April 10, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“No Other gods Before Me”

Exodus 20:1-6

1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Recently, a pastor and I were discussing the family dynamics of Chinese households in China. Because many families only have one child, these children are doted upon, not only by parents, but also grandparents. Parents spend most of their time and energy working to financially provide for their children. Grandparents, who are retired, spend much of their time taking their grandchildren to and from extra-curricular activities.

While this may seem like an ideal situation, this puts tremendous pressure on these children. Why? Parents and grandparents pour all of their time and resources into their children, so that their children may grow up to become successful, and, in return, take care of them. Thus, a big struggle for parents in Chinese churches is that they begin to idolize their children.

In this passage, after the Israelites have encamped next to Mount Sinai, Moses meets with the Lord. The Lord then directs him to tell the Israelites that if they keep the covenant, then, they would become the most treasured possession among all peoples.  Once the Israelites agree to follow the Lord, the Lord commands them to consecrate themselves because He is going to speak to Moses for the Israelites to hear. Quickly He imparts the Ten Commandments for the Israelites to obey, the first of which is, “You shall have no other gods before me” (v. 3).

Upon hearing the phrase, “Other gods,” we often think of physical idols found in temples. While these are certainly other gods, many of us are not tempted to bow down before them. Yet, many of us still struggle with this first commandment.  How so? The gods with which we struggle in the 21st century are not made of stone, gold, or silver; rather, these so-called gods are seemingly good things discreetly integrated into our daily lives. Like the example about Chinese families, our gods are anything that we think can save or satisfy us apart from God. These gods can come in the form of our children, social media, finances, degrees, etc. The scary thing is that we do not even realize these things have become our gods.

God puts this verse as the first commandment because He wants to make it very clear—not that He is an egocentric God—that our lives must be God-centered. Our God is the only person who can truly save and satisfy us; turning to anything else will only hurt us in the end.

This morning, invite the Holy Spirit into your heart to make you aware of anything that might be a god in your life. Is there anything in your life that you have become dependent or has become your mode of satisfaction? If there is, ask the Lord for forgiveness and to help you become more God-centered.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for saving us through your son, Jesus Christ. Lord, You call us to live God-centered lives because only You can truly save and satisfy us. You do not want us to live under the lie that these other gods can do the same. If there is anything in my life that has taken your place, please help me turn back to You. In your name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 8


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 6:19-24: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Questions to consider

  1. Why does Jesus teach us not to store up treasures here on earth?
  2. What does the metaphor in verses 22-23 mean?
  3. Why is it impossible to serve two masters?

Notes

  1. Jesus teaches us not to store up treasures here on earth because these earthly treasures are temporary and will decay. Even in the digital world, cyberspace is not safe from “viruses,” power outages, and the disappearance of backups.
  2. In this passage, the eyes represent the heart. Therefore, if the heart is healthy, then the whole body would be full of light. However, if the heart is unhealthy, then the whole body would be full of darkness.
  3. It is impossible to serve two masters because our heart’s affection cannot be divided. Our hearts will naturally love one and reject the other. Therefore, we must give our Lord an undivided heart.

Evening Reflection

This morning, we invited the Holy Spirit to help us become aware of some idols in your life. This evening, take some time to reflect why these “things or persons” have become idols? What are some ways that you can protect your heart?

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