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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Stop Wasting Your Time on What Won't Last

James Meehan - Stop Wasting Your Time on What Won't Last

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    James Meehan - Stop Wasting Your Time on What Won't Last

Over the years, I've seen countless stories of students be used by God to make a profound difference. And I've watched countless students waste their potential because they were chasing after things that promised so much, but took so much more. That's why this series is so important because if you want to make a difference, then serve Jesus. But if you wanna waste your life, then serve an idol. As we walk through this message, I'm gonna give you the main point right off the bat. So if you're taking notes, you'll want to write this down, and this may point is also the outline for where we will be going.

This is what it is. God is good. Idols are bad. The choice is yours. God is good, idols are bad, and the choice is yours. Starting in part one, God is good. Are they who they say they are? This is the question that every person on every reality dating show is always asking. Are they who they actually say they are, or are they just putting on a show. Like it could be love is blind, it could be married at first sight, or whatever other reality dating show you prefer. This is the question everyone is asking and hoping to answer. Are they who they say they are? Is that the real them or are they just like putting their best foot forward and hiding the real stuff, the ugly stuff, that won't come out until the cameras stop rolling?

Here's the good news. God is exactly who He says He is. God isn't hiding His character. He doesn't sugarcoat His commands. He's honest and upfront about who He is, about what He is like, and about what it is that He expects from us when we enter into a relationship with Him, that's how we can trust that He is good and true through and through to the core of who He is. He is loving. He loves you, and He always has your best interests in mind. In Exodus chapter 20, we read the 10 Commandments, these 10 basic principles that God gives to the people of Israel to help them understand how they're meant to live as His people.

But here's what's interesting to notice, before God ever tells them what He wants them to do, He reminds them who He is. Exodus chapter 20, starting in verse one, God says, or the Bible tells us that, "Then God gave the people all these instructions". And this is where He begins, "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery". To the Jewish people. God is their Lord, the one who rescued them from Egypt, the place of their slavery. To me, God is my savior. He rescued me from a life of emptiness and lostness, constantly searching for answers to the biggest questions, looking for answers to my own identity and my purpose. And no matter how hard I looked, I could not find them until the day that Jesus found me and flipped my entire world upside down.

So who is God to you? This question matters so much because what we believe about God determines how we believe and interpret the words that He says. Like, if you don't trust His character, it's really hard to trust His commands. If you don't know what He's actually like, it's hard to believe that He actually likes you. I think one of the best examples of God's goodness is found in the sacrifice of Jesus. 2000 years ago, God, the creator of the world became a human being named Jesus. He walked on the earth, He sacrificed Himself on a cross for you and for me to rescue us from our sins, to repair our relationship with Him and to restore our purpose of partnering with Him. God didn't have to do that, but He wanted to, because He loves you. God is good, and part two, idols are bad.

If we continue on in that same passage in Exodus picking up in verse three, we read the first of the 10 Commandments where we read that God tells the people, "You must not have any other God but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind. You must not bow down to them or worship them". So command one, don't have any other gods. Command two, "Don't make yourself an idol or worship them". Within these first two commands, here's what God is doing. He is telling us that there is no space in our relationship with Him for serving idols. Because the relationship that God wants with us is not some casual dating relationship where we're keeping our options open or we're talking to other people.

The way the Bible describes the relationship that God wants with us is more like a marriage. It is all in, it is exclusive and it requires our total commitment because the thing about our relationship with God is we cannot actually give God our best if we're giving part of ourselves to an idol. And and what's really interesting is not only does the Bible describe our relationship with God like a marriage, this beautiful covenant, this union between different beings built on sacrificial love, but the Bible also describes idolatry, the worship and service of idols to adultery, cheating on your spouse. Because to serve an idol is kind of like cheating on God, because instead of being invested in our relationship with Him, we're distracted by all these other things.

You see, you can't give God all of you if you are giving an idol part of you. And and this right here might actually be why some of you are frustrated in your faith. Why some of you feel like you aren't as close to God as you used to be or even you want to be. Because to say it plainly, you've been treating your relationship with God less like a marriage and more like a hookup. Because the only time you ever reach out to God is when you're feeling lonely or you want something from Him instead of actually experiencing the love and the joy that is found from being fully committed and invested to Him. Maybe today is the day that that changes because today you finally tear down the idols in your life and go all in in your relationship with God. And as you do, I'm telling you, you will discover that His love for you is so good because God is good, and idols, they're really bad.

