By Katie Evensen
Who knew one church service could make such an impact?
Visiting a new church can be overwhelming, exciting, nerve-wracking, and even a little scary. We are all so used to our own congregations, pastors and worship leaders from what we may call our “home-churches”. I visited a church with one of my suitemates back in February that was her “home-church”. Not only was I excited to see where she attended every Sunday with her family, there was a major plus in getting to leave campus for a while. Little did I know what a positive effect one church service would have on me for the next 40 days…
Do you ever stop and think about what or who you worship? Some of us Christians may automatically think “God”. But is this 100% true and honest? The definition of “worship” is the following: “The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity” (a “deity” meaning “a god”). When we take a look at this definition and how deep it is, it makes us re-think what we are worshipping.
The pastor of the church I visited that one Sunday gave a message on a “40 Day Challenge”. His challenge was this: “Figure out what your idol is, what you place on the throne instead of God, and take the next 40 days to pray that that idol no longer replaces God on the throne.” That may sound dramatic, and maybe a bit obvious, but have you taken the time to actually think about what you “worship” besides your Heavenly Father? This could be anything…something as little as worrying too much about grades or what other people think of you. Some other examples the pastor gave were obsession with money and spending too much time focusing on social media.
Exodus 20:2-6 says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
In verses three and five, we as readers can see that Moses gives us a clear direction to only worship God, and to put aside idols.
In Ezekiel 14:2 it reads, “Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces.” Idols are “stumbling blocks” that keep us from pursuing a walk with God and prevent our gaze from being fixed on Christ. For me, pursuing Christ means letting go of others’ opinions of me. It means praying about not letting others get under my skin, whether through their negative attitudes, thoughts, or actions.
It has been more than 40 days now, and I can honestly say that because of prayer and trusting deeply in God, these particular idols have become less and less of a stumbling block for me. These might always be a challenge for me, but I know that with God, nothing is impossible.
Worshipping God is so important because He alone is mighty and deserves praise. He alone is Lord over all of creation, and he alone sent his Son to redeem the world from sin. No one and nothing deserves as much love and worship as Christ. Nothing compares to Him!
Would you try this “40 Day Challenge” of prayer and trust, placing God back on the throne to lovingly rule over your life? Would you seek him and ask him what stumbling blocks are getting in the way of worshiping him alone? Take your idol and what you worship, and pray that God, himself, replaces that. When we place material objects, and even people on the throne of our lives, we turn away from God. But when we seek first his Kingdom, we praise him as Savior and Lord!
You will know the difference once you start putting all your trust and love in Him.
Lord, I pray that we not only give our hearts and desires to what you want, but allow us to lean on you when we see our hearts leaning towards something that does not glorify you. I pray that this "40 Day Challenge" is truly a challenge, to become more Christ-like and glorify you, and you alone!
Photo courtesy of Flickr.