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Closing the Distance - A Devotion

Closing the Distance
Closing the Distance

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT)
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Where is your promise today? What has happened in your life that has distanced you from hope? Why does it seem the more we strive to come close to God the greater the opposition? Where are the welcoming arms we had envisioned and why doesn’t anything turn out like we planned? Disappointment, in general, will distance you from the Presence of God because it is not a product found in the Lord. It is not a Kingdom-outcome but an earthly tactic. The enemy wants you to become discouraged. He is like a roaring lion hiding in the brush who is ready to divide and conquer. It begins with the thought I will do this myself. I am not satisfied with God’s Way so I will venture out on my own surely His Grace will cover me. God’s Grace closes the distance between God and His People. But our lack of confidence in its sufficiency leaves it readily discarded in our earthly endeavors. We proclaim a life of faith but live a life of fear. Fear of lack, fear of rejection, fear of just about every conceivable thing that we can think of. The question is not, “Where is the promise” but rather “Where is our hope?” We lack confidence in God now we have also lost our way. We must close the distance today.

To be a “foreigner” or “nomad” means that we must relinquish our tie and bonds to the earth beginning with sin. Moving forward to claim residence in the Kingdom of God means giving up our residency here on earth. How? This all seems surreal and maybe it is but well-worth the endeavor. Too many times, we long for the place of comfort that we came from rather than putting forth the effort to endure until the end. I want to be the person who God is not ashamed to be called “My God”. I want His Face to shine upon my life even if means never fitting in again.

Exodus 20:18-21 (NLT)
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

The Presence of God coming closer completely freaked out the Children of Israel. Overcome by fear, they remained distant as the Lord approached. Telling Moses – “You go and then tell us what He says!” They were more comfortable listening to a man than having a face-to-face relationship with God themselves. Many people live the same existence today with greater loss. God’s Grace allows us to enter the Presence of God boldly in the Name of Jesus Christ and fellowship with God. But Christians today would rather listen to people like Joel Osteen or Billy Graham tell them what the Word of God says rather than reading it for themselves and allowing the Holy Spirit to relay its meaning as it pertains to them as an individual. Moses told them not to be afraid, but that did not close the distance for the Lord was waiting for His People to take the first step.

John 14:16-20 (NLT)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

The Lord should never feel far away from us. He lives inside of you and me. The Spirit of the Living God was poured out on all people by Jesus Christ just as promised so we could reconnect with God through the Precious Grace of Jesus Christ. However, we think the Spirit is something spooky or old school, again, trying to force our way to God rather than coming His Way. Jesus promised that His Spirit upon arrival would never leave us advocating and cheering us on every step of the way. The world does not recognize Him nor does it want any part of the Spirit. Sound familiar? Kind of like God’s People who didn’t want to hear from God just about Him. We have an incredible opportunity to come to the Lord and be filled with the Holy Spirit. His Spirit has a mission. He is to guide you in all truth as you pursue a face-to-face relationship with the Lord. God closed the gap between us instantaneously when we called on the Name of Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior now the rest is up to us!

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Jesus Christ is our High Priest. He is how we connect with God, the Father. Now we do not have to go to a church with a plethora of animals to ask for atonement for our sins but can just come boldly into the Presence of God and ask Jesus to cover it. Seems simple, huh? So simple in fact that many people try to add to the redemption process and make salvation way harder than it really is. If we could ever fully grasp the concept of grace and the sufficiency thereof, we would be empowered by it and remain strongly planted in the Presence of the Lord now and forever. We would never leave because we would be overflowing in satisfaction. Our conditions would not change nor would our circumstances, but rather our hearts circumcised to fully accept the Plan of God for our life without fear or hesitation. Jesus knows your weaknesses. Every single one of them was born on the Cross. When He said, “It is finished”, the Lord meant every word. But until you forfeit this life to fully claim your new life in Jesus, you will still remain distant. We have been invited to come boldly before the Lord with courage, confidence and fearlessness. Are we there yet?

Luke 18:10-14 (NLT)
“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

We must determine where we stand today. Are we religious? Are we remorseful? Do we feel too guilty to come any closer or does pride keep us right on the edge? God calls us to be consecrated and segregated as His Special Possession, but too many times we choose to give ourselves away to much lesser things. Sometimes religion forces us into to the role of Pharisee when God is calling us to humility like the tax collector. Obedience is not something we do but rather a manifestation of who we are. A whole lot of people will pretend to be Christians by practicing religion but the Lord is looking for those who desire a relationship instead. If you are wondering who you are in this picture, look at the part where it says, “I’m certainly not like that tax collector!” God didn’t ask you to become religious. He invited you into a relationship. Jesus made the One and Only Way so we would all arrive at the same destination. Repentance puts us in the Presence of God immediately. Faith is the only response that the Lord requires. He calls the righteous to live in confident hope which is not what we do but rather what we believe. Mercy and grace are reserved for the sinners who want to be set free. Is that you today?

Romans 8:31-34 (NLT)
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

There are some things you should know to close the distance between us and God. God is for you. He is with you and never leaves us alone even when we are not interested in what He has to say. When Jesus Christ gave us His Spirit, distance is now impossible because He lives in us. This means that distance from God is really absence from His Presence altogether. Grace is not an excuse to sin but the opportunity to come closer to God fearlessly because perfect love eliminates all fear.

Romans 8:35-37(NLT)
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

You have to be convinced that nothing you do or anyone else does can ever separate you from the Love of God through Jesus Christ. Faith produces confident hope that keeps us rooted and grounded in the Love of God even when all hell breaks loose in our life. The challenges that we face are working together for our good (Romans 8:28) to produce victory every single time. Why give up if you are about to win?

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You have to have confident hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to come boldly before God. (Ephesians 3:11-12) Until we know and completely understand that everything God is and does is wrapped up in His Great Love, we will never be willing to live in His Presence. We have not because we asked not. We are not there yet because we refuse to go. He made the Way now take it convinced that God’s Love is the greatest gift of all. We are no longer required to live in the shadows of life but rather retreat to the refuge of His Presence. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18) There is where we find everything we need and want including more than we could even think to ask for.

James 4:7-10 (NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

The Lord invites you to come closer today. Jesus did all the “work” of salvation so we could enjoy it. Living humbly before God is simply entering His Presence each and every day to meet our need. Going to the Lord before other people. Resisting the devil. He will run away. Come close to God. This is a sweet and gentle invitation thanks to Jesus Christ. Use it. The more we separate our life from the things of this world the more of Him do we allow to take over our life and change every single outcome. Humility is required because you cannot do it on your own. But those who think nothing of giving up this life can have all that their future promises. There are better days ahead and you will find them by coming closer to God and closing the distance.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NLT)
God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.” The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.”

Never Alone
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
(Matt Redmon)

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