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The Word For Today

THE WORD FROM THE TOP (7)

The ninth commandment says, 'You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.' Why do we lie? For lots of reasons: to escape the consequences of our actions; to avoid paying our dues; to create a false image; to convince others we're something we're not. But it doesn't work; time and truth force deception to surface - literally!

In 1996 the body of the former ambassador to Switzerland was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, America's resting place for war heroes. The granite tombstone read, 'S1C [Seaman First Class] U.S. Merchant Marine.' But according to investigative reporters, Don Van Natta Jr. and Elaine Sciolino, in a 1997 issue of 'The New York Times', cemetery workers hauled the tombstone away and exhumed the casket. The reason? The man lied. For years he told others he'd served on the Coast Guard ship Horace Bushnell during World War II. He said the Germans torpedoed the ship and he'd been thrown overboard, sustaining a head injury. But the record shows that at the time he said he was serving in the Merchant Marine, he was actually attending Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. The Coast Guard had no record of his having served in the Merchant Marine, or having earned the rank of Seaman First Class. Somehow the lie wasn't discovered when the State Department investigated his background and he was made an ambassador. As a result, his remains were buried in Arlington Cemetery, and his tombstone engraved with a lie. But the truth came out, as it always does, and posterity now knows the facts.

Think about that, the next time you're tempted to spin a story that's less than truthful.

Soulfood : Is 4-7, Jn 5:31-47, Ps 5, Prov 27:13-16

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (6)

The eighth commandment says, 'You shall not steal.' Think how strange this commandment must have seemed to the Israelites. As a nomad society, thieving and looting had always been acceptable in their culture - even expected. But God said, 'That day is over. Stealing distorts your priorities. It makes things more important than people. It violates the rights of others by saying, "I'm more important than you." So from this day on I want you to be rigorously honest in all your dealings.'

But there's another kind of stealing, the kind some Christians think nothing of practising. The Bible says: 'Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me. But you ask, "How do we rob You?" In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. "Test Me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops...the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit...Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land"' (Malachi 3:8-12 NIV).

When you rob God, you end up robbing yourself. 'Robbing myself of what?' you ask: (1) God's blessing in your life. (2) His protection when times get tough. (3) The privilege of sharing His goodness with the people around you. Is it really worth it? Think about it!

Soulfood : Is 1-3, Jn 5:16-30, Ps 15, Prov 27:10-12

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (5)

The seventh commandment says, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But Jesus takes it one step further by saying, 'Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery...in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better...to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell' (Matthew 5:28-29 NIV).

You're not responsible for what you see, but you are responsible for what you continue to look at. Paul told Timothy, 'Flee...youthful lusts' (2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV); and James writes, 'After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death' (James 1:15 NIV). Immorality in practice or in thought can result in the death of your marriage, your self-respect, your influence, and your joy.

In The Door, theologian Mike Yaconelli writes: 'Author Susan Howatch made a fortune writing blockbuster novels...She had houses in several countries, drove a Porsche, and after divorcing had a number of "transient liaisons". But at age thirty, she said, "God seized me by the scruff of the neck and shook me until my teeth rattled." Now a Christian, she reflects: "I was promiscuous, but finally one morning I woke up and said, 'What am I trying to prove, and to whom?' I knew exactly what - that even though my marriage broke up I could still attract men. The fact that I could control men boosted my fractured ego." What was her conclusion? Promiscuity is a sign you're not aligned right with God or yourself.'

Soulfood : Ex 39-40, Jn 5:1-15, Ps 41, Prov 27:7-9

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