer. But I know one thing, it certainly doesn’t mimic the LORD.

God is not mean. We’re not to be mean. God is love and in his goodness, corrects (when necessary) with discipline. Not to get back at us. Not to make us sad but for the purpose of keeping us on a path that will give us the best life possible. And don’t we want the same for our kids?

  1. It reveals the Father in them.

Hebrews 12:10 says God disciplines us for our good, “that we may share his holiness.”

Discipline is character training.

Proverbs 23:13-14 (NLT) says, “Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.”

Because left to ourselves we won’t walk in the light, as God is in the light. We’ll walk in the ways of darkness. A path I don’t want for my children!

Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”

It’s not natural for our kids to do what’s right. In fact, it’s not natural for any of us. (“The heart is deceitful above all things.” – Jeremiah 17:9) Which is why over and over in Scripture we’re instructed to “Abide in Him.” “Take every thought captive.” “Flee from evil.” If the Apostle Paul struggled to do what is right and not wrong, how much more will our kids?

So we discipline, that they too might be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1).

  1. In the end, it will bring them joy.

We all want our kids to be happy right? We want what’s best for them. But what’s best for them is what’s best for us – living within God’s parameters. Not so we’ll be confined, but so we’ll thrive!

Proverbs 6:23 “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”

And the way of life, leads to blessing!

Psalm 94:12 “Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and who you teach out of your law.”

Job 5:17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.”

The word blessed means happy. Why is the person who is disciplined happy? Because discipline leads to righteousness, which leads to blessing, which leads to joy. And oh my do I want my kids to be happy!

As you ponder these truths remember this – “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

It may seem hard now, but here’s the promise. Later, it will yield fruit of righteousness. And that my friend, is enough reason for me.

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The Sanctity of Sunday: Does It Really Matter?

If you want to push my buttons, and I mean really push my buttons, then all you have to do is tell me all soccer games will be played Sunday afternoons (which I’m not too excited about anyway). And then go and schedule a game for 10:15 on a Sunday morning. My fuse will light faster than a torch in a hay loft.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11
Key Verse: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8


Because excuse me, there are still people in this world who GO TO CHURCH. Which is exactly what I told our local soccer club in the nicest but most straight forward way I could; with smoke blowing out my ears and all engines on red.

Sadly, in a society rapidly straying from God, Sunday is no longer a day set aside for rest and worship, but merely the second day of an already too short weekend.

But God (two of my favorite words by the way) didn’t set the pattern of six days of work and one day of rest just for kicks and giggles. He intended it as a gift. A gift I’m afraid we’ve gone and shoved back in His face. (Present company included.)

He mandated the idea with Israel through the fourth commandment. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gate” (Ex. 20:8-10).

Then the LORD goes on to say why he’s giving such a command. “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:11).

In other words, here’s the pattern, now follow my example. Not just because it was best for their bodies to take a break and have a breather. But by doing so it identified the Israelites with the true Creator of heaven and earth, the LORD God Almighty.

This was His story. He’d made the earth and heavens and all that is within them in six days and rested on the seventh. Therefore, His people were to do the same that the world might know the Israelites didn’t depend on Ra the sun god, or Baal or Asherah, or any other false Canaanite god they’d be introduced to in the years to come but in the LORD God. The one who created everything in six days and rested on the seventh.

It was about identity.

And boy was God serious about this. Just before handing Moses the tablets of stone with the law written on them, God says to him, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths…Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death.’” (Ex. 31:13-14).

Above all else, God said, they were to keep the Sabbaths holy. Now that’s saying something. I probably would have chosen a different commandment to highlight. Like the first one. “Above all else…you shall have no other gods before me.”

But God knew their obedience to the other commandments hinged on this one. If they kept the Sabbath they would serve Him above all other gods. If they kept the Sabbath they would serve Him in the right way. If they kept the Sabbath they would be careful to respect His name. They would teach their children accordingly and they would strive to love their neighbors as themselves.

It all hinged here, with the Sabbath. Because it’s with the Sabbath they remembered who they were and who God was and what He had done for them. And remembering is the catalyst to obedience.

Deuteronomy 5:15 says, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”

The pendulum of their commitment to God hung right here with whether or not they kept the Sabbath.

“Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever” (Ex. 31:16).

Yet Israel didn’t keep the Sabbath. And so they didn’t remember and chose instead to identify themselves with Baal and Asherah and other false gods. Ultimately, there worship went elsewhere.

