Keep Chasing Jesus

David Stockton
Series: Generational Blessing

Good morning, friends! It’s good to be back. I got all my family in a big, white van and we conquered Texas. Drove across the belly of the beast. It was fun. We hung out with some friends. And now we’re back. 

We’re going to finish up our Generational Blessing series today. Hope you enjoyed some of my pastor-preacher friends the last couple of weeks. And this is John Youngstrom. He has been our executive director over everything: administration, facilities. Facilities is what he’s done a lot with us.

As you noticed, we had videos of people sharing what the Lord has done over the seasons of their lives. John is too macho for videos. He doesn’t believe in that stuff. Not really, I’m just making that up.

But he’s going to give us a little taste The Lord is stirring some stuff in his heart. He’s going to share that and what the Lord has done over the generation of his life.

John Youngstrom:

When I was twenty years old, I was newly married to Amy. We were in the Air Force. We both became Christians about a week apart. The thing that really burned in my heart was to know Jesus, to hear his voice. Throughout the whole Bible, we can see the Lord talking to people and directing people. And I’m like, “I want that for me.”

We’re no different than anybody in the Bible. Jesus says in John 10:27 that, if we’re his sheep, we’re going to hear his voice. And then we run from him, right? No. It says we will follow him. That’s my heart’s desire.

Being in the military, about every four years or so, we had a decision to make about reenlisting or taking a new assignment. We would always pray about it. There were times when we said “no,” and times when we said, “yes,” and different things like that. 

So, after around thirty-three years in the Air Force, we were retiring. We were vacationing here and met with the Buckleys. The Buckleys are the founding pastors. We had gone here in the 1980’s and we had a relationship with them. He said, “Hey, you should come work for us. You should come be our facilities director.”

Our hearts leaped. It was something we were praying about, what we were going to do. And the Lord led us out to Phoenix. We just plunged in. We didn’t put our toes in to see what Living Streams was like. We just did a cannonball in here. And this place has been so gracious to us—you guys and all the people we work with. Just wonderful. And we’ve grown a lot. My wife has blossomed. I’ve blossomed in just all kinds of ministry.

About a year ago, I started getting stirred in my spirit. I’m like, “Lord, what are you doing?” Kind of like in the Old Testament when the cloud would start to lift. You know, there were like a million Israelites. East, west, north and south. And the cloud would start to lift, and they’re like, “We’re moving again. Go through the stuff. We’re going to have to start back.” And they’d take all this time to get everything together. And they’re putting together the poles, put it through the ark, you know.

And the cloud hadn’t left yet. Well, about three weeks ago, we were visiting my parents in Missouri and it became pretty clear to her, then me, that my parents are in their nineties. They need some help. We feel called to go assist them. You know, older people are not like kids. You know one day your kids are going to get potty trained. It goes the other direction. And you’re like, “Mom’s never going to get it back.”

And that’s a big task, but we feel like the Lord’s leading us back there. So that stirring and getting ready, which we didn’t know as I watched the Lord add pieces to Living Streams, raise up people out of the congregation, raise up people that work here to help me do different things. And it’s like there’s a person involved in everything I’m doing. So, it’s not like there’s going to be a big hole. There’s going to be like tug-of-war, you notice when someone’s not pulling, but it’s not going to be a rout or anything. The Lord’s really good.
So, we’re moving to Missouri when we sell our house. So we’re going through our stuff. It’s one of these deals. I say, “Can I throw this away, honey? You don’t need this anymore.” And she says, “Can I go through your tools?” And I said, “Keep it.” That’s where we’re at. And you guys are a real blessing to us.

David Stockton:

All right. Thanks, John. Amy, will you come on up. John and Amy have been awesome in a million different ways. They have really invested, like he said. It’s neat to see what they’ve done. John, on the practical side. He’s obviously cared for the facility—saved us lots and lots of money. Got a lot of systems up to date. And Amy, first service, when I said, “Amy, would you come up here,” she went “gasp.” It’s not her favorite thing. But she has definitely taken up the torch for us in prayer and prayed for us, and sends me emails all the time to encourage and tell me what the Lord’s been saying.

It’s going to be a gap, for sure. But when they were telling me this, and when I was thinking about what God’s trying to cultivate in our hearts through this sermon series is exactly this. Not that everyone is supposed to move—please don’t! But just that they would hear the call of the Lord to something like this and feel like God cares just as much about this as he does, maybe doing some big mission or church plant. There’s all these great things, but I think this is beautiful as well in the economy of heaven, that they are going to go care for John’s parents and be there for them.

