God Must Be Our Focus of Worship

th-2The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks this question: “What is man’s chief end.” The answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”  We ought to recognize  these are not two separate commands. To Glorify God is to enjoy Him. This is worship. The more we learn of God, the more we can appreciate Him – and how great His love is for us.

In Romans 5:8 we read, “… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Can we read that; understand it; and not glorify Him; not revel in His love? Not enjoy the blessing of being one of His?

Now, understand. We DO live in a sin-filled world. It’s a hard world to enjoy sometimes. God knows that. Do you think Jesus was smiling as the thorns bit into his skull; as the breath was crushed from His body? Enjoying God does not mean that we have to slap a fake smile on and pretend that all is right on earth. But we do need to remember that God is in His heaven, and He has both the power and the will to love us beyond our own imagining.

Here’s another important little snippet from the Westminster Divines:

Q: What is God?

A: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

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God Must Be Our Only God

God does not enjoy competition. Jostling to get the front of the line of those mankind worships is NOT His idea of a good time.

In Exodus 20:3, we read, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (ESV).

We should have no gods in front of Him – or beside

thHim. This claim of God on our allegiance to Him is an exclusive claim. In other words, if we worship Him, we may not worship any other, whether it be a false god, a person, or things. Let me give you an example. US citizenship is intended to be exclusive. Technically, an adult may not be a US citizen and a citizen of another nation. We do not allow dual citizenship. Now I know that this law is poorly, if ever, enforced, and there are many loopholes and technicalities. The principle, however, is that it is impossible to split your allegiance between two sovereign nations. This was the same thinking that went into the internment of Japanese people in the United States during WWII. Jesus stated the principle pretty clearly in Matthew 6:24,

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

So what’s the practical application of this principle? Here are a couple of ideas in that regard.

  • We may not make things (even ideas) into gods. Men and women worship just about everything. History, of course is one of the greatest idols of academics and non-scholars alike. Today’s greatest false god is Nature. To be an environmentalist today doesn’t mean caring about your environment and being a good steward of the universe God has created. No, it means to call the earth, “Mother Earth,” and to extend to this mother all the worship and allegiance due God – who created the earth. We also worship wealth and belongings, and power. Some even worship their own children. Then of course, there are the false gods in the traditional sense: Buddha, Allah; Krishna, etc. We cannot worship Buddha and the true God; the Lodge and the true God; the zodiac and the true God; we cannot worship both the church and the true God. God tells us, “know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39 (It would be good to take time to read this in context, beginning in v. 15).
  • We may not make ourselves into gods. In Romans 1:25 we see that God is angry with mankind and has turned us over to the workings of our own depravde minds, “…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

We human beings do tend to deify ourselves. Instead of reliance upon our God; our reliance is upon our own wisdom. We deify science and claim that discoveries come from our own fertile minds, while we are merely discovering what God has created and put in place for us. We worship strength and beauty and youth. We adore wealth and power and connections. But we need to be brought back to our senses and remember that we already have a perfectly good God who does not need to be replaced. Why try to replace Him with a frail or faulty copy which can only lead to hell?

 

Putin Chastises America

In the midst of a violent storm at sea, an unbelieving ship captain challenged the prophet Jonah to pray:

So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” Jonah 1:6

Likewise, Cyrus, pagan King of Persia, freed the Jews and made provision for the building of the temple. (see the book of Ezra).

Now we have Vladimir Putin, Russian President and former KGB agent, challenging the 100px-Emblema_KGB.svgUnited States on its retreat from Christianity. Putin is reported as stating in a recent address to his nation,

“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including
Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.” Read more.

Putin is, of course correct in his assessment that the US is drifting from its Christian moorings. One would have to live under a rock not to notice the un-Christian and anti-Christian lean the nation has taken during the last several decades.

But don’t be fooled, dear friends. Putin’ puritanical streak is no indication of a burgeoning Christian faith. While his reign in modern Russia is noted for its conservative stances against homosexuality and favorability toward religion, particularly in the form of the traditional Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian leader is not necessarily of the household of faith.

Rather, I suspect, his “moral” strictness may be compared to that of intolerant Muslims, Communist China under Mao, or the rule of Idi Amin in Uganda. It’s not about faith. It’s not about God. It’s not about the Savior Jesus Christ. It’s about power. Control the urges and desires of the people; demand moral discipline; call it “for the good of the people.” These are, historically, pathways to power.

We who are Christians should not give up on Vladimir Putin, however. We should pray for him. He may yet come to faith in Jesus Christ. He may prove to be a great Christian leader someday. I do not believe he is there at this point.