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Separation Anxiety

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

We have a little boy that comes to our church with his family. He sits with them in the pew just to my left. He is the cutest little thing. He is just coming into his personality and really beginning to interact with others. It is so cute to watch – again.

Last night at church, my husband went to ring the bell for our study time to be completed. When he left the sanctuary where we were having class, this little guy got very upset. He pointed. He whined. He squealed. Generally, he did everything in his power to express that he was not happy that this man who had been grinning at him had left. The big white thing (door) had swallowed him up. He wanted to leave and make sure this man was coming back. 

Why are we not like that with God? Too often, and way too easily, we walk away from God. We allow the devil to shut the door to all things pertaining to God. Out of sight, out of mind. We don’t get anxious about it. We just think “no big deal, I’ll get back to that later. I have other things I want to do right now.”

We need separation anxiety when we get away from God. I think that if more people experienced a sense of fear and stress when they don’t have Jesus walking their everyday life with them that we might not get so far away before realizing we strayed. 

In a way, separation anxiety can be a good thing. It means that we are paying attention. It means that we have chosen to allow someone to get close to us. It means we have interacted with them and made a connection to someone. And we recognize when they are not around. 

Do you recognize when God isn’t active in your life? Do you recognize when He is active in your life? Have you made a connection with Him that stretches when you turn aside? Are you interacting with Him and allowing Him access to your life?

I know that separation anxiety in my life with Christ isn’t as strong as I would like it to be. It’s an area to grow and work on. 

This week, be aware. Pay attention to your spiritual life. Recognize when things seem a bit off. And then, make a fuss. Do whatever it takes to get back to that right relationship with Christ. Trust me, He is always waiting just on the other side of the closed door. 

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Back to the grocery store

Hebrews 10:23-25 – “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

It is my goal to only go to the grocery store one time a week. That rarely happens. Despite my diligence in making out a grocery list, checking to see who needs what and then following that list to the “t”, I usually end up back at the grocery store for something during the week. Right now, my fridge is empty and my teenage son is starting to panic. The apple juice is gone. The milk is gone. Life might just end if the child doesn’t have apple juice and milk! 

But going back the the grocery store isn’t such a bad thing – it means that I sufficient funds available to supply the needs of my family in a spontaneous moment. It means that all the good stuff that I have purchased has been gobbled up by 2 growing teenagers. Good stuff in, good stuff out.

So, I know you have to be wondering what in the world going to the grocery store has to do with going to church. Hold on and see how my crazy brain works.

The assembling of ourselves together was not meant to be a one time a week event. We need the support and love and encouragement of one another often. When I don’t see my church family more than one time a week, I feel left out and sad and empty inside. I love vacations, but I miss being with my brothers and sisters at church. I need to share life with them. I need to hear their encouraging words. I need to laugh with them. I need to cry with them. I need to serve with them. I can’t do that one time a week. 

This life is challenging. We all face hurdles that have to be jumped. We all face knots that need to be untied. We all face obstacles that have to be figured out. How can we do all that alone? We can’t. We need help. We need words of encouragement and guidance. What better place to find all that than among people who love the Lord. 

Wrapping all this up, if I can’t make it through the week with only one trip to the grocery store, how do I think that I can make it through the week with only one interaction with my church family? God used the writer of Hebrews to encourage us to go and be with our church family frequently. He doesn’t want us to feel alone. He doesn’t want us to feel weak and neglected. He wants us around people who love Him so that we can grow and help one another out. Things that the grocery store have to offer us are life sustaining and needful. The things that our church family and serving God have to offer us are life sustaining and needful. So, get out there. Get involved in your church. See what you have really been missing by staying home when the church doors are open.

No changes

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

On occasions, I have a chance to be still. And when I have that opportunity, I realize something – no matter how crazy and technologically advanced our society gets, the birds are still going to sing and the squirrels are still going to throw acorns and the weeds are going to grow in my garden. As much as things change, some things stay the same. 

And there is a comfort in that. Especially when it comes to Jesus’ love for me and His grace and His mercy and His promises. 

