Cleaning House

Broken Tablets | Devotion 5: Cleaning House
Wes McCullough 

“Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, ‘All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me.’ And all the Levites gathered around him. Moses told them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone—even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.’ The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day. Then Moses told the Levites, ‘Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.’” Exodus 32:25-29 (NLT)

This is such an intense passage. Can any of us imagine being this obedient to God? It is a true nightmare to consider. A more likely choice we would have to make today is to remove toxic influences from our lives. If you struggle with drugs, it will be much harder to get clean if you hang out with other addicts. If you are convicted about alcohol consumption – avoid bars, the liquor aisle, and perhaps friends who are always drinking or asking you to join them at the bar. If your conviction is profanity, you will have to get away from people and places where that language is used.

A good friend of mine had a “return to God” moment several years ago. He decided it was time to repent and rededicate his life to God. He had to make tough choices and separate himself from close friends because they would pull him away from godly living. He also chose to remove media and other things that did not honor God.

One of my favorite Bible stories is contained in 1 Kings chapter 18 – Elijah versus the prophets of Baal. The Israelites could not decide if they followed God or Baal, so there was a sacrifice showdown. God showed up in an undeniable and incredible way that day (I would love to see this portrayed in film one day!). After the Israelites are reminded that God reigns supreme, all the prophets of Baal are round up and executed. They led people away from God and had to be removed as influencers.

Be careful about the influences you allow in your life. Honor God with your choices and be obedient. Following God will often mean making personal sacrifices, but God will honor your obedience.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Lovingly Warned

Broken Tablets | Devotion 4: Lovingly Warned
Debbie Kerr  

“For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” Exodus 32:23

Everything rises and falls on leadership. If we do not have good leadership, we start to flounder and lose focus. All throughout Scripture, we see the example of leadership. Some of the leadership is good, and some are not so good. For the believer in Jesus Christ, our ultimate authority (leader) is the Word of God. Secondly, we are given Pastors (also known as under-shepherds), parents, government, and others. There is always a chain of command, and that chain begins with God. Today’s passage definitely depicts poor leadership.

In Exodus chapter 32, we see poor leadership in action as things start to fall apart because their leader Moses had been away too long. Aaron was second in command, but under his leadership, the people became impatient, self-absorbed, and bored. When we are left to ourselves too long, the temptation can creep in to search for other things or people to satisfy us. We tend to worship them. The people of Israel were no different than we are today. If we are not careful, we can easily fall into the enemy’s lie that we need something more. We may begin to search for a feeling or a sign, or something a little more sensational. We think we have got this; we feel we do not need to go to church and be with the Body of Christ. We try to reason it out and justify worshiping so many other things than the God of the Bible. Often times, our lives begin to fall apart too.

My husband and I recently watched a very compelling and convicting documentary regarding the state of the American Church in our generation. Sadly, in many Bible-teaching churches, the Gospel is being added to or changed. It is no longer about Christ alone for salvation. The cross and the shedding of Jesus’ blood for our atonement isn’t exciting enough because there is no instant gratification or physical manifestation. This teaching is not new, but it is evolving into a more extreme level of false teaching and is considered one of the fastest-growing movements in Christianity. Some churches even teach the idea that when you witness, you should not tell people they are sinners, or that they need to repent. They are taught only to tell them how much God loves them. While that is a true statement, it leaves the lost person with only partial truth. It is about Christ alone; it is not about us! The Gospel is not a message that Christ died to make us happy, healthy, and rich.  Jesus said to find our life, we must lose it and die to ourselves daily. The minute we make it about us, we are worshiping a different Gospel, a different Jesus. Humanity is born with a God-given, innate need to worship! Everyone worships something or someone.

Our enemy, the devil, knows the truth and how to twist it. He only had to change what God said ever so slightly to deceive Eve. So listen carefully, know God’s Word, seek the truth, and walk in it. Pray that God will keep you from being deceived because the Bible warns about this in the last days. A false god in any shape or form is an idol. Consider yourself lovingly warned.

We are reminded in 1 Timothy 4:1, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” 

A Cow?

Broken Tablets | Devotion 3: A Cow?
Isaiah Combs  

My parents were really busy people and still are. When my brothers and I were too young to watch ourselves, my parents would bring in a babysitter to watch us. I want to give a quick note and apologize to our babysitters. We are and were three very type A, rambunctious, and annoying kids.

My parents would leave us with these poor people, and we would go crazy. My Mom was great and ran a very tight ship. The three of us were very aware of what, where, and when we were supposed to do things. So we took full advantage that the babysitter was unaware of Mom’s strict rules and guidelines. We would basically do whatever we wanted to do and try and get away with the craziest things.

That is what is happening in Exodus 32:15-20. Moses was up on top of the mountain while the Israelites were camped at the base of the mountain. Moses was up there on top of the mountain speaking to God and getting the Ten Commandments. On his way back down, he hears a crazy sound. It was the sound of the Israelites worshiping a golden image (The idol was a cow made of gold. Why do we worship creation and not the creator?). They created it from the gold of their sons’ earrings. By the way, when I was a kid, I wanted earrings. So, I used this to convince my parents that boys in the Bible had earrings. It did not work.

This story is just like my Mom when she would get home from whatever she was doing. She would either see the devastation that we caused or our poor babysitter would tell her all the terrible things we had done while she was out. This is what Moses was feeling. He was furious, and he punished the Israelite by melting the golden cow down and making them drink it.

