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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Many people today think of Jesus as being the founder of Christianity, especially here in the USA. Most people think of Christianity as a religion, one of many different religions in our world. In bible times people started calling those who followed Jesus Christians because they were following the example of Jesus, or acting like Christ. Today it seems Christianity is thought more of as a religion than it is a lifestyle of following Jesus. Jesus did not come to start a religion.

jesusisnotchristian

Jesus does not belong to any particular religion. He loves and accepts people no matter what they believe or where they are from. He came to show the love of the Father to the human race, not to start a new religion for people to obey and follow.

If we mean Christian as being a follower of Jesus or living a life following his example, then there is nothing wrong with using this word to describe our fellowship with Him. If we use Christian as a sense of belonging to a particular church, following a particular doctrine and set of rules, then I would rather not be called by that term.

Jesus is the Son of God, and He loves all people. He does not see Muslims, Jews, Christians or any religion. He loves people. He sees people who need the love and acceptance of God. The only way people are going to come to true fellowship with God is through Christ…not Christianity. Just as Adam sinned and sin entered into the world, Christ came into the world and through his actions grace entered into the world.

It is time we stop looking to the organized world of religion as our way of becoming acceptable and pleasing to God. There is nothing we can do to earn our way to God, it is only by the work and grace of God. We are to look to Christ and allow Him to live through us and let Him love all those we meet each day. Stop demanding that people come to follow your doctrine, your rules, your beliefs and accept people as they are. Show the love of Christ to them and let God work in them the way He sees fit.

We are never going to completely agree with each other on doctrine and religion. Only through Christ and the love He gives will we be able to love and accept others. Let us be known by the true sense of the meaning of Christian, someone who is following the example of Jesus and letting his love touch all people no matter if we agree on things or not.

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I grew up in the traditional church environment and followed the religious teachings and doctrines over the years. I have seen a lot of things that I now question and wonder why things were done that way.

godonthrone

Over the years many of us have come to see God as a big super human person sitting up in heaven somewhere just waiting to punish us for our mistakes. We see him as being impersonal, judgmental and many times as someone to fear.

Yet when we think about the life of Christ and know he was sent from God to show us what the Father is really like we come to see God in a different way. When we read about how Jesus lived and treated people we see him as loving, compassionate, kind and accepting. Jesus came to show us that the Father is the same way.

After Jesus left this life on earth the Father sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. Think about it, God in Spirit form lives within us and among us right now. He is not a super human person way up there somewhere but He is right here within us.

God is not out to get us and punish us every time we mess up. I think God gets a bad reputation from some of the writings in the bible due to men, although they were inspired by God, threw in some of their personal views. Obviously if you were inspired by someone to write a book you would still write it from your perspective. Anything man has a hand in is going to be flawed, but the bible is certainly inspired by God and when combined with the leading of the Holy Spirit will be purposeful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness and guiding us to the living Word of God who is Jesus.

Rather than running around being afraid of God and waiting for the judgment of God to fall, look to Jesus and see that God is love. Whenever punishment is needed it is only for our good and it is done in love. Just as a loving parent sometimes punishes their child it is done in love and for correction that is for the child’s own good. We are not waiting to be destroyed by a God who loves judgment and condemnation. We are living with a God who is love, who created us and who wants the best for us during our time on earth.

godislove

Stop being afraid of the Father and seek fellowship with him. If you hear a pastor telling you that God is out to get you and that you had better shape up or else, get away from there and find brothers and sisters in Christ who will be encouragers and who will help build you up rather than condemn and scare you. Fear of judgment will not lead you into a loving relationship with the Father. Only true love, godly love, will be what draws us into fellowship with Him.

God is love. For those of us who are followers of Jesus we should also be known for our love. As Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39, And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

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Lately I have been thinking about the way christians, gays and atheists treat each other. Certainly talking about this can easily upset a lot of people, especially christian people.

I write from a christian perspective and I have many christian friends, along with many gay and atheist friends. I do not want to sound like I am taking sides or be condemning of anyone.

What bothers me is the way many christian people have so much hatred and animosity toward atheists and the LGBT community. When speaking of christian people it seems many have feelings toward gays and atheists that are not very Christ-like. There are times I can hardly believe the words and actions of christian people toward them.

Angry christian

True christianity is not a religion, it is people who believe in and follow Jesus. As followers of Jesus we want to live like him, and he was loving and kind to all people. So many people who call themselves christian are so far from following his example, especially when it comes to gays and atheists. Rather than being known for our love, some christians seem more like the pharisees of Jesus day. Pharisees were the religious leaders who Jesus would continually reprehend because they thought they were so much better than everyone else. Many christians nowadays see gay and atheist people as their enemy, and that is certainly not the case.

