And God spoke all these words, saying,
“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 20:1-3 ESV
For thus says the Lord,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it empty,
he formed it to be inhabited!):
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:18 ESV
When I lived in China, I saw shrines to different gods and goddesses. People visited these shrines when they wanted something from a god or a goddess. I saw young women kneel and pray for a baby, and farmers might look for good luck with their harvests. When people pray to these gods, they might leave sticks of incense burning, or leave gifts of fruit or money for the god. They might promise to do certain things for the god or goddess if they get what they asked for. When people worship false gods, they make up the rules in a way that they can obey them. If they keep the rules, they believe they will get what they want.
We do that too, don’t we? Because we are sinners, we are always making false gods for ourselves. A false god is one whose rules we can follow, so we feel sure we will get what we want. Do you have a lucky rabbit’s foot or a four-leaved clover? Do you wish on stars or hold your breath when you go over a bridge? What you are doing is making rules that will give you good luck, or keep bad luck away, or make your wish come true if you follow all the rules. Grown-ups might believe if they can save up enough money, or eat right and get the right kind of exercise, they are guaranteed to always have the money to do what they want and the good health to enjoy it.
Our true God isn’t like that. God’s rules are too hard for anyone to keep. That’s one reason we make false gods more like ourselves who aren’t so difficult to obey. We trust that keeping these rules will keep us happy and safe, but they can’t. Only the true God can do that. Also, God does things for us in his own way, not always in the way we want him to. It’s not easy to love and trust the true God. In fact, on our own we can’t do it at all. That’s why God did something for us that we could never do for ourselves. He sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus died on the cross to take away all our sins, including the sin of trusting other people or things more than him. Only the true God deserves our worship, and only the true God loves us so much that he gave his life to save us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being our great and good God, and for sending Jesus to save us. Help us to trust you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.