Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Do's and Don'ts

Do's and Don't s

Many people who claim to be Christians live by rules, meaning their Christianity is based on what they do and don't do and that is also how they "share Jesus" by telling others what they are doing wrong and what they should and shouldn't be doing.   This wasn't God's intention for Christianity and keeping a bunch of rules really isn't faith as much as it is religion.

Religion is what Jesus had to fight against as He lived on this earth and did His ministry. As you read through the gospel accounts of the life of Christ, Jesus didn't spend His time giving the world a bunch for do's and don'ts's religious rules, He instead gave instructions on what being a follow of Christ looked like and He also spent much of His time debating and confronting the so-called "religious" folks of that day, who were so deep in their legalistic religious practices that they chose rule keeping over a relationship with Jesus and loving others.  Jesus came to not only become our sin sacrifice, he also wanted to do away with ritualistic legalistic religious practices.

It's not much different in our modern world.  We think if we do this we're a good Christian or if we don't do that were a good Christian.  We judge harshly and criticize those both in and out of the church who don't follow or keep our "religious rules".  Sadly, most of our rules come from our spiritual ignorance or immaturity, church traditions passed down by family or our church group.   We boldly claim that is what God said and what the Bible said, yet many times we can't find those words in the Bible or if we do they are taken out of context or misused entirely to back up our opinions, beliefs, and stances.  My friends, that is not Christianity. 

Christianity is being a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  It means desiring our life to reflect His.  Yes, there are certain responsibilities we should do as Christians and yes, there are certain behaviors/attitudes we should avoid. However, trying to live out your faith with a religious list of do's and don't 's isn't going to save you anymore than it's going to keep you saved.  Having an on-going, daily relationship with Jesus Christ, tapping into the power of His Holy Spirit within you, being a student of His Holy Word, and being an active part of His body(as a church member) is what's going to help you grow and mature into a devoted and healthy follow of Jesus Christ.

Dogs and many other animals can be trained by do's and don'ts. Even people can keep rules and breaks rules, but rules aren't why were here or aren't going to take us where we want to go.  Jesus is the only way to God and salvation and He alone saves, not any rules.  Rules, rituals, and traditions do us no good especially when they are the main source and soul reason we claim to be a Christian.

We will not ever grow, learn, develop, or mature in a relationship of faith by keeping rules or living by a list of preconceived do's and don'ts.  Neither will be influence or lead someone to Jesus with enforcing a list of do's and don'ts on them.  Instead of having this attitude of rules, how about growing in your walk with the Lord and because of that growing relationship with Christ, Jesus will lead and guide you to do what He wants you to do according to His Word and Will or He'll lead you to what He doesn't want you to do, not by rules of do's and don'ts, but by relationship. 

If your Christianity is built upon the rules you keep or don't break, I pray you repent and change your attitude.  It's not enough to keep rules, it's about having a relations
hip with the Ruler.

They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”

Colossians 2:21-23(niv)21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's your salvation

It's your Salvation

Philippians 2:12b(niv)
"continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling"

Chapter 2 in the book of Philippians opens up encouraging us to "imitate" Christ and to have they same mindset/attitude of Christ, then Paul puts the focus back on us by telling Christians to "continue to work out their own salvation" , he then proceeds to tell us to do things without grumbling or complaining and become pure and blames, which will set us apart from the way the world is living/acting "crooked and depraved generation" is his words.

We cannot live or act or have the mindset or attitude of Christ unless we are truly taking our faith and our part in the body of Christ(the Church) very seriously.  But, Paul makes a crucial point about our faith, that our salvation though a gift from God through Jesus Christ, is up to us to work out.

Jesus saves, but the only way we stay saved is if we are faithful followers of Jesus Christ, who continue to build our faith, grow our faith, and mature our faith. It's a daily commitment to work out our salvation.  Too many people live with the mentality of I've been saved or baptized and I'm going to heaven, so my part is done and I'm just gonna coast in to heaven some day. Wrong!

If people truly took their faith seriously and they were trying to imitate the mindset of Jesus Christ, our churches would be full each service, our volunteer sheets would be filled up, and we've have a whole body of Christ that was each serving and doing their part.  Yet, that's not the case in many churches.   

