“‘Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.”—Matthew 7:24-27 (NCV)
“‘Tis mad idolatry to make the service greater than the god.”—William Shakespeare
Well…it’s another 3am in the morning kind of message and so I’m bracing myself (Psalm 46:5). Being awakened in the wee hours can tempt one to complain (Philippians 2:14), but I’ll tell you what: just like a child is often too immature to understand the blessings that come in living in their parents’ home, oftentimes we, as children of the Most High, don’t honor the privilege that comes with being able to “seek and find” our Heavenly Father (Matthew 7:7-8). Indeed, all that I hear in my spirit at this very moment, as it relates to this point, is Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV): “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”
These are strange, strange times that we are living in (2 Timothy 3:1-9, 2 Peter 3:1-4). No longer is it “passive-aggressively humble” or a Christian cliché to say that making it one more day physically whole and emotionally sane is a blessing. Indeed, in these times, it’s a miracle and an extreme testament to God’s grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:16); two other things many of us tend to take for granted.
Two things that I believe the Lord is tired of us taking for granted.
I’ve shared it several times before in the past that there was a huge “ah ha moment” between me and my Father several years ago when I heard the Spirit say, “Shellie, your problem is that you believe in my blessings but not my wrath. I am the God of both.” It’s amazing that many of us think our Father is much like how many of us tend to be as parents: weak. There are plenty of scriptures that speak to disciplining the children that the Lord has entrusted to us (Proverbs 13:24, 22:6 &15, Ephesians 6:4) and there are many more that address our Father’s love through disciplining us. Other than Hebrews 12:6 (NKJV), “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (you might want to check out the definitions of “scourge”; they’re not very “happy happy, joy joy”), another scripture that comes to mind is Proverbs 15:10 (NKJV):
“Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, and he who hates correction will die.”
This message is gonna be a “harsh discipline” account, but correction, godly correction, is never for naught. I pray that this message will help those who have forsaken the way and will save some soul that’s lost; both out of the Church…but especially those who are in it (I Corinthians 5:9-13). Lost isn’t just about not knowing the Lord, but not serving him (a form of worship)…in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
So with that said, is it just me or is 2010 already showin’ out? Here we were claiming what “10” biblically symbolizes (restoration) and yet, I’ve had a couple of moments when I’ve been like, “Uh hello…seems like things are falling apart over here.” The Holy Spirit’s response (John 14:26)? “So you’re paying attention. THEY ARE.”
The “free setting truth” (John 8:32) is that something has to be torn down for it to be restored. When you redecorate a home, something has to be removed…first. When you refurbish an office building, things have been taken away…first. And, for our human trinities (mind, body, spirit) to be restored…built up…healed…improved…recovered…REDEEMED…if you’re not willing to make some sacrifices, if you’re not willing to lose some things, if you’re not willing to pray the prayer, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (Psalm 51:12-NKJV) and mean it, then you may be in search of something, but restoration is not it. Getting back to the state that you were in prior to your views, your habits, your fetishes, your rebellion, your fears, your brokenness, your spiritual ignorance and/or arrogance requires some serious reassessing.
This is what Theotes (Greek for “Godhead”) brought to me as I was outlining some desires for this year. I was told that I would have to let some things go…and there was no way around it. But I think it’s the way I was told that tripped me out. It came during a fast last week:
“When you put anything before El Shaddai, the All Sufficient God, that is a form of idolatry. When you find yourself in a relationship that we (the Godhead-Genesis 1:26-27) never advised you to be in (or that we told you to get out of), when you take a job or sign on to a ministry without our leading, when you listen to other people’s advice before the Word or listen to advice with no Word as its foundation (John 1:1, 2 Timothy 3:16), when you decide that your desires are more important than the laws we set in place for your protection, edification and sanctification (John 14:15)…when you do that, you are partaking in idolatry and the Word says that you are to have no other God except God (Exodus 20:3).”
I must admit that while I’ve known of idolatry for quite some time (all of us are sinners, which means all of us are guilty of committing it—I John 1:10), I have never really done a Bible study on it…until now.
