Monday, November 12, 2018

Loosing our Religion!

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8 KJV

having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:5 NKJV 

 We've been in a study as of late concerning God's Grace and the wholeness it brings. As I was studying on the healing and wholeness Grace provided, the Spirit captured my heart. It was made clear to me even stronger that in order to be fully whole we must relinquish all the religion and traditions in our lives. 

 I am not just speaking of the traditions of men of the church you don't attend. I am speaking of all the traditions of men. I am talking about Southern Baptist tradition. Methodist tradition. I am talking about the Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian traditions of men. I am talking about the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Word of Faith traditions of men. 

 Look, I am not attacking these Christian denominations or churches. I am talking about the traditions of men that allow believers to come in and not see Jesus as the focus of it all. I am talking about coming into a gathering, whether you sit reverently, or lift your hands, or even dance a little dance but never have an encounter with the risen Christ and receive of His Grace and the gift of righteousness.

Lose the religion!

 It's time we lose the religion. Listen, we've all experienced the guilt, the shame, the condemnation and burdensome weight of religious tradition. Let's see Jesus' thoughts on religion.

And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Mark 3:1-5 NKJV

 This clearly illustrates the religious tradition of men. They were more focused on men keeping the letter and not disturbing the traditions rather than seeing a broken man made whole again. It's the same today.

 We see broken men and women, marred by the pain of divorce. Be it as the result of betrayal or abuse, seeking to find a future peace and happiness only to hear the voice of tradition rise up proclaiming, no, solitude and singleness is your lot. If you remarry you're a sinful adulterer. 

Broken young men have come to the Church looking for restoration and to find salvation. Yet, they didn't look like everyone else and didn't wear a three-piece suit. They had piercings or tattoos or long hair. They were driven out of the church until they could "clean up their act."

 Godly women who had received God's gifting and Grace upon their life to proclaim liberty to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind and to tell of the great love and freedom in Christ are silenced. Tradition keeps them quiet saying women shouldn't speak in the Church. They then create the inconsistent tradition women can teach children and other ladies but other than that sit-down and shut up.

 There are those sick and broken. They are hurting. They have a disabling disease. There are those trapped in the bondage of cruel addiction. The tradition-bound leader proclaims Jesus can't help you. His healing power was only regulated to 2,000 years ago.  Hope you can find a good doctor and hopefully you have good insurance.

 What are Jesus' thoughts? Jesus hates tradition for it robs His people of all He purchased for us. Religious tradition grieves Him because He knows how it hardens the hearts of those who follow it.

 This passage also illustrates what matters to God. Your wholeness matters to God. Your restoration is important to Him. God values your completeness regardless of the traditions of men. Jesus moved passed the tradition and reached out and brought healing. 

 We likewise need to move pass tradition and bring Jesus and His wholeness to all. In the sense of deserving by our doing, we are all unworthy. We were all broken, lost, fallen ones. We rebelled against God. We've gone our own way in the past. There isn't one person who deserves, by their own merits, good works, accomplishments any of God's goodness and favor. That's why this is the Gospel of Grace. We, therefore, can't withhold this goodness and Good News from anyone.

  When we say lose the religion, we aren't speaking of denying the clear truth of God's Word. We are talking about relinquishing the traditions of men. A performance-based faith, the striving, and works syndrome. The loveless message of religion. The God is always angry and disappointed in the Church mindset. The "you need to be doing more to please God" concept. The powerless claim that Jesus can't heal or restore today. We're speaking of resisting the accusations, the guilt, the shame and condemnation traditional religion brings. It's time to embrace Grace.

 In summation, if you want to find fulfillment, and wholeness let go of religious tradition and embrace the Grace. God wants you to know how loved and accepted and redeemed you are. He wants you to encounter Him on an all the time basis. He is always with you and He is always cheering you on. Jesus believes in you. Tradition, like Law, will only point out your flaws, your missteps. His Grace points you to your identity in Him. It reveals your new nature, who you are in Him and how victorious you are in Him. Embrace Grace. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Grace: the Remedy for Accusation

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:11 NKJV





 We've begun a new series looking at a fundamental aspect of God's Grace. Grace, the Good News Gospel of Jesus brings healing and restoration and wholeness to those who receive it. Grace in its goodness never leaves us the way it finds us. 

