Worship Him Alone

Scripture: Exodus 19:16, Exodus 20:3
Date: 03/09/2013 
God did everything He could to emphasize that His law was for everyone. He didn't give the Ten Commandments in Palestine or Israel. He gave them in a neutral land, representing that they are for all humanity.
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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. As you know, a couple of weeks ago we began a series, and it may take a little while to get through it because there will be occasions such as when we go to the Philippines in a couple of weeks; we’ll have to take a break. But 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 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 in 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. 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 19 and 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. “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 [up to] the mountain, and Moses went up.

” And he warned the people, “‘go down and [tell them,] lest they break through to gaze … 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 were 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 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 the saint catherine’s monastery in the sinai peninsula on this mountain that a later tradition tells us is Mount 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. You can take a camel ride part of the way up. But scholars are more inclined to think that 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 is 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, seems to fit the description, and the top of the mountain is charred. The rocks are literally burnt black from a certain point up, and none of the other mountains around there are like that, and they thought maybe this is the vestige 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. It was one of those summers where just things 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. The smoke from forest fires can create a cloud that will produce lightning.

You’ve probably heard about tornados 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 are flashes coming out of it. 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 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. 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, 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. Exodus 20:1, “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 is verse 2 in your Bible. “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 were 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…, ‘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? 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 but to [fill full].” So now we are going to focus our attention on that first commandment. One more time, I am going to read it. Exodus 20, it’s verses 2 and 3 comprise the first commandment. Here’s the first commandment. Let me read it one more time, and we’re going to take it apart piece by piece.

“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” [kjv]. 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.

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 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, eeny, meeny, miney, or mo, 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 just not one among many. I am the real God.” So he identified himself as the I am who I am. “You’ll say to the children of Israel, I am has sent me to you.” This is one of the favorite ways that Jesus describes himself in the gospel of John. John, I think, really understood that.

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. “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 <_____God_____> says, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen The Father. I am the bread, the door, the shepherd,” so forth. And then he goes on to say, “i am the Lord thy God.

” In Hebrew what he’s saying is, “i am yahweh.” 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 is, “i am,” one of his titles, “yahweh elohiym.” 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, elohiym.” So he tells us that he is the sacred one with the sacred name. 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. Sometimes you write a letter to someone; you don’t identify who you are till the end of the letter. In a business letter, you put your identification at the top of the letter so they’ll know what i’m about to read; who is 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 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 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.” 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 in this provision for them, he reminds them, “i have your best interest in mind. As a 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 14:15, “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? “Shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” [kjv]. 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? 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 comes. 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. You shall 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, 10 plagues. Those plagues were directed in many ways at the Egyptian Gods. They worshiped the sun; sun gets blacked out. They worshiped the river; river turns to blood. They worship 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.” 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, “Jesus is wonderful. We love Jesus, and we love buddha, and 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, “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—or persia at this time, when the King said, “don’t pray to anyone except me for 30 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 thought, “Daniel, that’s not very loving. Couldn’t you, just for 30 days, temporarily close your windows?” No other God. And that’s the Spirit and the attitude that we need to have as believers. God is 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 praised the 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 and town has got their own special group of Gods, and they have the stories that go with it. It’s impossible to know that many Gods.

But the Lord says, “one God.” Some people struggle with that. Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:4, in the great shema, “hear, o Israel: the Lord our God … is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, [and mind,] … soul, and … 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 that it’s composed of three people.” That’s a very clean biblical concept. Jesus said to the 12 apostles, he prayed to The Father, “father, I pray that they may be one” (there are twelve of them), “even as you and I are one,” John 17. So you’ve got twelve, but they are 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 there is one God, but we know there is more than one person in the Godhead because there in Genesis during creation, God says, “let us”—elohiym 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 elohiym; it’s in the plural. So even in the Ten Commandments, 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. And 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 can 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! So for God, whose mind is perfectly linked, isn’t it true that Jesus said, “you’ve seen me, you’ve seen The Father.” God The Father, son, and spirit are perfectly linked. He said “the Spirit is 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 are 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. 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 are not to have that relationship with any other God.

” 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6. There are many different Gods. Paul tells us, “for even if there are so-called Gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many Gods and many lords),” the many that are called, so-called Gods, “yet for us there is one God, The Father, of whom are all things, and we [are] 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 to you Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. 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 in all, then the question is, what is your God? Because everybody serves somebody, and that’s the question now, what are you worshiping? 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 who brought you 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 ekklesia. You’ve heard of the ecclesiastical. Ek-, you look on the red behind you there, you’re going to see, not the time clock, you’ll see “exit.” That springs from a Greek word that means “out,” the way out. And then you’ve got the word kalos or kalo; 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. You know what the pharaoh said, he said, “Moses, look, all right, 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 till 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? 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, 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. 1 Peter 2:9.

