Saturday, July 06, 2013, 7:59 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 (NIV): Flee Idolatry Idolatry is “the worship of idols or false gods; excessive admiration or love shown for somebody or something” (other than God) – Encarta Dictionary. An idol can be a hero, a star (sports, movies, music, etc.), obsession, and/or “something that is worshiped as a god” (Encarta). And, a god is a deity or “something that is so important that it takes over somebody’s life” (Encarta), i.e. in the place of God. For example, if I, due to lack of faith and trust in God, and because of fear of my circumstances or disappointment, hurt, or some type of emotional void or suffering in my life turn to someone or something other than God to meet those voids or needs within me, then that is idolatry, especially if I turn to some type of sinful behavior. If I take matters into my own hands and try to resolve my own problems because I think God is not moving fast enough for me, or because I don’t like the way he is working, and if I do so without consulting God, without listening to him speak, and without heeding his wise counsel, then that is idolatry. And, if I give my time, heart, emotion, passion, and desire to other people or to possessions or things above or in place of my commitment to God, as his servant, then that is idolatry. Whenever anyone or anything in my life becomes more important than God and his will for my life, then that is idolatry. I know. I’ve been there. And, I have to guard against going there again. We are to flee idolatry. To flee means to run away, take flight, bolt (I like this one), and stand your ground against. That means we are not to toy with it, compromise with it, straddle the fence on the issue, or in any way give it a foothold in our lives. If there is something that has the potential of becoming or has already become an idol to us to where it is consuming our time, energy, thoughts, hearts, minds, emotions, passions and desires, which should be given to God alone or to others, such as our spouses and children, then we need to bolt, take flight and run away from that which is or has the potential of destroying our relationship with God or those relationships with which we have been entrusted. With Demons Just in case we didn’t get the message when God said to flee idolatry, he hits the issue home a bit stronger. He reminds us that a relationship with Jesus Christ is a sharing with him in his death – for us death to sin and to self, and alive to Christ Jesus, our Lord. We are no longer our own to do what we want with our lives. We were bought with a price. Therefore we are to honor God in all that we do, think, say, value, etc. Yet, if we decide to do what we want to do, and we give our hearts, passions, thoughts and desires to other people or things above or in place of God, then we are, in essence, offering ourselves to demons (to Satan) for his desire for our lives, which has everything to do with us not doing what God has called and chosen for us to do. What we don’t realize is that we can’t have it both ways. We can’t drink the cup of demons and the cup of the Lord, too. In other words, coming to Christ means that we die to sin and to self daily, and we follow Christ in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives – not I but Christ living in me. We can’t walk in the light of Christ in fellowship with him and still walk in darkness (See 1 John 1). Jesus doesn’t want part-time or casual or occasional followers. He gave his life as a ransom for us, buying us back for him. I wish we could all get this! Christ doesn’t want just a little bit of us that we are willing to give to him when we decide to give it. He wants it all! He wants us as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer living by the pattern of this world’s system, but transformed in heart and mind by the Spirit of God in order to live our lives completely in his will and under his command. Not Everything There may be things that we have the freedom to do, i.e. that are not in and of themselves sinful activities, yet they may not be beneficial or constructive in our lives, and depending upon our nature, they may be things that could have the potential of becoming idols to us. So, a good rule of thumb to go by is to ask ourselves if this particular activity we want to involve ourselves in is self-serving or if it would be for the good (benefit) of others. Another good rule of thumb, and we are commanded to do so, is to do everything for the glory (praise and honor) of God. In other words, before we choose to do something we should ask ourselves, “Will this bring God praise and honor, or will it bring him dishonor?” “Will involvement in this activity hurt my testimony for Christ, or will it open doors for me to show Christ’s love to others to where I can share my faith with them?” “Will my involvement in this activity lead others to do what is sinful?” Please everyone I find this statement of Paul’s particularly intriguing and potentially confusing. He said he tried to please everyone in every way, and yet we know he never compromised his convictions. So, how did he do this? Or, what did he mean by this? In context, it appears that his pleasing of others had to do with not putting a stumbling block in their way, and this is with regard to disputable matters concerning food. On this subject of pleasing people and/or God, though, we read in the Bible that “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Ro. 8:8); that we should make it our goal to please Christ in every way (2 Co. 5:9); that we should not work to try to win the approval of human beings or to try to please people, for if we try to please people, then we cannot be servants of Christ (Gal. 1:10); that we should find out what pleases the Lord (Ep. 5:10) and do it; and that we should live a life worthy of the Lord and please HIM in every way (Col. 1:10), etc. So, what I take away from this is that we should first and foremost live to please God in every way. If, by living to please God, we are also able to please people, then by all means we should not purposefully be combative just to be combative, nor should we make it our goal to aggravate, or to be contrary or selfish with others, but we should think of others above ourselves, and we should show kindness and compassion to others. Yet, we should never compromise our faith, our calling, or who God has made us to be for his purposes and for his glory, just so others will like us. Everyone who has an opinion about us is going to have differing opinions, so even if we tried we could not possibly please all people. So, please God, and do what you can within God’s plan and purpose for your life to also show love and kindness to others for their benefit. And, never compromise your faith or your convictions. The bottom line is really that in all that we do and say or think, we should do it all for the glory (praise and honor) of God and then also with consideration of what is beneficial to others. We seek not our own good, but the good of many, so that they may be saved. And, ultimately, that is or should be our main goal – to see the whole world come to Christ. Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer / Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick Oh, to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion, Loving, forgiving, tender and kind, Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, Seeking the wandering sinner to find. O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit, Holy and harmless, patient and brave; Meekly enduring cruel reproaches, Willing to suffer others to save. O to be like Thee! while I am pleading, Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love; Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, Fit me for life and Heaven above. Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee, Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.