“Religious vs. Relationship: A Fuller View?”

If I may, I would like to suggest that most, if not all, believers in Jesus acknowledge we have a relationship and not a religion. We would define religion as a feeble, human attempt through rituals and sacrifices to obtain a relationship with the Almighty; whereas, in a relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, we have this relationship with the Almighty (YHWH, blessed be His Name) by grace through faith in Jesus, and not by any merit of our own.

But what also seems to follow with many who boast of this relationship is a license not to “do” something religiously because it might smack of religion. Have you found this to be so, too? If we do something religiously, like read the Bible every morning or prayer daily, it might become ritualistic, “so I’d best do it intermittently to avoid such.” Have you heard of this?

As I ponder what the Apostle Paul meant in our main text RE the Athenians in v. 22, “You are very religious,” it became evident to me that this was something of value, something commendable—and a good place to start a conversation. 

But if I have nothing religious in my life, if I have no godly habits that lead to a deeper relationship with Jesus, how can I even relate to those who truly are religious in their religion

True, any godly discipline can become ritualist and an end it itself: vain religion. Indeed, I have found I need to refresh myself in my daily prayer times or my daily Bible readings or weekly fellowships by asking myself, “Why am I doing this? Is this an end it itself or am I drawing closer to Jesus through these endeavors?”

What place do you see religious practices have for sincere followers of the Risen Lord? Do they deepen our relationship with Him? Your thoughts….

Main Text: — Acts 17:22-23 (NIV84)— 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.— Philippians 4:8–9 (NIV84)

[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. …— Luke 4:16 (NIV84)

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Heavenly Father, refresh my soul with a gush of Grace and the Wind of Your Holy Spirit. Enliven my regular religious activities with Your Holy Spirit as the Lord Jesus Christ’s Life is manifested in both the seen and the unseen activities of my daily walk with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Pastor Mike

“Pride Prevention”

Date: 01-13-15

Text: — Psalm 34:4-5 — I sought the LORD  and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. [NIV]

The Big Idea: Don’t let pride prevent you from seeking the LORD’s face.

My Thoughts: 

A lot of times it is simply pride that keeps us from asking others for help. I know I even disguised my pride by saying, “I don’t want to bother anyone or be an imposition.” Sometimes I suggest to myself that I can get it done faster without asking for help, but I soon discover the truth of the old proverb, “Many hands make light work.”

But the larger truth is, if I am hesitant to ask for ‘help’ from people, I am definitely hesitant to approach the LORD for ‘help’. But when I let down my pride, as the Psalmist David did, the Lord will answer and deliver me. Suddenly, my face is radiant and the shame is removed.

Lifestyle worshipers, don’t let pride prevent you from seeking the LORD’s face—or help from your brothers & sisters. Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him! Revere Him, all you descendants of Israel! For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From You comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear You will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise Him— may your hearts live forever!

— Psalm 22:23-26 (NIV84)

   Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

— Matthew 18:4 (NASB95)

Heavenly Father,  I humble seek Your face. Deliver me from my fears of abandonment and loneliness. Restore the joy of Your Salvation in my soul so that I may rejoice with my brothers & sisters.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike