Real Religion

Mathew 7.6 observes this people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me.

I was sitting with a man yesterday talking to him about the things of God when he commented that following God was easy. God only asks for an hour a week.

This mentality explains part of the problem as to why the Church is having so little influence in the current culture.

What kind of God is it Who requires only an hour per week from His followers? What kind of God keeps attendance records for rewarding people?

The One True God, the God Who lived among us as Jesus and Who will return again someday to establish His eternal dwelling on earth in order to live forever with His chosen people, is not this petty, vain or simple. Any god worth following must require everything from his adherents or he is not god at all.

Doesn’t it make sense that if there really is a God that His will must be done on earth as it is in heaven or He is not really God? Certainly the One True God requires absolute allegiance from His followers and is not fooled by weekly church attendance as to our true love and loyalty.

God commands we love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength demonstrated by our obedience to His commands.

How do we know if we are true lovers of God or simply hypocrites trying to appease a distant but irrelevant god?

How much do we seek Him, how much do we do for Him, how fervent are we to share Him with others, and what price are we paying to please Him? Answers to these questions will reveal our true thoughts about God.

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Living a Life Pleasing to God

Acts 13.22 defines a man after My heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.

Most Christians would like to hear God say, ‘this person is one after My own heart.’

Christians want God to be pleased with them and to think well of them, after all, it is God we are talking about and before Whom we will all one day meet face to face and give an account of our lives. King David was such a person of whom God declared understood and acted in accordance with His heart.

What does this mean really to be a person who is after the heart of God?

God declares that it is that person who does everything He commands.

Jesus Who lived in perfect obedience to the Father, never having sinned in thought, word or deed, heard from heaven more than once that His Father found Him to be a beloved Son in Whom God was well pleased. These words were spoken by God as He was delighted by the obedience of His Son.

Jesus tells a story of three men who were entrusted with certain talents and upon their day of accounting were either awarded or condemned based upon their obedience to His instructions. The two who were faithful heard their master say, ‘well done my good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your master.’

Most people think they are good people and that God will accept them because compared to everyone else they are at least average or slightly above in the goodness category.

But who defines this goodness? Usually the people assessing themselves.

However, God will define us by our obedience to His commands not by the standard we develop on our own.

For us to hear God say, ‘well done’ we must both know His will and then obey His will. God has left us the Scriptures for knowing His commands, He has given us the Holy Spirit for empowering us to obey those commands the only thing remaining is our will to obey His commands.

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Believing does not a Christian make

Acts 11.21 records a great number who believed turned to the Lord.

Believing in God does not make a person a Christian. Demons believe in God but they will be cast into the fires of hell when God establishes His permanent residence upon the earth and Jesus reigns supreme.

The Lord Jesus commanded men to repent and follow Him, denying themselves completely if they wanted to be His disciple and thus inherit eternal life in the kingdom to come.

Repent means to turn away from all that is evil in the eyes of God. If someone would call themselves a Christian they must cease doing all things God has forbidden.

Many believers are not willing to stop their pleasures that are an abomination to the Holy One and thus they are not going to live with God forever.

Second, Jesus commanded His disciples to follow Him.

The goal of this command is that His people would live as He lived upon the earth. Jesus obeyed His Father perfectly and became the Savior of the world.

Jesus’ disciples are to be fishers of men and demonstrate their love for Him by obeying His commands.

True Christians are about the work of winning people to Jesus as Savior and living lives that please God in every way.

Finally, Jesus commanded His disciples to deny themselves symbolized by death through the cross.

All of the time, talent and treasure a person has is to be at God’s disposal for God’s work if that person would truly be a Christian.

The accumulation of treasures and titles is the antithesis of the Jesus follower for He Himself owned nothing but gave everything He had in order to become the Savior of the world.

True Christians repent, obey and give so others come to Jesus as Savior and glorify God on earth as He is in heaven.

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Ending Racism

Acts 10.28 commands we call no person defiled or ritually unclean.

Race is dividing America again, it is a work of the devil and as such can only be defeated by the Church of Jesus Christ.

Christianity is the only religion, because it represents the only True God, that consistently teaches in its Scriptures that all people regardless of sex, color or nationality are made by God, loved by God and are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ the Lord.

