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You Don’t Get Your Own Personal Jesus, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 28, 2023 9:00 am

You Don’t Get Your Own Personal Jesus, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 28, 2023 9:00 am

When God doesn’t show up when we want him to, we tend to get worried and anxious, which often leads to disaster.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. A really interesting picture is that as a punishment, Moses melts down this golden calf, grinds it up, and makes him drink it. You see, that's given to us as a picture of what worship of a false god ends up doing to us. Our new god, which looks so shiny and amazing and so awesome, ends up disappointing us because our new gods can't satisfy us. Our new gods aren't beautiful enough. Our new gods aren't God enough. Thanks for joining us again today on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. It's my pleasure to be with you each and every day. I think this is a fairly common occurrence. When God doesn't show up when we want Him to, we tend to get worried and anxious, and we take things into our own hands.

And let's be honest, that often leads to disaster. Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. is continuing our teaching series called Not God Enough. We're being challenged to exercise patience when God doesn't show up in the way that we want Him to or at the time that we request it.

Don't forget, if you've missed any of the previous messages in this series, visit us online at Today, Pastor J.D. helps us remember that you don't get your own personal Jesus.

Let's listen in. Exodus 32. Moses had gone up into Mount Sinai to be with God and to receive the Ten Commandments. Well, Moses ends up being gone a little bit longer than than he had planned on.

He's a few days tardy on his return. And so everybody freaks out thinking that God and Moses had abandoned them. Verse two. So Aaron, who was Moses' brother, said to them, Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, Tomorrow shall be a feast to to who?

To the Lord. They were still trying to worship the Lord. In fact, the bull was something God had told them to use to sacrifice and worship to him. The bull represented the part of God that they felt like they needed most right then. You see, the ancient peoples, the bull represented strength, and that's what the Israelites most wanted right then in that moment. So they were attempting to reshape God into a form that guaranteed to them that sense of power and protection that they craved. So verse five, Aaron makes the calf and he declares a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. Those are the very offerings that God had instructed them to give to him. So again, they haven't gotten into a brand new religion.

This is just a new and improved version of their religion. And the people sat down to eat and drink and then they rose up to play. The word play there in Hebrew has clear sexual connotations. So it's not going well. So God tells Moses, verse seven, Moses, you better get down there.

You better get down there. The people have corrupted themselves. As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses's anger burned hot. Moses gets mad because he knows what they're doing. And he throws the tablets out of his hands and breaks them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire. And then he put it in his Vitamix and ground it to powder. And he scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.

It was a false God smoothie. Then, y'all, in one of truly my favorite scenes in the Old Testament, Moses then turns to Aaron and says, Aaron, what have you done? And Aaron said, whoa, wait a minute. Let not the anger of my Lord burn hot. You know the people. You know the people. Moses is like, yep, I know the people. And Aaron's like, yeah, we know the people that they are set on evil. And they said to me, and what could I do? Make us gods who shall go out before us.

There's a lot of them, not many of me. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what's become of him. By the way, that's what they call passive aggressiveness right there. You see what he's doing? He's blaming Moses. What, you weren't here. You were supposed to be back here and you weren't here. And so you were late. So what was I supposed to do, Moses? Not my fault.

Keep going. So I said to them, let any who have gold take it off. So they gave it to me and I threw it into the fire.

This is the best part. I threw it in the fire. Out came this calf.

I mean seriously y'all, is Aaron in middle school? I just threw it into the fire and boom, what could I do, Moses? I had to worship it and we had to worship it. There was no other alternative. You see the difficult situation I was in, Moses, you were late, threw the gold in, out came the calf.

What else could I do? Anyway, this whole terrible story, this whole debacle, what it reveals to us, the reason that it's in scripture, is it reveals to us three genuine truths, I believe, about counterfeit gods. Three genuine truths about graven images. Number one, all we see from the story is that counterfeit gods almost always correspond to our fears. What we're afraid of, we come up with a God to take care of. Israel created this image because the promises of an invisible God were not enough for them at this point.

