The Only King

Zechariah 14:9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

throne-hire-1Marriage is an awesome thing.  In our younger years many people participate in what we call dating.  What is dating?  Well, I guess it’s trying out your heart on different people.  Will this relationship be a fit?  Is she the one?  Some people date a lot.  Like too much.  Lots of girlfriends or boyfriends.  But hopefully they will get to a place in their life where there is only one girl or only one boy.  Hopefully they will come to the place where they put dating behind them and experience marriage.  On that day, there will no longer be many.  No more flirting around with others.  On that day, there will be one.  One queen.  One king.  No others.

God says that there will be a day when there is only one King, one Lord, one name.  Wait… isn’t that day already here?  After all there is only one God.  Technically that’s true.  The problem is that people like to serve their own kings and their own lords.  They like to put other people and things above God and in turn, serve them.  When will they get a clue?  If they would just understand that there is only one King that can meet their every need they wouldn’t need to bow down to many others.  If they would just understand that there is one Lord, they wouldn’t enslave themselves to the things of this world.  When will they get it?

While we sit there asking that question, I believe the Lord wants to ask us the same one.  When will YOU get it?  When will YOU make me the only king in your life?  When will YOU stop serving the false god of money, fame, and security?  When will you call on MY name like it is the only name?  Yes, when we begin pointing the finger out, the Holy Spirit points it back directly at our own hearts.  If we want a world that treats the Lord as the only God, it had better start with us.

*How many kings are you serving?

4 Million Dollar Bonfire

Acts 19:18-19  Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.  A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.

moneyonfireDrachma: a day’s wages.  So let’s do some quick math.  Just to be conservative, I’ll lean to the lower end of the spectrum.  Let’s say that you make $10 an hour, which is just above minimum wage.  You work eight hours a day = 80 bucks.  Now multiply that by fifty thousand.  The result? $4,000,000.  Yes that’s right, 4 million big ones.  You might make more than that, so the figure could easily be 8 million or 12 million.  So let me restate Acts 19: they burned sorcery scrolls valued at over $4 million in today’s dollars.  That’s a lot of scrolls!   That’s a big fire.

I can’t even fathom burning a 4 million dollar bonfire.  It seems painful to part with valued possessions, to light fire to hard earned money.  But these former sorcerers had a new perspective; they saw it in a different way.  You see, at one point in their lives, these scrolls were an asset – possibly their biggest asset.  Most people I know don’t part with their assets.  So we could assume that because of finding Christ, these things lost their value.  But I don’t think that’s true either.  If they had a zero value, then maybe they would have just given them away to someone who could use them.  Or maybe just put them away in a closet until the next garage sale.

They didn’t go from being assets to being valueless.  They went from being assets to being liabilities.  When you have liabilities, you should make them go away.  You want to destroy them, maybe even burn them.  They discovered through the message of the gospel that these scrolls were a hindrance to true life.  They discovered that if they kept them in their life in any way, these things would ruin them.  Bonfire time, baby!

When confronted with God’s Word, we often find that there are things in our life that shouldn’t be there.  They might be things that we f0rmerly enjoyed.  Like magic scrolls, they were our livelihood.  Then God shows us that these things have not only lost their value, they will destroy us.   And the Christian responds by putting those things away in the closet, or giving them to someone who can use them.  The problem: we are either temporarily hiding our liabilities or giving someone else something that will hurt them.  That’s not what needs to happen.  We need to have a bonfire!  We need to get out the matches and the gasoline, friends.  Flame on!

*Would you be willing to have a $4 million bonfire?

*Are there things in your life that you have “put away” but need to be destroyed altogether?

Idols are dumb

Habakkuk 2:19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.

idolsI may have knocked on wood, but I’ve never talked to it.  I’m not crazy enough to talk to a rock and think it will give me some guidance.  I’m not foolish enough to tell a piece of wood to come to life.  Even if a piece of wood did come to life, I don’t think that would cause me to start getting my life direction from it.  Idolatry is plain dumb.  I mean, who would seriously turn to a piece of wood or stone for direction?  Really. I mean, who would turn to the TV, a horoscope, a boyfriend, a good luck charm, or a beer for guidance.  Oh… wait.