People can get so consumed with the next best thing. With Christmas coming up, retailers will be vying for our attention to their “amazing” price and “unbeatable” deals on this wonderful, new do-dad. Chances are, you don’t need that do-dad but the retailer convinces you that life will never be the same without it. Know what? They’re wrong. Now, true, life is more convenient with gadgets but will we cease to exist without the latest and greatest? I doubt it. 

My point is this – sometimes we need to take the time to be away from the “stuff” of the world and listen to the birds and the squirrels and watch the grass grow. Sometimes we need to unplug and get lost in the truth that Jesus never changes. Let me encourage you to take that time. I think I’ll take some right now and listen to the birds for a while. Happy weekend. 

Don’t let it slip!

Hebrews 2:1 – “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

This was our verse for worship service yesterday. It really made me pause. I had obviously thought about this verse before because it was underlined in my Bible. But I hadn’t thought about it in some time. 

We have let it slip. Oh, it’s not a surprise party that we have accidentally told someone about. No, we have let our guard slip. We have let our passion slip. We have let our sold out desire for Christ slip. 

Although the picture is far from reality, we are sticking our head in the sand like an ostrich. If we don’t acknowledge it, it’s not really there. We don’t want to offend, therefore, we ignore. We don’t want to not be liked, so we don’t stand up. 

We have let IT slip. 

The writer of Hebrews warned his readers “lest at any time we should let them slip.” What is he talking about? What is the “them”? It is what we have heard, what we have learned, what we know is true – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the “them”.

As a follower of Christ, we get into His word and we read and we learn and we take it all in. And then we let it slip. We let it fall through our fingers like sand at the beach. Easy come. Easy go. 

Brothers and sisters, this ought not be! 

We can longer sit by and watch it all slip away. What do we have to fear? Rejection? Who cares! There are millions of people out there that need to hear the Good News! They aren’t rejecting you personally. They are rejecting Jesus. Well, what about the people I work with? I have to see them and work with them every day. Yes, yes you do. And how are you living out what you take in? Do they know the difference in your heart or are you a hypocrite? Harsh, I know. But WE ARE LETTING IT SLIP AWAY! 

It is so easy to make excuses. And hey, I’m the chief leader of the group! I have more excuses than you can shake a stick at! (I really don’t understand that expression but it totally fits!) I am letting it slip away. 

I’m telling you, every time I go to the gas pump, I’m convicted. Someone there needs Jesus. I have a tugging on my heart. Sometimes I listen to it and sometimes I stuff it down. I make it slip away. Ouch. 

We need to decide to accept the challenge. Each of us need to decide that “I will NOT let it slip away. Not on my watch!” 

Here is your challenge for the week. Be aware. Be aware of the times that you let “it” slip away. Be aware when you choose to let a moment go by. Be aware when you choose not to tell someone about Jesus. Be aware of the times when you stuff your beliefs to the back of the box. And then change. DON’T let it slip away. 

Leave me alone

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

“Leave me alone.” I think that we have all said that at one time or another. We may be tired, angry, frustrated or just down in the dumps and we want to be left alone. And sometimes, that’s okay. We all need our alone time. I remember when my children were small and going to the bathroom and closing the door was my idea of alone time.

These days, however, I feel that my alone time has multiplied. They are at activities and I am at home, alone. Now, sometimes I enjoy my time at home alone. I get things done. For example, this weekend while one child was away at a soccer tournament and the other one was at play practice, I was able to get some serious house cleaning done, of course you can’t tell it now, but at some point during the weekend, it was spotless.

But there are other times when I miss having them home. I miss their conversations and dancing and questions and challenges. I guess this is all part of God’s plan to prepare me for an empty nest. But I don’t want to talk about that right now….

Anyway, no matter how alone I feel, I am never really, truly alone. I can’t be when I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. He promised that He would “never leave thee (me), nor forsake thee (me).”

There are times, however, that we may feel that He is gone. We feel like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and that our reading of His word is no more than words on a page. But that isn’t Him. That isn’t what He does. You see, the problem is that I have moved. He hasn’t left me alone. I have left Him alone. I have let some sin come between me and Him.

But so many times, we don’t want to admit that we have moved. It is much easier to blame Him and say that He has moved than to admit that we have messed up and allowed sin in our life. Sin makes us move – makes us move away from Him.