“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 have saved you out.” He “called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” By the way, in Exodus 19, it says, “i have called you out to be a peculiar treasure.” He says, “i want you to be separate. You are 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, be separate. By the way, I didn’t read that to you.

2 Corinthians 6:17. I wanted to give you a couple from the new testament and one from the old. Here’s another 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. 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 is no other God but our God. But God has all the qualifications where he deserves our worship because he is so awesome and powerful. Let me give you a few Psalms. Psalm 147:5, a few verses here.

“Great is our lord, and mighty in power; his understanding is infinite.” Why do we worship him? There is no limit to his understanding. I was talking with some friends from another religion, and they were telling me that 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, and 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?” And they said, “yes.” I said, “how could he be all-knowing and still learning?” 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. 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.” 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 is 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.” Not like the weather man who is making an educated guess, God knows exactly what’s going to happen. Isaiah 46:9, 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 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 1000 years from now. If I were to tell you that in 10 years cuba is 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), would anyone put money on that? Please, don’t take offense, any of my friends in cuba. I went to school in miami beach, and a lot of my friends were 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 thought? 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 is going to end. For some people, they have other Gods. Let’s talk for just a moment about that.

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 money is a God. Jesus talked about that. Matthew 6:24, “no one can serve two masters; for … he will hate the one and love the other, or … he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon was an ancient God of gold, and it’s sort of a generic word we use for money now, but Jesus is saying you can’t serve God and money. The Bible does not say money is evil. We bring it to church every week. We’re happy to share it. 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? So money just sort of symbolizes that. 1 Timothy 6:9, 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. My father knew howard hughes. They were both in the airline business at the same time.

He was a lot richer than my dad. 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 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.

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 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. 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 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. Bible says food is a God. Ecclesiastes 10:17, “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. 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 that live to eat, and food becomes their God. Philippians 3:18, 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 a truth. Bible says for some people, their God is their belly. It’s talking about their stomach, their food that they eat.

Romans 6:16 [kjv], “know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” 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 is your God? 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 things to their car. Kids don’t have shoes, but the car’s got the latest turbo carburetor. Some people worship their house. I believe you need to maintain your house and take care of your house, but some people, they’re always upgrading and worshiping it. They always 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 have got a whole channel dedicated to houses, and they’ve got a channel dedicated to food, don’t they? And they’ve got plenty of channels that talk about sex. We can tell what people’s Gods are, just change channel. Right? They’ve got a channel for everything. People are worshiped. People worship other people.

Sometimes they do it in codependent relationships. Well, to make somebody else their God, it might be the typical idols on television that are worshiped by our culture. 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.

You go to some countries, the religion is soccer. I’ve been around the world, and you’d 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 said, “no, no. Soccer game tonight.” That’s more important. 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. Piece of vinyl down on the field, or leather, right? And they come to church; you can hardly get an “amen” out of them. It’s their God. You ask them where a verse is in the Bible, and they get, “i know it’s in there 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. It’s what Numbers do they worship? Different Gods. 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; 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, to take self off the throne and say, “not my way, your way,” and to worship God. 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, “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. One of the closest Bible characters to Jesus in the old testament, even his name was the same. His name was, in Greek, Jesus. His 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, “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. 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.” 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 is 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 with Joshua, ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’”? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” that’s my prayer. Is that your prayer? Let’s stand, and let’s worship God as we close and sing “how great thou art,” number 86 in your hymnals.

[Hymn] we’re going to sing verse three in just a moment, but before we do, I thought i’d just like to make a general appeal here. Maybe as we’ve talked, you’ve been searching your own heart, and you know that God doesn’t have first place in your life. Jesus said we must seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. He cannot share that altar in your heart with anyone else. Are other things eclipsing God in your life? Are you needing to give him first place? Maybe it’s your time; you’re just not giving him the time, and you’re putting yourself there first.

If you’d like to say, “lord, I choose right now,” as Joshua invited us, “i choose, with your help, to give you the supreme place in our lives that you deserve. I want to worship you supremely.” Is that your prayer? Is that your desire? Amen. Let’s sing about Jesus and what he did for us, verse three, and then we’ll sing about his coming again. [Hymn] feels good just to worship God, doesn’t it? Loving Lord, it is a privilege and a pleasure, it’s awesome, to be able to worship You. And lord, we know that in this world there is a great competition taking place.

There are millions of other Gods that are trying to dethrone you from our hearts. There are countless distractions. Some are even good things, but it’s easy for us to turn them into Gods if we’re not careful. And I pray, lord, that you’ll bless and give us that wisdom. Help us every day to put you at the center of our lives, to make the decision to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, to say with Joshua that by your grace, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

” Lord, I pray that you’ll bless all of us here, those who may be watching, that this will be our determined prayer, to worship you first, always, and only, and to keep that commandment. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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