Tag Archives: idol

Golden Calf Anyone?

John 3:16 states: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Who is this person who died for us? I am going to do a quick survey of the Bible to see.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5). He is the Creator, the Word who became a human being – He laid aside His glory, humbled Himself and stepped down into this disgusting, abhorrent, sin filled earth just to die for us so we can have the hope of heaven.

In Isaiah 6, we are taken into the heavenly throne room of this God sitting in majesty surrounded by Seraphs who cried out: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of Him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. Isaiah’s only response was: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! His holiness and purity compared to man’s sinfulness is clearly depicted here.

When Moses asked to see God, this is how God responded: Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth; who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship (Exodus 34:6-8).…

Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light……. behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified (John 17:2, 5-6).

John , one of the closest disciples of Jesus, describes his encounter with the risen Lord: behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald … the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Revelation 4:2-4, 9-11).

Revelation 5: 9-10, 13-14: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,and they shall reign on the earth.”…….And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever”…….And (they) fell down and worshiped him!

This is the picture the Bible consistently paints of this awesome, amazing God. A God who wants us to worship Him with ALL our hearts, minds, soul and strength.

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Most of us know this in our heads. Yet, how do we perceive this God from our human perspective on a day to day basis?

The Israelites had just experienced such awesome miracles at the hand of God, yet they decided to worship the golden calf, truly believing in their hearts that they were worshiping God! Aaron received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4-6)! When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” They started believing that the golden calf was the one true God and soon their lifestyle became just like all the surrounding pagan nations.

If you and I were to honestly examine our hearts, we know that though we may say or think we worship Jesus, we most probably worship golden calves! God reminds us that our hearts are desperately wicked and that we naturally love darkness rather than the light.

I have identified three ways that could reveal our hearts’ idolatry:

  1. How do we react when something dear to our hearts is suddenly taken away from us by God?
  2. What would we do if we were called to lay down our lives sacrificially. Is Jesus still the object of our worship?
  3. A question we need to repeatedly ask ourselves is: what has replaced Jesus in our lives? – ourselves, our children, our spouse, our family, our lineage, our DNA, our education, our jobs, our looks, our position, our community, our friendships, our health, our money, our vacations, our properties, our worldly goods, etc. How different is our life from that of those who don’t believe in Jesus  around us? Are we pursuing the same dreams they are pursuing  – jobs, children’s education and activities, sports, entertainment, vacations, homes, things, cars, etc.? Are we building our own empires? Are we compromising on our Biblical values – stepping on the slippery slope of the world’s morality and values for personal gain? Do we pride ourselves like the Pharisees on being “good moral Christians” looking down on those who are not? Do we treat everyone with respect and honor higher than ourselves? Do we sacrificially step out to love and care for the hurting, the broken, the poor, the sinful like Jesus did?

For me personally, one of my idols is my children and their success. Just like most parents I know, particularly Indian parents, I too wanted them to be good, to study well, to look nice, to be smart, talented, etc. I would even justify my frustration and anger  by convincing myself that all this was good for their future or even that if they succeeded, they would be able to glorify God. Yet, when God didn’t grant me my heart’s desire because my son and daughter struggled for years due to their childhood trauma, I was angry that God was not stepping in and making them succeed.  I wouldn’t easily admit it, but I became angry not so much for His honor but for mine, for we live in a society where children’s success or failure directly translates to parenting skills and love.  Obviously, that made us look like failures despite the extra hard parenting work we were putting in. Through this brokenness in our lives, God showed me that I valued success far more than I valued honoring Him. He showed me that the praises of men mattered more to me than His well done! I had forgotten that His success ran against the tide of the world’s success as outlined in my blog post “Success, God’s Way.  My anger and frustration served to show me how desperately I needed the resurrected Savior, and how far I was from total surrender!

We have all fallen so short of God’s glory that we would only have had hell to look forward to, but  Jesus came to face the anger and wrath of God against my sin and your sin, to pave the way for us to be saved. Let us pray that God does whatever it takes to show each of us our idols so that we have a chance to repent on this side of eternity before it’s too late. He is a jealous God and He will not be mocked. His punishments are sure. He wants us to love and honor Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We can do that only in the resurrection power of God! Romans 10:9 says: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. We must fall down before Him in repentance asking Him to forgive us. He promises us a new heart and a new life and a new destiny – eternity lived in His Presence. The promise of joy everlasting! Though this life is filled with many trials and struggles, Jesus died and rose again just so we can have an eternal relationship with the all powerful, holy, awesome Creator God of this universe. Through this relationship, He becomes our Heavenly Father who loves us.

