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by Jim Gordon

I have noticed a very common saying recently in regard to the violence and killings that have made the headlines. It is heard on TV, online and in the newspapers. The saying is ‘our thoughts and prayers are with you’.

It actually sounds really nice and many times it is the only thing people can come up with when they do not know what else to say.

Unfortunately, it only sounds good and does nothing to help make a difference or to cause change.

Thoughts and Prayers WordPress

So often people say this because they do not know what else to do. I certainly believe in prayer to ask God for peace and comfort for the people involved. I also believe in prayer seeking guidance from God for things to do that will help make a change.

Yet many people use this saying because they do not think they are able to do anything to make a change, and often they do not want to make the effort to make changes. So, they make themselves feel better by saying our thoughts and prayers are with you.

In James 2:16 we have a similar situation when people would say “go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet they did not give what was necessary for their body, and what use was that? This falls right in line with James 2:26 which says, for just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Obviously good works do not earn our salvation, but good works will be a result of our salvation. To put it another way we can say that love without works is dead. Saying you love someone but doing nothing to show that love is not real love.

Using good sounding words usually only makes the one saying it feel better. But putting action to our words can make a difference and truly show love and concern to those who are hurting.

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What would you tell someone who asked you what a Christian must do to be pleasing to God?

A lot of people would start out by saying we must go to church, we must tithe, we must obey the ten commandments. They would probably say we have to witness to others and give our money to the poor and probably even some in the USA would say we must vote republican.

Seems like we Christians are hung up on good works and doing things in our own effort to be pleasing to God. If we are not attending church we are backsliding or if we do not tithe to the church we are robbing God. We have all these things we feel we should be doing to be pleasing to God.

OldandNew

I think many Christian’s forget that Jesus died on the cross to fulfill the Old Covenant. He said “it is finished” meaning the old covenant had come to an end. We could not live up to the requirements of the law so Jesus did it for us.

I think the real answer to the question what must a Christian do to be pleasing to God is…..nothing! We do not have to do anything because God provided Grace through Christ. We have become the righteousness of God because after salvation, our fellowship with God has been restored. It is not based on what we have done, it is all on what He has done.

We no longer have to try to keep the ten commandments. Those were a guide, or tutor to lead us to Christ. We no longer have to go to church because through Christ we are the Church. We can assemble together with other believers any day and anywhere. Christ lives in us and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide. We do not need to look to others for guidance and knowledge. We do not have to tithe our money because the old covenant has been fulfilled. We can now give our money out of love and to who and where God is leading us to give. We do not have to force every encounter with someone to witness to them because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws all men to the Father and since He lives in us, we can be open to allow Him to work in us how He pleases.

So many Christians today do not realize the freedom we have in Christ. They do not understand Grace and the fact that we are no longer under condemnation. We do not have to do things to be pleasing to God. We now live under the guidance of the Spirit and we do things out of love not out of obligation and trying to keep rules and commands.

Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. We will still do good works but they are no longer done out of obligation, rule keeping or to earn our salvation. Good works will be a result of our love for God and for one another.

So many of us live day to day under condemnation because we feel we have not done enough for God. We feel we do not measure up because we cannot do something someone else does, or we cannot preach like someone else can. The fact is, God made us the way we are for a reason. The Church is the people who make up the body of Christ and we are all equal and have equally important qualities that God can use. No one is on a higher level than anyone else. We are all brothers and sisters and we are all under one leader, Jesus Christ.

Stop feeling like you are not pleasing to God because of something you do or something you do not do. Christ has provided Grace for all of us and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

Grace1a

We can rest in God’s love. We can enjoy daily fellowship with Him because He loves us. We can be assured that we are now in the Kingdom for eternity because of what Christ has done for us. We can stop depending on others who we think are on a higher level than us or who we think are closer to God. God loves each of His children equally. We are all capable of hearing and learning from the Holy Spirit who is within us. We do not have to wait until Sunday to hear from Him, worship Him or serve Him because we are the Church and every day is the Lord’s day.

Stop condemning yourself and trust God. Let Him teach you, guide you and live through you day by day. We are new creatures in Him. We now live in His Kingdom. Forget the worldly ways and the rules and regulations of religion. Love God, love others and follow Him each and every day.

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I can remember growing up in the organized church being told all the things I needed to do to be a good Christian.

I think most of us who were part of the church were taught we needed to do certainly things to be pleasing to God.

