Why is it that we seem to pull away from the very things that would keep us close to God? Why do believers, who say they love God, pull further from things like prayer, reading God’s Word, and being with their church family? I think there is something else at work in our heart other than just our own directives.
Certainly, pulling away from God is part of the human situation.
We’ve done it since the beginning. We see it all around us. There are people who do not identify as Christians and they choose to live their life as they please, on their own terms, and they walk in the direction that they choose.
When a person has never given their life to Christ, it’s understandable when they go their own way.
But what about those of us who are believers in Jesus? Why is it that sometimes it seems so hard to follow? Is there a natural inclination to “do our own thing?” Absolutely. Independence from God is the human sickness. It is the disease that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
The desire to be independent from God is an ever present problem that must be conquered through submitting our lives to the Lordship of Christ.
- Independence CAN be conquered.
- We CAN live a life close to Jesus Christ.
- You CAN walk in the blessings of God that come from close proximity to Christ.
So…do human beings have issues with trust, faith, and relationships? Sure we do. But there is more to it.
The enemy of your soul is PUSHING you at every turn.
- He wants nothing more than to push you off the road of life.
- He wants you to crash and burn.
- He wants you fall by the wayside.
Your walk with Christ is an absolute terror to the devil.
When Christians live out their God-given destiny, dream, and direction, we become the most ominous threat the enemy has ever seen.
The devil will stop at nothing in his quest to keep you from driving your life down the right road in life.
Whatever he must do, he will do.
His effort is to stop you completely.
Not only that, but he wants you off the road entirely.
But God is on our side!
There are guardrails that Jesus has placed on either side of the road, and the guardrails keep us from falling over the edge if we pay attention to them.
In no place in our life is this truer than in our own heart. Our heart needs guardrails. We need to be able to question the intentions and actions of our heart, and use those questions as guardrails to keep our heart centered on the the right road.
For good reason, the Bible says this…
Jeremiah 17:9–10 NLTse
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Did you hear what that said?
Our heart is DESPERATELY WICKED.
[ctt template=”1″ link=”njEp3″ via=”no” ]When left to its own devices, your heart will always choose the wrong way.[/ctt]
Our heart’s natural inclination is to serve ourselves and in so doing to become more and more wicked.
But Jesus has a remedy.
He can fix our broken heart.
Jesus can make our heart brand new again.
If you are a believer in Jesus, you already know about this. You have already experienced his power to recreate the human heart from the inside out. You already know about his power to change your life.
The surest way to keep your life in check and keep your direction in check, is by keeping your heart in check.
The Bible calls it guarding your heart.
Just as the roads we drive on have signs along the way, warning us of upcoming twists and turns, so too, God WILL warn us and he HAS warned us through his word.
The enemy of our soul usually doesn’t come right out and overtly try to challenge your love for Jesus.
He is smarter than that.
The devil knows that you have given your life to Christ, and that you want to live for Jesus.
He knows that you want your life to go in a better direction…one that leads to eternal life, true joy, and influencing others for Christ.
So the devil wants to get your heart off track…away from Jesus…off the road.
Satan intends capture your heart slowly, little by little. He purposefully sets up situations and scenarios that will lead you to MIX your love for God with other things.
Beware of the mix.
Often Satan uses things that sound noble and true.
- “You need more family time, you better take this weekend out of church and spend it with your family.”
- “You really need more time to just relax. You love God. Don’t worry about praying today, though. Missing prayer a few times won’t hurt you.”
- “Get involved in your civic duties. Help the poor. Volunteer at the event. Be the best “GO TO” mom and dad. These things are important you know.”
It would seem that I’m saying all of these things are completely wrong…But I’m not.
Sure volunteering in the community is good…but not at the expense of your relationship with Jesus.
Yes, family time is absolutely important…but not so much of it that you lose track of your own PERSONAL relationship with Jesus.
Do you need time to reflect on life? Sure you do, but not at the expense of your prayer life.
Descriptions like, “prayer life,” don’t even seem relevant to people anymore. Most people don’t understand what a “prayer life” even is…but I’ll tell you, it is one of the most important components of your life with God.
The Bible says this…
Luke 10:25–28 NLTse
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
Here’s a question to use as a guardrail for your heart: Do you love the Lord with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your strength, and ALL your mind?
Don’t be so quick to answer “yes.”
Most times, we believe the answer to be YES, but we fail to consider the other things we MIX IN.
Beware of the mix.
If you and I are going to love God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength…there can be nothing else in the mix.
It’s not wrong to have many pursuits in your life. It’s not wrong to have activities you enjoy or that bring you a sense of accomplishment.
