October 11, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Idols of Our Hearts”

Jeremiah 44:15-18

Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present—a large assembly—and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord! 17 We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. 18 But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.”

This past year, a sister from our church has been facing persecution from her family. Every Sunday morning is a battle for her to come to church—most of the time she is able to come, but other times she has to stay home. But praise God, her faith is still strong! Recently, her family bought a large golden Buddha statue and placed it at the front door. Uncomfortable with this act, the sister asked her parents why they did that, and the parents replied that this statue will provide good fortune, luck, happiness, and prosperity to the family. Many people in East Asia still have idols set up in their homes, not only for religious reasons, but they believe that it will  bring some form of luck into their homes.

In this passage, Jeremiah had just finished warning the Jews residing in Egypt that God is displeased with them—not only for residing in Egypt, but for worshipping Egypt’s gods. Their response reveals their rebellious heart towards God. First, Jeremiah writes that the men “knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods.” Knowing full well that God detests idol worship, the men still allowed their wives to perform rituals before the Queen of Heaven. This is outright rebellion towards God. Second, the men and women respond: “We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors….” There is no sense of shame, guilt, or remorse for their actions.

But their rebellion is not without reason. The men and women explain that when their ancestors worshipped the Queen of Heaven in Jerusalem, there was plenty of food, wealth, and no war. However, after the idols were removed, there was pain and suffering.

Like the Jews in Egypt, we may have idols in our lives. Though we are not enticed by idol altars in our local Chinese restaurant or the idol sitting in our History Museum, our idols come in different forms, such as social media, traveling (wanderlust), work, or even relationships. While they may look vastly different from idols in the Ancient Near East, these idols falsely advertise the same thing; fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace. Just as the Jews residing in Egypt believed the Queen of Heaven provided for them, we view our idols in the same way.

We may find satisfaction in finding the perfect job, traveling to beautiful places, or joining different causes—all of these are blessings, but they can become idols. We begin to live for these blessings, rather than living for the Creator who gives us these blessings.

As God’s children, we were created for the purpose of worship. Through this relationship with God, we are truly satisfied and fulfilled. We need to be careful to not let other affections—even good affections—get in the way of that relationship.

Let’s ask the Lord to give us the strength to remove and purge those things that get in the way of our worship to the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for providing so many blessings in my life. However, I know I can treat these blessings as idols in my heart. Help me to love You with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 16


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 17:11-19: Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why were the ten men shouting from a distance?
  2. What was significant about Jesus telling the 10 lepers to show themselves to the priest?
  3. What was Jesus’ response to the Samaritan returning to thank Him?

Notes

  1. Because they were lepers, and according to the Law of Moses, lepers were considered unclean and could not approach anyone.
  2. Instead of laying hands on them, He tells them to show themselves to the priest. This reveals His authority, but also reveals the faith of the lepers. While they trusted Jesus to heal them, to approach the priest without knowing for sure they would be healed was risky.
  3. Jesus was impressed by the returning leper’s gratitude, and He points out to the disciples that this man was a Samaritan. In fact, Jesus gives extra blessing to this man by saying, “Your faith has made you well.” Jesus most likely meant that the leper’s faith has healed his heart as well.

Evening Reflection

This evening, take some time to think about things that rob your worship to God. One indicator is how much time you spend on an activity or think about a certain topic. Afterwards, ask the Lord to help you take steps to take a break from these things, so that you can focus on the Lord.

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