November 26 – 10 Commandments – Adultery

Read Exodus 20:14 and Galatians 5:19-22

“It’s the second glance that ties your hands.”

Casting Crowns

The following is an excerpt from the book EVERY MAN’S BATTLE: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time:

“After training my eyes to look away, I was sunbathing with my wife on a Florida beach. My wife, Brenda, called my attention to a bikini-clad woman approaching us. ‘Fred, look! You won’t believe this’. I turned to look but initially I couldn’t. My good habits that I had developed had become so strong that I had to force my eyes to look.”

The book’s authors (Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker) write that the first defense against lust is with your eyes and so we need to employ the strategy of bouncing your eyes. You can train your eyes to bounce away from individuals, images etc. If you bounce your eyes for six weeks, it becomes a habit and you can win this war.

Bounce away to prevent a slow, negative fade. Pursue sexual purity!

If you train your eyes to bounce and eliminate the visual stimuli and leave no food for the mental fantasies, the sexual attractions that can draw your mind to lust in the situations can be broken.

Eliminate your visual stimuli.

“But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself.”

Proverbs 6:32

As one of the 10 Commandments, adultery refers to sexual relations between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse and is mentioned 40 times in the Bible. The Bible is clear about the commitment of marriage and the purity that must be maintained in the midst of it. In the age of the smart phone, problems can develop when pornography is viewed.

Is this lust a slow fade into adultery? Is it a gateway to something much worse?

The Bible says that God shows mercy to those who repent and turnaround from their sins—including adultery. (Acts 3:19). To repent is to turn from sin leading to a change in life. 

In fact, the Bible talks about men and women who stopped committing adultery and later became God’s friends (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Is this an area that you struggle with or have before? Seek forgiveness from God and other necessary parties and commit to tighten up your life so you aren’t exposed to any gateway sins.

Tom Weckesser

Casting Crowns – Slow Fade

November 25 – 10 Commandments – Murder

Read Exodus 20:13

“You shall not murder!”

Wow, you can’t get any plainer than that!  Don’t murder, take someone’s else’s life, stab, jab, shoot…murder!

You might be thinking “I could never do that!”  That’s good, and I think it’s safe to say that not many of us struggle with identifying murder as wrong and have not committed it in the past.

However, do you commit murder without even knowing it?

We kill other people’s spirits, reputations, faith, all the time without even giving it a second thought.

As I am writing this, there is a news report on TV about false stories that were published about a man.  Now he has to try to prove they were false, if he wants to get his life back, while the person who started the rumors will go on to destroy other people’s lives!  They just destroyed a person’s reputation.  Isn’t THAT murder?  

What if it happened to a less wealthy person who couldn’t afford lawyers? What if they would have been so distraught that they committed suicide or decided “What is the use?” and turned to a life of drinking or other harmful behaviors?  

Isn’t THAT murder too?

Gossip hurts and sometimes kills. 

How about your words?  How about the way you talk to people or about them? Do you use your words to encourage others? Maybe a struggling single parent or a confused teen?  Or do you choose to criticize the way they look or speak or act?  What about the person who might be less well educated than you and uses “poor English”? Do you look down on them, tune them out, KILL their ideas?  Treat them like they don’t exist?

Thou shall not kill!

Thou shall not tramp on spirits, kill thoughts, destroy reputations, make fun of, ignore, etc.

It is so easy to listen to or join in on a gossip session, to join in with people who love to cut down others, to talk about someone else’s parenting skills or children.  But remember their claws can easily be turned on you when you are not around.  

I enjoy watching murder mystery shows on TV. It is fun playing detective and see if I can figure out “who did it” and why. I have found that almost always the true motives of the criminals were jealousy, greed, or fear that their other crimes will be exposed.  Plus, there is usually a person or several persons who could have stopped it.

So, when you find yourself in the middle of a gossip session or hearing of someone being slandered, take a step back, put on your detective hat and ask:

                1) Who is being murdered?

                2) What is the motive? Greed, jealousy or fear etc.

                3) What can I do to stop it?

“Do not go about spreading slander among your people.”

Leviticus 19:16

Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. 

