1 Samuel 7:3 (NKJV)
“…If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
We all want to experience victory from our Philistines. We all need divine interventions that showcase God’s power and authority. We know God is more than able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ever think of or imagine. But there is one big condition if we want to experience God’s divine encounters. God does not want any competition for our hearts. No gods. No idols. No overwhelming preoccupation. No passionate pursuits – NOTHING that competes with your passion for Him. We may think that we don’t have any idols, but as I study my own life, I ashamedly confess that I find idols there. There are things that don’t seem like idols, but they really are.
How do you spot an idol? An idol forces you to focus on it, even when you don’t want to. It comes like a craving that you cannot resist. You feel you need to go to it (or him or her), and you feel something is missing when you don’t go. It fills your waking thoughts (and sometimes, even your sleeping thoughts,) and even when you don’t intentionally want to think about it, the thoughts come, and you relish them. Idols can be things, but sad to say, they can also be people!
God is ready to move on behalf of His children, but many times, He holds back because He sees the idols in our hearts. Samuel tells the people (paraphrase), “God will deliver you from the Philistines, but He won’t do that until your hearts are fully back with Him and away from these foreign gods.” Yes, the Philistines are not God’s problem. His problem is our hearts. Look at the “heart” connections in Samuel’s injunctions: “return to the Lord with all your hearts,” “put away the foreign gods (from your hearts)”, and “prepare your hearts” – then God will “deliver you.” Heart deliverance creates the atmosphere for physical deliverances. If the heart is not delivered, our external situations cannot find deliverance. So, the heart is the key.
We need to watch our hearts. We need to investigate our hearts. We need to observe our hearts. We need to audit the desires and appetites and the addictions that emanate from our hearts. These internal forces can either create room for breakthroughs or continuous bondage. The heart is the seat of passion, and passion is the fuel for worship. If our passions are correct, our worship will be correct. That’s why Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord, first of all, with all our “hearts.”
If you look inward and find your heart wavering and hovering over several passions that compete with your God, then take the bold step to deal with it, without mercy. It is better to lose that idol than lose the presence of the God you love. Remember, external deliverance does not come simply by much praying. True deliverance starts when the heart returns to God.