Hindus have their caste system for determining the value of people. Muslims believe through the Koran that women and other ethnic groups are of lesser value than Arab men.

It was Christianity that ended slavery in the world. It was the gospel message of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ that called all people, men and women, black, white and any other color, to reconcile themselves to God through the only Savior of the world Jesus the Christ.

The Church must reiterate this message today. Too many Christians are allowing themselves to choose sides along racial lines.

One of the most powerful testimonies of God’s work in their lives that the first church promoted was its acceptance of all nations, all classes and all sexes equally into its mix.

From the first book of the Christian Scriptures where God makes man and woman from the ground and declares both are made in His image to the last book in the Scriptures where God declares men and women from all nations will praise Him in the Kingdom to come; under the banner of Jesus Christ there is no racial divide.

It is time for the Church to declare this truth again and stop this evil being done in our country.

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Having an Eternal Perspective

Mark 4.19 observes worldly cares, wealthy pleasures and the desire for other things come in and choke the word and it produces nothing.

Everybody wants to go to heaven.

Most people believe they are good enough to go to heaven. Everyone despises the brevity of this life and hopes for a life to come. God has promised an awesome eternal life to all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ for salvation.

When we get to heaven then what? We seem stuck on just getting there.

What does God want?

God looks forward to living with His children who spent their time here loving Him, obeying Him and serving Him. God plans to reward those who were faithful to Him and His mission of building His Kingdom.

Too few Christians consider what God wants when they think about heaven instead focusing only on what they want which is the acceptance of God into His eternal home.

What occupies the time, talent and treasure of too many Christians? Worldly cares, worldly pleasures and the want for things.

An earthly life spent on accumulating stuff and pleasure-seeking living is a life wasted from God’s perspective for it produces nothing.

What God is looking for men to produce is new life in Christ in other people so that His Kingdom grows.

Imagine meeting God having done nothing for God, will God be pleased? What will that look like?

Unless we lose our lives now we cannot gain them for eternity the Lord Jesus taught. Losing our lives now means focusing on what God wants now without regard to what we want now.

The world needs to hear the gospel and to see the life of Jesus lived out through His people so that it can be reconciled to God, the only hope for all humanity now and in the life to come.

Who will work to produce fruit that will last for all eternity?

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Giving Generously

Acts 5.5 observes Annanias collapsed and died.

When the Church started the people understood that this life was temporary and that the life to come was eternal. This eternal life was rewarded to those who followed Jesus as Lord, denying themselves in this temporary life in order to give themselves to building the eternal life into the souls of as many people as possible.

The Church was more interested in accumulating treasure in heaven than in accumulating treasure on earth.

Practically this meant that God’s people rid themselves of all excess property and possessions that was not necessary for their immediate care in order to help those who had need in the Church and provide for the Church to do the mission God commissioned.

Annanias wanted to appear as generous as many others in the Church but the truth was he didn’t really want to give everything; he wanted both riches in heaven and riches on earth.

God was not fooled by his duplicity and so removed him from earth and perhaps from heaven as well for no one can enter the Kingdom of God loving both God and money.

Giving among Christians today is seldom sacrificial and rarely universal among all members of any Christian community. Part of the blame belongs to the modern Church which begs its members for only ten percent of their income when King Jesus demanded everything from His followers.

Likewise the commitment to the mission of God, the building of His eternal kingdom, wanes in the Church for it seems most would rather be comfortable now than compensated later in the life to come.

The Church would do well to return to its roots remembering life here is short but eternity is long and will be enjoyed most then by those who give the most now.

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God’s Means for Church Growth

Acts 4.34 observes there was no one needy among them.

When the Church started, following Jesus resurrection and the outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon His Apostles, three key activities occurred which resulted in tremendous growth of God’s New Covenant people.

First was courageous preaching.

The Apostles and other leaders in the Church spoke God’s Word boldly testifying to the work and person of Jesus Christ and how He proved Himself to be the only means for men to be reconciled to God. Unless people who know Jesus tell those who don’t know Jesus about Jesus they will not be able to reconcile themselves with God due to their ignorance of God.

Second, great miracles were occurring through the hands of the Apostles.

God used miracles to prove the power of His people’s message. Jesus did the same thing when He spoke to people before His crucifixion and resurrection. While this method is still used today God transitioned, and still transitions, to the third means of proving His presence in the life of His people.

