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"This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw what I did to Jerusalem and to all the towns of Judah. They now lie in ruins, and no one lives in them. Because of all their wickedness, my anger rose high against them. They burned incense and worshiped other gods – gods that neither they nor you nor any of your ancestors have ever known. "Again and again I sent my servants, the prophets, to plead with them, 'Don't do these horrible things that I hate so much.' But my people would not listen or turn back from their wicked ways. They kept right on burning incense to these gods. And so my fury boiled over and fell like fire on the towns of Judah and into the streets of Jerusalem, and now they are a desolate ruin.” (Jeremiah 44:2-6* NLT)
In today's society idols seemingly are the norm, not the exception. It's as if our God doesn't even exist anymore. People are running to and fro, head over heels into the practice of idolatry, headlong into the very gates of apostasy. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Thus, we see the importance of this blog.
Oftentimes a Biblical truth will come to mind as if by divine direction to emphasize a certain Bible principle. I'm not sure if this revelation is in the form of a dream, a vision, or just a thought of mind. It could even possibly be a modern-day parable.
(A parable is a fictitious or made-up story designed to teach a lesson through comparison. When you hear the story, you can relate it to your own life. It is like an illustration for the points in a sermon. It conveys its message of truth through analogy, through comparison or contrast. In other words a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning)
Nonetheless, as long as the biblical principle gets published, that's all that counts, be it a dream, a vision or a parable. So here goes.
I was out walking one day and suddenly found myself walking down a dusty winding trail. What caught my attention was a posted sign by the side of the trail entrance which read, "One mile to the Altars." Strange, yes, strange enough to spark my curiosity. As I walked, I came upon another post which read, "Half mile to the Altars." And then I came up on the third sign which read, you guessed it, "Approaching the Altars, Remove your shoes.”
Just then I could see several large stone monument-type altars, encased in a thick fog. As I got closer to these figures, the fog seemed to be lifted. There, in a clump of grass were many altars, each one carrying a different inscription.
These inscriptions read, Money, Success, Sports, Entertainment, Pleasure, Luxury, Beauty, Power, Comfort, Possessions, Career, Self". and on-and-on..
Wow, what a strange sight! No spiritual or divine altars, what kind of religion is this? Suddenly a strange-looking character just seemed to pop out of nowhere. He was dressed rather crudely all in black and carrying a large bag with a tag that read "Self-Indulgence." When he approached, he first knelt down at each altar, then he rose to greet me.
"You look as if you are puzzled," he remarked. "I understand you may have a question or two.”
"I certainly do," I replied. "What kind of religion is this? Why all these selfish, inscriptive altars?”
"Why, it's simply a religion of worship,” he exclaimed. “Don't you believe in worship?”
"I surely do, but not this kind, not these type of altars, these inscriptions seem to line up with that the tag on your bag which reads "Self-Indulgence," I exclaimed.
As soon as I gave my response, this unsavory character seemed to disappear into thin air. Just like a cloud, he was gone. And just as he vanished, I seemed to be directed, as if by divine inspiration, to another sign which appeared behind the altars.
What was so strange about this one sign, was that it appeared to be lit up, as by some divine illumination displaying the phrase "THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY."
Where on earth did this quote come from, and what did it mean? And why all the altar inscriptions signaling the varieties of worship? Suddenly, the answer just seemed to come instantaneously. Not as a result of a dream or a vision, but what simply seemed to be a real, divine heavenly encounter within my mind, through a still small Voice.”
Now, I know God can speak through any encounter, so I really wasn't shaken by this method of communication. It could be explained simply as the eternal power of my Lord. After all, has God not spoken before in the wind? (Job 38:1) Has He not spoken through an earthquake, (Exodus 19:18) and has He not even spoken through thunder. (Psalm 104:7) So, why not speak to me through a still, small voice? All I could do then is "Be still and know that He is God." (Psalm 46:10) Knowing that He would give the proper meaning of my encounter, here's the commentary this still, small voice gave.
"These altars are very much real, just as the many gods represented on them are. You see, whatever you put first and serve, aside from God, is your god, is your idol. And every unholy god or idol requires an altar, as every unholy god or idol comes with a sacrifice which requires an altar."
"These unholy gods may require a sacrifice of your peace, your health, your marriage, your time, your family, your integrity, and so on. And the more you give in to their service, the more you must sacrifice."
My mind then seemed to take over with many additional questions. "But what about a true Christian, who serves his living God," I asked. "Does God not have an altar, does He not require a sacrifice?”
"Yes", said the "still, small voice. "God does have an altar, but not like any other. You see, on all the other altars, the sacrifices are man-made. But on God's altar, it is God Himself who sacrifices Himself for mankind". (Galatians 1:4) "Therefore one need not sacrifice and give himself to any other false gods, except the one and only true God who gave Himself for us". (Exodus 20:3-5)
"What about the phrase posted on the sign behind the altars? That one has me puzzled.”
"Do you remember that big bag the man was carrying?” the Voice asked.
"Yes I do, it had an inscription of "Self-Indulgence.
"Then follow this clue," the divine voice concluded, "And one last all-important concern, you didn't kneel at the FORBIDDEN ALTARS as the Evil One did, I trust."
So, I followed the clue, and my Internet search led me to numerous scripture references which were too many to list. These references all give meaning and warning to us Christians who are throwing off restraint and discipline and yielding to the desire to gratify selfish appetites and cravings of self. These scriptures warned against such a practice and urged instead self-control, generosity and consideration for others. One such main passage, which I was directed to was found in (1 Cor. 10:1-13). And lo and behold, when I turned to this passage in First Corinthians the inscription of the last sign just popped out. (1 Cor 10:7). Yes, I now understood, it's all about idolaters.
Nonetheless, I've yet to figure out the identity of this strange looking character I met by those godless altars, but he was right on target with his bag of "Self Indulgence" tricks. Was he Satan himself, or one of his many minions? Could be, I suppose. (1 Cor. 4:4)
Yes, I really got the message from these scripture passages, however. I will no longer be subject to Satan's demon powers, or his control over this current universe (Ephesians 6:11-12), as I know how to escape these false gods and their false idols. Temptation will not overcome me. (1Cor.10:13)
Beloved, are there idols or gods in your life? You see, anything you follow above God is an idol. So take a spiritual sledgehammer and smash those altars of false gods, for in Christ, you have no need of any man-made altars of self-indulgence. Simply live free for Him who gave Himself wholly for you. (Romans 12:1) (Ephesians 5:2)
This "Still Small Voice" is worth expanded explanation and knowledge. You see, it is much less important how God speaks to us than what we do with what He says. God speaks most clearly to us in this day through His Word. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The more we learn it, the more ready we will be to recognize His voice when He speaks, and the more likely we are to obey what we hear. You see, all through Scripture, we see God speaking, “Thus says the Lord.”
I realize it’s hard at times to wrap our finite minds around the fact that God wants to talk with us. After all, what may we tell Him that He doesn't already know? In ( Psalm 27:8) King David gives us a prime example of this hypothesis.. So, let us talk to our heavenly Father, on a regular basis. Come and freely open the conversation with the one who says," Come and talk with me".
Thus, simply remember, "Self-indulgence" is spiritually dangerous to us believers because it’s a form of idolatry. It’s something we oftentimes turn to instead of God for happiness. It dulls our spiritual tastes and curbs our spiritual appetites (Proverbs 27:7). Much like the altars in this blog, we must take these warnings seriously. Amen!
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