Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What are we focused on?


I have said for years that Satan's best tactic to keep us in bondage is to keep up out of our Bibles and away from prayer. Our quiet time with our Father is our key defense against Satan's schemes. We need alone time with God. We need time in His Word and we need time with Him in prayer.  I KNOW this. It's a common belief among Christians.

Even though I KNOW this, I let other things take up the time that should be set aside for my Lord.

Prime example...

My mom in law moved in with us a few months ago. Mom in law + teenage boy + preteen girl + preacher hubby + 140 pound dog who things he is a 15 pound puppy + pre-menopausal me = a slightly chaotic home.  Mom in law is wonderful, but another person in our mix is another person in our mix and it has taken us all a bit of adjusting to make everything work.  While we were in the adjusting phase, I (understandably) felt an overwhelming need to escape.

Now, had I been "prayed up" and sensitive to the Holy Spirit, I would have known that I was in need of some serious Spiritual nourishment, but since things had been going well for quite sometime, I let my "quiet time" take a back seat to...well, just about everything. As a result, not only was I deaf to the Holy Spirit, I was also blind to Satan's schemes.

Everyone has a "drug" that they turn to when life is overwhelming. We all have something that takes the edge off, releases our endorphins, and relieves our stress. Some shop, some drink, some eat, some exercise, some watch a movie or TV. My drug of choice is a good book and I devoured a book about every 2 days for almost 3 weeks. The more I read, the more I found the desire to escape increasing as did my anxiety and unrest. 
Several things happened all at once that drove me to prayer and I realized that I hadn't talked to God outside of Church and praying for others in quite sometime. I hadn't opened my Bible outside of church or studying to teach in longer than that. I immediately realized that this was where my unrest was coming from, not my circumstances.
I opened my Bible, got out my prayer journal and started talking to and listening to God. My soul settled. The desire to escape left. When I turned my focus back to God and turned my heart to Him, the chaos quieted and peace washed over me.
Much like Peter walking on the water, Our peace is dependent not on our circumstances, but on our focus. When Peter focused on Jesus, he walked on water. When he shifted his focus to the waves, he sank. When we focus on our circumstances, we sink into chaos, anxiety, worry, and the like. We can reach for physical things like shopping, books, TV, movies, exercise, food, etc. for relief and may indeed have a brief reprieve. However, only God can quiet our restless souls.
I'm still struggling and Satan is constantly tempting me to escape into a book. My circumstances have not changed.  Instead of giving into the desire to lose myself in a story, I am spending time in God's Word every morning before I face my day and before I go to sleep every night. I am listening to sermon podcasts. I am listening to praise and worship music. I am reading God's word at lunch.  I am submerging my soul in as much of My Father as I can. I am focused on Him. As a result of my tiny act of obedience,
My heart has begun to long for more of Him.
I am more aware of God's presence in my life.
I am more aware of Satan's schemes.
My soul is quiet, settled, and peaceful.
If you are plagued with unrest, I challenge you to change your focus. Shift your heart from the things that are causing you anxiety and toward God. Surround yourself with His Word, songs about Him, and His teachings. Let go of the things that you so desperately need to control and rest in the arms of the Creator of the Universe. Scripture says that we do not need to worry about what we will wear, eat, or where we will sleep.  Follow Hard after Christ and let God do the micro-managing in your life.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (ESV)