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May 17, 2022 8:00 am
Today on the Fellowship in the Word pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ, the human heart takes the good things in life like a successful career in law of material possessions.
Even family and turns them into the these are the ultimate things. This is what I live for. This is the most important thing in life, our hearts deify them and make them the center of our lives because we think that these of the things will give a significant these are the things that will give a security.
These are the things that give us fulfillment. If we can just attain these things going up today on this additional fellowship in the world. Pastor Bill Gebhardt Fellowship in the Words the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible church located in Metairie when Pastor Bill Gebhardt now is once again he shows us how God's word or world.
I would imagine that virtually all of us remember the great financial crisis of 2008.
In fact, probably some of our 401(k)s will have not recovered but the saddest part of that story is not lost revenues is in the loss of life, the acting chief financial officer. Freddie Mac hanged himself his basement, the chief executive officer of shelled on good, the leading real estate auction firm in the United States shot himself in the head behind the wheel of his red Jaguar French money manager who lost $1.4 billion of some of Europe's leading families slit his wrist in his Madison Avenue office, a Danish senior executive with HSBC bank hung himself in his thousand dollar a night sweet in London and learn at Bear Stearns executive learned that he would not be hired by J.P. Morgan Chase who had bought his collapse firm. He took a drug overdose and jumped from the 29th floor of an office building. All of it simply a reminder of what happened earlier in 1929 and it said, but when it comes to Americans.
Perhaps not surprising in the 1830s Alexis de Tocqueville wrote his and about his incredible journey across America and had so many rich and wonderful observations about our country, but he also noted this, he noted a strange melancholy then haunts the inhabitants of the United States in the midst as he writes of abundance. Americans believe he said that pop prosperity could quench their yearning for happiness, but such a hope is only an illusion. The incomplete joys of this world will never satisfy the human heart. What is the cause of this strange melancholy.
De Tocqueville found that America, he answers himself. It comes from taking the incomplete joy of this world and in building your entire life around it. That's a working definition of idolatry.
Now I know what you're thinking really idolatry when winning about idolatry. We think of primitive people kneeling and worshiping images of stone or we think of an ancient culture like Paul ran into in acts chapter 17 in Athens, Greece where he when he went into the Parthenon. He saw all of these idols.
There Aphrodite they, the goddess of beauty in areas the God of war and Artemis, the goddess of fertility and wealth. But if you really think about it. Our contemporary society is not much different than those ancient and primitive cultures.
We may not have statues or even temples, but we have office towers, spas, gyms, country clubs and studios and stadiums were sacrifices must be made in order to procure the blessings of the good life and to ward off future disaster. We may not physically kneel to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, but we have eating disorders plastic surgery cosmetics and therapy all related to how we look, we may not become a burning incense to say Artemis the God of wealth. We may not sacrifice our children to more like for future financial blessings, but how many of us have destroyed our families, our marriages are children sacrificing everything for fame and fortune just to get ahead in ancient times idols were bloodthirsty, hard to appease. They still are the agents in the primitives they were vulnerable to idolatry so you so my open your Bibles to Romans chapter 1, the apostle Paul writing to a very sophisticated audience. The church of Rome and he's going to speak in great generalities here in chapter 1, but boy, he's making a very, very clear point and he's really not speaking about the Romans only speaking about them and all the people to perceive them all the people. Since Jackie speaking about people just like you and me and Paul said in verse 22 professing to be wise, they became fools. What a statement professing to be wise. I mean we are so sophisticated. We are so wise will evolve the such a high standard, where such an impressive group of people. God says they became fools will how what did they do. He said they exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man in the birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures amazing. In other words, they became idol worshipers and these are some of those were like they worship birds. They worship animals that they worship man to he says, for they exchanged in verse 25 they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and they worship and serve the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever. Amen. Using the firstly I want to say this morning is this being tempted to be an idolater is inevitable. It didn't matter if you are live in Rome where you're alive in Metairie, Louisiana doesn't matter. We all are vulnerable to this idea. Every one of us. The reason for it is every one of us has to live for something that has to be something that gives your life meaning and purpose. There something you have to live for. And boy in that there is a tremendous danger. In fact, since even mankind is decided that he would not live for God, but he would live for something else to Jewish scholars from Harvard, Moshe Hauber, tall and and a shy Mart elite recently wrote a book called idolatry and their scholars of the Old Testament. And this is what they wrote in that book.