Not when there were real needs and real enemies to be met. And they felt like they needed something more than an invisible God and His promises to protect them. Counterfeit gods always grow out of distrust. Those places where we feel like we need something beyond God and His promises. So what we do is we reconstruct God in a way that guarantees He will give to us those very things. For example, we feel like we have to have money and prosperity to be happy. So we invent a God that will guarantee those things to us.

This is literally called the prosperity gospel and it leads to books like Your Best Life Now. Or, for example, we really need family stability to be happy. So we invent a God who guarantees family stability and we get angry at God if He lets something go wrong. Or we want to have unchallenged sexual freedom so that we can do anything and everything that we want so long as it doesn't hurt anybody. So we invent a permissive God who is okay with that and we write angry blogs about how evangelical Christianity wronged us when God wouldn't let us have those things. Or I've known people who really wanted, for example, to be out of their marriage. And so they invented a God who was okay with that even though it went against what God's word says. Yes, I understand there are places and times that the Bible indicates divorce is an acceptable choice and I know it's a complex question, but I'll tell you in my experience a lot of people aren't concerned about what the Bible actually says at all. All they're looking for is a God who will justify what they've already made up their mind to do in the first place.

Now see y'all listen, I'm not trying to imply that this is all y'all's problem or our culture's problem and not my own. So this week just for fun I made a list of all the ways over the years that I have reshaped God to guarantee that He will give me something that I wanted. I call this list who God should be according to JD. And this list reads something like this, if I obey God nothing bad will ever happen to my family and my church will always prosper and succeed. That's kind of God's reward for me doing the right thing. If I tithe, if I tithe God will always reward me by making me so flush with cash that I can still afford all the nice things I wanted to have anyway. Or how about this one, if I'm a good pastor God will make it so that people will always respect me and like me.

That's just part of the package. I'm a good pastor, people will love me and respect me. I'll never get slandered or falsely accused of anything. Even though that happened to Jesus, it's not going to happen to me. If I pray for my kids, God guarantees they will grow up and love Jesus and marry great spouses who love Jesus and make lots of money. Or how about this one, God will make sure that every person who's invented a computer virus that affected my computer will catch a real virus and die a slow painful death. This is God according to JD. The tragedy with these counterfeit gods y'all is that when God doesn't do one of those things, when he doesn't do one of those things we complain that God isn't keeping up his end of the bargain. And maybe we even begin to suppose that he doesn't exist. The irony of this is that we've lost faith in a God who never existed in the first place. We've lost faith in a God that was a figment of our imagination. Or maybe we just lose confidence in God because we evaluate his love according to these made up terms rather than receiving the love that he's given to us on his terms. Y'all you realize that with an infinitely wise and infinitely powerful God, just because he doesn't do things the way you think he should do them, that doesn't mean that his love and control is not real.

It just means that you have redefined his love and control in a way that you prefer rather than receiving it on the terms that he has offered it to you. Number one, counterfeit gods. Counterfeit gods correspond to our fears. Number two, counterfeit gods are gonna corrupt us spiritually. You can see that in the story, right? Their worship of this distorted God lasts less than a day before they're involved in a full-scale orgy.

That is a picture. It's given to us as a picture of what happens to us, to our souls when we worship a false God. You see, Jeremiah 2 5 tells us that we will become like whatever we worship. Jeremiah 2 5, probably Jeremiah reflecting on this story, Israel strayed far from me. They worship worthless idols, and so they became worthless.

You see the parallelism. They worshiped something worthless and that made them worthless. Graven images distort the real God, which in turn distort us. The Israelites tried to reduce God down to a single attribute, in this case his strength.

That was the one they felt like they needed at the moment. But y'all, God cannot be reduced to a single attribute. God's perfection is found in the totality and the harmony of all of his attributes.

God is infinite in love and strength and he's infinite in wisdom. And that means that just because he doesn't do things on our timetable, that means that doesn't mean he's not working out a good plan. It just means that he's wiser than us.

We may not be able to understand it at this point. God is infinitely compassionate and the most accepting God of the universe, but he's also infinitely holy, which means that he takes sin seriously. Even when he gave his son to make a way of escape from sin, he takes sin seriously and says, you've got to repent. And so when we say, well, I'm representing God and I accept all people, but I call acceptable what he calls abominable, we are not worshiping the real God. Y'all genuine healthy spiritual growth comes only from seeing and knowing God as he really is.

