One thing: One thing keeping us from Christ
If you could ask God what He desires most from you, what do you think He would say? Would it be for you to give more, serve more, or share your faith more? Would He ask that you become more involved in church activities, join a church family, or attend more regularly? Did you know there are a few instances recorded in the Bible when Jesus told His followers what “one thing” He most desired?
Something To Talk About:
Here are five scriptural ways that can you navigate culture by keeping focused on one thing:
- Choose your friends carefully: Proverbs 12:26 (NIV) says, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” The righteous should choose their friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. People who accept God’s standards of right and wrong are in the minority in today’s world. Satan and the prevailing trends of his society try to pull Christians away from God’s standards. And one of the strongest influences in our lives is our close friends. Good friends who support God’s way of life can be a tremendous positive influence in our lives. But friends whose actions and attitudes openly or subtly oppose God’s truth can tear us down and lead us astray. The apostle Paul also wrote about our choice of friends in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” Choose your friends wisely.
- Choose to attend church: Jesus knew the Church was needed and necessary – not only for the world’s sake but also for yours. If you are serious about pursuing Jesus and doing all He has called you to do, then it starts with you coming to church. Church attendance doesn’t earn you extra bonus points; it is essential for your relationship with Jesus. Thankfully, when He left the earth and ascended into heaven, Jesus didn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. Instead, He established His Church – the unified body of believers – who would gather throughout the entire earth until He returned. The Church is something we are a part of because of our decision to follow Christ, it’s not something we choose to attend or a program offered to us. If you are in Christ then you are a part of His Church. It is important that as Christians we make coming to church a priority. It is in the church that we hear the Word of God, celebrate what Jesus is doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us, support and sharpen one another, and have the opportunity to serve.
- Choose to spend time at the feet of Jesus in His Word: Spending time with God is a very important part of being a Christian. Christianity is less about religion and rules, and more about your relationship with God. Life can get pretty busy, and spending time with God can seem difficult or almost impossible. If your faith is a priority to you, then you will make time for God. Whether you are new to the Kingdom of God, or you have been a believer for many years, it is very easy to fall into the habit of forgetting to spend time with Jesus on a daily basis. But making time for God should become a habit that we are prioritizing in our everyday lives. Spending time with Jesus, whether it’s in church, reading your Bible, through a quick two-minute prayer, or simply in your day-to-day life, is something you as a Christian are called to do.
- Choose to discipline yourself to spend time in prayer talking to our Father, our Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit: Prayer can be viewed as a conversation, activity, ritual, or obligation. We pray because we’ve been told we must. Prayer becomes a chore, an item on the to-do list, another expectation we’re not quite meeting. It can feel pretty stiff as we recite formal “prayer words” like they say in church or follow a prescriptive format. Yet, truly, prayer is a privilege, an opportunity to develop a friendship with God. What a gift that God wants to spend time with us and develop a personal relationship. How much more will we desire prayer if we first invest in developing a relationship with the One we are praying to? How much more meaningful will our time in prayer be if we view that time as a privilege, instead of an obligation? Praying is so much more than mere duty. We have to move beyond time spent out of duty-bound obligation and come to cherish and desire that time. God loves me to talk with Him. And we have plenty of reason and need to talk to God.
- Choose where you direct your heart: “Follow your heart” is a familiar phrase — essentially a pop cultural creed — representing a belief that our heart is a kind of compass that will lead us to true happiness. But true happiness is only found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. True Christianity is not first of all a religion of the hands, it is a relationship of the heart. It is not so much what you do for God to earn his favor, it is accepting what God has done for you through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ that counts. Before anything we do for God must come to a heart full of love for Him. What does a heart full of love for God look like? Simply this: gratitude for what He has done and wonder at His undeserved gift of mercy and grace that saved a wretched, unworthy sinner like me. It is the heart that matters. There is one thing, however, that evidences our love for God more than anything else: When we love other people as ourselves. In fact, Jesus said the first greatest law of God was to love God with all your heart, mind, and spirit, and the second greatest law was to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39, NLT) Here is another way to look at that: You can’t love God without loving people, and you can’t truly love people without loving God.
- Is it more likely that culture or people in your life influence you more? What cultural compromises do we make that can cause us to drift away from God?
- What do you look for or appreciate in a friend? How did your outlook and expectations about friendship change as you moved through different stages of life?
- How do you decide which friends you want most? What are your qualifications for a good friend?
- Do you believe your walk with God is a community project? Why or why not?
- What does the Christian community mean to you? In what ways have you personally taken the gift of the Christian community for granted?
- How much time do you spend in God’s Word each day? Are you consistent in the time you spend in His word?
- What does it mean to be simple and sincere in our prayer life?
- What is your motivation for talking to God?
- What is extraordinary prayer? Why should we pray extraordinarily?
- To have a heart after God’s heart, we must spend time alone in prayer with God. Agree or disagree?
- From past experiences, what indicators suggest that your heart has not been feeding on the things of God,
- What specific steps will you take to guard your heart?
- What are your expectations for this week as a result of Sunday’s message?
Take One Thing Home with You:
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”– Psalms 27:4 (NIV).
Imagine, now, if you could ask God for one wish. In Psalms 27 we read about David’s prayer or wish, to God. Of all the things he could have asked God for in the world, surprisingly, David asks for God Himself to be his world. David basically asked the Lord to do one thing for him, the thing he really wanted. David’s single-minded, heart-focused, desire was to live in the Lord’s house all the days of his life. It is the place where David could clearly see the Lord’s beauty and talk to Him in his temple, forever.
There is a power and faith in a desire to simply dwell with God. It means we have been able to put everything into perspective and come to the most important conclusion – God is all we need and all we should want. If we have Him, we have everything.