This third means was the unity among believers and the love for one another they exhibited toward each other through the care they provided each other.

Miracles are great but a greater miracle is when a person gives generously of himself and his stuff for the benefit of his fellow man.

The early believers took care of one another in the Church. While the church also helped those outside its community they understood their first responsibility was to those inside the community. Their love for one another was a very powerful magnet for people wanting to come to know Jesus as Savior.

If we are going to see God’s Kingdom come and His will be done on earth today we are going to have to speak to others about Jesus courageously and love those in the Church generously.

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Who is this Jesus?

Acts 2.36 reveals God has made this Jesus both Lord and Christ.

Jesus is Lord of all that is and was and is to come and is alone the means for humanity to be reconciled to God. As Christ, Jesus is the Savior of the world.

This means it is only by Him and through Him that humanity can be reconciled to God.

Jesus is Savior because God requires a sacrifice for all the evil all humanity has done and is doing. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice because He alone lived a perfect life, never disobeying God but always thinking, speaking and doing as God the Father commands all humanity.

While He alone earned His eternal reward He instead offered His life in exchange for all humanity who has always failed to always do what pleases God. The father was pleased to accept this exchange, punishing Jesus on the cross for all the evil things people have done throughout all the ages.

Those who accept this exchange, those who receive Jesus’ work for them, those who humble themselves before God admitting they need a Savior are pardoned and must begin to follow Jesus Who is now their Lord.

Jesus as Lord means He rules not only all things but over individual lives as well. Jesus as Lord is to be obeyed as our Master and we are His slaves.

Jesus is humble and gentle and His way is neither harsh nor burdensome for He is good and He is kind and He is loving.

Yet as Lord, Jesus commands that we obey Him, loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

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Do you know your Bible?

Matthew 22.29 observes you are deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures. Recently the Barna Group published some statistics showing the shift in Christian thinking in two areas of cultural controversy.

The first was over the legitimacy of homosexuality; their numbers indicated more Christians accept that lifestyle as normal now than they did ten years ago.

Second was over marriage and whether homosexuals should be allowed to do so. Again, Christians are increasing in their tolerance of this privilege as well.

The current culture promotes homosexuality hard and heavy through the media and the government education system.

One of the greatest sins a person can make today is to condemn homosexuality. Yet this is the posture of the Bible: that God abhors the practice of homosexuality and will send to hell all those who practice it without repenting of it and turning toward Him for deliverance from it.

The Bible teaches God created the institution of marriage between one man and one woman for several purposes not the least of which is for them to produce godly children: something the homosexual couple is entirely unable to do.

Too many Christians are more influence by the media and academia, both godless institutions bent on promoting the absence of God, rather than Biblical truth which has been given to us by God for knowing Him and obeying His will so that we can live lives pleasing to Him and enter into eternity with Him and all those who have loved God in this world.

If we would know God and live lives pleasing to him we must be diligent students of the Scripture.

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God is looking for Fruit

Matthew 21.43 promises the Kingdom of God will be given to a people that will produce its fruit.

When God lived with people on earth the second time; when Jesus lived in Israel, He established a new covenant, a new order of operation and requirements between God and men.

The old covenant or agreement was with one particular nation whose obligation was to obey God via numerous laws and regulations.

If Israel was faithful then God would so bless them that the world would be envious and so likewise want to know their God so they could also be blessed by Him. Israel failed to obey God and so their land was taken from them.

The new covenant requires people to receive God’s grace through faith in Jesus and to live lives reflecting this relationship summarized in the commands to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Those who do this will receive eternal life with God and God’s Holy Spirit will now live within us so that we can live in a way that glorifies God and bears much fruit. Jesus said as much when He taught that our lives glorify God when they do bear much fruit.

The fruit God desires is the restoration of the world to Himself through Jesus Christ.

Under the new covenant God’s people, the Church, go to the nations proclaiming His grace, mercy and love in Jesus Christ, giving away their lives so that people experience the sacrificial love of God Who also lived as a servant, died as a sacrifice and rose from the dead as Lord and Savior.

In this way the nations will repent and return to God for restoration.

This is the work God requires and expects from His people; the giving away of our lives today for the reconciliation of the world to Jesus Christ for all eternity.

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