The Curse of a Convenient Praise
Scripture 1 Kings 12:26-30
At this point in scripture… what once was a united nation has now split into northern and southern kingdoms… Israel and Judah… Rehoboam was the king of Judah… Jeroboam was the king of Israel… after the split… Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim…
And you must keep in mind that in order for the children of Israel to worship God… they had to make a pilgrimage or journey to Jerusalem.
And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
I felt led to share this thought with you due to the circumstances surrounding us today. With lockdowns and church doors being shut due to those infected and mandates; we've come to a very interesting place in church history. We've become reliant upon online services which, unfortunately, has become a double edged sword. In one light, it has allowed the church to stay in contact with the saints as well as allowed the preaching to continue, however the other side of the proverbial coin bears the question, have we made it too convenient?
I’m afraid that we have put praise in such a place of convenience that we have lost the true power of it…
Convenient means – involving little trouble or effort… occurring in a place or at a time that is useful or easy…
We live in a society of convenience… from the microwave to speed up cooking… to internet to speed up the access to information… we have made life very convenient…
We just read the account of Jeroboam stifling the journeying to Jerusalem to give praise or worship to God… and he did it by doing something very interesting… by constructing two calves of gold…
Something interesting and it didn’t dawn on me until I looked on a map… Israel, that Jeroboam was in control of, stretched just north of Dan – where one of the calves was placed… to just south of Bethel… where the other calve was placed… do you know how far Bethel is from Jerusalem?? Just 13 miles… meaning it would have taken them only 5hrs walk time to get there!
And he said,
It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel…
I know walking 5 hours is nothing to laugh at, but when you consider that getting to Jerusalem to praise and worship God the right way was within half a day’s journey… and yet your leader says, aww… it’s too much for you so just stay just outside of what God wants you to do… Jerusalem is just a location after all… and see here… I’ve made it easier for you!!!
Now, let’s get back to the calves for just a moment (everyone say bunny trail!)… when I mention calves of gold… I’m sure your mind went exactly where mine went… Exodus 32
Moses was in the mountain with God… and keep in mind that when Moses was up there, the presence of God was something to behold… a cloud covered the mount… it was like a devouring fire on top of the mount… so imagine lightning and thunder ringing in those mountains…
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt***here was their first mistake… they put their deliverance in the hands of Moses and not God***, we wot not what is become of him.
2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
So later we hear Jeroboam echoing what was said at the bottom of mount Saini… Behold, these are thy gods… these are the gods that brought you out… turning their desire to sacrifice their efforts and energy to praise God into something of ease… so not only did Jeroboam hinder their journey but turned them to false gods… and they bought it hook, line and sinker… just for the sake of convenience…
Whether they made the golden idols of calves or any other animal… they turned their desire to an idol and gave it the glory of their deliverance from Egypt…
God said in Isaiah 42:8
I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images
How quickly they forgot the songs of praise they sang on the other side of the Red Sea… but old habits die hard… they got used to seeing the gods of Egypt… and it was easy to turn back to worshiping something they could see… please understand me on this… if you ever are in a place where there were no bibles and you never saw another miracle… could you praise God on what you learned about Him and not return to what you were brought out of??
Is our generation guilty of being like Jeroboam? Are we guilty in trying to make coming to church convenient? Hearing the Word convenient? Reading the Bible convenient? Please don’t misunderstand me… I like having access to preaching anytime I want… I love having several Bibles at my disposal whenever I need… but since we didn’t fight like those that were establishing this faith… have we taken all this for granted!?!?
Have we gotten to a place where it’s too much for us to go to church???
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
We’ve got to remember there’s a reason where there’s a church… there’s a reason why we gather together… it’s not a social club… it’s not a fancy meeting… it’s a place where the cries… the praises and worship are lifted up to our Holy and Righteous God!!
Have we allowed YouTube and Facebook live become the "calves" of convenience? We've heard of far too many saints choosing to "watch" services online rather than coming to church for one reason or another and I'm afraid to say that this convenience is hurting the church.
When Jesus told them, I am the bread of life… who ever drinks my blood and eats my flesh… dwelleth in me and I in him… he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever… and in response to this teaching, those that heard Jesus said, This is an hard saying, who can hear it??
It goes on to say… from that time… Many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him… now… some of these disciples may have seen the miracles or even received a miracle themselves… but when Jesus hit something that made the rubber meet the road, so to speak… they said, ah this is too hard… and walked away…. It wasn’t convenient enough for them… it made it too real for them… there is a time that Jesus will stop performing and start expecting… He will begin to expect you to believe more of what He says than what He does… this is where we are today…
Are we here to see the fish and loaves multiply… to see the miracles… because HEY!! It’s far easier to see and believe… but Jesus said,
Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed… (Jn 20:29)
It’s not convenient to praise God for what we do not see… it’s not convenient to praise Him even when He chooses not to heal us… it’s not convenient to praise God in the desert… in dry times and places… it’s not convenient to live according to His commandments…
Have we gotten so used to living lives full of convenience that now we think God should just fall in line with what WE know… because, that would be convenient wouldn’t it??
You see… Cain’s lack of doing the sacrifice to God the right way… wasn’t done to spite God, Cain wasn’t confused on what was a sacrifice and what wasn’t… it was convenient to offer up what he had easy access to… it was readily available to him… and because he took the easy route – God said, nope… I will not honor what cost you nothing…
When’s the last time praise cost us something? Can it be considered praise without it costing us something? i.e. sacrifice of praise… Heb 13:15
Abel’s sacrifice was truly that… because what’s harder to do? Pull some plants from the ground… or to raise an animal, being so familiar with it… even possibly naming it… and then offering it up to God – willingly….
And Cain murdered his brother – which is amazing to me that murder would be a more convenient thing to do than to go back and make things right with God…
What are our golden calves today?
I could go on…
I appreciate the fact we have a freedom in America that is not afforded in many countries… freedom of religion… however, I believe this is also to our hurt… now bear with me for just a moment… I’m almost done…
You may remember several times that it was mentioned about the video where suitcases were smuggled into China to a room full of waiting Chinese people… suitcases full of illegal material called the Bible… and the moment it was opened, these Chinese people ran and began picking up the Bible, hugging… kissing and crying that they now possessed God’s Word in their hand…
How many Bibles do we own? How readily available is this Word of God? We have such a freedom in this country that we can own as many Bibles as we want… I hope this hits home with us… because we are so spoiled that we feel that missing church is no big deal… having God’s Word sit on a shelf collecting dust is nothing to us… you go tell God that and see what happens!
Have we become so spoiled that we view prayer and praise so low that we won’t do anything in the House of God because we don’t see that He did anything for us today? That we are waiting for the right song… oh preacher if they would have only played “dancing on the grave of my enemy… I would have danced in the isle…” or waiting for Jesus to put you in a headlock to praise Him!
Sure it’s easy to praise God when He blesses us… but what about when… like Job
Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
9 On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:
Are we able to praise God in the hard times… just as fervent and jubilant as in the good times??
We need to fight the desire to make things convenient! We need to get back to a place where the sacrifice of praise is more precious than what it will cost!
May 2021 be more of doing what it takes to get closer to Jesus than making Jesus convenient!