Posts Tagged ‘Idolatry’

Sin’s Progress

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:12-13)

Remind yourself that sin has a progress! It takes you further than you want to go, costs you more than you can pay… and it keeps you longer than you intended to stay. So give it no ground! (Jms. 1:13-16)
· It goes from passing temptation to chosen thought (errors).
· It goes from chosen thought to object of meditation.
· It goes from object of meditation to wished-for fulfillment.
· It goes from wished-for fulfillment to planned action (secret faults).
· It goes from planned action to opportunity sought.
· It goes from opportunity sought to performed act.
· It goes from action to repeated action.
· It goes from repeated action to delight (presumptuous sins).
· It goes from delight to new and various ways.
· It goes from new and various ways to habit. (idolatry)
· It goes from habit to idolatry, demanding to be served.
· It goes from idolatry to sacrifice.
· It goes from sacrifice to slavery. (bondage & dominion over me)

We can fight the good fight of faith: (2 Cor. 10:3-6)(Eph. 6:10-18)
1st) Pull down strongholds of the mind
2nd) Cast down everything that argues with the knowledge of God
3rd) Bring every thought into obedience to Christ
4th) Punish all disobedience, when obedience is achieved

Recognize that you do not have to open the door, when thoughts come knocking at your heart… don’t think about, meditate upon or even entertain evil thoughts, because they aim to rob you of your peace and joy in Christ! Hide the Word of God in your heart! (Psa. 119:11)(Heb. 4:12)

The Working of Faith

“For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love” (Gal 5:6) Amplified Bible.

There was a time in my life when God spoke a specific word to me about the value of compassion and love. It was during a season when I was aggressively seeking Him for more faith. I had fasted and prayed, spent hours in Scripture and even gone to a powerful conference that incredibly blessed and enriched my heart. Yet – I had forgotten this verse, that indicates specifically how love impacts faith! God seemed to be nudging me into a different place… a love place. So reluctantly I pulled away into His Presence.

Here is what He said to me: “When faith rises above love, then we come dangerously close to living in idolatry!”

God has made numerous promises regarding the power of faith. Faith can move mountains. Faith can heal diseases. Faith can receive answers to prayer. Nothing is impossible with faith. But the most valuable truth at that moment… was that “faith works by love”. I wanted to know the power of faith without understanding the governing factors that make faith active. Faith is activated by love, energized by love, expressed by love and works by love. What God seemed to be saying to me is that “faith alone” was not the key to getting the results He wanted for my life and that my continual search would lead me down a dangerous path. Faith was not meant to work on its own, but to be measured and empowered by love… not a feeling, but an activity of loving according to God’s Truth.

Faith works by Love!

Have you ever felt frustration in your ability to trust in God? Is your faith not working the way the Bible promises it should? I will never forget the words of Heidi Baker, who said: “All fruitfulness flows from intimacy.” The problem may have very little to do with your faith, but more with your love. Notice that faith is activated and energized by love.

Many people’s faith is dead and inactive, because they cannot see through the eyes of compassion. If your faith is like a dead battery; unable to produce power, then you must realize that you are deficient of love. Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). When you are hearing the message of God’s Word, you are abiding in a supernatural resource that has the ability to transform sight. You are not listening to faith… you are listening to love. Love is the message… its the reality that activates, energizes and empowers us to see and do things we never considered possible – the faith stuff.

Jesus called the message, the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mt 4:23-25) and it stirred the supernatural activities that drew the crowds, because they could feel their pain and see their brokenness. He was activated in His faith by compassion and love; it is what moved Him (Mt 9:35-38). The Good News is that God’s love is realized and experienced when we come to believe… love becomes the encounter that makes faith a reality.

Love gives Faith its Authority!

A good battery may not be able to work, because it has been drained. You don’t throw away a good battery; instead, you recharge it. Your faith may be in great shape, but unable to work. You can recharge it by plugging it into love… you are called to abide in love! Spend time in the Father’s love. Let your life be immersed in the warmth of the Holy Spirit’s embrace and you will find faith moving in spontaneous ways. Stop working it up, and begin to live from an intimate place in the Father’s heart. You will begin to see that love activates faith.

Reclaiming a Miss-directed faith.

I was thinking about this just this morning, and the famous love chapter (1 Cor 13) was brought to my mind: “…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” This scripture does not say that you cannot move mountains without love; it says that you are nothing without love. Your faith will be of no benefit to you without love, because you stand alone. You might have the faith to move mountains; but without love, you will be nothing and your faith will be hype, miss-directed and unable to accomplish God’s real purposes. And just so we understand; if that faith could function and bring results, we should question the source.

