When People Are Our Idols (Worship Series Part 3)

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You shall have no other gods before me,~God.

If you ask most people if they are an idol worshipper, they’d firmly tell you no! However, our culture elevates mere human beings to “god” statuses. Celebrities, actors, athletes, musicians, sports teams, politicians, models, even pastors, evangelists, and prominent people in ministry are elevated to a level above most common folks.

It doesn’t have to be a well known person. Some people idolize and worship their spouse, children, parents, friends, best friend, coworker, or themselves.

I’d say the most common idol is self.

The people we idolize are our source of identity, comfort, joy, pleasure, and some place their hope and confidence in others or themselves.

What lets us know we’ve made an idol of someone.

1. That person consumes our thoughts, time, energy, resources, money, attention, and we want the person more than God Himself.

2. We see the person as able to save us, help us, and choose their assistance over Gods.

3. We seek their approval over God’s approval.

4. We agonize over what the other person does. We expect perfection from them or ourselves when only God is perfect.

5. We begin to imitate the one we worship. How would they do this?

6. We are devastated when the person fails us.

Note: if your spouse cheats, a person betrays you, there is going to be pain. If the pain stops you from living all together, the person was an idol. Humans are flawed and will fail or disappoint you in some way. They are not God.

7. You want to be with them more than God.

8. You define yourself by what they say instead of what God says.

9. You can’t function without them. I’ve heard people say, “I can’t live without you.”

10. You tolerate abuse because your person is “god” to you. Therefore, you have no worth not defined by them.

11. You know more about them than God or yourself.

12. You are more concerned with your way or doing what people want than doing God’s will.

I’ve seen people in churches bypass getting prayer from the person next to them because they want the pastor, or someone with a big name to pray for them. Truth be told, I’ve seen children get breakthrough and new believers. The Holy Spirit is not impressed by name tags! He will work through anyone. He’s the Source, not people.

I’ve also seen people devote their lives to following a human, celebrity, sports team, pastor, or church body thinking a person can save them, bring satisfaction, and comfort. You know what happens, people fail them and they are completely devastated. People are not God and will never be God. People are never to be elevated above God. Never, ever, ever!!!! We are never to be elevated above God.

What’s consuming your life? Who is your main focus? Is it God? Who are you serving? Who are you worshipping, imitating, devoting time energy and all of yourself to? Paul said follow me as I follow Christ and rebuked people for worshipping him. We are not to worship the people God uses. We honor them. We do not elevate them to a status of a god. People can’t save anyone. We were created to worship God alone. He’s our Savior, hope, comfort, joy, peace, deliver, healer, everything! Who is your everything? If it’s not God, I ask you pray this prayer with me.

Father I ask you reveal any person in our lives we have elevated to the level of a god. Search our hearts. Please forgive us for the sin of idolatry. Wash us and cleanse us. Help us to love you with all our hearts, souls, minds, and with everything! You alone are worthy! In Jesus powerful name, amen.

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Love is Never Wasted

Love is never wasted. We are transformed by who and what we love. We are becoming like the object of our worship.

God=Love

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Be imitators of God as dearly loved children.

Love one another as I have loved you.

Build each other up. Encourage one another daily.

Don’t just look out for your own interests, look out for the interests of others.

Do nothing out of selfish motives or vain conceit.

Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; love your neighbor as you love yourself. This is the greatest commandment.

The words above are from the Bible. Many are from Jesus. I’d love to tell you that I always think love is a good idea. I don’t. Sometimes the logical response for me is to choose isolation from people and forgo loving anyone but God. As an introvert, loving people is sometimes exhausting. Sometimes, honestly, love feels like a waste of time. Just keeping it real…yet part of loving God is loving people, not just in word but through actions.

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The Idol of Beauty (Worship Series Part 2)

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Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised,~Proverbs 31:30.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,~1 Samuel 16:7.

Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly,~John 7:24.

Beauty definition: 1 : the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness 2 : a beautiful person or thing ; especially : a beautiful woman 3 : a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality 4 : a brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or instance .

