This week was Part 4 of the "gods at war" series. We began with a worship set that included "Marvelous Light", "Dry and Brittle" (They Came Running), and "Cannons" (Phil Wickham). I opened the message talking about how worship services are not only on Sunday here in America. Worship services are everyday of the week as we worship all different forms of entertainment. This idol is one that we all struggle with, probably daily. If someone was to follow you around for a week, what would they say are the entertainment idols that you worship?
We first looked at Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 where Solomon sets out to fulfill himself with all manner of entertainment. He acquires wealth, indulges in alcohol and food, does amazing building projects and surrounds himself with great scenery, fame, work, musical entertainment, women, servants, etc. He gathers for himself anything he could ever dream of and determines that it is all vanity, futility, meaningless! As he pursued these things he learned that it left him feeling empty and was as pointless as chasing the wind.
We discussed some of the top entertainment gods for teens and mentioned the following:
-Social Media- John Piper once said "One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time."
-Television- The average American watches 4.5 hours of television a day. Homes in some other countries arrange their living rooms to be seated around a central carved idol, much like ours are centered around a television.
-Video Games- The average teenager plays 14 hours of video games a week. A video game addict is described as displaying all the same characteristics of a heroin addict.
We also talked some others such as internet, music, sports, etc.
At this point we have to understand that this is not about a legalistic message saying that you cannot have any pleasures of life. God created entertainment and pleasure and I believe He takes joy when we use them appropriately. If not so, then He would not have created us with the ability to laugh. But we have to understand the fact that God will not bless His competition.
We turned to 1 Kings 18 and I gave some background of the previous chapters. King Ahab, who was known as the most evil king in Israel's history, married Jezebel. She sets up an altar and temple for the god of Baal and idol worship begins to spread. God sends Elijah to warn of a drought which was ironic since Baal was known as the god of weather. God will withhold blessing in the very area of your life that you have a god in His place. 1 Kings 18:19-21 Elijah calls for a gathering with those worshipping Baal and he tells them that they need to decide who they are going to worship either God or Baal. They remain silent probably because they want to worship both, which is simply not an option. We read in 1 Kings 18:25-29 that the worshippers of Baal call out to their god, but he never responds, because he doesn't exist. They even cut themselves and bleed for him. That seems silly to us, but we often sacrifice hurting ourselves and even others for our idols. 1 Kings 18:36-39 after Elijah has drenched the altar with water, he worships God and fire comes down and burns the sacrifice. The people declare that "the Lord, He is God." When we worship God, He responds!
I closed with a story about a young girl named Jenny who was in a store with her parents one day and spotted a necklace made of imitation pearls. She fell in love with them and saved her money to purchase them. What may have only been a few dollars seemed like a lot of money for her. She wore this necklace everywhere and would never take it off. One night as her father tucked her in he said "Jenny do you love me?" She responded "Of course I do!" Her father then said "Give me your necklace." Jenny replied "No daddy, please take this doll instead." This went on for a few nights with the same response. One day Jenny walked into her parents room and with tears she said "Daddy I want you to know that I truly love you so here you can have my necklace." At that moment the father took out a box with a necklace made of real genuine pearls. The father was waiting for Jenny to give up what was a false idol in her life, so he could then give her a real gift. That story is not for the purpose of convincing us that if we lay aside our idols that God will bless us with prosperity or anything like that. It is to show us that when we lay aside our idols and worship God as He truly desires, then He shows up in our lives and gives us Himself which is the greatest prize ever.
What idols and false gods of entertainment are you currently struggling with?