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As humans, we have a strong tendency for vicious cycles. Yo-Yo dieting is a great example. I was a yo-yo dieter for many years that stemmed from the crippling fear of obesity like some in my family suffered from. I was also the victim of a verbally abusive husband at a young age who constantly monitored and criticized my physical appearance. It left a deep wound that formed into a false belief that if I were to become overweight, I would be rejected by society. So, I clung to every new fad diet in my quest to stay thin. The newest plan would work for a while, but as soon as I lost the weight, I would reward myself with a cheat day. One cheat day would turn to a cheat week and before I knew it, the weight would be right back on.

Then, I would try to go back on the same diet that was successful the first time, thinking if it worked before it will work again. Somehow, they never worked the second time around because the program was not a healthy alternative. I took for granted my improved state of wellness and I would find myself right back in the very same pit of despair of extra pounds with the same familiar symptoms: fatigue, depression, frustration when my clothes didn't fit right, that lead to insecurity in my appearance. That lead to seclusion - wanting to just stay home and avoid social outings. In turn, the loneliness caused me to look for comfort in food that would put on more extra pounds and the vicious cycle would continue.

In a spiritual sense, we tend to get caught in vicious cycles in our relationship with God. When we become Christians, Jesus promises He will never leave us nor forsake us. However, WE tend to leave Him and choose to live a sinful life under our privilege of free will. When we choose to abide in our sin nature instead of abiding in Jesus, we forfeit our protection from our loving Heavenly Father. We risk having to face consequences for our rebellion. Thus, we "feel" like Jesus has forsaken us, when in reality He is still with us. God never goes back on His promises. We just become numb to His presence when we are focused on the world instead.

Just like yo-yo dieting, we can develop a yo-yo relationship with God. Constant ups and downs will dictate our decisions and paths in life. God can do something incredible for us - like a supernatural financial blessing when it's needed the most or heal us from a dreaded disease when the doctors say there is no cure. Our hearts are ON FIRE for a while when God shows up in miraculous ways. We tend to walk in extreme gratitude for some time.

However, as time goes on and if we do not go to Him daily to receive our daily portion of "manna" by studying His word, time in prayer and worship - just lingering with Him and putting our trust in Him daily, we can begin to slip back in that vicious cycle of spiritual complacency. We start looking for "quick fixes" the world can offer for excitement, encouragement and pleasure and fool ourselves into thinking it's an innocent way to receive spiritual and emotional nourishment. Some things may look good but cannot replace God. I used to call my shopping sprees "retail therapy". Nothing boosted my depression more than a new outfit. Pretty soon, that outfit became just another item in my closet to add to the clutter of clothes I was tired of. The credit card bill would definitely burst my bubble of quick-fix comfort and joy! It only left me dealing with the same old symptoms of the vicious cycle - depression, frustration, emptiness and fear.

I would realize the void I was feeling was from my absence of Jesus in my daily life. So, I would start the long treacherous journey of trying to get back in fellowship with Him. The road was hard because I would be weighed down by the heavy burden of guilt, shame and feeling unworthy to even go to Him.

HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS! Jesus doesn't reject us in those times. When we have a true desire to walk closer with Him, putting Him FIRST in every area of our lives, He is QUICK to forgive, SLOW to anger, and EAGER to fulfill every need - spiritual, emotional and physical.

When I FINALLY realized I was trapped in the enemy's vicious cycle all I had to do was CRY OUT to Jesus in all sincerity and humility. He knew I was finally ready for a new way of thinking and living and I've learned to be STEADFAST in my DAILY walk with Him to keep me out of that cycle of self-defeat.

God may be telling you, "Stop the visicious cycle! I want to take you from glory to glory. Stay in fellowship with me that will allow you to STAY holy as I am Holy!" I can tell you from experience when you make it a daily habit to carve out time with God, you will be able to remain on a steady course of right living. Some days with Him will be AMAZING, where you can feel His presence so tangibly. Other days, you will be fatigued and all in your flesh where you won't feel Him as strongly. The world tends to drown us in distractions that will take our focus off of Him. Don't let that stop you from keeping your daily appointment with God. He is STILL THERE and He loves your loving act of OBEDIENCE. To quote one of my favorite pastors, "Obedience is God's love language". Above any other thing you can bring to Him to show your devotion, obedience is the one thing that causes your Heavenly Father pleasure and adoration in you. He knows all the ways you struggle in your flesh and never expects you to be perfect in your walk with Him. In fact, when you are determined to keep your daily appointment when you LEAST feel like it, He is so pleased with your obedience.

Deuteronomy 23:14 says, "For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you. Therefore, your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you." This is saying when you make a conscience effort to WALK OUT DAILY your deliverance, your healing, your salvation with a state of mind that you WANT to live a holy life (not a PERFECT life - that's humanly impossible), you are keeping your camp holy. To me, holy means I'm constantly reminded I have a holy God who loves me, and I know He sees my every move and knows my every thought and I want to please Him with both. When I mess up, I'm quickly convicted by my Helper, Holy Spirit, so that I can confess, repent and move on! I don't have to let those daily failures build up until it places me back in a vicious cycle of falling out of fellowship with my Savior.

The definition of vicious is "malicious, spiteful, marked by violence of ferocity." Who does that sound like? Get out of the enemy's camp and his vicious cycles. REMAIN in God's holy camp with consistent, daily quiet time with Him. No matter how you feel when you leave that quiet space, you can be rest assured, His promises never fail, and God never lies. He never leaves you nor forsakes you. I remember one morning as I was ending my quiet time and leaving my prayer closet, I told Jesus, "Lord I am so sorry - I know I've wasted time this morning being so distracted in my thoughts and ignoring Your presence. I'll try to do better tomorrow." He gently replied, "You do realize I'm not going to stay in this closet today waiting for you to come back tomorrow, right? I'm going to work with you and so you can talk to me all day long."

Even when we are not pleased with our obedience because we think it has to look a certain way, God is ALWAYS pleased with our efforts. Stay in His camp - live a steadfast life under the protection of His wings and with the most amazing Companion you'll ever walk with. Choose the cycle of LIFE - just stay connected to the Vine and you as a branch will bear much fruit!

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