Wednesday, October 7, 2015

when good becomes god

They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods.  II Kings 17:33a (NIV)
I am reading another book, avid reader that I am, and highly recommend it to any and all who truly desire to be sold out to the Lord God Most High.  Titles are supposed to be all caps, so say the experts, yet this one is not for a VERY good reason.  The author wants to make it clear what the title is trying to get across.  It is simply called gods at war and is written by a man quickly becoming one of my favorite authors - Kyle Idleman.  The book has a subtitle for those who question the non-capitalization: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart. 
It is almost funny, if it weren't so sad, how we can begin reading a book like this thinking it will surely not really apply to us and then BANG, it hits us right between the eyes.  This morning, after finishing the chapter on the god of success, I asked God to reveal and break down any altars I have built in my heart that do not belong to Him and to burn them with the fire of His Holy Spirit.  You see, I realized that it is a DAILY battle of god-ship that we go through.  When we wake in the morning we are given a choice - whom will you serve today, Me or yourself?
If we do not, and OH I am so guilty, stop and first thing declare our desperation for God as not simply King, but the One and ONLY King of our heart, it is so super easy to fall into the pit of self worship, which is what leads us headlong into various idolatries. 
The Ten Commandments start out with; You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:2 (NKJV)
God could have chosen to place this command as number ten, but chose it as number one, why?  Because all the rest fall together under this one.  If we make a graven image to worship, we are placing something before Him.  Taking His name in vain is stating openly that He is beneath ourselves.  If we neglect entering His rest (the Sabbath) we are saying we know more than He - a better way to get things done, thus placing our knowledge above His.  Dishonoring parents, stealing, murdering, lying, adultery, covetousness; all place ourselves and our desires above God, saying we know best.  Every one of them comes under this subtitle, so to speak, of You shall have no other gods before me. 
An interesting study will show that the word before does not mean we can have other gods as long as we give God first place.  It actually is literally "before My face" - strictly "side by side with Me" - i.e. "in addition to Me."  (Elliot's Commentary for English Readers)  God doesn't want first place as our god, He wants to be our only God.  Why?  Because He genuinely loves us and knows that every other god we allow into our hearts is false, deceiving and will do nothing but strive to bring us to our graves. 
I won't even try to go into all the possible gods in people's lives, because the list is unending.  I will tell all who read this, though, that I am discovering that my precious heavenly Father has protected me from more than I had ever imagined.  He has been pointing some of them out to me through the process of memory.  You see, I have asked God the all too familiar why questions in areas that you may or may not have struggled with, and today He answered me. 
Why, even though I absolutely adore singing Your praises, do I only get to pour my heart out on stage in song on rare occasion when others are allowed to sing week after week after week?  Why, though I adore teaching Your Word, do I only get to teach on Sundays and other rare instances.  I would love to teach daily.  Why am I not allowed to finish college?  Why did You instruct me to give up FREE seminary? And the list goes on and on and on and on....much longer than I like to admit.  The answer is the same in every instance - each of these wonderful and GOOD things would become a god in my life.  If you notice, every single one of them focuses on service to God.  Yet, because I am who I am, a mere human being, I can and tend to turn any and EVERY thing into a god, if I don't keep my heart tender toward the True God Who loves me. 
I was able to look back at my time at Starling Road church.  I was being asked to sing a solo once a month.  When I looked back, I realized that I was beginning to look forward to the accolades and that fed my hunger for success in this area.  It was becoming a god.  So, new church and only singing once a quarter, maybe.  While I admit that I am thankful that people still thank me for singing, now I want the glory to go to God alone.  Oh, I still feel that god of pride well his ugly head up now and again, but I can recognize Him and pray - I'll do my best and You do the rest.  This song is for You, whether playing flute or singing.  I understand and am VERY thankful that God is pulling the reins back on me.
It is the same with teaching.  I do SO love to teach, probably more than anything else I do.  I thrill especially to a small child's eyes lighting up with understanding and their smiles in so doing. I get aggravated at adults who have formed opinions they don't want to give up, not because they don't want to give them up, but because they refuse to see that there is freedom in so doing!!  I enjoy writing lesson plans and finding games, crafts and stories that reinforce the message.  Yes, teaching is my first love - even teaching academics, but teaching God's Word brings me great, GREAT joy.  It is not just a good thing to be able to do, it is a MARVELOUS thing, yet it too can become a god in my life if allowed.  When I start placing study and preparation ahead of the things God desires me to do in a day's time, the success in teaching has become my god.  There have been days that I prepared my heart to write to you all, but then God spoke quietly to my heart, "Not today, my love.  I have different plans for today."  On the days I have listened, He has shown me exactly what I am to do and I have been thoroughly blessed.  On the days I don't want to listen, I find frustration in my day, and the inability to wrote anyway, because if God isn't doing the writing through me, it just isn't going to happen!  I am so thankful!!!  I don't want to lead anyone down a false path and guarantee that my own personal teaching would most probably do just that. 
As far as schooling goes, I have written about that in the past, education has been a god in my family for a LOOOOOOOONG time and I fall easily as its prey if I don't trust God in this area.
So I challenge you to look into your own heart and seek as to whether you have allowed any gods to struggle their way up the ladder of your heart, building altars as they go.  Those altars can get pretty tall if we let them.  Don't forget to look at the good things, because they can become gods much easier, as they are so sneaky. 
Father, look into our hearts with us and reveal to us any and all gods that are doing battle for our hearts.  When we gain recognition, help us desire to offer them up to You as a sacrifice to be burned with the fire of Your Holy Spirit and then help us keep our eyes open, as they will try to return.  Help us remember that removing them isn't enough.  They must be replaced with knowing You more.  We do love You Father.  Help us to love You more!!