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Come To The Lord’s Table

We are in our 2nd week of this 4 week sermon series called “Come To The Lord’s Table” based on the small group study book by Claude King with the same title. I felt compelled to preach this series as a means of preparation for communion - The Lord’s Supper - Coming to The Lord’s Table. Before coming the Table, the Apostle Paul implores us in 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 to make certain we are right with God so we will not come casually and irreverently to the table bringing upon ourselves guilt.
1 Corinthians 11:27–28 The Message
27 Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? 28 Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
In the 1st sermon last week we read in Revelation 2:4-5 that Jesus condemns us when we quit loving Him with everything we are and have. He convicts us to remember how far we have backslidden and repent so we can return.
Revelation 2:4–5 TEV
4 But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first. 5 Think how far you have fallen! Turn from your sins and do what you did at first. If you don’t turn from your sins, I will come to you and take your lamp-stand from its place.
Please find in your Bibles or on your smart device the Book of Genesis chapter 35
Genesis 35:1–7 CSB
1 God said to Jacob, “Get up! Go to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his family and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 We must get up and go to Bethel. I will build an altar there to the God who answered me in my day of distress. He has been with me everywhere I have gone.” 4 Then they gave Jacob all their foreign gods and their earrings, and Jacob hid them under the oak near Shechem. 5 When they set out, a terror from God came over the cities around them, and they did not pursue Jacob’s sons. 6 So Jacob and all who were with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 Jacob built an altar there and called the place El-bethel because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
Illustration: God, if you will just get me out of this ditch, make sure my back ain’t broke, let me feel my legs again, and fix this busted up arm; I promise, I swear on my life, I will live for you and go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do.
That’s the vow I made 25 years ago after sending my Ford escort off the road, flying in the air landing it 50 feet or more down a steep embankment and myself some 50 yrds away after flying out the back hatchback, landing hand down in ditch, broken arm and at time assumed broken back.
One problem. I didn’t keep my vow very long before I was backslidden and leaving again my first love - I was 19 then and it wasn’t until I was 24 before I surrendered myself to serving God and went to Bible college.
Here we read in the 1st book of the Bible about a backslidden man who is the manipulative and messed-up Father of the Jewish nation, who some 21 years or better before this time, had cheated Esau his brother and deceived his father Issac into blessing Him, something God had promised would happen without having to do so. In his time of escape, fear and despair God appears to Jacob in a dream promising to give him the land on which he lay sleeping and to make him into a great nation. Also, promising to be with Jacob continually.
Jacob awakes saying surely I have been in the House of God, sets up and worships him by making an altar and then vows that if God would provide for him and protect him that he would make God his God for all of life.
He goes off into another land, gets work, gets married, gets kids, gets distant from God - coming back occasionally for worship to God - ironically always after a time of distress - seems to forget God in the good times. The last occasion, found in Genesis 33 when he was afraid at the thought of meeting his brother after years of being estranged. At that time - ironically Esau appears to be more at peace and right with God than maybe Jacob was.
After settling in Shechem with his family - some of his sons follow in Dad’s footsteps and deceive some of the local leaders, killing them, and taking their possessions - granted those people had defiled their sister - but that does not excuse their actions.
During these years of back and forth with God - we find something that much of these times of distress and calamities could be attributed to - either unknown to Jacob or known and overlooked - maybe even embraced - idol worship.
Look back at Genesis 31:19-20 - while Jacob was stealing away from or deceiving his Father-in-law, his wife was stealing the family idols.
Genesis 31:19–20 CSB
19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household idols. 20 And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean, not telling him that he was fleeing.
This household or family idols were possibly small figurines, or statues of deceased ancestors, or images of female deities, either way they were used in worship of what/who was believed could give earthly prosperity and be consulted about the future - something truly only God Almighty could do.
Those who kept idols believed they were responsible for human happiness when worshipped, and misery when forgotten. - truly only something only God Almighty can ensure.
Now here in our text - We see after more than 2 decades
the vow Jacob made in a great crisis of life remained unperformed.
God reminds him like Jesus does the Ephesian church in Revelation 2 - of his neglected duty and once strong devotion
Jacob, even though he vowed a deep devotion to God, had either participated in or allowed worshipping of idols
God calls Jacob to get right with Him again and return to the vow he once made to be devoted to God fully and only.
The journey to Bethel - the house of God - would lead them to Holy ground to worship a holy God
Jacob sensed that he and his family needed spiritual renewal
So, Jacob instructed his family to do 3 things before worshipping the Lord: put away foreign gods, purify themselves and put on clean garments
So, 1st before he could take himself and his family back he had to “clean house”
Jacob - is convicted about the idols of the household and tells them they got to leave them behind before going to the altar and to the table of the Lord.
As we approach our time of Communion we must get right with God so we will not come to the Lord’s table with an unholy indifference to what the bread and cup represent. Jacob’s story here teaches us