Now we could sit and argue about whether or not as Christians today we’re still mandated to keep the Sabbath by way of the LORD’s day, Sunday, the day Christ arose from the dead. We could agree to disagree about what kinds of things we should or should not do on Sundays. We could look down our noses on those who work or do things we don’t agree with.

Or we could set aside the arguments of what and when and how and consider the why. Why God gave it to Israel in the first place. Recognizing it was for their good and His glory. It was so they’d remember and identify themselves with Him.

And then maybe we’d realize setting aside Sunday as the LORD’s day does the same thing for us. Going to church every week isn’t just for kicks and giggles. Setting that time aside, making it a priority no matter what else arises, marks me as a Christian. It’s an initial step in identifying myself as a Christ follower.

Secondly, making Sunday different than the other days of my week, gives me a weekly reminder of who I serve. The LORD God is His name. It’s Him I trust. It’s He who’s redeemed me. And if I make it a priority to remember such things on a weekly basis, surrounding myself with the body of Christ, the church, I’ll be less likely to wander.

It’s for my protection and it’s for God’s glory. And it’s a gift. A time to rest and take a breather. But Hebrews 4 gives believers an additional reason to celebrate the LORD’s day, setting it aside as holy. It’s a picture for us (and the rest of the world) of ceasing from working for one’s salvation and instead by faith trusting in Christ.

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” (Heb. 4:9-10). Could there be any better reason?

Yet if we don’t heed one day a week as God’s day, if we don’t make the day any different, if we don’t set it aside, then what kind of picture are we painting? One in which we don’t need God? One in which we need to work, instead of trust? One in which worshiping God is optional?

I don’t think it’s just a happen so that as our country has scooted further and further from the sanctity of Sunday, it’s scooted further and further from God.

He is the LORD and there is no other my friend. And setting Sunday aside is one way we identify with Him.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you set aside one day a week to rest and remember? How so?
Why above all else, do you think this commandment was so important for the Israelites to follow? What does that mean for us?

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12 Benefits of Being Thankful

I have a sign in my family room that says: “There is Always Always Always something to be thankful for.” And while I know it’s true, I’ll be honest, I don’t always feel like being thankful. (Like um, last Tuesday.) BUT the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Stating in matter of fact fashion that being thankful is God’s will for me (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So, well, I best be giving thanks.

But this doesn’t mean I walk around with a fake smile plastered on my face. It doesn’t mean I can’t be sad. It doesn’t mean I can’t cry or struggle or wish things were different.

It simply means despite my circumstances, I still agree, God is good and faithful and worthy of praise. A statement even more breathtaking in the wake of a broken heart, don’t you think?

But there are benefits to this thankfulness thing. It isn’t just for kicks God urges us to “Give thanks” sixty-two times in the Bible. Buffering our Christianity with verses like, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15, 20).

Specifically, I thought of twelve noteworthy benefits. (Feel free to add more!)

  1. It Rights Relationships. I think you’d agree, it’s hard to stay mad at someone when you turn to God in thanks for them. The seeds of a thankful heart are able to overtake the roots of bitterness any day.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3)

  1. It Gives Light to the Heart. To give thanks is to blaze a pathway for righteousness. It readies the mind for more, but ingratitude is an avid partner in turning one’s back on God.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21-22)

  1. It Makes Unbearable Circumstances Bearable. Do you know what Christ did the night before he was crucified? He gave thanks (Luke 22:19). An unbearable situation was made bearable because Christ set his mind on one thing and one thing only – the Father.

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

  1. It Silences the Enemy – Satan holds no power over a heart full of thanksgiving. As a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving focuses our attention where it should be, on the provisions of the Father. While self-pity puts us right where Satan wants us – defeated, disappointed, doubtful, and despairing.

“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2; NIV). And if a child can silence them, just think what the conscience choice of thanksgiving on the heels of heartbreaking circumstances might be able to do!

  1. It Glorifies God – And there is no greater accomplishment. Nor is there anything more fulfilling.

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23)

  1. It stills anxiety – Oh but the bitter bite of anxiety is fierce. Stealing any sense of control we may feel. BUT to be thankful in the wake of uncertainty is to embrace a heart of peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

  1. It Shields Against Other Sin. Psalm 86:12 When I’m giving thanks with my whole heart there is little room for much else. But when I’m grumpy or bitter or moping around like a sad Eeyore (think Winnie-the-Pooh) the flood gates swing wide for a wide array of sins.

