“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).
Exalting the name of God has been a part of God’s relationship with man since the beginning of time; thus, He has always prohibited the taking of His name in “vain”—that is, using it in an empty, meaningless, unprofitable, profane, irreverent way.
It seems appropriate that he mentions it specifically here in the third commandment for His people under the Law of Moses. A person could render God’s name as vain by using it as profanity or carelessly and disrespectfully, by being a hypocrite in regard to keeping His word, by breaking a commitment or a vow to Him, or by using His name as a part of an oath. A fifth way was to swear in God’s name that something was true when it was a lie.
Jesus makes this commandment a part of His Law in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 by telling His followers “do not swear at all.”
In view of the loose, irreverent language so commonplace in our world, we as Christians need to be reminded that it is sinful to be caught up in such a practice. Our every word and action are to show our deepest respect for God and to bring honor and glory to His name.
Fourth in a series on keeping our eye on the goal (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)
“While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not see are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Establishing a mindset and focus for the Corinthians, Paul brings to a close his encouragement for endurance in the faith for every child of God in every generation and in every place, not just for those in Corinth.
It is with a sharp and obvious contrast that Paul brings those things that are important into focus: the things that are seen are the materialistic, temporary things of the earth and the things that are not seen are those beyond this life—those things that last for eternity.
His emphasis is on the things that are eternal because that is the part of our future that will have the most meaning—it will never end. Successfully focusing now will result in our receiving “the crown of life.” That will make it all worthwhile as Paul points out in this series of verses.
Third in a series on keeping our eye on the goal (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Having been accused of being a deceitful worker, the Apostle Paul and those laboring with him have maintained constancy in their work and in their faith.
They are troubled on every side; yet they do not become discouraged in their mission as messengers of Jesus Christ—they have the hope of the resurrection and they know the encouragement the church will receive because of their faithfulness.
In this verse, Paul points to the motivating factor in the life of every Christian as a reason for enduring whatever life throws in our pathway: the assurance of eternal life.
The present is so short in comparison to the vastness of eternity. So, we endure patiently the hurts and difficulties of this life, realizing that what awaits the faithful child of God far outweighs whatever happens here.
Second in a series on keeping our eye on the goal (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
What a powerful message the Apostle Paul sends to a people beset on many sides by the problems of life. Mentioning his own troubles, he sends the Corinthians encouragement about how he intends to win the Christian race and how they can, too.
Win by being renewed day by day, the apostle says. He is talking about a refreshing of one’s inner self—that is, the spirit. When we are down and need a boost, help is available.
Times do come in our lives when we need refreshing. Like Paul, we can always be refreshed by renewing our knowledge of a loving Savior, by developing a positive attitude toward our being allowed to be a Christian, and by developing an unwavering faith—one that will not diminish in the face of life’s adversities.
First in a series on keeping our eye on the goal (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)
“For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
Having already declared that his life is not his own, the Apostle Paul has no regrets that he has sacrificed his life in sharing the gospel and that he has endured many difficulties in doing so. It is all for the sake of those who came to Jesus.
In sharing the grace of God through obedient faith in Jesus, Paul has made it possible for many to abound in their thankfulness to God for all of the spiritual blessings they have received. Such thanksgiving on the part of believers brings glory to God.
Attitude is the key message coming from this great example the apostle sets for us. May our attitude be as positive and our thanksgiving as abounding as we contemplate the abundant spiritual blessings we have as Christians.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
“nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Paul seems to be almost at a loss for words as he pours forth this appeal for consecration and dedication of true believers. He says that, in view of God’s priceless love for us in providing for our eternal spiritual welfare, who could come along or what could possibly happen that would separate us from the love of Christ?
As we read Paul’s profound message and feel his emotional appeal, we are made to wonder the same thing: who could tear us away from Jesus Christ and from God, thus leading us into an eternity of pain and anguish?
Divinity has done everything possible to clear the way for us to make an abundant entrance into heaven. Surely, we recognize that fact, and surely, we appreciate the fact that we will not be required to suffer anguish in all of eternity because of God’s profound love for us and because of Jesus’ willingness to suffer in our place.
“The ox knows its owner
“And the donkey its master’s crib;
“But Israel does not know,
“My people do not consider” (Isaiah 1:3).
To say that God is upset with Israel at this point is an understatement. In spite of God’s undying love for her, in spite of all His blessings upon her, in spite of His pleading for her devotion, Israel has allowed herself to go into the depths of corruption and rejection of God—as well, she has demonstrated a total lack of gratitude for what God has done for her.
What we see in Isaiah 1 is a description of a people who are suffering from a malady called “Failure to Thrive,” meaning they have physical life in them, but they are not living spiritually—they have lost their enthusiasm for God and their dedication to His service.
We can be a people who “Fail to Thrive” today if we don’t keep a “watch” on our attitudes as well as our actions. Thriving for God means He comes first in our lives—first in our hearts, first in our time commitments, first in our priorities.
When we allow affairs of life to distract us, to lead us away from placing God first in our lives, and to keep us from being deeply grateful for the unthinkable gift of salvation, we are suffering from a “Failure to Thrive.”
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Having just presented a rousing declaration of the benefits of being in Christ Jesus, the Apostle Paul begins the climax to his wonderful message with these two rhetorical questions. He asks the Romans for their response to this unprecedented spiritual gift.
The apostle has set forth the mystery of God’s love for all Christians and the great and precious privileges that Jesus brought through His life and death; now he wants the Romans to be introspective and to allow the power of this information to penetrate their hearts, thus strengthening their faith.
How powerfully this message comes through to us. The answer to the first question is “nothing,” and the answer to the second is “no one.” No words will do in trying to explain what God has done for us by the gift of His Son and our salvation. And, no one has any real power over us if we are with God.
“O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise” (Psalm 51:15).
For some time, David’s lips have been closed because of his blood-guiltiness—that is, he has not been able to come before God freely and “own” the sin he committed as a result of his orchestrating the murder of Uriah.
Having now come to a full realization of his guilt, he is finally able to approach God in prayer, begging Him to extend His grace and give him the opportunity for full repentance and confession. Only then does David feel he can be free to use his mouth in praise and honor of God.
Like David, we as God’s children sometimes try to bury our sins in the burrows of our minds, thinking they are out of sight, out of mind; but realizing deep down they need to be confessed and made right with God.
The wonderful benefit of being with Jesus is that, based upon our heart-felt repentance and confession, God stands ready and willing to forgive us. It takes only the courage to open our hearts and come to Him in full trust.
“But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
“My steps had nearly slipped.
“For I was envious of the boastful,
“When I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3).
In a period of self-reflection, the writer, Asaph, has just declared his conviction that he realizes God is good. Before that realization, he went through a period of doubt, almost giving up his faith.
The reason for his doubting was his observation that the wicked prospered, causing him to question God’s goodness and righteousness for allowing that to happen. He was as one on the edge of a cliff, almost falling over.
How many have been right there with Asaph, allowing some hurt or disappointment in life to cause doubts to arise and thinking that if God really cared He would bless the righteous and punish the wicked?
To think in such a way not only shows a materialistic way of thinking but a serious doubt of God—it shows a lack of trust in Him to allow situations to work out in a way that will be the best spiritually in the long run.