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Sermon 10-11-09
Exodus 20:15 -
Theft

Audio Sermon

Theft

"You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15)

The Eighth Commandment is all about our contentment, or the lack of it, in relation to what God has allowed in life.  Included are our finances, our bodies, possessions and family members or the lack of them. If we trust in the Lord, we are apt to be at peace with His decisions about what we have. If we don’t trust Him, we will likely bend the rules to get our “due.”

In a “Signs of the Times” article, dated October, 1988 (pages 22-23), it is reported that Zig Ziglar told of “a thief, a man named Emmanuel Nenger.” They reported the year as 1887:

The scene was a small neighborhood grocery store. Mr. Nenger was buying some turnip greens. He gave the clerk a $20 bill. As the clerk began to put the money in the cash drawer to give Mr. Nenger his change, she noticed some of the ink from the $20 bill was coming off on her fingers which were damp from the turnip greens. She looked at Mr. Nenger, a man she had known for years. She looked at the smudged bill. This man was a trusted friend she had known all her life; he could not be a counterfeiter. She gave Mr. Nenger his change and he left the store. But $20 was a lot of money in 1887, and eventually the clerk called the police. They verified the bill as counterfeit and got a search warrant to look through Mr. Nenger's home. In the attic they found where he was reproducing money, one bill at a time. He was a master artist and painted $20 bills with brushes and paint! In the attic they also found three portraits Nenger had painted. They seized them and eventually sold them at auction for $16,000 (in 1887 currency) or a little more than $5,000 per painting. The irony is that it took Nenger almost as long to paint a $20 bill as it did for him to paint a $5,000 portrait! It's true that Emanuel Nenger was a thief, but the person from whom he stole the most was himself.

Every one of us has stolen something from ourselves. Alcohol or other drugs will steal our brain cells. Adultery, a violation of the Seventh Commandment, is a theft that can bring disease to our own bodies, and to loved ones as well. Giving in to temptation as Mr. Nenger did will steal our very lives. Our freedom will be gone.

And, oh yes, that which is stolen may seem to be “sweet” for a time. As the author of Proverbs observed, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But the author does not stop there. He continues, “But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell” (Proverbs 9:17-18). Theft of one kind or another might seem “sweet” for a time, but it can take us to hell on earth, and worse, to a hell that never ends.

Psalm 50 contains words that are known by many: “Every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine” (Psalm 50:10-12).

History has been full of farmers and ranchers who think, “This land is mine; these crops, the cattle; it’s all mine!” But it’s not. The world and everything in it belongs to the Lord God, Maker of heaven and of earth. The money in your pocket, your bank account; the house or other abode you live in; whatever asset you might think you have – it belongs to the Lord.

And the importance of it is this – when you steal from somebody, whether it’s cheating on taxes, taking something “extra” from your employer or committing armed robbery, it’s more than just taking from other people. It’s God’s money - you’re stealing from Him! And He is not pleased when you steal from Almighty God! He entrusted those assets to others for His purposes in their lives. When you take from them unlawfully, you have robbed God.

Your very life is not your own. The physical bodies of your parents were the vehicle for entry into this world, but it is God who genetically formed you in them, and He is your Creator. David, the shepherd boy who became a king, observed about God in relation to his own life, “You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb; I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14). Whatever you may secretly like or dislike about yourself, note that God could have made you into a mouse, a fruit fly or a snail. You have been carefully chosen to be part of the dominant race of this planet, and you also have the opportunity to become, as Scripture puts it, “a new creation” in Christ. Paul, the man who was wonderfully changed by Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The Lord anticipates that you will live for Him, not only by trusting in the Lord, but also by promoting His work in this world. In the Book of Malachi, God said, through the prophet: “You are robbing Me.” And then the question is asked through the prophet, “How have we robbed You?” And He answers, “In your tithes and contributions… Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house.” And He continues, “Put Me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil” (Malachi 3:8-11).

There are glimpses in both the Old and New Testaments, revealing that EVERYONE has violated our Scripture for today, which is the “Eighth Commandment.” It is very clear: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Even if we have merely THOUGHT about taking something that's not ours, we are a thief in the sight of God and we need redemption. We can look into ourselves or consider other people. Either way it is observed that everyone needs to be made right in the sight of a holy God.

But how do we do it? Even though authors of fiction love to write about going backward and forward in time, it doesn’t happen. Time only goes in one direction and we are headed for the end of life, the end of time. The beginning was long ago. We may have only this moment to decide the outcome of our lives – forever.

Time belongs to God. He carefully picked a moment for you and I to come into this world, He has a set time for us to be here, and He reasonably that this time is for HIS purposes. Does He want us to rest? Yes, He does, but He also has a blueprint, an intention, an outcome for us that is of HIS choosing. When I was a child, I was what you might call a “sickly” person. I spent years in wheelchairs and hospital beds. We didn’t have television and so I read books. I still am very much a reader and it looks like I'll be one all of my life. I read serious literature, including not only the Bible and books about the Bible, but I also like drama – fiction – novels, whatever you call it. Somehow, the escape into a good book is restful and I have no doubt that God knows everything I do. He wants me to prepare Bible studies and sermons, and as to my reading just for fun, it is a lesser consideration. Otherwise, I would be stealing from the Lord. Let's not be like Mr. Nenger, stealing from himself, from others and from our King.  You and I belong to God.

Father, we have stolen from You and we confess our sins right now. Please forgive us and heal us, and help us to walk in Your ways. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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