You know, that’s what idolatry is at it’s purest form – looking to someone other than God to save me or complete me.  It is putting my confidence and faith in something other than God and making that thing or person my functional savior.  As Christians we know that we have one Savior; His name is Jesus.  Yet we gather up all kinds of functional saviors.  We play the lotto in hopes that it will be our path to provision and security.  We go to the bottle to drown out all our stress and fears and failures.  Our teenagers looks to a boyfriend to make them feel special and valued.  Dr. Phil and Oprah are our in home therapists while that ancient book called the Bible (you know, the one with all the answers) sits on the coffee table collecting dust.

We laugh at the Israelites for having a couple of lifeless functional saviors, yet we have so many more.  We think they are stupid for trying to store up manna and yet we do the same thing with powerball tickets.  Listen, an idol is an idol is an idol.  There’s no way around it.  It plagued Israel for many years and it’s plaguing our culture even more.  The only way out is to make your real savior your functional one also.  It’s lining up your actions and your responses to what you believe.  Do you say that Jesus is your Savior?  Then act like it.  Go to him with your needs.  Turn to Him in times of trouble.  Seek His Word for direction.

My prayer: “Jesus you are my savior.  Come strip away the things that I turn to, that I think will save me or complete me.  I serve you alone today, Lord.  I worship you and none other.  I pray that in my life you would not only be my first, but my only.  I love you my Savior and my King!  Help me to rest in all that you have and all that you are.  Amen.”

Come inside

Hosea 13:4 “But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. 

We are a people in need of saving.  I’m not talking about clipping coupons; that’s a different kind of saving.  I am talking about the need to be rescued.  We need to be rescued from pain, from hurt, from sin, from depression, from anxiety, from hopelessness.  That’s just a short list!  Yes, we need saving.

So we turn to all kinds of things to save us.  We look around us to find something that satisfies, something that completes us, something that will bring us some happiness.  We look to temporary things just to make the bad feeling go away.  That’s like being handed a jacket on a really cold day.  It will make you warm for a while, but eventually you need to come inside.  Eventually you get cold again and seek refuge.   God is that refuge!

Jesus is the only Savior, there is no other.  He’s the one who has called us out of darkness and slavery into His glorious light!  So He asks us to acknowledge no one else as God in our lives.  Because He knows that He alone satisfies; He alone can save us.  It’s time to lay down our substitute saviors and turn to the only true one.  It’s time to recognize who really saves.  Don’t settle for temporary rescue from the cold, come inside and find life in your Savior!

Does God have roommates?

I Samuel 7:3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Intention and action aren’t always the same thing.  Samuel surely knew the history of the Israelite people and wanted to be certain they were serious this time.  We find them in chapter 7 crying out to the Lord for help.  They were sorrowful and repentant and ready to return to God.  But God also knew the hearts of His people.  In Isaiah 29:13, the Lord says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”  We should know that God is not after religion; even though He made the rules, He isn’t as concerned about them as He is the hearts of man.  He wants our hearts, not just our words.

Because if we only give Him our words and not our hearts, our words are empty.  They mean nothing.  So Samuel tells the people here in verse 3, if you really mean it… if you are REALLY returning to the Lord then prove it with your actions.  Get rid of your foreign gods and idols!  God wants to be the only one; He doesn’t want to share an apartment with idols and false gods.  He doesn’t room with anyone, well, except the trinity (which is really Himself anyways).  Have you ever shared an apartment with someone?  Did you find that you had to make concessions?  Did you find yourself having to adjust to the lifestyle of the person or people you were living with?  God doesn’t do that.

Yet we ask Him to move into the apartment of our hearts with a bunch of roommates.  He says, “it’s crowded in here.”  You tell Him that He can have the master bedroom.  You tell Him that He can have most of the space in the fridge and even in the cupboards.  He says, “it’s crowded in here.”  You tell Him that you will move the idol roommates out to the garage or into the hall closet.  His response? “It’s crowded in here.”  You see, God doesn’t want to share you.  He wants your whole heart.  So we must heed the words spoken by Samuel: if you are returning to the Lord with your whole heart, get rid of all the idols and the stuff that you serve other than Him.  Don’t make God number one in your life; make Him the only one in your life.

