What’s in your backyard?

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As a kid, nothing made me happier than going to the beach. The beach I loved the most was Saint Augustine beach in Florida. Every summer we would go for a week of vacation. Although I was in elementary school, I still have a vivid memory of something that happened during one of our weeks on the beach.
That year the rip currents or undertow were ferocious. I still remember playing in the water, looking back toward the shore, and then wondering where my parents went?

They hadn’t moved—I was thirty yards down the beach from where I had started when I looked back. It was the unseen movement that carried me without me knowing.

rip current

It was the undertow.

Well, after twice of looking to the shore I got an idea. Make a reference point on the coast. Once we drifted past the reference point, we were to get out and walk back to our beach site where we were.

Like the undertow at the beach, our culture has a way of subtly sweeping us beyond our limits.

When everything around you is drifting by at the same rate, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking you’re standing still.

Without a stationary reference point, it is impossible to figure where you are, where you aren’t, and where you ought to be.

Well, the good news is, we are not the first people to struggle with this. God had this situation in his backyard.

God’s backyard idea

Have you ever wondered why Adam and Eve hung out in the wrong place?

They could have hung out anywhere in the garden, but they hung out next to the tree that was not good for them. It was like a bad friend (friends will determine the quality and direction of your life). Everyone tells you, don’t go there, don’t do that… Then you hear the infamous reply; I’m not hurting anyone.
I can handle it. There’s no law against it. Nothing will happen.
You probably know the rest of Adam and Eve’s story.

“The LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Your ‭locations matter. Where and who you hang out with matters.

What’s in that backyard?

Why did God’s people have so many situations of distress? It was the same thing again and again. It was their continual idolatry. Do you think it’s any different today?

Idolatry is the fastening of our minds, bodies, and wills on other sources of ultimate devotion.
God’s people acted holy before Him, offering prayers of weeping and intercession. But as soon as their prayers ended, they would sneak off to kneel before their hidden altars of the Canaanites god named Baal.

In fact, during seven years of raids from the Midianites, Gideon’s father, Joash, kept an altar to Baal in his backyard. That’s right – HIS OWN BACKYARD.

Why would any Israelite do such a thing? One reason could have been that he was jealous of the prosperity he saw the Midianites enjoyed.
His reasoning could have been – “Our enemies are prospering. They have our fruit and provisions.”
Sound familiar? Have you ever done the same thing? I’m not saying that you said it, but you’ve surely thought it. I know I have felt this before. Their god provides them with everything while we sit here starving. What do I have to show when they are doing so well?
Those Midianites must have one mighty god.
So the Lord’s people became hypocrites, two-faced worshipers. They gave lip service to Jehovah while paying tribute to another idol.
Then God had a visitation with Gideon. He was ready for Gideon to become the leader for their next movement. The Bible records a dinner meeting he had with Gideon.
Afterward, He commanded Gideon to tear down the altar to the false god.
Before Gideon began, God wanted something to tear the idol down.Check out this story:

“Now on the same night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.” Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night.” ‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:25-27‬ ‭

Would this be any different for us today?
You think it’s time for an altar destroying, idol tearing down moment?
We will need to do the same thing in our own lives if we want to have a real and authentic relationship with God.
This has to be an individual personal situation. No church service is designed to rid you of your own idols. Each person will need to look him/herself in the mirror to make this quality decision.

Now, considering what we just read, what should we do?

Here are a few suggestions.

We don’t live in a neutral environment. It has a raging river current. We’re moving whether you can sense or feel it.
Jesus said it like this, to find your life you will need to lay it down or aside and follow me. Be willing to be serve others.

In order for this to happen, you’ll follow Christ every day. We build relationships through daily communication. Second, check YOUR backyard.

This may seem like an easy decision, but idolatry is subtle.

How well do you forgive others? How about forgiving yourself? Inspect your backyard. Tear down those old places in your life that have no virtues.

Resolve to live this out.

Live for others and the opportunity to leave a legacy for the next generation.

Regardless of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, irrespective of what our current life looks like, give the strength of our arms and the rest of our days to loving and serving others. Doing it with all that we are and to teach our children to do the same, and to love and mentor others who desperately need help and direction.

Watch that undertow, remove those personal idols, live your life by following Christ and laying it down for others.

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