Identifying Idols

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:14

Idolatry sounds archaic. Images of ancient carved statues surface in our minds. But idols are far more than stone. The Bible speaks with clarity on idolatry. God, himself, ranked this sin at the top of the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20:3). The New Testament writers say, we should flee from it (1 Cor. 10:14) and we should guard ourselves from idols (1 Jn. 5:21). But what is idolatry? How would modern man identify an idol?

Idols hide in the corridors of our heart. They manifest themselves through our thoughts and actions. The Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Col. 3:5) Did you catch this list of sins, “which amounts to idolatry?”

In the past, the outworking of an idolatrous heart presented itself in handmade deities. Worshippers devoted their lives to a product of their own making. We may not hold a graven idol in our hands, but if we give our preeminent devotion to anything other than God, it is idolatry. Our relationships, careers, and even ministries can become an idol.

If we are not diligent to examine our inner life, our hearts will erect an altar of offense to God. We need to see the truth of John Calvin’s statement that the “human heart is a factory of idols.” We must allow the Spirit to walk through the hallways of our heart. Giving Him access to enter any door He knocks.

If you refuse to heed the rapping of the Spirit, you are guilty of idolatry. Christ should possess preeminence in every aspect of our lives. We have all ignored the Spirit, but God is gracious to uproot idols and continue His work in us (Php. 1:6). Believers have a guarantee of forgiveness, if we confess our sins (1 Jn. 1:9). The knock at the door of your heart will only grow louder. For God is jealous and will not share His glory with another (Isa. 42:8). Will you get that knock at the door?

 

 

 

Our National Sin

One week ago, the light of our nation grew dimmer. Andrew Cuomo tweeted,

Today I signed the #ReproductiveHealthAct – codifying Roe v. Wade into state law and protecting women’s reproductive rights no matter what the federal government does. This is a victory for all New Yorkers.

I am curious if it’s a victory for those “almost-born-New-Yorkers?” My stomach turned watching a video of people applauding and cheering this decision. What makes this situation even more sad is that New York is not alone! Over 60,000,000 babies have died since Roe v. Wade passed into law. That’s ten times the number killed in the Holocaust!

Abortion is not a political issue. It’s a spiritual problem.

 

It’s not political. I understand the media force-feeds us biases by the truckload. But this post is not about supporting blue donkeys or red elephants. (Both Democrats and Republicans have failed us on this issue.) Abortion is not a political issue. It’s a spiritual problem. Abortion is a grievous sin before God. We, as a nation, must repent!

Christians use neutered tactics in the fight for life. Like gullible guppies, we have swallowed the bait of spiritual neutrality.  We focus on legislation alone, but the answer is not in the ballot box. The answer is the Gospel! I am not speaking of the gospel of greasy grace televangelists. The true Gospel reveals sin and calls for conversion (faith and repentance) to Christ. A cast vote will do nothing to convert the soul of a nation. We must return to preaching the Gospel! For the Gospel has the power to change the hearts of humanity.

Two Passages to Consider

As I read my morning devotions, I came across two passages that speak to the current situation. I will refrain from any commentary and let the Word speak for Itself. I found the first passage in Genesis 9. The Bible says,

 

Genesis 9:6-7 (NASB)
 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. 7  “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

The next passage comes from Psalm 9. The Bible states,

Psalm 9:15-20 (NASB)
15  The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16  The LORD has made Himself known; He has executed judgment. In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared. Higgaion Selah. 17  The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God. 18  For the needy will not always be forgotten, Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever. 19  Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged before You. 20  Put them in fear, O LORD; Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.

God have mercy on our nation! If we do not repent, God will judge us. Give us Christians the boldness to herald Your Good News! Amen.

For Resources visit: www.endabortionnow.com 

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It’s Monday!

It’s Monday!

So, why am I excited?

Yes, I am caffeinated, but that is not the reason I am thrilled. I confess I am not generally happy with Monday’s arrival. However, I am reminded on this first Monday of 2019 of the daily renewal of God’s mercies (see Lam. 3:22-23). I need His mercy (especially on Mondays).
Today, I am heading back to the hustle of the second semester of school, but I have a positive outlook. It is my choice to rejoice. I could complain about the struggle of juggling parenting two active kids, shepherding a growing congregation, and teaching at the academy, but I embrace these opportunities. God has entrusted me with these opportunities. And I am humbled.
No, I am far from perfect and I am tempted to grumble when the schedule is full. On this first Monday, I shift my perspective from viewing my life as being busy to having a full life. The encounters of this day are not obstacles to overcome, but they are a means of grace I should not attempt to bypass. I am not advocating pie-in-the-sky-ism, for it is a balancing act.  But this is the life God has given and I rejoice at the opportunity to live for His glory today.  I cannot relive a single day. My verse for this Monday is Psalm 118:24. The Bible says, “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24, NASB). Lord, may this verse make its abode in my heart every day. 
 
What about you? Are you living for God’s glory?

The Butterfly Effect

It was in this moment, I witnessed something everyone could not see. I had passed by this way in the same frantic pace like the others and missed it.

The crack in my windshield forced me to slow down. What began as a garden snake had grown into an anaconda stretching in both directions, obstructing my field of vision. This slow-growing serpent started months back from a surprise encounter with a rock (or some form of road debris.) I was reluctant to admit it needed to be fixed. (Actually, I was unwilling to take the time to have it repaired.)

Dropping my Silverado off at the glass shop, I planned to walk back home. The shop is about three and a half to four-mile walk depending on the route taken. With school being out, I left my wife and kids sleeping and delivered my truck. I grabbed my bag out of the backseat and began my journey back.

