One of Satan’s favorite back-door schemes is to lure us into demoting God in our personal and corporate worship.
Satan knows that, for believers, an overt temptation to stop worshiping altogether would be too obviously originating from hell.
That’s why he lures us to go through the motions — and even the pomp and circumstance — of worship, but with our mental, emotional and spiritual focused on adoration for something other than Jehovah.
This sometimes happens when congregations see other congregations experiencing rapid growth in numbers because of impressive worship programs or facilities or theological/morality compromises. The priority of solid, Bible-based teaching and adherence to biblically moral standards for members are diminished in favor of “cool” and “attractive” and “comfortable” and whatever else gets people in the building.
For a wannabe congregation tired of struggling numerically and financially as nearby sister congregations thrive, the pressure to trust the flesh rather than deep-rooted faith can be SO strong.
And so, the dabbling begins. Subtly, yes, but certain nonetheless.
The strategies for slaying the Goliath of stagnant growth are sometimes adopted from megachurch examples that de-emphasize absolute loyalty to Jehovah alone and to His Word.
Lifted up as sufficient for sanctified faith are the substitutes of rock star-led, emotion-filled worship singing, multi-media kids’ sessions designed primarily to promote fun with token attention to the Bible and large-scale fellowship events that build waistlines more than they do redemptive relationships. Seen as archaic are conservative, Judeo-Christian values regarding sexual morality and Biblical inerrancy.
Actually, worship singing and kids’ programming and fellowship events are wonderful things IF they are permeated with collective surrendering to the Lord of every motive and effort.
It’s all about motive, about who we are trusting to be our primary source of success and who we are praising as the reason for our blessed lives.
Why this topic today that I pray you’ll read to the end? In 2 Kings 16, the story is told of King Ahaz’ falling into Satan’s trap of demoting Jehovah.
Ahaz, the Southern Kingdom ruler, was threatened with destruction by the armies of the Northern Kingdom and another bad-guy king from a neighboring country.
Ahaz paid tons of silver and gold to an Assyrian king to bring his bigger army to run off Ahaz’ attackers.
Once Ahaz saw that his land was again secure, he went to Damascus to meet the Assyrian king. While there, he became enthralled with a fancy, pagan worship altar and told his high priest to build him one just like it.
Remember, this was the king of God’s chosen people who was living in Jerusalem and was responsible for guiding people under the sovereignty of Jehovah.
“King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: ‘On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood of all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.’ And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered” (2 Kings 16:15-16).
It would have been too obviously blasphemous to ignore God altogether. That’s why Ahaz kept the bronze altar around. Though pushed to the side, Ahaz wanted the authentic altar was available if he needed advice from time to time.
Listen, I could build this message into a sermon but let me sum it up this way: It’s never right to push God to the side as to why we worship or to whom we worship, only calling on Him when we can’t figure life out on our own.
Our growth as Christians and as congregations should be based on worshiping as He commands, trusting and teaching that the only path to spiritual peace comes through sacrificial gifts to God via repentance, money and time, recognizing God’s own sacrifice of His Son on the altar of the cross for us.
The church across town might have a “larger, newer altar” in terms of a facility or programming. But if people there aren’t called to sanctified, sacrificial living surrendered only to Jehovah and Jesus, we should have no interest in imitating it.
For as the history of Israel shows, trusting anything other Jehovah is ultimately a losing proposition.
As always, I love you
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