Before We Can Get Right Some Things Gotta Get Left

We may have idols that stand between us and returning to God and remembering Jesus’s sacrifice on Calvary.
Sometimes in order to return to the first love of our heart, Jesus; we must remove some things from our heart, idols.
Some of you may be saying, “Wait a minute preacher, I don’t have little figurines hiding in my home.” How many of you know that an idol doesn’t have to be a graven image to be an idol. When those of us familiar with the Bible hear the word idol we often default to the OT image of idols.
Frequent listing of sins in the NT includes idolatry (1 Cor. 6:9–10; Gal. 5:20; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; 1 Peter 4:3; Rev. 21:8)[1]
The Bible understands that idolatry extends beyond the worship of images and false gods. It is a matter of the heart, associated with pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony (Phil. 3:19), and a love for possessions (Matt. 6:24).
[1] Spender, R. D. (1996). Idol, Idolatry. In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed., pp. 364–365). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
We may have idols we are hiding in our hearts and homes either intentionally or ignorantly.
Anything that takes the place of your first love for God can be a false god or an idol of the heart. Leaving your first love for God by turning to an idol of the heart can be a serious matter.
How many of you know that you don’t need to be absent from church on a regular basis to be a backslidden Christian?
I was in church at Blanton Baptist almost every Sunday morning between 19 and 24 after having been at the bars - one a block down the road on Saturday night. At that one I would park my recognizable truck in backed in the dark spot beside the building.
To be a backslidden Christian all you need is to be secretly hiding an idol in your heart, or worse openly worshipping an idol.
God loves us too much to let us love Him too little and to let us love false gods at all.
What are some of the false idols we may be hiding in our hearts, homes and the spiritual house of God - church.
idol of politics
When Christians and churches promote a party or policies or a politician over Jesus politics has become and idol.
idols of people and preachers
Illustration: Many years ago, Thomas K. Beecher once substituted for his famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Many curiosity seekers had come to hear the renowned Henry Beecher speak. Therefore, when Thomas Beecher appeared in the pulpit instead, some people got up and started for the doors. Sensing that they were disappointed because he was substituting for his brother, Thomas raised his hand for silence and announced, “All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church; all who came to worship God may remain.”
The example of godly leaders is helpful, but only the Savior is worthy of our worship and devotion. 1506[1]
[1] Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (pp. 407–408). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Preachers are not the only people often put up on a pedestal over Jesus. Churches can be guilty of exalting prominent members over Jesus. When churches do this they talk more about the servant and what they did than about the savior who blessed the people to do it. Anytime that is done it is sinful and that idol must be removed.
idols of places (a companion of this idol is)
idol of playing
idols of pornography (the well hidden idol)
illustration: At first he thought the guilt was just a leftover from his fundamentalist upbringing. But he noticed he didn’t feel bad about other post-fundamentalist behaviors, such as drinking wine or going to the movies. Just porn. I suggested that this feeling might be the prodding of the Spirit. “Why don’t you just give up porn?”
“I’ve thought about that,” he replied. “If God does want me to give it up, I know it’s because that’s ultimately good for me. Yet the thought of giving up porn cold turkey is one of the most frightening things I can imagine right now. And I don’t know why.”
—Mark Galli, Jesus Mean and Wild (Baker, 2006)[1]
[1] Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (p. 83). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
idols of popularity, pursuit of success, and progress (all cousins)
idols of programs
How many times can it be said that a program in a church should have been allowed to die years before because it had become ineffective but it instead of doing so it was given idol status long ago, often by one of those idols of people
idol of possessions
Illustration: When you buy something, you can join any number of tribes on any number of days and feel part of something bigger than yourself. You can belong to the Callaway tribe when you play golf, the VW tribe when you drive to work, and the Williams-Sonoma tribe when you cook a meal. You’re part of a select clan (or so you feel) when you buy products from these clearly differentiated companies. So says Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap.
Brands are the little gods of modern life, each ruling a different need, activity, mood, or situation. Yet you’re in control, Neumeier says. If your latest god falls from Olympus, you can switch to another one.
—Based on Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap (AIGA, 2006)[1]
[1] Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (pp. 507–508). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
In Acts 17 - Paul enters the city of Athens - This ancient city was filled with thousands and thousands of people who had 30,000 to choose from - but many of the people wanted to know about this God Paul was speaking of - 30,000 idols and still searching.
Why? False idols make promises you will never receive.
Scripture views idols as impotent - meaning powerless
Powerless to Save
Powerless to Satisfy
What does Jacob and his family teaches us to do with idols