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He wants a relationship with us. In return, we get the privilege of smashing each former idol and learning through His Word to be sanctified and become more like Jesus. We get the privilege of communicating with the God of the universe through prayer – talking and listening to Him as His beloved adopted children! We learn and grow through repentance, through forgiving others, through obedience to His Word, through humbling ourselves and through a life of sacrifice. He wants us to love Him alone with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength – we must live and breathe Jesus! Praise God that the Holy Spirit lives in us when we are born again teaching us, training us, leading and guiding us to become more like Jesus! Easter is truly a celebration – rejoice for we have eternal hope through our Savior!

To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever…….Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And (they) fell down and worshiped him (Revelation 5:13-14)!

A beautiful song of worship: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

My Life’s Worship & Idolatry

Every human being is created to worship something or someone. Our identity is built based on the object of our worship. John Calvin said that the human mind is an idol factory – it constantly creates or find things to worship. We can worship ourselves, our looks, health, house(s), wealth, status, spouse, children, parents, things, cars, sports, exercise, food, TV, entertainment, travel, vacations, work, success, internet, sex, academics, alcohol, hobbies, job title, etc. – anything that gets more undivided attention than God and which we need at high cost or crave if taken away from us is our idol. God tells us in the Ten Commandments that we are to worship no other gods but Him and that we should worship nothing that is created. The Bible also says that we cannot worship God if we choose to worship our other idols irrespective of what we may think or say. True worship is humanly impossible because we are born in sin. So, God gave us a way through the death and resurrection of His Son – Jesus to save us from our sins to give us new life and ability to worship Him alone eternally. The Skit Guys depict our Christian Idolatry well in this video!

I gave my life to Jesus as a young girl and shared my testimony for the first time in Sunday School in 4th grade. Since then, I have recommitted my life to the Lord many times. I believe that once I have surrendered my life to the Lord after repenting of my sins, the Holy Spirit gives me a new heart that is oriented towards the worship of The One True God. I also know that the gift God gives by opening my eyes to His truth is permanent, unalterable change in the deepest level of my life. But, the Bible tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked – also, being aware of my many idols in my past history, how do I know that I have ever truly repented and surrendered my life to Jesus? Also, we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling – not just live as we please, satisfied with a weekly church visit and a few good works as culture or tradition dictates. So, how can I know for sure? This isn’t a game of chance that I can risk losing!

We recently attended a doctrine class on “Worship” and learned the true meaning and purpose of worship in our lives. The pastor talked about the connection between “regeneration” and “worship”. Some of the characteristics of Regeneration through the Holy Spirit are:
– The Trinitarian God of the Bible becomes the new Lord of my life and false gods are dethroned.
– I have a new identity – Jesus! I become His child forever.
– I receive a new mind and develop a “love” for God’s Word – the Bible.
– I desire to love God, love fellow Christians, love friends and family, love strangers and even love enemies.
– I have new desires for holiness – sin and folly are not desirable even if accessible any more.
– it brings new life to my worship – different from before.
– I enjoy new freedom in Christ – I no longer feel the need to tolerate, manage, or accept sin but have the ability to put it to death and live free from habitual sin.

All this can be achieved only through the brand new power of the Holy Spirit who empowers the new believer and enables them to live in victory! Jesus is now the new Lord of their life. The regenerated believer then desires with His help to worship Him alone! This can work as a guideline to help me check my heart to see if I have truly been born again or if I am just fooling myself.

Armed with this teaching, the past two days have been a time of deep spiritual introspection for me. It has been a time of reading, listening, thinking and evaluating my stand before my Lord. I have not liked what I saw in my heart and life. I have had to fall down before God and ask for His forgiveness. It has been easy for me to know in my head the good news of Jesus and to even share it with others – but as I look back on my life, I realize that I have NOT desired to totally believe it or live it and it has been extremely hard to make Jesus Lord of all. I found that often my circumstances have derailed my worship journey. I have happily sung, “I surrender all” but have not always meant it in my heart or life. If I care to be honest, I can see that I am a pretty good “idolator”! I have had to examine my heart to see if I have even truly been regenerated.

