Episode 1. The Real Thing
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So many things in this world seem to turn out to be imposters. They promise so much, they look so good, but when you finally sacrifice everything to get that one thing – whatever it happens to be …
So many things in this world seem to turn out to be imposters. They promise so much, they look so good, but when you finally sacrifice everything to get that one thing – whatever it happens to be – it almost always disappoints. Have you ever wondered why that is?
After more than five decades living on planet Earth I’ve experienced here in Australia where I live, quite a few elections, after all Australia is a democracy and so we have regular elections. Every three years for our federal parliament, every four years for our state parliament and every few years for local government. So I have countless times heard politicians promising the Earth in order to get elected.
Aspiring Prime Ministers, aspiring State Premiers, aspiring local councillors adamantly proclaiming that this is what they will do and this is what they won’t do if only we’ll elect them. And each time I want to believe them, I do believe them, maybe the best way to put it is I put my hope and trust in them to lead our country, our state or our city in the right direction.
But no sooner do we elect them then all those rock solid promises seem to go out the window. Now there are often very good reasons for that, circumstances change, the economic outlook changes and so on but if I had a dollar for every time I felt deflated and disappointed through the breaking of the promises I heard before election day I think I’d be a pretty wealthy guy.
I know that it’s tough being a leader and a politician and I really feel for those people and respect them and all that but you get my drift. And yet it’s not just politicians and governments that so often disappoint us, let’s not pick on those mostly hard-working, mostly decent and honest people who step forward to lead in our society, so many other things disappoint as well even though they had promised so much.
I wonder in your life what have you been disappointed in. What was it that promised so much and then you tried it and it left you so terribly deflated when it failed to live up to the promise, hmm? Perhaps it was a relationship, a marriage perhaps. The courtship was so wonderful then ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years down the track – nothing.
Perhaps it was a child whom you brought into this world in great love and sacrificed for for so many years only for that son or daughter to go completely off the rails and desert you and reject you and the value’s you tried so hard to distil in them. Perhaps it was a job or a career choice; perhaps it was something that you’d saved hard for and bought only to discover that the sacrifice just wasn’t worth it.
I remember once, many years ago when I was earning lots of money, jetting around the globe, business class of course as a high-priced IT consultant, I bought myself a really expensive car, beautiful thing it was. Smooth curves, deep burgundy paint work, gorgeous soft creamy colour leather seats, that wonderful new car smell that you get, every electronic gadget you can imagine, four-wheel steering so you could turn the thing around on a pin head, really an amazing piece of luxury engineering.
I was so delighted when I picked it up from the showroom. It cost a huge amount of money and I went into debt to buy it because I just had to have it. And just a few years later I was on an overseas business trip and left it at the airport. When I came back I discovered that there had been a really big hailstorm. That beautiful sleek, shiny, deep burgundy skin had so many craters in it from where the hail had hit it that it looked a bit like, I imagine, the surface of the moon would look like.
I had it repaired of course but ever after that it had a leak in one of the rear passenger doors they could never find and fix so that when it rained I’d get a little swimming pool on the floor behind the driver’s seat that I had to empty with a cup. I ended up selling that car for a tiny fraction of what I paid for it.
Are you getting my drift here? So many things in this world disappoint and yet we chase after them with all that we are. We sacrifice our money, our energies, our time, our emotional strength to them over and over again trying to get them to work, trying to squeeze out of them that satisfaction that we’ve been looking for but over and over again they slap us in the face.
And when that happens to me I think to myself, ‘You dummy, haven’t you figured it out yet?’ Please don’t get me wrong, there are many good things in this world for us to enjoy and God does want us to enjoy them. Marriages are a good thing, a gift from God. Children, well yeah, they’re a good thing too, an amazing blessing from God and the things we can buy and do, they’re all great but when we get to sacrificing our money, our energies, our very lives on their altars that right there is wrong.
I want to share with you today what is probably a very familiar passage from Gods Word, the First and Second Commandments from Exodus chapter 20, verses 1 to 6, have a listen.
Then God spoke all of these words. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery and you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water or under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God punishing children for the inequity of their parents to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and who keep my commandments.
Today we’re kicking off a new series of messages that I’ve called God’s Very Best For You. It’s a really important series because this idolatry thing is something that you and I want to do over and over again. We want to take the good things of this world many of them perfectly good things and then place them above God in our lives.
And as we’ll see we often do that by rationalising that these are after all blessings from God. He wants me to be happy, He wants me to enjoy the good things of this world and of course He does but do you notice that there are two parts to this transgression of, if I can call it this, idolatry.
There is the making of the false image, “You shall not make for yourself an idol whether in the form of anything that is in the heaven above, that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth.”
And then there’s the worshipping of it, “You shall not bow down to them or worship them for I the Lord your God am a jealous God punishing the children for the inequity of their parents to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Now this is something that we’re going to chat quite a bit about over the next few weeks on the program but right now let me ask you, what is it in your life that has become a false image? That idol, that thing that you’ve made for yourself be it a career, a reputation, a relationship, a possession, whatever it is that you have placed above God by worshipping it.
By sacrificing your life and your resources in order to have it by pouring all your energies and all your time into it to try and squeeze that satisfaction out of it that it’s meant to give you that the world promised you it should give you. What is it in your life? Come on what is it?
Do you see how easily you’ve rationalised that behaviour away by telling yourself that it is after all God’s blessing and God does, after all, want you to be happy and to enjoy your life. Yeah, I know this is confronting. I know it’s uncomfortable but here’s the thing, God loves you so much that He wants the best for you, the very best for you.
And He knows how He’s made you and He made you so very deliberately in a way that the things of this earth, however good they are, will never ever ever bring you the joy and the peace and the contentment that can only be found in Him. It’s never going to happen. Your Father in heaven loves you so much that He only wants the best, the very best for you and that best, that very best is Jesus.