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From Distractions | The Comeback

#storychanging

From Distractions | The Comeback

Monday “…you know how late it is… Wake up, for salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”  Romans 13:11

The flood waters had been rising all day and now a foot of water saturated the carpet in the second-floor apartment. Reggie had worked frantically to pack important papers, photos, and electronics into plastic containers, but he’d had little help.  From the open window came a shout: “Hey in there! Anybody need rescued?” Reggie raced to the window and shouted back. Then he called to his roommates: “Jeff! Carlos! Andy! We’re rescued! Come on!” But Jeff was about to beat a new level on his game “There’ll be another boat,” he answered. Carlos was taking a nap and Andy just shrugged. They did not know how late it was.

Do we realize how late it is? We read about Jesus coming back but think, “It’s been over 2000 years and He still hasn’t come. I’m young and healthy. Got a long ways til I meet God, so I’m safe to focus on my video games, my naps, and my hobbies. I’d rather pour my passions into my favorite teams, fill my hours with pleasures, and think about God when I’m old and about to die.” The people who think that way don’t know how late it is. They don’t realize their earthly lives are like a mist: here and then gone. None of us is in charge of our own deaths or the day and hour when Jesus returns. So we should live as people awaiting rescue. Like Reggie, we must focus on that which is valuable and spend our time wisely because we know how late it is.

Final Thought: Are you most like Jeff, Carlos, Andy, or Reggie? Do you know how late it is?

Prayer: Lord, are my priorities right? Do I spend my time, money, and passions on valuables or am I squandering my life? I don’t want to be left behind when Jesus comes or caught unprepared when I die. Help me change. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

“There’s just not enough time!” Miranda moaned. “I’ve got to make sure Timmy passes first grade, keep three square meals on the table every day, see enough clients to pay my bills, and I really need to update my wardrobe! How can I keep it all together?” Miranda’s counselor nodded sympathetically and then asked, “Why do you believe you must keep it all together?” Miranda blinked at her. “Did you not hear me?” she snapped. “It’s up to me to make sure all this works out, and if I don’t… well…if I don’t…” She frowned and her counselor smiled. “You never fill in that blank, do you Miranda? What if your priorities are out of line and that’s why you’re so stressed? Maybe you’re forgetting to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Are you forgetting to keep the main thing the main thing? We’re all pulled in a dozen directions and our culture insists that we must keep it all together. Those actors on the commercials seem to be keeping it all together, not to mention our Facebook friends who constantly show us evidence that they are keeping it all together. But what if those who seem to have it all together really don’t? And what if those who actually DO have it all together do so because they are keeping the main thing the main thing? Jesus said the main thing was seeking God and His righteousness. That means He is our starting place, the definer of everything else we do. He promises that when we seek Him first, He handles the rest for us. And that’s a pretty good deal!

Final Thought:  Are you keeping the main thing the main thing or are you substituting lesser things as the main thing?

Prayer: Father, search my heart. Show me what I really consider the main thing. I say it is you, but do my actions demonstrate that? Do the things I stress over indicate that you are my main thing? I’m ready to be honest. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Wednesday  The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.  Ecclesiastes 10:2

“How did we get here?” Ted asked, eyeing with trepidation the canyon looming before them. “How could we be this far off the path?” His hiking buddy Rodney had more experience in wilderness hiking, but he was concerned too. “Let me see your compass,” he said. After a few minutes studying the compass, he tossed it down with a snort of disgust. “Thing’s broken!” he said. “It’s got true north pointing that way, but look at the sun. That can’t be right. Great. Now what!” Ted slumped onto a fallen log and sighed. “I thought something was off way back there, but I trusted it. We kept going left, but we should’ve been going right and…Ugh! Wish I hadn’t trusted it.” They spent four cold, hungry days hating that compass until rescuers found them.

This verse is not a political statement but is remarkably reflective of our current social climate. How did Solomon know 5000 years ago what American culture would look like today? He didn’t, but God did and perhaps He included this verse for 21st century Americans to study. The human heart has not changed since the Garden of Eden, but the canyon is rapidly widening between the foolish and the wise. One of the biggest problems for foolish people is that their compass is broken. They have trusted in an ideology that caused their thinking to veer off course and now they are wandering perilously close to the brink of insanity. We’re all in danger of drifting left unless we stay anchored to the Rock of Truth, God’s word, the source of wisdom.

Final Thought:  What do you use for a compass to navigate your journey? Popular opinion? Your feelings? God’s word?

Prayer: Father, I’m wondering if my compass is broken. Ideas and values that I once thought wrong now seem okay. Am I getting churned up about the things that churn you up or am I headed down the wrong path?  Help me know. Amen. 

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Thursday  walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  Colossians 1:10

Popularity. Wealth. Physical perfection. Brilliant, scholarship-worthy children: We place many things at the top of our priority lists and then stress ourselves out trying to attain them. God has streamlined the process if we’ll only pay attention. He says to place Him at the top and then do everything else in a manner worthy of Him. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. When we do it His way, He comes alongside us and blesses us with things we didn’t even ask for. When children walk in a manner worthy of their parents, they behave in ways that bring honor, not embarrassment, to the ones who love them most. It’s the same with God.

Then He goes on to describe what that looks like—bear fruit by doing good works and continue learning more about Him. However, Christians tend to focus more on one side or the other. Action-people pour themselves into social causes and charity work, while contemplative people study-study-study their Bibles but rarely impact anyone else. God wants us to be a balance of both, like Jesus was. Action-people should not disregard personal devotion and moral purity, while contemplative people cannot ignore the needs of those around them. When we merge biblical knowledge with sacrificial service, we become fully pleasing to the Lord. Living that healthy balance is what it means to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

Final Thought:  To which side do you naturally default? Ask God to help you achieve a balance that pleases Him.

Prayer: Father, I want to walk in a manner worthy of you and your good Name. Show me areas of my life that are out of balance. What would you have me do to correct them? I will obey you because I want to please you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Friday  In the beginning God…   Genesis 1:1

“Should I take this job or not?” “How can I make ends meet?” “Who should I vote for in the elections?” Questions pelt our minds, people demand our allegiance, and needs drive our decisions. It can feel overwhelming. Some people run to substances or risky behaviors to find peace within. Others become angry and lash out at anyone nearby. Without a foundation upon which we build a framework for our lives, we’re easily manipulated and deceived. We may be very familiar with the first four words of the Bible, but they also hold a deeper meaning. What else is implied in these words: “In the beginning God…”?

We know that before there was anything, God already existed. But this verse also means that the starting place for every decision needs to be God. His character. His promises. His rebukes. His encouragements. Wise people are those who bring every question, every decision, every hurt back to God and His word. Before we decide about taking a job, before we struggle with making ends meet, and before we vote, we bring it to God in prayer asking, “What would you have me do?” And with that prayer, we offer ourselves in obedience. We can’t expect God’s answers if we refuse His commands. Obedience is often His avenue for answering our prayers. “In the beginning God…” means that He is our foundation and every answer starts with Him.

Final Thought:  When problems and questions demand resolution, we must remember that “in the beginning God…”

Prayer: Lord God, everything starts and ends with you. Forgive me for all the times I think it starts and ends with me. I want you to be the foundation for my life. Give me courage and strength to obey you so that I can hear your answers. Amen.