22Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian.” 23But Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The LORD will rule over you! 24However, I have one request. Each of you can give me an earring out of the treasures you collected from your fallen enemies.” (The enemies, being Ishmaelites, all wore gold earrings.) 25″Gladly!” they replied. They spread out a cloak, and each one threw in a gold earring he had gathered. 26The weight of the gold earrings was forty-three pounds, not including the crescents and pendants, the royal clothing of the kings, or the chains around the necks of their camels. 27Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family. Judges 8:22-27

Gideon made a “sacred ephod” in good faith from the spoils of the victory the Lord gave him. He meant it as a memorial, a reminder of the faithfulness of God…but “soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it.” How easy it is for us to worship the thing we’ve created instead of the One who made it possible for us to create it! How easy it is for us to worship the thing we can see instead of the One who is unseen! How easy it is for us to worship the past instead of the One who gives us a future!

Wow! each of those last three sentences could be a sermon or sermon series! No sermons or sermon series here, but how about a few thoughts to touch your spirit.

What might you or I have created that we are tempted to worship instead of worshipping the One who made it possible? We can make an idol out of anything. Has your career or position in society (or the church) become your idol? How about your marriage (or pursuit of marriage) or your children? Maybe you’ve made an idol out of your leisure time or hobby? Then, there’s always the house and/or car. Perhaps you’ve made pain and/or suffering your idol.

Are you more concerned about any of these things than you are about pursuing God wholeheartedly? Do you make sacrifices for these things that should really be made to God (or not be made at all)? Everything we’ve received in our life has NOT been received by our own efforts alone. It has all come from the hands of a loving and merciful God.

SacramentOfTheMomentHow is one to worship the unseen? I don’t know about you, but it’s WAY easier to worship the thing that is seen, than the One who is unseen! The Message Bible describes Jesus as “this invisible but clearly present God” (Romans 8:9). Worshipping the Invisible begins with acknowledging that He is present. He is everywhere all the time (omnipresent), but unless I seek His presence, I miss it. In the winter 2007 issue of “Christian History and Biography” Richard Foster writes of a book by Jean-Pierre de Caussade called The Sacrament of the Present Moment saying that it “changed forever the way I look at ‘ordinary’ life” (page 50).

Caussade urges us to experience each moment “as a holy sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace.” Is this perhaps the connection…the link that allows us to worship the One who is unseen by seeing Him in what is seen? That’s whag Caussade is suggesting. What an adventure it would be to embark on such a journey, because it would be an adventure of constantly seeking God (the Invisible). And God’s Word tells me that this seeking will result in finding: “If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14a, NLT)

Letting go of the past to worship the God of our future: David Seamands has a book called Putting Away Childish Things. It’s an excellent book about identifying and dealing with past hurts, attitudes and wrong thinking that yield responses in our lives today that limit what God wants to do with our future. You migth be more familiar with the book by Joyce Meyer, The Battlefield of the Mind. The premises for both books are similar, but I found Seamonds’ book to be the more insightful/thoughtful. In reading his book, I was able to identify incidents and patterns from childhood that shaped how I responded to situations today. Identifying them was the first step toward “putting them away” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Sacred ephods…things created in good faith that have become objects of worship, idols. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8 NIV) Let’s not settle for worshipping the ephod. Let’s worship the One who gives perfect gifts.

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