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Losing Closeness With God

Sometimes the most innocent things can cause a lot of harm in our closeness with the Lord. For many of us it could be things that are necessary, such as our careers and education. Our home responsibilities, and even ministry can hinder our time with the Lord. Of course, we need to work, take care of our families, do our best in school, and work in ministry for the glory of God. Everything God places in our hands is a responsibility and a blessing. The danger comes when we "grind" so hard that we spend more time before the blessing and less time before the Lord. We start with wanting to bring God glory in how well we manage the blessing and sometimes end up consumed with it. So consumed that our prayer time becomes shorter, our personal Bible studies become just the "verse of the day" and our fellowship with our home church becomes occasional. There has to be a healthy balance in every area, with a continued, firm relationship with our Father. His Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom, strength and His fruit to succeed in everything He places under our care. Without fullness of His Spirit in us, we're working and doing things on our own and let me tell you - it never ends well.


Same goes with hobbies and our relaxing methods. As 1 Corinthians 10:23 says: “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive (NIV)." Maybe we enjoy exercising or sports (I personally enjoy baseball season!). Many enjoy video games, movies, gardening, etc. It is okay to enjoy these things, but it should be of concern when these take a priority in our lives or replace our time with God. We have to do a self-inventory and ask ourselves what is my real joy? Do I find joy in the Lord alone? Can I let go of these things for a day or two and feel joy and peace before the Lord... alone? I've had times when I'm doing something I am absolutely enjoying, but I feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart to go spend time with Him; whether in prayer or Scripture. At times, I would try to ignore, but I'd get this uneasy feeling inside, that I would drop what I was doing and go before God's presence. It will always be a battle between the spirit and the flesh, but if we live in the spirit, we will let go of it all when we hear His call to our hearts.


Just as blessings, responsibilities and "insignificant" everyday things can cause a strain in our relationship with God, so can people. People that can have a negative influence and cause us to sin. People that have toxic habits and no boundaries. People that are not "souled out" for the Lord - they are believers who tend to have more interest in the secular, rather than spiritual and many times drain you in different aspects. They can be relatives, friends, neighbors, employers, coworkers, classmates, boyfriends, girlfriends, and the list goes on. Remember, that if you have chosen to follow Jesus, you live according to His instruction. The Scripture is our manual for how to live a life of victory. Jesus said: "So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell (Mat.18:8‭-‬9, NLT)." Sometimes we can't cut all ties with the person (a boss or an immediate relative); nevertheless, we can have boundaries. Just like God is faithful to us, we should reciprocate the faithfulness in who and what we allow in our lives. God should be the foundation in all our relationships. If there is something or someone that might be a hindrance to your peace and joy in the Lord, it needs to be cut off from your life. If something or someone is a threat to your salvation, it needs to be removed from your life. We can't vacillate any moment longer that we end up losing our peace, joy, and our relationship with the Lord.


Many years ago, I had a friend whom I loved dearly. This friend seemed a "happy go-lucky" type of person, very godly and "souled out" to the Lord. This friend was going through very rough times, so I was compelled to be there for this person as much as I could. As time passed by, I noticed a shift and a drain whenever we talked or spent time together. I thought, maybe, continuing to be encouraging to this friend would help, but now this friend wasn't as enthusiastic about the Lord as before. Then came the toxic behavior. Let me emphasize how FAITHFUL God is, that a month before the "shift," a guest preacher came down from the pulpit to tell me that God wanted to warn me that the enemy was going to try to tear me down. Then another time while studying the Word, God spoke to me through Matthew 18:8-9. This Scripture came up in a sermon and Bible study thereafter. I had a strong feeling that this was about said friend, but did not cut ties yet. Finally, things got real bad and all ties were cut off. God reminded me of His warning to my life. Needless to say, had I heeded the Lord’s warning, I would have avoided a lot of troubles. From that moment forward, Matthew 18:8-9 is before me in everything I do and everyone I allow in my life.


I pray in the name of Jesus that before we decide to build or do, we ensure the foundation of it all is Jesus. I pray that nothing takes our attention away from the Lord and that we remember every day that our faithfulness to the Lord will be a blessing to our lives, so that we lack nothing. I also ask our Father to help us walk and live in the spirit and place a strong desire in our hearts to live lives pleasing to Him. Amen.


This is for you!

Jay


So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Ephesians 5:15‭-‬17 NLT


Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15‭-‬16 NIV


What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.

Matthew 18:7 NLT


Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Galatians 1:10 NLT


Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

Ephesians 5:1‭-‬9 NLT


“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Matthew 7:24‭-‬27 NLT


I hate those with divided loyalties, but I love your instructions. You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. Get out of my life, you evil-minded people, for I intend to obey the commands of my God.

Psalms 119:113‭-‬115 NLT


Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:33 NLT