(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Tim Keller entitled, Counterfeit Gods.
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
About weekly I will go out to our backyard pool and take a strip of paper from a bottle and stick it in the water. The various parts of the strip change colors to show how balanced the water is chemically. It tells me if the chlorine levels are good, the Ph levels are OK, or the level of acidity in the water. Unless the water is turning green (which it has!), it would be hard for me to tell what was going on in the water without the test strip to identify if things were OK or out of balance.
Do you ever wish there was a spiritual “test strip” that we could put in our mouths and depending on the colors presented on the strip would tell us what parts of our soul were in balance and what parts were out of balance?
It might be a little disconcerting to see the read out of such a strip!
While there are not strips, there is Scripture that helps to diagnose what is going on in our hearts. God has recorded both teaching and examples to help us discern, should we be open to it, if we have counterfeit gods in our lives and what they are.
In Sunday’s message (link to listen above), we looked at the story of Abraham and how God tested his heart to see if he held Isaac in first position or the Lord. I’ll let you listen to the message to hear that example. Let me give you another. Also from the life of Abraham, but this time with his nephew Lot and his wife.
Lot lived in a very wicked community of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was obvious that the hearts of people in those cities loved self, sex and stuff way more than they loved God. God let Abraham know that he was going to destroy the city. Knowing that Lot lived there, Abraham pleaded with God to spare the city and bargained down to an agreement that God would spare the city if he could find ten God-fearing people there.
The sad thing is, he didn’t.
So he sent two of his angels to warn Lot and his wife and two daughters to get out of the city. The destruction would be swift and dramatic. However, the Lord said, “Do not turn around and look at the destruction for if you do, you will die.” Why so dramatic? I know I would be curious to flee to a safe zone and turn around and watch fire from heaven consume the city. When would be another time you would get to see that? That wasn’t the point. The point of warning Lot and his family to NOT turn around was to determine if their hearts were more settled in the Lord, or they were longing for what they left.
Lot and his daughters passed the test. His future sons-in-low didn’t, nor did his wife. Sadly God sent the judgment he promised. Here’s how it went:
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry[a] his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
…23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
What would you have done? Thought God was joking like the sons-in-law? Hesitated like all of Lot’s family? Looked back like Lot’s wife?
Here’s the point of the test. Whenever your heart is drawn to things of this earth, let go and let your love and loyalty always follow the Lord. He will never let you down. He will save you from destruction. He will always carry through on his promises.
The Lord is ALWAYS the right answer when our hearts are tested!
Apply: How is the loyalty of your heart being tested today? What makes simply trusting the Lord difficult? Pray for the strength of the Spirit to simply follow the Lord!
Prayer: Lord when my heart is tested, lead me to always fear, love and trust you first! AMEN.