We’re going to pray a blessing on them and obviously you can talk to them after the service about any of that stuff.

Lord, Jesus, I thank you so much for these two. I thank you for what they have placed in our hearts. I thank you for this last five years of assignment that they’ve had. And I thank you that you’ve given them a new assignment. I thank you that, in retirement, they’ve received more challenging assignments from you than not in retirement. And I just think that’s beautiful, Lord. And I pray that they would continue to have the strength, the hope and the patience to keep chasing you, to keep chasing your presence, chasing your glory. And I pray that there would be a great, big, generational blessing that is imparted to them and all the people they care about as they go on this task. And I pray that there would be a lot of joy in it. I thank you for them, Lord. And keep changing our hearts into the hearts that please you. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Thank you, guys. I think it’s so honorable what’s going on there.

The Bible is very clear that we’re all going to die someday. And there are a lot of people who don’t believe the Bible tells the truth. But on this one, it’s not that hard to go with the Bible because everybody dies. It’s been going on for a while. And yet, the Bible has a different perspective about death that I think it fits with our Generational Blessing. Psalms says that it’s precious in the eyes of the Lord every time one of his faithful servants dies. Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” 

We all know this kind of Easter verse that says, “Where, O grave, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Because Jesus has come to take all of the darkness, danger and sting and pain out of death, when he rose from the dead. And our life here in this context, in this season, in this frame, is very short and small and brief. In James, it says that our lives are just a vapor. There it was. Gone. In light of eternity. In light of the life that God has planned for us after this life—the next life. If that is everlasting, and you compare that to what these seventy, eighty, ninety years are, this is so brief, so small. And death is actually a graduation. 

What the Bible also teaches about death is that it is appointed once for a person to die, then after that comes judgment. And the grace of God, and the cross of Christ, hopefully, is permeating enough to where we’re starting to understand that, when God talks about judgment, he’s actually wanting to judge you so he can find the good in you, so that he can reward you. That’s God’s primary reason for judgment. To get you from Kindergarten to first grade, or wherever you might be at. That’s what the judging is. That’s what the testing is. He’s wanting you to bring you to the new next place.

And yet, it is true that God’s judgement does come toward wickedness, rebellion and sin, no doubt about it. And it’s heavy and painful. But if we’re really honest, we actually want God to do that, as well. Just like when I was driving across Texas with my family, and, yeah, I was camping out in the fast lane a little bit. I was going too slow, I wasn’t paying attention. And I was getting passed by one car, and then I got passed by a second car. It was the second car when it dawned on me that I should probably get out of that lane. 

They didn’t know I had been driving forever. And the second guy that passed me, he was right to kind of like, “Hey, man, you shouldn’t be in that lane.” I get that. I’ve done the same thing. He was not right to say those things and to show me those fingers and all of the other things he did. I had gotten the message. I didn’t need all the exclamation points. 

I was right to not say anything or to do anything with my vehicle. I don’t know if I was right about the things I was thinking inside my mind and heart. But I can tell you that there was a great moment when, all of a sudden, he realized that there was a police car about five cars ahead of us and he slowed down really quick as he got up to them. I’ve never seen this before, but the cop slowed down, more than him, popped right behind him, pulled him right over. And I didn’t say anything or show him anything as I drove by. Which was great. Which was really great.

Again, that is a joke or whatever. But the truth is that we want God to punish wickedness, rebellion and sin. We don’t want him to punish it whenever it’s us. But when there is real evil in this world, which there is, devastating, breath-taking evil, we want God to rise up. We want him to do these things. So the judgment of God is actually something that is a good thing. And it’s something that, if we’re going to have the right perspective for generations of blessing, we’ve got to understand this broader perspective.

In the first message, I kicked it off, I talked about Psalm 90, where it says Moses is teaching and saying, “Lord, help us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” And teaching us to number our days is coming to that humble reality of understanding how finite, how brief our life is. When we’re young, it’s just a joke. You say your life is brief and it makes no sense at all. But everyone you talk to that is in those latter years of life, they consistently tell you, “I don’t know where the years have gone. It makes no sense to me how quickly it has gone.”