We were all told that we are saved by grace, but after that we have to do, do, do to be good Christians.

What are We to Do

Usually the first thing we are told after coming to Christ is to find a Bible believing church, read your Bible, and witness to your friends. As we got involved in church we were again told to be at church whenever the doors are open, tithe your ten percent, get involved in a small group, do visitation, go on a mission trip, and on and on it went.

To be a good Christian, you can forget about grace because it all depends on how much you can do for God, at least that is the way it seems if you listen to others.

Always being told how to be a good Christian also brings up the thought that if you do not do all the things you are told you should do, then maybe you will be considered a bad Christian, and none of us want to be known as a bad Christian.

So what do we do? We try even harder to do all the things we were told to do to be a good Christian.

I think there are so many people who love God, yet feel so guilty because they just cannot measure up to being a good Christian, at least in the way that we have been told.

Grace

It is time we reprogram our minds from what the church told us and focus again on what God has told us. We are saved by grace, NOT OF WORKS. Ephesians 2:8-9 reads .. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

No More Guilt

We can stop feeling guilty about not doing enough. We need to stop listening to the do, do, do message and realize God has already done it all. God has done all that is needed to have a relationship and fellowship with Him. It is a gift from Him to us.

Good works will naturally flow from us through the love and power of the Spirit, not by our own effort trying to measure up and do things to earn God’s acceptance.

In Christ, we can relax and rest in Him. We do not have to worry about being a good Christian or a bad Christian. We can know that we are loved and accepted by our Father just as we are.

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It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:1-4

As followers of Christ, we have been set free. From what have we been set free? Is it circumcision? I personally think circumcision is a place-holder in this verse. It could be anything we use to try to earn our right standing with God.

It Is By Grace

It is by grace we are accepted, and when we try to do anything….keep the law or do good works, we are putting trust in our work and not the work of Christ.

It we do not trust in the grace of God, the only thing we have left is to keep the Law, and we have to keep the whole Law. Obviously, we cannot do that, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So why is this verse saying we have fallen from grace? What have we done to do so? It is by trying to keep the Law, trying to live by the Old Covenant and rejecting the grace Jesus provided.

The Old and the New

In today’s church it seems, at least for me, that the mingling of the Old and New Covenant is taught. We are told we are saved by grace, but we mature in the faith and live pleasing to God by keeping the Law. This just should not be. The above verse tells us that this is the way we fall from grace.

free from lawWe are free from the Law, we are free from the punishment for our old sin nature (still consequences sometimes, but not punishment), and we are free from trying to measure up by keeping rules and laws.

Jesus has already done all the work that needs to be done. We can now rest in the grace He provided. Good works will follow because of our love for him, not due to an obligation to measure up and earn his forgiveness.

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Do you ever have one of those days when you think, nothing changes. Everything is the same, day in, day out. We get up and go through the same routine, only to get up and do the same thing the next day. As it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, ‘That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun’.

Sometimes I go through this, and it just makes me wonder why I am feeling this way. I guess sometimes I think living for God should be some type of extra special, out of the ordinary life. A way of living that is super spiritual. Of course I know that this isn’t the norm for us. God works in us most of the time in the little things, the regular routine of daily living.

I know God has a plan and purpose for us. Although good works are certainly not a way to earn our salvation, they do bring glory to God. I think we should daily ask for the Spirit to guide us through the day, and lead us into what he has for us to do. Ask God to love others through us as we go about our regular daily routine.

By doing so, we are allowing God to do supernatural things through us when He is ready. We might touch a person in a way we don’t even realize, just by allowing the spirit of Christ to do what he wants, when he wants.

I don’t have the answer to those feelings now and then of each day being the same. I do know that being open to let Christ love through us can make a difference. It may not be us who feels any different, but someone we have contact with during our regular daily routine may receive something special from God. Something they needed, something that makes them say, wow, that was really a different day.

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What would you tell someone who asked you what a Christian must do to be pleasing to God?

A lot of people would start out by saying we must go to church, we must tithe, we must obey the 10 commandments. They would probably say we have to witness to others and give our money to the poor, and probably even some in the USA would say we must vote republican.

Seems like we Christians are so hung up on works and doing something in our efforts to be pleasing to God. We must do this, we have to do that. If we aren’t going to church we are backsliding. If we don’t tithe to the church we are robbing God. We have all these things we feel we should be doing to be pleasing to God.