 So far we've seen how Grace is the antidote for traditional religion. We've seen how Grace brings wholeness to the hurts. We've seen how Grace is the remedy for fear

 Today, I sense the leading to begin addressing this issue of the wicked cycle of defeat and anguish the enemy brings to God's people. The cycle of accusation and condemnation and shame. What may seem conspicuously absent in this cycle is "temptation." What we will soon see is sometimes the enemy doesn't even need a temptation to find a reason to bring his accusations.

 If you've been a believer for more than a month or so, the temptation scheme of the enemy is all too familiar. The enemy tempts or allures you to transgress, to commit sin, to feed your fleshly appetites. In a moment of weakness, you follow through on that temptation. Then instantly, the enemy rushes in with a host of slander and accusation. This cycle may look something like this.

The enemy, that defeated devil, tempts you "why not indulge yourself?"
 You resist. "No."
 The enemy, "Come on just one more time. What can it hurt?" 
 After considerable tempting and alluring you give in. Instantly, the enemy comes to you. "Look at you! Look at what you've done! And you call yourself a Christian? God's so mad at you! God's so disappointed in you!"

 When we give in to temptations the enemy quickly brings his accusations. This is the common expression of accusation from the enemy. As we grow in the Lord what use to trip us up doesn't trip us up any longer, so the enemy seeks other ways to tempt us. 

 This arena of accusation is where we who just blew it are in fact guilty. So what is the remedy for this type accusation? His Grace is the remedy for all accusation. Even if we are guilty of what the accusation is. 

 Are you saying, even if what you are accused of is true, that Grace is for that too? That's what's so amazing about Grace. Grace doesn't see us in our mess and just leave us there. Yes, but didn't Peter instruct us not to suffer or be reviled for wrongdoing?

 Here is the Good News. Your sin is none of the devil's business. Even when you fail, God's Grace has already addressed that sin. His shed blood has already forgiven and paid for that sin. Your sin is between God and you and no one else. If your sin affected others, follow God's love and leading and see how He would bring restoration and wholeness to all those involved. 

 When temptation arises and we fall for it and sin, this cycle of accusation and condemnation and shame will begin. What we must know Grace is there to disrupt this cycle and bring us to a place of wholeness and victory. When accusation comes, Grace reminds us of our true identity. He shows us we are better than that sin. Grace reminds us He has so much better for us in Christ. Grace makes sin less and less appealing, enabling us to walk out who we already are in Him, the righteous and holy children of God. 

We must also realize this isn't the only avenue this cycle comes into our life. I addressed the temptation and accusation issue first because it is so common. However, the other arena the enemy loves to bring his accusations is the religious traditions of men. It comes through well-meaning teachers and other believers. It comes across to us in the doctrines of old. 

 Many would be surprised to know the accusation of the enemy often comes through the mouths of other believers. Let me pause momentarily. Sometimes the accusation of the enemy can come through the voice of the World system. They slander and accuse the Church of not being loving or kind when we uphold the righteous principles God established as the Truth. 

 In times like this, respond peacefully but truthfully, in love, knowing the World system is lost and in darkness and therefore ignorant of the truth. They can't see the light because they're blinded. No need to feel condemned or shamed because of their words. Jesus wasn't always popular and we won't be either so just enjoy your life free from the opinions of worldly men.

 With that understanding, let's focus on one of the biggest areas of accusation. The mouths of the religious and their traditions. Certainly, they mean well, but the traditions of men have brought so many into a place of guilt and condemnation. 

 I heard a message preached by a well-known minister. He was passionate about raising the standard of holiness. Being honest, as believers who would want to embrace a lifestyle of sin? Remind people of who they are and whose they are. Growth will develop unlike this type of preaching which only stirs up sin.

 The minister preached we ought to begin by living out the Ten Commandments. Clearly, we can see that the spirit of religion was masking itself as the motivator of holy living and truly veiling the minister's eyes. 
14 Not only Moses’ face was veiled, but his people’s minds and understanding were veiled and blinded too. Even now when the Scripture is read it seems as though Jewish hearts and minds are covered by a thick veil, because they cannot see and understand the real meaning of the Scriptures. For this veil of misunderstanding can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings their hearts are blind and they think that obeying the Ten Commandments is the way to be saved. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15 TLB

 By promoting Law as a means to attain a more holy living your leading people astray. Paul tells us the strength of sin is the Law. Without realizing it, the message didn't bring people into a closer walk with God, it actually made them draw back. 

