Free From Religion

    Have you noticed that religion is a word that stirs up hostility from the secular world?  Webster’s dictionary defines religion as belief in a supernatural power to be obeyed and worshiped.  Yet I can’t help but ask who or what are we obeying?  The Amplified Bible defines religion as “very reverent to demons.”  In addition, a person might observe all kinds of religious ceremonies which make a person appear very pious.  However, God is not satisfied with rituals but desires a life of practical godliness.

    What are some other differences between man made religion and Christianity?  One of the most prominent characteristics of religion is performance.  Religion says your value comes by what you do, by things that can be measured by man.  Surprisingly this belief system doesn’t require true spirituality.  For example, you can sing for the church, play a musical instrument, teach Sunday school, say all the right words, or have a gift that is useful to the body of Christ and then you are a good Christian “serving the Lord.”  When actually a person may not even be a believer or is a believer who is far from God and walking in self-indulgence.

    A person living under Christianity cannot earn the value that Christ already gave when He laid down His life.  The price Christ paid provided unconditional acceptance.  Ephesians 1:6 says that, “we are accepted in the Beloved.”  Now motivation to give to the church family springs from a willing, happy heart.  We use our spiritual gift because Christ calls us to serve.  Thankfully, our service is meant to be under a “light burden and easy yoke” Matt 11:30.  Jesus Christ receives all the credit for any good results.  After all it is His gift and His working through us to accomplish it.  Dear Christian, turn your back on religion which is man’s efforts to do good.  Turn to the Gospel of Christ which is a supernatural power working in us to accomplish the impossible.  May we let the world know that God began a new work at the cross.   It is not the old worn out system of man’s pride and conceit.  May our voluntary obedience and worship be to the One who loved us enough to give a brand new life that is not bound by human limitations and performance.  We are the people who have been set free.

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Taking a Closer Look

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   At  times we discover that our beliefs that are not always accurate or complete.  Our thoughts often do not line up with scripture.  Because of this our lives are lacking in the maturity we need to become imitators of Christ.

   Haven’t we believed that happiness comes when we experience what we want or desire?  However, James 1:24 shares an unexpected source of happiness.  “Dear brothers is your life full of difficulties and temptations?  Then be happy for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems.  For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”  Amazingly as we develop patience we open a wonderful door to personal satisfaction for happiness comes from the inside out.  We simply can’t ignore our failings and be happy.

    How many of us believe our outward appearance, social position or education reflects our value?  Let’s see what God’s word says.  “You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you.  In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing, whether a person has Christ is what matters, and he is equally available to all.”  Colossians 3:10,11

    Should a believer still live under the Old Testament law?  “…this system of law was to last only until the coming of Christ,…  If we could be saved by his law then God would not have had to give us a different way to get out of the grip of sin- until Christ came we were guarded by the law, kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could believe in the coming Savior.”  Galations 3:19, 22, 23   “So don’t let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating Jewish holidays or feasts or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.  For these were only temporary rules that ended when Christ came.  They were only shadows of the real thing- of Christ himself.”  Colossians 2:16,17   Friends, lets take another look at what we believe to be sure our convictions accurately represent the Word of God.  As we examine our faith we can rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us closer to our greatest teacher, Jesus Christ

Doubt Be Gone

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    I have found that reassurance is essential to a feeling of well being and stability.  God’s reassurance through His powerful Word provides confidence and encouragement as we live our life.  How sweet it is to trust in Jesus.   For we have found the One who holds the answers.  Listen to John 6:68 “Master, to whom shall we go?  You alone have the words that give eternal life.”

    Reassurance settles our doubts and reminds that us we are under the care of a competent and loving God.  In seeking Him we find the wonderful provision for our every need.  “He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the kingdom of God your primary concern.”  Luke 12:32

    God offers reassurance that he cares about today.  The benefits are not just for the by and by, but now.  “I would have fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  Psalms 27:13   Our earthly inheritance is the joy, peace and happiness of Christ.  It is to be our portion as a child of God, a vital part of the Christ life.

    God gives reassurance in our relationships so we can be the help that others desperately desire.  “…for the Holy Spirit will give you the right words even as you are standing there.”  Luke 12:12  This is a promise that as we turn to the Holy Spirit for counsel and wisdom we will be given the words to speak in the difficult moments of life.

    The Father provides reassurance that the scriptures are constant and true and that what we are taught does not change by circumstance, lifestyle or convenience.   “…we know you tell the truth no matter what!  You aren’t influenced by the opinions and desires of men.”  Mark 12:14   “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will always prove true and right, no matter who questions them.”  Romans 3:4b

    Finally, we have reassurance that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only Savior, the One who holds the key to life.  “…in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything there is.”  Hebrews 1:2   “And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.”  Romans 3:22   “He used Christ’s blood and our faith as the means of saving us from his wrath.”  Romans 3:25b   Dear precious child of God do not waste your time in uncertainty about these things that are secure.  “Blessed are those who don’t doubt me.”   Matthew 11:6   Right now by faith receive all the remarkable reassurances God has for you.

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God’s Passion

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    Did you know there is nothing that yields incredible dividends in a person’s life like passion?  Passion fuels our motivation for living and gives us reason to go on especially when the going gets tough.  Whenever a person accepts the free gift of eternal life through Christ they are invited to receive an enduring passion, one that will never die.  Luke 10:26,27 expresses this amazing zeal for life through a man asking an age old question.  “Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven? …he replied that, ‘you must love the Lord our God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all you mind.’”

    Our Holy God is the only One worthy of a person’s total devotion and love.  The more we love Him the more our lives are transformed.  Love of God is truly the highest possible passion.  It is the grandest gift to mankind.  “All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever.”  1 Cor 13:8   “Let love be your greatest aim.”  1 Cor 14:11   “The true measure of loving God is to love him without measure.”  St Bernard of Clairvaux.  The degree to which we love God will be the degree to which we can show love for others.  God is love.  We can not separate love from God.  He is the author creation and his copyright is exclusive.  “The love of God is the ultimate reality, the deepest and strongest force in the universe.”  David Smith.   We simply can not live well without the passion that is produced from loving God.

    This love is available only because of what God’s own passionate love first accomplished for the human race.  Now we have been set free to love in all situations.  “Who then can ever keep Christ’s love from us? …all powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away …nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.”  Rom 8:35,38,39

    Loving God is life and breath for every believer.  How wonderful to be able to experience true passion for God.  Christian, let all the world know you love Him above any other.  “May the Lord bring you into an ever deeper understanding of the love of God….” 2 Thes 3:5 God bless you friends.