Focus and Attention

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

“You shall not commit adultery.”

Having sex is not the only way to commit adultery. Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28 move the line between “safe and sin” even further away from physical intimacy. “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Yet how many times do we feel like we need to know exactly where the line is between right and wrong. Often the question that accompanies this train of thought is, “How far is too far?”  Let’s be honest enough to admit we ask it in all kinds of different circumstances that relate to many different kinds of sins.

The problem with this question is that it’s the wrong question to ask.  When we ask this question, our attention and focus are directed toward the sin.  Maybe a better question to ask is, “How close can I get to the Lord?”  When we ask this question our attention and focus are aimed at the Savior. Let’s ask the right questions.

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:2-3‬



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

You shall not murder. It seems to be pretty simple and straightforward. So, why include it?  Isn’t this a given by any moral code?  Can anybody argue that the unlawful killing of an innocent life is ok? Don’t we all know at some level, killing is wrong?

The sixth commandment helps teach us about God, and ourselves.  We learn about God’s sovereignty.  As the creator and giver of life, He is sovereign over life and death. Killing someone displaces God from His throne and this role, and thus inserts the human murderer on the throne- Not where man was designed to be.  God is serious about His sovereignty.  

The sixth commandment is also a sincere affirmation and encouragement of human life. If humans were not important to God, then why have this commandment?  In fact, this commandment serves as a compliment to the human race. Each personally and  intricately created person has been made in God’s image. Each life is precious and significant.

This is why killing is a big deal to God. Lots at stake, lots to learn!


Re:Verse passage –Exodus 20:12 (day five) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

There is a sense that the 10 Commandments were given to each of the Israelites. Each person will be accountable for their obedience to these commandments. However, there is also a sense where God is giving the commandments to all of the Israelites. The applications and promises extend to the whole Hebrew nation.  Their time in the land God has given them will be cut short by disobeying this 5th commandment in particular but this principle applies to all the commandments because God takes disobedience seriously. The “promise” with the 5th commandment is not a promise of personal blessing, but rather the blessing of a people who honor God’s leadership and guidance (learned and instilled with their Father and Mother). Those chosen people will become a light to the nations- a nation to reach the nations. See Exodus 19:6. Think it’s just an Old Testament promise?  Look at 1 Peter 2:9.


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

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

There many instances where the scriptures are not kind to the human race.  We see people (just like us) with flaws and weaknesses. We read about moral failure, disobedience, and pride (all are sin) in some of our most beloved bible characters. Exodus 20 is no exception.  We are commanded to remember the sabbath.  Seems to me, if I had heard the voice of God speak these words, I would never forget them much less forget to follow them.  Yet, the premise is that we will forget.  And, we have. What are other qualities and promises of God we forget?  His faithfulness? His loving kindness? His patience? His power? His holiness?… to name a few.

How important is this command to rest and set apart a day for attention and affection for God?  It’s important enough that He would firmly tell us not to forget!

Perhaps spending some time to remember (journal these)things in scripture (God’s nature and character, God’s promises, God’s warnings, God’s commandments) that are significant to the strength and formation of our faith and the depth of our understanding and relationship with God, would be a valuable exercise today.


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

Often, when God gives a negative commandment we tend to think God is limiting us, invading our free will, or cramping our style. Actually a negative command offers more freedom than a positive one. A negative command instructs us not to do one thing but leave many other possibilities. A positive command tells us we are to do only one thing. So, when God says don’t take the LORD’S Name in vain, there are many other ways to use and speak His name properly: praise, honor, blessing, celebration, prayer, thanksgiving, glorifying, and trusting, and revering to name a few. Some Jews won’t even use God’s Name at all for fear of breaking this commandment. Aren’t you glad for the freedom to use His Name properly??

Where are they?

Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:4-6 (day five)  

but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

This week I am accompanying my son as he attends college orientation.  One of the things pressing on my heart is the prayer and hope he finds believers who will provide fellowship, accountability, and community.  These days on college campuses it seems that finding believers is more and more difficult.  Much like the workplace, and neighborhoods .  But there is a great hope and promise in verse 6 They ARE here.  They are there. They are in offices, schools, and neighborhoods.  AND, God has promised His faithfulness and loving kindness to those who love Him and keep  His commandments.  I am grateful for God’s reminder this week.  I am also thankful that my son has already verbalized this same need and desire to find a community of believers on campus, but more importantly in a local church.


Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:3 (day five)
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

God begins His commandments with a clear demonstration of His vast wisdom and knowledge of the human race in at least a couple of ways.   The first commandment serves as a foundation for the other nine. Before learning and understanding all that God demands in a covenant relationship, we must first know who He is, and who we are in this relationship to Him. Once this is settled, we can begin to discover the priorities and structure God expects in our lives. Second, this first commandment also addresses the Egyptian influence that has shaped the hearts and practices of the Israelites- polytheism. They have been immersed in the Egyptian culture- one of the most polytheistic civilizations known to man. They were affected from their time in captivity. Note the activity of idol worship when God was delivering the commandments. So the first commandment addresses their greatest weakness and greatest need. The fact that the human race is quickly distracted from pure devotion to God, and will unwisely build our faith and relationship with God on less than a complete and eternally sturdy foundation. We are easily swayed.


Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:1-17 (day five)

There is a wonderful rhythm to God’s actions and intentions with the Law. The commandments are given after God rescues the nation of Israelites from Egypt.  First salvation, then the law. We see this as far back as we can look into the scriptures. In the garden, God establishes relationship wIth Adam and Eve, sets them free, then gives them the law (just 1). Jesus teaches the same principle in the New Testament. “If you love me, keep my commands.” Only after a relationship with God do the commandments  become a blessing. The word delight is used over and over in the Psalms when thinking about the law and commandments. Psalm 112:1 Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. (Notice the rhythm). The New Testament echos the same truth, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,”.  In relationship with God, the commandments are invaluable.


Re:Verse passage – 2 Samuel 24 (day five)  Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done.”

What was David’s motive behind the sin?  Why was God offended by this particular census?  God had even given instructions for taking a census (Exodus 30). So we know that God is not anti-census. Others have offered really good explanations in this blog. I would like to give you one that I find compelling. I believe that this census indicates a lack of faith in David. He seems to be deeply interested in the exact size and strength of his army. David has forgotten God’s promise that victories will not be determined by strength or numbers, but rather trust in God (1 Samuel 14:6)- a promise he believed as a teenager when he stood up against Goliath, but has forgotten as an adult. His trust was in his numbers not God’s power or promises. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6) Which promises do we need to remember and trust in today?


Re:Verse passage – 2 Samuel 20 (day five)

How did David do it?  He kept leading and serving in the midst of betrayal, attacks, rebellions, danger, difficulty, death of loved ones, and consequences from his own sin and disobedience.   In the midst of all these conditions and circumstances, David was still doing “kingly things”.  The temptation for us is to give up and check out. But not David. In the midst of all the pain, suffering, disappointment, and tension, there is  courage and contentment that keep David engaged with God and in leading the kingdom. I believe David’s perspective and persistence are a byproduct of being in covenant with God (remember 2 Samuel 7).  Peace is evidence (fruit) of being in a covenant relationship with God. It is not simply a feeling of inner tranquility, but rather something deeper and stronger. We see this explained in the New Testament (Galatians 5:22, Philippians 4:7) and demonstrated many times in David’s life.

“God’s Peace brings us two things: power to face and live with our own badness and failings, and also contentment under ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.” – J. I. Packer