Our lives are filled up with nothing but distractions. In life we have two major choices; filling our lives up with things of this world (distractions) or the things of God rightly applied to our lives. I am ever amazed how we fill up our lives with sports programs (both watching and playing), cooking programs (both doing and watching), reality TV, yard work and gardening, reading books, our pets, our vocation of employment, vacations and leisure, volunteer and charitable programs, the list is almost inexhaustible.
If the Christians of today would go after serving God with the same fervor and dedications as they do with charity and good will programs like: the Special Olympic, Relay for Life, animal rights, human rights, politics – God’s word would be shared in a more sincere, simplistic, and serious way around the world.
I am ever amazed to see what new things man invents to occupy his time and to satisfy his flesh. My friend our flesh is wicked and cunning above all things. It will stop at nothing to be satisfied. Paul drove this point to the heart of the Christians in Rome when he said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:18-19) Do we not think all of our good deeds and works (even church works) is done out of the goodness of our hearts? If the truth is to be known most if not all of what we say we do for God is really done for our glory and honor. And it is our flesh that screams to be exalted, praised, and satisfied. At the heart of this deception are the distractions we keep alive in our lives that blind us to the truth about God’s word and ourselves. Paul said, “I know that in me” I wonder how Paul knew this? That is easy, he was not distracted from the truth of what God told him to do and to the truth of God’s word. He learned this truth with every hardship and obstacle he overcame in his life. With each stripe laid to his back and each distress in his life (2 Corinthians 6:4-10) the clarity of the word of God resounded louder and because of the lack of distractions in his life the word of God was seen clearer and felt when he opened his mouth.
Now please understand me, in themselves some of the programs and deeds are not bad and can be useful in our lives. However here is the rub, these distractions often are nothing more than man’s willingness to avoid God’s dealings and judgments in our lives. Who wants to have God rumbling around in our heart and thoughts to reveal areas in our lives that are not of Him? Oh no, we would rather go play sports, paint a picture, sing in the choir, read a book, go visit someone in the nursing home, listen to music, watch TV, and so on. Again in themselves they are beneficial, but when they come between our heart and the work God desires to in our lives they become a distraction spiritually ending us in a pitiful and loathsome place. There distractions are man’s attempt to keep God at arms length and out of our lives as our flesh is strengthened and emboldened.
My friend the only thing God wants to do with our flesh is kill it. Oh we cry and say swelling words of what we will do for God, but He knows the truth He is the discerner of our thoughts and intents of our heart. The writer of Hebrews said, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:12-13) At the heart of every problem is a problem of our heart. And the problems of our heart begin as we focus our thinking and intentions away from God’s word and His plans for our lives. And yes, what we refocus on are the distractions we allow to take root and grow in our lives. There are three areas of distractions I would like to look at in this article. I am sure you have your own list, but I would like for us to look at how: our thoughts, our life-styles, and our service to God can distract us from God.
Our thoughts are so distracted with things of this world. It is no wonder there is no peace in the heart and mind of Christians and those lost in the world. Our thoughts are so filled up with ways to satisfy our personal needs, buy the next car and bigger house we have no peace. Rest and especially sleep escapes us as we worry about tomorrow, but Jesus said worry not (Matthew 6:30-34) about tomorrow. I really believe God does not want us to buy lands, properties, and homes. God knows the more we sink our lives into the world the harder it will be for Him to uproot or cut us out from the earth. A friend said, (and I strongly believe) “those Christians that teach and preach the prosperity doctrine secretly do not believe they will get something in the next life, so they will say and do anything to go after all they can get in this life, how sad.”
Daily Christians watch senseless acts of violence on TV and ogle perversion on the internet that sear their minds. I remember a hotel manager in downtown Atlanta told me they love it when Pentecostal preachers come to town because the in room pornography movies goes through the roof. Sociologist say by the time a child reaches their 18th birthday they will have watched over 100,000 senseless murders and rapes on TV. It is no wonder kids are committing murders and rapes today. Why is their no peace, fulfillment, and contentment in the lives of many Christians? Their minds are not stayed on God and what He has said. Their minds and thoughts are so occupied with things of the earth they have no desire or room for things of the Spirit and of the Heavenly.
Isaiah tells us,“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) If we desire “perfect (selfless like God) peace” we must align our thoughts with God’s thoughts and keep our intentions on Him. Yet today in the lives of many Christians (me at times) we see a continued drifting away in our thoughts. Our own thoughts condemn us to the point we drift further and further away. Paul also in the Book of Romans told the Church, “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:15-16) As we think in our heart so are we. It is no wonder Paul again and again tells us to renew our minds. And why? People whose mind is not stayed on God do not think right, that is why they say the most bizarre things and commit the most heinous acts. But when we align our thinking up with God’s thinking and His word, we just think and act right. I really believe this area of the three is the most important area we need get right with God.
