Way back in 2014, I led a bible study that I called “Girls Night Bible Study” for my mom, sisters, and I. The bible study was a great way for us to get together and update each other on what is going on in our individual families, as well as study God’s Word together. I kept the handouts that I would type up each time we met, and I thought it would be fun to share these with you all here on the blog!
July 18, 2014
Putting God First
“They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.” – 2 Kings 17:33 NIV
Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people…in biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on, that motivates us, that master and rules us, or that we trust, fear, or serve. An idol can also be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god.’ (Ken Sande)
In Exodus, we read that we should put God first above all things.
“And God spoke all these words: “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.” – Exodus 20:1-6 NIV
Instead of worrying about what we might need from day to day. God’s Word tells us that if we set our hearts on Him, He will provide all that we need.
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” – Luke 12:29-31 NIV
Richard Keyes tells us, “An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as a substitute for God. All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them… Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good… An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, and idea, a pleasure, a hero – anything that can substitute for God.”
The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much. (John Calvin)
Can you think of an example of something you currently idolize that you might not have even realized until now?
Following His Will
When the Lord started calling my husband and I to run our photography business, we knew this was a step that the Lord wanted us to take, but we didn’t know what that would look like. There were so many unknowns! We had always been a great team, but we both had jobs and we had just had our first daughter. Our jobs gave us “security” right? It’s how we paid our bills. It is how we had health insurance, and we definitely need that with a new baby right?! We decided we would just begin the process of officially starting our business, do the leg work and learn the skills we needed, and then just see how it developed.
We set a goal to both be running our photography and graphic design business full time in 5 years. Our business started to develop very slowly and we gathered experience as we went along. Shortly after our business became “official”, I put in my 2 weeks notice at my job and we decided that I would run our business full time and be home with our daughter. I have a degree in graphic design and had been doing random freelance jobs since college, so in the beginning, most of our work was graphic design work. My husbands income covered our finances and while it was still an adjustment, we found a new comfortable. But God didn’t just want us to run this business and still lean on the crutch of another job, He wanted to teach us what it really meant to trust in Him!
Shortly after we found out we were expecting our second baby, my husband realized that some reorganization was about to happen at his job and we had to make a big decision for him to either stay where he was, and take a similar but more complicated position, or for him to come run the business full time with me. All of our family, etc. that we asked for advice recommended for him to stay where he was – we have a growing family after all! What made us think that this photography business would provide for us? But in our heart we knew that all of this was the Lord telling us it was time to step into our business full time. So we did. In 2 years, instead of our original goal of 5 years. It was scary and it was bumpy. Over the next few years the Lord taught us so much about trusting Him! I could share countless examples of how He made a way for us when we had no idea how in the world we would get by. Each month the bills came, and each month He made a way.
And before I move on, I want to add in here that our children were also learning about trusting God alongside us. We made sure and let them know that it was only through the Lord’s provision that we had all that we had. It was so very true, and ya’ll it still is! All that our business has grown into is because of Him.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2
Look back at the quote I shared from Ken Sande and think through the following questions:
What motivates you?
What do you set your heart on?
What do you serve with your energy and resources?
The bible tells us to make His will our motivation.
“No one can 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. You cannot serve both God and money.” – Matthew 6:24
It says that following Him is more important than our fear of worldly threats.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.” – Luke 12:4-5
The key is to focus on His Will above our own. If you ask God for a new car, but He knows you aren’t ready for a new car and tells you no – but you keep asking and asking and focus all your energy on thinking about how much you want that car and how much better things will be when you get that car, you might end up getting the car eventually. But at what cost? What if that new car eventually puts financial strain on your family? What if it lets you further away from Him? What if that car isn’t as safe as your old car and you get in an accident? God knows EVERYTHING. He knows what we need better than we do!
We can do nothing without Him.
Good, bad, ugly, pretty, lowest lows and greatest victories – He is always there. Trust in Him and lean on Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” – Jeremiah 29:11-14
I want to end with two more questions:
What are some areas of your life where you aren’t letting God lead you?
What steps can you take today, to let the Lord lead you through those areas?