 Accusations come by way of traditional teaching. Its subtle words say there is something wrong with you. That God finds displeasure with you and if you just heed these words God will love you more. Staying with the truth of the New Covenant and tuning out tradition causes these accusative words to have no power over you.

 Another way this accusation finds a foothold in our thinking is when we begin creating standards to live by that God has nothing to do with. It starts with placing demands upon ourselves that God never put there. Often, these demands come when we compare ourselves to the ideal Christian.

 In reality, this phantom Christian who spends hours in prayer, and devotion, has a perfect marriage, is a perfect spouse, perfect parent and is a highly praised employee just doesn't exist. This accusation veils itself as a motivation for growth but in reality, it's designed to tear us down and get us to quit. It speaks this to us repeatedly, "I could be doing so much more."

 Here is the truth, it's already done. It is finished. What more needs to be done? Is it your sacrifices and efforts that are needed or is it Jesus' once for all sacrifice? It seems to tradition that Jesus Finished Work means nothing. That all Grace is for is to be an ability gift to fulfill all the demands tradition and self-righteous comparison brings. Resist this lie. Grace reminds you of who you are in Him. You are complete in Him. Your fulfillment is in Him. Jesus' work is enough. Rest and be who He already made you.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LordAnd their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.  Isaiah 54:17 NKJV

 In summation, understand accusation comes to all of us. Be it through our own sins or by the voice of the religious, their traditional teachings, or by comparing ourselves to others. Victory comes when we listen to what God says about us. Truth removes all error. Hear Jesus' words to you and live and abide in them;

10 Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?” 11 Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.” Jesus said, “Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.” John 8:10-12 TPT

 Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, October 29, 2018

Grace: the Antidote for Fear

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:11 NKJV







  We've begun an ongoing study of God's Grace and the healing it brings. Once received within our hearts, His Grace brings the wholeness we all need in every aspect of our life. So far we've seen how His Grace is the antidote for burnout, stress and the pain inflicted by religious traditions. 

 Today, I sense the leading to address an area that affects each and every one of us at some time or another. Fear, gripping paralyzing fear seeks to cripple our trust and erode our confidence in God. Fear says God won't be there for you. Fear says this need is too great for even God to supply. Fear says God is fed up and finished with you.

 Fear is evil, it seeks to manipulate us into a place of ineffectiveness or mediocrity. It seeks to bring us to a place where we see the enemy or that which is in the World as Greater than He who is within us. It seeks to cause us to see ourselves as insignificant in the face of opposition. It strives to make the challenges we face seem like giants, something that can never be overcome.

 Grace is the answer. You see, Grace isn't just about us sinning and then realizing that He has already forgiven us of that trespass. Now that is what makes Grace so amazing. Undeserving, unworthy ones becoming the recipients of total forgiveness and new life. That is wonderful, but Grace is so much more. 

 Grace is the remedy for fear. Grace received within provides the relief and remedy for all the schemes and plans the enemy sets against us. For instance, whenever religious tradition hurls its accusations that you never measure up or you've gone to far this time, don't accept that conclusion. Instead, focus on what the Cross said. Focus on what Grace has done. Grace freed you from the burden of pleasing man or upholding their traditions.

 When fear arises and tries to grip your heart, run towards God. Embrace His Grace and receive His perfect love for you in that situation. Again, fear will lie and attempts to make you sense you're surrounded by insurmountable odds. We can react or respond to this lie from the enemy. Elisha's servant reacted with fear when surrounded but Elisha responded by not being in fear for he knew what was really surrounding him. 

 When it seems we are surrounded by the enemy and all his schemes and onslaught, we must realize we are already surrounded. We are surrounded by His goodness. We are surrounded by His undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor. We are surrounded by His perfect, everlasting, unconditional love. We are surrounded by the presence of God, our Father, we are hidden in Him. The victorious, triumphant, overcoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords, The Lord Jesus Christ is for us and never against us, therefore no enemy or circumstance or scheme or tactic can ever stand against us! 

We are victorious because of Jesus. There is nothing the enemy can do about it. So he employs fear to get us to doubt and even oppose the truth. Religion even has us waging war against an enemy that has already been defeated. Certainly, walk-in triumphant victory, authoritatively and enforce the defeat of the enemy in all areas but never create or ascribe to a mindset that the enemy is some type of formidable foe who is winning and gaining ground.

 We must also be aware of the more subtle scheme of the enemy, religion.  In spite of the truth, religious tradition employs fear and anxiety, manipulating and controlling God's people. Leaders instill fear in the minds of many thinking this will produce some form of behavior change.