Just like the Israelites, when Moses was up on the mountain talking to God, we have a choice of who we are going to worship. On Sundays, when going to church and worship God, we have a choice. During the week, when we are away from everyone, we choose who we are worshiping. Is it your job, money, wife, kids, yourself, or God?

Who are you worshiping when no one is looking?

His Reputation

Broken Tablets • Devotion 2: His Reputation
Holly Boston

Do you think God has a sense of humor? Whenever I stop and really think about the fact that I am Director of Women’s Ministry, I immediately laugh and think, “Wow does God have a sense of humor!” It is the only logical conclusion when you consider that throughout my childhood and adolescence, I could not stand to be around girls. The drama, the backstabbing, and the rumor mill were more than I could take, and subsequently, I preferred hanging out with boys. As I got older, my parents tried to impress upon me that this was unwise and could result in me having a bad reputation. My dad’s words haunt me to this day, “Holly, you are judged by the company you keep.”

This is not an outdated concept — many of the decisions we make every day rest on reputation. We look for clothing with name brands and cars that are known to run long while requiring the least service. We choose reputable colleges, prestigious careers, and churches that are known by their reputation. Reputation is a very important factor and shapes our daily decisions.

Believer, are you concerned about God’s reputation? In Exodus 32:1-14, we read about a conversation Moses had with God. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God, the Israelites grew impatient and decided to collect all the gold and fashion a golden calf to worship. Their corruption and idol worship resulted in God’s decision to consume or eliminate them. I found Moses’ response astounding. Moses expressed concern for God’s reputation if He were to carry out His plan. Moses was concerned that Egypt would believe God intended to lead them into the mountains to kill them. My response would have been quite different. I believe I would have said, “I am tired of these people. They deserve the wrath of God. Please remember me and spare me and mine.” Moses was first and foremost concerned with God’s reputation. When I talk to God, I do a great job of praising and worshipping Him and thanking Him for the cross with the daily grace He extends to me. However, when it comes to His actions, my requests come from a selfish heart. I want my will and my way.

Believer, do you profess to be one of His? Do you remember you are saved by grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9)? If so, do you understand that you are now His ambassador and representative (2 Corinthians 5:20)? Do you tout attending church regularly, attending Bible study weekly, and praying daily, but what does your walk look like? Do your words, actions, and reactions reflect well on God? You are one of His representatives; therefore, God’s reputation is impacted by your life. Does your life draw others to Him? Your reputation is His reputation.

What if you are the only Bible they read? Your choices impact God’s reputation every day and can affect others’ eternal choices. God is judged by the company He keeps.

May we be determined to make Him look good!

Eyes Up

Broken Tablets | Devotion 1: Eyes Up
Pastor Ryan Story

Recently, I had another “life of a dad moment.” I cleaned my children’s playroom the other day. After I completed the monumental task of sorting out and organizing an unprecedented amount of Avengers action figures, PJ Masks buildings, Paw Patrol vehicles, Legos, and random toy weapons, the room was looking good, and I decided to make lunch for my sons. Within the amount of time it took me to make two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, my sons tore their playroom apart again.

I learned a valuable life lesson that day; if you do not have your eyes up, ruin can destroy what you have taken your time building. In a Christian sense, sin can, and will, enter your life if you are not paying attention, and it can destroy your life. I have always cataloged sin into two major issues, pride and idolatry. I believe every sin has its roots in these two major issues. Putting self first, desire, envy, and a list of sins too long to count, find their source in pride. Concerning idolatry, I lump any sin that has me taking God away from being God. Any time we worship an object, activity, person, or passion above God is idolatry.

Moses ran into the sin of idolatry in a major way in Exodus chapter 32. Preceding this chapter, Moses was on the mountain talking to God about how to rule over the nation of Israel. God instructed Moses with the Law, and Moses carved the Law out on the stone. While Moses was putting forth the work, God told Moses that there was a major issue brewing at the foot of Mount Sinai. Exodus 32:8 says, “They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” Whenever I picture Moses at this moment, I can not help but see Charlton Heston (being Moses) being angry at a planet filled with ape overlords.

The severity of idolatry is terrifying. There is no major indication what prompted Aaron to decide to lead the idol worship. Aaron was always pretty upright in his walk with God. Moses even trusted Aaron. Yet, idolatry still snuck into his camp. As people who are attempting to walk as close to God as possible, we must take heed of this story. Even the first priest can fall victim to putting objects above God. Why would we think we would be any different?

Idolatry can sneak into your camp. There is nothing wrong with a job, but your job can become the object of worship more than your creator. Sports are fun, but they can consume a family quickly. I love my family, but I can start putting my wife or children’s happiness before that of my Jesus. Idolatry sneaks in faster than it took my boys to destroy a freshly cleaned room. Keep your eyes open to what is in you and your family’s life. Are you devoting more energy and effort into a job, person, hobby, or passion than you are for loving Jesus? This is serious; do not overlook the slightest discrepancy. Once that idol enters the camp, it will destroy everything you have built, or even scarier, God may be the one with the sledgehammer. God does not take kindly to other things being worshiped more than Him. Keep your eyes up on Jesus, and make sure your focus and adoration is fully and properly devoted to the one who deserves it.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

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