How To Pursue Joy In A World Of Distraction And Temptation

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

We live in a world of distraction and temptation

We live in a world that is in our face all the time. A world that promises us happiness. A world that tells us, “If you just had this, then you would be happy.” A world that pressures us. A world that says, “You might not have enough money to pay your bills this month.” 

Not only does the world distract us, but the god of this world adds his lies and temptations. “See this fruit? Look how delicious it looks. You’re not going to die if you eat it. Hey, your wife won’t know if you look at this magazine. Your boss won’t know if you go home early. Hey, you need to have more fun in your life.” And on and on. 

In this world of distraction and temptation, we can be tempted to fear and worry. We can be tempted to dwell upon our failures and past mistakes. Regrets. I’m often tempted to dwell on my failures as a father, or ways I let my children down at times. Or I’m tempted to dwell on my weaknesses as a believer. Or to compare myself with others who seem to have so much more passion for the Lord than I do.

But God has better things for us to think about and dwell on.

He tells us “seek the things that are above” and “set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth.”

It’s not easy to do this, since we are usually bombarded from the moment we get up with the distractions of this world and the lies of the enemy. 

So what does God want us to seek when he tells us “seek the things that are above”? I believe he wants us to seek him, first and foremost. To seek a relationship with our God. To seek the One who is the fountain of all delights and everlasting joy. To seek to delight in him.

How do we do this? How do we seek the things that are above?

First, we can seek the Lord in his Word.

If you can, try to set aside some time every day to spend in his Word. I try to spend some time in God’s word first thing in the morning if I can. For some of you, other times are better than morning. Anyway, I make a cup of coffee, then spend about 10 minutes seeking to memorize encouraging passages of Scripture. If you write a Scripture and review it every day, or often, eventually you can memorize it. Next, I listen to or read Scripture for about 10 or 15 minutes. I generally try to listen to 2 or 3 chapters a day.

Secondly, we can seek the Lord in prayer.

After I spend a few minutes in God’s word, I make a second cup of coffee and I usually spend about 10 minutes writing one single page of thanks to the Lord in my “Thanksgiving Journal.” I write it like a letter. I usually begin with “O Lord God, thank you for….” and go from there. I may thank the Lord for things as simple as the gift of sleep or his protection during the night. I often thank him for blessings the day before, like giving me a safe drive to Pittsburgh or having our granddaughter over, or giving me some time with family. Or I might thank him for drawing me to himself, for giving me faith and saving me, and forgiving my sins. I might thank him for a sunny morning, or for my wife and kids and grandkids. It’s nothing profound. I just want to cultivate the habit of thankfulness, which I can continue as much as I can throughout the day.

Then I spend a few minutes praying for God to bring his kingdom, as Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer. God’s kingdom is his rule. So I ask the Lord to bring his kingdom and salvation to earth and to our nation. I usually spend a few minutes asking God to direct the hearts of our leaders to promote life, and righteousness and justice, and to please continue to grant our nation peace.

After that I usually spend a few minutes praying for our family. That God would save every one of our children, grandchildren and every descendant till Jesus returns. I often use the Lord’s prayer as a guide, asking the Lord to provide our daily bread, forgive our sins, keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil. I pray for healing, help, and anything else my kids or grandkids need.

Depending on the day I will pray for other needs as well. Salvation and healing for family members and friends, etc.

Of course, some days I can’t do all these things, but if I can, most days I like to start my day with God’s Word, thankfulness and prayer. I never feel super spiritual or powerful. But over the years, these practices have helped me set my mind on things above.

Obviously, we seek the things that are above in many other ways. By fellowshipping with fellow believers, by giving to the church and ministries and the poor, by serving in any way we can, by using whatever gifts God has given us to serve others and honor God. By going to church and worshipping him and listening to his Word preached. 

We can (and should) seek the Lord all day long. When at work, ask God to help you. Ask him to help you be kind to that annoying co-worker. Ask him for grace and strength to care for your kids. Ask him for everything you need all day long. Ask him to help you do your job. Ask him for wisdom with your teenager.

God gives us so many opportunities to set our minds on things above.

When you’re stuck in traffic, thank God for blessing our nation so much that so many people have cars and jobs that creates all this traffic. When someone lays on their horn and gives you an obscene gesture, say, “Lord, I forgive that person. Please save them. Please give them joy.” When you’re pushing your cart through Walmart, thank the Lord for heaping his blessings on our nation, and on you, we can have stores filled with food and household goods and whole aisles devoted to pets.

We can set our minds on things above by remembering the reality of who we are in Christ and our glorious future

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (3-4)

In Christ we have died to this world. We have died to the values and temptations of this world. We aren’t living to be successful or rich in this world, or enjoy as many of this world’s pleasures as we can. Our life isn’t primarily in this world, but our life is hidden with Christ in God. He is making us more and more like himself every day. He is making us more and more glorious every day. We can’t always see that glory. We have to trust him for it. But someday, when Christ who is our life appears, then we will appear with him in glory. We will see his glorious image in us. 

As much as we can, we must set our minds on our glorious Saviour and our glorious future in him. This world is passing away. These bodies of ours will someday pass away. If God gives us many years, our bodies will just get old and wrinkly and weak. Jesus will renew us inwardly and make us more and more like himself. That’s what we want to live for. To become more and more like Jesus. To seek true greatness, by trying to be the biggest servants we can be. To seek true wealth by blessing others as much as we can.

The way to have the most joy in life is to seek the things that are above, where Christ is enthroned. To set our minds on heaven and heavenly things, and the Lord of heaven, the Lord of joy.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

2 thoughts on “How To Pursue Joy In A World Of Distraction And Temptation”

  1. Thank you for this encouraging post pointing us to our Savior! really like the idea of a Thanksgiving journal! Thank you also for continuing to write on here, appreciate this blog. The Lord bless you.

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