Tuesday, March 25, 2008

“They worshipped EMPTINESS and became EMPTY”

This is the day that the Lord has made! I WILL REJOICE and be glad in it.

What an awesome Resurrection weekend we had. In our three services, we had 868 in attendance, and several people either got saved, or rededicated their lives to the Lord. Also, our cast of 100 or so, did a phenomenal job in portraying the gospel message in our drama entitled, "The Lamb of God." I have never been more proud of a group of people as I am our awesome church family. From acting, making costumes, greeting, parking, security, and praying in the altars, our church exemplified the love and heartbeat of Christ! Again, this pastor's heart is so very full. I am so thankful that Jesus loved us enough to pay the debt for our sin, and we reap ETERNAL dividends. What a great deal…amen?

I have been reading through 2 Kings the past several days. It is always amazing to me how easily God's people have turned away from Him to follow other gods. In 2 Kings 17 there are 20 ways that the Children of Israel turned from God. Let me share them with you:

1. Spiritual forgetfulness and ingratitude. 2. They feared other gods (2Kings 17:7).
3. They adopted the customs of the pagan Canaanites (2Kings 17:8).
4. They tried to keep their wrongdoings secret (2Kings 17:9).
5. They covered the land with "high places" (2Kings 17:9). "From watch-tower to fortified city" was a familiar figure of speech used to denote "everywhere"—that is, "hamlet to metroplex."
6. They set up idolatrous pillars and wooden images everywhere (2Kings 17:10). "On every high hill and under every green tree" is another idiomatic expression meaning "everywhere."
7. They burned incense on the "high places" (2Kings 17:11).
8. They served idols (2Kings 17:12).
9. They would not listen to the warnings of the prophets whom the Lord sent to them (2Kings 17:13-14).
10. They became stiff-necked and rebellious (2Kings 17:14).
11. They rejected God's statutes, His covenant, and His testimonies (2Kings 17:15).
12. They followed idols, and thereby became idolatrous, adopting the empty customs of pagan nations (2Kings 17:15).
13. They disobeyed all the commandments of the Lord their God (2Kings 17:16).
14. They made molded images of two calves (2Kings 17:16).
15. They made a wooden image (Asherah) and worshiped "the host of heaven"that is, the sun, moon, and stars (2Kings 17:16).
16. They served Baal (2Kings 17:16).
17. They burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Molech (2Kings 17:17).
18. They practiced witchcraft and soothsaying (2Kings 17:17).
19. They sold themselves to do evil (2Kings 17:17).
20. They provoked God to anger (2Kings 17:17).

What a list! Now for the "therefore." Since Israel had sinned so grievously, therefore they will be destroyed (2 Kings 17:18). The ten tribes of the North disappeared after this, never to be heard from again. These ten lost tribes of Israel have been a mystery through the years. People have tried to find them in the Jewish communities of southern Arabia, in various tribes in India, in China, in Turkey, in Cashmir, in Afghanistan, in the American Indians; but not a trace remains. Verse 2Kiings 17:23 says, "the LORD removed Israel out of His sight."

But one of the most vivid lessons in this passage is in verse 2Kings 17:15. The New King James Version translates the phrase, "They followed idols, became idolaters." The original is more accurate at this point: "They worshiped emptiness and became empty." The word here is hebel meaning "air," "delusion," or "vanity."
The idea is that they became like the gods they worshiped. They bowed down to nothingness and became nothing.

The writer of Kings describes the religion of idolatry with the same vivid phrase. It is hebel—nothing but hot air. And the tragedy was that the followers of that empty religion had become empty themselves: their lives lacked substance, their personalities became trivial, their characters lacked depth. As one man described his friend, "Down deep, he's shallow!"

As one commentator put it, "Trivial Pursuit" is not just the name of a popular American game, it is the sad but accurate description of the lives of many people today. Their lives are trivial. They go through the motions of routine daily schedules without anything to excite them, to challenge their best, to ennoble their existence. They have put first in their lives those things that have no eternal value, and as a result, they have become as empty as their "gods." Someday, they will conclude, as the author of Ecclesiastes did, of vanities … All is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 12:8).

Please take the time to go over the twenty things that Israel did to fall away from God (listed above). Does the Holy Spirit convict you of any of these in your life? Why not ask God if you are guilty of any of these? If He convicts your heart, then confess it and repent of it. We MUST NEVER allow ourselves to worship EMPTINESS…we become like what we worship! If we worship emptiness…we will be empty!

Lord, please forgive me for worshipping EMPTINESS, and VANITY! I want to put you back FIRST in my life. Please make this your prayer today. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: March 25, 2008 (Tuesday): I Chronicles 13:1 – I Chronicles 17:27

This week's memory verse to "hide in my heart": Isaiah 43:2-3

Isaiah 43:2-3 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior:…"