Tag Archives: religion

More Relationship, Less Religion

Dear Father, all too often my relationship with you reverts to more religion than relationship. Praying, reading Your Word, Bible study, keeping rules, fasting, and quiet time with You are all good things. However, their value in getting closer to You diminishes if I do them as just routine, something more to check off my list of to-do’s.
One lure that draws me toward the religion trap is the foolish idea that I need do all those things so I can earn Your love, favor, attention, and approval. But of course these things (love, etc.) are gifts of Your grace, not things I earn. You already love me to the max. Jesus showed that when He suffered and died so I could be forgiven and reconciled to You. You are my Father, and I am Your child (John 1:12). Your Word overflows with declarations of Your favor for and attention to those who belong to You. Besides these, You’ve given us Your Holy Spirit so we have power and resources to live purposeful lives that please You.
I want to keep doing those good things, but let me do them because I love You and because they draw me closer to You. May I throw out any hint of earning anything. Thank You for reminding me of the wonderful truth that You desire relationship rather than religion. Amen.
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 New Living Translation)

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Just Do It!

Moses tells the Israelites, “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2 New Living Translation)
Just do it. Don’t add to or subtract from—just obey. Since I love Jesus, I’ll obey His commands. I’ll listen to His voice. I’ll trust Him with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding. (John 10:4 and 14:15; Proverbs 3:5-6)
Human understanding might add to His commands with extra rules and laws that we hope will keep us from “getting close to” disobedience. The things we add put distance between us and Jesus. We start relying on rules and rituals to try to get right with God and make life work instead of living from the richness of God’s love. Manmade religious laws have the potential also of deceiving us into thinking we’re pleasing God when actually we’re going our own ways and seeking to please ourselves.
Subtracting from the Lord’s commands might be “partial” obedience. For example, I would love others as myself unless they usually acted hateful toward me. Or I’d trust God in everything except when I don’t understand the why of a circumstance.
Since I’m human, I can’t obey Jesus perfectly, but as His Holy Spirit works in me, I learn to obey Him more and more. I want the kind of closeness with Jesus that gives me the desire and empowers me to do and say what pleases God. (Philippians 2:13)
stone tablets 1- Christian clickart

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The Best Religion?

The Best Religion?                                                           cross on Bible 1
Last night I read an article about a certain religion. Perhaps as religions go, it’s okay. But all religions are only mankind’s efforts to reach God, and the gulf between us and the holy, almighty God is too great for any human or man-made system to cross. Even Christianity, if it’s just rules and rituals instead of relationship with God through Jesus Christ, is as useless as any other religion.
Christianity’s Holy Bible, though, tells us about the God who created everything and who is powerful enough to raise the dead. Not only that, but this almighty God loves us. Even before He created the “very good” world, He knew it would be broken by sin. So He planned to redeem us so we could have fellowship with Him. Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [New Living Translation (NLT)]
The triune God knows we could not come to Him, so because He is love, He came to us. Because God is holy and just, the price of redemption for sinful people (death) is too high for anyone of us to be able to pay. However, this same righteous God took pity on us and took our punishment on Himself (Jesus), paying the price we couldn’t. What cause for rejoicing! And the good news doesn’t end there. Jesus rose from the grave, proving He had the right and power to redeem fallen mankind. Now all who trust and follow the Lord Jesus Christ can have the relationship with God that He desired from the beginning.
“Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” [Hosea 6:3 NLT (emphasis mine)]
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” (I John 3:1 NLT)

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Article by Ricky Paris

This excellent article by Ricky Paris of Vision International Ministries came in an e-mail from my uncle. I received permission to reprint it in my blog.

Now that the emotions of the election seem to have subsided a bit, let me make an observation.
The early Christians were in the minority and were surrounded by pagans and idolatry. Their world was not much different than ours. Homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion were very common. Immorality and drug and alcohol abuse were rampant. In addition, those early believers were persecuted, stoned, imprisoned, and killed for their faith in Jesus. Many others lost their possessions, their jobs, and their pensions for their faith.

In spite of the hostile environment the Christians faced, within 100 years Christianity had spread from its cradle in Israel all the way west into Spain and had reached as far east as China, as far south as Africa, and was pressing toward the north of Europe. Before the end of the third century an eastern empire had converted to Christianity and by the opening years of the fourth century the Roman Empire embraced Christianity.

Amazingly the believers made these tremendous advances without economic resources, without political support, without military power, and without Christian schools. They did it because they had a simple faith in God and a simple awareness of their purpose here on earth. They carried the DNA of the king (which is agape) and turned their world upside down. They did not whine and they did not hide out in a Christian bubble.

To all you Christians out there, this can be our finest hour. Stop drinking the Kool-aid of a political party and drink from the river of life. Stop listening to the political pundits and listen to what the Spirit is saying. Get out of your bubble and shine in the midst of the darkness–and the last time I checked, the darkness cannot overcome the light. The result is not that you will win an election, but that heaven will begin to invade your world–and it will become a wonderful day in the neighborhood!

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