Thursday, March 3, 2016

the ten: reject illusory idols (part 4)

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:2-4)

This world has idols. It is filled to the brim with false gods. Not only do counterfeit, man-made deities distract people away from the one, true living God... but mankind has fallen prey to an insatiable lust for materialism, sexual indulgence and personal power. We have mass-produced images of our lusts and false gods onto every form of medium available to us - from satellites, cables, the Internet, and television airways... to magazines, billboards, clothing and junk mail. We are creatures with a predictably short attention span who, if left to our own reasoning, will surf from one form of visual or emotional kind of sensationalism to the next.

In this day and age, people (Christians included) are more concerned about appearing politically correct and following the crowd rather than actually doing what is truly correct and following Jehovah God Almighty. In an effort to be accepted, we offer homage and subtle forms of honor to all gods and deity. Rather than standing firm in the name of the one true God and declining/denouncing the validity of all other impostors, many of us are overwhelmed by peer pressure and "bow down" in fear. We forget our faith and remain silent, all the while appearing to be one who accepts what the world embraces rather than defend what we know to be biblically true.

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)

Furthermore, most people (Christians included) don't even flinch when exposed to a vulgar image or boisterous personality. Instead, we embrace them and welcome them into our homes. Why? Because these images, these lusts, these idols have been allowed access to our lives - and we have grown to like them. Not only have we become intimately familiar with such stimuli, but our children have been captivated as well. They are accustom to it. They expect it. Consider what you have casually allowed to infiltrate your home and then read this passage:

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. (2 John 1:7-11)

It is not uncommon to hear our children recite chapters of memorized dialog from movies, television shows, and advertising jingles. Sports scores, financial insights and political banter are all the rage and commonplace in our daily conversations. Yet, very few individuals can easily recall the life-giving words of our Creator with equal enthusiasm. It is not our priority. It is not sexy or intriguing. This concerns me and should concern you too. For more of us know about the happenings of today's sinful celebrities and politicians than we do Nehemiah, Job, John the Baptist, Peter. We could share volumes of meaningless information about James Bond or Jason Bourne than we could the heroism of Joseph or Caleb.

It is clear that in this worldly society, the focus in not on God. We enjoy our idols. We are fixated on their illusory appeal and their false security. We have become compulsively dependent to seek visual engagement rather than filter our spiritual involvement. We are addicts... consumed with celebrity (the celebration of fame and famous persons), lechery (excessive indulgence to sexual activity or content; lewdness) and greed (excessive desire for acquiring or possessing more than what one needs or can reasonably consume; gluttonous).

This is why God gave us commandment #2 of "the ten". He wanted to remind us that when we show an over-regard to anything other than Him... when we are distracted by any form of man-made authority, celebrity, beauty, or might with a blind admiration, adoration, or devotion... we have idolized a false god.

Do not misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with being a sports fan. There is nothing wrong with godly beauty. There is nothing wrong with success in business, wealth management, or the following of politics. But any one of these things is capable of becoming an idol when they overshadow our attention to what is holy and Who should remain first in our lives. When such things distract us away from seeking God's Kingdom first, from knowing His plan intimately, from following His way unreservedly... then these things become more than "things" to us. When we stop thanking our Redeemer for the many blessings and activities He has given us to enjoy and instead look to those "things" in search of sensory or emotional fulfillment, we will always come up short.

God never intended for us to live an empty life. He wants us to enjoy all that He has provided for us... but He wants us to do it responsibly and with Him in mind first. God is jealous to keep our attention because He knows it is best for our edification and growth. We were not created to be "captains of our own souls" and live the way we feel like living from one moment to the next. No, we were made for His glory. We are to delight in His paths. God is not a God that wants to spoil us of fun... God loves fun! He made it! He wants to restore our souls and give us enjoyment. He wants us to LIVE life in complete happiness. Read these words and then I dare you to tell me that God doesn't want you to enjoy life in His presence....

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23)

We have so much to thank our Savior for. We have received so many blessings - all provided by the hand of our loving Creator... all for the sake to help us prosper as we seek Him first in our lives. Let us not confuse the things around us and the pleasures we are granted with the glory of the God of the universe. Let us remember that nothing should be greater to us than Him. For He holds our future in the palm of his hand. He is the reason our hearts should beat and our minds should contemplate. No temporary idol can give us the fulfillment or eternal hope that our Lord promises.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Ladies, anything (and anyone) can turn into an idol, a graven image, a false god. Anything.

Scripture tells us that idols will lead us astray and away from God. Once their initial thrill has subsided, once their appeal begins to flicker - one of two things will occur... we will seek another substitute god to take over, or we will be left disappointed, drained and empty. Consider these questions: On average, where is your attention directed? Where is your time spent? If your answers do not station God first, then there is a problem. You have been deceived. Or worse, you have rejected your Master.

We must take great care to guard our hearts from pursuing worldly pleasures and false deity at all cost. Our God wants the best for us - like a parent wants the best for their children. He is jealous of our welfare - just as a mother is jealous for her child's health and future. God knows our life in total and understands how the choices we make will effect the generations that follow us. He understands that the seemingly glittery, seductive world that arbitrarily draws our spirits away from Him will ultimately betray us and leave us heavily burdened. This important commandment is to help us avoid such pitfalls and keep our focus on what is important... HIM! Let's be mindful to stop chasing after hollow intoxications and empty illusions. Let us stop giving Satan and his demons clearance to seduce us with their many forms of counterfeit gratification. That is not the company we should keep.

No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20-21)

Satan's house is a house of mirrors and limited to this dying world. But God's house is a kingdom of glory and eternal abundance. Where do you think it is healthiest to focus your attention... really?

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 1:1-3; 7 & 2 John 2:15-17)

I challenge each DW to take an inventory of the many blessings you have and give credit back to the ONE who provides for us. Furthermore, I challenge you to stop and think about what you have allowed access into your lives - things that are clearly unholy and/or distracting you away from your Redeemer. Ladies, let us live in thanksgiving - worshipping the one true God, Maker of Heaven and Earth - rather than be led astray by the deceitful thieves of this world. Our God is the only one worthy of praise! Let's continue to seek Him first!



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

1 comment:

  1. Victoria, taking on the 10 commandments is an huge risk. People don't want to hear it, but you are doing an awesome job! And it is the truth. Politics, music (in the days when my head would support long hair) and success used to be my idols. They had to be cast out in my life at different stages. Great Job Sis!