The central principle of the Bible is the rejection of idolatry.
The central principle of the entire Old Testament is the rejection of idolatry. They like that story after story depicts the varied forms of idolatry in the devastating effects that it has on people's lives.
There's a lot more to it than just statues, temples, something much, much more threatening to you and to me about idolatry come of me now to Ezekiel chapter 14 Ezekiel 101 of the great prophets. Ezekiel chapter 14.
What makes this so interesting to me is who was involved in chapter 14 Ezekiel rights then some elders of Israel came to me and said down before me. That's what Ezekiel said about his experience noticed the men who come. This is common. He's a prophet. The elders is a keen of Israel. They want to sit down and talk to the prophet. These are the most respected men in the culture these of the elders and the word of the Lord came to me the same time and said something Son of Man.
These men have set up idols in their heart. These men have set up idols in their heart. These men, the elders of Israel and have put right before their face, is the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all. Therefore speak to them and tell them, thus says the Lord God. Any man of the house of Israel, who sets up his idols in his heart puts right before his face.
The stumbling block of his iniquity and then comes to the prophet I the Lord.
He said will be brought to give him an answer in the matter.
He said in view of the multitude of his idols in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel. There are strange to me through all their idols always saying is you think I'm going to give them an answer to a prophet. No, I'm not going give these people anything. Why their idolaters not they would've responded. Just like you respond if I call you and I don't want what you mean I'm no idolater absolute. I don't have statues. I don't do that kind of stuff.
That's ridiculous. I'm no idolater, what kind of adultery you speaking about what idols God says it's the idols of your heart. You see it's in your heart.
Idolatry is birth and grows in the human heart and a idolatry of your heart is far worse than a idolatry in the Parthenon. You see, that's what God is saying the human heart takes the good things in life like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family and it turns them into the ultimate things. These are the ultimate things. This is what I live for. This is the most important thing in life are hard to deify them and make them the center of our lives because we think that these are the things will give a significance. These are the things that will give a security. These are the things that give us fulfillment.
If we can just attain these things. That's the danger, the danger to you and it's danger to me. That's why I'm starting a series on idolatry.
I'm calling it American idols had an ass.
I thought about it on my own and it would be funny if they weren't so dangerous.
You see, because I think to some degree. All of us are affected and I believe almost all of us have an intentional ignorance when it comes to the idols of our hard what idols me tell you the warning in this passage to me is you're not can have a relationship with God.
You should have into you do with the idols of your own heart. That's what God is telling the elders of Israel. They might be San Juan, not really sure about any of this month and get one example will visited much later in the series, but I want to turn a Colossians chapter 3 in the New Testament. Paul writing to the church of Colossae wonderful little letter in chapter 3 he want to get about living as one of the things I love about Paul's letters almost all the same. The first part of the letter always deals with the problem.
It's usually theological and Paul always says I want to. The truth now had an soon as he's done telling the truth somewhere in the letter.
He always is therefore now let's get about living, let's apply it to our lives. Let's get about using this truth in our lives.
And that's what happens in chapter 3 pieces. Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ and you have. He said you gotta keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God is that you need to set your mind on the things above and not on the things that are on the earth. This is where you have died in your life is hidden with Christ. He says in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body is dead.
Immorality, impurity, passion and evil desire, come on, be what you are is a Christian is a great uplifting thing and then he says this greed and then a bad translation by the new American Standard, which amounts to idolatry.
No such words there ate this S-10 ages which S-10 is which is idolatry. Greed is idolatry. That's an amazing statement, covetousness that were to be translated that way as well.
Look at it in detail in a later sermon is idolatry you ever felt greedy like things other people have. You want more room for new you see if it is to be idolatry.
See that's what he is saying.
Greed is idolatry. And so being tempted to be in idolater is inevitable and idolatry is birth and grows in the human heart, but there's more. Turn now to Exodus chapter 20 in the Old Testament. Exodus chapter 20 famous chapter.