Now, I think what's interesting is that there's a lot of us today, like in our modern world who actually think we're too sophisticated to worship idols. And while it is very true that most of us are not sacrificing goats and sheep to Zeus, Thor, or the moon, the truth is every day many of us are sacrificing our values, are throwing away our lives to the idols of self, desire, power, approval, and money. Like there are some of you right now that are actually sacrificing your faith to the idol of yourself. Because instead of answering God's call to be holy, you're just doing whatever you can to be happy.

Others of you are sacrificing your closest friendships on the altar of your own desires because you have bought into the lie that if the people around you do not affirm your internal feelings, then they must be against you. Others of you are sacrificing your mental health by bowing down to the approval of others. Like you are trying so hard to be somebody that everybody else likes, that you don't even recognize who you are anymore. Some of you right now are sacrificing like your own character, like your own values to gain a little bit more power because you just want to control your life. And honestly, the lives of the people around you. Still others of you are sacrificing your morals to get a little bit more money because you think if you just achieve more, if you accumulate more, if you have more, then maybe you will be more and you can finally make a difference.

You see, the problem with idols is that they never deliver on their promises and they will always take more from you than they will give to you. Because idols, they're counterfeit and they are costly. They are counterfeit. Like if I were to give you a counterfeit $100 bill, it would look mostly real, but it wouldn't be. Like I could give it to you and you could go try to buy something from the store from it. And if the other person doesn't recognize it for what it was. Like, maybe you'd be able to get that thing. But eventually, if you kept spending counterfeit money, somebody would catch on and you would realize that that thing is worthless, and then you would experience the consequences.

That's the thing about idols. They are imposters. They pretend to be something valuable, but in reality they are completely worthless. The prophet Isaiah in chapter 44, verse 20 says this about idols. He calls idol worshipers, "Lovers of emptiness, of nothing. They're so out of touch with reality so far gone that they can't even look at what they're doing. They can't even look at the no God stick of wood, the idol in their hand and say, 'This is crazy.'" And there are some of you right now where you are like the person Isaiah just described, you are so out of touch with reality. You are so numb to the idol that you've been serving that you can't even recognize it for what it is, a counterfeit God that will never deliver on the promises it makes.

Pastor Charles Spurgeon once said, "Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else". Idols are counterfeit and idols are costly. They make promises they can't keep and they will cost you more than you want to give. I've got a friend who's absolutely obsessed with the Dallas Mavericks, like so much so that it could be an idol in his life. I asked Him to send me a picture of his gear and this is what he's got because his goal in life is to only wear Maverick's gear for the rest of His life. And if you know anything about like official merch, you know that stuff is not cheap.

And so that's his collection and it's cost him quite a bit of money, quite a bit of time invested in it. And while that's kind of like a mostly harmless example, the truth is there are some of us who have created idols in our lives that are costing way more than just some of our money. Like for some of you, the idol in your life is to get your body to look a certain way. Like you really, really want to be a little bit skinnier, or leaner, or more "athletic looking", because you think that if you were, you'd be accepted by others and you'd be able to accept yourself, and maybe what started out as like a harmless desire to be healthier has spiraled out of control to the point where now you have a pattern of disordered eating that is wrecking your mental, emotional and physical health, and it has gotten so bad and so out of control that you don't know how to stop it.

And if that is you, then please do not leave Switch tonight without telling someone. Like, talk to your Switch leader, talk to your youth pastor. There is hope and you can find help. And maybe for you, it's not an eating disorder, but it is some other addiction that has its hold on you. Whatever that thing is, talk to somebody before you leave tonight because today might be the day that you tear down that idol. God is good, idols are bad, they're counterfeit, and they are costly.

If we continue reading that passage, we're gonna read Exodus chapter 20 verses five and six, where God tells the people, "You must not bow down to them or worship them". He's talking about idols, "For I the Lord your God am a jealous God. I will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children. The entire family is affected, even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me". And then continuing in verse six, God tells us, "But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands". Maybe right now you find yourself thinking, that's exactly why I'm not a Christian. Why would I ever dedicate my life to a being so petty that He's gonna punish kids and grandkids for crimes they never committed?

Now, you may not believe me yet, but I promise you that those words we just read are an expression of God's love, because God's law is always an expression of His love, and it is always for our good. So what I wanna do is offer two quick observations that can help us think more wisely about what it is that God is telling to us through those words. We gotta look at the ratio and the logic. We're gonna start with the ratio. In that passage of scripture, what God told us is that He will lay the sins of the parents upon the kids and the grandkids to the third and fourth generation. So sins go to the fourth generation, but He lavishes unfailing love on a thousand generations.

