Posts Tagged relationship

True or False?

by Rev. Rick Robinson

In this information age we live in, social media groups like Facebook, Twitter, and so many others, are used daily by millions. Sometimes I see some pretty off the wall statements on these networks. In fact, if you do a Google search on a particular subject, it is likely you can turn up multiple answers for your subject. Where do you get your information today? How can you know if something is true or false? I could write about government, automobile history, or any number of other subjects that interest me here at length. The subject I choose to present here is relevant to all. It is of the spiritual nature. No, not just religion, but a genuine relationship with God. Religion is man’s attempt to reach out to God. That’s why there are so many different ones. Jesus Christ is God’s attempt to reach out to man through a meaningful relationship–and there is only one way to have a relationship with God.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When people think of religion or spiritual life, they most often relate the subject to a church. There is a major false concept of what the church is and what the role the church in your life is. Most Americans (even Christians) really don’t understand what the relationship between the organized church and the members (the real church) should be. Six out of ten people drop out of church for at least two years of their life. Why does church become so “not relevant” to so many? One of the top reasons people drop out of church is because they have unmet expectations. Even people who attend church weekly, and get involved in the ministries, can get so wrapped up in church programs or producing ministry results that they lose sight of living in a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

43% of Americans say it doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons. Where did all these experts come from, and where did they learn that? 50% of Americans believe that God loves everyone and all people will go to heaven no matter what they do. I talk to a lot of people door to door, and most people think to get to heaven, your good works must out weigh your sinful acts. When I ask them where the line you cross to tip the scale in your favor is, they don’t know, yet they think they are going to make it to heaven because they never did anything that bad. For those who don’t know where the line is, it takes just one sin to tip the scale against you.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There are those who think to get to heaven, you have to live by the Ten Commandments, yet most of them cannot name the Ten Commandments, or even tell me where they are in the Bible, so we can look them up together. You are betting all of eternity that you are right about what happens to you when you die, don’t you think it’s time to stop taking opinion as fact, and discover the truth for yourself?

1 John 5:13

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

We must look to the original source to discover what is true. Do not take the word of a pastor (including me) over looking to the Bible for yourself.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In a 2011 survey, 26% of people who have been to a church before said that their life had been changed or affected “greatly” by attending church. Another 25% described it as “somewhat” life changing. 46% said their life had not changed at all as a result of going to church. Not going to church is not the obstacle to having a genuine relationship with God. Attending church is just religious activity by itself.

Out of the Americans that claim to be a Christian, 78% strongly agreed that spirituality is very important to them. On the other hand, only 18% of those same people claim to be totally committed to investing in their own spiritual development. This is the first real obstacle to Jesus Christ becoming real in your life. Be honest with yourself. Do you have a genuine commitment to investing in your spiritual life, or do you just attend church?

The next real obstacle I will list here is sin. This is second on the list not because it is not as important, but because if you do not have a commitment to developing a relationship with Christ, you will not take sin serious.

Out of those in America who consider themselves to be a Christian, 56% say they have not experienced the life God wants them to have. Only about 3% of these people say they have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted to His will for their life, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people. Are there areas in your life that need to be surrendered to God? Are there areas where you need to trust Him more? The word repent does not mean to quit sinning; it means to have a change of heart. Simply showing up at church will not deal with these matters of the heart. You must have that commitment previously discussed when it comes to sin.

This brings us back to the obstacle of religious activity. 39% of people who claim to be a Christian have participated in a combination of three religious activities in the past week such as, attending church services, praying, and reading the Bible.

I am not saying that these are not important, but when it comes to the deeper expressions of a walk with Christ, participants are far and few between.  Less than 10% of these same people have talked about their faith with a non-Christian, fasted for religious purposes, or had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week.

Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 Most people who claim to be a Christian say that they feel comfortable and connected within their church. 80% of people first attended church because someone personally invited them. Over 70% say the reason they stay in church is because of the relationships. Only 21% of those who attend church on a regular basis believe that spiritual maturity requires a vital connection to a community of faith. Only 35% claim to have confessed their sins verbally to another believer at some point during the three months. They are just there for the fellowship. If you go to church, why are you there? If you do not, what keeps you away? Isn’t it time to look to the source for real answers for your life instead of opinions formed by experience, or taking another persons word for it?

Acts 17:11

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

God has more for all of us all to enjoy, no matter where we are in our walk with Him today. Going to church is a good start, but working on these obstacles will put you in a position for Christ to become more real and personal in your life every day.

If you want to know how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, click here.

Copyright 2012 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

MyChurchGrowth.com

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Help Wanted … Under Qualified But Overwhelmed

by Rick Robinson

Did you ever feel like God has call waiting, kind of like your telephone, and He switches between the calls He wants to talk to—and you’re the one on hold? Here you are in the most difficult of situations, and God doesn’t seem to be concerned about it at all. If this description fits your life right now, you and God are in a great place to help each other. Yes—I said help each other. Let me explain. There are scores of stories in the Bible to illustrate this, but I have selected accounts of Moses as an example. 