It is so brief. And so we’ve got to gain this understanding. We’ve got to find a way to believe what the Scriptures say—hear about life and the way the Scriptures teach it so that we can make sure we’re not missing the blessing in the generation right here and right now. 

When I say “generation,” we have to define that word, too. We’ve kind of defined it three different ways. If it’s been confusing, then now you know why. The three ways different ways we define “generation” is like Jim Watkins taught in the first video. Zero to twenty seems to be a generation of our lives that is different from twenty to forty. Twenty seems to bring a big change. And then forty seems to bring a big change.

I was looking at the lines on my forehead as I was driving to church today. I was just like, “Those are deep, man. Oh, no. I’m just going to get more of those all the time? Wow.” Stop staring at them right now. Look over here or over there or something. Don’t stare. But then, sixty, I’ve heard, seems to be a big shift in life. And then eighty a big shift in life.

So we have generations in that. You want to find what is danger and what is the curse and what is the blessing in those seasons that God has planted there. 

We’ve also talked about generation as far as your age demographic. There’s the different generations. There’s one of them that we make fun of all the time. What’s that? Millennials. Sounded like millennials were saying that. Come on, we make fun of Millennials. It’s fun to do, for whatever reason. 

But we actually make fun of everybody. I mean, the Generation X kind of snuck in there. I think there weren’t as many of them, or they’re just not very loud, so they didn’t get made fun of as much. 

But, Baby Boomers? Give me a break. They’re all crazy. 

And then you’ve got the Traditionalists, who we don’t make fun of anymore because we want to honor them and they’re old. But they can’t hear you anymore, so feel free. And even if they can hear you, don’t worry. You can just outrun them if they get mad. They’re not going to catch you.

And then there’s the Generation Z that’s coming up and we’ll make fun of them too, once they figure out what’s wrong with them.  

But that’s another way to define generations. Each generation has been passed down some sort of idolatry, some sort of problem; but then they also create their own problems. And yet, there’s also a blessing in each one of those. I believe the Millennials are going to be the greatest missionary generation there ever has been. And I’m saying that with truth, but I also can make fun of them in the same way. Because they love to live off of other people’s money, and they don’t want to work for their jobs. No, just kidding. But no, I’m saying that seriously. And see, I can’t tell a joke because it takes away. But I really believe it’s true and I hope our church is totally going to be a part of that belief and we’re hoping to see it happen here.

The third way that we defined generations is your family legacy—hat has come before you and what you’re passing on to those coming after you, whether that be in society or in your actual family tree. 

I heard a quote from John Adams last week. He said, “The best time to start raising your children is five generations ago.” That’s a good time to start. And that’s a very biblical perspective. That’s a “teach us to number our days” perspective. That’s what we’re trying to get into our hearts in this fast-paced, youth-worshiping culture that we’re living in, that is so different from the way the Bible teaches.

With that being said, we want to make sure that we are finding the blessing, and the Lord is teaching us how to use our days wisely. With that, I want to go to 2 Kings 18, and then we’re going to go to 1 Kings 15 and 2 Kings 12.  The reason I’ve just taken a selection, it’s actually this reoccurring kind of thematic way the Bible talks about the kings of Judah and Israel. I want to read this to give us some perspective and then we’ll run from there.

1 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah[a] daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.[b])

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.

So it’s a description, an accounting, 1 Kings, 2 Kings,1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles are recounting—they’re telling the story of the kings that came and went in Israel, those who ruled. So they’re  talking about Hezekiah, and they’re saying he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to his father, David. And then it goes on with a list of how that went. 1 Kings 15:33-34

33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king of all Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years. 34 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

So here’s a second one. Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to his father, David. Baasha did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, according to the sins of Jeroboam. He followed in that line. And now, we’ve got this third one. You didn’t think there could be a third category, but there is. 2 Kings 12

 12 In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

So here is another category. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, however, he didn’t remove the high places, the idolatry of his day. He didn’t follow the Lord as David, his father, a man after God’s own heart. 

So there are these three categories, which I think are interesting. As we’re facing judgment and we’re trying to figure out, “Lord, where’s the blessing? How can we be the biggest blessing?” I think this is what we need to understand, that God is wanting us to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, and to remove idolatry from our lives.

