Tag Archives: true worship

Do You Worship Idols?

Isaiah 44

Are wood and molded metal the only kinds of idols out there? I don’t know anyone who has a statue they worship in their home. But I know many people (me included at times) who have fashioned gods to our own liking, and worship them.

Some worship self, others nature, the stars and moon. Some worship ancestors, some make gods out of relationship, careers, pubic figures, even their automobiles! There are those who twist the truth about Jesus to be loving without being holy, to be forgiving without being the righteous Judge, to being one of many ways to the Father, and accepting of all people everywhere without the need for repentance.

Most people would say they don’t worship idols. But their actions and priorities say something quite different. I know God is speaking through Isaiah about the wooden statues people were worshiping at that time. But I believe Scripture always has something to say to us as well whenever we read it.

I like how the NLT says so clearly what God would say to those who put anything or anyone above our devotion to Him:

How foolish are those who manufacture idols. These prized objects are really worthless. (vs 9)

Who but a fool would make his own god – an idol that cannot help him one bit! (vs 10)

Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. (vs 18)

The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie? (vs 20)

I pray none of those verses describe you. But I think God would have us all do an idol-check in our hearts. Hear God say repeatedly:

I am the Lord and there is no other. (vs 6b)

I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right. vs 19)

Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. (vs 22)

I hope you’ll read this chapter in God’s Word and see the spiritual parallel that is there. Maybe it’s time we quit telling ourselves that God is just one of many, that His Word is outdated, not necessarily true for everyone. Maybe it’s time that we truly submitted to the Creator God because…

What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. vs 9a)

It’s Not Acceptable

Leviticus 10

It’s hard to read about the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons who dared to worship God by their own rules. But it serves as a reminder how seriously God takes worship. We must worship Him in spirit and in truth. We must worship Him with clean hands and hearts.

Sin cannot worship God. And we cannot hope to worship God while sin is in our hearts, I don’t care if you raise your hands and work up a sweat dancing in the aisles. That is not a sign of true worship. Oh, the person caught up in the moment may be truly worshiping that way, but only if they have dealt with their sin first and are worshiping in spirit AND truth. The simple act of looking like a worshiper, doesn’t make one a worshiper.

After Nadab and Abihu were killed, the people worshiped God flat on their faces. I’m pretty sure they weren’t told to have a smile on their faces. And I doubt they were having a good time.

There are many examples of what worship can look like in Scripture from dancing in the streets to tearing clothes and shedding sorrowful tears. But the one thing all of these examples of worship have in common, the one thing that expresses true worship, is hearts surrendered to God, washed clean, pure, holy, and ready to worship.

Worship any other way is worship by someone else’s rules. It’s just not acceptable.

I hope you plan on going to church tomorrow to worship your Savior with fellow believers. But lets’ stop trying to produce an emotional experience in worship. Let’s be sure we all are worshiping from hearts cleansed by the blood of the Lamb according to God’s rules.

(Job 37-42) Blessed Be The Name of the LORD

So after God spoke and Job repented, God blessed Job with even more material blessings than he’d had before the trouble began. Doesn’t that seem to support the prosperity gospel so appealing to so many theses days? If you say the right thing, manufacture the right faith, BOOM – you win the lottery. Makes me want to get my checkbook out and write a big one to Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Peter Popoff, Kenneth Hagin, and the like. Let that “seed money” do its thing.

I’ve sat here for quite a while this morning, trying to make sense of this because I don’t believe the property gospel is Biblical. I can think of many examples of believers who struggle physically and financially, yet consider themselves blessed. I believe the above mentioned public figures are charlatans. But the health and wealth gospel seems to be here in Job’s life. I went to the internet and read things from sources I trust, and even from sources I consider questionable to try to make sense of this passage.

Then I prayed.

Yeah, I know. I got that backwards, didn’t I?

God seemed to point me back to chapter one. And I was reminded that the book of Job is not primarily about suffering or loss, or even restoration. It’s about worship. Remember Satan challenged God on the idea that Job worshiped God because his life was easy. Satan’s premises was that if things turned for the worst in Job’s life, he would stop worshiping God.

The book of Job is full of imagery. We see pictures of nature, of creation, God’s supremacy, and His intelligence which is far above our own. We hear Job question, and can almost feel his agony. But what we don’t see is Job turning his back on God.

In fact, in the end, Job confesses his sin and falls on his face before the one true God as he realizes God’s ways are far above our own, and that through it all, God can be trusted.

However, as demonstrated in the book of Job, God delights in blessing his obedient children. Job once again enjoyed a materially blessed life. He had other children to fill his household. His physical problems were behind him. But here is what I think God pointed out to me today: Job wasn’t blessed because of things. He was blessed by his relationship with God. Remember what he’d said from the beginning?

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (1:21)

If we make the book of Job about material blessings, we miss the point. The question asked and answered in these chapters is: is God worthy of praise and worship no matter the circumstances of life?

The answer is a resounding YES! Read what God says about Himself as He asks Job those probing questions. Is He worthy?

Paul told the church in Philippi (4:11-13)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

That’s the message from Job’s life. Is it your experience as well, or are you waiting until your ship comes in before you truly worship God?

I pray we will all bow before our Creator God who is holy and righteous and does all things well. I pray that no matter what our struggles or disappointments or challenges or devastating circumstances, we will with Job continue to say:

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Not because we think saying that will get us out of our trouble or move us to Easy Street. May we say it believing it’s true because:

The NAME of the LORD is worthy.

