Worship Him Alone

Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17, Matthew 5:17-20
Date: 03/09/2013 
Is it possible to be worshipping other gods and not know it?
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Good morning, friends and happy Sabbath to you. We're glad that you're here and we can worship God together. We're doing a special series talking about the law of God - the Ten Commandments - sometimes known as the decalogue. "Deca" means 'ten' - like a 'decade'. Logue or logos means 'words'.

It's the ten words - the Ten Commandments of God. There are few things that we could talk about that are really more sacred. We could talk about the Bible and, of course, this is a very important book, but beyond the Bible being an important book, there are parts of the Bible that we're told were written by God. Now, all of the Bible is inspired by God, but the ten commandments, in particular, were spoken with the mouth of God and written with the finger of God on stone to represent their eternal, unchanging nature. And so, these would be words above all words that deserve our attention and sacred reverence.

There's something extraordinarily holy about the law of God when God speaks something to a nation audibly. When he writes it with his own finger that means he's putting a special attention or priority upon it and that priority ought to pass on to us as well. Now, of course, you find the Ten Commandments in the book of Exodus, chapter 20. You also find them repeated a number of places in part. You find them in Deuteronomy 5 - but I'd like you to go with me.

I want you to notice something about the Ten Commandments that just helps us understand the awesome nature of it. Now the series we're doing is called 'the Ten Commandments: laws of love and liberty'. Today is, in particular, going to focus on the first commandment. We sort of gave an overview of the law last week. Today we're going to talk about worshiping him alone.

And, wanting to understand the holy context of the law when it is given, if you turn to Exodus and go to verse - you can start with verse 16. God said that he would meet with them on Mount Sinai and he told them, 'I'll meet with you after the third day' - interesting that Jesus rose the third day. "And then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire.

Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder," - it already said it was exceeding loud - "Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the Lord said to Moses, 'go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish.

" This mountain was so sacred because God himself would be on this mountain, they had set bounds about it and if man or beast crossed this barrier - you weren't to kill them by touching them because you would almost be contaminated by that - it says, 'you're to shoot them with an arrow or thrust them through, but don't even touch them, if they would dare venture uninvited on this sacred ground.' Now Moses, and later the priests and Joshua, they were invited up, but if you came without an invitation onto this holy mountain - and especially during the moments when God was speaking the covenant. First he spoke the covenant, then he later wrote it. So it's like an agreement. First you've got the written agreement and then you have - first you have the oral agreement and then you have the written version of that agreement. Now just picture this for a minute.

They're standing at the base of this mountain - and we're not exactly sure what mountain that is. Right now, they've got a famous spot - they've got st. Catherine's monastery in the sinai peninsula on this mountain that a later tradition tells us is mt. Sinai. Some of you here have probably been on a middle eastern tour and maybe you even went down to the sinai peninsula and visited that mountain and you can take a camel ride part of the way up, but scholars are more inclined to think it wasn't in the sinai peninsula today but it was really in saudi arabia and that was the sea that was parted miraculously by God.

It makes sense in a number of ways - for one thing, Paul says, 'Mount Sinai, which is in arabia'. It's right there in the new testament. So, somewhere in the southern regions of that arabian peninsula there's a mountain. Some people think they've found that. They have found some mountains down there that seem to have some ancient carvings in them.

It seems to fit the description and the top of the mountain is charred. The rocks are literally burnt black from a certain point up. None of the other mountains around there are like that and they thought, 'maybe this is the vestiges of when this mountain was scorched by the glory of God.' I don't know. Nobody's exactly sure where that mountain is but I can promise you, if you were there that day, it would have been an awesome thing. Thunder - picture something that looked like a nuclear explosion and a mushroom cloud going heavenward from the top of a mountain.