What God wanted me to see is that I could find myself in idolatry, believing that I was doing something by the power of God; when in fact it was flesh, or worse… demonic. Satan loves to masquerade as a purveyor of false gifts and manifestations.

God is love (1 Jn 4:8). God traffics in love and therefore faith that is properly focused from love will set us free, heal us and deliver from all the works of the Devil. Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8).

The Heart of Conflict

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk. 16:14-15)

Don’t you hate it when you see a little “pharisee” in yourself? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply renounce old habits and selfish behavior and respond to conflict in a gracious and constructive way? Let’s face it, as conflict arises peace is stolen and replaced by a spirit of strife! It’s not an easy task – staying clear of conflict. In order to break free and stay free, we need to understand why we react to conflict the way we do.

Its an Issue of the Heart!

Jesus provides us with clear guidance on this issue!

During His earthly ministry, a young man approached and asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. “Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Lk. 12:13-15).

Recognize the Traps:

This passage reveals a common human pattern. When faced with conflict, be on guard against all kinds of greed. Greed lives on the inside of us! We tend to focus passionately on what our opponent has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, God always calls us to focus on what is going on in our own hearts when we are at odds with others. Why? Because our heart is the wellspring of all our thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore the source of our conflicts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19).

The Heart’s Central Role in Conflict:

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (Jms. 4:1-3)

Conflicts arise from unmet desires in the heart – greed! When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, then that desire turns into a demand called greed. If someone fails to meet that desire – we judge, condemn and quarrel. We fight to get our way. Conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and fight with those who get in our way.

But the Heart has Power:

Love, honor & trust… these are words of worship! These are the words that overcome conflict when they are positioned perfectly in the heart of a fervent believer. Jesus calls us to love God, honor God, and trust God… and God Alone! (Mt. 22:37)(Lk. 12:4-5)(Jn. 14:1) Worship is a powerful tool to overcoming conflict… its an attitude of the heart!

Anytime we cherish, fear, or trust in something more than God, to make us happy; it is the worship of false gods… “idolatry”.

I know it sounds harsh, but greed is idolatry and it has levels of influence. It often goes unrecognized until we are knee deep into a quarrel. The quarrel itself is just a symptom of a deeper issue. That’s when we find ourselves wondering, “how did we even get into that mess!” Well, something was sitting in the heart waiting to be defended.

But, when our focus is on worship – rejoicing in Christ, walking in gentleness and prayerfully considering everything that gets in our way; then the believer has a greater platform of self-control. Greed and idolatry are diffused of their control and the heart is guarded by the peace of God that goes beyond our understanding (Phil. 4:4-7).

Delight Yourself in God!

Find your greatest joy in thinking about your loving Heavenly Father, meditating on His works, talking to others about Him, praising Him, and giving Him thanks for all that He has done. Delight yourself in Jesus and look into His eyes by faith, consistently and longing for His mercies to become fresh every morning. Wait on the Holy Spirit and listen before you speak… there might be a divine appointment in that moment of hesitation. Consider these powerful promises as spiritual keys to avoiding conflict.

  • “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4)
  • “My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” (Ps. 71:8)
  • “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

Change is Coming

Scripture: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Thought for Today: “Welcoming the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance:

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by serving and the worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2).

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chastened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father cherishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

Being A Disciple

“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” (Mt. 10:1)

Simply put, a disciple of Jesus is a follower of Jesus. Jesus told his 12 disciples, “if anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mt. 16:24)

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

1. Live as a Worshiper – (Jn. 4:23-24) We have been created in the Image of God; and as image bearers, we are to be carriers of His Glory. The question is not that we worship, but ”who” will we worship? Our worship is like a fire hose that can’t be turned off, so the question is where will we direct our passion and what will we pursue? A follower of Jesus worships their Creator and repents of any false worship – idolatry, including good things like family, work, or recreation.

2. Seek a Kingdom Identity – (Mt. 6:33) A follower of Jesus recognizes the sinful tendency to find their identity in their money, intelligence, career, education, children, human relationships, or any number of created things. Therefore a disciple turns from empty idols and finds their peace and joy in serving the Living God (1 Thes. 1:9).

3. Become Committed to Spiritual Community – (Acts 2:40-47) A disciple of Jesus has a Spirit inspired desire to live life with other followers, the Church. They recognize their membership in the Body of Christ and understand the weight of that responsibility by giving of their gifts, time, and money to serve others.

4. Embrace the Great Commission – (Mt. 28:18-20) Jesus said He was sending His Church in the same way in which He was sent (Jn. 20:21). A follower of Jesus sees themselves as a missionary sent on purpose, in their everyday lives, to restore a broken world through Kingdom living and proclamation.

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