“Then if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek Me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NCV
We have a god problem. We, like the Philistines in 1 Samuel 5 have too many gods. After the Philistines defeated the Israelites they captured the Ark of God and brought it into their god Dagon’s temple. Even after Dagon lost the battle against God, the Philistines still refused to worship the Lord. Since the Lord and their god Dagon couldn’t get along, the Philistines chose to get rid of the Ark of God. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus confirms our inability to serve and worship two masters. In other words, we can’t have:
God and money.
God and acceptance/approval.
God and career.
God and family.
God and friends.
God and government.
God and food.
God and sex.
God and social media.
God and exercise.
God and astrology.
God and possessions.
God and fear.
God and hurtful situations/people.
God and “me” (actions, words, and thoughts are all self-centered).
Just in case you need the definition of an idol:
1. Taking our needs, cares, or concerns to something or someone instead of God.
For example, if we are worried about our future, we look to the stars instead of looking at the Creator of the stars. We indulge in food and sex for comfort instead of seeking out the Comforter. God is our everything. He can and desires to meet all of our needs (even needs we think are small or unimportant).
2. Worshipping something or someone other than God.
If we were to compare the time and money we spend on a weekly basis on our possessions, it would be greater than the time and money we give to God. This is a form of worship. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Worship comes from the heart. We may not bow down and pray to Twitter and our tricked out Ford Fusion, but the amount of time and money we spend on them reveals that these things have our heart. However, that’s exactly what God wants— our hearts. Need proof? In Matthew 22:34-40 an expert of the Law of Moses asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment and Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”
We need to realize…
1. That God is God alone and He will not compete for our time and our hearts. The Lord has always given us that choice to worship Him, someone or something else. Why? Think about it. Would you rather have someone love you out of freedom or out of fear? I thought you might choose freedom. That’s the way the Lord feels; He’d rather we worship and love Him out of freedom.
2. That worshipping idols is why the Israelites in the Old Testament got in trouble. We don’t need to follow their example.
3. That none of these gods can compete with God. While these things can bring us happiness and pleasure they can’t give us true joy. They can’t love us or comfort us the way He can. The government, our friends, and family aren’t wiser than God; and they won’t be there for us like He will.
Therefore, we need to…
1. Get rid of our idols. They are separating us from God. When there’s separation you can bet there is miscommunication. Does this statement sound familiar to you? “Man! I feel like I can’t get a prayer through!” Well, guess what? God is saying the same thing to us, “Man! I can’t get a command, a solution to their problem, or a word of encouragement through!” Furthermore, we need to get rid of our idols because living in this dark world, the last thing we need is to be separated from the Light of the World. He brings hope, love, joy, and peace—all the things we’re searching for and trying to find in our idols. So how do we get rid of our idols? God answers in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Side note: If you keep reading all the way to the end of this chapter you’ll notice one of the ways Israel got caught up in doing evil):
1a. Repent: This is the first step. In this verse God says that we need to “humble” ourselves, which in one way means to repent. We have forsaken God for gods. Repentance is more than just feeling sorry; it’s also about changing our beliefs and our thoughts so we can change our behavior. Repentance is the first step because it’s in this step that we admit that we need Christ and that we choose to obey Him.
1b. Pray: Consider prayer as your AA Meetings or your Spiritual Counseling Sessions. Prayer is honest and intimate conversations with God. You want to be honest with the Lord about your fears, your needs, your desires, and your problems. God wants to reveal the roots of your fears, be the Source of your needs, share with you His desires for your life, and show you the solutions to your problems.
1c. Seek God: This is where the hard work begins (that’s why it’s the last step). To “seek” the Lord in Hebrew means to inquire, consult, or to ask God. We’re asking God for a few things:
* To answer the question, “Why am I chasing after idols instead of You?”
* To help us remove the idols. (This goes back to the repentance step where we admit that we need Him.)
2. Get back to our first love— God. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in love, but I have. I can tell you that when I was in love I always wanted to be around them. I was checking my phone every five minutes to see if they had called or sent a text. I was constantly on the computer not focusing on completing my schoolwork, but trying to see if they wanted to talk online. I just wanted to be in their presence. Not only that, I knew the things that my love liked and I would spend my money getting those books, CD’s, candy, etc. Most of the time I got those things because I wanted to see them smile. I also knew the things they didn’t like and I would do my best to avoid hurting them. God wants us to treat Him that same way. He wants our mind, our heart, and our soul. And you know what? For all God has done for us and continues to do for us, He’s not asking us for much.