Summer is right around the corner!
Summer can be the perfect season to rest, relax, and refresh… Ministries often take a break during the summer months, leaving us with extra time on our hands. And while I’m all for resting, relaxing, and being refreshed, God impressed on my heart Thursday morning that we aren’t to take a break in our relationship with Him.
James 4:8 says “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
The Greek word for “come near” is eggizō, meaning to bring near, to join one thing to another, to draw or come near to, to approach. We’re called to join ourselves to the Lord, to approach His throne, to draw near to Him.
This summer, let’s make a decision to press in. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue growing in our relationship with Jesus. Let’s keep moving forward, even if they’re small steps. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him.
And I pray we wouldn’t fall into the comparison trap. It’s not about what someone else is doing to draw near to God, or how we measure up to them. Am I moving forward or backward? Am I coming nearer to God or drifting farther away? Am I in a better place in my relationship with Him than I was a year ago? Three months ago? Last week?
When we’re not comparing, it makes this next part a little easier.
The Lord also put it on my heart that this summer we should reach out to others. Don’t give in to the temptation to isolate yourself. In Genesis 2:18 (AMP), God says “It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone.”
It’s not good for us to be alone!
I love the Hebrew definitions for good and alone in this verse. “Good” is the word towb, meaning good, pleasant, agreeable, rich, excellent, appropriate, better, happy, prosperous, morally right. Are you ready for the next one? “Alone” in the Hebrew is the word bad… When I saw that I couldn’t help but smile… The pronunciation is even the same! When you see the word “alone” you can just know that it’s bad – it’s not a good thing! The word means: alone, by itself, besides, a part, separation.
It is not pleasant, appropriate, excellent, or morally right to be alone, separated, by ourselves. We were created for relationship – with God and with others. We are a part of the Body of Christ; we’re not called to be separate (1 Corinthians 12).
As Scripture states, our enemy the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). One of the best strategies any predator has is to isolate. If you watch the Discovery Channel, you’ll see that its part of the hunting strategy. The hunter will try to isolate one of its prey to make it more vulnerable.
If you need a visual, you can check out this National Geographic Wild video on YouTube… It’s called “World’s Deadliest – Lions vs. Zebras.” I will warn you that I stopped watching about the 2:03 mark… I can’t watch the poor zebra get eaten! But I love what the narrator says prior to the attack: “One zebra is about to violate the first rule of the safari: always stay with the group.”
If the enemy can just get you alone, He can attack. He’s prowling around, looking for someone… not a group or a bunch of people… he’s looking for a certain person – an isolated one that he can freely and openly attack. Satan is a skilled hunter, and he has effective schemes and strategies to bring us down if we’re not on guard, if we’re not connected to God and to the Body.
If your tendency is to isolate or be alone, resolve to reach out to others! And don’t wait for someone else to reach out to you. If God puts someone on your heart or brings them to mind, act on it! Send them an encouraging text, email a Scripture verse, meet up for coffee, send a letter in the mail, call them, do something! We weren’t meant to live this life alone.
Hebrews 10:19-25 says,
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washing with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (NIV)
“So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into ‘the Holy Place.’ Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The ‘curtain’ into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (MSG)
I love this passage! Because of Jesus…
- Let’s draw near to God with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith
- Let’s hold unswervingly to the hope we profess
- Let’s consider how we can spur each other on toward love and good deeds
- Let’s not give up meeting together
- Let’s encourage one another
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says,
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (NIV)
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.” (MSG)
The Greek word for “encourage” in both passages is parakaleō, and it means to call to one’s side, to call upon, speak to, encourage, strengthen, comfort. The Greek word for “build up” is oikodomeō, which means: to build a house, to build (up from the foundation), to restore by building, to rebuild, repair.
We can reach out to others by encouraging them and building them up. Let’s make sure we’re speaking life into those around us, that we’re pushing them forward with our words, giving them strength and boldness, making them courageous again, comforting them. Let’s build each other up, repairing cracked foundations with the love and hope found in God’s Word. Let’s come along side those who are in need of a friend and shine the light of Jesus.
Galatians 6:9-10 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (NIV)
Don’t get discouraged in doing good.
Don’t lose heart in drawing near to the Lord. Draw closer, go deeper.
Don’t tire of reaching out to those that God has placed in your life. Encourage them; build them up. As the Amplified Bible puts it, “Be mindful to be a blessing.”
I believe that we can have an amazing summer with the Lord and with each other… we don’t have to get lazy and lose all the ground we’ve gained. Let’s be intentional in our pursuit of Him. Let’s be purposeful in our relationships with others. And let’s go farther than we ever thought possible in these glorious summer months.