THOU SHALL NOT KILL!

I pray the murderer isn’t you!

Pat Arnold

November 24 – 10 Commandments – Honor your Father and Mother

Read Exodus 20:12

There are but a few people that, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be even close to where I am today. There are a few people that I owe so much to because of what they have done for me throughout my life and the monumental impact they have made in my life.

Two of those people are my parents.

God blessed me beyond measure to grow up in a house with the two of them. The life lessons they have taught, the patience they exhibited, the tears they counseled through, the laughs that were shared. While no parent is perfect, Mom and Dad have fulfilled their duty as parents in an incredible way. To this day, I still cherish the times we are able to be around one another. Now, being able to see them hold their grandkids, brings a tear to my eye because their diligence and faithfulness continues to pay off.

Outside of a few rebellious teenage years, I never really had an issue with honoring Mom and Dad. They were in positions of authority in my life and I quickly found out that life was more enjoyable when I did what they said. While we never had a ball and chain, when Mom and Dad said something, we were better off obeying it.

However, my relationship with Mom and Dad changed on March 12, 2016 when I married a Florida native named Kelly. As strange as it was, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t “under” Mom and Dad anymore…Kelly and I were our own relationship.

Are there things that Kelly and I do that Mom and Dad wouldn’t? I’m sure.

Are there decisions Kelly and I have made that Mom and Dad would have handled differently? I’m betting so.

However, honoring Mom and Dad in this season means still loving and caring for them and continuing to respect them. While Kelly and I make our own decisions, we honor Mom and Dad by choosing to run things past them because we respect their opinion.

The elephant in the room is that not everyone has a good relationship with their parents. You may be reading this and you haven’t spoken to your parents in years and can’t bear to handle their nit-picking of every aspect of your life.

While I can’t speak directly to your situation, all I know is that there is no clause in Exodus 20:12. Regardless of your relationship with your parents, honoring them isn’t optional.

How do you do this?

How do you talk about your parents when they aren’t around? In what light do you paint them? Do you hold what they have said and done against them or have you forgiven them? Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting; it means not holding what they have said and done against them anymore. I know people who have done exactly this and they have certainly earned my respect for doing so.

In what way can you continue to honor your parents or in what way can you start today?

Jake Lawson

November 23 – 10 Commandments – Take a day off

Read Exodus 20:8-11

When I was younger, you could say I didn’t respect the ten commandments.

It wasn’t because I didn’t care, but because I didn’t understand them. I thought they were old rules for another time and didn’t pertain to me. 

Fast forward to the age of 23 and I learned the command to rest all too well. 

I was 2 years into being a fully surrendered follower of Jesus and in Bible school. I was one of the busiest people you would have ever come in contact with. Not only was I in an intense Bible school program but on my off-school days I worked, I was also a youth group leader, Bible study leader and had a very busy social life. I was someone who HAD to keep a calendar because I never said no.

One of the running jokes in Bible school was that I was going to become the church’s assistant because of all of the things I was able to keep together and still have time to sleep. I didn’t understand the meaning of rest and only did it when I had no other plans.

However, it came with a cost. 

A year after my Bible school ended, I was working in a full-time job and still trying to maintain a busy lifestyle. Through many conversations with mentors and friends that I trusted, I learned that this life with no rest cost me some valuable relationships as well as the truth that I wasn’t honoring the Lord with my time. 

Now, what I was doing was honoring and glorifying Jesus; however, it wasn’t His best for me and that, in turn, wasn’t a pleasing sacrifice. I learned that, through rest, it wasn’t only about “taking a break” but about reflecting in gratitude. It was about spending some time quiet before Him and just BEING rather than DOING.

I learned that, if I can’t just BE for one day, then I won’t be able to DO to the best of my ability the rest of the days. 

So much of our culture is “go go go”. We never stop, we never take a break, and we fill our time with things that keep our brains and bodies moving without a second thought. But have you ever stopped to think, “What happens if I just stay still? If I don’t go out or spend my time doing this or that, but rather what will happen if I stay home and just exist within my relationship with the Lord?!”

It’s a very “out there” notion, but a notion to consider all the same. 

