Re-adjusting Our Focus

I saw a sign the other day that said: “I saw it. I liked it. I bought it. Now hide it!”

You know, it is often a joke among women that we hide our Amazon Prime packages or shopping bags from our husbands like it is a secret behavior that all women do that is normal. But sister, this is so wrong. And quite frankly, it is a sin. How can we be in unity with our spouse if we are literally hiding something from them? Why do we make jokes about that? We need to call this what it is, and admit we have a problem. This behavior is materialistic and can often be rooted in covetousness, and it is not a joking matter to God. This saying above isn’t cute and should reveal to us the matter of our heart. It seems where our eyes wander, our heart follows and can become fixated upon whatever has our gaze. We need to readjust our focus and if we are not able to overcome the temptation, we need the Lord’s help, especially if we are continually tempted by material possessions and give into hiding our addiction to “more stuff.” 


Do you wrestle with impulsively buying things you don’t need? I do, big time.


But I have been convicted of this sin and do not want to grieve God nor my husband with this widely accepted behavior in our society. There is a verse in Psalms that is a cry to the Lord for helping turn our focus from temporal things that don’t matter:

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways”

(Psalm 119:37, ESV).

We find life in God’s ways, not in the world’s ways of accumulation of more material possessions. Our possessions should be a blessing to us and others and not turn into idolatry, leading our hearts away from God and the things of God. Although we live here on earth, as believers, we are citizens of heaven, and we should lift our gaze to heavenly things more than earthly things. In a culture that jokes about shopaholics hiding their problem of impulsive buying, let us be different by pointing others to Christ and His ways where true abundant life is found.

Let’s hold each other accountable, friends. The temptation is strong, but God can help us overcome. He always provides a way out. Let us ask the Lord to help us keep our eyes on Him and that escape and ask the Him for strength when temptation comes. May we also ask Him to turn our eyes to what is eternal and more precious than worthless material possessions where moth and rust eat at them. 

Father, my eyes have wandered onto obsessing over material possessions. When I scroll social media, I feel the pressure to own what others own that they are often trying to market to me. I ask for Your help to guard my heart from materialism and covetousness. I also repent for perhaps giving into the temptation of hiding this struggle that seemingly feels too difficult to overcome. I know that You always provide a way of escaping every temptation. It is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to act upon that temptation. I long to walk in Your ways because I want to obey You, and I know Your ways provide life abundantly. Thank You for Your grace and mercy that is new every morning that gives me a new focus upon You and Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Seeking Self-Control

2 AM. 

There I was, scrolling Instagram mindlessly once again and getting sucked into the black hole of the pages of “influencers” advertising product after product, sale after sale, deal after deal. It was getting so out of hand that I was finding myself clicking “add to cart” and hiding the packages from my husband when the boxes showed up on our doorstep a few days later. I knew it was wrong, but it felt like the temptation was too strong to stop this familiar cycle of impulsive buying. But this was a lie. No temptation is too strong for us to overcome. 

It is important to remember that we don’t base truth off our feelings. We must look to what God’s Word says to renew our minds with His truth and gain wisdom on making healthy and righteous choices. When it comes to self-control and overcoming any temptation that we face, we can find truth in 1 Corinthians. The apostle Paul states:

“No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”

(1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

God is faithful to help us walk in righteousness. He gives us the grace to walk in freedom from alluring and enticing nature of sinful habits. If we allow our flesh to rule us, we will follow it into a pit of unrighteousness. There is forgiveness for us in Christ, but we must repent when we find ourselves continuing on a path of unrighteous choices. We may feel like the temptation is too much to bear, but God always provides us a way of escape; we must ask the Lord to give us wisdom and spiritual eyes to see the way out. For me, personally, the wisdom was to unfollow these influencers’ Instagram pages so that the temptation of what they were sharing was no longer before my eyes continually. 

