The Psalmist speaks about the people with pure hearts, who never worship idols, and never lie. Those people are the blessed ones, the ones with a right relationship with God. When you read this and think about how everyone falls short of the glory of God, it is difficult to swallow. Our hearts aren’t pure. We each have a degree of evil in our hearts. Thought we do not like to admit it, we will often worship something or someone. That’s idolatry. Lies? They usually leave our lips from time to time.
When we consider a “right relationship” with God, we must remember that Jesus Christ came, was crucified, and rose from the grave, so that we could have a right relationship with God. The only way for a right relationship was for Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for all of sin. Because of His sacrifice, we are able to have a right relationship with God through faith alone in Him.
Today, consider where you are at with your relationship status. Do not be living like the veil is still blocking you from a holy God. The veil has been torn. The debt has been paid. Live with the freedom Christ has given you. The greatest relationship is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.” – Psalm 24:4-5 [NLT]
I always get upset when I read Exodus 32, because as Moses is up on the mountain with the Lord, the people are again getting themselves in trouble. They surround Aaron and ask to make gods because they haven’t a clue what happened to Moses, the one who led them out of Egypt. Right after they approach Aaron, he immediately is asking for gold earrings. He doesn’t beat around the bush.
Aaron leads the people to sin. We see his immediate action is to answer their request and make a golden calf. He doesn’t stand up boldly for God. He doesn’t say, “Hey, let us wait for Moses.” He jumps right in headfirst. When Aaron’s sin is addressed, he is asked what the people did to him that caused him to “bring terrible sin upon” him. This leaves the door open for Aaron to confess to what he did. Instead, he points out “how evil these people are.”
In the case of Aaron, the people supplied the gold, but he fashioned the calf. When the people got excited, he built and altar and planned to worship the calf, just adding to the sin. When people sin, they are to blame for their actions. Even so, we never should be leading someone to sin. If we are bringing sin upon someone, we are guilty and in need of repentance.
“Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, ‘Tomorrow will be a festival to the LORD!’ Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, ‘What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?’ ‘Don’t get so upset, my lord,’ Aaron replied. ‘You yourself know how evil these people are.’” – Exodus 32:5, 21-22 [NLT]
Jeremiah 2 speaks about idolatry. God reminds us that He planted “a choice vine.” It was planted using pure seed. But soon enough, the choice vine became a wild vine. How did this happen? God broke the yokes of the people. The people responded by refusing to serve Him. Instead, they bowed down to other gods. They became a wild vine instead of being the choice vine for which they were created.
This reminds me of my own gardening experience. I remember having a beautiful vine that I planted. It was one of my favorite parts of my flower bed. But the vine did not want to grow in a contained and structured way I had envisioned. Instead, the vine tried to weave its way underneath the siding. It didn’t mind how often I watched over it; the vine started to go into areas that I never intended it to locate. It was crazy wild! I had to pull up a great deal of the vine and do some hardcore pruning.
The people of God, even today, have wandering eyes. It is so easy to turn your eyes from God and find ourselves bowing down to something in place of God. We often think this is a choice we make intentionally, so we boldly claim we would never succumb to idolatry. Yet, our eyes become fixed on other things and we find God is not honored. Usually this happens without even a notice. Sometimes it is a gradual move. Perhaps a small change here or there. Where are your eyes fixed today? What or Who is at the top of your list? Have you become a wild vine who has turned your ears and eyes away from God?
“For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore. Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?” – Jeremiah 2:20-21 [ESV]
There are two evils mentioned in Jeremiah 2: The people had forsaken God and the people have traded God for cisterns. These were not just any cisterns, but broken cisterns. Again we find that God’s people have traded Him for something else, something certainly not as desirable.
Interestingly enough, cisterns only hold a certain amount of water. It is limited. So when we read about trading a fountain for a cistern, the comparison already sounds like a horrible exchange. When we look at fountains, we are reminded of a steady flow of water. It seems never-ending.
The verse makes a great comparison of the two items (two evils). We are left with a choice. Do we want the fountain of living waters, Jesus Christ? Or do we want to gather for ourselves broken cisterns that leaves us forever thirsty? We are a broken people, but we need not choose to live our lives with broken cisterns. Instead, we can accept Jesus, the Living Water. With Him, anything is possible.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” – Jeremiah 2:13 [ESV]
In Jeremiah 2, the words are harsh. The Lord asks what the people found wrong with God that made them go after other things. The verse says that because they went after worthlessness, they became worthless. This is blunt. This is harsh. This is difficult to swallow.
It is hard to read this truth and feel any grace. The reason the people had become worthless is because they were deep in idolatry. They could not be used by God for His glory if they were running after other things. It is difficult for you to selfishly and foolishly run toward something in place of God and be used by God for great things for His glory. At the end of the day, not only is it a choice that will be regrettable, but it is also very unfruitful.
Verse 11 makes it clear that this way of living does not profit. The people, His people (note “my people”), decided to cast aside their specialness. They were a chosen people. They cast it aside for something else. The something else was not better. Rather, this action caused them to settle for something that would lead them nowhere good, nowhere they would want to be if they knew the truth. Today, look within. Are you useful? Are you fixated on other things? Imagine what God can do through you for His glory.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.’” – Jeremiah 2:5, 11 [ESV]
More Than a Story is a 12 week study of the parables of Jesus. This is the first week: RICHNESS.
