The heart seeks life.

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2“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

3“You must not have any other god but me.

4“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind…

Exodus 20:2-4

The heart of humanity is on a search for life. When the affections of our heart are not shaped by the Presence and worth of God, they will latch onto something else as a source of life, meaning, hope, and happiness. Our heart has been called an idol factory. So true!

The testimony of Scripture shows humanity over and over intensely preoccupied with constructing idols out of people, ourselves, and the stuff of earth. The Scripture show us that even in the pursuit of “god” we are capable of constructing whole systems of belief that obscure the Truth and abandon grace.

God reveals Himself. God rescues. God liberates. He is the Lord our God. In these Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) God casts a vision of what knowing Him creates in the heart of those who cherish Him. Knowing Him creates a will to pursue Him and to forsake idols. I rejoice in Jesus Christ. For He has come from the Father full of grace and truth. He says,

24“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

25“And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son.  John 5:24-26

What are you willing to walk away from?

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32Remember Lot’s wife. 33Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.   Luke 17:32-33

Yes that’s right. Jesus told His disciples to remember Lot’s wife!

In your journey with Jesus, what’s holding you back from fully yielding your life to Him? What has a grip on you? That’s what idolatry does. It holds us back from what Jesus would by promising security, respect, and likability. God’s promise for Lot and his family lay before them not behind them. But Lot’s wife looked back longingly. Her heart was back there…; rather than valuing the treasure of her life hidden in God’s rescue… she looked back  (Genesis 19).

The Lord has brought these words to mind many times in the last five years. Perhaps I’ve collected more that shimmers and shines with false promise. Oh Lord have mercy! Jesus is my life!

What are you not willing to walk away from with Jesus? What competes for your allegiance to Jesus?

As Jesus leads you into His way, His love, His Gospel mission of grace, what are you willing to walk away from?
Count the cost. Jesus is worth it!

This week basketball fans have marvelled at Larry Sanders’ “walk away from the NBA.”

No Room for Idols

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9For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.  1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

 

Statues are easy. I remember the day my dad threw out an idol. He rocked the boat! It created waves. Was it art or was it an idol?

 

What lodge deep in my heart was the idea that our affection for Jesus did not leave room for idols. But you know statues are easy.

 

What’s not as obvious is how my heart turns many, many, many of God’s good gifts into idols. They take the place of Jesus in my heart. I take hold of their false promise of peace, of joy, of security. Whether its achievement, money, health, children, friends, pleasure, these become idols in my heart when they become ultimate. They cannot bear the weight of my soul. Nor can my soul bear their weight. I will be crushed by them. Like the tragic hoarder in Connecticut I might not ever see the consequence of my misplaced affection until its too late.

 

But here is the grace of God to us in Christ: His grace awakens us to the Living God and we now keep turning from idols to serve the living and true God. Statues are easy for us to see and say “ah, a false view of God.” But please, don’t become smaug, you may be sitting on your idol.

 

So look with Jesus Christ our Lord at your heart. With Him there is no room for idols. Its not time to move furniture around, its time to clean house. Some things must go and some things must be put back in their proper place under Jesus. Then the report will go out about us, “They turned from their idols to serve Jesus, the living God.”

Idolatry and the Desire of Evil

6Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 1 Corinthians 10:6-11

Take note of desire; it would rule us.

As a master, desire compels the idolization of that which is not true and not God.

It promises that our experience will make us free, happy, satisfied, and totally in control.

Yet, our knowledge of the good and the evil has not delivered the liberty promised.

Indulgence of our desires contrary to the ways of God,

presumption upon the grace of God, and

grumbling against God are symptoms of our slavery to desire.

Idolatry is no friend to the soul.

Yet, we know it well; it’s familiar; and we apologize for its failure, rationalizing its occupancy in our affections.

Lust for money, sex, and power

unchecked, will crush our souls.