“Could you be worshiping idols?” November 11

 

Could you be worshiping idols?Could you be worshiping idols? Don’t think so … What do you trust in to bring you pleasure, satisfaction, rescue, or escape? What are your “if only’s” and “I must’s”? Is it possible even for “good things” to become idols?

God warned His people over and over to repent and turn from idolatry. Their refusal to do so took them into captivity and cost them the loss of their land, their homes, their freedom, and often their families.

But warnings against idolatry didn’t stop with the Old Testament and weren’t limited to the worship of statues (1 Cor. 10.12-14; 1 Jn. 5.21). How can we be sure that we don’t have false gods that we’re depending on more than God Himself?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 13 & 14
Psalm 122.6-9
Proverbs 28.19
Hebrews 7.1-28

 

Could you and I be worshiping idols?

 

Ezekiel 13 & 14:

When “Sadness” is a Good Thing

 

Chapter 13.22 says, “Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life.”

Ezekiel told the false prophets they had it backwards, they were making the heart of the righteous sad and actually encouraging sinners whom God had made sad as a means of saving their lives. When we merely try to make people “feel better” about sin and unrighteousness, we often get in the way of what God is doing.

 

Idols of the Heart

 

1 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?
4 “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD. “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’
6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD. “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. (14.1-6)

God told the prophet to warn the people that they had “idols in their hearts.” When we think of idolatry, we usually think of some false god or statue to which we bow down, but the idols Ezekiel wrote about here were not statues; they were what the people valued, what they put their trust in.

 

Could you and I be worshiping idols?

 

An idol can be anything we want more than God Himself. It can be something that consumes our lives and pushes God out of His rightful place. It’s what we trust in to bring us pleasure, satisfaction, rescue, or escape. It’s anything we want more than pleasing God with our lives.

When we have sex outside of marriage, we may be worshiping pleasure or companionship. When we walk away from a marriage because we aren’t “happy,” we’re valuing our happiness or having our own way above pleasing God.

Even a good thing, like having a godly husband, can become an idol. If we’re willing to sin to get it (nagging, criticizing …) or sin because we don’t (withholding affection …), that thing—whether good or bad—is an idol. Continue reading

“Chafing Against the Bible’s Teaching on Women” October 23

 

the Bible's teaching on women“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” We’ve all heard that saying, but this time it came from a sister in Christ sitting in my counseling office. As we continued to talk about the role of women, this time about submission, she said, “I’m an educated woman! Why should I submit to him?” Since then I’ve heard even worse, but I’ve never forgotten how saddened I was by her statement and the awareness of how much feminism had infiltrated the church of the Living God.

But the truth is, many of us, though we want to live godly lives, chafe against some of the Bible’s teaching on women or passages on modesty or authority. We’re too often tempted to think, “That’s not fair!” or question why God would give us certain commands. So how are we to understand these things?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 31 & 32
Psalm 119.49-56
Proverbs 27.20
1 Timothy 2.1-15

 

Chafing against the Bible’s Teaching on Women

 

On Women Teaching, Modesty & Pearls

Verses 9-15:

9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

I once overheard a conversation between two women at church discussing their Sunday school lesson on the role of the wife and submission. One of them said about their teacher, “I think he actually believes that stuff!”

Ladies, even though we might laugh about a conversation like that, we often struggle to understand and accept God’s Word in some of these areas. We’re a little like the king and the princes Jeremiah encountered (see our O.T. reading). Sometimes we don’t want to believe or accept God’s Word as being true or fair. We would rather lock up the prophet (Jer. 32.2) or cut that part of the scroll off and throw it into the fire (Jer. 36.20-26), at least in practice.

So how can we begin to understand, and more importantly embrace, a passage like this? I believe we need to start with some basic truths about God, His Word, and His character.

Jeremiah 29.11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Psalm 119.68 says, speaking of God, “You are good, and do good …”

And Galatians 3.28-29 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

But we must also realize that God is God! He is the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Creator of the Universe and everything in it, including us, and He gets to make the rules!

But if He is good—all the time—and if He loves us and calls us heirs along with men, (so much so that He tells our husbands in 1 Peter 3.7 that their prayers will be hindered if they don’t treat us as such), what does this passage mean?

First, God said to all of us, men and women, to be sure that everything we do points to Him and gives Him glory.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (2 Cor. 10.31).

 

Modesty, Gold & Braided Hair

braided hairSo let’s break down our 1 Timothy passage, beginning with “that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation.” The word “adorn” here means to arrange. So, we should arrange ourselves so that our clothing and manner is modest and respectful. That doesn’t mean we must look drab or unattractive.

“… not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” In the time period in which Paul was writing women would weave gold and other jewelry into their hair in order to attract attention to themselves. Others would wear expensive clothing to show off their wealth. It wasn’t the specific hairstyle or the fact that the clothing was expensive, it was the attitude of the heart Paul was addressing.

Today we might say, “… not with tattoos or designer clothing …” Again, not legalistically saying tattoos or designer clothing are sinful, but what is the attitude of the heart? Where is the tattoo and to what is it designed to draw attention?  Continue reading