I made a promise to the Lord one day that I would not check my phone until after my morning quiet time with Him. I did it because I got up one day and clicked on the weather to see if I wanted to go on the back porch.
Then I clicked on a message I saw from a friend. Next, I tapped the Facebook app because I remembered it was a friend’s birthday, and I wanted to share my birthday wishes before I forgot.
Thirty minutes later, I realized I had not even thought about Jesus.
So, I repented and turned to my journal to begin my time with Him. But it wasn’t quite the same. Already, my heart and mind had been filled with all the hurry and happenings of the day. That sweet connection I usually start my day with seemed to have slipped away.
How to Stay Devoted to God
Oh, for a heart that just seeks the Lord! I so want Him to be the number one priority of my day. Not just because it makes me better; I want Him to know that I treasure our relationship above all else in my life. I want to show Him that through my actions.
Yet, so often my heart is quickly turned aside to the things of the world, the cravings of sin, the lust of the eyes, the boasting of what I have and what I do (1 John 2:16).
When I allow the world to take priority over the God who rescued me, it’s spiritual adultery. Unfaithfulness. I’m basically cheating on God.
That’s what God told the Israelites. He called the prophet Hosea during a time of spiritual apostasy. Hosea lived during the final days of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Because of the unfaithfulness of God’s people, He allowed them to fall to the Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C. but not before He sent many prophets to warn them and urge them to repent.
“When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, take for yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.'”Hosea 1:2, NIV 84
We may think that directive was pretty harsh, but God had called the Israelite nation to be a people set apart unto Him. He rescued them from slavery in Egypt, brought them into a land flowing with milk and honey, gave them victory over their enemies, and promised that the Messiah would come through them to save the world.
For Israel to be God’s people, they had to worship Him alone. He called them to faithfulness. Yet, they had rejected His rule over them in asking for kings. They had rejected His Law by doing what was right in their own eyes. And they had spurned His love by worshiping false gods.
God spoke to the people through Hosea, calling them back from their unfaithfulness. He used Hosea’s family life as an example of His relationship with Israel.
“Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.'”Hosea 4:1a
Yet, in His love and covenant faithfulness to Israel, God’s rebuke was to bring about their reform. God still wanted their hearts!
“The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…'”Hosea 3:1
See, Gomer had left Hosea and their three children and apparently ended up in slavery. So Hosea had to buy her back, even though she was his wife.
Bought with a Price
We, too, have been marred by sin and bound in slavery to it. But Jesus paid the price to redeem us from that life and purchase us as His very own.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”1 Peter 1:18-19
Just as God showed His heart for Israel by instructing Hosea to buy back his wife, He has shown His love for us in sending Jesus to save us from our sins. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And He demonstrated that love to us in a tangible, visible form–His Son (Romans 5:8).
Just as Gomer was loved and brought back home to her family, God has called us out of the world of sin and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of our sins (Colossians 1:13).
So what made Gomer stray from her family?
Gomer wasn’t content with the family God had given her. The temptation of the world, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life–all led to her downfall into a life of slavery, separated from those who loved her.
He loved her too much to leave her there. He still sought her. He still loved her. He still wanted her love and obedience.
Prone to Wander
When our hearts are led astray, God will still pursue us. He loves us as we are, but as Max Lucado once said, He loves us too much to leave us there. He will continue to rebuke, correct, and discipline us in order to draw us back to Him (2 Timothy 3:16).
And as much as we hate discipline, we can take heart in the fact that, just like a good Father, He disciplines those He loves.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”Hebrews 12:11
I’m sure Gomer paid a high price for her adultery. Sin will always cost more than we think. Thank God, if we turn back to Him, He is waiting with open arms for us to come home.
Guard Your Heart
So, maybe checking my phone before my quiet time doesn’t seem like a big deal. Maybe it’s not. But for me personally, it can easily become an idol, something that steals time, mindfulness, and devotion away from my time with God.
If we truly want to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, then we had better guard against those things that would lead our hearts away from Him.
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”Hosea 10:12
God has done everything in Christ to make a way for us to know Him. Let’s don’t cheat on Him by making anything else a higher priority.
He’s God. He deserves to be first.