The fact is God loves all of us, and as his followers we are to do the same. Just because people do not all believe the same or act the same, we all deserve to be loved and accepted as we are. God loves us as we are, even before we came to follow him. A lot of christian people tend to forget this fact.

Now I also see a lot of demeaning comments from several gay and atheist writers about christian people from time to time. Sometimes I wonder if it started because of the mean comments from christians, but I do not like to see such things from anyone. If we could just get past the labels people put on one another and see the human being, the person who wants the same things: acceptance, happiness and love, I think we could do much better at getting along even in our differences.

I know we are not all going to agree on things, although as christians we have the power through the spirit to love and accept all people no matter who they are or what they believe. As people of God, we are to be known for our love for one another. Many of us have a hard time loving other christians not to mention those who think differently. Showing love goes a lot further than fighting, arguing and condemning.

loveacceptance1

We know not everyone is going to change their mind and believe in God as we do. As christians, we want everyone to know and enjoy the love and acceptance of our Father, but we need to remember it is the Spirit, not us, who draws people to the Father, and it is through love rather than rule keeping and condemnation. Those who choose not to follow a christian belief still deserve our love and understanding, even when we do not agree. I think many times christian people are afraid to accept others who are not christian because they feel it is denying their faith. They feel accepting others in love is saying we are in agreement on everything, yet they think they should be pointing out what our differences are and leading them to a christian faith. My viewpoint is we should love and accept others as Christ did and leave any convicting or changing to the Holy Spirit.

Rather than condemning and avoiding those who are different than us, we should be willing to spend time getting to know, accept and understand others. We can talk and discuss our differences and learn from each other, yet without the expectation that we are going to change anyone.

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In our world today, people are constantly fighting over who is right and who is wrong, or whose rights have been violated. Abortion rights, women’ rights, gay rights, discrimination by race, gender, nationality and on and on it goes. I think we could come up with a different topic each day to fight and argue over.

In the natural world, I do not think this will ever change. Each of us want to have our rights upheld, and we do not want to back down from what we think are our rights.

In Kingdom living, I’m not sure any of us really have any rights. We have turned everything over to God and we let His life flow through us. At least, that is the way it should be. We have been crucified with Christ, we are dead to the old self and it’s no longer about what we want, or how we want it, but letting His love and compassion live in us every day.

God created man (being both men and women) in His image. No one group of humans are better than another. There is no upper, middle and lower class of human beings. We were created in His likeness, and we are equal in His eyes. Needless to say, in our world each of us grow up in different cultures and have different opportunities and lifestyles, so there are upper, middle and lower classes based on economics, but spiritually each of us are created equally in His image.

One area that has been given a lot of light recently is the decision in Indiana of the so-called Religious Freedom Act. Although I don’t understand the law completely, it is certainly not right for anyone to be discriminated against. Truthfully, I do not know why, especially in America, we need a religious freedom act. We already have all the ‘religious’ freedom we need. True, there are certain things we feel are being taken away, but honestly, we are free to love God, talk to God anytime and anywhere, love others, attend church or not attend church, and many other things without the fear of being put in prison or killed.

Acceptance1

In regard to the Religious Freedom Act, I personally believe the gay and lesbian community should be free to live their lives and be loved and accepted like anyone else. It seems we Christians want to demonize gay people and say they are worse than anyone else. I’m not sure why that is, but I certainly do not believe this is the way it should be.

Even those who try to show acceptance have a strange way of doing so at times, such as a recent posting I saw on Facebook stating something like .. Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, yet you can’t make a cake for a gay couple? I understand what they are trying to say, but to me the underlying message is still saying that being gay is a sin.

Truthfully, I don’t think we are to be the judge of such decisions. We are not called to say who is right or what is sinful. We are called to love God, love others and make disciples. The decision of who is right or wrong, what is sinful and what is not is in God’s hands, not ours. The Holy Spirit will convict the worldly of any sinfulness. We are to love everyone we come in contact with, and accept them as they are….just the way God did for us.

We all have different thoughts on what is right and wrong. What we feel is wrong, may not be wrong to someone else. No matter how we feel, do we have the right to point out the issues in someone’s life that we don’t agree with or accept? Many times we want to uphold our right to express our views and point out the differences of others, when we should not say anything, show God’s love and allow God to do what needs to be done.

It seems each of us have certain sins that we consider worse than others. I’m not sure why we are so hard on some things and yet never talk about others. You never hear, gluttons can’t eat at this restaurant…is that a sin or a poor life style? Cussing isn’t allowed around here…is it a sin or a bad choice of words? Smokers aren’t allowed here…is it a sin or an unhealthy choice? No divorced people allowed to participate in our church…is it a sin or a bad choice in your mate? Why do we make so much out of making it our right to point out what we consider sins or flaws in others when we should be showing Jesus and his love to them?

