Really. That’s all I can say… is Wow.
I just finished (finally, after having done the study off and on for the past year now) Kelly Minter’s Study “No Other Gods” . And though a lot of the blame may indeed fall on me for not finishing it a long time ago, it seems it was more befitting for such a time as this, too. Such impeccable timing! (Why does that always surprise me?)
So, in lieu of Sermon’s Notes today, I thought I’d hit on some of my (many) underlined thoughts of Kelly’s.
In laying the foundation for our study with the idea of falling before “functional gods” Kelly clarifies that “a professed god is who or what we say our god is; a functional god is who or what actually operates as our god.”
She goes on to quote J. Calvin saying “the evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.”
Now for some popcorn points on this chapter:
Persistance overcomes resistance.
Having freedom from our idols begins by recognizing our own powerlessness against them.
Apart from the power of Christ, we are unable to extricate ourselves from their (the idols’) hold. If we can accept the truth of our own weakness, while accepting the gift of His strength, He will do it.
Being skilled and wise are worthy and desirable goals. They become a problem when we use these things to create false gods that we end up serving.
You must ask yourself: ”Am I doing this for God’s glory, or for my own glory, pride, comfort, happiness, or other selfish motive?”
If it all looks easy and doable, it doesn’t require faith.
Now, the next part, I think I actually mentioned months back when I covered it the first time. It was such a great reminder and illustration for me.
Minter brings us to the story of the Israelites who had been blessed with attaining all these gold earrings and such from the Egyptians, by the Lord’s good favor on them. Then, she goes on to point out that next thing you know, they’re melting down those very blessings and shaping a golden calf to turn to. In essence, “the Israelites turned God’s gifts into gods”.
Ouch. I SO relate!
She continues “some of our false gods can be made of things that are in and of themselves perfectly good; they only become a problem when they take the place of God.”
Fear protects our idols.
Whatever we fear is our god. Fear itself is not the god; the object of our fear is the god.
Session three goes into truth and discernment and satan’s lies… the whole concept of conviction.
True conviction doesn’t look for loopholes and isn’t sad. (ie: Can’t give something up just to say “Aww, I’m so bummed, I can’t watch that anymore…” or the likes.
If true conviction is present, we will begin to look at that thing as something that was taking the place of God, something that was stealing from us.
As we rid it from our lives we will be hopeful with anticipation, anxious to see what God will do in this newly-created space. We will not look for loopholes.
Next, she goes into defining idolatry for us. “What is idolatry? It’s taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing.” (T. Keller)
The next session is the powerful reminder of the Israelites once again, who had spent so much time longing for the ‘good ol’ days’… (what?!?) They remember the times when they had ‘ “free” fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic… all they wanted’ – “free”, that is, in return for their slavery! Of course, they overlooked that in their less than 20/20 hindsight. Isn’t our rearview mirror always a bit rose-tinted? Hmmm… I know mine is.
She quotes Tozer, saying “We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety… But, we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy, but to save! Everything is safe which we commit to Him and nothing is really safe which is not so commited.”
A good reminder for me, as I’ve tired from desperately working in my own strength is this: “Our soul does not delight in God over a Scripture-memory verse or church attendance or doing a Bible study alone. It delights in Him when we come, listen, turn from our idols and call out to Him.”
We cannot have ultimate allegiance to both God and the world.
Any idol in our lives becomes our master.
He simply will not allow our allegiance to be elsewhere.
Sometimes, I wish I could get away with something. But, He won’t have it, because He’s too great, too holy, too righteous, and has too much to offer to let us serve anything less than Him.
At the end of the day, it’s between I AM and everything else.
When we see Him for who He is, the strength of our idols lose their pull.
Here, she blew my socks off, in sending me to Isaiah 46:1-2, which I had never read in quite this way before. But, after having looked at my modern idols and how they so quickly ‘fail’ me…
“The gods cannot protect the people and the people cannot protect their gods. They go off in captivity together.” (WOW!)
Our outside behavior stems from our hearts.
God deals with our idols when He deals with our hearts.
God shows up in our reality. He shows up in our weakness. He is looking for… the one who concedes need for Him.
Embrace your weakness. View it in a new light. See your weakness and struggles as opportunities to reveal God’s power and grace in your life!
Surrender is about the will; trust is about the heart.
God wants my trust, since trust speaks deeply of relationship. It is a rare moment we trust someone on a heart level with whom we’re not in relationship.
If I lose my faith in Him, I will invariably return to the gods I have left behind.
She ends by discussing the laying down of our idols. Never an easy task.
It takes faith to say good-bye; it takes faith to say hello.
"Every follower of Christ will have to walk through the desert at times in life – it is the bridge between the old and the new. But, the idea is to go through the desert, not to attach there… and that takes faith."
She leaves us with the story of Ruth, who chose to leave her Moabite home to go with her mother-in-law Naomi. She had to leave all she knew and loved (including many idols), saying good-bye to all the familiarity in turn to embrace Naomi’s people and God.
“God calls us to move away from (our functional gods) – sometimes it’s a physical move, but more often, it’s a heart move. One that can be every bit as gut wrenching, but one that promises the presence and satisfaction of God.”
“There is no meeting God halfway. I thank Him that He has not met me halfway, because we never would have met. I couldn’t have made it that far.” (I LOVE that!)