All of him, the real him, not part of him. And when you focus on only one dimension of God, when you isolate your favorite part of God and worship only that, then you will grow spiritually in a deformed way. For example, if your God is holy and just, but he's not compassionate and gracious, then you're going to end up being a judgmental, mean religious person who's a jerk and gives us all bad name. But if your God is gracious, but he's not righteous and holy, then you're going to find yourself always just going along with whatever culture says is okay. And you're going to say, Oh, this is acceptable. And this is acceptable.

And this is alternative. When God says is not, if your God is not fully sovereign, then when something goes wrong, you're going to find yourself panicked. And you're going to be like, what's happening. Why isn't God doing something? There's something wrong with me. Have I forgotten to pray enough? Or if your God is the judge of sin, but he's not the faithful redeeming father of the cross, then you probably will never be able to shake that feeling that you're condemned and that you need to prove yourself. If your God is the ruler, if he's the ruler, but he's not beautiful and all satisfying, then you're going to find yourself always yearning after sin. Even when you're surrendered to him, you're going to be like, I'm going to obey God because I don't want to, you know, get judged and thrown in hell, but man, I wish I could live like those people outside of the faith live.

I bet they have so much fun. I look so enjoyable. You are what to use an old Testament metaphor. You're yearning back after Egypt, even after God has delivered you to the promised land, you got a promised land situation, but an Egypt heart, because you are still enraptured by sin because God hasn't changed you. And when you see the true God, see it changes you. A distorted view of God leads to a distorted spiritual life. All our spiritual problems, all of them go back to a view of God that is distorted or too small. In fact, Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine, 1500 years ago, he said, you can identify your wrong views of God just by tracing the worry and the stress and the dissatisfaction in your life. He said, trace them back like smoke from a fire that will lead you back to whatever fire you built at the altar of the false God you're worshiping that. So that's my challenge for you this week. Why don't you identify the areas of stress, worry, dissatisfaction, bitterness, unrest, the places you're most tempted to sin, trace them back to their source.

And I guarantee what you'll find is that they come from a distorted view of God. Are you worried? Embrace God's sovereignty. Do you feel insecure? Then embrace the promises of Christ that he has chosen you and promised to make you sufficient for whatever task he has assigned you. Do you find yourself being judgmental a lot?

Then embrace what the cross teaches you about how sinful you were when God saved you. Are you not naturally generous? Then think about the generosity God poured out on you when he saved you.

Are you materialistic? Then think about how much richer a treasure you possess in him and how little life's treasures matter in light of that treasure. Incidentally, by the way, this is why we encourage you to start your prayer time with adoration. We say start with adoration because as you adore God, listen, you are literally breaking the power of sin in your life. And you are releasing in yourself a power for holiness. It is right worship of God that releases us from the power of sin because again, Summit, you become like what you worship. You'll become like what you worship. Psalm 115a, those who make these worthless idols become like them. You begin to resemble what you worship. This is Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We hope you're enjoying this teaching series called Not God Enough. But before we get back to it, I wanted to remind you about our featured resource this month. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life that Invites Others to Jesus by Heather and Ashley Holliman. If you're anything like me, finding opportunities to share the gospel with friends and neighbors can be tough. And sometimes I don't know where to begin. And sometimes I just overthink it.

And sadly, other times I just flat out refuse to talk. And if that's you, this book is a must read. Heather and her husband Ashley offer practical ideas and strategies for how to naturally share the gospel with the people God's put in your life. You'll learn about the best questions to ask to get a gospel conversation started, seven ways to pray for the lost, and even how to identify what kind of gospel witness God has wired you to be.

To get your copy, give your gift today by calling us at 866-335-5220 or visit us online at Now let's get back to today's teaching here on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D.

Greer. Number three, counterfeit gods. Number two was they corrupt the spirits.

Number three, counterfeit gods disappoint us bitterly. Maybe the most pathetic part of this whole deal is after Israel creates their own God is that now they've got the burden of caring for this God. I mean, this golden calf that was made up of bracelets and naval rings, this golden calf, he couldn't speak to them. He couldn't take care of them. He didn't comfort them. In fact, they had to dance for him. He couldn't even move himself from place to place.