As now, a mom of two, I can attest, it is a different season of rest. I walk with Jesus hand in hand as I take care of our newborn; that is my rest. I walk with Jesus hand-in-hand as I watch our four-year-old run around outside; that is my rest. I walk with Jesus hand-in-hand as I clean our house or fold the laundry; that is rest. 

My rest looks very different than it did before we had kids, but my heart’s motive is to just BE with Jesus and not DO! 

I pray that over you. 

Kelly Lawson

November 22 – 10 Commandments – The Lord’s name in vain

Read Exodus 20:7 and Philippians 2:9-11

There is an importance on names. When it comes to a family, the name carries a certain weight to it.

I don’t know where this trend started in our family, but my grandpa’s name is Ronald (I honestly don’t know his middle name). My Dad’s first and middle name is David Ronald with mine being Jacob David. I was under no pressure to continue doing this when I found out Kelly and I (mostly Kelly) were having a baby boy but I wanted to keep the train rolling so our son’s name is Matthew Jacob.

Now, I’m not sure our name holds much power. I would hope that, when you hear the names of anyone in our family, you are shocked and amazed and standing in awe.

On the other hand, Paul writes this in his letter to Philippi:

“Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place an gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The name of God is quite literally awe inspiring. Paul writes that, at the mention of it, every single knee will bow and tongue will confess that Jesus is God.

This means that every person who went to their grave doubting God, who spent their lives cursing the very existence of God and saying any number of heinous things about Him, will, at the mention of His name, drop to their knees and confess that He is who He said He was.

There is power in a name.

That is why God Himself told Moses that His name should be revered, not taken in vain because, as one commentary reads:

“…God’s name is powerful, when we take the name ‘Christian’ upon ourselves, we must do so with an understanding of all that it signifies.

If we profess to be Christians, but act, think and speak in a worldly or profane manner, we take His name in vain. When we misrepresent Christ, either intentionally or through ignorance of the Christian faith as proclaimed in Scripture, we take the Lord’s name in vain. When we say we love Him, but do not do what He commands, we take His name in vain and are possibly identifying ourselves to be among those to whom Christ will say, “I never knew you” in Matthew 7:21-23.

The name of the Lord is Holy, as He is Holy. The name of the Lord is a representation of His glory, His majesty, and His supreme deity. We are to esteem and honor His name as we revere and glorify God Himself.

To do any less is to take His name in vain.

Are you holding God’s name in high regard in your life? Are you representing God the best way that you can? Are you being who you claim to be?

All of this goes into the 3rd command in Leviticus 20 to “not take the Lord’s name in vain.”

Jake Lawson

November 21 – 10 Commandments – No idols

Read Exodus 20:4-6

The term “Idol” isn’t a word we use much. When I hear it, it brings to my mind the scenes from movies where drunken people were dancing around statues of animals doing all kinds of crazy things.

Growing up the term “teen idols” was bestowed on an actor named James Dean and the rock and roll singer, Elvis.  All the young men would slick their hair back, wear leather jackets, ride motorcycles, and drive their cars dangerously fast. They would throw caution to the wind and do ANYTHING, no matter how foolish to be “cool” just like their “idols”.

You might be thinking “I would never do that” but, I can name at least three things that can easily become your “idol,” take over your life, make you turn your back on God and His commandments, make you do foolish things that you normally wouldn’t do and they are right in your house.   

Three of the strongest idols everyone has in their homes are their wallets, cell phones, and bathroom mirrors.

How can that be? What’s in your wallets, the balances in bank accounts, and limits on credit cards have been known to ruin lives, families, and marriages,

People spend hours at work chasing the “almighty dollar” instead of seeking what the true Almighty wants them to do, often ignoring their precious God given families and friends.

The ping of the cell phone is like a “call to worship” and people will drop what they are doing, the conversations they are having, their children’s games, church services to “answer the call” of their idol!

And who can resist the lure of the bathroom mirror? Looking into the mirror to check your stray hair etc. is not the problem.  But when we let the mirror “tell us” that we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not handsome enough, too fat, too thin or we are anything other than what God designed us to be it becomes our master, our idol.  

