Can’t Help It

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 28:18-20 (day six)

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20

John and Peter were picked up, jailed and beaten, and then commanded never to talk about Jesus again. They were living the Great Commission, even at great cost to themselves. What I find interesting is their response to their captors. They couldn’t help but speak of what they’ve seen and heard.

This begs a lot of questions for western Christians who clearly struggle with telling others the story of Jesus, for somehow we can help it, at least more often than not. Why exactly is that the case? Of course, our schedules are busy, and some feel ill equipped; many of us are just scared or it simply doesn’t cross our minds. But what if the most important reason is, we simply have seen and heard so little of Jesus in our own lives, he has become inconsequential? He’s an occasional thought, or a tiny blip on the radar of our lives, but not enough to shape the stories we tell; we literally have nothing to say.

That can change, you know? Jesus is speaking; he is at work, you only have to listen and watch.

Fear and Loving

Re:Verse passage –Matthew 22:35-39 (day six)

If we are honest, commanding love offends our American sensitivities.  You might be able to ask for someone’s love, certainly hope for it, but you never demand it. Truly, who has the right to demand love from someone? God does, according to Moses and Jesus.

God also demands that we fear him, but not the kind of fear “that flees from his presence, but the kind that longs to do his will.” (John Sailhammer). The greatest commandment, the call to love the Lord your God, further defines fear. What God is commanding is an authentic response to his oneness; our total awe and devotion. God can demand our love because He alone is worthy of it, and He alone is our greatest good.

When God demands from us, He never takes, He always fulfills. You are never left with less; you always have more.


Re:Verse passage –Exodus 20:17 (day six)

“You shall not covet…anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. Paul, Philippians 4:4

Coveting never rejoices. It is a thief, a robber. It entangles; enslaved to its discontentment, it peers into the windows of others lives, where the grass is always greener. It replaces joy with envy, and rejoicing with bemoaning. It’s vocabulary consists almost entirely of phrases like “I must have…”, or “If only I….” 

Faith rejoices in hope. Rather than depleting, it restores. Rather than enslaving, it is freeing. Faith looks beyond itself, even through heartache and pain, fixing its gaze on the assurance of the promises of God. And it rejoices in the goodness of God, and especially in the good that comes to others. It’s vocabulary consists of phrases like “I am thankful for…” or “I trust God because…” 

Don’t be mistaken, faith doesn’t live in ease. No, it is scrappy; it doesn’t let up or give up, even when it feels like it is out of breath. For faith, breathing IS praying, where hope is found, and where there is hope there is rejoicing.


Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:16 (day six)

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

There is a reason the ninth commandment is you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, rather than you shall not lie. The former makes a clear connection between the truths (or lies) we speak and our neighbor. False witness is never spoken in a vacuum, but always lands on someone, always leading to a disconnected relationship or community.

God’s plan for his people was a community that knew and trusted each other. He had no desire for a fractured, disconnected people rising out of closed-door gossip, or back-alley grievances. When you boil it down, I think God is saying, “Stop talking ABOUT your neighbor; talk TO your neighbor.”

So, the next time you have a grievance against someone don’t rush to gripe about them to someone else, or pass judgment too quickly, rather go to them, and as much as it is up to you, seek to make things right.


Re:Verse passage –Exodus 20:15 (day six)

“You shall not steal.”

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. -Paul, Philippians 4:19

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he concludes with thanking them for how they have helped during his time of need. He then makes the above promise, “My God will give to you in your need because you are rich in Christ Jesus!”

In God’s economy, according to the riches in glory in Christ Jesus, He gives to us so that through us He may give to others. We do not steal, simply because we have no lack, in fact we are rich! God has given to us, and we then give to others; we bless others. That’s the kind of community, or nation, God desired to build with the Hebrew people, and is now building in His church.

Sacredness and Wholeness

Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:14 (day six) 

“You shall not commit adultery.”

This commandment points to two truths, the sacredness of marriage and the wholeness of sexual intimacy, and neither are mutually exclusive. Marriage is sacred in the same fashion as life is sacred (#6), or as the family is sacred (#5); each serve a valuable role in God filling the earth with his glory. Marriage is first and foremost God’s; he made it in his image, therefore it is sacred.

Sexual intimacy, (not just sex) by design is the very consummation of wholeness, or oneness between a husband and wife. It is a physical picture of a mutual reality. God is very serious when he says, “The two shall become one flesh.” Or “what God puts together, let no man separate.” This commandment is God’s way of saying, “stay whole; stay as one!”

Why? Because oneness in marriage is the heart of its sacredness, and if a marriage loses its sacredness it can no longer fulfill God’s purpose.

Is it any wonder than that the enemy would aim to destroy sex and marriage?


Re:Verse passage –Exodus 20:13 (day six)

What is the opposite of murder or kill? Create life? While we come close, we can’t create life in the same way God does (out of nothing). Perhaps, in the fullest understanding of the sixth commandment, the opposite of kill is harmonize, as in two distinct things brought together as if they were one.

When reading Jesus’ interpretation of the commandment, he clearly teaches  that to fulfill it we must go to great lengths to pursue harmony with others. Or another way, if you want to avoid God’s judgment be a reconciler; ditch the angry heart, and sharp words, and do everything in your power to make things right, especially if you are the offender.

The spirit of this commandment isn’t just life, it’s harmony. Who are you out-of-sorts with? Jesus would recommend checking your heart, holding the sharp tongue, and go to them right away to pursue harmony.


Re:Verse passage –Exodus 20:12 (day six)

 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

The command is simple enough. We know it refers to all of us, not just our toddlers and teenagers. We know it rightly elevates the role of family in society. We even know what it means to “honor” our parents. And yet how often it is easily dismissed, forgotten, or simply replaced.

Jesus had strong words for the Pharisees when their traditions trumped the commandments. In the case of this commandment, the Pharisees allowed the tradition of a designated gift to the temple (corban, Mark 7:9-13) to alleviate any pressure to financially take care of elderly parents. Jesus said, “You create traditions, so as not to obey God’s commandment.” It got me thinking, what traditions keep us from honoring our parents? What traditions, even in the church, have disrupted God’s design for the family?

We probably would greatly benefit by giving that serious thought.


Re:Verse passage – Exodus 2:8-11 (day six)

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

This wonderful command takes into account two human frailties, our ability to only do one thing at a time (as compared to God), and the fractured nature of our minds. The aim of God’s prescribed rest is joy; joy in God, family, and the fruit of our labor. During a week of labor it is hard to slow down long enough to enjoy anything, much less focus or rest. So God says, “Rest…take time to enjoy me and one another, and whether a lot or little enjoy the fruit of your hard work.”

Jesus got so bent out of shape with the Pharisees because they completely sucked any joy or rest to be had in the Sabath. It became more work. So, remember God commands us slow down to enjoy what he has done.

Don’t take the joy out of your rest!


Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:7 – (day six) “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

I changed my name when I was 16. Growing up I went by my middle name, but decided to go by my first name at the beginning of my junior year. There simply were too many other “Mikes” in the same dorm; I wanted to be set apart. Names offer distinction, separateness.

When God tells Moses His name at the burning bush that’s exactly what His name accomplishes. There is none like him, there never was, nor will there ever be. God’s name embodies His otherness, His holiness. This is precisely why he commands us to never take it for granted.