I do my best thinking and praying when I walk. I love walking because you encounter the world from a different perspective. It forces you to move at a slower pace and breathe in your surroundings.  I was looking forward to the trek across town because I could get a bit of exercise as I experience God’s creation afresh.

But something was hindering my mind as I walked. I couldn’t get into my sacred place (or pace). A nagging fear of how I looked to the passerby kept me unfocused. Usually, I walk the less crowded thoroughfares, but on this trip, I traveled through the congested streets. Cars and trucks zoomed by leaving me in the wake of their exhaust. I felt uncomfortable and awkward as I walked because everyone else was in a hurry. Was I wasting my time? Shouldn’t  I be doing something more productive? These thoughts swirled in my brain leaving me unsettled.

Then I witnessed something everyone else could not see. I had passed by this way in the same frantic pace like the others and missed it. As I hiked over the Hero’s Bridge Overpass, I noticed the wildflowers blanketing the roadside. Floating on the torrents of traffic-disturbed air a butterfly glided from flower to flower. Carrying out his duty to the Father’s decree. Immediately, I realized this was a gift from my Father and I was ushered into a moment of glory.

God is present in the minutia of life. Often, I think the fear of being seen as odd or different keeps us from experiencing these types of moments. We whizz by on the road of life never thinking of what God is doing around us. As productivity drives us to be human “doings” instead of human beings we miss the wonder of it all.

Don’t believe me? When is the last time you spent time lying on your backside watching the various objects, animals, and characters drift by in the clouds? Or staring in the wonder of a starlit night? You may object that you’re too old to do this kind of stuff anymore. Who says? Or is it that you are worried about being the weirdo? The fear of people’s perception of us robs our childlike wonder. We weigh ourselves down with personal expectations of productivity. We must be doing something not simply being. We often fail to embrace the gloriousness of the creation around us.

By posting this I may have confirmed your suspicion of me. Yes, I may dance to a different beat than you but I am okay with that. It’s okay to slow down and go against the grain of our frantic culture. Taking the time to drink the world in one refreshing sip at a time. Taking time to enjoy the Father’s handiwork and just be human. I never want to be so occupied that I miss another butterfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying for the Victims of Michael

After opening my front door, I surveyed my property. Pine limbs littered my lawn. Fortunately, our lights flickered but never went out for any significant amount of time.  Realizing I would spend a few hours cleaning up minor debris, I thanked God for our safety.

Returning inside, I turned the television to the Weather Channel. Only to see images of complete devastation. One reporter stood in front of a long line of overturned train cars blasted by the storm. Another asked the camera to pan to see buildings that appeared as a pile of broken matchsticks. The panhandle of Florida lies in ruin. People’s lives and livelihood lay in shambles. My heart aches.

Honestly, I planned to introduce a new type of post today, but I was prompted to write this instead. We need to pray. So, what should we pray for?

  • Thank God for those who escaped harm’s way.
  • Pray for those who are waking to a season of bereavement.
  • Pray for those whose homes and businesses are destroyed.
  • Pray for those who do not have power or utilities.
  • Pray for those who are in need of rescue.
  • Pray for rescuers, first-responders,  and linemen.
  • Pray for government agencies and non-profit agencies to quickly assess and administer aid.

Again, please take a minute out of your day to pray for the victims of Hurricane Michael. Go volunteer in some capacity or give to a charitable organization. We must come together in moments of crisis! Here are some organizations you can donate to:

 

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Water from the Rock

Daily Reading

 The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.So the people complained to Moses, “Give us water to drink.”“Why are you complaining to me?” Moses replied to them. “Why are you testing the Lord?”But the people thirsted there for water and grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you ever bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? In a little while they will stone me!”The Lord answered Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Take the staff you struck the Nile with in your hand and go. I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Would you like to read this passage in another translation? Click Here 

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Daily Reflection

God’s provision often comes from the unlikeliest source.

Complaints had reached a feverish pitch. The elders of Israel stared at Moses as mutinous imaginations bubbled to the surface of the minds. Some younger men in the crowd, with their feet,  loosened fist-size rocks with from their earthy bed.  A few of them already wielded stones with white-knuckled grasp. Moses felt their gaze burrowing into his back, and their complaints filled his ears. All Moses could think was, water from a rock? Nevertheless, he trusted Yahweh’s instructions.

After wiping the sweat from his brow, Moses stretched the rod of God to the heavens bringing it down on the rock with an echoing crack. The mob of mad Hebrews winced at the deafening blow. The murmuring slowly halted. In the silent moment, the sound of water grew from a faint trickle to a gushing crescendo of living water. God had given the provision of water from the unlikeliest source. Life-sustaining water flowed from a rock.

In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul affirms that the rock “was Christ.” Who would have considered a carpenter born of seeming scandal in Bethlehem, raise a Nazarene, would build a bridge to glory? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Jesus of Nazareth was struck for us. From His suffering, flows living water for all that believe. Some may wonder why God chose this method, but He delights in using the unlikeliest means to accomplish His will. Have you drunk from the Fount, which is Christ?

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Suggested Prayer

Lord, thank you for Christ’s sacrifice. Help me to realize today that my help may come from the unlikeliest source. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 


In the Word TogetherIn the Word Together is a devotional blog series based on the Narrative Lectionary that aims to aid in daily devotions. Unless stated, all posts are written by Kevin W. Bounds.  Necessary attributions are as follows:

Christian Standard Bible – Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Narrative Lectionary –The Narrative Lectionary (http://www.narrativelectionary.org) is an open-source project created by Profs. Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.

Daily Readings for the Narrative Lectionary – Copyright © 2018 Clergy Stuff