Now this chart—I love this chart—first the kings of Judah and Israel, look at this and get a perspective. We’ll get it bigger in just a second. Saul, David and Solomon are the top three. Those are the kings of all twelve tribes of Israel, when they were all united. Then you have the kings of Judah, which are the southern two tribes, and the kings of Israel, which are the northern ten tribes. Because after Solomon, the nation was divided. Not as a civil war, but just not together anymore. They did fight each other later on, but it was just kind of a sepration that happened.

So we’re going to go through those kings.  

This is 1 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles all in chart form. So here on this side we have the kings of Judah. I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s a thumbs down, thumbs down, thumbs down, thumbs sideways, thumbs down, thumbs down, thumbs down. I love this chart. This is so good for me.

Up here you have Saul with the thumbs down, David with the thumbs up, Solomon with the black thumbs sideways. Then you have like a white thumbs sideways. Then, on the kings of Israel over here you have thumbs down, straight up, every one of them. Way to go. Awesome

Now pop up the next slide, which is the bottom half. 

Over here on the kings of Judah you have thumbs sideways, thumbs sideways, thumbs sideways, thumbs sideways, thumbs up, thumbs down and down bedoop, bedoop…..

Then over here on Israel you have thumbs down. 

Now, those thumbs mean something. The key that they did on this chart, and again, I love this chart. Thumbs up means they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to their father, David. Thumbs sideways means they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not as their father, David, had done. They did not completely rid the land of idolatry. And then, thumbs down means they did evil in the eyes of the Lord, which, again, they did not remove the idols from the land.

So there you have it. We just conquered 1 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles. That’s it. But we have these three categories. We have these three different ways that we are doing our life. Sad to say, in these stories, the way that the king went was usually the way the people went. 

The way that the father went was usually the way that the son went. And they’re using David as this kind of mark because he was not the father of all of these people, but basically, he was the king that all of them followed after when they became king. 

And Jeroboam was the king that took over the northern ten tribes and basically, all of them that followed Jeroboam as king of Israel did wicked in the eyes of the Lord. And they say, according to the sins of Jeroboam. They connected to him. It was the generational curse that he passed down. 

And there are a couple of different things here. It says they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. And did they remove the idolatry. I want to unpack those things real quick for us.

Doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. This is so important to me, that we understand that doing right in the eyes of the Lord is not just staying away from evil. We, as Christians, as the church, have spent way too long saying righteousness is just staying away from bad things. That is exactly what the Pharisees were doing. Jesus said, “Unless you have a righteousness that surpasses the Pharisees, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” 

The righteousness that God is trying to produce in your life is not just something that will keep you away from wrong, but it will empower you to go into the places where there is wrong and make it right. That is the righteousness of God, where Christians, where the people of God are righting wrongs. That’s what the righteousness of God is all about. Not separating ourselves so much from anything could potentially be wrong in culture, and being this kind of isolating thing on this side. I’m not saying that we don’t have to remove sin from our lives and watch out for certain things. Definitely. But if it stops there, you haven’t yet found the righteousness of God. You’re on your way but you’re not there. And Jesus had a lot of words for the Pharisees who were in that mode. We have to do the things that God asks us to do. 

That’s what I love about John and Amy, and their move right now. They are righteous. The’ve been made righteous by Christ. They’ve been walking a life of purity. They’re in this place, but they know that’s just the beginning. God gave them righteousness so that they can go into the unrighteous situations and—boom—make righteousness. And they’re going into a situation back home where things aren’t quite right, they could be more right. And they’re going there to make right happen. And they’ll do that, not just in their own family, but they’ll do that everywhere they go, as well. 

We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Actually, the way the Bible describes sin is “to him who knows what to do, and doesn’t do it, to him it’s sin.” It’s just such a different way than thinking sin is just don’t do the things that are bad. It’s doing the things that God is asking you to do. That’s what he’s really looking for. 

It’s like with my kids. I can’t stop them from doing wrong things. They’re bad kids. And they’re not even meaning to do wrong. They’re just breaking things all the time. I never taught them to do the wrong. They just know how to do it. And they love it. They think it’s so fun. 

And what we’re trying to teach them is, “Hey, look. You’re going to do wrong. You’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes not on purpose. But the most important thing is that you learn how to make a wrong right.”

And so we’re trying to do that. Like, “Let's go apologize. And then, if you broke something, let’s try to figure out how you can fix it. Let’s try to make it right. Because you’re never going to win the battle of never doing wrong.”

