“Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you.” Deuteronomy 6:14
While I was praying one day, three statements began to well up in me. I felt they were important and wrote them down.
1. “My God is high and lifted up.” - God is above all (everything, nothing excluded) and He is in complete control.
2. “My God will reign forever.” - His is not a temporary control; it’s for eternity. He has always been in control, He is now, and always will be.
3. “My God will gain the victory.” - No matter what it looks like now, God has won. Regardless of the circumstances and the actions of people, God has already won.
Do we genuinely believe those statements beyond any doubt? If we did, it would change the course of our actions. It would change the course of our thoughts and priorities. That kind of belief would change everything about us because it would change who we are. How grounded are we in our faith? How committed are we to our God?
We are all concerned that God has been technically removed from our government, our schools and our nation as a whole. And we should be. But we should be more concerned that God has been removed from many of our churches and in many areas of our own lives. The Church is weak because the whole counsel of His Word is unwelcome in many pulpits and church members’ hearts as they have settled into the comforts of this world and have become apathetic concerning the work of God’s Kingdom.
Recently, I heard reports of homes that were invaded and the children were told to renounce Jesus or die. None of those children renounced their Savior, and all of them were martyred as their parents looked on, helpless to stop the slaughter. That’s how deeply those children believed in Jesus. They were sure of their salvation.
Too often our light trials cause us to doubt the goodness of God and the control He has over all things. Sometimes we despair over things that are so petty. Our emotions tell us God doesn’t care for us because He doesn’t keep every little pain, opposition and burden from us. We rationalize that comfort and being carefree equals to love. So, when we pray for Him to remove a discomfort and He allows it to stay, we face a crisis of our faith. Most of us have been called by His name long enough to know Him better than that, but do we?
No one wants to face the kind of situation our brothers and sisters in other countries are facing. But if we did, what choice would we make? Is Jesus really our All in All, our Savior, Master and Lord? In their circumstance, would we still believe God is high and lifted up; God is reigning and will reign forever; God will gain the victory? Are we assured beyond any doubt who He is to us?
The parents of those martyred children expected the soldiers to return for them, and they begged their Christian brothers and sisters to pray that they would have the courage their children had. It reminds me of Hebrews 11:35 speaking about those that were martyred. “[Some] women received again their dead by a resurrection. Others were tortured to death with clubs, refusing to accept release [offered on the terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life.” (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine) Is that what we would have asked; to have courage to face death?
Their spiritual life was more real and more precious to them than the physical. They saw things, not from the natural view of this world, but from the life they lived in the truth of God’s Kingdom. If we will ask, God will open our spiritual eyes and let us see what is really happening around us. When we sincerely seek Him in prayer, studying His Word and listening to His Spirit, we will see greater things than this world. We will understand that He alone is God. Only those who are born of the spirit can see the Kingdom of God.
The assurance we have in God will be in direct proportion to our relationship with Jesus Christ. It comes only when we have a close, personal connection with Him on a spiritual level, and it will deepen as we are consistent in that union. An intellectual knowledge of Him can be pulled down by reasoning. An emotional knowledge of Him will constantly vary with our circumstances, whether they create joy and peace within us or fear and doubt. Our intellect and emotions can lead us to “other gods” that are no gods at all. They can cause us to slide away from Him and to put our confidence in other concepts, things or people.
In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, many of God’s people were serving Him part time. After all, He was the God of their ancestors, so they didn’t completely let go of those traditions and sentiments. But they also served other ‘gods’ like the nations around them. God doesn’t accept part time allegiance. If we acknowledge only that He is ‘a’ god, then we are denying the fact that He is the only true God.
Jeremiah confronted the people with these words from God Himself. “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:11-13)
Here God lists two destructive choices they made. First, they turned away from the revealed presence of God in their lives and the power of His Spirit to lead them, protect them, provide for them and bless them. Second, they turned to their own strength and knowledge that was totally inadequate to lead them, protect them, provide for them and bless them. Because they rejected God as God and were doing it their way, they found themselves in enemy territory before long.
Can you imagine how appalled the hosts of heaven must have been – those who live continually in the manifest presence of God, who have seen His glory face to face? They must have considered it unbelievable that anyone would make that exchange. But it still happens every day.
Have we changed our gods? I have always had to pause when I read the verse in 1 John 5 from the Living Bible that says, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. Amen.” The King James Version says it like this: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen”. That puts a little different perspective on it, doesn’t it? An idol is “anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” It makes the act of looking to other things, people, concepts and theories rather than the Word and Spirit of God sound much more serious.
Anything can become an idol in our lives if we allow it to take God’s place in that area. It can be whatever we allow to rule our thought patterns, our responses, or to dominate how we spend our resources God has given us. It can be traditions that we carry out in His name, but without His presence. People or possessions can become so dear to us that they become idols; a career that we pursue above God can control our time and priorities; rebellion against His will can turn us from following Him to seek our own way. God says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)
Now is the time to renounce any other gods we are depending on, listening to, worshiping, offering up money to, or sacrificing our time for. In Isaiah 26, God’s people had learned a lesson about serving other gods. They repented and turned back to the Lord God Jehovah, Who was and is and is to come. They found serving Him was superior by far to serving other gods and losing His presence among them.
They said, “O Lord, our God, other masters besides You have ruled over us, but we will acknowledge and mention Your name only. They [the former tyrant masters] are dead, they shall not live and reappear; they are powerless ghosts, they shall not rise and come back. Therefore You have visited and made an end of them and caused every memory of them [every trace of their supremacy] to perish.” (Isaiah 26:13-14 - Amplified)
Do we have other masters ruling over us besides God? We can choose what God we serve, so let God arise in your heart and put to rest any other gods.
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)