- Grove City, Pennsylvania


January 12, 2011

Nothing should distract from praising God for his gifts

GROVE CITY — I’ve been having a rough time writing lately. I sit down here at my desk, stare at the screen, and nothing comes out. Instead, I find myself drifting off, watching the snow as it falls outside my window, or singing along to a song I’m listening to. My mind is distracted.

Some amazing things have been happening in my life lately. Most notably, there is new love in my life! What a wonderful surprise going into my new year!

However, with everything good that comes with love, it’s also clear how easy it can be to let the worldly things we experience--both difficult and good--interfere with our Christian walk. Even those of us whose hearts fully belong to the Lord can step away for a multitude of reasons, earthly love being only one of them. We find multiple ways to put things and people before the Lord... whether it’s work, our homes, our friends. The diversions are endless. Our time for God can be far less than it should be and even further less than he deserves.

Exodus 20:4-5 says that “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.”

It isn’t that God is jealous because he wants something we have. He’s telling us that he doesn’t want us to put anything before him. He wants us to continually live our lives in reverence to him, and to be sure we don’t worship the idols, the “things” of this world before him.

It’s easy to do that, especially in the world today. Many years ago, when these verses were written, there wasn’t even a fraction of the materialism that exists in our present time. We have unlimited access to all kinds of different things to keep ourselves occupied, other than seeking our Lord. We exist as a very material society; a people that want what we want, right now, and will find more and better ways to stimulate each and every one of our desires.

We’ve lost something of the stillness of life, and we often crave it. We mumble our prayers, sometimes quickly and incompletely, and make a “to do” list of our spiritual tasks we hope to accomplish someday.

Think of how we are when we want something--particularly those things that we think we must have in order to truly find peace and happiness. We see a new house that is bigger than the one we have now, a car that is bright and shiny new. Perhaps it’s in our work; a new position affording us more money to be able to afford more things we want or feel we need.

Or maybe it’s in the people in our lives. We want to be loved; we want to love. We find pleasure and happiness in new relationships and comfort and acceptance in the old ones. We go above and beyond to ensure our loved ones know how we feel about them, daily affirming to them our devotion and always finding ways to express that assurance of our love.

Do we do that with God? Do we actively seek ways to express to him our love and devotion? Do we spend more than that hour in church each week--if that--in worship and praise to the one who gave us everything we have in the first place?

I know I can be the first to admit, I don’t.

It shames me to find myself so busy with other things and people to focus on my Savior. My own “to do” list for Jesus Christ grows and grows, and I tell myself, “I’ll get to that later. I’ll find that Scripture later.”

I can be good at justifying it, too. I tell myself, “God knows my heart. He knows how much this means to me. He knows I trust in him for each blessing I’m given.”

Then I stop and say those words in my mind all over again.

“God knows my heart.”

He knows the desires of my heart, the very recesses of what is hidden there. He knows which of those is geared solely toward myself and which are geared toward him.

“He knows how much this means to me.”

He knows how much everything means to me. He knows my priorities, where my loyalties really are, and those things I place before him. For some reason, he loves me anyway, but he constantly tries to reign me back in to him, because he knows that, ultimately, that’s where I’ll turn when this life and all our worldly pleasures end. I’ll turn to him.

“He knows how happy I am.”

Each blessing we are given, we are given because of him. Psalms 34:8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.” As believers, we continually place our trust in him. We ask, we seek, we hope. When those blessings are given us, we often murmur our thanks to him and go along our way. We take him for granted and reason that since he knows what we need, want, and hope for, when it is given us, we somehow deserve it as children of God. We are fully undeserving in our sin of anything he gives us, yet we are happy to take it. Our reverence for him can be overshadowed by the blessings he provides for us. We are thankful for the gift but forget to thank the Giver.

I thank him this morning for humbling me before him. I’m grateful that I’m able to admit my dependence on him in my life and that he continually finds ways to remind me of his presence, despite my shortcomings. I don’t mind admitting my weakness to him and in him, and pray that as each new day is given me, he’ll never turn away from this selfish heart, but daily remind me that apart from him, I have nothing, am nothing, and will truly gain nothing.

He tells us to seek him and we will find him in all things; whether it is in our blessings or in our struggles. I thank God today for his son, Jesus Christ and for the Holy Spirit living in me and directing me throughout my time here on earth.

God bless and have a great week.

Lisa K. Alessio is a lifelong writer and resident of Grove City. She writes on life, faith and family for Allied News. Reach her at alongthe

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