 Some ministers utilize the concept that our salvation isn't eternal to produce some form of behavior modification. Churches which proclaim this will see their altars flooded weekly with "repentant" ones seeking to be saved or "saved again". All that has occurred is that people's assurance has been stripped away and they rush to remedy that sense of uncertainty. Not realizing or understanding that the strength of sin is the Law, this practice doesn't bring about real change. It just causes many to mask and conceal their sins deeper and deeper. 

Some leaders employ this idea that believers can forfeit their salvation by walking away from the faith. All this produces is more fear and anxiety. There will always be that one unconfident Christian, beaten down by religious tradition, who will buy into the lie that if there is a way to forfeit their salvation they will surely find a way. 

 One Psychiatrist who spoke with a prominent Grace minister from Asia told the minister the most common mental affliction he dealt with was the idea that the patient believed they had committed the unpardonable sin. Pushing fear only produces fearful Christians. It isn't about preaching "boldly" or "being uncompromising". It's preaching fear in order to create a change in behavior. 

 Want to see victorious overcoming Christians? Remind them of who they are and whose they are. Continuously proclaim how loved and accepted they are in Him. I recall the leader of a church speaking with me about concerns he and his wife had about the spiritual development or lack thereof of my wife. He began to elaborate on this concern. Now I've forgiven them this for they haven't grasped the revelation of the Gospel of Grace.  

  The minister laid out these concerns about passion and zeal and desire for the things of God. He relayed how concerned his wife was. Here is the question, if you were so concerned, what actions have you taken in sharing God's love with her? Did they even speak to her? Try to initiate fellowship and convey how much she was loved?  Not one time. 

 My point is this. Don't try to manipulate through fear. What God wants His people to know is that they are loved eternally and unconditionally. Even if they never cracked a Bible again or said a prayer. He wants His kids to know how much they are accepted and approved and in perfect right standing with the God of the universe.  Tell me, how much more would one want to fellowship with someone who loved them like that opposed to fellowshipping with the demanding and demeaning one who points out your flaws and lack of zeal or drive and passion? Get away from fear and proclaim perfect love.

 Fear cannot thrive in an atmosphere of perfect love. That is the understanding of how much He loves you. Not a God loves me concept that abides in the abstract but rather an intimate knowledge made personal, that understand God loves you, that He actually likes you and loves unconditionally.

18 We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. 19 So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first. 1 John 4:18-19 TLB

 In summation, Grace is the antidote for fear. Grace made a way. Not by any works or good we've done, but because of His Grace He came down and paid the full price making all who receive Him,  His sons and daughters. His perfect love moved Him and His Grace has shown to be greater than all our imperfections. So when fear comes gripping our minds, remind that fear that you are loved and highly favored. The Cross revealed your value and worth. It reveals His great love and reminds us no matter what we face He will turn it around for our good. Fear can't succeed in the face of love. 
image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, October 22, 2018

Grace: the Antidote for Stress

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:11 NKJV









 We've begun a new series of study on God's great Grace. We're focusing on the healing and restorative work of Grace in our lives once received in its fullness. So far we've seen Grace is the antidote for the hurts religion has inflicted. We've seen that Grace is the antidote for burnout.

 Today, I sense the impression to focus on the area of stress. Stress affects everyone in some way or the other. Be it financial, health, work/career, or family. Stress brings with it pressure, worry, and anxiety. Stress brings pressure and uneasiness but Grace brings peace, rest and full assurance. 

 In the Finished Work, God provided the way of rest. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. The Finished Work reminds us the work is complete. It is finished, nothing needs to be added to it. Not works, not performance, not more serving or promises to do better. If it's finished, then all we need to do is act accordingly and rest in Him.

 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Hebrews 4:9-10 NKJV

 We can rest in Jesus' triumphant victory. Now, what does it mean to rest in Him? Putting it in the simplest terms, don't try to reinvent the wheel. In other words, if the barn has already been painted why are you buying paint, and brushes and rollers and attempting to paint it again? Can you imagine a painter going into the museum and trying to repaint the Mona Lisa? Or a road crew setting up to pave a road that has just been paved? 

 I hope you're tracking with me. Would a farmer go to a field that's just been plowed and then try to plow it again? That's foolish. We can readily see the foolishness of redoing what's already been done in this natural, secular realm. Yet, when we translate it into the spiritual realm it seems to so many that it's what we're supposed to be doing. 

