How many of you have said that Christianity didn’t, or isn’t working for you, and that it made no difference in your life? I think many of us have come to that crossroad sometime in our lives. Is God really there or isn’t he? Why is everything so upside down and why do I have so much trouble, where is he?

There have been times in my life when I found myself complacent and comfortable with my Christianity. I had become stagnant and distant from God. I found myself compromising with my attitudes instead of striving to grow in God. Then I began to justify thoughts and behaviors that I once thought were contrary to God’s word.

Christianity itself became my salvation as I spent less and less time with God and more time rationalizing my behavior. When that happened I was in trouble. I had forgotten that it is God, not my religion is my strength and my guide. It wasn’t my so called religious rituals that made me right with God, it was Jesus inside me that did. Relying on my rituals just made me a hypocrite.

Without God’s presence in my life I began to wonder. After a time, thoughts and desires begin to reign again as the word of God was no longer feeding and directing my soul. You see, I had read the bible several times over and foolishly thought I was quite knowledgeable.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

I had forgotten that the words of God are alive and active, speaking to our daily situations, motives and actions. The bible confirms and encourages what is right in the believers life and convicts what is wrong.

Hebrews 4:12-13

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

John 1:1, 14 says

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God…

the Word became flesh and took up residence among us.

Jesus Christ is the word of God. If we are ignoring the word of God, we are ignoring Jesus Christ himself and what he wants to say to us. Without Jesus, we can not mature and  grow in relationship with God, or expect any real change in our lives.

Mark 12:30

you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. – Jesus

Sometimes God seems far off because we are living in rebellion. When we are in rebellion, God our Father, like any loving parent, will correct and discipline us.

Hebrews 12:5-8

My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.

God does this out of love not anger. Sin cost him his Son and is responsible for untold hurt and pain. He sees the suffering ahead that we cannot, so he intervenes hoping we will change direction.

I encourage you to begin to read the New Testament again and listen to what God is saying to you. The thoughts and behaviors you may reason as harmless, may be keeping   you from the close relationship you desire with God.

You have heard it said, “I may be married, but I am not dead”, meaning it is acceptable to look, even indulge your imagination but not touch. Ask someone who’s marriage or reputation has been destroyed by an affair or sexual promiscuity, they will likely tell you that it began innocently with a thought that lead to a desire, that lead to an action.

Mathew 5:27-28

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Malachi 2:13-14

You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her,

I don’t know a man who is not guilty of this, including myself and I am ashamed to say that there was a time when I didn’t think it was that big a deal. By making peace with and accepting, even embracing sin in my life, I was rebelling against God. I was telling him I loved what he called sin more then him. What do you think that did to our relationship? Until he had my whole heart, not just most of it, how could I expect to experience God’s power and presence in my life? I couldn’t.

The problem is when we justify the sin in our lives, or just dismiss it as trivial. Diminishing the seriousness of sin and its potential when combined with a cavalier attitude, can lead to ruin.

James 1:14-15

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

It is not the sin in the believer’s life that is keeping God distant, it is the believers attitude towards the sin, and towards God.

God has given each of his children the power and ability to live their lives according to his will. God’s power changes us when we seek him with our whole being.

Romans 8:1-2

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

2 Peter 1:3-4

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Has your experience with God been barren? Is he the Lord of your whole life, or just parts of it? Give yourself to him completely. Seek him sincerely and your life will never be the same.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Robert J.