But it IS WRONG to mix things up in your heart, because your heart can only belong to ONE THING or ONE PERSON AT A TIME.
- With God it’s ALL OR NOTHING.
- Mixtures won’t cut it.
- God requires it ALL.
- God wants it ALL.
- God won’t take less than ALL.
Jesus is very clear on this. Those who would “save their life” will ultimately lose it. If you don’t pick up your cross DAILY and follow him, you cannot be his disciple.
The problem with our life frequently, is the fact that Satan has subtly slipped something into the mix.
The devil wants to put a toxic mix in your heart that will ultimately destroy your love for God.
Listen to what Jesus says about being his disciple.
Sometimes, Jesus says crazy statements…ones like this…
Luke 14:25–27 NLTse
25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,
26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
I think we often want to eliminate statements like this.
We don’t want to think of Jesus as requiring anything from us…but he does. The fact is, he requires EVERYTHING.
People often don’t want to give Jesus everything, but if you GIVE JESUS EVERYTHING, he will bless it and turn right around and give it back to you with his blessing.
- Give Jesus your marriage and family, and he will bless it and give it back to you with his blessing.
- Give Jesus your time and he will bless it and give it back to you with his blessing.
- Give Jesus your money and he will bless it and give it back to you with his blessing.
- Give Jesus your hopes and dreams and he will bless them and give them back with his blessing.
The problem arises when we exclude Jesus, or worse…try to mix in our own thoughts about the process.
Beware of the mix. Mixtures are always wrong. Our heart either belongs totally to God or it doesn’t.
God won’t compete with other loves.
So we wonder why our life isn’t blessed and going in the right direction. Maybe it has something to do with whose blessing we are trying to live under.
As long as we keep hold of the wheel, we are mixing in our own effort, and trying to live under our own blessing…and it never works.
Be careful to love God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength…mixtures won’t cut it. It’s all or nothing.
Galatians 5:7–9 NLTse
7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?
8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.
9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!
Now, the context of any Bible passage is important, but what I want you to notice…more than the context of this scripture, is the principle in it.
When yeast is MIXED into dough…even a little of it…it will spread through the whole batch.
It is the same with your heart. When you mix in just a little of something other than love for Christ, it will quickly spread through your whole heart, and by default, through your entire life.
Why? Because our life proceeds from our heart.
This is what the Bible declares to us.
Proverbs 4:23–27 NLTse
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
24 Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
My next few statement are polarizing, but true.
If you aren’t as close to Jesus as you used to be, something has been mixed in your heart.
If you aren’t as “on fire” for Christ as you once were, something has been mixed in your heart.
If you allow things in your life today, that you would have scorned five or ten years ago, something has been mixed in your heart.
If you pray less, read God’s Word less, gather at church with other believers less, give less, witness less, worship less, and care less…something has been mixed in your heart.
Maybe God is “LESS” in your heart than he used to be.
Beware of the mix.
[ctt template=”1″ link=”08277″ via=”no” ]Jesus looks for a heart completely given over to his ownership.[/ctt]
The harmful quality of mixtures is they dilute the potency of whatever ingredients they are mixed with.
It’s like putting ice in your sweet tea. At first your drink is good and cold, but after a while your drink is watered down.
So if you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, but allow other things in the mix, suddenly your love for God is less potent than it used to be.
When you notice a decline in your love for God (which will always display itself through our words, actions, and love for others) it’s time to get back to your first love.
Jeremiah 17:5–8 NLTse
5 This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
Ask yourself these questions. Let them become guardrails around your heart:
- Do I pray less than I used to?
- Do I read the Bible less?
- Do I give less?
- Do I allow things in my life that I used to scorn?
- Do I worship less?
- Do I participate in things that drain my time and my energy, leaving less for God, my family, and my marriage?
- Do I care less about being at church with other believers?
- Do I care less about serving and becoming who I am called to be as part of the body of Christ?
- Do I enjoy anything more than I enjoy my relationship with Christ?
Some may point to these questions and say that I’m advocating for a relationship with Jesus based on works rather than grace. This, however, is NOT true.
The list of guardrail questions are not “spiritual works” to be checked off a list. They are qualities that occur naturally in a strong relationship with Jesus. When they begin to disappear from your life, it’s time to guard your heart and come back to your first love.
Jesus said this to one of the churches addressed in the book of Revelation:
Revelation 2:4–5 NLTse
4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!
5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent (turn around), I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
Beware of the mix.
God isn’t after a watered down life. He desires a heart fully devoted to him. Jesus looks for a heart completely given over to his ownership.
He wants ALL of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Nothing less will do.