 Why is this? Because it's human nature to want to contribute, to add to, to help out. Jesus finished the work. He rendered the enemy defeated. He purchased our complete healing and wholeness. He paid the full price and took all the punishment for all sins of all mankind. So how do we attempt to redo what's already done?

 When we believe the enemy is still undefeated in some way, and that by our prayer chains, our prayer marches, our fasting, our giving will somehow render the enemy really defeated. Look the enemy is either defeated or he isn't. Resting in Jesus is trusting fully, completely in what Jesus did. It's not us trying to do anything to make it so. Don't misunderstand I am not speaking of inactivity, I am speaking of Spirit-led actions based on the understanding that Jesus is the triumphant victorious King. It's fighting from victory, not for victory.

Have Faith in God

 Resting in Christ is walking by Faith. What is Faith? The Amplified Bible has the best definition of Faith I've ever seen, here. Now it's not Faith in our faith. Brother Kenneth Hagin once wrote a book about this topic. In it, all he was speaking of was having a confident expectation that your Faith will indeed work for you. Meaning, you didn't need some big name minister to pray for you to achieve results. 

 That is a truth that is important to remember. You can trust God and He will hear your prayers. That said, unfortunately, some took this idea too literally. The Word of Faith then morphed into some performance driven, works concept of faith in your own faith. In other words, the objective was to have faith in your faith, that's not the truth.

 Resting in Him is about putting our Faith in His Faith and Finished Work. Grace is about Christ living and working through us, not us working for Him. Faith isn't about achievements or strivings. It's really about resting in what He has already done. 

 You may be wondering, what's this have to do about the stress we face day to day? Glad you asked. This is about moving from being stressed out to a place of rest. 

not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 NKJV

 In this passage, Paul is speaking of the coming of the Lord. He was easing the fear and worry and anxiety some had concerning the last days. What catches my attention is the phraseology he uses. Paul says don't be shaken or troubled by spirit or word or letter. This is a truth that will cause stress to fall away.

 Pressure and fear and worry and stress comes from only these three avenues. Think of it. Your spirit concerns the enemy trying to convince you of his lies. Word, is when someone speaks negative words or heralds bad news. Letter is when we receive troubling news by way of written words. 

 This covers all aspect of our lives. The Good News is that the Holy Ghost through Paul said we shouldn't be shaken or troubled. No matter what the situation or circumstance God is still on the throne. Jesus is still Lord. The enemy is still defeated. 

 Bringing this together, we must rest in Christ Finished Work at all times. When trouble tries to rear its head that's not the time to try and add to the Finished Work. Certainly, you may pray more and look to the Scriptures. Let that be a source of comfort and stability and a reminder of Jesus' triumph, but don't turn it into a work. 

 We can't control all situations or circumstances, or the actions or words of others. Therefore, there is no need to be stressed out by the actions of others. If people are harassing or haranguing you, trust Christ to turn it around for your good.

 I've had unruly neighbors who were destructive to their property and were troublesome. I've had really difficult co-workers and supervisors. I prayed about these situations. I trusted Christ. These neighbors moved away. These co-workers left me alone or some even transferred. The boss was reassigned to another place. My point is there isn't a circumstance that God can't bring victory to.

In summation, Grace is the antidote for stress. The Finished Work is complete and the enemy is totally defeated and rendered harmless and ineffective in all his schemes. Truly we may feel surrounded and overwhelmed at times. The real truth is we are surrounded. We are surrounded by His goodness and favor. We are surrounded by His love and kindness and mercy. We are victorious overcomers because of Jesus and His Grace. Stress out? No, relax because Jesus has got this!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Grace:the Antidote for Burnout

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:11 NKJV







 We've begun a new series of study on the Radical Grace of Almighty God. We're centering on the restorative, renewing, and healing power of His Grace in our lives. Once Grace is freely received in our hearts, we will experience wholeness. 

 Today, I want to focus on an issue many believers have struggled with. That is this area of spiritual burnout. More clearly stated, this area of strivings, abiding in a performance-based faith, operating in achievement syndromes. This accomplishment rooted approach to God only produces more struggle and eventual burnout. 

 Many Christian sincerely desire to be committed, dedicated, devoted followers of Christ Jesus. This is commendable. However, what God wants is not a dutiful servant. He is not seeking interaction with people who relate or interact with Him out of a sense of obligation or moral responsibility. 

