Through the story of Moses, we’ve discovered that the greatest goal we can have in life is to be in the presence of God. Today I want to share with you about a subtle threat that, left unaddressed, can knock us off course and keep us from experiencing closeness with God.
Let’s start by examining some words from the apostle John. In 1 John 5:21, he writes:
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (NLT)
James tells us God is jealous for our affection and attention (see James 4:5). This jealousy is not unlike the protective passion that exists in a marriage. Would my wife be intimate with me—share the secrets, longings, and desires of her heart—if I were pursuing a relationship with another woman? No way! The same is true of our relationship with God. We undermine our ability to be close to Him when we allow lesser lovers to capture our hearts.
Elsewhere in John’s writings, he identifies the things that threaten to steal away our love for God:
…The world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
1 John 2:16 NLT
Craving for pleasure. Craving for what we see. Pride in achievements and possessions. If these things are what drive us, we’ll soon find ourselves pursuing them at the expense of our intimacy with God.
We don’t have to wonder where our loyalties lie. In the book of Colossians, Paul gives instruction that can guard our friendship with God. He says:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Colossians 3:1–2 NKJV, emphasis added
There are two key words in this passage: seek and set. We’ll come back to seek in a moment. First, what does it mean to set our minds on something?
Here’s an illustration. Suppose it’s wintertime and your home thermostat is set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature outside is –5 degrees. In a rush, a member of your family leaves and doesn’t securely shut the front door. He or she drives away, and only minutes later the wind blows the front door wide open. Frigid air begins to pour in, and the temperature in your house drops.
You notice the change, find the open door, and close it. By now, the temperature inside is down to 60 degrees. But then what happens? The thermostat signals the furnace to turn on until it restores your house to the set temperature. Without any conscious involvement on your part, the temperature returns to 70 degrees.
Something similar happens in our minds. We may be in a church service or time of prayer when our thoughts begin to drift. We find ourselves thinking about our favorite sports team, the sale at a nearby department store, an upcoming date, or the business deal hanging in the balance.
Remember our two words from Colossians 3? Our minds are like that thermostat, and what they are set upon is what we will seek. We may think we’re focused on God, but when our minds return to their default setting, our true goal is revealed.
Next time you are in a service or spending time in prayer, notice where your mind goes. When your thoughts revert to their default setting, do they remain on the things of God? Or do they drift to something else? What does this reveal?
You may find yourself dwelling on a financial problem, exposing the worry that rules your heart. Or you may be thinking about a project at work, distracted by the ambition to achieve and perform. Whatever it is, let the Holy Spirit expose it so He can correct it.
Remember, Paul states what we seek is what our affections will be set on. Spend more time in God’s presence. Read His Word, worship Him, and speak about Him to your friends and family. The more you do, the more you will yearn for Him.
Ask God to make David’s prayer your own:
The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.
Psalm 27:4 NLT
Written by John Bevere. Visit John’s blog at http://messengerinternational.org/blog.
Follow John Bevere on Twitter @JohnBevere