I remember about 25 years ago, not far from our place in mendocino county, there was a terrible forest fire on mount sanhedrin and all - it was one of those summers where things just took off - the timber was very dry and one morning we woke up and because there was a breeze coming from the ocean it blew away the haze that had been there for days and we could clearly see where the fire was coming up from the top of mount sanhedrin and it went up like a mushroom cloud - quite literally it formed a mushroom cloud as it went up into the atmosphere. The whole top of the mountain was on fire and, you know, you can even - the smoke from forest fires can create a cloud that will produce lightning. You've probably heard about tornadoes producing lightning. And so here, coming from the top of Mount Sinai, also known as mount horeb, in the Bible, same mountain - trumpet blasts, lightning, thick smoke, they can't see it and there's flashes coming out of it. And so God did something awesome and grand and spectacular when he delivered his law - unlike anything he had done before to help us understand the holy nature of his law.

So when we start to delve into the law of the Lord, know that it is something special. Now I'm emphasizing that because it breaks my heart - I still meet even professed Christians today that think the Ten Commandments have somehow been done away with in part or in whole. God did everything he could to emphasize this law was for all of man. You notice he doesn't give the Ten Commandments in palestine or in the land of Israel, he does it in a neutral land representing it is for all humanity, right? Now I thought it would only be appropriate as we begin this series on the Ten Commandments that I read through them. We should all know them.

You know, a few years ago, some college professors gave a number of their students printed copies of the Ten Commandments - you can fit them easily on one page - and asked them to organize them in order of what they thought the most important were. Ninety percent of the students rearranged the order. They thought the priorities were wrong. And they took the commandments that had to do with man's relationship with his fellow man and they put them at the top. Are you aware only five percent of Christians in North America can tell you - no, fifty percent of Christians in North America can only name five of the Ten Commandments.

That's according to a barna survey. Fifty percent of Christians in North America can only think of five of the Ten Commandments. Now, some of those Christians aren't in church every week, I suspect. Let's look at them together. Chapter 20 - Exodus - verse 1, "and God spoke all these words saying," - now here's where the Ten Commandments begin - on the stones behind me we actually have the Hebrew engraving - starts with what you would see as verse 2 in your Bibles - "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

You shall have no other Gods before me.'" - That would be commandment one - "'you shall not make for yourself a carved image - 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; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For i, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of The Fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love me and keep my commandments.'" - Right there in the Ten Commandments it tells the key, love him and keep his commandments. Third commandment now, "'you shall not take the name of the lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.'" - Fourth commandment - "'remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.'" - Now we've just recited the commandments that would be on the first stone. Now we're going to the second set or table - "'honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'" - Now notice what it says after the commandments are given - verse 18 - "now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, 'you speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.' And Moses said to the people, 'do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that his fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.' " God did not give us the law to kill us, he gave us the law because he wants to save us, amen? And so the law is good, it's just, it's holy. The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul and it's appropriate that we should talk about the law of God.

We ought to make a priority of what God makes a priority of. And it talks about the law of God all the way from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus said, 'think not I have come to destroy the law. I did not come to destroy it but to fill full.' So now we're going to focus our attention on that first commandment: "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

" Now, it is an instinct that God has placed in every person to worship him. It's appropriate that this is the first commandment. And I'll submit to you that if you get this commandment right you will not break any of the others. You know, in the Lord's prayer God puts things in order of their priority. First thing is 'our father which art in heaven, hallowed' - holy - 'is your name.

' First part of the Lord's prayer has to do with worshiping God as The Father in Heaven of all. You get that part right and the rest of your prayers usually end up right. So God starts with the priorities and the priority is first to worship him exclusively and to worship him only. But he begins by saying, 'I am.' Now, does that sound familiar? First part of that commandment - first part of the first commandment, 'I am'. What did God say to Moses? Exodus 3:14 - when Moses said, 'lord' - at the burning bush - 'who is this that you're telling me to go to the children of Israel.

' You know, the Egyptians had so many Gods and he's saying, 'which one are you?' And God, rather saying he was, you know, eeney, meenie, miney, or moe, he said, 'wait a second. Let's get something straight right from the beginning. I am that I am. I am the self-existent one. I am the one that made everything that all the other false Gods are made out of.