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me.” (Psalm 86:12-13a)

  1. It Helps Us Remember. When we give thanks, we tend to remember a little better who God is and what He has done. But a thankless heart is a heart that’s forgotten who God is compared to who we are, and yet he died for us anyway.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

  1. It Leads to Joy. When I stop and consider all the blessings I’ve been given in Christ, how can I not be joyful? And I don’t mean the kind the kind of joy that comes with opening a fresh box of Lucky Charms. I mean the kind of joy that permeates even the hardest of days.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1)

  1. It Gives Way to Contentment. To be thankful is to nourish contentment. And to be content is to recognize God is a faithful provider.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 33)

  1. It Teaches the Next Generation to Do the Same. Truth be told, if we don’t live it, they won’t either. But if we live a life of thanksgiving, giving praise to God for everything, so will they.

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” (Psalm 79:13)

  1. It Brings Us Together. Tragedy may bring people together, but it’s thanksgiving that keeps them together.

“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)

In addition, Proverbs 15:15 says, “The cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” But I dare say the feast begins with thanksgiving.

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The Most Accepted Sin of Our Society

Have you ever wanted to speak truth, but were afraid if you did, you’d be left with no friends in the room? That’s where I’m at today. Hands filled to the brim with truth, but unable to form the words because well…I like having friends.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:7
Key Verse: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7


But by God’s grace, at this stage in the race, I care more about pleasing my heavenly Father than invites to parties. At least most days. It also might help that I’m an introvert and enjoy sitting on my couch, so I’ve pressed on.

But truth be told, it’s taken me two weeks to write this devotional and it’s over one verse. Which verse has me so tied up in knots I’m concerned about losing friends you ask? The third commandment.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7

And there it is. Straight forward. Simple. Yet, we are. God’s name is being vainly proclaimed with a vengeance. Whether the commandment has simply been forgotten, misunderstood, or intentionally set aside, I’m not sure. But it’s a blatant problem.

We could otherwise state the commandment as, don’t use God’s name in an empty way, void of who He is, without reverence, without meaning, without purpose.

You can pick the situation – they all fit. Whether in the court of law or by way of promise (I swear by all that is holy…) or in the backyard, or on the couch, or in a church pew when our mouth is singing one thing and our mind is somewhere else, it doesn’t matter. God says here – don’t take my name in vain.

But there it is every time I turn the TV on or peruse social media or go out in public. It’s even been given its own abbreviation – OMG. And it’s wrong. To toss God’s name about as though it’s nothing more than an empty expression of disbelief, we might as well go bury our Bible’s in the mud. Because that’s basically what we’re doing – tossing God’s character to the wayside.

You see His name is more than just a name. It describes who He is, embracing the holiness of His character. In Exodus 34 when God proclaims His name to Moses he doesn’t just use one word. He uses a description. “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but will by no means clear the guilty” (v. 6-7).

And since there is only one true and living God this is whom we’re addressing when we flippantly type OMG in a text or a Facebook response. This is who we’re dragging through the mud. (Forgive us Father.) In fact, we’ve gotten so lax we’ll watch television shows that abuse it relentlessly and still call it the best show of the season with the argument that we weren’t the one actually saying it. But so what if we didn’t say it, didn’t it just get piped into our homes at volume thirty-three? And we took it, without even a flinch.

It’s interesting though, because the third commandment does not keep us from using God’s name at all. It simply says not to use it empty. In fact, we’re to use God’s name in many ways, just not without reverent purpose.

We’re to praise the name of the LORD all day long. (Ps. 148:3) “For his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Ps. 148:13).

We’re to bless the name of the LORD. (Ps. 113:2)

We’re to call on the name of the LORD when we need help. (Ps. 116:4)

We’re to fight evil in the name of the LORD. (Ps. 118:10)

We’re to give thanks in the name of the LORD. (Ps. 122:4)

Not to mention, we’re to baptize in the name of the LORD. Proclaim the name of the LORD in word and deed and speech. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). And trust in the name of the LORD (Ps. 20:7). For “the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Prov. 18:10).

It’s a gracious God to give us the use of His name! Christ even said we can ask things of God, in his name! (John 14:13-14) Um, that’s A-mazing.

But.

Just don’t do it in an empty way, says the LORD, without reverent measure for what you’re saying. For, “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness” (Ps. 145:3, NLT).