Turn Around (Ezekiel 8)

I think every time I read Ezekiel’s vision I gasp when the people turn their backs on the Temple and bow toward their pretend gods in the east. That picture of blatant rejection of God shocks me every time.

Yet, even with this defiant act of disobedience, these were still citizens of God’s chosen people, Jews, Israelites. They considered themselves God’s favored nation even when they worshiped other gods. It blows my mind.

Today, however, God is asking me to do a gut check. Here are some questions I feel Him ask of me today:

Do I call myself a Christian, but refuse to repent of a sin?

Do I attend church on Sunday, yet live a lifestyle no different than my neighbor who has no use for church?

Do I read my Bible out of duty instead of letting it change me?

Do I read my Bible at all?

Do I live my life focused on myself, my feelings, my needs, my rights, my dreams, yet tell people I follow Jesus?

Do I know what is right according to Scripture, yet compromise the Truth?

Do I go to church expecting an experience, or do I go humbly, trembling at the seriousness of approaching a Holy God as He demands?

Oh, there are a lot of ways I can turn my back on the temple, so to speak. And I should be as appalled with myself as I am with those twenty-five people in Ezekiel 8 when I do. Today I am asking God to reveal any shift, no matter how small, from my worshiping Him in total Truth. I don’t want any part of me turning away from Him.

In fact, if God reveals the slightest movement, I want Him to convict me. I want to be sensitive to Him, and obedient. If I am facing the wrong way, I want to turn around and bow down to the one and only God according to Scripture.

Where are you facing right now? Is it time you turned around?

January 14; Worthy

Job 32-34

Chapter 32 starts out by saying Job’s three friends are done with him because he continues to persist in being “righteous in his own eyes.” This gave the younger man, Elihu, the opportunity to put in his two cents. But Elihu is really no different than the other three, or even Job. There is a kernel of truth in what he has to say.¬†But, overall he doesn’t understand any better than the rest.

The thing is, Job did hold on to his own righteousness. He continued to say he didn’t deserve what was happening. But remember, if Job was righteous in his own eyes, he was also righteous in God’s. “Righteousness” has nothing to do with what happened to Job.

The best of us, the nicest, most generous of us, those whose morality is without question, are owed nothing of God. What all the men we read about here in the book of Job, and what many of us fail to realize is that God is not bound to circumstances. He is above it all.

If we connect our worship of God to our comfort, or our trials, we are not worshiping God. God identified Himself in the Old Testament as “I AM.” Jesus did the same in the New Testament. “I AM,” not “I WILL.”

I do appreciate what Elihu says in chapter 33. The Great I Am. speaks. He pleads. He nudges. He whispers. He shouts. He doesn’t stop trying to get our attention. I love that so much. God won’t stop revealing Himself to people while we still have breath.

God wants me to worship HIM. He wants you to worship HIM. Not for what he does. Lay that aside. He is worthy of our worship because HE IS.

 

I Kings 9-12; Golden Calves in 2017

Jeroboam could have been a great king, on the order of King David. (11:38-39) God was giving this son of a slave the kingdom, and would have blessed him… IF.

Jeroboam did become king over ten Jewish tribes. And even though God had handed him the throne and promised to bless him, Jeroboam seems to have doubted God could or would pull through.

Jerusalem was located in a part of the nation still ruled by Solomon’s son, the rightful heir. Now it was time for the people to go to Jerusalem for the feasts God had commanded them to celebrate. Jeroboam was afraid if his people went back to Jerusalem to worship, they would switch their allegiance to King Rehoboam.

So the first thing Jeroboam did as king was to make two gold calves, place them in convenient spots for the people, and declare that the statues were their gods to be worshiped. “Why go all the way to Jerusalem when you can worship in your own back yards? Does it really matter who you worship so long as your worship is sincere?”

Well, for one, God commanded the people to worship in Jerusalem. Two, gold calves never have and never will hear your prayers. And thirdly, the worship of anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a sin.

Now here’s what makes me sad about this story: the people went along with Jeroboam’s plan. They worshiped the idols on the same day, in the same manner God had instituted for His people. Their’s looked like the worship services going on in Jerusalem. But their worship was meaningless. And Jeroboam’s shortcut, and the people’s acceptance made God really mad.

Is this a picture of the church in 2017? The name “Christian” is worn by many who go to a service every Sunday morning. They sing songs and hymns, hear a lecture based on a Bible verse, get a pat on the back, and forget it all until the next Sunday. ¬†Folks, there is no shortcut to God.

Here’s the Truth: Sin is keeping you from God. Sin: anything you think, do, or say that doesn’t please Him, stands between you and a Holy God who demands holiness of us.

Sin and God cannot exist together. It’s like trying to unite two magnets by their north poles. Ain’t gonna happen.

I can say with confidence if you attend a fellowship that doesn’t talk about sin, that doesn’t call sin sin, and doesn’t preach forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, you are looking at a gold calf. Get. Out. Now.

True worship of God was never designed for your convenience, or for your delicate sense of self. Worship is about God, and there are no shortcuts to worship that He recognizes, no shortcuts that He will bless.

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I am back home after Hurricane Irma, and the extent of the damage to my property is a smashed mailbox. I don’t know why God spared me again. I am humbled and grateful, as I realize how many people lost everything, including loved ones. Please continue to pray for those effected by Harvey and Irma, and pray for our country that we might come together, and that Jesus will be glorified.