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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When We’re Not Who We Want to Be, God Is

Most days, I’m not who I want to be or need to be. I lack patience with my children. I lack godly perseverance – at least the kind that lasts all the way until bed time. I get frustrated with the world around me – that guy’s driving too slow, that person took my parking spot. (Don’t they know I have two kids in the car with me and no working umbrella???) There’s more air, than chips, in my $3.99 bag of Doritos. And gracious why does rural internet have to be so slooowwww! (Yes, please go right ahead and feel sorry for me.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 3:11-22
Key Verse: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14


Not only that, but momma just wants to potty by herself occasionally. Know what I mean? But honestly, if that’s all I have to complain about, life’s pretty good. Yet nine times out of ten, the unexpected rough edges of my day, put me over the edge.

And then the guilt sets in. What is wrong with me? Is a spilled bag of gold fish crackers really that big of a deal? Based on my over the top reaction – it’s apparently life threatening. Who knew?

Basically, I stumble when there’s no reason to stumble. I get overwhelmed when I shouldn’t be overwhelmed. I huff and puff over things that are not huff and puff worthy. I make bumps into mountains, toddler accidents into crimes of serious offense, and my daily agenda the responsibility of everyone I meet – whether they’re related to me or not.

Let’s face it – I’m a mess. Like the apostle Paul, the things I want to do, I don’t do. And the things I don’t want to do, I do. Over and over again, I do them. Though the world wouldn’t label me terrible, I’m not who I want to be.

And the truth is, I never will be. At least not without Jesus. Which is why I love the name God reveals to Moses from the confines of the burning bush. Not only does it proclaim his eternal existence and external independence, but it sets the stage for Jesus to fill every single one of my lack thereof’s. (And yours too.)

With the weight of his new job expanding in his gut, Moses needed to know, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (v. 13)

In other words, if you’re going to make me do this. I need more. I need assurance. I need truth and substance. Something to hold on to.

To which God replied, “I AM WHO I AM.” “Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you…The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you” (v. 14-15).

His answer was three-fold, giving some Biblical scholars pause. Is his name I AM? Or I AM WHO I AM? Otherwise translated I AM WHAT I AM or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE. Or is it LORD, commonly translated as Yahweh by both Jewish and Christian scholars. Yet in the original Hebrew it was written as YHWH with no vowels because a) they did not use vowels in the original written Hebrew and b) they believed God’s name too holy to speak aloud, so they wrote it in such a way no one could say it.

But I don’t think we need to argue over what name God intended because I think it’s safe to say he’s c) all of the above. He is who He is apart from us, apart from time, apart from circumstances. And he will always be the same. No shifting, no changing, no rearranging with the seasons. Whatever He is, He is.

Specifically, He is the LORD, Yahweh. The personal God of the Hebrews. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Redeemer. The one who faithfully fulfills every promise. “I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and land flowing with milk and honey” (v. 17).

Because I AM able. I AM willing. I AM with you. I AM faithful. “Whatever you need Moses, I AM.” My words, not God’s, but I don’t think God could have picked a better name. Moses would face fierce opposition, as God warned in verse 19, but I AM was with him. And when I AM is with you, there is nothing you can’t do

When the days are long and the nights are short, with I AM there is patience. When the ride is rough, there is endurance. When life is upside down, there is perspective. When you’re broken, there is healing. When you’re weak, there is strength. When you’re the widow, there is peace. When you’re the caregiver, there is strength.

When you’re the worn down, tired of saying no, I-didn’t-know-it-would-be-this-hard mommy, there is purpose. When you’re the ragged, there is righteousness. When you’re the disgraceful, there is forgiveness. When you’re the rejected, there is acceptance. When you’re the unloved, there is love.

There is no gap the LORD can’t fill. No barrier he can’t break. No lack thereof he can’t provide. He is all things, to all people, all day because HE is Jesus. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

How do I know? In John 8:58 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” The great I AM came in the flesh so he could be the I AM of all believers. “I am the bread of life. I am the good shepherd. I am the door. I am the light of the world. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the true vine.”

“I AM,” said Jesus. And “unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24b). Declaring also in Revelation 1: 8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Jesus is the great I AM and he’s promised to be with us too. As we, like Moses, go and seek to tell the world about a God they’ve not necessarily seen before. And though they’ll be opposition. Though we’ll fumble our way through. Though we’ll mess up. Though we’ll struggle, doing the very things we don’t want to do, I AM is with us.

And in Him we can live godly and upright lives (Phil. 4:13), holding hands with Joy along the way. Befriending Peace. Pulling up a seat next to Hope; in the house of Endurance; on a street named Patience.

So whatever it is you face today or tomorrow or next week, know this, I AM is with you. Filling the gaps of whatever it is you need to do it well and do it holy. Thank you, Jesus. May I look to you every step of the way.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is Jesus the great I AM of your life? Do you tend to rely on yourself or Jesus in the day to day of life? What steps can you take to remain in Christ and the power, strength, and endurance he gives?