 What our Father seeks is a relationship. He is not our supervisor or manager or executive in the Heavens, He is our Father in Heaven. He is longing for a relationship, not a duty-minded servant. He is the good Father, who gave us His only Son as the payment for all our sins, redeeming us from the hand of the enemy, exchanging our old nature with a new nature, making us the very righteousness of God in Christ. 


28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

 God desires us to come to Him as His children, not His workers. He longs to interact with us as the loving Father who rejoices over us with joy. He strongly desires to fellowship with us like family, not as employees. He sees us as His sons and daughters, not subjects or dutiful servants. God longs to eradicate the image of God as the harsh taskmaster, who is never pleased, out of our thinking and to embrace the true image of God. That He is our good and loving Father who is always for us and never against us.  

 Spiritual activity such as prayer, devotion, church attendance, and even our giving are good things. We can experience growth and maturity as a result. However, prayer or Bible study was never designed as a task to complete or duty to fulfill. Going to church has always been about fellowshipping with fellow believers and bringing our supply to bless the Body of Christ. It was never about an obligatory, weekly chore that must not be missed. 

 The cure for this burnout is found in Grace. Paul masterfully expresses a truth we must never forget.


Don’t be mistaken; in and of ourselves we know we have little to offer, but any competence or value we have comes from God.              2 Corinthians 3:5 Voice


 Our sufficiency or Christ's?

 The key to overcoming burnout is realizing it's Christ sufficiency and not our own. That's Grace. When we focus on doing the good things and turn them into some type of chore or task to be completed we are operating out of our own sufficiency.

 Sometimes people mistakenly think they are operating out of Christ's strength when in fact they are in their own strength. You see reading God's Word offers comfort and strength. Hearing the Word preached also brings faith and encourages us. However, how we are to live and operate is out of His sufficiency not our own, as Paul said

 People take the encouragement from the Word and assume this is living and moving in Him. They then proceed to carry out the Christian "tasks" expected such as witnessing to the lost. Eventually, this work, work, and more work begins to grow tiresome and produces weariness. 

 In response, they increase their study time. They fast. They attend more church services. Still, the work makes them weary and has the potential to turn them bitter and cold. The solution? The answer? Knowing and understanding the truth that operating in Him is letting Christ work through us and not us working for Him. 

 We must know and understand where our sufficiency is. No matter how much Bible we read, no matter how long we pray, no matter how many sermons we hear, we must never forget where our sufficiency is. We are insufficient apart from Him. Our trust should always be in Him and not in anything we have done or are doing. 

 What we must understand is that our efforts, our works, are never sufficient in and of themselves. What Grace does is bring us to a point to realize no matter what we will always need God to work through us and in us. When we lose sight of this, we will burn out.

 In summation, how can we tell if we are on the path to burning out? How can we tell if we are on that road headed to weariness? When we begin trusting in our actions and disciplines when we see spiritual activities as duties or obligations to meet know we are on the wrong path. Thank God for Grace that directs our steps to a better way, the way of rest and refreshing. 
Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, October 8, 2018

Grace: The Antidote for the Hurt

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:11 NKJV




 We've begun a new series of study on the great Grace of God. Specifically, we are focused on the healing, delivering and renewing power Grace provides once received within our hearts. Grace is the antidote for anything that afflicts or brings torment. 


 In this life, we experience joy, peace, and comfort. We all have experienced victory and triumph in our lifetime even in the smallest circumstance. Be it something as simple as finding a good parking space at the mall, to something as profound as people escaping tyrannical governments. Point is we all have things to be thankful for. 

 That said, we must also acknowledge sometimes there are challenges to living life on this planet. Especially challenging is when those we trust bring us pain. Certainly, I can acknowledge we as finite beings can allow our emotions to rule a situation and "feel" hurts. Circumstances where the Pastor didn't shake your hand or the situation didn't turn out exactly like you wanted. 

 Sure, in those times, we know when we are honest we may have just misread the situation and need to realize people didn't go out of their way to make our life difficult. These are things that we through growth, maturity, and managing our emotions overcome and find a better way to navigate feelings and expectations. However, there are real and genuine hurts and painful experiences that we need to receive healing and wholeness from.

 I said all that because often when we bring our pain to others sometimes these situations are dismissed as us being too emotional or too wrapped up in our feelings. When our pain has been dismissed these hurts and wounds begin to fester and they create anger and morph into bitterness. God wants to heal our hurts not dismiss them as imaginary or us overreacting.