Let’s face it, we all sin at times. There are no levels of sin, none that is better or worse than another. Through Christ, our sinful nature was crucified and buried at the cross. We are now free of the sinful nature, although we obviously still sin when we take our focus off Jesus. Thank God our sins have been forgiven by Christ’s death because God has provided His grace for everyone.

GraceforAll

Just as much as we should love others and accept them for who they are, that doesn’t mean we are always going to agree. Each of us have our way of thinking and each of us have what we feel is right and wrong, and we don’t have to give that up. We do need to realize we are all different, we feel different ways about things, and we consider different things right and wrong. We should not discriminate against anyone for being different, and we should love and accept everyone and just agree to disagree on some things.

I think it is time to stop being negative and focusing on what we think is wrong, stop worrying about our rights and start realizing that God loves each of us. We need to stop putting people into groups we do not want to associate with or those we treat differently, and accept the fact that we are not all the same. We can accept and love one another in Christ by letting Him live through us, and loving those He brings into our lives each and every day.

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As Easter approaches, a popular morning TV program has been doing a series on the topic, ‘Can you be Spiritual without being Religious?’.

Now I don’t agree with every opinion given, but that the topic is being discussed is a good thing, bringing to light that there is a difference between being spiritual and being religious.

Obviously these days when you use the word spiritual, you can get into all kinds of strange thoughts and ideas. When I say spiritual, I am talking about a daily life following Christ and allowing His love to flow through us.

Spiritual Religious

My wife and I are no longer religious, but we are more aware of the spiritual, day-to-day life with God.

We realize that God is not a being up in heaven, coming down to visit us only when the conditions are right, or we are in a certain building, or we have been extremely ‘good’ over the past week.

No, God is spirit, and He is with us constantly. More than that, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God dwells within us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

I am not sure why it is we have always thought of God as a being who is way up there somewhere. The bible makes clear that we are one with God, and that God dwells within us.

We  seem to think that the Kingdom of God is a place we go one of these days when this life on earth is over. I think this also is a big misconception. God says His Kingdom is within us. That means right now, not some future date.

If we could only get these truths in our head and in our spirit, I think we could live a life that would really make a difference. People would see such a change, a life of love, caring, power and compassion. Unfortunately, we have been taught by religion that this just isn’t the case. We rely on trying to work hard, follow the rules and just survive until we get to heaven. So we go on, living life without the power of the Kingdom of God, arguing amongst ourselves over doctrine and belief, and letting people see we really don’t have anything to offer them that is meaningful and different.

It is time we come to understand that God and His Kingdom are within us. He is not up there in heaven waiting on some future day when we go to join Him. God lives in us and is with us constantly.

Jesus was the perfect example of God living in man. We can be Jesus to the world today. We can show love, compassion, and acceptance to the world around us each day. We are not God, but we are one with God. The Spirit is within us and he will teach us and guide us daily. Listen for the voice of the Spirit in every situation. Realize God is within you and allow His love to touch those around you every day.

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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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When we talk about the Word of God, we usually think of the Bible.

If someone says the Bible is just a book, we get all offended and ready to voice our opinion that the Bible is the Word of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we can actually make too much of the Bible. People will hold it up and say it is the word of God and worship it more than we worship Christ. Christ is the true Word of God as mentioned in John 1:1. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

The Word

Many times we Christians focus so much on The Bible that we forget we have the living Word of God inside of us. The Holy Spirit, who is God in spirit form, just as Jesus was God in human form, lives within us.

In John 5:39 and 40, Jesus told the religious leaders “you study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”. The religious leaders of the day spent so much time studying the scriptures that they missed the Living Word standing right in front of them.

There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible, as it is God inspired. Through it we can learn from the past, we see the story of redemption throughout, we come to know the love God has for us and how he purchased our salvation through Christ. We learn what pleases God and we come to know that it is only by Grace that we are in right standing with God.

The Bible teaches us the Law and how we humans are completely unable to live a life pleasing to God through the law. The law was our tutor to bring us to realize that we need God’s grace through Christ.

The Bible teaches us of the freedom we now have in Christ and that only by His grace can we live a life pleasing to Him. There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn or deserve what He has done for us.

We need to focus on Jesus. He is the true and living Word of God. It is when we focus on Christ and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit within us that the written words will come alive with power and meaning.

I like this statement by Mick Mooney, “Above all, trust the Spirit of God in you to guide you. It helps to remember that the Bible is a testimony of the life and finished work of Jesus, not the guide for your life; your Guide abides within you. Certainly the Bible has an important place in our faith walk, but it should never replace the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Christ in us is our hope. Christ in us is how we learn, and how we are led by God”.

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