When we become followers of Jesus Christ we begin a long journey toward our eternal existence. Along the way there are many opportunities to become sidetracked or stalled by distractions. Sometimes what looks like the right way to go is actually the devil in disguise. It’s important for us to stop and carefully consider our walk with the Lord and make certain we are on the right path.
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV)
Worship of anything other than that which comes from the Word of God will quickly take you off in the wrong direction. All teachers need to connect their teaching directly to Scripture. Anything short of that is a distraction.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7-9 (NIV)
Even though He knows your every thought, God still wants to hear from you. Keep in mind, nothing is hidden from God. There’s no need to try to explain yourself to God – He knows. Get to the point quickly in your prayers and move on with your life. Prayer should inspire you to move forward, not to pray more.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 (NIV)
I believe all followers of Jesus Christ should read the Bible from cover-to-cover. Bible study is important; nevertheless, we can’t let Bible study so consume us that we neglect putting what we’ve learned into action. We should be spending far more time putting what we’ve learned into practice than time studying.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 (NIV)
If we attend a traditional worship service that begins with music we need to allow that music to sink into and soften our heart as we prepare to hear the message from our pastor. Some music is so familiar we tend to hear it, rather than feel it emotionally. In that same regard, when the pastor begins to teach we need to be ready to open our hearts to the message rather than simply processing the information with our minds. The message was prepared with sincere feelings and our goal should be to connect to those feelings and experience them together with those around us.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 (NIV)
Our prayer needs to be a conversation with God that includes an understanding of who God is and what His desire is for our life. The only way to know God in this intimate way is through the pages of the Bible. When you know God in this intimate way you will know how to approach Him with reasonable request that He can easily fulfill.
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:17 (NIV)
The clear teaching of the Bible is that we should love God with all of our heart and serve Him by serving others. Every moment of every day we should be looking for opportunities to serve God by serving others. We should be serving our family and friends. We should be getting together with others to serve God in small groups. We should be helping our church organize larger efforts to serve God by serving others. We should be encouraging our church leaders to partner with other churches to do even more to serve God by serving others.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Corporate worship at church, in a small group at church, or in a small group at someone’s house are all common venues for worship and generally provide a meaningful experience. We can also worship God in our daily activities by living a life that is pleasing to Him. By going against the secular norms and turning away from that which does not honor God, we are demonstrating a form of worship that can be magnified when we encourage others to do the same.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Acknowledging God in everything that you do is a form of constant prayer that can sustain your connection to Him throughout your day. Give thanks to God for each moment of success in your day. Seek God’s direction in every moment of difficulty. Lean on your connection to God when you are stressed. Simply having a mind that is comforted by the knowledge that God is with you is a subtle form of prayer. Ideally, our daily life should be a continuous conversation with God.
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV)
Not every passage in the Bible is directly applicable to your life but many are. When we read the Bible we need to make a note any time we come across a scripture that resonates with our current situation. We need to stop and cultivate a way to put those messages to work in our lives. We should not be reading the Bible simply for knowledge – we should be reading the Bible with an eye toward putting it to use in our lives.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)
The devil does a good job distracting us from God. This world is full of the devil’s distractions. Our Bible study, worship, and prayer are all tools to remove those distractions so that we can see through them and focus on God. Serving God by serving others is another way we separate ourselves from this world and live for God. It takes effort to avoid being overwhelmed by “earthly things.” The Holy Spirit is with us to make that task possible.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
In our conversations with God through prayer, we are fully exposed with all of our flaws and weaknesses clearly evident to Him. As a result, we are forced to be totally honest with ourselves and confront the issues in our life in that revealing light. If we are diligent in these discussions we will likely find many answers are quite evident and can be dealt with in our own power without God’s intervention.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
Finally, the only absolute connection we have to God is the Bible. The Bible is the source of all the knowledge we have about God. All the greatest preachers who ever lived took all of their wisdom from the pages of the Bible. All Christian churches are built on the teaching of the Bible. Everything there is to know about God is found in the pages of the Bible. There is no big mystery about God and His teaching – it’s all revealed in the pages of the Bible. The Bible is a gold mine of wisdom and truth. The Bible was not written for theologians – it was written for you.
All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context. Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations. In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon. Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.