If you know your Bible at all. You know what's in the chapter, the big ones.
That's right there. 10 of them. The commandments the 10 Commandments we can almost see Charlton Heston. I say that the 10 Commandments, you know, it's just got this great magnitude building do it, but it's something I want you to see God gives priority in addressing the sin of idolatry. In other words, it's number one, it's number one. Now notice murders not number one lines not number one. Idolatry is not number one bursary. You shall have no other gods before me know explains it. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above on the earth beneath or in the water underneath the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them. For I the Lord your God am a jealous God. I visited the iniquity of the father on the children. The third and fourth generations of those who hate me is right there at the top idolatry any schism by the way, so what could be an idol. He's a well let me let me just try to get the particulars I can help you anything that's in heaven can be an idol. Anything that's on the earth can be an idol. Anything that's under the earth can be an idol and by the way, for those of you scuba dive anything under the sea can be an idol as well.
What is he saying anything can be an idol.
Any created thing can be an idol.
See, that's his warning. You can make an idol of anything. You see, I think what we often think when you say idol or idol worshiper or idolatry you think bad things almost never almost never the outcome is bad but they're not normally go. The best things the good things the wonderful things. Love family work success. All of it esteem. All of it. Good things, but they can become an idol.
This is probably the only time as long as I've ever been in the public that I would ever say something that I agree with Friedrich Nietzsche. But I agree with Nietzsche on this in his book twilight of the idols he will be a statement. There are more idols in the world and there are realities is right is right.
You see, God gives priority to the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is birth and grows in the human heart.
Being tempted be idolaters inevitable. Fourthly, I was a much easier to make than you think. They're easy for people like you and me there. Easy. It's easy to take something of my life and make an idol Thomas Oden wrote this one is an idol.
It's a good definition. He says it is anything more important to you than God knows anything it is anything more important to you than God that observes your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to get to give you what only God can give you what you think about putting your heart to what you think about when you say when I get to blank in my life when I have this in my life when I accomplish this in my life then life's canopies could be your idol. You see, it could be your idol. There's sort of a good test to run when it comes that I was of your life when you lose it you see when you lose it how you react as a couple ways you can react. There's a difference between sorrow and despair any good thing that we lose her sorrow. Anything there should be sorrow. It's a good thing I lost it, but there's something about sorrow. You can console me when I'm experiencing sorrow. You can console me, and when people console me in time goes by I go through the grieving process and I come out the other side despair, inconsolable. You cannot console me why because I have lost the ultimate thing in my life. You see, that's what happens. Think of the financial crisis of 2008. Why did those men kill themselves. Why, why would they kill themselves because they were in despair they had lost the ultimate thing.
What was I don't know, couldn't greed but think about it this way all those men that I used in the beginning of the sermon they all died multimillionaires. They had more money than they could spend the rest of your life.
Not that. Maybe it was there idol was success, and now I'm not a success but what failure.
Maybe it was social significance.
You see, maybe it was that I want to be that significant person in society that everybody looks up to. It admires. That's what I want to be a know I'll never be that again I there's no reason for me to live in despair.
You see an idol has an ability to take a controlling position in your heart will you know what happens you do anything to pass through the radio ministry of fellowship Lord, if you ever missed one of our broadcast or maybe you dislike of the sum of the method one more time. Remember, you can Google a great website called one place.com that's one place.com and you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online that website you will find on with today's broadcast but also many of our previous audio program at Fellowship in the Word. We are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help his radio ministry continuous broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly with just a one-time gift support for ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word. 4600 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie, LA 7006 if you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format that is of the sermon, the pastor will deliver during a Sunday morning service of fellowship monitored visit our website FVC Nolan.org that FVC and oh LA.O RG at our website you will find hundreds of pastor Bill sermon you can browse through our sermon archives to find sermon series are looking you can search by title. Once you find the message you're looking for an online work you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own. And remember, you can do all this absolutely free of charge. Once again our website FVC Nola.org forecaster Bill Gebhardt and Jason Gebhardt. Thank you for listening to fellowship in order