Daily Archives: January 31, 2021

Evening Blessing: January 31st

Philippians 4.7

Daily Scripture Passage: Psalm 71:1-6

Psalm 71:1-6 (ESV)

71 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
    my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
    you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

Thoughts to Ponder from Exodus 20:2-3

Thoughts to Ponder from Exodus 20:2-3

“‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3)

I love the Ten Commandments. I think sometimes we in the Christian Church tend to either dismiss them too lightly, or take them for granted as historical – those things which no longer apply because of the new age of grace that is in Jesus. The problem with this is that Jesus himself said that not one letter of the Law would be disregarded and that he was the “filling” of the Law. Personally, I remember a professor early on in my educational endeavors and Christian growth who made this statement: “The Ten Commandments were God’s way of not only identifying God’s people as distinct but also they were created to show people how to live in order to protect the covenant of community.” What an interesting thought. Yet if you read the Ten Commandments – I would contend that this professor was correct in his statement.

The first Commandment was to keep a central focal point: If these people called Israelites were God’s distinct, chosen people, then they needed to make certain that they kept the source of their identity in the forefront. They had to remember that there was only One true God and that YHWH was the only source that could give true life. No idols could do what God could do. God reminds them of just how powerful and gracious he is when the opening lines of the Ten Commandments are: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” No Egyptian idol could deliver Israel, could give them life, could bring them into rest. In short, anything other than YHWH, was false and would lead to death.

Now, the reality is as Christians, this would be considered a no brainer. We know that there is only one true God. In fact, I doubt any of us would consider ourselves idol worshippers. I don’t believe any of us have a carved image of some deity sitting in our living room.

However, I think we must take a moment and ask ourselves: what is an idol? The broad understanding is that which takes the place of God. In other words, what is the object of our devotion in our lives? I’m not asking what do we go to church and worship. I’m asking: what is it that drives you? What is it that motivates you? What is it that you put most of your energy and efforts, resources and time into? You think about it: the church can become an idol, our possessions can become an idol, a person can become an idol, nationalism can become an idol, politics can become an idol, money can become an idol. Do you see the trend? My point is this: Anything can become an idol.

Perhaps we need to step back for a minute. Take a deep breath and ask ourselves: what is truly the god of my life? What am I getting passionate about? What am I willing to fight for? I must confess, I have to repent big time on this one. Until we people who call ourselves “Christians” are willing to call an idol for what it is…we will not have a viable witness. When God says we shall have no other gods before him, he means just that. As we look at the huge divides in our nation, in our denominations, in our families, in our friendships – we are seeing the result of what happens when idol worship replaces God worship. I have been guilty. I must seek God’s mercy and grace each and every day. Do I get it right every day? No. Do I want to? In the words of Paul, I do that which I do not wish and the things I wish, I do not. I struggle. My struggle is because I live a dual role as a military officer and as a Pastor. At the end of the day, which “me” is the predominate one?

Culture doesn’t define God, agendas do not define God, political parties do not define God, nationalism does not define God. God defines God and we need to learn to listen again.

Lord, for when I have placed idols before you, I ask for your humble forgiveness. Help me to stay focused on you and not allow the things of this world to become my god. Keep me centered on the cross that I may live as a faithful disciple in the world in which you have brought me to. Help me not to forsake your truth but also do not let me define your truth in a manner that suits me. In the blessed name of Jesus. Amen.