Father in Heaven,
You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. You have pledged to never leave us nor forsake us, and this you have done. You have kept your promises to the uttermost and not one word has fallen to the ground.
While you have shown yourself to be faithful, we have been faithless. We have not kept your commandments and we have fallen woefully short of our covenant obligations. We sin daily in thought, word, and deed, and we quickly turn aside to follow after idols and the corruptions of our hearts.
Your words describes us well when it says that a faithless man is as dependable as a broken tooth or a unsteady foot. And this is how we have been to you and to towards those around us. Indeed, Lord, we have failed you by failing one another.
We have been faithless in our friendships and in our marriages, in our business contracts and in our pledges as parents. Our yes has not been yes, and our word is sand because we have broken vows, reneged on promises, and spewed out lies in abundance.
Father, we confess that we are nothing and deserve nothing. You would be right to damn us for all eternity.
But we look to you because your compassions are great and your mercy never fails. Father, we confess that we depend solely upon the veracity of your covenant love and the promises that were sealed with the blood of your dear Son.
God we pray in this blessed hope, asking that you would pardon all our sin and renew us through the cleansing that only your Spirit can provide. For this we pray in Jesus’s strong name, Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
I. Review: What is the 2nd commandment all about?
A. Opening Exercise:
Put the following two sentences on the board:
Discuss: What is the difference between them? What is the difference? Which one most accurately describes what we studied last time in the 2nd commandment?
The two differ in this way: The second view is much more limited, while the first view is much more permissive and allows many more things to be added to a worship service. For instance, according to the normative view you may not have a statue of Baal in your service because that is expressly forbidden in Scripture. But you could have a picture of Mary, drama, or an “inspirational video.”
Discuss: Why do people hold to the first view? What makes it appealing? Why do people hold to the second view?
B. Put the following sentence on the board:
Is it proper to speak of having a worship experience?
II. THE INFLUENCE OF PICTURES (i.e. media) ON WORSHIP & WORSHIPPERS
Why do we feel the need to “feel” something in church? Why are we not satisfied with the kind of worship God has instituted? A lot of this has to do with how we’ve been shaped by modern media forms, TV in particular. So, it is important to think for a few minutes on the influence of today’s media on our minds and our worship.
Watch: Man v Book: video review of Amusing Ourselves to Death:
A group of us who are looking to start a weekly Sunday evening worship service. We are calling it The Evening Sacrifice and we hope to have our first service in March. We want to invite you to join us as we begin planning and preparing for it.
Some of our group are friends who are hindered from attending morning services due to work schedules. Others of us simply love the age old tradition of beginning and ending the Lord's Day in the worship of God, and we are eager to get back into it.
Right now we have about 35 people who are interested. This is a great core with which to start! But we are still seeking to build a solid core group and would like to add around 15-20 people.
Visit our website or email me for more information. And be sure to join our email list or follow the developments on Facebook
1. Opening Activity: Print out copies of the second commandment and hand out to the students. Begin by reciting it together.
2. State the following clarifications:
The human heart, said Calvin, is a factory of idols. We quickly turn away from the Lord and fasten our hearts upon some other thing. So it is important to have our understanding attuned to how weak we are and how easily we beak the first commandment.
Watch: Idol Worship, Then and Now
This video reminds us that idol worship is not dead by any means. Just because we do not have little images sitting a neighborhood shrine, we are still a very religious people.
I. WHAT IS IDOLATRY?
Activity: Have students write out a personal definition of idolatry. Collect them and read them. Vote for who’s definition is the best.
Definition: Idolatry is the giving of adoration, affection, or allegiance to anyone or anything other than God. It occurs when our love for God and his law have any sort of competition.
This is why we started by saying that the first commandment, above anything, commands love for God. The best way to prevent idolatry is by consciously pursuing out love for God. As CS Lewis said, “Our problem in life is not that we love things too much, but that we do not love God enough.”
Activity: List together common idols. Discuss: Why is each so attractive? What makes us want it? What is the allure? How do you identify idols in your life? In a culture?
Typically idols offer something to us. They promise “redemption, hope, and fulfillment of some kind.
Find idols in your own life by asking yourself the following questions:
Lecture: Three Common Idols today
1. Atheism – Atheism doesn’t worship an image, but it is a form of idolatry because it denies God what is rightfully His. On the other hand, we could also say that atheism glorifies man and man’s reason.
But atheism comes in two forms: Philosophical atheism and practical atheism. In the former one explicitly denies the existence of God as a matter of personal conviction. The latter occurs when a Christian simply lives in such a way as to not acknowledge Him or His lordship.
In either man is enshrined as the ultimate authority and man’s law is king.
2. Pluralism – Watch “What is Pluralism” from Inspirit Foundation
Pluralism emphasizes that every way is the right way no matter which way it is going. It denies the fact that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
According to this philosophy of life everyone’s belief is true and should be openly accepted. Tolerance is the heart cry of every pluralist. “Coexist” is its bumper sticker.
In the face of this we cry out, “There is only one name given among men by which we must be saved.”
3. Syncretism – Watch “I’m a Christian, but I’m not…” from Buzzfeed
There is a great overlap with the practical atheist here. The syncretist may acknowledge God with his lips, but he fails to acknowledge God’s law with his life. His actions show that he hates the true God and has really made up a new god in His place.
The syncretist combines worldly religion with Christianity. In this video, people claim to be Christians, but they openly reject the truth of God's word when it comes to gender, gender roles, intelligence, dogma, and personal zeal for God.
Bonus: 4. Some other cult-ish practices – Sorcery (ouiji boards, black magic, séances), praying to saints, binding someone’s conscience: these are all forms of idolatry. Discuss why. Perhaps some of your students can recount personal stories of having participated in such things.
III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF IDOLATRY
God condemns the idol worshipper. He will be sentenced to hell forever. But in this life he faces wrath too. Read the following to find out what happens.
Psalm 115:1-8 – you become what you worship.
Believers are transformed into the image of the Son. Idolaters are transformed into the image of their idol: dumb, irrational, senseless,
Romans 1:18-31 – List all the effects of idolatry.
God gives the idolater over to his sin and allows him to be abased in it.
The Christian on the other hand is conformed to the image of the Son, and daily renewed in holiness, knowledge, and righteousness. His exposure to the Lord transforms him.
Remember that the first commandment requires us to have one God and one law. A society (or individiual) that doesn't reduces to nothing... just like its idol.
Challenge: Put away your idol for 2 months. Put something godly in its place
I'm looking to put together a Sunday evening worship service in the new year. So I'm taking a survey of who might be interested in participating.
I'm aiming for 15 families or about 30-40 people. If we have that many sign on, then we'll try and give it a go. Email me if you are interested.
The service would only last about an hour and consist mainly of singing, prayer, Scripture, and message. As for location, we'll work to find the best spot based on who wants to participate.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.