https://www.flickr.com/photos/val_s/8603033695/in/photolist-e7dNca-qTT74U-7xGShs-riK4XH-iWJvQy-pkwnRv-ceSzn7-5ZPm9s-6nSRfH-7NqPHj-L6xGv-5xuHhK-bH6NXR-quMmFw-bEeLw8-brei2i-bsKhXa-6U37rj-hRQeqL-yaYGr-bH6NVM-4bYSF3-nj3Qrz-bJQXAp-7YQpph-b3VMgr-86ygXr-76Kbsk-52uqfB-6nugCH-8bT1J8-76K9jP-7zYa7R-amK8oF-axgu3-95CDU-9jhYHR-LkuBM-7d3vGZ-52upkc-Jd3Mqs-4z5AY2-roVRoj-f63YoX-H8AKw-bQL9SX-bKiMAx-4z9LEf-4CYnB5-5BUxBn

How Can You Break the Chains of Idolatry?

In the Old Testament, God promised to establish an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his offspring (Gen. 12;15;17). He promised to be their God forever. No matter what happened, no matter how they acted, God promised to never walk away but to remain faithful to them forever. That’s a big promise because we sin against God often and in a number of different ways.

A Promise for Us

While God first gave this promise to Abraham, it is a promise we too can enjoy because the God of the Israelites can be our God as well. Paul says in Galatians 3:26-29,

“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Ga 3:26–29)

How can we experience a saving relationship with God, breaking the chains of idolatry?

The same way Abraham did — by believing God’s promises and wholly committing ourselves to Him. God’s promise to us is that we are saved through the work of Jesus on the cross. On the cross, Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sin, making a way for us to have a restored relationship with the Father. If we repent of our sins and believe the good news about Jesus, our relationship with God is mended and the chains of idolatry broken.

Good News!

Isn’t that good news? The God of Israel — the All-Powerful, Creator and Sustainer of this world — can also be our God. We don’t have to settle for a second or third string god. We don’t have to trust in a wannabe that can’t deliver on their promises. We can have the Supreme being. The One who can actually do what He says He will do.

We can stop worshipping idols because the chains of idolatry are broken in Jesus. We can, then, trade in false promises, disappointments, and heartache for truth, fulfillment, and joy. We can serve a God who actually works for our good and who will never ever leave us or forsake us. The promise of Romans 8:28 —

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8:28)

— is ours as well. Isn’t that good news?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe God’s promise that Jesus is your Savior?
  2. Are you willing to turn from your sins and wholly commit yourself to God?

Resources

Image

Post adapted from my recent sermon: Are You Wholly Committed to God? which you can listen to by clicking here.

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Are You Wholly Committed to God?

My generation and even more so the generation coming after me has commitment issues.

Take marriage as an example. The Sacramento Bee, which is a newspaper in California, reported that nearly half of all Californians 18 and older are currently not married, and of those currently not married, nearly 35% have never been married. Comparing these numbers to 1960, we see that 26% of Californians were married and only 13% had never been married. These numbers are on the rise.  It has been estimated that in next 5-10 years, there will be more people who are unmarried than married in California [1].

While these are statistic for California, this trend is occurring all over the nation. People in my generation and the generation after me just aren’t getting married. One of the reasons for this trend, certainly not the only reason, but one of the reasons for this trend is our issue with commitment.

But it’s not just that we are afraid to get married. Nowadays it is difficult to find anyone who has worked for a company longer than 5 years, attended one church most of their life, or even someone who has lived in the same town. We not only lack relational commitment but job, church, and geographical commitment as well. We have commitment issues.

We aren’t to hold back with God

When it comes to our relationship with God, however, we aren’t to hold back. We are to commit ourselves wholly to Him. In verse 1 of Genesis 17, God comes to Abraham and asks him to do two things – (1) to “walk before him” and (2) to be “blameless.”

When God tells Abraham to “walk before him”, what He means is that every step, every action that Abraham undertakes would be done with God in mind. The second idea — that Abraham would be “blameless”— re-enforces the first. In order for him to be blameless before God, he must completely and without qualification, give himself over to God.

God, then, is essentially asking Abraham to be wholly committed to Him. To give all of himself over, not leaving any part back. God wants it all – His job, family, leisure time, money, and sex life.

God expects the same from us. He expects us to be wholly devoted and committed to Him. Which means we can’t section off or compartmentalize our life. We have to give God our whole self.

It is difficult to give God our whole lives

For a generation struggling with commitment issues and one that is accustomed to holding things back, giving it all to God is difficult. In reality, giving our whole self over to God is difficult for anyone, not just my generation. We don’t want to give up control over our lives. We want to be able to call the shots and have options. But God asks, and even requires us, to give up control and commit ourselves fully to Him, if we are going to have a relationship with Him and experience the blessings that come from that relationship.

How do you know that you are wholly committed to God?

To help you figure out where your commitment lies, I have listed three questions below for you to reflect on.

(1) What do I prioritize in my life?

To figure this out, all you have to do is look at the things you spend your time, money, and energy on.

When your time is crunched, what gets pushed to the side? Is it more likely to be your Bible or is Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, or some topic you are researching on the internet?

When you get your paycheck, what do you spend your money on first? Is it your tithe, missions, or something else kingdom related? Or is it something for your home, a trip to the movies, or a day at Six Flags? In other words, how do you plan your budget? Do you give God what’s leftover or does He get your firstfruits?

What do you devote most of your energy to throughout the week? Is it the advancement of God’s kingdom or your own kingdom?

All these are good questions to ask because your priorities are often revealed by what you spend your time, money, and energy on.

(2) Where do you turn when you are facing issues at home, work, or church?

Do you turn to the Bible or human wisdom? If you turn to the Bible, are you willing to allow it to direct and guide your decisions, even if it is unpopular or will require  sacrifice on your part? If you are wholly committed to God, He will be the first place you turn, and His wisdom will be the wisdom you follow.

(3) Do you just say you know God or do you obey Him?

John says in the second chapter of his first letter,

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:” (1 Jn 2:3–5)

Those who say they know God without obeying Him aren’t wholly committed to Him.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you wholly committed to God or are you holding something back?

Resources

[1] http://www.sacbee.com/site-services/databases/article60699136.html

Image

Post adapted from my recent sermon: Are You Wholly Committed to God? which you can listen to by clicking here.

Quotes from My Readings

Worship is to be a Way of Life

Worship is to be a way of life, one in which we honor and glorify God for who he is and what he has done.

True Worship

In true worship, we stand in reverent awe before him, acknowledging him to be our God, submitting to his sovereign rule in our life, and giving him our very best. Our lives are offered to him as living sacrifices. All that we do is sacred, because every act is lifted up to him as an offering.

Worship Wherever and In Whatever

Of course, there is something unique and significant about believers coming together in corporate worship. But when they leave, they do not cease to worship but rather continue to honor and glorify God wherever they go and in whatever they do.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you view worship as a way of life or just something you do on Sunday morning?
  2. How could viewing worship as a way of life all of life change the way you live throughout the week?

Resource

Murray Capill, The Heart is the Target183-84 (headings mine)