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News for Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
June 8: When Idols Tug at Your Heart
By Shawn Allred
6/3/2014
pastor, FBC, Bruceton

Focal Passage: Ezekiel 8:3b-4, 10-12; 14:1-6

What’s in your wallet? This is the catchy slogan for a major credit card company aired constantly on major television and cable networks. Take a look inside your wallet or purse. What do you discover? Inside you may find family pictures, some lint, debit and credit cards, insurance cards and a driver’s license, some money. All of these items are important to life. Some of them are used each day and others are there when needed. 

Like taking an inventory of a wallet or purse to see what’s contained inside and what’s important, our relationship with our Lord needs to be inventoried and evaluated. God does just that with the Israelites as He comes to Ezekiel and takes him on a visual tour of the temple and the activities that were occurring in the place set apart for the holiness of God. God reveals to him detestable images of idols placed all around the temple and deviant acts of idolatry being done by the children of Israel. 

So what’s in your temple? If God were to reveal the dwelling place of His Holy Spirit in you, what would it show? The Scriptures liken our bodies as the embodiment of the Holy Temple of God (see I Corinthians 6:19-20). We have the responsibility to our Lord to keep His temple a place where He alone resides and reigns. The Word of God must be used to reveal to us the idols of our hearts. Hebrews 4:12-13 (HCSB) is a wonderful example of how to utilize God’s Word as an effective tool against the idolatry of the heart: “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.” The battle against idolatry is ongoing, but using God’s Word to reveal idols and remove them is an effective tool against putting idols above Christ. 

Ezekiel not only witnessed the presence of idols in the temple but also witnessed the religious elders trying to hide their idol worship in the darkness of night from God and others. They erroneously believed that God did not see the effects of their divided hearts on their actions. God sees and knows all. There is no sin or slackness that God does not recognize. The condition of our hearts will determine the direction of our actions. A heart devoted to Christ alone will lead us to obedience to His will and ways. Conversely a heart divided or given to idols will find one feeling distant from the plan and purposes of God. This can lead to a feeling that God has forsaken us much like the elders believed. God never moves from us but pursuing the idols of this world will certainly draw us away from Him. 

God desires a close relationship with us. He created us for His glory and desires for us to be completely obedient and devoted to Him. This was and is His desire for the people of Israel and for us today. God gives Ezekiel an anecdote for idol worship in 14:6. He tells Ezekiel to tell the house of Israel to “… repent and turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations.” Repentance is the action of turning away from sin, turning away from the idols that hinder the relationship that Christ desires with those that follow Him. 

So what’s in your temple? Take an inventory, identify the idols, and repent and turn back to a God who loves you and created you for His glory.

— Allred is pastor of First Baptist Church, Bruceton.

 


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