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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The Crucial Point Most Affairs Begin (And How to Avoid It)

Most little girls dream of growing up to be a mother, a wife, a teacher, a doctor, a marine biologist, a chef, an actress, a singer…

… but not an adulteress.

That’s not a title I thought I would ever carry, but at 19 years old, I found myself entangled in an affair with a married man.

He was nine years older than me and was cast to play my boyfriend in a musical at a local community theatre company. After rehearsal one night, he asked for my phone number because he was going costume hunting over the weekend and said he would call me to give me details if I wanted to tag along. We didn’t end up going together, but he did call me when I got back to my dorm room that Sunday night. He started to talk to me about his costume ideas for a few minutes, and then quickly said he didn’t actually call me to talk about costumes, but to just talk to me because he was lonely. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then I changed the subject quickly.

He ended the conversation by telling me that he couldn’t wait to see me at rehearsal the next day. The interaction during our scenes together started to become more believable as rehearsals went on, and he decided to add more physical affection during our time on-stage than what the script described.

The way he gazed into my eyes during our duets was so intense and passionate. He would sing his love songs to me and my heart would just melt. It was becoming very difficult for me to separate my acting abilities from my true feelings for him.

Choosing to Follow My Heart:

The show opened and closed, but our love affair continued on. During the day, I would skip class, so we could go on lunch dates. At night, he would drop his wife at choir practice at the symphony hall down the street from my dorm and then swing by and pick me up for our weekly date-night in the city. At restaurants, he would hold my hand from across the table and gaze into my eyes, telling me how much he loved me, how unhappy he was in his marriage and how his wife treated him so badly, but being with me made him forget about all of that. He promised we would be together in the end. I believed every single word, and at the same time felt ravaged inside. I had set it in my heart that I was going to rescue him from his mean and hateful wife.

Oh, what a fool I was!

Affairs Begin in the Heart

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus boldly addresses adultery:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5: 27-28, NIV

The sin of adultery – like most other sins– isn’t just an outward act but begins in the heart.

There are many verses in the Bible regarding the significance of the heart of man, butI wanted to highlight these three because I believe they give us clarity on how the sin of adultery (and others) can creep into our lives and what we can do to prevent temptation from becoming sin:

1. We should never trust our heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)

2. We are to protect our heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

3. We are to trust the Lord with our whole heart

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB).

Learning to Follow God:

I was “the other woman” for about a year, and when he was through with me, he moved onto someone else who played his girlfriend in another musical. It was all a blur of empty kisses and empty promises. I allowed the sin of adultery to drag me even further into the pit of self-destruction with other men while I was in college, creating more wounds and more soul-ties, but the story didn’t end there, praise God!

I eventually committed my life to Christ shortly after I graduated college, and the Lord delivered and healed me. It was a long process of learning how to walk the narrow road, but God’s grace continues to give me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I follow Him.

God Can Redeem Your Mess

I look back over this time in my life, now a very happily married woman of 10 years and a mother of two precious little boys (and one little prince or princess on the way!), and I can’t help but thank God for His mercy and grace. Instead of feeling shame and guilt from my past sins, I can now glean from these wrong choices to help strengthen my marriage and ensure that it doesn’t become susceptible to the sin of adultery.

I believe the Lord can take my mess and turn it into a message for others, both married couples and single people. I never want to give glory to my past sins, but only give glory to the One who can redeem us from our sins and give us the strength to escape every temptation. Most of all, I long to lead you to truth and obedience to Christ one step at a time in the right direction.

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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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