I want to emphasize this before I share it with you--and that is, that this is something God has told me to change. It is in no way to criticize any of you or to judge others. But, I will say, it is convicting. Perhaps there is something to be learned about how we get easily "distracted" from our walk from the Lord.
Okay--read on...it's pretty lengthy, but I hope it's an encouragement to you.
How many times have we said, "Oh, I can't get involved in that ministry opportunity because I'm too busy? " Or perhaps we've been confused in making choices because in actuality, we're being influenced by the wrong things. Deep down inside we know what God's Word says, but we're influenced by the world's philosophy. It's everywhere--television, movies, magazines, etc. Even the ones we think are pretty good are flooded with twisted views that are contrary to God's Word.
I'd like to share some of my heart in this lesson today. I'm going to start off by sharing a story on how the Lord has burdened my heart to talk about these things today.
About eight months ago, God began working in my heart about something I was doing that was being a distraction in my Christian walk. I was spending too much time on the internet, particularly on a social networking site. Other than the time factor, the Holy spirit convicted my heart about some of the things that were being shown in front of my eyes that were not right. Gossip, rude remarks, and some inappropriate pictures were influencing my heart and mind in the wrong direction. God kept reminding me of the verse, Phillipians 4:8 which says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever thing are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." You see, some of these things I saw with my eyes were not pleasing the Lord. How can I have God's mind and a pure heart if I'm allowing these negative things to come in? Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he; eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee." So really, what I was allowing in was what was becoming me. And then, I go back to the time factor. I fought with the thought, "but this is helping me connect with people. It's really not that bad." But then again, another verse came to mind--Ephesians 5:16 says, "Redeeming the time because the days are evil." God wants us to enjoy fellowship with one another, bt a lot of the social networking wasn't allowing me to spend time with the peopole that mattered or doing things that really made a difference. Our time on earth is short, and we must use it to the fullest. The decision to leave this social networking site has been the best thing for me in wanting to have a clean heart. It also led me into getting rid of movies that "seem okay" but were promoting worldly philosophy and the wrong kind of music.
So, why do I share these things with you?
I wondered if distractions were affecting my walk with the Lord, then perhaps there are things in your life that may be causing you to struggle in your Christian walk. We'll first talk about some of these things, then give ways on how we can help ourselves from falling into these traps. These verses will be our focus:
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Some of the things I'll mention are those "sins which beset us," but then there are the "weights" that we have to lay aside so that we can look unto Jesus in the Christian race.
The Distractions we face:
Think about things that you love to do. Now, write them down on a sheet of paper. Circle the one(s) that God esteems as important in His Word. Was it convicting? Did anyone write down spending time in God's Word as the number one thing, and did it make it at all in your top five? Finally, underline the thing or things that are keeping you from having a strong walk with the Lord.
I've come up with some distractions and I'd like to share them with you:
1. Friends--Friends who walk wisely are encouraged by the Lord. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." If your friends aren't walking with Christ, then you need to pray about choosing godly friends. Friends influence the way you think. If you care about what your friends think more than what God thinks, then it is a distraction.
2. Hobbies--This is anything that you like to do in your spare time. Evaluate if it's keeping you from spending time with the Lord. If it's something that is contrary to God's Word, then give it up and replace it with something that is acceptable in His eyes.
3. Entertainment/technology--movies, television, internet, cell phone, i-pods,etc. Ask yourself, "What would God say to me if He were to pop up live where I was when I participated in these things?" I've heard people say, "That little swear word won't affect me. That music isn't really all that bad." Make God's Word your standard, and not what others are doing. The time factor with certain things could be that weight that is keeping you from doing things that matter, but there are some obvious principles in God's Word that would make certain entertainment choices wrong.
Help for distractions:
1. Spend time in the Bible and prayer. I don't know how many times I've heard young people say, "I don't have time to read my Bible because of....(fill in the blank). Adults do the same thing, believe it or not. We can all fail in this area that is so vital to growing in God and knowing how to discern right from wrong. We invite our friends to spend time with us, but yet, we neglect the Friend who loves us more than anything! How can we make good decisions if we don't seek the Lord? Isaiah 55:6 says, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near." Ask God to give you wisdom and He will. "James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." You'll find that with spending time with God, that you'll begin to love those things that He loves. Your mind will be filled with those things that God esteems valuable. Phillipians 2:5 says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
2. Write down and learn Scriptural principles. On a teen retreat at Camp Ironwood, the teens had to write down principles on certain topics. They wrote down what they believed and how it affected their families, authority, church, school, and jobs. This will really help you strengthen your knowledge about what God says is okay to do and not to do. Write down your priorities and goals in your life right now, as well as for the future. Do they line up with God's daily will for believers--or are these things what you think you ought to be doing?
**This next point is directed towards teens, but we can apply it to social situations.
3. Talk to your parents about distractions. If they're okay with your doing something, but you know that God is convicting you about it, why not talk to them about it? I believe they'll support you in your desire to have a pure heart before God. I have been faced with things like this within my closest family and friends. It was hard at first, but after a while, they understood that I wanted to do right. Follow the Lord's leading, but be careful with how you view other's standards and convictions. Perhaps God hasn't dealt with them in an area yet. The important thing is that you follow the Lord and obey your parents. Question to ponder: When was the last time you walked out of a situation that wasn't pleasing to God?
4. Out with the old; in with the new. Once you realize that you need to get rid of something, what do you do? If it's a CD or an ipod download you need to get rid of--get rid of it in a hurry! Seek a wise person's counsel as you learn to replace the bad with the good. This goes for books, music, movies and even friends. If you have a friend who doesn't seek to please the Lord, then you need to remove yourself from them. This may be hard to do, but it will be so worth it from an eternal point of view. I had an "interest" a long time ago (before my husband) that I was focusing too much of my heart on. I lost sight of what God wanted me to do. God's Word says to not serve idols and to worship Him alone. But yet, we sometimes think that people can never be idols (only entertainment), so we believe it's the right thing to do to spend so much time and idolize this person. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind" and you can't go wrong. Worship God alone.
The conclusion of the matter:
Philippians 3:10 says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"
We were made to give glory to God and fellowship with Him. Our goal in life is to be always seeking ways to know Him better. If we're filled with distractions, it's hard to get to know God like we ought to. The world would say it's okay to fill that "void" in our lives with things. But we know the truth--God is the only One who can do that. He's our source of joy.
It all boils down to this question--"Who or what do we love the most?" We tend to spend the most time with those things that we care about or love the most. Choose to spend time in the Bible. See how your life will be changed when we saturate our hearts and minds in God's Word and slowly remove those things that would keep us from living a life of purity.
I know this was a lot, but I hope it encouraged your heart. I started this blog back in November 0f 2008--around the same time that God was working in my heart about leaving that social networking site. My blog is designed to give ideas and encourage others in their homes and ministries. But--if it ever becomes a distraction in my life, then my husband and I will remove it completely. I pray for balance in knowing what God wants me to do each and every day. Although I enjoy having this blog, my relationship with God is more important.
What do we need to leave behind so that we may follow God with a pure heart?