So this week, when you feel alone and left behind, remember, He doesn’t move and He will never leave you alone. If you are feeling away from Him, move back to Him. Ask Him to show you the sin in your life that is keeping you from His presence. When you walk with Jesus, you are never alone.

Working

Hebrews 4:10-12 – “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

“I want to take a closer look at one of these verses.                        For he (the person) that is entered into his (Jesus’s) rest, he (the person) also hath ceased from his (the person’s) own works, as God did from his.”

What does this and the rest of the verses mean for you and me? You cannot work for your salvation. It just doesn’t work that way. There is nothing that you or I could ever do to earn our way into Heaven. We have too many things tainting our motive. We have pride, apathy, sympathy and the such ruining our ability to do things with a completely pure heart – at least on our own.

However, we are supposed to work. We are supposed to do things to serve God. We work because of our salvation, not to earn it. Our work, the things that we do in service to God, should prove our salvation and love for Christ. We shouldn’t be working to stack things in our favor so that one day God will let us in!

So, how do we know when we are getting it right? Is there any way to know when we are serving and working for the right reasons? Yes. It’s called reading God’s word. You see, that book is alive. Oh, I’m not talking about some weird, wacked-out book that is going to bite you on the leg if you don’t strike the spine. No, I’m talking about a Living Book that has the ability to be used to convict one of sin that is impeding blessings and success.

This Word is a gauge. This gauge tells us when our works are being done selfishly and/or wrongly focused. However, this gauge cannot and will not work if you don’t use it. You can’t expect the vacuum cleaner to get your floors clean if you don’t plug it in and use it. Just having it in the house is not a way to get your house clean. The same is true for your Bible. Just having it in sight will not make your life and your decisions honor and glorify God.

So let me encourage you today to get involved in your Bible. Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ and the only way that you will truly find out about Him is by reading about Him. You won’t know when He shows up on your doorstep if you haven’t read about Him and seen Him in your heart. Let His word show you where you can make improvements and what you need to get rid of in order to serve Him fully.

Convictions

Hebrews 3:14,15 – “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

Conviction. Webster’s 1828 defines conviction like this – “the act of compelling one to acknowledge…the truth of what is alledged.” (Note: Most of the definitions I found related to conviction of sin, especially when related to legal matters. However, this definition is plasible with relation to the subject matter.)

Conviction in one’s life is sometimes a hard thing to come by. I don’t live my life with the passion that I should. If I did, I would be telling every person I come into contact with about Jesus…but I don’t. I live my life with more fear than I do courage and passion. And that is so sad. Last night at church, we were reminded that we serve the same God who called Gideon out from his hiding place and labeled him a “mighty man of valor”. This fellow, hiding from the enemy, was considered by God to be someone of standing and courage. God sees us the same way. Gideon was no super man who was going out there spouting off Godly wisdom and making a name for himself. He was just this guy who wanted to have some wheat for him and his family without someone taking it away from him. He was scared; he was timid; and he questioned God’s instructions. Sounds a lot like me. 

But Gideon was able to turn things around by trusting in God. Actually, Gideon didn’t turn things around, God turned Gideon’s life around once Gideon decided to let go and let God. God developed a passion in Gideon. God developed courage in Gideon’s life. God developed leadership in Gideon. You see, God would not have done all of this in Gideon’s life had Gideon not surrendered. 

I want more passion in my life for Christ. I want more conviction in my life. I want to be so closely associated with Jesus that I would be convicted of being a Christian with only one accuser. 

I know that this sort of thing takes time. I need to be diligent in praying for this level of conviction. If I don’t pray for it, how am I going to express my true desires to God? I know that He knows my heart, but He also wants to hear it from my lips. 

So this week, think about it. Do you have the level of conviction in your life that you truly desire? Or are you like me and find yourself lacking? Have you hardened your heart and convinced yourself that things are “good enough” or do you want more? The day that Gideon got up and decided that he was going to go thresh his wheat behind the wine press, I’m sure he never dreamed that an angel of God would be calling him a “mighty man of valor” before the end of the day. God can take anything and make it into something amazing. We just have to decide that we are going to let Him do His thing.