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“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17; cf. Deuteronomy 5:21

This commandment of the LORD teaches us that God requires not only outward holiness but inward holiness, as well. Not only are our actions to be pure, but our thoughts and desires.

Thus, we learn that we not only sin when we commit adultery or take our neighbor’s property or goods; we sin when we desire what belongs to our neighbor and is not rightfully ours.

As the commandment says, we are not to covet or desire our neighbor’s house, his wife, his servants or employees, his stock, or any of his property. Rather, we are to trust in the LORD God and be satisfied in Him and in that which He has given us.

The Bible teaches us that “each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

We may not realize it, but our hearts, as they are by our fallen nature, are filled with evil thoughts and desires. When we entertain these thoughts and desires, they grow and often lead to sinful words and actions.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” (Matt. 15:19-20).

This is why God warns against the sin of covetousness; it is contrary to God’s will and desire for us, and it often leads to acts of disobedience and rebellion. The Bible is filled with examples. David lusted after Bathsheba and took her, even murdering Uriah to cover up his sin of adultery. King Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard and murdered to get it. Judas desired money and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Rather than coveting, which leads to death, the LORD God would have us trust in Him and be satisfied with what He gives us. The Bible tells us: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6; cf. Psalm 37:3ff).

From this commandment, we are taught that God commands and desires that we be truly holy as He is holy — in our thoughts, desires, words, and deeds (cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48).

Though we have miserably failed to keep God’s holy commandments, Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son made man, has fulfilled them for us by living a holy life in thought, word, and deed. And, He also went to the cross and suffered there the full punishment for our sins and the sins of the entire world that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness, and life everlasting in heaven through faith in His name (cf. 1 John 1:5 – 2:2).

God would have us repent of our sinful desires and thoughts, as well as our sinful words and deeds, and look in faith to Jesus and His perfect sacrifice on the cross for pardon, forgiveness, and life everlasting (cf. Acts 3:19-21; John 3:14-18).

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my evil thoughts and desires as well as for my sinful words and actions. Cleanse my heart and give me a genuine desire to live for You. I ask this for the sake of your holy and precious blood, shed for me upon the cross. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing! Look, your house is forsaken. Truly I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Luke 13:34-35

God’s judgment was about to fall upon Jerusalem. The time of mercy – the people’s opportunity to repent and turn to their Messiah and Savior – was almost gone. In fact, judgment was much closer than any dared to think.

Why? Because the people had rejected and stoned the prophets sent to them in the generations before Christ, and they were rejecting Jesus, their Messiah and Savior who had been sent into this world to redeem them.

Elsewhere, too, Jesus warned of Jerusalem’s coming destruction under the hand of the Roman armies because the people did not recognize the time of their visitation and believe on the name of the only-begotten Son of God and their Savior.

In Luke 19:41-44, we read, “When He came near, He beheld the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had known even today what things would bring you peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you and surround you, and press you in on every side. They will dash you, and your children within you, to the ground. They will not leave one stone upon another within you, because you did not know the time of your visitation’” (cf. Luke 23:27ff.).

Did Jesus desire Jerusalem’s fall? No. He wept over Jerusalem. He had compassion for its people, and He desired that all would repent of their evil ways and turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness. But because they would not repent and turn to Him for pardon and life everlasting, judgment was coming – and it did come in 70 A.D. when the Roman armies laid siege to the city, broke down its walls, and burned the city, killing or taking captive the city’s inhabitants.

It is as Jesus said, “How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Once again, God’s Word in Ezekiel 33:11 had application: “As I live, says the LORD God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why will you die, O house of Israel?“

These words, as well as the words of Jesus, also have an application to you and to me. Jesus, first and foremost, desires that we repent of our evil ways and turn to Him for forgiveness and life everlasting. He seeks to gather us to Himself as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings so that we might be spared in God’s judgment.

The people of Jerusalem would not come to Jesus, and God’s judgment came upon them. But what about you and me? Will we, too, stubbornly resist God’s call to repentance and faith? Will we refuse to be gathered under the safety of Jesus’ wings?

If we will not come to Jesus, God’s judgment will fall upon us as well – both now and in eternity! Our Lord Jesus, who first and foremost desires to deal with us in mercy and forgiveness, will have no choice but to deal with us as we deserve on account of our rebellious and sinful ways.

It is as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “He who believes in [Christ Jesus] is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

But, if, by the grace of God, we turn to Jesus and are gathered to Him, taking shelter in the shadow of His cross, we will not be condemned but have everlasting life. Under the wings of His mercy, we will find forgiveness and life eternal.

Again, Jesus tells us in John 5:24: “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life.”

Dearest Lord Jesus, grant that I not turn away from You and Your mercy but repent and look to You for forgiveness and life eternal. Hide me under the shadow of Your wings. I ask this for the sake of Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death in my stead. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20

First and foremost, this commandment requires witnesses in any court of law to be truthful in all they say; and it forbids any false witness or testimony against another (cf. Ex. 23:1-3).

The Bible plainly warns: “A false witness will not be unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape” (Prov. 19:5).

Under Old Testament civil laws, false witnesses were to be punished with the same punishment the one they falsely accused would have received if their witness were true (cf. Deut. 19:15-21). Those who were not punished by man would come under the judgment of God Himself, who knows all!

Most people think little of speaking evil of others, saying things to destroy people’s names and reputations, and spreading rumors and gossip about others, but this commandment condemns such.

Again, the Scriptures say: “Do not speak evil of one another, brothers” (James 4:11); and, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter” (Prov. 11:13).

When a brother commits a trespass, we are to first go to him privately in an effort to bring him to repentance (cf. Matt. 18:15ff.); we are not to go and tell everyone else what evil he has done.