Notice the ratio, 1000 over here and four over here, 250 here to one if you do the math. What God is telling us is that His love goes 250 times further than the consequences of sin. What that means is that yes, sin is a problem. Yes, sin creates consequences, and yes, God will hold people accountable for the choices they make, but you cannot miss the ratio that God's love always goes further than the damage of sin.

That's the first thing you gotta pay attention to. The second thing is the logic, because God is telling us that sin has consequences. He's not just like unjustly punishing people for things they didn't do. He's spelling out the reality of our own wrongdoing so that we can honestly see how damaging our choices can be. Because like think about alcoholism, like if your dad is an alcoholic, like if that is the idol in his life, then that addiction, that idol doesn't just hurt him. It doesn't just affect his liver, or his thinking, or the way that he operates. It wreaks havoc on the entire family, like everybody suffers because of his addiction.

And and the truth is that when there is alcoholism present in a parent, the chances rise exponentially for that addiction to be passed down to the kids. And then if they end up dealing with that addiction, then the chances rise for their kids to suffer from it and so on and so forth. This is what God is communicating, is that our sins never just affect us. That when we serve idols, it doesn't just hurt us, it hurts us and the people around us. And maybe for you, there's an addiction that has plagued your family for generations, but you are gonna be the one who breaks the cycle because you are gonna be the one who says, "This ends with me," because God is good, idols are bad.

And then part three, the choice is yours. The good news is that you choose who you serve, like you ultimately get to choose do you serve God or do you serve an idol? I wanna make sure that you read this and you soak this in because this is important, like serving an idol may give you what you want now, but it will cost you what you want most. It might give you pleasure in the moment, but it will rob your purpose in the long term. But, serving God, serving God may cost you what you want now. Like it is not easy. It's really, really hard, but it is always worth it, why? Because He will give you what you want most, life, joy, peace, intimacy, love. God will give that to you when you choose to serve Him.

So serve God with your whole life. Tear down the idols that are robbing you of the purpose that God has given you. I wanna give you two practical suggestions on how to actually do this. Suggestion number one is this, to put away the things that distract you from God. Put away the things that distract you from God. Now, there's like a million different examples I could give or suggestions I could offer, but the number one I wanna share with you is this, make your smartphone a dumb phone. Make your smartphone a dumb phone. Like this right here, this thing, we didn't have phones like this when I was your age.

When I was in middle school, I had a classic dumb phone. Like that is the exact model of what I had. And what I didn't have was the internet, social media, or an infinite number of apps I could download. I could call, text, and play snake. And while that sounds like a horrible thing, honestly, it was a gift because I didn't have to worry about a world of idols in my pocket. But you do. So being faithful to Jesus as a teenager with access to phones like that, that give you access to so many negative things that want to distract you from God makes it even more challenging. So make your smartphone a dumb phone. Here's what that means. That means unfollow the accounts. That means delete the apps. That means block the websites that are pulling you away from God.

Our pastor Craig Groeschel has said before, why would you eliminate, or why would you resist a temptation to today that you can eliminate tomorrow? Do what you need to eliminate that temptation now so you don't have to deal with it in the future. That's why personally, like I'm not on social media, I don't use it. I don't have the apps on my phone. Almost every single website is locked down because I refuse to let my phone be smarter than me. That's my first suggestion. Put away the things that distract you from God. Suggestion number two is this, fill your life with things that draw you to God. Fill your life with things that draw you to God. The fact that you are here at Switch, listening to this message is a great example like worship at church. Surround yourself with godly friendships.

Begin your morning in prayer, reading scripture. When you're in the car, listen to worship music, when you're doing chores, listen to sermons, when you're on YouTube watch Christian content. Fill your life with things that are gonna draw you closer to God because your life matters way too much to let idols get in the way of what God wants to do in you. Serve God with your whole life. Because if you wanna make a difference, the best thing you can do is serve Jesus. If you wanna waste your life, the best thing that you can do is serve an idol. In His own words in John chapter 10, verse 10, Jesus says this, He says that, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full". God is good, idols are bad, and the choice is yours.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that you love us so much that you invite us into a relationship with you. I pray for every single one of us that are listening to this message that we would have the wisdom and the courage to put away the things that distract us from you and fill our lives with the things that draw us to you. God today, help us to tear down the idols and to serve you with our whole lives. It's in Jesus name, Amen.

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