When we can’t resist stopping to look every time we pass it and it possibly causes us to do foolish things, it is our idol.  

Is that the graven image you listen to, worship and seek?

When are you going to quit answering the call of the “idols” around you?  God says that He is a jealous God and nothing should come between you and Him. That includes anything that can distract you from Him.  

God WANTS you! 

He wants to spend quality time with you, not just a quick praying hands emoji when someone asks for prayer on Facebook or a “Thank God!” when you get a wanted answer to a prayer.

Is it time for you to take an assessment of your life and the things around you?  What or who are you letting influence you?  What has your undivided attention? What is your God?

Choose wisely!

Pat Arnold

November 20 – 10 Commandments – No other gods

Read Exodus 20:1-3 and Luke 14:26-27

For the better part of the past 10 years I have been able to get a completely different perspective on Sunday morning worship.  I have been blessed to be a part of the worship band at Grace Church where I serve alongside people who are pouring their heart out in worship before the Lord.  The view I have from the stage allows me to see so many people joyfully celebrating our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I have a side job that pulls me away from church on Sundays in the fall.  For 8 or more Sundays in autumn, I work on the sidelines for the home Cleveland Browns games.  We have to be there 6 to 8 hours prior to kick off, and it always amazes me how full of tailgaters the Muni Lot is well before we arrive.  Once game time rolls around and the gates open, fans flow in to the stadium dressed in their finest orange and brown ensembles.  By kickoff the stadium is electric.  Mind you I do NOT play but I still get goosebumps from the roar of the crowd.  Over 66,000 people pack that stadium.  There are several thousand more outside to just tailgate and take in the experience.  Fans can rattle off facts about where Baker Mayfield attended high school, name all of the quarterbacks that Myles Garrett has sacked in his young career, and tell you all about the heartache of being a Browns fan.

But honestly, do people have the same knowledge and enthusiasm for God?  The first commandment tells us to have “no other gods before him”.  I am guilty of thinking that means like a wooden or bronze statue. 

However, that can mean anything that we put before God Almighty. 

It could be your family, your kids’ activities, your job, your sports teams, your favorite bands or TV shows.  It could be social media.  Is your screen time greater than your time with the Lord (in worship, in the Word, your prayer life)?

I have so many friends and family members who claim to follow Jesus tell me they don’t have time to be in the Word or to spend an hour at church on Sunday.  But do they miss the game on Friday night, Saturday or Sunday afternoon?  They can tell me all about the game but not tell me what God loves.  What He hates.  Our gods are not golden calves or wooden statues.  Our gods are anything we are giving the majority of our attention, time and energy to. 

Jesus says in Luke 14:26-27:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  

He is saying that His followers must love Him more than they love their own family members.  Are you doing that?  What consumes your time, your thoughts and your energy?  Are you putting God first in your life or does He have to compete with someone/something else?

Nate Mills

November 19 – Prayer for my Kids – Hunger for the Word

Read Psalm 119:9-16

There is so much pressure on you as a parent. You are crafting the mind and heart of a child and teaching them how to live and make sense of this world.

At the time of this writing, I am 29 years old and I still am learning from my parents. Their wisdom is unparalleled. They are the people who crafted my mind and heart into what it is today and taught me how to make sense of this world. Now, I have a son of my own and I am teaching him how things work and why certain things happen. I want Mattie to always be able to come up to Dad and ask about anything.

However, I want him, one day, to value his Heavenly Father’s opinion more than his dad’s.

I want both Mattie and Emma to have a hunger for the Word of their heavenly Father. I hope they understand that, while I love them more than anything in this world, I am human and make mistakes. I hope that, when they encounter trials in their life, they have a desire to please and honor God above me.

“With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.”

I recently remember a stressful situation I was in. I was trying to calmly operate through it but I could feel my anxiety rising, almost to the boiling point. I was seconds away from bursting out in tears when I could almost hear the sound logic of my dad in my mind, “Settle down. Take a breath. Handle one thing at a time. What are we going to do?” It was seriously as if he was there with me.

