DAY 1: Love God with Everything You’ve Got
Resistance always involves a prior commitment to something worth standing for. When you stand for something, you are able to resist whatever is opposed to what you love.
Read Mark 12:28–34. In this passage, Jesus gives the greatest commandment, along with the second greatest one. In a phrase, it would be: LOVE GOD with everything you’ve got.
Jesus did not come up with this commandment on his own. He was deeply immersed in the Old Testament. For Jesus, that was his ONLY Testament. And Jesus knew it inside and out. Jesus knew the teaching of Deuteronomy on loving God.
Look up each of the following verses and underline or highlight what speaks to you. These are short verses that will have a cumulative impact.
Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20
Read Joshua 22:5 and 23:11. Near the end of his life, Joshua reminds the people of God, the same lesson that Jesus gives in Mark.
As you think through these verses, what does it mean to LOVE GOD with everything you’ve got? What other verbs describe ways you show you LOVE God (e.g., worship, obey, etc.)? Come up with a good list of LOVING God verbs.
Pray: Just pray, pray all the time that God would strengthen your love for him.
Pray that you would learn to love God unconditionally, just like he loves you. Love God, not just for the benefits and blessings. Love God without condition. Pray for that kind of love. It is not easy.
Pray for Living Word, that as an entire community, we would LOVE GOD.
DAY 2: Radically Avoid Idols of All Types
God is not the only option you have. God knows he is not your only option. So, God gives a warning and a prohibition. By the way, the human race generally does not do a good job listening to prohibitions. Adam and Eve didn’t and we don’t either.
Read Exodus 20:1–6. God’s prohibition is found in the first two of the Ten Commandments: No other gods before or beside or around the One True God. Don’t make any God alternatives, also known as false idols or images.
The great theologian of the Reformation, John Calvin, said, “The heart is an idol factory.” The fallen, sinful human heart is constantly making gods, or finding them.
The language I used in the message is REPLACEMENT GODS. Replacement gods are everywhere in our culture. Actually, anything, ANYTHING, can become a replacement god.
Whatever you choose to love most, that is your god. Whatever you think about most, talk about most, look to for meaning and purpose, look to for identity, think will provide safety and security, that is your real god. Here are some examples:
politics, sex, money
power, status, entertainment
sports, celebrities, technology
food, exercise, appearance
… or ANYTHING else.
And the #1 replacement god is SELF. It is the original lie of Genesis 3:5: “You will be like God.”
Reflect: What are your replacement gods? They may not be replacement gods, but they ARE supplemental gods. This needs DISCERNMENT and the gift of grace and humility. And then it needs REPENTANCE.
DAY 3: You Will Become What You Love
You are what you worship.
You become what you love.
Your gods remake you in their own image.
Israel was to love God only and was forbidden to have gods or idols. The One True God was a God of shalom, justice (mishpat), goodness (hesed), holiness (qadosh), and love. As God’s people worshipped only God, they would find the very nature of God being reproduced in their lives. They would become like their God.
But in failing to worship only God, and in worshipping the false gods (and most of them had dark, ugly dimensions), they became like what they worshipped. So, after Israel is found guilty of idolatry, they are said to be unjust, oppressive, in a constant state of conflict and aggression (not shalom), sexually promiscuous, and out of control. They became just like the other nations and were no longer a different people. There are over 1,000 references in the Old Testament to false gods, idols, and images.
This is the constant word of the prophets to Israel. That is why the people are not refreshed, healed, or saved at the end of the summer harvest. They have run after idols and not the true God (Jeremiah 8:19–20). Read Jeremiah 2:13 where this is said using the metaphor of water.
What you worship is a very serious matter indeed. Worshipping and serving and trusting in replacement or even supplemental gods not only insults God, it hurts you. And it hurts others.
Give us eyes to see who and what we are becoming. If you are not becoming the kind of person described in 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5:22–26, and 2 Peter 1:3–11, that is a major indication that you are NOT following Jesus very closely.
Read Romans 12:1–2. Reflect, pray, repent, and be consecrated for the worship of Jesus.
DAY 4: Surviving Furnaces of Fire (When Faith is Risky)
Our Wednesday Night Live livestream and Thursday Mornings in the Word group are studying Daniel. You can tune in Wednesday online and come on site on Thursday if you want more Bible study.
We are diving into Daniel because Daniel (and his friends) were dropped into an incredibly pagan and hostile culture. They had to navigate living their faith in the sovereign God as exiles. They had constant challenges, just like we do today.
Read Daniel 3, the story of the fiery furnace. As you read, look for lessons on how to live in a post-Christian, secular, replacement gods culture.
Make a list of your best insights.
Reflect: What have been your more fiery furnaces? How did you respond? How did you experience God?
Are you ready for more testing, trials, and difficulty in the season ahead? Every fiery furnace is a preparation for more to come. Remember, you live in a post-Christian, secular culture where Christianity is no longer welcome.
Pray: Pray for grace, strength, faith, hope, and love.
DAY 5: Jesus is Lord of All, Right?
Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is Lord, then you are more likely to stand firm, continue to resist, and walk together with others who are resisting as well.
Jesus is Lord! What does that mean for you? What is a Lord? What does a servant think about what the Lord says? Jesus wants us to ask these questions and attend to the quality of his Lordship in our lives.
Read and reflect on:
What are the parts of your life where it is very difficult to follow the will of Jesus? Why don’t you offer those parts of your life to Jesus?
What do you think of the old saying about Jesus, “If he is not Lord of all, then he is not Lord at all”?
How much of the Lordship of Jesus do other see when they look at your life?
Why does the church (in general in North America) not take MUCH more seriously that Jesus is the King of kings to whom we owe 100% allegiance? That Jesus’ Word is truth and life? That Jesus’ will is the way to true flourishing? Why do we continue to have “turf wars” with Jesus about who is in control of our life, as individuals or as a church?
Reflect: What is the up-to-date invitation of Jesus Christ to you about the next best steps for his will to be done in your life as it is in heaven?
Pray: Pray through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–15.
- Songs We Sing
Other Messages in Series