You can't even have a false God without me first making the true and then you realign things. I am the one.' And so he wanted to separate and say, 'I'm not just one among many. I am the real God.' So he identified himself as the "I am who I am. You'll say unto the children of Israel, 'I am has sent me to you.'" You know, this is one of the favorite ways that Jesus describes himself in the gospel of John. John, I think, really understood that but - the jews understood it.

You remember when Jesus said, 'before Abraham was, I am.' What did they do? They took up stones to kill Jesus for blasphemy because he said, 'before Abraham was, I am.' Because that was a divine title of God. It talked about 'from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.' But notice how often Jesus used that: 'I am the bread of life. I am the living water. I am the good shepherd.' Over and over Christ says, 'I am that ladder that reaches from heaven to earth.' Jesus frequently - 'I am the vine.' How many other times does he say it? You ought to go through the gospel of John and see Jesus constantly talking - he said, 'I am he that was dead and am alive forevermore.' - Even in the book of Revelation. So Jesus identified himself as the 'I am'.

Who was it that spoke to Moses at the burning bush? I think it was God The Son. By the way, the Bible says no man has seen God The Father at any time, but we have seen God through God The Son. Jesus is the one through whom The Father revealed himself to humanity. That's why Jesus says, 'if you've seen me, you've seen The Father.' 'I am the bread, the door, the shepherd' and so forth. And then he goes on to say, 'I am the Lord thy God.

' Now, in Hebrew, what he's saying is 'I am yahweh.' Now, this is the sacred name of God. It's a mystery exactly how to say this. This comes from those sacred four consonants - sometimes it's yhwh or others have translated it jhvh. We sometimes say, yahweh or jehovah as the holy name of God. And in the tetragrammaton, which was those four letters, you've got the consonants but the jews thought the name of God was so sacred we aren't sure what the vowels were, so the exact pronunciation of that name is somewhat of a mystery, but we'll say yahweh for right now.

What he says here is 'I am' - one of his titles - 'yahweh elohim'. Everything he could say to identify himself is in that first commandment so there's no confusion. 'I am that I am. I am jehovah. I am the Lord elohim.

' So he tells us that he is the sacred one with the sacred name. Now we've got another commandment coming talking about the name of God so I don't want to go down that road, but there's no question. You know, sometimes you write a letter to someone and you don't identify who you are until the end of the letter. In a business letter you put your identification at the top of the letter so they'll know 'what am I about to read? Who's it from?' God says, 'what you're about to read, let me tell you who it's from.' And he identifies himself clearly in that first commandment. Then about half of the commandment is given to a part that some people delete.

God made it a big priority. He says, 'I am the Lord who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.' People think, 'well that's not the first commandment. The first commandment is you are not to have other Gods before me.' No, part of that first commandment is 'I am the God who saved you.' This is very important. If you miss this, the rest of the law doesn't make sense. God is saying, 'I save you first.

' The first thing that happened, the children of Israel were in Egypt, they applied the blood of the lamb. He says, 'you come to me just as you are.' We sang that song a minute ago, 'just as I am', you come to him. He says, 'I forgive you. I save you. You trust, through faith, in the blood of this lamb and you'll be forgiven.

Then I save you out of Egypt. After I've saved you from Egypt,' and he gave them, then, bread from heaven, he destroyed their enemies when they were attacked, he gave them water out of a rock and you notice, after he showed them his care for them and his provision for them, he reminds them, 'I have your best interest in mind. Matter of fact, I love you. That's why I've done something for you that I've not done for any other nation. 'What other nation' - God says - 'had a God so close to them? Leading you now in a pillar of fire? Hearing my voice speak to you? I'm the one who just saved you.

I care about you. I love you.' He's implying - John chapter 14, verse 15 - 'if you love me, here's my law.' You understand? The very beginning of the Ten Commandments God is saying, 'I've shown you how I feel about you. Now how do you feel about me? Do you love me? And if you love me' - and it says it right there in the commandments, remember, 'showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.' Love then obey. God is telling us at the beginning of the ten commandments, 'I have saved you.' Does obedience come before salvation or does salvation come before obedience? Oh, that's a tricky question for people. You are not saved because you obey.

