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6/19/2022 Obedience to God Takes Precedence ~Rev. Bernie Chung

In the time of King Ahab of the Old Testament, under the influence of two religious beliefs, Israel accepted both the worship of Jehovah and the worship of the idol Baal. 1 Kings 18:20-21 says: "Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.”

Mount Carmel is a high mountain facing the northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and borders the nearby Phoenician city where the idol Baal was worshiped. The prophet Elijah clearly placed the choice of worship before the Israelites and he challenged them to exhort their own people to obey Jehovah God. When he urged them to decide whom to obey, it was a pity that the people of Israel were mute and speechless.

Idolatry was a serious and obvious problem in Old Testament times, but in our so-called modern civilized society, idol worship arguably appears outdated and not fashionable, and seems to have disappeared altogether. But in reality, we are sometimes like the Israelites, unable to decide which god to obey. Even as born-again Christians, if our values and priorities take precedence over our Lord Jesus, and we are influenced by other person and opinions—then we are subjugated ourselves to two masters. In such situation, Lord Jesus says there is nothing to be gained because at the end we will love one and hate the other. Matthew 6:24 says, "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 (Mammon).” (NIV)

If we love short-term monetary gain, we cannot love God wholeheartedly. Infatuation with materialistic pleasures makes it impossible for us to focus solely on the Kingdom of Heaven. If we place self-interest first, we cannot serve God exclusively. Many people in The Kingdom of Heaven today are tempted to serve two masters—God and their selfish desire. Often times we ignore God and follow Mammon. "To serve" means "to be a slave” in biblical sense. Can a servant serve two opposing employers wholeheartedly? The answer is no.

There are many competing priorities in our lives, but obedience to God should take precedence above all else. Philippians 2:6-7 says, "Who [Christ the Lord] being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Brothers and sisters, we "serve" God and are "slaves" in the Lord. Let’s imitate the Lord Jesus to be humble in our hearts, and have the heart of Christ Jesus. (See Philippians 2:3, 5). May God have mercy on us and give us a heart of integrity, humility, and righteousness. May God’s will take precedence over our own selfish desires, opinions, and worldly temptations. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” May God’s will be done. Amen!

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