I hope Mattie and Emma internalize Scripture to the point that it comes out when they encounter real life situations. I hope that they will hear the voice of their heavenly Father in their heart and they follow His guidance.

So much in this world is based off human logic and emotion and not that of God. I earnestly pray that Mattie and Emma aren’t dragged away into this way of thinking. I pray that they would see through the cloud and see the light of truth.

Pray that your kids have a hunger for God’s Word. In what way are you crafting their hearts and minds and teaching them how to make sense of this world? Are you pointing them to Christ? Do they see the authority of Scripture?

Talk about being for the next generation! What if the next generation understood the authority of Scripture and held it in high regard? What if they based their lives and decision making off of its content?

That’s a next generation that is bright.

Jake Lawson

November 18 – Prayer for my Kids – Peace

Read Philippians 4:8-9 and John 16:33

A King offered a prize to anyone who could paint the best picture of peace. Many participated. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a peaceful and calm lake. The lake was like a mirror and beautiful, towering mountains were all around it with blue sky and fluffy white clouds.

The other picture also had mountains but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky with lightning and rain. On the side of the mountain was a foaming waterfall.

When the King looked closer, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest…perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The second picture.

Do you know why?

“Because,” explained the King, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

Jesus Christ is our peace – the presence of God. It is not the absence of conflict. It is a Christian virtue that is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). It is the opposite of disorder or confusion (1 Cor 14:33). Teach this to the next generation with words and how you live.

Can you practice peace, maintain your composure and continue to think straight when you are in the middle of conflict or unrest?

This is an ongoing challenge but our kids need to see the peace of God in their parents. Peace is only possible because of what Jesus has done in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Tony Evans is a pastor who wrote a book titled RAISING KINGDOM KIDS and it offers practical how-to advice on providing spiritual training as instructed in Scripture.

He says that one way for the truths of the Bible to be conveyed in the home is for parents to talk about them and live them out each day, so kids can learn from both their actions and their words.

Talk about Jesus when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (See Deuteronomy 6:7)

If you have the love of Jesus down in your heart, you have peace. Recognize it and live it out. It transcends all understanding and will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:7). 

Tom Weckesser

November 17 – Prayer for my Kids – Don’t be anxious

Read 1 Peter 5:6-7

Peter knew what it was to be afraid of stuff. He knew that anxiety tore up a peaceful mind, a single-minded commitment to the Jesus He trusted. It’s what had led him to the fireside, watching and denying the Christ He’d been following for years. Anxiety and fear made Peter deny even knowing the One about to be crucified for his own sake. Then it led him to shame and regret, the worries of all that he should have said, all that he could have done.

I know it too. Anxiety can keep me from the life that Jesus came to give me. I don’t want that for my kids. But Peter’s letter gives me two specific ways I can pray against this for my kids. He said,

  1. Humble yourselves.
  2. Cast your anxieties on God.

Humility undergirds every part of this section of Peter’s letter to the Jesus-followers who had been scattered all over the known world. They were suffering because of the God they’d chosen to serve. It’s a humility that exists only among those who have entrusted themselves to the God who has worked out a way for actual, living hope. It’s humility as a verb — the choice to humble oneself because of the forever and real hope of an inheritance that includes every spiritual blessing and all the grace of God Almighty. This humility leads to the second directive.

Cast your anxieties on God.

Without humility, the ability to cast one’s cares is out of the question. If we don’t believe that God is bigger and more capable than we are to take care of the whole of our lives, then we’ll never be able to turn over our fears to Him, never be able to trust His concern for our worries and the things that we’re most afraid of letting go. 

So, I ask the God who created them to grant my kids the strength to humble themselves. Because to humble oneself is no small task. It means entrusting everything they care about, all the ways they worry, to Him, and believing these matter to Him, letting Him take care of all of their cares.

I beg Him for this strength in my kids because worries and cares can consume to the point that they start to believe they know better than God does, that they care more about these things than He could. I pray they know how deeply He cares and I wait and watch for His work in them, even as I cast this worry onto Him and trust.

In what way can you humble yourselves before God? What anxieties are you struggling with that you need to cast on God?


Bria Wasson