The only part of obedience that comes before salvation is believing. God commands you to believe and if you want to call that obedience then that's the part that counts. We are saved by grace, not by earning it, through faith. But then, when you are saved, you are so thankful that you live a righteous life because of faith. That's what righteousness by faith is.

So it's so important to get the order right here. 'I have saved you because I love you and if you obey me, do it because you love me.' Then he says, 'I am the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other Gods' - he doesn't say fewer Gods. He is very clear that he does not allow any competition with any other Gods. Keep in mind, he had just visited the Gods of Egypt with all those plagues - ten plagues - those plagues were directed, in many ways, at the Egyptian Gods.

They worshiped the sun - the sun gets blacked out. They worshiped the river - the river turns to blood. They worshiped the critters in the river - frogs start to proliferate everywhere. So these plagues are really showing how powerless their Gods were and now God is saying, 'I don't want to be one of your Gods.' You know, it's difficult witnessing to certain world religions that absorb Gods. Buddhism, for instance, and I don't mean to be ungracious to any buddhists who may be watching or may be here today, but buddhists will say, 'oh, yeah, Jesus was wonderful.

We love Jesus and we love buddha and we love all - we respect all Gods.' And they're all different incarnations of God and they sort of absorb Jesus and make him one among many. This is one of the big problems that the world, and especially the media, has with Jesus, is the exclusive nature of Christianity. While we love and respect people from many different faiths, let's make one thing clear: the book that we believe in does not say that you are saved by whatever you happen to believe. It says, 'there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. God says, 'I will not tolerate any other Gods.

' So you might love people from different religions - you do need to love them, Jesus does. You want to be a good witness to them, but you also need to be faithful to God and say, 'you know, while I love and respect you, I can't participate with you in even giving partial worship to your God or your Gods because my God says, 'there is no other God.' Daniel understood that, while he loved and respected the people in Babylon, when the King said - or persia at this time - when the King said, 'don't pray to anyone except me for thirty days' Daniel said, 'no other God. No other God.' And he said, 'I'm going to let you know which God I worship, even if it costs me my life.' And they could have told him, 'Daniel, that's not very loving. That's not very - couldn't you just, for thirty days, temporarily close your windows?' No other God. And that's the Spirit and the attitude that we need to have as believers.

God's very clear. Remember, these are not ten recommendations. They're not ten great ideas or suggestions. These are commandments of God and commandments are meant to be obeyed. And so he says, 'no other Gods.

' Babylonians - it tells you there in Daniel 5:4 - they prayed to Gods of gold and silver and brass and iron and wood and stone. They had all kinds of Gods made out of all different kinds of materials. It's estimated that the Greeks worshiped 30,000 different Gods. The Romans had so many Gods in the city of rome, they had to build the parthenon to hold them all and many of the priests there couldn't name them all they were so numerous. In modern india it's estimated there could be as many as 330 million Gods, most of them from the hindu faith.

Every village in town has got their own special group of Gods and they've got the stories that go with it. It's impossible to know that many Gods. But the Lord says, 'one God.' Now some people struggle with that, you know, the Lord said - Moses said in Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4 in the great shema, "hear o Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Well, is he one God or is he three? We've talked about this a little bit. God, our God, is one God. He is a united God.

God The Father, son and spirit is one God. See, the Egyptians, they had all their territorial Gods. They had the God of the river and you don't have the God of the sand dunes mess with the God of the river and the God of the light and the God of the birds and they all had their battles and intrigue among themselves and, like the Greek Gods, all fooling around with each other and humanity for entertainment. But not with our God. Our God is a one God.