Bury the Burden Under the Tree

Isaiah 46:1–2 CSB
1 Bel crouches; Nebo cowers. Idols depicting them are consigned to beasts and cattle. The images you carry are loaded, as a burden for the weary animal. 2 The gods cower; they crouch together; they are not able to rescue the burden, but they themselves go into captivity.
When Jacob and his family buried everything under the Terebinth tree it marks a surrender of these items and the people of Jacob’s household to the lordship of God.
This tree was probably the same tree Abraham pitched his tent under and which was regarded as sacred during Joshua’s time.
The tree we consider most sacred is not in Shechem but Jerusalem - the cross on Calvary’s hill. The cross from which Jesus shed his blood to purchase us his church and free us from the bonds of sin. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can purify us from the sin of idols once we remove them. Nothing but the blood of Jesus made us at peace with God and made it possible to enter his presence.
God is still a holy God; yet we are far too casual when we enter His presence. We may have allowed many impurities of the world into our homes and lives without considering whether they are acceptable to the Lord. Or we may have failed to get rid of evil things from our old, sinful lives after we came to faith in Christ.
Conclusion: We need to examine our hearts for idols and ask God to reveal them to us.

Find Their Hiding Places

Sometimes God is the only one who can do that.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting” (AM). Lord, You know how deceitful the heart is. It is deceitful far above all things.
As you look forward to meeting with God at the Lord’s table, you need to examine your heart, your relationships, your activities, and your household possessions to learn whether you have any false gods or idols of the heart you need to deal with. Idols can be things, relationships, or activities. They may not be evil in themselves, but perhaps they have captured too much of your love.
Claude King gives Examples in his book which could include—
• Music CDs, audiotapes, or records with lyrics that are impure, ungodly, or unholy
• Movies, DVDs, or videotapes that have language, images, themes, or actions that are impure or unholy, especially those that are sources of temptation toward lust, sensuality, violence, or materialism (Don’t let the world’s rating system determine your criteria for acceptable content. What is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord?)
• Books used for false worship or that encourage ungodly behavior
• Novels, magazines, or other printed literature that is visually or mentally pronographic
• Books, clothing, or items used by secret organizations that are incompatible with serving and worshiping God alone• Images, souvenirs, pictures, sculptures, and paintings that may be items of worship in false religions or are used to practice witchcraft or the occult (for example, a Ouija Board or a statue of a false god)
• Alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or another substance that has become a vice to you, that can damage your body, or that contributes to intemperance
social media (snapchat, facebook, instagram, other apps that lead you to deceive your parents or adults to be promiscuous or lead you to gossip or be hateful toward others
• Games or computer programs that have impure, wicked, ungodly, or unholy subject matter or practices; games that lead to impure physical contact or interaction between the sexes
• Clothing you know is immodest or is intended to be seductive
• Any other material thing that is a source of temptation to sin
One way to test something is to ask yourself, If God asked me to give this up, would I resist Him or struggle to obey? If you are holding on too tightly, the item may be an idol of the heart. Only the Lord can reveal to you whether something has captured your love, but He will if you ask Him.
Remember, if he reveals anything to you this week:

Before You Can Get Right Those Idols Gotta Get Left

At the Altar of Calvary
Then you can Come to The Lord’s Table in a Worthy Manner
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