No one. It’s beyond comprehension. So value me, says God. Hold my name in high esteem and use it accordingly. Otherwise, and here is the warning, beware, “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7b).

Our words have consequences. In Matthew 12:36 Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Every careless word, including the use of His name.

For there is no other name by which we can be saved! (Acts 4:12) But now I’m really going to meddle. (Please still invite me over for dinner.)

Did you know gosh is a euphemism for God? It’s not just a nice little substitute. The word origin of gosh is God. But there’s more. Do you know what a euphemism is? Yeah, I didn’t either. So I did what all good researchers do, I googled it. And found out a euphemism is “a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”

And then I melted ten feet into the floor. (Guilty.) Is God unpleasant or embarrassing? Or is the use of his name unpleasant? It is a strong tower! The name of our God is wonderful! The name of our God is to be praised!

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!” (Ps. 72:19)

And may His name be spoken with the worth He deserves.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Does it bother you to hear God’s name taken in vain?
As a believer, what parameters have you put in place to help you uphold the name of the LORD?
On the flip-side, what allowances have you made regarding the third commandment? Are there changes you need to make?

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It’s The First And Greatest Commandment But Why?

Most Christians know the first commandment. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). Or at least they know it as Christ stated it. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38).


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:1-4
Key Verse: “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39


But have we ever stopped long enough to think about why it’s the first and greatest commandment? Is it because God is a dictator? Is it because He’s unreasonable? Is it because He wanted to see us fail?

Nope.

It’s because He alone is God. And He knows it. “There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me” (Isaiah 45:21b).

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).

The LORD is the one who blots out our transgressions and remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).

The LORD is the one who made the earth and created man on it (Is. 45:12).

The LORD is the one who stretched out the heavens and put the stars in place (Is. 45:13).

The LORD is the one who forms light and creates darkness (Is. 45:7).

The LORD is the one who changes times and seasons. He alone removes kings and sets up kings (Dan. 2:21).

I love the way God says it in Isaiah 44:8, “Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

So nothing else will do. Only God. Everything else will fail us. Therefore, He started with this… “You shall have no other gods before me.” It makes sense really that a loving God would begin with a request for allegiance because He knows anything other than him will disappoint. Leaving a gaping hole in our quest for life and love and satisfaction.

If we want love – God is love.

If we want peace – God is peace.

If we want joy – God is joy.

If we want life -God is life.

If we want truth – God is truth.

Chase me God says. Put me first. Because to seek God first and foremost is to seek the utter most longing of our soul. When we chase after anything other than God, we are always left with less than. Yet for some reason we still think it’s money or a home or a spouse or a child we most need. Or the fulfillment of a dream or job or fame we most want. The lap of luxury that will bring the most joy. Or a night in front of the television or an extended vacation that will build us back up.

But it’s none of those. It’s God. Why is it that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied? (Matt 5:6) Because it’s God who satisfies. So love me with everything you’ve got, says the LORD. With your heart and soul and mind and body. You won’t regret it.

And do it in the right way.

Which brings us to the second commandment. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 4:4).

In other words, don’t make idols. Don’t carve a face into a piece of wood and call it a god. Don’t liken the Creator to something He’s created. It reduces his power to an item. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8).

We are to worship in spirit and truth, not stationary items and false convictions. By faith, not fabrication. With God’s might and majesty exceling beyond anything we could even imagine, God says, “Don’t even try.” Any and every attempt will fail.

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit” (Isaiah 44:9a).

Furthermore, we don’t need to make things to represent God since “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). We already have plenty to spur us on to worship.

What we need to do, is be the image of God.

And therein lies the kicker. God’s already made something to represent Him. He’s made us, in his own image! Bringing a whole new meaning to the commandment, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), don’t you think?

It’s not our responsibility to make things that represent God, it’s our responsibility to be a representation of God.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). That the world might see God in us. That they might come to know Him. That they might reject every other false attempt at deity, except the LORD Almighty, the gracious God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It won’t be long and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (Phil. 2:10-11). So why wait? “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deut. 4:39).

And that my friend is why loving God with everything we’ve got and everything we are is the first and greatest commandment. Let us go and let us love Him and let us do it in the right way.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How might your life change if you truly sought God at all times? What would be easier? What would be harder?
We aren’t to make images of God but we are to be the image. Can you give an example when the world saw God in you? How did they react?

