March 14, 2012
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“Are You Clinging To Worthless Idols?”
In the late afternoon yesterday we attended “Jonah”, a new show that just debuted this past Saturday at the Sight and Sound Theater. The theater produces epic live performances based on Bible themes here in Lancaster County and Branson, Missouri. Many of our readers have attended these shows and, if so, you don’t forget the experience! Last night’s show was outstanding and we were most heartened that, though extra-biblical creativity was used to enhance the story line, the Bible message, which is true of all Sight and Sound performances, had a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ.
The shows always have a “Wow” factor and this one includes the sense of being underwater with Jonah, even observing him from inside the whale (great fish). But I suppose the highlight for both of us was a song called “Now I’m Free” which I predict would go viral if placed up as a YouTube video! It’s one of those that makes you want to stand up and praise the Lord! It recounts the joy the Ninevites experienced when they turned from worthless idols to the Living God who extended His grace to them when they repented and called on Him for mercy (Jonah 4:11).
It may surprise some that today’s text is from the brief four chapter book of Jonah. It is part of the prayer Jonah prayed inside the whale prior to his “deliverance” in chapter 2:10.
I’m not sure what kind of “worthless idols” Jonah was referring to in the daily text: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Likely he meant the objects of worship that we normally associate with idolatry in the Bible. Barne’s considers worthless idols as “all people’s idols, idols of the flesh, idols of intellect, idols of ambition, idols of pride, idols of self and self-will. People ‘observe’ them, as gods, watch them, hang upon them, never lose sight of them, guard them as though they could keep them. But what are they? “lying vanities,” breath and wind, which none can grasp or detain, vanishing like air into air.”
I also believe that trying to attain righteousness with God through good works is a “worthless idol” that many cling to and thereby “forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” The clear New Testament teaching on this matter states, ”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). This leads to truly resting in the all sufficient grace of Jesus and having an assurance of our salvation!
The Bill Gaither Vocal Band sings a great song, “Child, You’re Forgiven” which has a powerful expression in it. “I’ve traded performance for amazing grace. What a relief, I can’t earn my way.” Do you identify with the expression, “What a relief, I can’t earn my way?”
Jerry Bridges notes, “God’s grace does not supplement our good works. Instead His grace overcomes our bad works, which are our sins.” Erwin Lutzer observes, “When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God’s generous grace.”
Good works are an outflow of God’s amazing grace, not a replacement! Accept God’s generous grace today and proclaim with the Palmist, “But with You there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4). Then as the repentant inhabitants of Nineveh were portrayed as doing last night we can also sing, “Now I’m Free!”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, as we experience amazing grace through Your forgiveness of our sins it compels us to show compassion to others who have not yet applied Your grace to their lives. As Jude writes, we are to “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” In reaching out to others who are still living in sin help us to be discerning, wise, and cautious, always loving the sinner but never embracing the sin. May our redeemed lives be living examples of the freedom we enjoy in this life after we forsake worthless idols in exchange for the grace that is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose Name we pray. Amen.
Whale or great fish? Whatever it was, God provided it (see Jonah 1:17)
A funny moment and meeting a need: When the show ended last night they announced that the actors would be along the front of the stage as well as the exits if anyone would like prayer. (Which we thought was a nice gesture and not done in the past.) As I departed I saw a distinguished looking older black man whom I thought was one of the actors. I went up to him and expressed my appreciation but it turns out he had been in the audience! However he was looking for someone to assist him with the gps (which he was not familiar with) so he could get home to Philadelphia. He was “hopelessly” lost and I was happy to help him, of course, and trust he made it home OK. As it turns out he was a fellow pastor originally from Haiti who didn’t have a full grasp of the English language.
This scene on an Amish farm makes me smile but Brooksyne tells another story: Every summer my brothers and sisters (5 of us in all) stayed a week with my grandparents in Arkansas. They lived on a large, remote mountain in Arkansas and had no indoor plumbing. On Saturday night Grandma would bring in a large round washtub like the one hanging on the fence and heat up water on the old wood cooking stove. Then she would pour the heated water in the tub, close the kitchen door, and we would scrub off the farm dirt so we’d be clean for church Sunday morning.
I tried to find a video of the song “Now I’m Free” that moved us so last night but was unable to do so. It also has the theme of God’s forgiveness and “East to West” so we will share these songs!
“From The East Unto The West” Video Odes of Solomon project
“East To West” Video Casting Crowns
“Jesus Saves” Video Tony DeRosa
Information about the Jonah show at the Sight and Sound Theater.
Jonah, a sneak preview of the show. Video
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
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