Fluffy, Sparky & Acceptable Idolatry

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I promise, I’m not intentionally trying to offend you, but I might.  I don’t really desire to agitate or irritate people but I do sometimes.

My job is to proclaim the truth.  If I’m going to sell something I’m going to sell the truth.  The truth is not cheap.  In fact most people don’t want it because it’s sort of offensive…  I know there have been plenty of times when I don’t want the truth because it hurts.  It cuts and it opens you up. That’s what the Bible tells us it will do.

Just before the writer of Hebrews tells us it’s important to go to church he tells us part of the reason why.  And it’s a good reason why and it’s also part of what I desire to do today.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works… – Hebrews 10:23-24

The word “stir up” is also “provoke”  παροξυσμός paroxysmós, par-ox-oos-mos’; (“paroxysm”); incitement (to good), or dispute (in anger):—contention, provoke unto.

It means to irritate and agitate.  I’ll be honest I don’t like doing that with people.  I don’t like to get people angry with me.  But that is the purpose of other believers and the church.  So we can stimulate other believers to love and to good works.

I want to address an acceptable form of idolatry today.  There are lots of things that we accept as idolatry in our world.  Our children, their sports programs, their extracurricular activities, our sports programs, our leisure time and on and on…

But what about our pets?

Do you think you have an idolatrous relationship with your pet or pets; because one is never enough right?  I mean they need companionship don’t they?  Don’t they get lonely also?  Here goes a few ways we might want to consider our pets.

Who serves who? 

Paul discusses this doesn’t he?  I don’t think that all Christians worship their animals the way Romans 1 tells us, but there are those that do.  They are four-footed animals and they do need to be served.  A cat won’t clean its own litter box and a dog won’t pick up after itself, have you ever seen people walking their dogs down the street?  What is it they are carrying?  Who is doing the serving?

Romans 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen. 

Is it good stewardship? 

This might be touching a raw nerve for some but we must sincerely ask this question.  What kind of money do you spend on your animals?  Does this honor God with all your possessions?

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.

Seeking Comfort in them and not in the Lord? 

Jesus Christ is to be our only need and our only desire when it comes to needing comfort from the ravages of the outside world.  Do you love to see your dog because he has no demands of you?  He licks you and wags his tail and never says, “Hey Kevin, did you get that done today?”  He seems to “love” you unconditionally right?  This is comforting.   Is the Lord Jesus Christ being replaced by Fido?

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

Are you a slave to your animal? 

Does your pet keep you from being able to go do things?  I can’t go to this place because I need to find a “sitter” for the cat.  Our older girls are constantly watching the neighbor’s cat and dog.  It’s easy money for sure, but what if you didn’t have to worry about it?  Wouldn’t that provide some freedom?  It seems things have been reversed and animals have taken dominion over mankind.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26

Dominion means to subjugate and to rule over.  Man has done that with dogs when they used them for working purposes, such as to herd or hunt but just like so many other things in our society these roles have been reversed.

Animals are only temporal creatures.  Man was created with an eternal soul and that soul will live on forever in one of two places.  For believers they will forever worship their King.  For those that have never turned to Christ for forgiveness and repented of their sin they will live forever in Hell under the wrath of God.  It is an awful and fearful thing.

Animals will die and return to dust.  You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. – Psalm 104:29 

I realize this is a sensitive topic because people love their pets and I’ve been there.  I’ve seen it and lived it.  I’m not making a blanket statement that having a pet is a sin or it is even necessarily wrong, but I want us to ask to what end and for what purpose.  What is the goal and am I honoring God in all of this.  Nothing is neutral.  What is not from faith is sin and that is something we should be consistently thinking about.  Me especially.

Kevin

Dogs Like Vomit, Do You?

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Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

What differentiates the wise from the foolish?

It seems an obvious answer as we read this Proverb, but yet how often do we return and continue to fall into the same sins again and again? In times past I had a dog and I can vividly remember the sound of the dog removing the contents of her stomach only to lap it up again. I don’t care how cleverly I try to write that it brings an image to our mind that is repulsive. And it should be repulsive, because it’s just disgusting.

Isn’t that the point?

There is a razor thin line between the true church of Christ and those that profess with their mouth Jesus is Lord. As Scripture repeatedly points out, it is the life we live that affirms or denies our confession. Many, and probably most of the professing church are apostate. How can I say that? That certainly is judgmental on my part. Who are you to say such a thing? Are you without sin? You are a legalist!

I’ve heard it all before and the only way I can make such a “judgmental” statement, if you must call it that, is those are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one that told us “many” and “few”. He said the path was narrow and difficult that leads to life, and the road is wide that leads to destruction. He asked us the hard question, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:66).

It’s really easy to get caught up in the doctrine of humanism. It’s really out there today, as it has always been. It’s really easy for it to be all about us. We can slap a little Christianity on it and even throw down a passage of the Bible and call it “religious”, but Jesus said it just wasn’t that easy. He drove home the point that He would separate families; that our enemies would be from our own households. (Matthew 10:35-37) That’s really hard stuff.

So how do we really know? Shouldn’t we have a way to examine our lives?

How often do you return to your own vomit?

Look at what Peter says about this, as he is speaking about the false prophets that were so prolific then just as they are today. These are words for us to heed today. These are words that must be taken seriously, and examine the legitimacy of those that preach the word. Does this sound familiar?

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh… – 2 Peter 2:18

What are you being taught? Is the Scripture opened and explained properly to you? Does the Scripture and teaching point you to God’s greatness, and your littleness? Or does it tell you how you can live better, how you can like yourself more, or get ahead in the world financially. Even more, does it allow you to leave unconvinced of any sin in your life? Does it let you know the vomit is okay to return too?

2 Peter 2:18b-21 …through lewdness (lustful), the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog return to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

We have a very clear picture of apostasy in the church. It’s clear there are false teachers, and they abound. They build great buildings, and have lots of people in attendance. They build big audiences through social media because people like what they say.   The words are sweet to our ears.   Their condemnation is certain. They will not escape the wrath of God, but what about us?

Do we return to the vomit again and again? Does your sin continue to be justified in your mind and you convince yourself it’s only once more? Or it’s, “but you don’t know my…you fill in the blank.”
“If they wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t do what I do…”

It’s a dangerous place to live, and it would be better that you had never known the way of righteousness. Please don’t count the blood of Christ a common thing. If you continue to wallow in your sin I urge you to repent today. I urge you to seek counsel from your pastor or your elders, if they are true shepherds of Christ’s church, and then heed that counsel.

Your very soul may be asked of you tonight. Do it now, while it is possible for salvation and then grow in grace, that you may bear fruit and bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Kevin