Religion or Jesus…

Religion or Jesus….

Most Religious organizations are manmade. Did you know that none of the denominations you hear of today are ever mentioned by name in the Bible? The early CHRISTian Church is called “The Way” but the current major denominations you and I know of are not mentioned in scripture.

Having said that I do want to say that Jesus does mention His worldwide Church and the importance of placing yourself and your family under a doctrinally sound local church. The structure of the church is actually designed by God in the Bible. Sadly the reasons that many use to choose a local church have nothing or very little at best to do with sound doctrine from the Bible. Many times people choose a church based on the size of the congregation or newness of the church building or the programs it has available to every member of the family or where their family has traditionally attended. While those items offer value they are not the reason Jesus wants to place you and your family in a local church.

Doctrine very seldom receives much or enough value in the decision making process of where should I and my family fellowship. Nor does the decision take into account that maybe the reason a program is missing is because I have not yet started to serve using my spiritual gift(s). Maybe that church that is missing something is exactly where I am to be…………so that it is not lacking that ministry. What a change of thought in the decision-making process. As God reminds us in Isaiah 55:8, His ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts so we dare not depend on what we think is best while not seeking God’s wisdom.

We are by nature a selfish people and it carries over into our decision making as to where we fellowship. What matters to Jesus is that the decision must be based on where He wants us to serve not where am I most comfortable. And of course, that first means you must have Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

First and foremost, in our local church selection process is what doctrine a church practice. The cornerstone of doctrine is “what must I do to be saved?”. False and manmade religions teach a doctrine of works plus Jesus for salvation. Check out (Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”) on that one.  The name is Jesus. Many have the name of Jesus in their church but attach works such as Church Membership, Attendance, Giving, Baptism, etc to the Gospel to be saved or ‘born again’ (John 3:3). While those are all good things and spoken of in the Bible none are ever added to the doctrine of salvation in the Bible. Attaching anything or any activity to Jesus sacrifice for our salvation means His death was not sufficient and as scripture says is, “another Jesus and another Gospel”. It is not of God.

Gal 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

For where I will spend eternity is not about the church I attend but about who is my Lord and Savior.  Eternity with God and not satan comes down to what do I believe about Jesus and what He said. Jesus made one Church. To be a member you must…

John 3:3 “For truly I say unto you, unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

 John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am THE WAY, the truth and the life, no one can come to the Father, BUT BY ME.”

Our first requirement is to align with a local church that is professing the Gospel with sound doctrine and then to let the Holy Spirit use us with the spiritual gift(s) He has given us in that setting. Once again, the local church must be doctrinally sound. We must use the correct motive for serving there and that motive is to serve Jesus.

Luke 22:26,27 “But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”        So, what is the doctrine of your church and more importantly what are you and your family trusting in and being taught? And is your focus on where you fellowship to be entertained or to serve? If you are not sure ask those leading your church one question and listen for the answer.

The question is; WHAT MUST I DO TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH JESUS.

The answer should be;

John 3:3 “For truly I say unto you, unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

 John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am THE WAY, the truth and the life, no one can come to the Father, BUT BY ME.”

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God’s Love…

No greater love… John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God’s Love…

An illustration in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the infernos damage.

One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

Luke 13:34: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing?”

Don’t be too hard on Jerusalem. For you see we all have that same nasty tendency. How willing would you be??????????

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Psalm 91:14 “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

How to get Real Strength…

Psalm 46:1a “God is our refuge and strength…”

Philip. 4:13 “I can do all things…”

How to get Real Strength…

Physically strong men and women work out every day to keep their bodies in shape… persons who desire spiritual strength kneel in prayer often…

Physically strong men and women are not afraid of anything… but those who are spiritually strong understand that the trying of our faith develops spiritual maturity and they show courage in the midst of fears…

Physically strong men and women don’t let anyone get the best of them… but those with
spiritual strength seek Gods glorification instead of their own and give the best of themselves to everyone…

Physically strong men and women make mistakes and attempt to avoid the same in the future… but men and women with spiritual strength realize life’s trials are God’s blessings and capitalize on them…

Physically strong men and women walk sure footedly… but men and woman with spiritual strength know that they were created by God, designed to glorify and commune with God and that they therefore should walk by God’s strength and not their own…

Physically strong men and women wear the look of confidence on their faces… but men and women with spiritual strength wear humility and grace on their faces…

Physically strong men and women have faith that they are strong enough for the journey… but men and woman with spiritual strength have faith that it is in the journey and life that seeks God’s kingdom above personal priorities that makes them strong …

The secret for the Spiritually Strong…

Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

Let’s run through the Rains of Life…

Ecc 3:1 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:”

Let’s run through the Rains of Life…

A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Target. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence… It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there under the awning and just inside the door of the Target.

