“I am the Lord; that is my name!  I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”  Isaiah 42:8

I’ve been thinking about the soldiers who were chasing the Israelites across the desert under the command of Pharaoh. (Ex. 14:9) They saw all of the amazingly powerful and awe-inspiring miracles that God did just prior to that point through the plagues. (Ex. 7-12) If they stopped for a moment to think about it, they might want to change teams. They might want to serve and obey the one true God instead of the man-made “god,” Pharaoh. (Is. 45:5) But they didn’t. They mindlessly kept serving the ruler of their little world instead of the Ruler of the universe. Some of them might have had their doubts that this was the right thing to do, but they went along with the crowd. They charged right into the dry bed of the Red Sea to their death.  (Ex. 15:4)  All because a false god told them to and they didn’t even stop to question it, or they were too afraid of him. 

So what’s my point?  It’s this:  Who is the ruler of OUR little world?  Are we serving the one true God or a fake? Is the way of life that we call “the American Dream” honoring God or someone else?  Have we ever stopped to think of whether we really need all of this stuff that we work ourselves to death trying to afford? Did people in the Bible need treatment for anxiety and hypertension?  Not that I can tell… and yet we could consider their lives “hard” compared to ours. Pursuit of this “dream” has resulted in enslavement, to the detriment of our health.

Did Jesus set an example of living in comfort and affluence?  What did He say to people who put their wordly worries or anything else ahead of Him?  He said they were not worthy of Him.  (Matt. 10:37-38, Matt. 22:5)  Harsh, but true. Jesus said seek FIRST the kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you as well (Matt. 6:33). He wasn’t talking about second homes here–He was talking about needs like food and clothing. He didn’t even have a place to lay his head (Matt. 8:20).  The example He set for us was not one of living in luxury. If we’re content with what we have and doing our best to help those who have needs, then we’re doing well.  However, that is a big stretch from the current “American Dream” that we’re all bombarded with ads every day to pursue.  True freedom is reliance on God, not ourselves.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”  Matthew 6:24-5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  Philippians 4:11-12

Jesus also said the greatest command is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29). Is that what we’re doing?  Does God come first? We may not have wooden or stone idols that we worship, but whatever or whoever we love most and put first IS our God, or our god, whichever the case may be. Something to stop and think about before going along with any crowd, no matter how big it is:  Where does this lead?  The path to eternal life is narrow (Matt. 7:13-14). If everyone around you is headed in the same direction, you might want to question whether the road ends up where you think it does (Rom. 12:2). God never changes. The Word does not need “updating.”  We need to know what the Bible says and care about that.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life John 14:6.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love Galatians 5:13.

Those soldiers at the Red Sea may have lost their lives at Pharaoh’s hand if they had disobeyed him.  The price is not nearly so high for us today when we choose to follow God.  But according to the Bible, there is a day coming when the price to choose for yourself will be much higher. Today’s world uses freedom and every other gift from God to please self instead of God (James 1:17, Gal. 5:13, Col. 3:5-6).

God-given freedoms are given up in the name of safety that is only found by obeying God. (Prov. 18;10, Gal. 3:22)  More and more control will be given away. Eventually it will reach the level where people are required to worship “pharaoh” (the “beast” in Revelation 13:11-18) and take a mark that allows those bearing it to buy and sell (and thus, obtain food and shelter, etc.) The Bible teaches that that many will lose their lives for refusing to worship the beast (Rev. 13:9-10).  However, anyone who takes the mark will suffer the wrath of God and forfeit His forgiveness FOREVER (Rev. 14:8-11).  If it’s too hard to trust Him to provide for us when times are good, how much harder will it be during desperate times?

The evil people who drowned in the flood didn’t come back up alive out of that water. (Gen. 6:5) The soldiers who drowned chasing the Israelites into the Red Sea didn’t come back up alive out of that water.  (Ex. 15:4)  They are all lost in their unbelief in God forever.  But when we’re baptized into Christ, we do rise again, symbolizing the washing away of our sins (Acts 22:16), the drowning of our sinful nature and the resurrection into eternal life awaiting those who believe in Jesus. (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12)  However, it is not the baptism that saves, but the belief.

Yet it does go further, whether it’s popular to talk about or not.  The Bible teaches that once we truly believe, we will be indwelled by the Holy Spirit.  He will give us the desire to please God, wisdom to know God’s will, power to overcome sin and selfishness and everything else we need to live out our lives as a new creation and member of God’s family.  All we have to do is yield to Him, moment by moment, every day.  If there are no fruits of the Spirit, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are truly born again and have Christ in us or not.  He knows who belongs to Him and he expects them to act like it. (2 TIm. 2:19)  He provides us with strength, as well as wisdom through the Word and His Spirit.

It says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Romans 10:8-11

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is in you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.  2 Corinthians 13:5

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that Jesus appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.  1 John 3:4-6

And so the Lord says, “These people say they are Mine.  They honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.  And their worship of Me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.”  Isaiah 29:13

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  1 John 2:15

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11

These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.  Isaiah 66:2b

It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.  Psalm 127:2 (NLT)

So as always, we need to check and make sure that the message here is not about earning salvation.  That is not possible.  We do not work for it, it’s a gift.  This message is about what we do with this gift AFTER we receive it.  We are here to honor and glorify God, not ourselves or anyone or anything else.  God is not a magic genie and grace is not to be abused as a license to sin.  God said we can’t serve both Him and the world.  So we need to choose one–hopefully, the right One.

Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.  John 5:23

If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.  John 12:26

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  John 8:31-32

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Philippians 4:19-20

kit: The Wild Side by Kristmess Designs, eyelets by Hummie’s World, photos from Morgue File

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