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Our attitudes often make us vulnerable to failure. But you don't have to become a casualty in spiritual warfare.

So many things in life can take our attention away from what God wants for us--busy schedules, difficult people, financial problems, the threat of terrorism and war, and let's not forget our personal drama of the week! But it's life's internal distractions--envy, loneliness, anger, bitterness, fear and rejection, among others--that can destroy us, if we allow them to.

It all boils down to this disturbing reality: Our fatal distractions come from within ourselves. It may very well be that the main distraction holding you back is you.

The apostle Paul described this problem when he wrote: "I love to do God's will, so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me....Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God it has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 7:22-25, The Living Bible).

Self-destructive behaviors and habits can make you your own worst enemy. So can focusing so much on the lives of other people that you have no time to develop your own life.

This is like sitting in the bleachers instead of getting out on the field with the team. In the process, your life will waste away.

Paul issued this indictment against people who focused too much on what other people were doing: "For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding" (2 Cor. 10:12, NASB). That means we are dumb!

Paul certainly seemed to understand human nature. He was saying that when we compare ourselves with others and think we're better than someone else, we are "without understanding."

Not only do we need to get over other people, but we also need to get over ourselves. We need to stop worrying about others and get a life!

God made this clear. He tells us: "Choose life" (Deut. 30:19).

This means we have a decision to make. It is entirely up to us.

My grandmother, "Big Mama," would often say that we won't get to heaven by accident--we have to purpose to live right so we can get there. We all need to get a life, and we can choose a life that is free from the distractions that hinder our destiny.

CHOOSING OBEDIENCE Often when people buy a puppy, they send it to obedience school so it can learn how to obey its new master. In much the same way, God sends us to His "school of obedience" (see Heb. 5:7-9). Even Jesus learned about obedience in this school.

Though we understand what a school is, we may have trouble with the definition of obedience. To obey means to "follow the commands or guidance of; to conform to or comply with; to behave obediently."

The school where we learn obedience is not a natural school but a spiritual one. God determines when you go to this school and what classes you take when He sends you there. This is the school where the diploma you get is a real testimony, and the degree you earn is an in-depth experience with God.

In God's school of obedience, He "prunes your branches." You learn to put away your mind-set, your ideas and your way, and you learn to truthfully say, "Lord, what would You have me do?"

When we are going through the school of obedience, one of the promises we can stand on is Jeremiah 33:3, "'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know'" (NKJV).

You have a need for instruction, and God is ready, willing and able to give it to you. When you say you want God to speak to you, He will. But if you demand that He speak a certain way, you may not hear what He has to say.

God may be speaking to you through your pastor on Sunday morning or when you're at Bible study on Wednesday night. God may use a conference speaker or your teenage son. He may even speak to you through the lives and examples of fellow believers.

If you are going to learn to deal effectively with the internal issues of self, you are going to have to pass through this school of obedience.

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