Idolatry: worship of idols; blind or excessive devotion to something
Idol: an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed; an image of a deity other than God; the deity itself; any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion; (catch these last two) a figment of the mind; fantasy; a false conception or notion; fallacy
When it comes to worshiping a deity other than God, when it comes to being blindly or excessively devoted to something, when it comes to fantasizing about a certain person/place/thing/idea/notion, when it comes to living your life based on a fallacy (I can have sex with my girlfriend because I love her, it’s OK to tell a lie for protection’s sake, I am not killing someone so long as I’m using my words and not my hands), you are living the lifestyle of idolatry. With that, the Word says the following:
An image, even one created in your own mind, can be an idol: “Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit; they are their own witnesses; they neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.”—Isaiah 44:9 (NKJV)
Succumbing to temptation is a form of idolatry: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”—I Corinthians 10:13-14 (NKJV)
Sex outside of covenant, uncontrolled passion (for anything—love is patient: I Corinthians 13:4), wanting what other people have are all idols: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.”—Colossians 3:5-7 (NKJV)
And what does the final scripture advise when it comes to having idols before the Lord? It doesn’t say put them down. IT SAYS PUT THEM TO DEATH, which ironically lines right on up with “10” and “restoration”. For something to be renewed or to “begin again”, it has to come to an end…first. I was just telling a friend of mine last week that there was some real grieving that I had to do recently in certain areas of my life because I had to release by “putting to death” things that were tied to my own idolatry issues so that I could be restored; so that I could get back to a state of health, soundness and vigor; so that I could grasp a greater understanding of the Lord’s ORIGINAL PLAN for my life. Flesh can make you very hard of hearing when it comes to the Spirit. Truly, to be redeemed, your spirit must be committed to the process (Psalm 31:5). Be very leery of the “junkie mentality”; “This is not my idol. I can stop talking to him/her, stop doing it, stop creating images of this anytime I want to.” If you are partaking in a conscious sin, knowing how God feels about it, it’s obvious that 1) an idol is exactly what you have on your hands and 2) that you can’t get rid of it alone. Idols are meant to take a hold. You can’t be friends with idols. YOU HAVE TO LET THEM GO. It hurts. Discipline can be a painful experience indeed. Colossians uses the word “death” in reference to leaving uncleanness and evil desire for a reason. But, as I spent some real soul-searching time on my “hamster wheel” cycles of choice, I realized that I stay in the same stuff because I, well, stay in the same stuff.
To get a husband, I have to let the boyfriends (physically, mentally, emotionally) go.
To get good credit, I have to let the spending habits go.
To get a better attitude, I have to let the negativity (person/place/thing/idea) go.
To be restored, I have to let my idols—all of the things that caused me to put anything other than God’s will, way and Word for my life in the forefront—go. THEY HAVE TO GO. By worshipping them, I have made myself ill-equipped of “putting them in a proper place”. Idols don’t have a proper place. They caused me to sin. They must be released…if restoration is my goal.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a devotional about sand. One revelation to me in it was that sand is nothing more than itty bitty rocks. The lead scripture for today says that a wise man builds his house upon THE ROCK, but the foolish man builds his house upon the sand. Rock is a biblical symbolism for God (2 Samuel 22:2; Psalm 18:2 & 71:3). A wise man builds his house upon the rock, GOD. A foolish man builds his house upon the sand; fragments of God…pieces of God…perhaps the parts of God that are convenient for him, but it’s obvious that it’s not the totality of the Lord’s being. And really, can there be “itty bits” of our Lord? Perhaps in our own mind, but speaking from personal experience, our thoughts and “the way we see things” tends to be the biggest idol of all to contend with (Isaiah 55:8-9).
If I could describe what my life looks like now, it’s very similar to standing on a concrete slab after a demolition has hit it. I have the blueprint of what my “life house” will look like and perhaps without that, I would freak out. A lot of things used to be in my heart space, my psyche, my personal view. There was once a castle of mental and emotional hoarding that idolatry built, with the mortar being lies that I told myself: that sinful relationships were healthy for me (I can use the bond to witness to them and win them over); that my past was not going to catch up to me (just because it hadn’t…um, yet); that I could control the things that were controlling me. But with restoration comes freedom. TRUTH IS WHAT MAKES US FREE. It’s what takes down the lies and then builds us up in honesty, integrity, soundness…truth. GOD’S TRUTH.
I hope this provides a word of “It’s OK, God’s got this” encouragement for some of you who may wonder if the Lord knows that it’s 2010. He’s the Father of time. He does and if you’re losing more than you’re gaining right now, that’s a good thing…a great thing, actually. That means he’s building something very different than what you conjured up; he has something in mind that will last as he intended for it to…forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). Something that is on the right foundation. HIM. THE ROCK.
So, you lost it? Better yet, you let it go and everything seems empty? Good deal.
Don’t be afraid, get excited.
It’s a surefire sign, from your new contractor (get into covenant, y’all-Psalm 89:34), that you’re about to be restored!
©Shellie R. Warren/2010