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By: Arnie Cole and Michael Ross

Today's passage

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.


-In what ways have I been deceived by the world?

-What in my life replaces God as the primary focus of my attention?

-Do I focus my attention on the idols in my life because I resist surrendering entirely to God?

The New Living Translation of Romans 1:21 says that the Israelites "began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like." Sound familiar? We all make the mistake of trying to define God according to our human standards and human limitations. And we fail, of course, because God cannot be boxed in, contained, or even defined. He is far too big, too powerful, too awesome--and that may be exactly the reason we try to define and contain Him: His splendor and all-encompassing love are too much for our human minds to process. As a result, we turn our attention and hearts to human gods--our jobs, finances, homes, ambitions, dreams--because they can be managed and controlled in ways that God cannot.


Ask for change: Lord, help me identify the idols in my life and help me banish their influence and power over me so that I can focus my attention on You.

Consider what's real: If you're more inclined to practice a formal method of prayer, perhaps try a more relaxed, conversational type of prayer with God today. Try to engage in a conversation with Him, not just at specific, set times during the day. John warns about idols this way: "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts" (1 John 5:21, NLT). The bottom line is that God wants your whole heart--not a quarter of it, or half, or even 99.9 percent of it. He wants it all. John is very clear in his advice when he warns us to steer clear of anything that will squeeze God out of His rightful place in the center of our hearts. This doesn't mean that we can't have interests or pleasures or even ambitions. Rather, it's simply a warning: if any of these other areas in our lives begin to dominate or take priority, beware.

Additional verses to consider: Exodus 32:1-4, Psalm 106:19-31

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