God The Father, son and spirit are perfectly united. You say, well wait doug, here you're saying one God and yet you're saying it's composed of three people.' That's a very clean biblical concept. Jesus said to the twelve apostles - he prayed to the father, 'father I pray that they may be one' - there were twelve of them - 'even as you and I are one.' John 17. So you've got twelve but they're one. And the Bible says a man leaves his father and mother and he cleaves unto his wife and the two become what? One flesh.

So the Lord is consistent when he says that there is one God but we know there's more than one person in the Godhead because there in Genesis, during creation, God says, 'let us' - elohim is plural there - 'make man in our image.' And I forgot to remind you of that, when it says in the first commandment, 'I am the Lord thy God' - God there is elohim - it's in the plural. So even in the Ten Commandments, God is saying - it's almost like God is saying 'we are the Lord your God. He says 'I am' because God the father, son and spirit are of perfectly one mind. I suppose that if Karen and I could always read each other's minds and if she could always read my mind with what you call 'real time' - simultaneously - I could always think what she's thinking and she could think what I'm thinking, we could talk to other people and say 'i' and mean both because she knows exactly what I'm thinking and what I'm saying. You know what I'm saying? No, not exactly because we're not like that.

But so, for God, whose mind is perfectly linked - isn't it true that Jesus said 'if you've seen me, you've seen The Father'? God The Father, son and spirit are perfectly linked so the Spirit's going to take me to you. Right? Isn't that what he said? We say 'Christ is in my heart now.' But is he or is it Christ through God the Spirit, right? But they're one. And so he said, 'I'm not going to share you with anyone else.' God is very exclusive in that and that really bothers people when we say, 'only one God. Not salvation in anyone else.' Now another part of that commandment - it says, 'you shall not have any other Gods before me.' According to Jewish scholars that word 'have' is used in a personal relationship. A man would have a wife.

He would have children. The word 'have' there implies personal relationship. God says, 'I am the one who has a personal relationship with you and you're not to have that relationship with any other God.' 1 Corinthians 8:5 and 6 - there are many different Gods - Paul tells us "for even if there are so-called Gods," - 1 Corinthians 8:5 and 6 if you're making notes - "for even if there are so-called Gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many Gods and many lords)," - there are many that are called so-called Gods - "yet for us there is one God, The Father, of whom are all things and we for him; and one lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live." He says there's one. And again, I read you Genesis 1:26, God said "let us make man in our image." Unless we are guided by God's spirit we will worship other things. Unless we are keeping the first commandment, I can guarantee you you are worshiping something else.

You might be saying, 'well doug, I may not be a Christian. I don't really worship any God.' Oh yes you do. Yes you do. Everybody worships something and if you are not making the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob your God - the God of the Bible your God - if Jesus is not your all and all, then the question is 'what is your God?' Because everybody serves somebody and that's the question now, 'what are you worshiping?' There's a lot of different Gods out there. Something else about this commandment - and I need to give Karen credit for this, she brought this to my attention, he not only says 'I don't want you to have any other Gods', he is calling them out to be separate.

He's wanting them to be unique. Notice, 'I am the Lord your God that brought thee out. I brought you out to worship me.' Moses said to pharaoh, 'let my people go that they might go out in the wilderness and hold a feast unto me and worship me.' You know what the church is? The word 'church' there in Greek is 'ecclesia'. You've heard of the ecclesiastical. Ec - you look on the red behind you there you're going to see - not the time clock - you're going to see 'exit' - that springs from a Greek word that means 'out' - the way out.

And then you've got the word 'kalos' or 'kalo' which means 'kaleo' really. It sounds like 'call' doesn't it? I'm going to pick up my cell phone and give you a kaleo. You get the idea, it means 'to call'. So the church is the called out. He says, 'I saved you out of'.

You cannot worship God until you come out. It is really hard. You know what the pharaoh said, he said, 'Moses look, alright, enough plagues, enough. I'll let you worship your lord. Do it right here.

' And they said, 'no, that won't work because we offer sacrifices and that's an abomination to the Egyptians, they'll stone us. We've got to go three days into the wilderness. We can't worship our God until we get out of Egypt.' The church, in order to worship God, needs to come out from the world. You need to be separate. Can you tell the difference these days between the people who are in the church and the people who are in the world? Do we - can you? Not very much.