That might be the most pathetic thing. Here, God, Exodus 19, had promised to carry his people to the promised land, as it were, on eagle's wings. And now they've got the burden of carrying this big old golden calf from place to place.

What a terrible trade. The true God had promised to supply all their needs. The true God had promised to protect them when they were afraid, to satisfy them when they were hungry. The true God promised never to leave them. One day, the true God would even give his life to redeem them.

They traded all of that for a golden calf that they fashioned from their leftover jewelry. A really interesting picture is that as a punishment, Moses melts down this golden calf, grinds it up, makes them drink it, and it makes them all sick. But see, that's given to us as a picture of what worship of a false God ends up doing to us. Our new God, which looks so shiny and amazing and so awesome, ends up disappointing us, ends up being bad for our souls, ends up corrupting us, ends up making us sick because our new gods can't satisfy us. Our new gods aren't big enough. Our new gods aren't beautiful enough. Our new gods aren't God enough.

For a while, they felt easier to believe in. For a while, they were exactly what we needed, but a God that we create is never a God that is big enough to satisfy the desires of our soul, and he's not a God that is big enough to deliver us from our trials and our sin. So see, some at church, you gotta choose. You gotta choose between a God that you can understand and control, a God who automatically likes whatever you like and affirms what you affirm, or a God who sometimes confuses and contradicts you, but in the end, lacks the power to save and satisfy you. Which one are you gonna choose? As for me and my house, we're gonna serve the Lord because we need to be saved and satisfied, and we were created for the real thing, not a fake thing. And yeah, I know sometimes that little fake God that I come up with feels easier to believe in, and he's not embarrassing me.

He doesn't make me mad, but in the end, I need to be saved and satisfied, and only an eternal God can do that for me, so I will take my posture humbly before the real God and say, confuse me, make me mad, but what I need is you. Y'all in the mood for a classic summit story here? In the mood for that? My classic summit story, I mean classic JD story that I tell from time to time, but it just illustrates it so perfectly that I have to bring it in here, and I use it in the book. So I'll tell it for the sake of you that haven't been here in three months.

I'll tell it to you. A few years ago, several years ago, I was in an airport, which seems like most of my stories start this way. I was in an airport getting ready to come back home, and the flight out of Atlanta was delayed, which evidently was par for the course, and so I'm sitting there in the waiting room. It is packed, the gate area. Everybody's in a bad mood.

They're trying to shove more people on our plane. Everybody's in a bad mood, but we got about an hour, and so I pull out my book, and I'm like, I'll use this time to catch up on some reading. So I'm reading, and I look up after reading for a few minutes, and I notice this woman right across the row from me is just looking right at me, and I try to just sort of like look down and just ignore it, but I looked up two or three times, and she's just still looking at me. So finally, I was like, hi, and she said, she said, are you, what are you reading? And so I told her it was a book about Charles Spurgeon. Told her who Charles Spurgeon was and led to me talking about who Jesus was and all that, and she goes, oh, are you religious? And I said, well, in a manner of speaking, I guess you could say that, and so that led to this wonderful conversation. I thought about who Jesus was and what he'd done for me and how he changed my life, and she was just listening and seemed to be so interested, and after I talked for four or five minutes, she said, well, she goes, I just think that's wonderful. She said, I'm kind of a religious expert too, and I said, you don't say, and she said, yeah. She said, I actually own a shop down in Miami, and down in Miami, I sell all these religious artifacts from all over the world. She said, in fact, what I'm doing now, I'm on this, I travel around all over the world to collect the best parts of every religion, and that appeal to me, and she says, then I put together this kind of, this big religion that's sort of like the best reflection of me, because I think religions all over the world have great things to offer, and so it's just like a smorgasbord.

