Monday, December 23, 2013

Guest Blog: No Other Gods

I know it's Monday but my wise friend Erin, whom we've heard from multiple times, has a prayer on her heart.  Monday sounds like a great day to hear it.  

So let's listen and join her in prayer over our children!

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Not long ago, Renee wrote a blog about the role of sports in our lives, pointing out that there needs to be balance and ultimately we pray that the training they learn through sports would be a skill they use in the future and in their relationship with the Lord.  This idea of something good getting taken too far weighs heavy on my heart.  Since this topic perfectly connected to something I had already been asking God about for my kids, I thought maybe we could continue the conversation.  Shall we? 

In beginning of the book of Daniel, the Jewish people had been taken from their homeland to Babylon.  The youngest and brightest were trained in the ways (including religion!) of the Babylonian people for various purposes, including infiltrating their existing belief system.  You see, if the Babylonian leaders could change the way this group of young men thought, it would impact future generations.  The Babylonians believed in many gods.  This was not the way it worked for God’s people. 

Three of the young men chosen, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (names given to them as part of their training) were put to the test on this.  In Daniel 3, they are told to bow down to the statue of the king.  They refused and were punished but amazingly God saved them.  

After hearing a sermon on the topic recently, I read this story with fresh eyes.  The Babylonian king didn’t particularly care if the Jewish people served a god.  They could do that in private.  But when it came time to bow down to what he, as king commanded, they needed to submit to the polytheistic (more than one god) way of thinking. 

Where in the world am I going with all of this?  
If I haven’t lost you yet, hang on.  

Think about sports.  
Think about friends.  
Think about clothes, shoes, electronics, toys … 

We are raising our kids in a culture that may be ok with attending church over the weekend, unless it interferes with a game schedule, or unless it means we say no to specific movies, games, even ways our children spend their time.  

Gulp. 

God is so clear.  No other gods before him (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7).  

Along with the rest of the commandments, God gives this to

us because it’s what is best for us.  He knows us because He made us.  He also knows what our sinful hearts lean towards.  

Jesus says this really clearly in Matthew 6: (The Message translation)

You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other.

Nothing else can be for us what God is.   We can take comfort in this.  Everything else will fail; even a stellar 5-year-old soccer season will pass. J

Isaiah 44:8
Do not tremble, do not be afraid … Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.

Isaiah 45:18
For this is what the Lord says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Out of his great love for us, he sent his son to make right what got messed up a very long time ago.  For me personally, no bag of Doritos or ice cream can compete with that. 

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego modeled for us is what I want to model and teach my kids.  We may not be in Babylon, but this challenge applies to us today.  Even when surrounded by those who bow down to lots of things, and even when we are asked (even told!) to bow down to other things, I pray we would choose not to – knowing we serve the only God. 

Graciously heavenly father, hallowed be your name.  We come before you knowing that we bow to other things beside you and ask for your forgiveness.  God, please give us wisdom to teach and model for our children that there is no other god but you.  You are the gracious giver of every good gift.  They need nothing but you.  While you have givens us amazing things to enjoy in this life, we serve nothing or no one but you. 




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