The other day, my daughter had made my wife mad, real mad. And all I know is I was in my room one time and she had put all these instructions for how to have a really nice peaceful evening, she had bought all these things. She had done all these things for my wife to kind of say, “Mom, I want you to go do all of these things, because I think you’ll love these things.” So, she knew she did wrong. Instead of just saying, “Sorry,” she actually figured out how to make this thing. And my wife went in there and she said, “This is amazing!” And whatever was wrong now didn’t feel so wrong and it was made right. 

That’s the goal that God’s trying to get us to do. That’s what these kings were judged on. Did they do what was right in the eyes of the Lord? And it doesn’t matter if you’re seven or seventy, God has an assignment for you. And if you walk in it, not only will you be walking in righteousness, but you will be imparting a blessing to everyone around.

The second thing that they were judged on was whether ornate they tore down the idols of their day, tore down the Asherah poles, remove the high places, cut down a grove. I don’t even know what that is. But basically, they had to go and find the things in their lives that were not of God, or that were set in the same plain as God, and remove those things. 

I remember being in Belize, in this town called Gales Point, where things move very slow. And I ran into a guy named Brother Hugh. And he was seventy years old. He was really the only adult male in the village that knew Christ and followed Christ, that we knew of. I remember him sitting me down one time in this very sleepy, slow village, and he said, “I want to tell you some things.”

And I was like, “Okay.” I mean, just being there, I’m already, “Why is everything moving so slow?” And then, when you talk to the seventy-year-olds in the village—whoa! It was like, “Hi…David…I want to tell you…about my life.”

I was just like, “Okay, man. Let’s do this thing.” But, whatever. I had time. And so he started telling me. And it was so interesting. I’ll never forget what he said. He started to talk about how, when he first started following Christ as, like, an eighteen-year-old, he said at that point he thought he was going to follow Christ. And the Lord would keep adding things to his life and building him up, strengthening him. 

But he said what he has realized as he looks back, it was almost like he was carrying this wheelbarrow, and as he walked with God with this wheelbarrow, Jesus kept pointing to one thin in the wheelbarrow and saying, “I want to talk to you about that.” And they would talk about it, and eventually, it would be, “Okay.” And he would take it out of his wheelbarrow. And as soon as he did that, Jesus would be like, “Now what’s that thing over there?” And he would be like, “Well, it’s this.” Jesus would talk to him about that. 

And he said, what he’s realized now that he’s seventy years old is that, following Christ has been a lot more unloading things than adding things. And he said, “First it was selling drugs. I felt like Jesus told me to stop selling drugs.”

I’m like, “Okay. I’m listening.”

And then he said, “I was supposed to stop gambling. Then I was supposed to stop smoking.” And then he continued on and on, talking about the things that he was supposed to offload, or remove. And I’ve never forgotten it, because I think that is such an accurate picture of walking with Jesus. In two ways. 

One is, if you’re not perfect, just keep walking with Jesus. If you’re having struggles, just keep walking with Jesus. You might be in more of a hurry than he is. Now, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t hate sin and he doesn’t want to remove these things. Absolutely. But it’s got to be him or it’s never actually going to happen. You have to really walk with him to find out what he’s wanting to do in your life. Because he’s the one who can actually get anything done. He’s the one that can change the leopard’s spots.

And the second thing is just that God is always going to have something that he wants to remove from you. You’re never going to get to a point where, all of a sudden, “Hey, the wheelbarrow is empty!” That’s when we move on to the next stage of life. Heaven.

I’ve kind of come up with this short, little thing. It might be helpful, or not. It’s not biblical but it’s been in my heart so I want to share it with you. It’s this concept of surrendering. As I’ve tried to put some generational blessing idea to some of these Scriptures, I’ve noticed that it seems like, and this is generalization, that God’s asking us to surrender our plans around twenty. “I wanted to be this, and now I feel like I’m going this way.” Or, “I was going to be this and this injury.” Or, “I was going to be this, but now she’s pregnant and I need to adjust.” Whatever it might be.

And this happens more than just at that time. But that seems to be a real big moment. And I don’t want you to miss what God’s doing there.

