“Idols of the Heart” February 4

 

Idols of the Heart

Idols of the Heart: We are repeatedly warned, even in the New Testament, to avoid, in fact flee from, idolatry. But giant statues aren’t the only kind of idols. What “idols of the heart” do we worship that can hinder our relationships with God and with others?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 19 & 20
Psalm 18.37-45
Proverbs 6.20-25
Matthew 22.23-46

 

Idols of the Heart

 

Exodus 19 & 20

The Ten Commandments

 

ten commandmentsIn chapter 19 God displays His power and majesty so that the people will have no doubt that He is God and that Moses is His representative. The need for them to be outwardly clean was a visual representation of the inward cleanliness with which they were to approach a Holy God.

Then in chapter 20 God gives the Ten Commandments to the people Himself. Later He will write them on stone tablets.

The first command is “Have no other gods before me” (20.3). This, of course, was a prohibition against worshiping false gods of any kind. It was spoken to people in a culture where most nations believed in and worshiped many gods, polytheism.

The second was to “Make no images, no likenesses of anything in heaven or on earth” (20.4). They were not to make an image of anything that was in heaven (angels, God Himself, or people who had gone to heaven) or on earth (man, woman, animals, or anything else). This command did not forbid artistic expression, but forbids the use of these items as part of our worship.

 

Idols of the Heart

 

We must also guard against idols of the heart: things that are more important to us than God.

Ezekiel 14 says, “these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity” (v. 3).

Almost anything can become an idol—success, money, power, prestige, having a better home, children, or a spouse. When addressing their “idols of the heart” God told Ezekiel to tell the people:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the LORD will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the LORD'” (Ezek. 14:6-8).

Think about that phrase, “[he] puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity.” If you take something, even a good thing, and put it in front of your face, it’s hard to see Continue reading

5 Ways God Finishes His Work in Us

 

5 Ways God Finishes His Work in Us

 

5 Ways God Finishes His Work in Us

 

Philippians 1.6  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

What a great promise! We can be confident, not in ourselves that we’ll somehow make it to the end, but if we belong to Him, He will finish the work He has started in us. God Himself is the guarantor of His promises.

It would be nice if He just sprinkled some pixy dust over us and we were instantly changed. But that’s not the way God usually does His work in us.

And … We often wish He would do that in other people’s lives, too.

When we’ve been unequally yoked and a husband comes to know the Lord, we want them to immediately be where we are. When someone close to us surrenders his or her life to God, especially if it has been a difficult relationship, we can be unrealistic in our expectations.

There is immediate change in our lives and the lives of others. Our eternal destiny has been changed. 2 Cor. 5.17 says we are new creations; we were born again by the Spirit of God, but it takes time for those changes to work themselves out in our daily living.

That’s not an excuse. In fact, as God shows us areas where we need to change and grow we need to respond to those promptings.

Milk baby Bottle Heb. 5.12-14 says:

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use (the NASB says PRACTICE) have their senses exercised (TRAINED) to discern both good and evil.

Some of us are still babies sucking on milk because we don’t do the things God has told us to do. AMEN … or OH MY.

Even then, God doesn’t stop doing His work in us, but it’s going to take longer and probably involve more pain and hardship.

What processes does He use to complete the work He started in us? I like to talk about five major ways.

 

God changes us as we learn to do 5 things:

 

1. Count it all joy (James 1.2-8).

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually feel like being joyful when I’m in the midst of a trial. How can we count it all joy when we’re in a trial? Continue reading