The prophet Zechariah writes: “These are the things you will do: Speak truth each to his neighbor, and make judgments in your gates that are for truth, and justice, and peace. Let none of you consider evil plans in your heart against your neighbor, and do not love false oaths, for I hate all these things, says the LORD” (Zech. 8:16-17).

Rather than bearing false witness against our neighbor, speaking evil of him, or impugning his name and reputation, we are to love him and defend him against false accusations and gossip.

The Bible says: “Open your mouth for the speechless in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8-9). Peter writes: “Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

When we examine our own lives – our thoughts, words and actions against this commandment of the LORD – we see again that we have fallen short and are in need of repentance and forgiveness.

Messiah Jesus, God’s own dear Son in human flesh, has kept this commandment for us; and He suffered our just punishment when He shed His blood for us on the cross.

Acknowledge your sins and failings and turn to Him for forgiveness and life everlasting! Cf. 2 Cor. 7:9-10; Psalm 51:1ff. And then, as a fruit of faith, do not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Dear Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of man, forgive me for speaking evil of others, spreading rumors and gossip, and failing to love my neighbor and defend him against the evil words of others. I ask this for the sake of Your innocent sufferings and death in my stead and because of Your glorious resurrection and ascension. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (Read Genesis 1)

The opening words of the Bible, those found in Genesis 1:1, proclaim a foundational truth upon which all of Christianity rests: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

If these words are not true, then the rest of the Bible’s claims about man’s accountability to God, God’s impending judgment upon man’s sin, Christ’s redemption, God’s forgiveness and eternal life with Him in heaven are all meaningless.

Those who reject the Bible’s teaching regarding God’s creation have rejected all that the Bible teaches because it is all interwoven and a part of the same truth. Those who do not believe in the God who was there in the beginning and who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them cannot legitimately lay claim to be followers of Christ or to be Christian.

In the same way as the work of an artist testifies to the existence and skill of the artist, so the existence and wondrous design of all things testify to the existence and infinite wisdom of an almighty God who created all.

The Bible itself declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night declares knowledge. There is no speech and there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

Everywhere in this world, regardless of race or language, the testimony of all creation, without words or speech, cries out and announces to everyone that there is an all-wise, all-powerful God who created all. The majesty, grandeur, and the very intricacy of all around us say loudly and clearly for all to hear, “There is a God!”

This same God has revealed Himself to all of mankind in His Word, the Bible. From the very first of the Scriptures, we see that God already was in the beginning when He created the heavens and the earth. We see that not only the Father, but the Spirit was in the beginning; for He “was moving over the surface of the water” (Genesis 1:2). The apostle John writes of Jesus, God the Son, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through Him, and without Him nothing was created that was created” (John 1:1-3).

The one true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – was there in the beginning and created all things. This same eternal God provided for the salvation of all mankind when the Son became man and paid the due price for our sin by suffering and dying on the cross and rising again from the dead on the third day. He will be when this world comes to a close, and He will be our judge.

Those who believe in His name, trusting in Him for forgiveness and life everlasting, will be saved; but those who do not trust in Him stand condemned already for not believing in the name of God the Son, their Redeemer and Savior (cf. John 3:13-18, 36).

O almighty and eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank You for revealing Your majesty to us through your glorious creation and for revealing Yourself and the salvation You have provided for us through Your Word, the Bible. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15

With this commandment, the LORD God forbids us to take or desire that which rightfully belongs to another. Thus, we are not to rob, steal or take the property of another by any dishonest means, including fraud, deception, unjust lawsuits, gambling, unrighteous labor or wages, unfair pricing, and the like. Instead of seeking dishonest gain, God urges us to work and earn our own property and goods and to share with those in need.

The Bible teaches: “Let him who steals steal no more. Instead, let him labor, working with his hands things which are good, that he may have something to share with him who is in need” (Eph. 4:28). God also tells us: “You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment regarding measures in length, weight, or quantity. You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:35-36).

Psalm 37:21 says: “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous is gracious and gives.” Jeremiah 22:13 warns: “Woe to him who builds his house with unrighteousness and his chambers with injustice, who uses his neighbor’s services without wages, and gives him nothing for his work …”

Expressing these same principles, Leviticus 19:13 says, “You shall not defraud your neighbor or rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not stay with you all night until the morning” (cf. Deut. 24:14-15). God even warns against taking advantage of the poor and lending for personal gain when He says: “ If you lend money to any of My people who is poor among you, do not be a creditor to him, and do not charge him interest” (Ex. 22:25).

God also forbids us to be lazy and dependent upon the charity of others when His Word commands: “If any will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

What does God require of us when He forbids us to steal? He would have us love our neighbor and do all in our power to help him protect and keep his property and business.

We see this from the principle established by this command: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely return it to him” (Ex. 23:4). While it may not be an ox or a donkey, we are to return to our neighbor property which he has lost and help him to keep what God has given him.

Jesus Himself says: “Everything you would like men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). The Scriptures require us to treat our neighbor in the same way we would want to be treated. Thus, instead of taking away our neighbor’s property and business, we should help and be of service to him in keeping it.

Finally, instead of seeking to obtain the property of others for ourselves, God would have us share what He has given us and help others in their need.

The Bible says, “But do not forget to do good and to share. For with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. 13:16).

Have we kept this commandment as the LORD God requires? Again, we must admit our shortcomings and sins and repent, pleading with the LORD God to deal with us in His grace and mercy for Jesus’ sake and imploring His help and strength to amend our ways and live for Him!

In Jesus, and for the sake of His blood shed for us on the cross, we find forgiveness.

The Bible tells us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. … If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2).

Dear Lord Jesus, for the sake of Your atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world, forgive me for my selfishness and greed. Forgive me for not loving and caring for others in need. Cleanse my heart and renew my mind that I might live for You and seek to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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