I recently wrote out my life story of the past 20 years which gave me a good look back on my life. I realized that I was often the hero of my story – not Jesus. I have even treated God as my genie and my prayers as the magic words to grant me my wishes. It is easy to convince ourselves that Jesus is Lord until He takes something important away from our lives. Then, we are not so sure if we totally want to trust Him any more! In my life, over the years, I have lost stability with many uncertain moves across the world and the country, I lost acceptance in marriage from extended family, lost the ease of creating a family, lost my dreams, my desires and many of my hopes, lost friends, family and support, lost jobs and finances, faced much loneliness and pain. Life has not been easy at all for me or for my family. Through it all I realize that we stand only by the grace of God but I have not always humbly accepted these deep difficulties – as coming from the hand of my loving Father and God. In fact, I have have had quite a hard time trusting Him. I know I have often questioned His works, doubted His goodness, wondered at His silence or the wisdom of His ways. I have been angry, frustrated and upset with many situations in my life. He was NOT my all in all. I often needed Jesus + to make my life complete! Now I realize that all these were my idols brought to my attention patiently by my loving Father who wants my ALL for His glory!

It is hard. For example, I thought I absolutely loved kids and would be a wonderful mother, Sunday School teacher and mentor to kids. Then, God brought my adopted son into my life. He had faced trauma in his own little life. He struggled and totally rebelled against me for 11 years to the point of frustration, pain, agony and death of hopes and desires. Now, I was not sure any more if I really knew what “love” meant because now love called me to sacrifice and no rewards with much heartbreak. I was angry at God for this shift in my life and thinking. But now I realize that He had to break me down in order to show me that, and having a “good” or “easy” child and that that child’s success in this life was my idol. If my life had been easier in accordance to my plans and dreams, I probably would never have realized my idolatry and it could have cost me eternally!

Even now I wonder what other gods I continue to worship. I know that I rely on the comforts of life that God has graciously gifted me with. Would I be as willing to love and serve Him or even trust Him if He took it all away? What if I was left homeless and alone? What if my children were killed in an accident or my husband suffered from cancer or was paralyzed or could not provide for our family? What if I was dying leaving young children behind? What if my children walked away from our desires and even ended up in trouble, messing their lives and my image in society, would I still honor God completely? Also, do I always give Him all the glory and live in full gratitude when my life is going well? When we get a great job, a new home, higher pay, satisfaction in a hobby, great friendships or church, success, kids’ achievements, health, happy marriage, vacations, etc.? Do I choose to use all these gifts in obedience to His wishes for His glory and for His purposes. As a younger person, I probably would have quite flippantly said “of course”! But today, having years of struggles behind me and having betrayed my Lord in innumerable ways, I know worshipping God wholeheartedly is extremely difficult and only possible in His mercy and grace.

I am beginning to understand a little more of why Jesus said that it is harder for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Imagine the significance of that! We who have money in the bank, an education, a car or health are all rich – the top few percent in the world. According to Jesus, eternal life will elude us while we live deluded lives because we depend more on the gifts God has graciously given us – for, the more we have, the more idols we create and the more our Creator is overlooked. Heaven starts now by depending fully on our Creator – not a place in the far future attained after living and fulfilling our selfish dreams. It is to live daily with Jesus joyfully worshipping Him alone with a regenerated spirit. It is not being saved from hell, not living in bliss, not having no more pain or whatever our mind conjures up! We can enjoy heaven on earth if we choose to worship Him alone in spirit and in truth despite our circumstances – good or bad! This can be done only through being regenerated or born again through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today, I am trying to thank God that He has taken many things away from me to bring me to the realization that I am such a great idolator and that I do not truly love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength – better here where I still have a chance to repent than on Judgement Day where He will say He never knew me! I am coming to understand that Jesus says that based on our true worship and not on our achievements in this life which is why He commended the widow with her two mites! But, there is still so much work to be done in my life by the Holy Spirit. I pray that going forward I will willingly yield to His fires which serve to refine me. I pray that with His help, I will consider the sufferings of this life as blessings which are used to cleanse me of my idolatry and mold me into Jesus’ image. Lord, need your mercy as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Mold me, make me, fill me and use me for Your glory alone!

My prayer is that just like me, someone out there who reads and hears this will be convicted of their need for true worship and repent – so paving the way for a “well done good and faithful servant” from Jesus on Judgement Day!

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