God created the world and humans. He then stated, “It is good.” God delights in His creation. He finds beauty in what He made. He did not, however, intend for creation to take the place of the Creator. Everything He created is to point back to Him. He alone is to be worshipped (adored, given the highest place, exalted, given the most time and energy).

Our world is obsessed with “beauty.” Magazines are devoted to beauty; plastic surgeons, special products, fitness programs, salons, spas, tv shows, and commercials are all sending the message, “You need to be our definition of beautiful and/or sexy. If you are, your life will be perfect! If you’re not, buy our product and you will become beautiful and have an amazing life.

When beauty becomes an idol we become vain, lustful (craving more-more products, more surgeries, more modifications to outer appearances), people are reduced to objects for pleasure, and we begin to suffer from severe discontentment. Billions of dollars yearly are spent on beauty. There are people destroying their lives, bodies, and emptying their wallets to achieve some standard of beauty.

Behind every idol there’s a lie:

I worked for a popular catalogue company in college. The women in those magazines did not look like their photos. They had fake hair, fake eyelashes, some fake eye color, professional makeup, they were taped in, clothes tailored to fit, and many “imperfections” were airbrushed out. The images reinforce the idol and sends the message, “Who you are and what you have is not enough.

An idol says, “You can find satisfaction, comfort, love, peace, and identity in me.” Nothing is further from the truth. If “beauty” brought happiness, the “beautiful people,” wouldn’t have the same suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, and divorce rates as everyone else.

Truth encounter:

Satisfaction, love, peace, comfort, and true identity can be found in God alone. He’s the only One who remains stable and constant. Idols enslave; God liberates.

Beauty is fleeting. What’s considered beautiful today in society may not be tomorrow.

True beauty radiates from the heart:

There’s also the trouble with judging by outward appearances. God looks at the heart. We are being transformed from glory to glory by His Spirit. Those in Christ are becoming more beautiful (like Him) in character, actions, and nature.

Jesus was not considered physically beautiful. The Bible said there was nothing about Him that would draw us to Him (unlike the Jesus we see in paintings and movies). He was average. He was a Jewish man who looked like the other disciples. Otherwise Judas would not have had to point Him out. Yet Jesus is our standard of beauty. He radiates the beauty of the Father. God’s definition of beauty is often different from ours. He’s looking at the heart.

May we not fall prey to judging people by outward appearances. Every person has tremendous value and worth that is not linked to their appearance. Jesus solidified the worth of every person by giving His life for theirs on the cross.

Closing thoughts:

Sweet friends, may we not be deceived into worshipping beauty. Lucifer was beautiful and wanted to be worshipped. People nor angels are to be worshipped. God alone is worthy of worship! You are beautiful to God because you’re His creation. Your true beauty radiates from within! There is nothing wrong with looking nice or taking care of your outward appearance, the key is to worship God, not beauty or created things.

Stay blessed!

Erin

The Idol of Marriage (Worship Series Part 1)

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Exodus 20:1-6

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Worship can be defined as “worth-ship.” What do we deem worthy of our attention, affection, devotion, time, the best of us…worship is the exaltation of someone or something. When we worship something or someone, we find our security, hope, and happiness in it or them. We expect who and what we worship to save us, complete us, fulfill, and please us.

The problem with idolatry is that we often don’t realize we have exalted something or someone to the level of God or even above Him. It’s often subtle. Yet, it’s dangerous.

Idols bring bondage. If you read in the Bible about all the people who worshipped false gods, they were disappointed, enslaved, and they hurt the heart of God. God doesn’t bless idolatry. It will keep many out of heaven.

Some believe God doesn’t care how we treat Him. This is not truth, nor is it Biblical. God went to great lengths to demonstrate to the Israelites He cares greatly about the way we interact with Him. He alone is worthy to be first in our lives. And He alone is God.

Today our culture (especially in some Christian circles) idolize marriage. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the divorce rate is just a high for Christians as non believers. Idols always disappoint. There’s always devastation in areas where we place something or someone above God.

Why the idol of marriage is dangerous:

1. Spouses are set up to be gods instead of people finding identity in God.

A spouse can’t save anyone. If people seek out marriage for a savior, identity, security, selfish means, there will be devastation. No human being can complete another person. They can compliment, but not complete. Yes God pulled Eve out of Adam, and two became one again. Yet they were both designed to put God first and worship Him, not each other.