Next our life-style is so full of distractions. Everything we do seem to be about us. Seldom do we do anything for someone else. And when we do we think we have done something special, well that is not to God’s liking. God intends for most of our day to be spent doing things for others. We are so distracted and this can be so easily seen when we look at each other. I just cannot believe the number of people (to include Christians) in the world that have tattoos and body piercings. Now if you got a tattoo before you gave your heart to the Lord, well live and learn, but I am talking about Christians getting tattoos and body piercings after they give their lives to Christ. God strictly forbids this behavior, but you see it is all about us, “a self expression of my personality and the way God made me” is what I hear. Well this is nothing more than a lie and a distraction. God said (and He meant it) in the Book of Leviticus, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks (Strong’s #7085, incision, imprintment, tattoo, mark) upon you: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:28) We are not to imprint or mark our bodies and why? After all it is my body and I am not harming any one, wrong! It is not your body, it is God’s body.
It is the same reason why we are not to have sex before marriage, God said not to and because our rebellion can directly harm our physical body (you can get hepatitis and HIV from dirty needles), but most assuredly our rebellion will harm our spirit body. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit we just cannot do whatsoever we want to do with it. Our desire for self-expression is nothing more than direct disobedience to God and His word. Yet we see Christian athletes pointing up to sky after they score a basket or make a touchdown with their bodies covered with tattoos or their lips and ears pierced with rings and other things. Paul again helps us, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) We are to “glorify God in our body.” We “glorify God in our body” when we allow Him to touch our mind and heart conforming us to the image of His precious Son Jesus Christ. We “glorify God in our body” when do what He has told us to do. It is a matter of a heart condition of obedience, not when we score, dance, sing, etc., this type of thinking just causes more distractions.
Another distraction is our clothing. You know you can judge a book by its cover. I do not need to look through the pages of a Playboy magazine, the cover shows me what is inside. Our dress does not reflect the modesty and honor God commanded us in. Today in most churches ladies come to church with their breasts hanging out and their dress or pants so tight there is nothing left to the imagination, a real distraction for men. Yes I know, “to the pure at heart all things are pure,” but the distraction need not be presented if we are walking in the light of God’s word. And the same for the men, who cares if you have hair on your chest, cover it up. God has called His children to a modest and chase life-style. When I was growing up we wore our very best to Church to honor the King of Kings, but today it seems the best most Christians can do is short shorts, flip-flops, and flowered shirts. Now brother do you not know the Lord looks on the heart? Well yes He does, but He also sees how much you honor Him in word and dress.
When a minister first when to visit King Abebe in Aveile, Nigeria he could not just go visit him, he first had to clean himself up and look presentable before he could speak with him. This was an act of honoring him and the authority the people of Edo State placed within his hands. Honor is a thing of the heart and is seen not in words, but in actions. It is disturbing to know some Christians dress better for work then for church, it is easy to see where their priorities are.
I cannot believe how distracted we are by technology. Our life-style is so plugged in and wrapped into technology. I have never met someone in my life that was so important that they needed to have instantaneous connection with someone else. Who do we think we are? Are we really that important? I think not. We have cell phones, blackberries, blueberries, and other berries, computers, and the list goes on yet we are drifting from communication with God. And why? Because the more we go after technology the less of God will be in us. It is either the things of God or the things of the world. It is our choice. I see people so fixated and distracted by Iphones, cell phones, anything electronic phone or gadget that has a touch screen or button. Please do not think life is about technology, God does not call us on our cell phone, if He did then the Pastor would not flip the slide at church that reads please turn your cell phone off or put on vibrate.
Lastly our service to God is so distracted. Our intention is good, but our application is skewed. A lot of pastors and leaders start out sincere and dedicated, but over the years they have compromised the truth of the word of God to maintain their good standing with their church and denomination who pays their bills, kind of like selling your soul to the devil. Music, dancing, drama, and not the preaching of the word of God drives the name and popularity of the church.
Whatever happened to “thus says the Lord?” It was replaced with the touchy feel good music and no consequence for our actions preaching. Babes in the Lord need to feed their emotions (singing, dancing, etc.) to feel they have a connection with God. But this is not what the Bible says. The Bible says the just (justified and redeemed) shall walk by faith. The only message we hear today is God loves you (which is true), but the whole counsel of God is He wants us to grow up into mature men and women of God. The message of only love shows us one part of God’s character and nature. Did you know there is only one message in the Bible? From Genesis to Revelation it is the message of the cross unto salvation.“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18For the preaching (message, in the Greek) of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching(message, in the Greek) to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-21) If we allow all of these distractions to capture our mind and heart we will not hear this message and be lost.
Written by David Stahl