Not very well. I'm talking about the church in a more universal sense. You can barely spot a Christian anymore. There ought to be a difference in Christians in the way that we talk, in the way that we act, in the way that we think, in the music that we listen to, the clothes that we wear, the food that we eat. Everything about a Christian ought to be a little different.

You know why? Because we are a called out people. Let me give you some verses for that. Peter 2, verse 9, "but you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises" - how? In our lives - "proclaim the praises of him who has" - notice - "called you out". That's what God says in the Ten Commandments, 'I saved you out' - he "called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;" by the way, in Exodus 19 it says, 'I've called you out to be a peculiar treasure.' He says, 'I want you to be separate. You're my jewels.

I've called you out to be different.' So part of worshiping God and no other God is to be willing to come out and be separate. By the way, I didn't read that to you, 2 Corinthians 6, verse 17 - I wanted to give you a couple from the new testament and one from the old. Here's another from the new testament, "therefore 'come out from among them and be separate' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.'" So if you're just right in there with the world all week long and you come to church for two hours a week, are you really called out? Are you wanting to reflect Christ and live differently? If you're going to worship him as your supreme God you've got to come out of Egypt. And that's right there in the text.

Something else, another reason that we worship God supremely is there is no God like our God. God is all-knowing. Now, when you think about the descriptions of God, we talk about God as being omnipotent, he's omniscient, he's omnipresent, he's omnipathic - that means he feels everything. In other words, God is everywhere - he's omnipresent, he always exists - he's eternal. He knows everything - he's omniscient, he can do anything - he's omnipotent, he feels everything - he's omnipathic.

There's no God - there's no other God but our God. But God has all of the qualifications where he deserves our worship because he is so awesome and powerful. He can - let me give you a few Psalms - psalm 147, verse 5 - a few verses here - 147:5, "great is our lord, and mighty in power, his understanding is infinite." Why do we worship him? There's no limit to his understanding. I was talking with some friends from another religion and they were telling me that, you know, someday, as time goes by, they will eventually be Gods of their own worlds. And I said, 'when you get to be Gods of your own world will you still be able to learn?' 'Yeah, we'll continue to learn.

Eventually we'll be Gods of our own universe.' And I said, 'so our God now, did he once start out as a lesser God?' 'Well, yes.' 'And so, is he still learning?' They said, 'yes.' I said, 'how can he be all-knowing and still learning?' You can't - did you get that? You can't reconcile the two. The only time a person can really be all-knowing and still learning is a teenager in high school. So - there's that little lapse there. Isaiah 55:9, "for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." You know, it's not like God is involved in time management. He has power over time itself.

Talk about time management, God can live in the past. He can live in the present. He can live in the future and he can do all of it at one time. You and I can't comprehend that. That's another reason to worship him.

He's beyond time. He knows everything before it happens what's going to happen. Isaiah 42:9, "behold, before the former things come to pass and new things I declare before they spring forth I tell you of them." It's not like the weather man who's making an educated guess, God knows exactly what's going to happen. Isaiah 46:9 and 10, "remember the former things" - I think this was in our Scripture reading - "for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me." - Why worship him alone? - 'There is none like me, I am God.' - "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done," - you can go back to the foundation of the world and he can tell you exactly how it's going to wrap up in minute detail. Have you ever thought about how much power it requires to predict the future perfectly? Do you realize, because the world is so interrelated with every - every little atom and electron and neutron, that every gesture you make, every breath you breathe is going to create a chain reaction of others around you? Isn't that right? So think about how brilliant a person would have to be to predict exactly what's going to happen in history a thousand years from now.

I mean, you know, if I were to tell you that in ten years cuba's going to rule the world how likely do you think that is? If you were going to speculate and put money down - I don't recommend that, I'm just saying would anyone put money on that? Now, please, don't take offense any of my friends in cuba. I went to school in miami beach and a lot of my friends are from cuba. I'm just picking them because they're a little kind of isolated country right now. Well, you know, that's what God did when he predicted rome would rule the world. They were primitive tribes up there.