 Jesus is the person of Grace. He is there for us when life brings about pain and misery. Today, I want to address the real pain religion and tradition afflict upon the masses. There are so many who have been hurt and mistreated by the traditions of men. 

 For instance, there is a tradition that divorce is the unpardonable sin. That if you divorce and the ex is still alive and you remarry then you are committing adultery. Sadly, so many churches and ministries adopt this view. 

 Their tradition so blinds them that they even insist on women who are in a physically or even sexually abusive situation with their husband that they must remain married. Sure separate they say, but you must not divorce. You must wait, (for an undetermined amount of time, until you die?) for that husband to change, and you must not divorce and definitely never remarry.  This is not Good News. God cares about our wholeness, not us upholding some tradition of man.

 If you've been hurt by religion and tradition I have great news. Jesus is the healer of the hurt. Did you know how Jesus deals with the hurts religion afflicts? We don't have to guess because the Gospels record Jesus dealing with this exact situation. 

 If you read John 9 the entire chapter,  you will see an exciting event unfold. What we see is Jesus encountering a man who was born blind. Now before we proceed, let's quickly address a tradition that has been formulated. 

 The disciples ask was the person born blind because of sin? That is the person's own sin or his parents? Jesus dismisses this nonsense and just proves His goodness and brings wholeness. God didn't cause the man to be born blind just so later in life Jesus could heal him. I believe God is Almighty and magnificent. He is not a weak, puny, pathetic god. He doesn't need to make one sick just to heal him. See more about this here

 Jesus heals the man and you would think there would be rejoicing and gladness. No, among the religious there was strife and variance. Some doubted the miracle, so they brought this man to the Pharisees, the religious leaders. Were they happy that a man born blind can now see? No, they were angry because their traditions were trampled on and that didn't sit well with them.

 The religious leaders doubted, questioned his integrity and even brought his parents before them. They began to intimidate his parents who had fears of excommunication. When the man reaffirmed the truth that he was once blind but can now see, and gave glory to Jesus, they became enraged. He told them once again of this great miracle. He once again gave glory to Jesus. They called him a no good sinner and excommunicated him.

 All this man did was receive a miracle from God and rejoice and give the glory to Jesus. Yet he had his integrity questioned. He and his family were intimidated. He was labeled a sinner and then removed from fellowship. That is a lot of pain inflicted upon him by religious leaders. Let's see Jesus' actual response.

35 Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. John 9:35-38 NASB

 Look at the response of Jesus the person of Grace. He heard they kicked him out. Jesus is attentive to the plight of this man. In other words, Jesus is looking out for you, you're important to Him. He found the man. This is amazing Grace. Jesus was seeking and searching for this man. Grace found him. He showed him the way and the truth. Jesus brought wholeness and restoration to him. 

 Jesus isn't done. Continue reading. 
39 And Jesus said, For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. John 9:39-41 NASB

 Jesus reveals once again He is the Savior of the World, that He is come to save all people from their sins if they simply believe. Then He rebukes religion. Why? Because they are so self-righteous they cannot see their own brokenness and unrighteousness. 

 Grace is the antidote for the hurt and the pain. Whenever religion and tradition bring affliction Grace brings wholeness. When religion questions your worth, Grace reminds you whose you are. Believer, when religion calls you a no good sinner, Grace reminds you that you are the righteousness of God in Christ. When religion calls you unforgiven Grace reminds you that you're forgiven once for all time. When religion tells you that your salvation is uncertain or insecure, Grace reminds you that you are unconditionally eternally secure. Grace is the remedy for all the lies and slander of religion.

 With Jesus as our healer, we must remember not to lash out at other believers. The "institution" of the Church isn't the issue. It's the religious traditions and controlling leadership that is. We must not allow hurts to make us bitter and spiteful and resentful people. 

 Yes, the hurt is real. The pain inflicted upon us by tradition runs deep. Yet, Grace can uncover all the areas we are hurting. Grace can bring wholeness to all areas, even the hurts we refuse to give voice to. We must not allow pain to isolate us. We all need each other. Allow Grace to overtake you. Let His love cascade over you, showering you with healing and wholeness, acceptance, and restoration. 

 In summation, Grace is the antidote for all that afflicts. Tradition and religion seek to control. It seeks to impose its insidious rule over our lives. Under Grace, we are free from the religious traditions of men. We find our help, our hope and our being in His Grace and what His Finished Work made us.
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