Who’s your daddy now?

I Samuel 5:1-4  1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.   

Oh yeah, baby.  I love this! The Philistines took the ark of God, which happens to be where the presence of the LORD hung out, and placed it next to their statue of Dagon.  Now Dagon was a strange little false god.  His lower half was that of a fish and his upper half like a man.  I guess a male mermaid is probably a good description.  Now who in their right mind is going to worship something silly looking like that.  I’ll tell you: the Philistines.  And this false god had no merit, no power.  He was a statue.

So when they placed the real God, the LORD, next to this statue, it had an unfortunate accident.  This powerful fish-man statue didn’t stand a chance in the presence of God.  And he fell down on his face before God.  The Philistines stood him up and he fell again, this time his head and hands broke off.  Booyah! Who’s your daddy now, Dagon? This poser didn’t stand a chance in the presence of God.  He represented sin and everything unholy.  Therefore, he must be destroyed.

I love this about our God.  Nothing evil stands a chance in His presence.  When sickness tries to stand up against Him it loses. When addiction tries to stand up against Him it loses.  When Satan tried to stand up against Him, he lost.  Do we believe this to be true?  Do we exercise His power in our lives?  Here’s what it looks like: When you lose your vision, set the Lord next to it.  When you get depressed, set Him next to it.  When you are stuck in addiction, set Him next  to it.  When you are being attacked, set Him next to it (or better yet, hide behind Him).  Heads are gonna roll, people!  For God is unmatchable.  He is unequivocal.  And most importantly, He is undefeated!

That is one dysfunctional family!

Okay now.  I know I usually just pick one verse an go, but you have really got to read this whole chapter with me today.  It is really short.  The two verses that I am going to talk about are in bold.  Have a quick read.

Judges 17  1 Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim 2 said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekelsof silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.”   Then his mother said, “The LORD bless you, my son!”  3 When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol. I will give it back to you.”  4 So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and the idol. And they were put in Micah’s house.

 5 Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. 6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. 7 A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, 8 left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim. 9 Micah asked him, “Where are you from?”   “I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,” he said, “and I’m looking for a place to stay.”

 10 Then Micah said to him, “Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food.” 11 So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man was to him like one of his sons. 12 Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. 13 And Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.”

All I can say is…what in the world is wrong with this family!?  This is the ultimate dysfunctional family.  Well almost.  You’ve always got the Bundys.  I don’t know if anyone can get close to them – maybe Roseanne or something.  We’ve definitely had some messed up families in our pop culture, haven’t we?  But what is going on with Micah and his mom?  Do they even have a remote clue as to who God is?  Are they confused about His commandments?

First of all, Micah’s mom decides to dedicate a bunch of money to the LORD.  She sets it apart for God and buys an idol with it.  Hello? That’s like Ozzy Osborne saying, “I dedicate this next song to the Lord.”  It’s like tithing to a strip club.  What in the world is wrong with this lady?  She dedicates idolatry to the Lord.  You can’t do that!  Unfortunately for Micah, she has passed down her dysfunction to him.  His views about God are just as messed up as hers.

He says in verse 13, “now I know the Lord will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.”  He must think that if he has a good enough pastor, God will bless him.  He is sadly mistaken.  Your pastor isn’t going to get you to heaven, Micah; you’ve got to pursue God for yourself.  You need to get rid of your stinkin’ idols and get right with God.  Just because you hired a guy whose family are priests doesn’t make you a follower of God. This is dysfunction, people!

The reality is, their views were simply polluted.  Their attempts at reconciliation with God only went half way.  Consecrating the money to God was a good thing – what she choose to spend it on was not.  Having a priest was a good thing – putting him in charge of your altar of idols was not.  In the same way, we can fall into the same dysfunction.  We can believe a bunch of half-truths about God, too.  We go to church and in exchange expect him to endorse our bad choices.  We tell him with our lips that our lives are consecrated to Him but turn to idols to meet our needs.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a dysfunctional child of God.  I want all in.  So I pray today that He will show me where my views are messed up and my lifestyle doesn’t match.  Please God, remove dysfunction from my life!