Two brothers, ostensibly raised by wolves, someday they're going to rule the world. Who would have thunk? You know what I'm saying? But God, he knows everything. Only God has that kind of power to predict things and he knows exactly how this world's going to end. For some people, they have other Gods. Let's talk for just a moment about that.

Now, you know what? This sermon would be very long if I decided to take the remaining time and talk about all the other potential Gods you might have. I'd have to start going through the 330 million Gods in india and we'd be here a long time. But some of the big ones that the Bible talks about - some people think that money is a God. Jesus talked about that - Matthew 6:24, "no one can serve two masters, for he'll hate one and love the other or he'll be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

" Mammon was an ancient God of gold and - sort of a generic word we use for money now, but Jesus is saying you can't serve God and money. Now, the Bible does not say money is evil. We bring it to church every week. We're happy to share it and we know it can accomplish a lot of good, but money represents influence and power and some people worship power. That's what the devil wanted, isn't it? Money just sort of symbolizes that.

Timothy 6, verses 9 and 10, "but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Good reason not to have money as your God is it won't make you happy. You know, my father knew howard hughes. They were both in the airline business at the same time and he - he was a lot richer than my dad. Yeah, he owned twa and my dad, during that same time - you may not know - he owned controlling interest in western airlines.

I don't know if anyone even remembers western airlines, but neither one of them were very happy. Howard hughes - did you ever read how his life ended - how tragic it was? He ended up just buying the top floor in some hotel and he lived just almost a little better than an animal - living on candy bars and he was a drug addict and miserable and isolated and lonely and his fingernails grew out like Nebuchadnezzar's claws. I mean, it was so pathetic. When he finally died, they had to do a lot of tests because they didn't believe this shallow figure of a man had once been that very proud, tall businessman and aviator. But he directed all his attention to try to increase his holdings.

Love of money. It doesn't bring happiness. Pierced himself through with many sorrows. Money is a God for many. When anything other than God takes your first place, you end up becoming imprisoned by it.

You know, the Bible really specifies three areas where you can have other Gods, it's called the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. All the other Gods fall into those categories. Many of the ancient Gods were Gods of lust. They had temple prostitutes and it was all - you worshiped your God with fertility rites. It was the lust of the flesh.

Some people worship that God - especially today where the internet makes sensuality a mouse click away. A lot of people have been enslaved by that God of passion. For others it might be food and if they could they'd download twinkies. The Bible says food's a God. Ecclesiastes 10, verse 17, "blessed are you, o land, when your king is The Son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season for strength and not for drunkenness!" Now, we all need to eat - unlike some things.

You will actually survive without sex, did you know that? You won't curl up and die. You can live without cigarettes. There are things you can quit cold turkey and just never do again and you'll still live, but not with food. Food is a difficult one because it's so easy to slip back into the worship of it. You know, we have to have that balance where we're thankful that our food tastes good, we praise God and it's a blessing and we eat it to live - but then there are those who live to eat and food becomes their God.

Philippians 3:18 and 19 - Paul says so - "for many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly," - so don't think pastor doug just made this up to stretch the truth. The Bible says for some people their God is their belly. That doesn't mean - they're talking about their stomach - their food that they eat. Romans 6:16, "do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" And so do you eat to live or do you live to eat? Does it have control of you? Do you plan your day around it? How do you know if something's your God? You know, I am so thankful for my car. I like my car.

I don't think I worship my car. I wash it every now and then. It's functional for me. But have you ever known someone who worships their car? They're always out doing something to their car - the kids don't have shoes but the car's got the latest turbo carburetor, you know? Some people worship their house. I mean, I believe you need to maintain your house and take care of your house, but some people, they're always upgrading and worshiping and it's just they need the latest and greatest and they like to bring people over and grandstand their house like hezekiah showing the Babylonians everything in his house.