We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in ‘Mom let’s run through the rain,’ she said.

‘What?’ Mom asked.

‘Let’s run through the rain!’ She repeated

‘No, honey. We’ll wait until it slows down a bit,’ Mom replied.

This young child waited about another minute and repeated: ‘Mom, let’s run through the rain,’

‘We’ll get soaked if we do,’ Mom said…

‘No, we won’t, Mom… That’s not what you said this morning,’ the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom’s arm.

This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?

‘Don’t you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, ‘If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!’

The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn’t hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

‘Honey, you are absolutely right. Let’s run through the rain. If GOD lets us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing,’ Mom said.

Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars.

And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories…So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories every day. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Most importantly remember the only reason we have heartache in our lives is because we choose to be sinners and reject God’s perfect design for our lives. That perfect design was first shown with Adam and Eve. In the garden there were no diseases, tornadoes, hurricanes, earth quakes, no death………………………..but we decided there was a better way. Fortunately, God still loves us…………….

God awaits our calling upon Him this morning to wash us…………………

John 3:15-17 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Adversity, a Tool for Spiritual Growth

Romans 5:3-5 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation develops patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Adversity, a Tool for Spiritual Growth

Can adversity in my life come from God? How should I view that adversity? Or is adversity in my life simply a result of fleshly or spiritual issues that I have and if I were spiritually stronger these things would never happen to me? These questions are asked by Christians of all maturity levels.

Some church organizations focus on the “Health, Wealth and Prosperity” theme and that adversity has no place in the life of a Christian. Is that true? Those churches teach that God would have you to be healthy and wealthy with never a hint of adversity in your life. That teaching is attractive to our fleshly emotions. If you are experiencing adversity their answer is that it is because you are weak in faith. They say if you just come to their church, support the programs, join in with the emotional message that God lift you up physically and materially. Many get deceived by this because it offers what the flesh wants. And the flesh always wants only what is best for it.

II Tim 4:3,4 “For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.”

So, how does God view adversity and our spiritual development? Our answer as with all questions in life is right there in the Book. There are many examples in scripture that help us understand how God views this topic and the depth of His love for us. Our obvious best example is our Savior Jesus. He came to display unconditional love while doing the will of the Father. We will never have to experience the depth of pain that Jesus experienced for us. If we are looking for our own will to be done it is easy to fall into the Health, Wealth and Prosperity trap.

Luke 22:42 “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

We could also look at the lives of Noah, Jonah, Moses, Job, David, Joseph, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Rehab, Ruth, Daniel, Paul, Peter, Mary and on and on. What we see are individuals that were molded by the circumstances that God sent into their lives. Those circumstances were simply not a result of their weak faith and fortunately they never viewed them like that. God loved them as He loves us and wanted the best for their lives. The question was what was best for their lives to bring glory of God and not to provide comfort for self. Each of those mentioned above experienced adversity and out of it came growth and more importantly God was pleased and glorified. That growth occurred only after they got to the place in their lives where they said, your will be done and not mine. None were blessed or avoided adversity simply because of strong faith. Their spiritual maturity grew as they presented themselves to God as living sacrifices to perform His will through their lives.

James 1:2, 3 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Rom 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

For me when I accept adversity as being from God the benefits are spiritual growth. When I reject trials as being from God the result is frustration, heartache and even tears. I have memorized II Cor 12:9 to help me in those times of adversity. It reminds me that God is in control and wants to lift up His name by His work in my life. WOW, you cannot have anything more than that if you are looking for purpose in your life.