More Than a Story: Richness
[The Rich Fool: Luke 12:13-21]
BE ON GUARD AGAINST COVETOUSNESS
Covetousness – desire to have more than you have
LIFE DOES NOT CONSIST OF ABUNDANCE OF POSSESSIONS
Possessions are useless when life is gone
Cannot truly live when fixated on possessions
- Focused on protecting what you have
- Focused on getting more – never enough
- Focus is idolatry – God doesn’t have 1st place in life
Rich man called a fool. Jesus says, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (v. 21 ESV). He’s not called fool for being productive or profitable.
Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [NIV]
Notice that the rich fool is not just called a fool; he’s a fool who loses his soul.
Our possessions: Time – Treasure – Talents
These can be hazardous or helpful. You decide.
Hazardous = It becomes your life <<OR>> Helpful = 1 Timothy 6:17-19
“Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.” [MSG]
True Life — Eternal Life Life is knowing God
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3 NIV).
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 NLT).
Bible Study Questions:
1) The brother who approached Jesus at the beginning of the passage was covetous. The “rich fool” in the parable told by Jesus was also covetous. Jesus said to “be on your guard against all covetousness” (v. 15).
What are some instances when we are covetous?
How can we be on guard against this covetousness?
2) When reading verses 17-19, what words stick out to you?
3) What was the focus of both the brother and the “rich fool”?
4) Can one be “rich” in possessions (“treasure” – money) and still be rich toward God? If so, how?
5) How can we be rich toward God?
6) John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God and Jesus Christ. What does that mean? What is the difference between knowing of God, knowing about God, or truly knowing God? How does that look in our lives?
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.
As you look through old clothing, you might find a pair of old shorts that are not even able to be donated. They are beyond salvageable. They are discolored. They are frayed. They have holes. The fabric is worn hard and perhaps stained. They are worthless.
God had Jeremiah take a linen belt, or for us to better understand, some linen shorts, and wear them without any washing. Then he was directed to take them off and hide them. When they were retrieved, they were worthless because they did not receive the proper care.
The people of God, which includes us today, are to cling to God. But like the people of this time, the people that went from clinging to God and His Law to burying themselves in idolatry and sin, we have a great problem with corruption that can take away our worth to the Kingdom. Thankfully, Jesus Christ can wash us and we become as white as snow. When we come to know Christ, we do not have to be a pair of old shorts. We are made new. We are forgiven. We are redeemed. We are restored.
God told me, “Go and buy yourself some linen shorts. Put them on and keep them on. Don’t even take them off to wash them.” So I bought the shorts as God directed and put them on. Then God told me, “Take the shorts that you bought and go straight to Perath and hide them there in a crack in the rock.” So I did what God told me and hid them at Perath. Next, after quite a long time, God told me, “Go back to Perath and get the linen shorts I told you to hide there.” So I went back to Perath and dug them out of the place where I had hidden them. The shorts by then had rotted and were worthless.
-Jeremiah 13:1-7 [MSG]
When a danger is called “huge” it should not be taken lightly. In this case, the people were being warned of the danger of associating with a country that worshiped false gods. The concern was that by living closely with these people, the people of Israel would begin to accept some of the practices and culture that was against the Word of God.
Jesus ate with sinners. He spent time with many people who were not pure. However as we read the Gospel, it is clear that Jesus did not spend all of His time with these people. He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer. He spent a lot of time teaching and preaching as He traveled along with His disciples. He was so engrossed with His mission and He spent much time with the Word as was demonstrated during His time in the wilderness and while teaching. He often recited Scripture. It was written on His heart. It was at the core of His being.
If we do not go out in the world to share the Gospel, then the Gospel won’t get shared. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world to stay safe from temptation. Even in isolation, you will be tempted. Temptation is everywhere. But you can be cautious and keep yourself from spending too much time around “huge danger.” Paul wrote about focusing on what is worthy of praise. You can opt to take in a lot of negative and find out that what you take in will eventually come out. Or you can opt to focus on Him and the right, the pure, the lovely and find that it begins to pour from you.
“Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”
– Exodus 23:32-33 [MSG]
We read in Isaiah that the idols are “empty as the wind.” When we think of wind, you don’t see anything there. It’s this movement of air. You can’t see it. The only reason you can tell the air is moving is because you see trees dancing in the wind or lightweight objects like leaves are carried by the strength of the wind. Or perhaps you feel the air blowing on your skin or through your hair.
The Bible says that idols are “foolish, worthless things.” When we think of idols, we often think of the man-made items that the people in biblical times worshiped. We read about different gods they worshiped that were made of wood or other materials and looked like an animal. But man-made idols can be anything that takes the place of God.
Ecclesiastes speaks of chasing the wind. Solomon writes of everything being meaningless. But what does that mean? Is everything meaningless? Is life meaningless? Not at all. Solomon understood that meaning could only be found in God. The idols we have on this earth—for some people it is money, a career, family, a particular person, gambling, etc—are all foolish, worthless things that cannot do a thing for us. With Jesus Christ we find meaning. There is no emptiness; there is only fullness. He satisfies completely. He makes whole. He completes.
“See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.” – Isaiah 41:29 [NLT]