They've got a whole channel dedicated to houses and they got a channel dedicated to food, don't they? They've got plenty of channels that talk about sex. We can tell what people's Gods are, just change the channel, right? They've got a channel for everything. People are worshiped. People worship other people. Sometimes they do it in codependent relationships or to make somebody else their God it might be the typical idols on television that are worshiped by our culture.

You see folks trying to dress like them and act like them and they go to work and all they do is talk about what happened to their idol on the latest episode. What fills your mind? What gets your attention? For a lot of people what they spend their time looking at and focusing on, that's their God. For others it's sports. Boy, you go to some countries the religion is soccer. I've been around the world and boy, you know, you'll be doing evangelistic meetings and all of a sudden the crowd is decimated and I'll say to my translator, 'was it something I said?' They say, 'no, no, soccer game tonight.

' That's more important. They say, 'that's their religion.' Game's over they all come back - after a little riot in the soccer field. You know what I'm talking about? People will go to a football game or something like that and they'll scream bloody murder about grown men killing each other for a piece of vinyl down on the field - or leather, right? They come to church and you can't hardly get an 'amen' out of them. It's their God. You ask them where a verse is in the Bible and they get, 'oh, I know it's in their somewhere.

' 'God helps those that help themselves.' No, that's not in the Bible. You ask them for the batting average, they know all the stats. So it's not that they can't remember Numbers. What Numbers do they worship? Different Gods. Revelation 19, verses 9 and 10 - before I read that verse to you let me go to the last point.

You always like to hear those words, don't you? Last point: self is worshiped. The most popular God on the throne in people's hearts aside from God is self. By the way, I'll confess that's my biggest struggle. Self is constantly battling for that holy of holies that belongs to God in my heart. By the way, that's how the devil fell.

Worship of self. And that was a battle even for Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemane, when he prayed, 'father, not my will but thy will be done.' You know what that means? Jesus also had a personal will and he set aside his personal will for the will of The Father. And that's a big struggle for us is to take self off the throne and to say, 'not my way but your way' and to worship God. You know, in Revelation 19:9, when John is in heaven, this angel, gabriel, is taking him on a tour - we assume it was gabriel - and he says, "write: 'blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the lamb!' And he said to me, 'these are the true sayings of God.

'" And John, the apostle, "and I fell at his feet to worship him." - But the angel becomes indignant and he says, "see that you do not do that!" - Especially not here. We're taking you on a tour of heaven. - "I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!" The angel gabriel is still in heaven because he said, 'you don't worship me, you worship God.' Satan was cast out why? Self-worship. And all of us have a little bit of those two characters battling within our hearts.

You know, one of the closest Bible characters to Jesus, in the old testament, even his name was the same. His name was, in Greek, Jesus' name was Joshua. At the end of his life, after leading the children of Israel into the promised land, he brought them all together and he made a final appeal to them. In Joshua 24:15 he said, "and if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve," - you will serve - you get to choose who you will to serve and that means you can also choose who you don't want to serve. You can choose to serve the Lord, you do it with your will.

You might have struggles but you can make a willful conscious decision. 'Lord, I want you to be my God. Help me to do what you want me to do.' Now, when God tells us to worship him supremely, is he standing up in heaven with his hands on his hips and saying, 'if you don't love me and worship me, I'm going to kill you'? Or is he saying, 'if you don't learn to love and worship me supremely, you will never be happy because you were created to find your happiness in that and you'll always be unsatisfied and empty 'piercing yourself through with many sorrows.' Don't parents say to their kids, 'listen to me. It will be well with you'? 'Because I love you, listen to me.' Our Father in Heaven is not gloating his power over us, he's interested in our abundant life and he says the only way you're going to be happy - your heart was created to be satisfied only in worshiping me. If anything else is on the throne - if anything else is on the altar in your heart it's going to end badly.

' Do you have any other Gods in your life? Would you like to say, 'lord, I will.' Say it with Joshua, 'as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'

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