The Facade of Worship

Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 16:8, 10
8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria…10 Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction.

Reflection: The Facade of Worship
By Erin Newton

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The old idiom means “to have all the benefits of a situation when, in fact, having one thing means that you cannot have the other.” I want good grades without studying. I stay up late watching movies but hope to feel well-rested in the morning. I want companionship but never invest in others.  Unfortunately, I fall into this trap in small, mostly insignificant ways. There are some, however, who have gone too far.

Ahaz became king of Judah and quickly made an alliance with the Assyrians. With threats surrounding Judah, Ahaz welcomed the influence of other powers. He earnestly sought their approval by robbing the Temple and handing over the riches. He lingered with the Assyrians and was enthralled by the temples for foreign gods.

Judah already had a temple for worship. The divinely ordained Temple in Jerusalem was blessed with God’s continual presence. But Ahaz was obsessed with Assyrian power and prestige so much so that he was willing to try to hold both worlds in one hand. He kept the Temple in Jerusalem and commissioned another Assyrian-style altar to be built. He kept the divinely ordained rituals but transferred those to his new altar.

Ahaz attempted to retain the façade of worshipping God while adopting the ways of the world. He was either weak or wicked but in either case, he failed to see that worshipping God is incompatible with other worldviews. He could not have God and other deities too.  

Not everything conflicts with faith. I can be a vegetarian Christian or a pro-life Democrat or an old-earth conservative. Our faith does not stand at odds with everything. There is, however, a difference in building two houses of worship. My profession to love Jesus cannot stand alongside the desire to give my whole heart to a cause, a party, or a person.

Jesus warned that no one was able to serve two masters. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6.24) Ahaz despised God by continuing to rob the Temple and sacrificing his own children. What pursuits consume our thoughts? What platforms are we willing to sacrifice for that compete with the sole worship of God? Some things must be secondary in life; God must be primary. 

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Concerning the commandments, Jesus taught us, saying: “This is the first: Listen Israel, the Lord our God is the One, only Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater then these.” — Mark 12.29-31

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Kings 16 (Listen – 3:46)
Titus 2 (Listen – 2:01)

Read more about Muscle Memory
Fearful and uncertain, he looked for answers. Just as he was raised, he avoided God and looked to the idols.

Read more about Solomon’s Cheating Heart
What “Temple” have you built with the time and resources of your life?
Who is that Temple dedicated to?

Praying for Repentance :: A Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: 2 Timothy 4.3-4
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Reflection: Praying for Repentance :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Paul says that the “time will come,” when people will not put up with sound doctrine. He sounds like he is speaking of the future, but it certainly seems as if there were a lot of Paul’s past experiences in Acts that might be described as people not putting up with sound doctrine.

Being stoned, being beaten, being imprisoned, and being run out of town by mobs doesn’t exactly sound like acceptance or tolerance. Doctrinal diligence is needed in every age of the church. Defending correct doctrine is the task Paul is quite seriously commanding Timothy to prepare for. We need to prepare for it too.

But as we think of these people Paul writes of, who will gather teachers to suit their own desires, we need to think about our desires. As we pray for people who turn their ears away from the truth, we need to think about how often we turn away from facts that don’t fit our paradigms. Let us remember that people are not our enemies, only sin.

Let us pray for our culture and ourselves this weekend, a prayer of repentance. Our prayer today is based on yesterday’s readings from chapter 3, verses 2-5 and Paul’s description of sinful, self-interested people who are lovers of themselves. 

A Prayer for Repentance
Lord we remember your prophecy from yesterday’s reading about how sinful people would become. Empower us to confess and repent of these sins, reversing them in our lives to bless others. 

May we pray this passage not as an accusative attack against our culture, but as a lament for the condition of our own hearts and the heart of Christ’s church.

Lord rather then become like the people Paul warned Timothy of, 
May we be found by you and seen by the world as we are:
Showing love to outsiders
Shunning the allure of money and wealth
Praising others not ourselves
Being humble
Healing others in words and deed
Honoring our elders and parents
Living in gratitude
Being made holy by the Holy Spirit
Indwelt by love beyond ourselves
Truth telling and affirming
Tender and caring
Loving the good
Showing loyalty,
Sharing wisdom,
Shunning the spotlight
And sacrificing our pleasure to serve others.

May our repentance bring glory to Christ and not to ourselves and may Jesus’ name be praised.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame and round about him a raging storm. — Psalm 50.3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Kings 14 (Listen – 5:06)
2 Timothy 4 (Listen -2:48)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Kings 15 (Listen – 6:21), Titus 1 (Listen -2:24)
2 Kings 16 (Listen – 3:46), Titus 2 (Listen -2:01)

Thank You!
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Read more about Confessing, Instead of Weaponizing PropheRather than weaponize Paul’s words to attack our culture with an accusing cry, we should instead cry for forgiveness and mercy as we recognize that these faults are also in us.

#WeaponizingTheBible #ConfessingSin #KingdomOfPriests #Repentance

Read more about Praying as Priests
As followers of God today, a part of our identity is as carriers of the blessings of God that are intended for the world.