And then, when you’re forty, you surrender your power. You have to start realizing that you’re not going to grow in strength anymore. I think this is what midlife crisis is all about. We keep saying, “Oh, yeah, throw that job responsibility on there.” “Oh, yeah, throw that bigger job on there.” “Oh, yeah, throw the car on there.” “Throw the house on there.” “Throw the boat on there. I got it.” “Oh, yeah, throw marriage, throw a kid, why don’t throw another couple ofkids? Why don’t we throw on some foster kids?” “Why don’t we try this?” And we just keep going.

And then, eventually, our strength starts to go down, but our mentality keeps adding it, and then all of a sudden, for a guy or a lady, you’ve got all of this weight and you don’t have the strength to carry it. And you don’t have the humility to unload things one at a time; so you just run. And it all comes crumbling down. That’s not the way of God. There’s no blessing in that. 

And then when you’re sixty, you surrender your position. And I’ve been watching some people that I really love and respect go through this. It’s painful to not be seen for what you know you have been and are capable of. Even though God still sees you that way. It’s a humbling thing. And you can fight it, but you’ll probably lose the blessing. 

And then, surrendering your possessions, which is interesting. I had to talk to some eighty-year-olds for this. I think you possess physical abilities, and you’re surrendering to those, and having to adjust, come to terms with it. You surrender mental capabilities. Not quite as quick as maybe you were. And there’s blessing in that, if you can surrender. Surrendering whatever possessions you might have—a house, home, finances, clothes, I don’t know.

But there is constantly surrender happening. There is constantly this humility that we need to have as we approach the brevity of life, if we want to find the blessing and pass on the blessing.

I love what the ninety-five pieces that Martin Luther nailed to that church in Wittenburg, the ninety-five things that need to be corrected—ninety-five idolatries that he felt like needed to be removed in the Catholic Church. But the very first line on top of those ninety-five high places that needed to be torn down, he says, “All of life is repentance.” All of life is surrender to the mighty hand of God.

The one idol that I feel that God has brought to mind—obviously money, sex, recreation, that guy you’re with, that girl you’re with, an image that you have of yourself, comfort, possessions, food—we can make an idol out of anything. You can make an idol out of church. It happens all the time. But the idol that I felt God was highlighting and wanted me to say to us is the idol of convenience. 

Because, ultimately, that’s what Jeroboam’s sin was all about. Up in the northern ten tribes, Jeroboam didn’t want all of the people to go back to the southern tribes, to Jerusalem where the temple was, because they might want to move down there. So what he did was, he made a temple in the northern ten tribes, and made a system of worship there so there was more convenience for all the people. But the presence of God wasn’t there. And all of the kings that followed him did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. 

We’ve got to watch out for convenience. Convenience looks like this:

Prayers where we say, “God will you bless my plans? I really want to do this job.” Or “I really want to go to this place. God will you bless me there?” That’s not the way he works. He’s not a genie that we can just rub and say, “God, I want this, this and this.” So often, that’s what our prayer life is like. Just a bunch of rubbing on a lamp.

Another way it looks is, we try and make Jesus fit into our schedule. That’s a big joke, because he’s huge. It’s like trying to find the right time to have a baby. When it fits within your schedule and plans. No, that baby comes and—kaboom. All the plans and schedule, everything is gone and you just reorder from there.

We want God to bless us here and now, instead of saying, “God, take me to the Promised Land. Bless us here in Egypt, O God.” And God says, “No, I’m not going to bless you Egypt. I want to lead you to the Promised Land.”

And that’s what I love about John and Amy and what they’re doing, too. They would much rather just have God bless them here and take care of their parents over there. Burt God never asks us to do something that doesn’t require faith. We’ve got to learn those lessons so we don’t miss out on anything in this life.

Let’s pray:

Jesus, we do thank you for teaching us, for caring about our souls even more than we do. For being the author and perfecter of our faith. For being the one who is in charge of our spiritual formation. The one who is leading us from glory to greater glory, in ever increasing measure, as we just take your hand and walk with you. Lord, please, in this moment, as we quiet our hearts before you, show us the idols in our lives right now—the idols in our families. The idol in our age demographic. The idol in this season of our life. Help us to tear those things down. 

As you’re listening for the Lord to bring some things to mind, I’m going to read some definitions of idols from Tim Keller:

“What is an idol? It’s anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit God is anything so central and essential to your life, that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living at all.”

So, Lord, search our hearts. We want to walk in what is pleasing to you. We want to tear down the idols so that the blessing can be passed on. We want to keep chasing you, even if it’s inconvenient. Amen.

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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV®,
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