Most of us don’t have wooden or stone idols. In fact, a large proportion of us have turned to Christ for salvation, but are we truly resting in His hands? Or have we merged our securities and marginalized our lives? Have we placed conditions on our trust.

Conditions like:

I trust God to provide, but I must keep my savings account at this level

I trust God to watch over my children, but I must watch them diligently

I trust God with my marriage, but my spouse must ….

Oh, how hard it is to truly surrender! Especially in some of these gray, even biblical areas. The Bible tells us to handle our money wisely, to save for the future, to diligently raise and train our children, to submit to our spouses in humility and love.

Those are great things, but they are not strong enough to carry our burdens, to rescue us from storms. And when we trust in those things, we are really trusting in ourselves–in our abilities.

But we all know how far we get in our own abilities, right?

Prayerfully read over the following passage and ask God to show you what idols you have allowed to weasel into your life.

Isaiah 44 (NLT)

“But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant,
Israel my chosen one.
The Lord who made you and helps you says:
Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant,
    O dear Israel, my chosen one.
For I will pour out water to quench your thirst
and to irrigate your parched fields.
And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your children.
They will thrive like watered grass,
like willows on a riverbank.
Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’
Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’
Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands
and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

The Foolishness of Idols

This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies:

“I am the First and the Last;
there is no other God.
Who is like me?
    Let him step forward and prove to you his power.
Let him do as I have done since ancient times
when I established a people and explained its future.
Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

How foolish are those who manufacture idols.
These prized objects are really worthless.
The people who worship idols don’t know this,
so they are all put to shame.
10 Who but a fool would make his own god—
 an idol that cannot help him one bit?
11 All who worship idols will be disgraced
along with all these craftsmen—mere humans—
who claim they can make a god.
They may all stand together,
but they will stand in terror and shame.

12 The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool,
pounding and shaping it with all his might.
His work makes him hungry and weak.
It makes him thirsty and faint.
13 Then the wood-carver measures a block of wood
and draws a pattern on it.
He works with chisel and plane
and carves it into a human figure.
He gives it human beauty
and puts it in a little shrine.
14 He cuts down cedars;
he selects the cypress and the oak;
he plants the pine in the forest
to be nourished by the rain.
15 Then he uses part of the wood to make a fire.
With it he warms himself and bakes his bread.
Then—yes, it’s true—he takes the rest of it
and makes himself a god to worship!
He makes an idol
and bows down in front of it!
16 He burns part of the tree to roast his meat
and to keep himself warm.
He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.”
17 Then he takes what’s left
and makes his god: a carved idol!
He falls down in front of it,
worshiping and praying to it.
“Rescue me!” he says.
“You are my god!”

18 Such stupidity and ignorance!
Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see.
Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.
19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect,
“Why, it’s just a block of wood!
I burned half of it for heat
and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat.
How can the rest of it be a god?
Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”
20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes.
He trusts something that can’t help him at all.
Yet he cannot bring himself to ask,
    “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”

I love that last verse for it speaks of an honest heart evaluation, something we each need … daily.

Let’s talk about this!

Are you fearfully clinging to something God is asking you to surrender? Are you building safety nets God might want you to release?

Stop for a moment and focus on God’s unchanging nature. List ten things you know to be true about God. Now, stop to remember all He has done. List five to ten times when God came through–when He provided a friend when you needed one, a check at just the right time, strength when you felt ready to break.

Does remembering who God is and what He’s done make surrender easier?

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about perseverance and how we can do that during “the waiting period.”

Last night at church we talked about the first commandment–thou shall have no other God’s before Me. Then we talked about how rarely we live this one out. No, we don’t have images made from stone or wood, but we have our idols none the less–those things we hold so tightly, they’ve subtly gained control of our heart. Sometimes even good things can become bad, when gripped too tightly. For me, it’s a constant battle, requiring a constant heart check. Where does my obedience truly lie? Am I really living for Christ and Christ alone, or am I straddling two worlds hoping they’ll somehow merge?

So how do you know when that thing’s become the Thing? When you can’t let it go. When it dominates your thoughts and becomes the central reason for your actions. How do you make the Thing a thing? I’m not sure of that one. I know in my life, my heart, if left alone, quickly darkens. Each day I have to pray for God’s purifying intervention. I pray that He draws my heart toward Him, softens it to the things of Him, and removes anything in me that does not bring Him glory. But quite honestly, the praying’s easy. It’s the doing that gets tough, because inevitably, God shows me something that needs changing, dropping, adding, confessing. And anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins. There’s no self-justification here. No, “Well, I wasn’t sure if that was God’s will for me.” God’s not buying it. More often than not, the question is not do we know God’s will, but do we have the courage to obey, even if it doesn’t make sense or means giving up something we hold dear.

Today’s devo first appeared on Ashley Clark’s blog, Everydays.

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The original title: God May Be Calling, But What IF the Line’s Busy?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what happens when God places a call on our lives, but we’re a little too busy with all our good efforts to pick up. Who’s on the other line? Well, it’s probably not Satan incarnate, unless you are really outside my typical blog audience.

More likely, it’s those nice folks at church, asking if you can volunteer for a few more service projects. Or maybe it’s a coworker who wants to know if you can pick up a few extra hours.

Or if you’re like me, maybe it’s yourself. And no, I’m not schizophrenic.

I’ve seen this happen to friends who hold the idea of their “ministry” so close to their hearts that they are inflexible when God Himself brings a change to their plans, and I’ve done this many times personally when God is telling me to relax and I feel the need to explain how concerning and significant my efforts are.

The conversation goes something like this, “God, I know You’re listening, and I know you care, but this stuff I’m doing here is pretty important, so please help it work out the best way it possibly can, and please give me strength as I work so hard to exhaust every possible avenue to make this happen.”

When really, the prayer should be more like this: “God, I’m listening. And I’ll follow.”

The. End.

I challenge you today to live in faith rather than in a form of faith that’s really driven by self-imposed, false humility and a legalistic, works-based salvation structure. Remember that it is by grace and grace alone we are redeemed, and all we are that is good is because of Christ’s work in us.

So stop trying too hard to BE that person, whatever he or she looks like in your mind, and realize you already ARE if Christ is at work, living within you.
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Ashley Clark writes romantic comedy with Southern grace. She’s currently working on her master’s in English with an anticipated spring 2011 graduation date. When she’s not writing, she enjoys teaching English Composition I and Introduction to Literature. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband and two rescued Cocker Spaniels. You can find out more about her and her writing at Everydays and Kaitlyn’s Reply.

And remember, if you loved today’s devo, fb share it, “like” it, tweet it, or leave a comment. And, take a few moments to visit Ashley’s blog. She’s a wonderful sister in Christ who has a fun way with words! And a heart that spills grace and joy on all she meets.

(You might also enjoy reading my interview of Dr. Senske, author of The Calling: Live a Life of Significance on Reflections today.)