The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
Sign up for The Daily Encouraging Word via Email
You can also request to receive a hard copy of the quarterly devotional mailed to you by signing up here:
Sign up for The Daily Encouraging Word via Mail
“You shall not steal.” Ex 20:15 NIV
The eighth commandment says, “You shall not steal.” Think how strange this commandment must have seemed to the Israelites. As a nomad society, thieving and looting had always been acceptable in their culture—even expected. But God said, “That day is over. Stealing distorts your priorities. It makes things more important than people. It violates the rights of others by saying, ‘I’m more important than you.’ So from this day on I want you to be rigorously honest in all your dealings.” But there’s another kind of stealing, the kind some Christians think nothing of practicing. The Bible says: “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops…the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit…Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land’” (Mal 3:8-12 NIV). When you rob God, you end up robbing yourself. “Robbing myself of what?” you ask: (1) God’s blessing in your life. (2) His protection when times get tough. (3) The privilege of sharing His goodness with the people around you. Is it really worth it? Think about it!
“You shall not commit adultery.” Ex 20:14 NIV
The seventh commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery.” But Jesus takes it one step further by saying, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery…in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better…to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Mt 5:28-29 NIV). You’re not responsible for what you see, but you are responsible for what you continue to look at. Paul told Timothy, “Flee…youthful lusts” (2Ti 2:22); and James writes, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (Jas 1:15 NIV). Immorality in practice or in thought can result in the death of your marriage, your self-respect, your influence, and your joy. In The Door, theologian Mike Yaconelli writes: “Author Susan Howatch made a fortune writing blockbuster novels…She had houses in several countries, drove a Porsche, and after divorcing had a number of ‘transient liaisons.’ But at age thirty, she said, ‘God seized me by the scruff of the neck and shook me until my teeth rattled.’ Now a Christian, she reflects: ‘I was promiscuous, but finally one morning I woke up and said, ‘What am I trying to prove, and to whom?’ I knew exactly what—that even though my marriage broke up I could still attract men. The fact that I could control men boosted my fractured ego.’ What was her conclusion? Promiscuity is a sign you’re not aligned right with God or yourself.”
“You shall not murder.” Ex 20:13 NIV
The sixth commandment says, “You shall not murder.” Now, most of us don’t need a lecture on murder, so let’s address the real issue: the tongue, which kills by destroying a person’s self-worth and future hopes. Paul writes: “All the law is fulfilled in…this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Gal 5:14-15 NKJV). Who can forget the 1994 tabloid headline, “Killer bug ate my face”? The reporting was sensational, but the stories were based on factual cases of invasive strep bacteria found in Gloucestershire, England. When invasive Strep A (which isn’t the same as strep throat) takes hold, necrotizing fasciitis can begin, which causes the victim’s flesh to die at the rate of several inches per hour. Meanwhile toxic shock sets in, shutting down organs and causing death. Dr. Jeffrey Crowley describes what happens after the deadly microbes take hold: “The bacteria multiply rapidly, producing toxins…For three days the patient may suffer swollen lymph nodes, rising fever, and excruciating pain at the site of infection. Penicillin can stop the attack at this stage, but by day four, infected tissues start dying. Bacteria saturate the bloodstream, destroying muscles and organs, sending the body into shock, and death can follow within hours… invasive strep is rare, but unforgiving.” You say, “That’s gruesome!” Yes, and so is gossip, and slander! They’re deadly. They make people feel worthless by destroying their self-esteem and undermining them to the point where life doesn’t seem worth living. Learn to guard your tongue and speak words that bring life, not death.
“Honor your father and your mother.” Ex 20:12 NIV
In the fifth commandment, God says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” That means children must respect their parents, and parents must prove worthy of respect. Abraham and Lot were from the same family, but there was a big difference in their parenting styles. And it showed up dramatically at the destruction of Sodom. Concerning Abraham, God said, “I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (Ge 18:19 NIV). Before God destroyed Sodom, we read: “The two men (angels) said to Lot, ‘Do you have anyone else here…Get them out …because we are going to destroy this place’…So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law…He said, ‘Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!’ But his sons-in-law thought he was joking” (Ge 19:12-14 NIV). Do you have credibility with your children? Do they take you seriously? Here are two quotes from history every parent needs to think long and hard about. The first is from evangelist Billy Sunday: “The tragedy of my life is that although I’ve led thousands of people to Jesus Christ, my own sons are not saved.” The second is from Lord Houghton: “The Christian home is the Master’s workshop where the processes of character molding are silently, lovingly, faithfully, and successfully carried on.”
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Ex 20:8 NIV
The fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” This commandment wasn’t meant to be interpreted in: (a) A legalistic way. In Jesus’ day there were over fifteen hundred things the law of Moses said you couldn’t do on the Sabbath, such as bathing, walking too far, or scratching a flea bite. (b) A loose way. The flip side of legalism is license. We go everywhere on Sunday except to church, then excuse ourselves by saying, “I’ll be there in spirit,” or “I feel closer to God on the golf course or the beach.” That doesn’t wash with God! (c) A limited way. You can’t attend church on Sunday and ignore God the rest of the week. He’s not just Lord of the Sabbath, He’s Lord of your life. Here’s what the Sabbath was designed to be: (1) A day of rest. Restoration begins with rest. Somebody said, “When you love what you do, it’s not work.” That may be true, but that philosophy can lead to burnout and breakdown. David said, “He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul” (Ps 23:2-3 NKJV). Note the word “still.” Every seventh day God calls “time out.” (2) A day of restoration. Toward the end of his life, Bible commentator William Barclay said, “I’m old, and I’ve learned that there are very few things in life that really matter—but those few things matter intensely.” Worshipping with other believers matters because it highlights those things which are important to God, like His Word, His will, His worship, His call, His grace, and His family.