The Holy Spirit is faithful to continue to give us wisdom and guidance and strengthen us when we submit our ways to Him. He will convict our hearts, remind us of what the Bible says, and cultivate the fruit that we have received, especially the fruit of self-control. As believers, we have received the fruit of the Spirit, and just like fruit in the natural, it must be cultivated. The longer we walk with the Lord and study His Word, the more our fruit is developed and strengthened within us. May we continually ask for God’s help when we are tempted and trust that He will help us overcome sin when we are struggling. 

Father God,

This life on earth comes with many trials and many temptations. We are not promised a life free from temptations, but we are promised that You will always give us the strength and grace to overcome those temptations, as well as a way of escape to make Godly choices in obedience to You. I am not able to walk in obedience without Your Spirit. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for convicting my heart when I am walking in disobedience and giving into what satisfies my flesh. I long to be obedient to You, Lord. Help me cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, especially the fruit of self-control. You are a God of self-control, and I long to look like You in everything I say and do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Avoiding an Upkept Heart

When I was in high school, I was involved in countless clubs and activities outside of class. One of my favorite experiences was performing in the Spring musicals every year. Since I became a follower of Christ as a teenager, I was elated to discover that production that was chosen for our Senior year was Godspell by Stephen Schwartz. This musical is structured as a series of parables, primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew. One of my favorite scenes in that show was the parable of the sower. 

The parable of the sower is found in Luke 8:4-15, Matthew 13:1-8, and Mark 4:1-9. In this parable, it explains to us that the Word of God must be sown into the heart of a person. In other words, the heart is the ground or soil.

Four types of soil Jesus discusses:

  1. The Wayside/Foot path
  2. The Rock/Stony places
  3. Thorns/Weeds
  4. Good Ground/Soil

Obviously, the best soil for the Word of God is good ground.

What is good ground?

In the natural, this would be soil that has been tilled and ready to receive the seed that the farmer is spreading. The farmer makes sure that it is cultivated and kept moist.

The worst thing that the farmer could allow to happen is for the ground to become hardened or full of weeds.

Jesus explains good ground as “those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, NKJV).

There is a key word in that scripture that sticks out to me: “keep.”

This word is also found in another part of that Bible that gives instruction about of our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to:

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life”

NKJV

When I reflect on what the word “keep” means in this verse, I often think of the opposite word “unkept.”

If something is unkept, it is usually a mess and not cared for- an upkept room, an unkept flower patch, or unkept nails.

So if we are to keep our heart with all diligence, we are supposed to continually care for it, protect it, and make sure it is pure and ready to receive God’s Word at all times. 

What comes out of your mouth is the first indicator of what condition your heart is in (See Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 10:11). The words you speak should build up and encourage others, honorable and wholesome, and full of compassion; they should always line up with what God’s speaks of in His Word and should always point others to Jesus and bring glory to Him.

Sometimes this is easier for us when everything in life is going well: all our bills are paid and we have plenty of money in the bank, we have great health, and our relationships are strong.

Regardless of our circumstances, we should always be yielding good fruit. In the storms and trials, the fruit that is reflected in our lives should be vibrant and fresh to “eat” for all we come in contact with. After all, the fruit we produce is not for us, but for others.

Are you making sure your heart is kept and cultivated for the seed of the Word to grow and bear good fruit?

Are you allowing the enemy to immediately steal the Word you just heard by yielding to him and his ways?

Are you making sure your heart remains soft and pliable, guarding it from bitterness or un-forgiveness?

Are you allowing the cares of this world, the riches of this world, and the pleasures of this life crowd your heart with nasty weeds that choke out the potential fruit?

If you can answer yes to the last three questions, chances are you are not guarding your heart with all diligence like Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us to do. Not only do you have to keep weeds from choking out the seed of God’s word, you just must care for the fruit that you do have.

Again, it is so important to protect your heart from cares of the world and bitterness and unforgiveness. If upkept, spiritual growth in your life will be stunted. Remember, keeping and guarding your heart bearing lasting, good fruit is a lifetime process! But keep abiding in the life source, the Vine, Christ Jesus!

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