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There are many different things that can separate us from God, and each of them has a different dynamic and requires a different "solution" so that we can draw near to God again. Those four things are:
We already looked at the first two in our last lesson, and now we will look at the remaining two.
Failing To Draw Near To God
Have you ever heard the expression: "It takes two to tango?" That means that a one-sided relationship can not work. It doesn't work in the natural, and it can't work in the spirit either. In fact, God puts it this way in James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." If you want to be close to God, it is a two-person relationship. God will do His part to build the relationship, but only if we do ours.
There are a lot of things that can interfere in our drawing close to God. Sometimes we believe the devil's lies instead of believing God's truth. The devil tells us things like, "God is mad at you" or "God doesn't like you." We hear those lies an God gets scary to us, so we avoid Him instead of drawing near.
Sometimes God just doesn't feel that important to us an we give Him a very low priority on our time. Other times we just allow ourselves to get so busy that we don't have tie for God. Sometimes we just get lazy in our spiritual disciplines--we don't do our devotions as often as we should, we cut back on prayer and worship, etc. Other times we allow ourselves to be distracted by other things: the internet, television, social activities, etc.
This is a case where we can approach God, but we just don't want to.
For me personally, this is the biggest trap that I fall into. I work so hard that I get tired or run down, and I feel low on energy. Or at times I get overwhelmed with the demands of the ministry. When I am worn out, I don't have the energy to push in to my God. All I want to do with my spare time is to vegetate in front of the television. I love God with all of My heart and I don't mean to, but I find myself drifting slowly away from Him. After a while I come to my senses and I cry out something along the lines of, "Oh God, I don't want to be so far away from You.
Please draw near to me!" And God will usually reply with something like, "Now Teresa, who moved away from who? Did I move away from you, or did you move away from Me?"
The way that I get back close to God in those situations is a combination of forcing myself to pray and read His word and spend time listening to worship music, as well as weaning myself away from the thing that was eating up so much of my time. In addition, I cry out to God for mercy and ask Him to revive My spirit and to begin revealing more of Himself to me.
I have often noticed that I am usually much closer to God when I am on the mission field than when I am at home. I used to think that this was because I was being sent as God's representative, and that was why He drew me closer to Himself. But God corrected my misconception one day. I have this firm rule that when I am on a missions trip, I won't watch any television unless I am forced to (such as in Nigeria, where pretty much all socialization is done in the living room with the television turned on). There are often long periods where I don't have anything to occupy my time, and I put on my worship music and read the bible and talk to God. God meets me in wonderful ways because I am giving Him a large portion of my attention and priority.
One time when I was ending a missions trip, I told the Lord, "I hate for this trip to end because I hate for my special intimacy with You to end." God told me, "Teresa, it doesn't have to end. Just keep giving me as much time and priority at home as you do on the mission field, and I will continue to meet you just as deeply." I tried it when I got home, and God continued to meet me. But over time, I got caught up in things related to day to day life, and the time I spent with God began to decrease. The level of intimacy with God started to decrease as I put less time into the relationship.
If we want to be closer to God, we have to spend larger measures of our leisure time pursuing that relationship.
Some people hold the theology that believers can't be demonized. I used to believe that way myself until God showed me that I was demonized by a fantasy spirit and then He delivered me from it. I know I was a believer and I know I loved Jesus with all of my heart and I was fully committed to obey Him. But there were areas in my life where I struggled because this demon had control of them. The demon did not have control of all of me, but he had control of certain parts of my life, especially in the area of my imagination. There were things I struggled with and was powerless to overcome until I was delivered--then they suddenly had no more power over me.
The good news is that Jesus has given us power and authority over demons and over all the power of the enemy. If a believer is demonized, they don't have to stay that way. They can receive deliverance and authority prayer from other believers and be set completely and totally free from the demon's control.
Demons do not want their hosts to draw near to God, because they know that as a person gets closer to God, the demon is more likely to get detected and evicted. That is why demon's come up with a myriad of strategies to interfere in their host's ability to enter into intimacy with God. Some demons release a spirit of slumber over the person, so that they get groggy or sleepy whenever they try to read their bible, pray or worship. Others release a sense of fear or anxiety when their host tries to draw near to God. Others make their host sick--unusually a headache or an upset stomach. I remember one time I was ministering to a demonized person and they told me, "Every time that try to read my bible or listen to worship music, I get this terrible headache." That is a common demonic strategy. Other times demons make the idea of listening to worship music feel very repugnant to their host.
If you have been experiencing some of these type of things when you try to draw near to God, then perhaps you have a demon who is interfering with your intimacy with God. If that is the case, you have two options. The first option is to receive authority prayer from other believers. Many people find it easier and more effective in getting rid of demons when someone else prays for them. The other option is to rebuke the demon yourself and command it to leave you. (The next lesson contains a prayer that you may find helpful if you choose the second option.)
In short, if a demon is interfering with your intimacy with God, the way to fix that problem is to get rid of the demon. Fortunately, that is easy to do because Jesus has given us authority over demons.