I think a lot of the Christian world today has forgotten that Jesus died on the cross to fulfill the Old Covenant. He said “it is finished”, meaning the old covenant had come to an end because Christ, by living a perfect life, became the absolute perfect lamb for a sacrifice that would once and for all provide forgiveness to humans, who in their own efforts, could not live up to the requirements of the law.

I think the real answer to the question what must a Christian do to be pleasing to God is…..nothing! We don’t have to do anything because God provided Grace through Christ. We have become the righteousness of God because after salvation, God sees Christ in us. It isn’t based on what we have done, it is all on what He has done.

We not longer have to try to keep the 10 commandments. Those were a guide, or tutor, to lead us to Christ. We no longer have to go to church because through Christ, we are the Church. We can assemble together with other believers any day, any where. Christ lives in us and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide. We don’t need to look to others for guidance and knowledge. We don’t have to tithe our money because the Old covenant has been fulfilled. We can now give our money out of love and to who and where God is leading us to give. We don’t have to force every encounter with someone to witness to them because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws all men to the Father, and since He lives in us, we can be open to allow Him to work in us how He pleases.

So many Christians today don’t realize the freedom we have in Christ. They don’t understand Grace and the fact that we are no longer under condemnation. We don’t have to do things to be pleasing to God. We now live under the guidance of the Spirit and we do things out of love, not out of obligation and trying to keep rules and commands.

The only commands Christ gave under the New Covenant are listed in 1 John 3:23 where it is written: This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

So many of us live day to day under condemnation because we haven’t done enough for God. We feel we don’t measure up because we can’t do something someone else does, or we can’t preach like someone else can. The fact is, God made us all the way we are for a reason. In the true Church, the body of Christ, we all are equal and have equally important qualities that God can use. No one is on a higher level than anyone else. We are all brothers and sisters and we are all under one person, Jesus Christ.

Stop feeling like you aren’t pleasing to God because of something you do or something you don’t do. Christ has provided Grace for all of us, and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

We can rest in God’s love. We can enjoy daily fellowship with Him because He loves us. We can be assured that we are now in the Kingdom for eternity because of what Christ has done for us. We can stop listening to others who we think are on a higher level than us, or who we think are closer to God. God loves each of His children equally. We are all capable of hearing and learning from the Holy Spirit, who is within us. We don’t have to wait until Sunday to hear from Him, worship Him, serve Him because we are the Church and every day is the Lord’s day.

Stop condemning yourself and look to God, love Him and love others. Let Him teach you, guide you, live through you day by day. There is nothing more you need to do than accept Him, love Him and love others. We are now new creatures in Him. We now live in His Kingdom. Forget the worldly ways and the rules and regulations of religion. Take up your cross daily and follow Him.

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Have you ever come across someone who calls themself a Christian, yet the way they act says something different?

I remember an experience my wife had recently. She returned a couple books to what used to be a library. She did not realize the library had closed and a church was now there. A few days later she realized that the library was no longer at this site and went back to the church to get the books.

She said she will never forget the look and condescending attitude of the guy she talked to…who turned out to be the pastor.

My wife assumed that this pastor didn’t agree with women wearing makeup or knee-length dresses. Now I know there are groups that don’t believe in women wearing make-up, and I feel that is up to them how they interpret the Bible and what they feel is right and wrong, but my wife does not in any way over do her make-up, so I did not see any reason why anyone would even think to question the way she looked. Obviously this guy had a different thought on this. He was not nice to her, it was obvious that he didn’t want to talk to her and felt she shouldn’t be in his so-called ‘house of God’. What rubbish.

This whole incident made me think of Jesus when he was with some of the religious leaders of His day and made the statement, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness”.

First off, that building wasn’t the house of God. People tend to forget God doesn’t live in buildings. He lives in people who are saved by grace.

Second, what kind of witness was that to her. This guy did not know if she was a Christian or not. The way he treated her could have been the final straw for her wanting to know God.

We Christians need to stop and think about how we act in the world. We are God’s witnesses to the world. We may be the only witness they see, and if we aren’t living under the guidance of the Spirit of God, we can make a very negative impact of those we come in contact each day.

We need to be careful not to have a religious spirit. Let God’s love for others flow through you. Remember God told us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t be a stumbling block to someone by the way you act and treat others.

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