In II Corinthians 12 Paul first viewed his “thorn” as a limiting handicap. After requesting that God remove it multiple times he received the answer. It was no. By the way, no and wait are answers to prayer. He evaluated the answer and came up with the spiritually correct answer. God had a purpose for the thorn and he was much better off accepting it than ignoring or complaining about it. After coming to the true perspective, he regarded it as a heavenly advantage. Pains and problems come into our lives and if viewed properly are tools reminding us of God’s all-sufficient grace.

Whatever your “thorn” today, remembers—His grace IS sufficient and it is available right now!!!!!!!

II Cor 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Can my sins be forgiven…

Can my sins be forgiven…

Do you feel you are capable of sin?? Sin is a word that our world would like to believe is no longer relevant, but the word of God is relevant for all ages and never changes.

If sin is real today, and it is based on God’s word, then our sins remove us from a relationship with God and spending eternity with God which involves so much more than 80 or 90 years on this earth. To have that relationship be restored requires we be justified or freed of our sins.

That being the case the question becomes can I in my human state restore that relationship?

Rom 3:10 “As it is written, there are none righteous, no, not one.”

Rom 3:23 For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

“Let a man go to a psychiatrist and what does he become? An adjusted sinner”
“Let a man go to a physician and what does he become? A healthy sinner”
“Let a man achieve wealth and what does he become? An affluent sinner”
“Let a man go to church, sign a card, turn over a new leaf and what does
he become? A religious sinner”

Isa 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags, and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away.”

Now that we recognize we are all sinners what does it mean?

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

There is a solution to sin for both those professing to know Christ as their Savior and those not sure.

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”

Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Have you recognized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior this morning? And have
you asked Jesus to save you from your sin.

When you sin, GO TO THE SOURCE OF FORGIVENESS; GO TO JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!

Pass this on to someone who has not heard the good news!!!

Without Jesus you and I Fail…

Philip. 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Without Jesus you and I Fail:

Every once in a while, as you’re cruising down the highway, you’ll see a truckload of smashed cars. The steel pancake version. Sometimes you’ll drive by the scrap yard where these Junkers end up, and there you’ll see row after row with stacks of these flattened old vehicles. “Junk,” you say. Today it is, but there was a day when that hunk of steel was someone’s dream come true. It was the new wheels they’d hoped for and saved for, a prize they wouldn’t let anyone touch, now flattened. And oh, the tears when the first scratch or dent arrived.

In a way, a lot of our life’s dreams end up that way. At one time the dream was new and shiny, something we thought would make us happy for a long time. But so many dreams end up letting us down. When first realized we have a sense of there must be more or what comes next. The excitement is over. Having what I wanted turns to restlessness and dissatisfaction and what’s next. A great gain suddenly becomes a great loss. Yesterday’s discovery becomes today’s disappointment. There are at least three ways that yesterday’s dream turns into today’s disappointment. Your dream gets flattened because you never get it, or because you get it and you lose it, or because you get it and find out that it wasn’t the answer you thought it would be. The dreams that do not bring the fulfillment we are seeking are the fleshly ones. Or those that we make without including God.

This cycle of disappointments creates a sort of “un-peace” in our heart. There is a high level of contentment for us to be had but it is beyond the pleasures and desires of our flesh. It requires choices that are unnatural to our flesh and to the world we live in. It comes only after denial of self and places Jesus in the driver’s seat of our lives.

John 6:35: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never thirst”

 Jesus says He can finally satisfy your lifelong heart-hunger.

Without Jesus in our lives and in our decisions making we have a huge void in our lives. We’re missing Him because we run things our way, not His way. That puts an eternal wall between us and Him. Even if you have placed your faith in His sacrifice on Calvary and His resurrection from the dead for your eternal destiny you still can be controlled by the “me first” fleshly problem. Be honest with yourself and ask the question, what and Who is number One in my life.

The Holy Spirit is moving in your heart to move you to serve Jesus vs. self. Jesus desires to end the world of flattened hopes and dreams and give you new purpose for your life. But like salvation He never forces us to draw near to Him. He allows us to make that choice.

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

So, how is your presentation this morning………….is it striving to please self or serve Jesus!!!!!!?

Luke 9:23 “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me!”

Isaiah 55:1. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Why spend money (or your life for that matter) on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen to Me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”
So, are you at peace with God this morning?

Philip. 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”