There are so many things in this world that competes with, and downright fights for, our time. You want to devote time to prayer and to reading and studying the Word, but don’t. Between the spouse, kids, grandkids, getting an education, the job and other stresses of life, it seems difficult to squeeze in time for — or remain consistently focused on — the things of God. Listed below are common things that can interfere with our walk with God. I must say, not all of these things are “bad” in their nature . . . in fact, a lot aren’t. However, when we allow these things to distract us from looking at and to God in all things, in all of our ways, at all times, when we allow these things to have more priority in our lives than God, then they become problematic. They become idols and/or gods.
- Money. You knew this had to be on the list. Matthew 6:24 tells us that no one can serve two masters; you can’t serve both God and money. The believer shouldn’t be worrying about our life, what we’ll eat or drink nor what we’ll wear. Our Father takes care of the birds of the air. Yes, we all need money to live in this world, but we must not be owned by it if we are to be not of this world. You see, it’s the love of money that’s the problem. We are told to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the things we have need of will be added to us. Our Heavenly Father knows what we have need of. If we trust God, He will take care of us. While money may be the driving force of the world, it shouldn’t be for those who are in Christ . . . the just shall live by faith.
- Social Media. I have to admit, this is probably one of my biggest distractions. I find myself getting sucked into reality shows — Basketball wives, Housewives of ATL, Love and Hip Hop — and then am angry with myself afterwards for not turning the channel. Someone recently suggested I watch Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots — they said it was very well written. CAN’T DO IT. Viewing a trailer of an episode made we question just what are we REALLY feeding our spirits. What’s your indulgence? TV, movies, Wii, the internet, the radio, music, sports. It is so easy to get sucked into these mediums. We think, what’s the harm . . . .it’s just a little entertainment. Most of it is loaded with hidden agendas and messages — making us think this is the life, that we’re missing something, bombarding us with images of how they think we should look, feel or act. Influences that are harmful; that do and can subliminally affect us and the things we desire. We have to be wise in what we watch and read and how much time we devote to it. I have since replaced my reality shows with more time devoted to things that are good for my soul.
- Relationships. Yes, even our relationships can distract us from our walk with God. Friends, parents, siblings, spouses, children, girlfriends, boyfriends. The relationships with the most danger of becoming a distraction from our walk with God is probably those of an intimate/romantic nature. Because those relationships demand the most time, it is extremely important that they be centered around God. In other words, make sure you’re not unequally yoked! God does call us to love one another, but not to the point where these relationships displace our time, affection and attention to Him. Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength.
- Church. I know you’re questioning my thought process, but allow me to explain. Many people go to church for many reasons and often it’s never directed to pursuing God. In many churches, people put on a facade, pretending to be perfect (perfect meaning whole/well) thinking that if they show their weaknesses and struggles that they’ll become outcasts. Unfortunately, because so many people have adopted this way of thinking, if one person does reveal their weakness, they are looked down upon so easily. This is the opposite of what the church is supposed to be. Church is supposed to be a body of believers, there to help one another, to pray for each other, to love one another AND to hold each other accountable. We need to get past religion and into relationships — with God and our fellow brothers in Christ.
- Desiring a blessing from God, more than God Himself. How many times do you find yourself praying, asking, asking, asking but forget about simply spending time with God. Fellowshipping, thanking, exalting, glorifying, blessing Him. Remember, seek Him first and then things will be added.
- Our pastors. Yes our pastors. I can’t tell you how many times I talk with people and they can’t start a sentence without saying, my pastor said or the bishop said (subject matter for later discussion). It is not our pastors responsibility to feed us all we need in order to be spiritually healthy . . .it is our responsiblity. Many people never open their Bibles until they get to church on Sunday and even then still don’t as they have the text printed in bulletins, programs or up on the screen. Your pastor should be a great leader. Period. Don’t become dependent upon your pastor.
- Ourselves. While I saved this one for last on the list, it is probably the most likely to distract. By nature, we are sinful and, if we live by our nature, we will not get close to God. We are to die to ourselves daily. There is a constant battle between spirit and flesh. Paul said those things that I desire to do I don’t and those things I don’t want to do, I do. Ask God to reveal to you, by the power of His Holy Spirit, those secret things of your heart and once He’s revealed, be quick to deal with them. While our sin may be a private matter, no sin is — and never stays — a secret matter . . . . what you do affects you as well as the body you’re connected to!
The best way to become spiritually mature and spiritually strong and thus walk closer with God is to practice a life of self-discipline. Self-discipline is not denying ourselves of those things we should not have, but of those things we can have. 2014 is already in motion and while many are expecting new things in a new way, I offer you a simple, basic, no-fail recipe if you want to walk closer with God and see Him as you never have before.
Ready? Here goes: Prayer + fasting + feasting upon the Bread of Life! Peace, blessings and abundant living to you . . .
Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.