I know a few people who made their spouse “god”. Their spouses are miserable and so are they. They are constantly disappointed when their spouse fails to meet their expectations and the person elevated to “god” status is resentful of the high expectations.

Spouse does not equal God.

2. Marriage is sought out to “fix” singleness and get sex, rather than a commitment to love, die to self, serve, and be a blessing to someone else.

God sets up relationships to build love. There’s no part of love that is selfish. When two selfish people get married, there’s a rocky road ahead. Love requires compromise. Paul encouraged people to consider the problems marriage would bring.

People who have taught marriage cures lust have misunderstood Paul’s statement, “It’s better to marry than burn with passion.” There’s a difference between sexual desire (God given) and lust (deeply selfish and self seeking). Marriage doesn’t cure lust any more than going to a bar cures alcoholism. Lust is a heart issue and a spiritual issue. If you have strong desires to be married or procreate, that’s not sin. If you’re seeking marriage only to get your needs met, then you may be confronting lust and/or insecurity.

3. It separates instead of unifies. God considers the Body of Christ family. When society or churches only say or only treat couples and their kids as family, you leave out millions of singles, widows, etc..,

I’ve grown up in church. My dad is a pastor. My mum was my Sunday school teacher. Our church operated like a big family. It wasn’t married people in one section, singles in another. Everyone was family, no one left out. We mourned and celebrated and served each other.

I’ve been to churches where you have no community if you’re a single person. I’ve heard sermons on why you should get married. I’ve seen and experienced losing friends once they got married. God never intended for us to segregate. Many things and priorities change with marriage; the Body of Christ should still be a place where ALL people despite social status are loved as family.

4. It sends a message that if you’re not married, something is wrong with you.

I tell you, I’ve been engaged and I thank God often I did not get married. It would’ve been the marriage from hades. It’s better to bypass marrying at the wrong time or the wrong person, than to have a lifetime of suffering. I know about a dozen couples who are just enduring; enduring their controlling spouse, enduring being neglected, misunderstood, and taken for granted, enduring a painful, hellish, loveless marriage. Sweet friends, it’s not something to jump into without prayer, wise counsel, and an understanding that it may not be happily ever after.

Apostle Paul and Jesus were both single and did amazing things in the earth! Single is not a disease to be cured; it’s a part of life to live without any hinderance to devotion to Christ. He’s glorious.

5. There’s minimal focus on the challenges of marriage and how to overcome them.

This idol is romanticized and dressed up. It’s glamorous. If you pull back the veil, you can see that there are times of joy and pain. You can see there are days of laughter and days of tears. You can see two people continually dying to self to be the best for Jesus and the other person. Many don’t talk about the challenges for fear it’s damaging. I’m fortunate to have quite a few people willing to be transparent.

Life Lesson:

Many years ago I met a lady who kept telling me to get married. She bragged on how awesome her marriage was. She encouraged me to settle down because I would finally be complete, etc. I thought, “Wow, she has the perfect marriage.” Well, years later I found out she had been cheating on her husband for years. It was challenging for me as a young adult, to have a person claiming to love God and her husband found to live a double life. I don’t judge or condemn. I was sad. The image didn’t match reality.

Lastly:

If you’re single and you want to be married, I’m praying for you that God’s perfect will be accomplished and you’re prepared for what’s to come. You are not the freak of the world if you’re single. Devote your life to Christ and keep pursuing Him. Being single is far better than being married to the wrong person.

If you’re married, please know your spouse is not God, nor will they ever be God. They are human. Please be kind and considerate to singles. Use appropriate boundaries for members of the opposite sex, but don’t treat singles like aliens with a disease that needs to be cured. And while people are happy for you, continuous bragging about your spouse or kids is not helpful to those who long to be married and have kids.

Father thank You for giving us the gift of relationships. I pray we’d keep them in their proper place. Cast down the idol of marriage and help us worship You alone. For those single and married, I pray for unity, compassion, and love. Break off our selfishness, and help us to find identity in You alone. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

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