In many churches, you have your Sunday morning only Christians,  fair weather Christians, the I'll go to church if I don't have better plans or if I feel like it.  Many who are inconsistent and sporadic in their attendance, giving, and involvement.  Some never attend a bible study, Sunday school class, or small groups. Others only come and warm a pew and never use their gifts to serve the Lord in the church.  So you have  a small minority (10-20% )of your church members who are doing 100% of the work, giving, teaching, and serving in the church. There is something wrong with this picture and the picture Paul is painting in Philippians 2.

People are not working out their own salvation.  They don't understand or care about church attendance, worship, service, involvement, giving, or what it means to even be a member/part of the body of Christ.  People aren't studying or participating in studying and learning God's Word like they should.  People claim they are bored, the topics don't interest them, they don't get anything out of the service, or they can't sit still that long,  the sermon is boring, or the teacher is boring,  they don't do things the way I want or like, and the list goes on and on of all the excuses people use for not being involved and faithful to the very Church they are supposed to be a part of, the body of Jesus Christ and besides the church is about Jesus not me or you!

Working out your salvation means it's up to you, it's your salvation.  You are the only one who will answer to God for you.  No one should have to beg you to attend church,  give to the Lord, or serve the Lord through His Church.  Yet what do many churches do?  Plead with members to volunteer to serve, plead with members to give faithfully to the church,  send out cards, make phone calls and visits  pleading and trying to get supposed members to come to church they are supposed to be a part of in the first place.

If you confessed Jesus as Lord of your life, if you repented of your sins and asked the Lord to save you, if you were baptized for the remission of your sins and gift of the Holy Spirit, then you shouldn't have to be begged to serve, attend, give, worship, participate, and grow.  You should have a desire.  Salvation isn't a free ticket where you get "saved" and do nothing else.  Working out your salvation implies that you have to make an effort to maintain your relationship with Jesus Christ. You have to work on your prayer life, your study of scriptures, your spiritual gifts, your worship, your giving, your faith, and your salvation.  There isn't anything wrong with your church, there is something wrong with your attitude or mindset.

I want to both challenge and encourage anyone who calls themselves a follow of Jesus(a Christian) to live daily for Jesus and working out your own salvation. If you're a Christian you need to be faithful to your local body of Christ(church) and be a faithful part their serving, worshipping, giving, attending, participating, and growing.  Letting God use you and develop your service and deepen your faith.   Stop making excuses for not going to church or not participating or serving. It's time you do your part and stop letting others carry a heavier burden because you're not doing your part.  

A church is only as strong, healthy, and thriving as its members and a Christians is only as strong, healthy, and thriving as their commitment to Christ is. Work out your own salvation daily. The church is the body of Christ, if you're a Christian, you're a part of that body, and your salvation is up to you.  Jesus already provided the gift of salvation, it's up to us what we do with it, and we will answer someday how we worked it out or didn't work it out. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Membership has it privileges

Membership has its privileges

That's a popular slogan of a credit card company that wants to entice you to use their card and with it the privileges of being one of their members.  Many people join organizations and clubs for the "privileges" that come along with being a "member".  Unfortunately, we bring that same mentality into our churches.

Church membership is not the same as joining some country club or other organization, as a matter of fact, being a church member is a privilege that we get to even be considered a member of the body of Christ, which is what the church.

We live in a world with a consumer mentality, meaning, we want to know what benefits we're going to get or "what's in it for me" if we join this shopping rewards club, or use this credit card, or join that social club or group.  Church is the opposite, meaning, we get to participate and be a part of Jesus' spiritual body when we become Christians and the benefits are from God.

Not only that, but this membership is to honor Jesus and give Him glory and worship.  It's about Him and not about us.  We are blessed that He would even allow us to call ourselves "Christians" and be a part of His membership.  Not only are we privileged to be Christians and members of His Church, but He is also counting on us to grow and mature in our faith, build our hope, and use our gifts, talents, abilities, time, and treasures to build up His body by reaching lost people, sharing our faith, and discipling others.  

We must change our mindset and attitude that church is about us and what we want and what we get out of it and if I'm comfortable and getting my way.  Instead we must approach church membership as a privilege we don't deserve, but appreciative of God's grace and mercy and grateful we are allowed to participate in this Holy body.

Imagine how different the local church would be if Christians took their namesake serious and they took there membership into the Church with more reverence, commitment, and realizing it's all about Jesus and not us.

May we all realize the privilege we have of being saved, being Christians, and being members of the Lord's church.

Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.