If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, - Mark 8:34b (NASB)
As many of you may know, Louie Blackwood is sort of a quiet person and is often overlooked. By many of the kids he is looked at as being unimportant. It could be because of his red hair, it could be due to his freckles and it might even have something to do with the fact that he is an orphan. On the other hand, might just be the people he knows, like one Stella Peterson.
As Louie sat by himself on the merry-go-round at the play ground, minding his own business, he was rudely interrupted by a loud trumpet blast. “Now entering – Queen Stella” Came a loud call after the trumpet blast and on to the play ground walked Stella wearing some kind of make shift crown. “All bow before your queen.” she called out as she came towards Louie.
“Stella.” Louie started complaining but was cut off. “ That’s Queen Stella and you will address me as such.” Stella said smugly. “Okay,” Louie wondered, “What have you been watching?” “Alice in Wonderland.” Stella answered, “And I am going to be just like the Queen of Hearts.” “Isn't that the one who wanted Alice's head cut off?” Louie asked.
“That is correct.” Stella replied, “And I am going to have the same thing done to Harold. Not only that but I want it on a silver platter.” “Isn't that going a little too far?” Louie asked. “For Harold? Never” Stella said with a sinister laugh, “Besides, I am a real Queen.” “Since when.” Louie quipped, “There's no way you could ever be a queen.”
“But I am.” Stella assured him, “My Family is of royal descent and I can even prove it.” “How” Louie wanted to know. “I bought a computer program that lets me trace my family history and see who I’m related to.” Stella told Louie. “And you found your name in it?” Louie asked. “Well, no, not really.” Stella replied, “But it did have Peterson, sort of. He was Peter the Great.”
“And you're related to him?” Louie asked in disbelief. “Yeah,” Stella assured him, “And that makes me a queen and since I am a queen, I am number one and everybody is suppose to serve me.” “Something is not right here.” Louie injected. “Everything is right.” Stella went on, “And I can't wait until I tell Harold that he must worship me and no other because I am a queen.”
“Worship you?” Louie exclaimed, “I can't do that!” “Yes you will!” Stella ordered, “In fact, Everybody will fall down and worship me. Praise be to Queen Stella!” “Well,” Louie said smugly, “If you're a queen than that makes Harold a king.” When Stella heard that she froze. “And I can't wait to tell him.” Louie finished.
“You wouldn't” Stella said with a scowl, “Do you know what will happen if you do that? He’ll let it go to his head.” “Just like you.” Louie said with a grin. After a few rather awkward moments of silence, Stella said, “I think I need to do some more research.” and then quietly left.
Are you like Stella? Wanting to be the center of attention? Wanting to be praised? Wanting to be worshiped? Is it all about self?
In the last chapter of 2 Kings, the kingdom of Judah went into captivity. The Babylonian king was now in control but, it was not for the reason he thought. Romans 13:1b tells us No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God. (NCV) The Babylonian king needed to be reminded of that, you may have heard of him and this story. His name is Nebuchadnezzar and his story is found in Daniel 4
King Nebuchadnezzar sent this letter to the people, nations, and those who speak every language in all the world: I wish you peace and great wealth! The Most High God has done miracles and wonderful things for me that I am happy to tell you about. His wonderful acts are great, and his miracles are mighty. His kingdom goes on forever, and his rule continues from now on. I, Nebuchadnezzar, was happy and successful at my palace, but I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying on my bed, I saw pictures and visions in my mind that alarmed me. So I ordered all the wise men of Babylon to come to me and tell me what my dream meant. The fortune-tellers, magicians, and wise men came, and I told them about the dream. But they could not tell me what it meant. Finally, Daniel came to me. I told my dream to him. … Then Daniel was very quiet for a while, because his understanding of the dream frightened him. So the king said, “Do not let the dream or its meaning make you afraid.“... You saw a tree in your dream that grew large and strong. Its top touched the sky, and it could be seen from all over the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, and it had plenty of fruit for everyone to eat. It was a home for the wild animals, and its branches were nesting places for the birds. O king, you are that tree! You have become great and powerful, like the tall tree that touched the sky. Your power reaches to the far parts of the earth. “O king, you saw an observer, a holy angel, coming down from heaven who said, ’Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and its roots in the ground with a band of iron and bronze around it; leave it in the field with the grass. Let him become wet with dew and live like a wild animal for seven years.’ “This is the meaning of the dream, O king. The Most High God has commanded these things to happen to my master the king: You will be forced away from people to live among the wild animals. People will feed you grass like an ox, and dew from the sky will make you wet. Seven years will pass, and then you will learn this lesson: The Most High God is ruler over every kingdom on earth, and he gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses. “Since the stump of the tree and its roots were left in the ground, your kingdom will be given back to you when you learn that one in heaven rules your kingdom. So, O king, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Stop doing wicked things and be kind to the poor. Then you might continue to be successful.“ … Twelve months later as he was walking on the roof of his palace in Babylon, he said, “I have built this great Babylon as my royal home. I built it by my power to show my glory and my majesty.“ The words were still in his mouth when a voice from heaven said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, these things will happen to you: Your royal power has been taken away from you. You will be forced away from people. You will live with the wild animals and will be fed grass like an ox. Seven years will pass before you learn this lesson: The Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth and gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses.“ Immediately the words came true. (NCV)
The first of the ten commandments reads - "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2-3 (ESV) God wants 1st place not 2nd, 3rd or what ever. But all too often we put other no-name gods before Him. God is to be number one in everything.
- In our giving - Deuteronomy 17:1 "You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God. (ESV)
- Above our families - Matthew 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (ESV)
- Over our wealth- Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (ESV)
- And let's not forget self - Mark 8:34b If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (NASB)
Here's Something To Ponder
- What does the first commandment mean to you?
- What no-name gods -including self - are you putting ahead of God?