I get to choose and put together the religion, and then I offer it to people and say, let you assemble your religion. I was like, kind of like Burger King, you know, have it my way, and she's like, yeah, exactly, and I was like, I didn't really mean that as a compliment, so, and I'm just sitting there, and they call our flight, and so me and this woman start walking down the jetway together, and we, right before we get on the plane, and she reached up, she touches my shoulder, and she says, she says, you know what, you are such a nice young man. She goes, I want you to have this, and she said, I have two of them with me, and she handed me a rosary ring, and she said, I want you to just hold onto this real tight, and I promise you that when you're afraid, and when you're afraid, it'll make you feel better, and if you'll hold onto it when we take off and when we land, it'll guarantee that you'll get there safely.

I was like, oh, Lord Jesus, like, you can't let the conversation in this way, you know, so give me something to say, I don't know what to say, and then all of a sudden it kind of popped in my heart, and I was like, man, I was like, first of all, that is incredibly gracious. Thank you for this gift. I will take it. I will put it in my pocket.

I will hold onto it when we take off and when we land, and I will think about you. I said, but if you just let me be really bold with you here for a minute, I said, you notice this little rosary ring, you got this guy crucified on the top. She said, yeah.

I said, I'm assuming you know who that is. It's Jesus, right? And see, what the Bible teaches us is that Jesus created the heavens and the earth, and that Jesus loved me and you so much that he came to earth and he died for us. And man, John 10, he promised me in John 10 that he holds me tightly in his hand. And see, what that means is that when we take off here in a few minutes, I'm going to be in his hand. And when we land in Raleigh-Durham, I'm still going to be in his hand.

And man, if we blow up in mid air, I'm still going to be in his hand, right? And I said, no offense to you at all, but you understand that if the almighty, eternal, all loving God is clutching me tightly in his hand, I don't feel that much need to cling so tightly to him with mine anymore. You see, that's the choice that you get to make. You get a God that you get to fashion, a God that feels easy to believe in, a God that you can throw in your pocket and take out when you need, but that is not a God who can save you. It is not a God who can satisfy you. It is not a God that you can hope in and trust in.

It is a figment of your imagination. I love how Tim Keller says this. He says, look at this, only the faith that believes God regarding things it doesn't want to hear can believe God about the things it desperately does want to hear. What you want to hear, what you are created to hear is the voice of an eternal heavenly father who says, you are my beloved son or daughter and you I'm well pleased. You need to hear the voice of the heavenly father that says, well done, good and faithful servant, nothing can separate you from my love, I'll never leave you or forsake you. You need to hear the voice of the heavenly father that has said, as far as the east is from the west, that's how far I have removed your transgressions from you. You were created to be satisfied in an eternal God whose power is above the heavens, who is outside of time, who spoke everything into existence and then says to you, as high as the heavens are above the earth, my love for you is even higher. That's what you're searching for, it's what you long for and until you humble yourself before the real God, which means that he will say things to you that contradict you and confuse you and make you mad, until you do that, you're never going to be able to have that thing that your soul thirsts for. So that's your choice.

You want a God that you can create, a God that will make you mad, a God you can understand or a God that is worthy of worship, a God that's small enough to be understood, it's not big enough to be worshiped. We're praying for surrender here at Summit Life with J.D. Greer. J.D., it's the last week to get our current featured resource. Can you take just a minute to tell us about it and why you love it so much? Molly, I would love to do that.

I was hoping you would ask that. It's a book, this book Sent is a book that I read maybe a year and a half ago or so. It really had an impact on me that I thought our church could really benefit from.

And so now we're able to offer it here on Summit Life to our audience here as well. The book is called Sent. The subtitle is Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus. And what it shows us is that when you embrace this identity of being someone who is sent, someone sent by God to reach the lost, that will not only change their lives, it will also change yours. One of the unique things about this book is that at the end of each chapter, there's a little thing called Steps of Faith that will help you think through the application of this to your relationships in your life. It'll really help get you started in engaging with somebody in this conversation.

And Molly, I'm just going to tell you, there's nothing in all my life that encourages me, like seeing me used one on one with somebody as God brings transformation into their lives. Don't miss getting your copy. Just go to and we'll show you how. To give, just call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or visit I'm Molly Vidovitch. Thanks for joining us today. And be sure to come back tomorrow when Pastor JD continues our teaching series called Not God Enough. We'll see you here Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-28 11:37:41 / 2023-06-28 11:49:20 / 12

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