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God’s Second Greatest Act of Love (It Might Surprise You)

If you know me, this won’t come as a surprise, but I’m a rule follower. Mostly because I strongly dislike getting in trouble. However, when it comes to driving the speed limit, I tend to curb the rule following. Especially since nine times out of ten, by the time I have everyone in the van, with appropriate attire on their feet, we’re running late.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20
Key Verse: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7


I’ve tried to leave earlier – I don’t know why it doesn’t work. Though in almost twenty years, I’m happy to say, I’ve only had one ticket and it happened not long after acquiring my license. (Watch, I’ll probably get one tomorrow.)

The worst part was the police officer pulled me over in the parking lot of our church Thanksgiving dinner. (Hello there so many people who know me.) To put it mildly, I was devastated and no longer in the mood to be thankful. One look at my hot mess of a face and my mother let me go home to sit in the bathtub. The fact that I’d just gotten in trouble in front of well, half my church, left me in need of bubbles, not turkey.

(Ugh, I hate getting in trouble.)

The problem is, not everyone shares my fondness for rule following. In fact, the Bible says even my preconceived notion to follow the rules (minus the speed limit) is a hoax. Psalms 3:2-3 states, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

Not even one – we’re a sad case. But if we did follow after God, after his precepts and rules, oh the life we would lead. Not because all would be well and dandy with wild flowers doting our every path but because of the closeness of God we would know and experience.

Obedience is the soil by which the knowing of God will grow.

1 John 2:4-5 says, “Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”

If you want to know God – you’ve got to obey him. Why? Because the law is the essence of God’s heart. Consider this..

God called David a man after His own heart not because he lived life perfectly (i.e. Bathsheba), but because he loved the law (see Psalm 119) and the law reflects God’s heart, expressing His nature in multiple ways. The law is good and righteous and true and so is God. “Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules” (Ps. 119:137).

But unfortunately rules have gotten a bad rap. Gaining the reputation of boring, restrictive, stuffy, tiresome, tedious. A technicality not worth following. Especially God’s rules. Which the world now views as relative for some and not for others depending on how you feel that day. Or your upbringing. Or your circumstances.

A sad delusion that’s significantly damaged our relationship with God.

Because His ways are not restrictive, they’re freeing. Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (NLT). When God’s commands are followed blessings abound (Ps. 1:1-2). Peace is given (Ps. 119:165). Understanding is gained (Ps. 119:99). The heart overflows with joy (Ps. 119:111). Comfort is received (Ps. 119:52). And something more valuable than gold is attained (Ps. 119:72).

God’s rules are like a map for living the best life possible. Turn left here, turn right there, leading to the most amazing treasure we could ever receive – God himself.

“Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me” (Ps. 119:175).

Therefore, God’s second greatest act of love is right here in Exodus 20: the giving of His law. It’s not the first because “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV). Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for a people like us – yeah, nothing tops that.

But for God to come down from Heaven and speak the outpourings of His heart to a people He knew couldn’t follow it and wouldn’t follow it – this is love. Yet for the purpose of guiding us and them unto himself through the work and person of Jesus Christ, God shared His desires anyway.

We call them the Ten Commandments. So important were these rules to God, He wrote them himself on two stone tablets that were to be kept in the ark of the covenant. They weren’t to go anywhere. Their permanency guiding generation after generation; even in the New Testament.

Though today the church no longer needs to follow the ceremonial law (the sacrifices) or civil law (the rules that governed Israel as a nation). The moral law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) are very much still in play.

Why? Because God’s heart didn’t change. His guidelines for life and joy and holiness are still the same. What changed was our ability to follow them. So important are these rules to God He put his own spirit within us to help. “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:27).

No longer would it be done in the old nature but with the new. In the Spirit, instead of the flesh. In Christ’s strength, instead of our own. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). (The true essence of that verse.)

Yet God knew we couldn’t keep His rules perfectly and it’s perfection he requires. Thus, we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by keeping the law. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, just as Israel was. (Giving us all the more reason to obey Him!)

God’s heart is before us in Exodus 20. Just as we set rules for our kids because we love them, our Father cared enough to set rules for us. It’s not out of spite He’s asked us to live a certain way, it’s out of love. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7).

He’s not only a God who loved us enough to give us His son, He’s a God who loved us enough to give us His law.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you view God’s laws? As suggestions? Commands? Relevant or no longer necessary?
Are the Ten Commandments something you still try to live by today?
Why is the giving of the law a loving act of God?

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