God called upon Moses to help deliver the people out of Egypt. God did not need Moses, any more than He needs us, but He loves working together with us. He is not cold and impersonal, but a relationship oriented God. Trusting us with a task is one of the ways God draws us closer together. Even as God ask Moses to participate in the deliverance of His people, Moses feels under qualified.

Exodus 3:10-11

“Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”

God has great patience with Moses, showing Him miracles and proving His power, yet Moses continues to express his own feelings of being under qualified and overwhelmed, even begging the Lord to enlist someone else. 

Exodus 4:10

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 

Have you ever made excuses about why you can’t do something for God? I am a pro, but He is not impressed with that part of my resume. As Moses surrenders to “help” God with this task, we can see the relationship transformed as he transfers his trust from his own ability over to confidence in God. If you want your relationship with God to prosper, you too will have to look at the truth of His ability, not your own. 

While the people are in the desert for what should have been a short journey, disobedience sends things sideways. There is no meat and fresh produce in the desert and the people grumble wishing they had not left Egypt. Moses is found questioning his own relationship with God, because he is looking to himself for answers. Once again, Moses is feeling under qualified and overwhelmed and perhaps overlooked. Have you ever felt that way? You’re in good company and not alone like you thought. 

Numbers 11:11-15

So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? “Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? “Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. “So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” 

Quail would migrate across the Sinai Peninsula in large numbers at certain times during the year, usually between March and April. God brought the birds over the camp of the Israelites with a great wind in the evening, and also wherever they camped for forty years, daily He dropped manna to the ground with the dew. Each family was to take what they needed with no leftovers. God made the manna unfit to eat overnight, so it was of no use trying to store up a supply. Daily trust in the Lord for provision was required. In case you wonder about it as you read, a measure of omer is about 2 liters. 

Exodus 16:16-24

This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt. Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 

This was not the normal manna they were familiar with. It melted in the sun, it became foul overnight, and it could be worked into nutritional bread. This was not a normal substance that the people recognized, it was a miracle. 

Deuteronomy 8:3

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 

If we want to live in the provision of God and share in deep fellowship with Him, we will need to take heed of these words the Prophet Isaiah wrote. 

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 

Isaiah used this timeless picture of the heavens, which is a great illustration of the wonder of our God. We cannot even imagine the things He has created. The speed of light is our basic measurement for distance in space (the heavens). Light travels at some 186,000 miles per second. That means a beam of light could travel around the earth several times in one second. We don’t all own rockets, but most of us own a man made car. If you could drive your car non-stop to the sun, it would take over 160 years to get there, yet the light from the sun (God’s creation) reaches us in seconds. How great is your God? Are you still looking for provision on your own standard? Are you looking for a place to serve in your own ability or still making excuses of why you will fail? God wants to provide for you, and wants your help in some capacity. Most of all, God desires an intimate relationship with you. Did you know God has given you manna (bread) from heaven? Will you scoff and complain, or expect daily supply?

John 6:30-33

So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 

You and I may be under qualified for certain things and we may be overwhelmed with others, but God is neither under qualified nor overwhelmed. His word will accomplish everything as He desires, and you are a part of that plan—we all are. 

Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 

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The Power of One

By Rev. Rick Robinson

When everything is going your way it is easy to feel proud of yourself and have hope for the future. Our confidence in our ability to accomplish something can lead us to be proud of where we are going or how far we have come. Our pride can also cause us to put other people down, overlook our own faults, and lift us to a position that may not be a reality. This is caused by ignorance of the future as we arrogantly predict how life will turn out—good or bad, based on the power of one—that is ourselves.

On the other hand, doubting our ability to accomplish all that we hope for can lead us into the feeling of everything being against us. Maybe you feel you don’t have the talent, skills or the right contacts. You’re in good company; many godly people in the Bible felt that way. Who was Moses trusting in when he had this conversation with God.

Exodus 4:10-13

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

Maybe you are one that feels God will do things for other people but not for you. What do you base that on? No matter what is taking place in your surroundings it may be time to re-asses priorities. When pride overlooks our failure, it may overlook many of our sins. It is easy to point out sins that are committed, but it is much easier to overlook the sins of omission, that is—the things we ought to do but yet do not. It is easier to detect wrong than the absence of right. For example, our plans should demonstrate our dependence on the Lord, not ourselves. When we do not trust in the Lord it is a sin of omission. Likewise, Christ calls every believer to be a witness for Him. When we do not share our faith, it is a sin of omission. When we avoid doing anything our Lord has asked us to do, it is just as much a sin as any sin committed.

James 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

James not only tells us we must be watchful for the sin of omission, but we also see that a man who brags about future plans while ignoring God’s sovereignty is foolish. I am guilty of this more frequently than I like to admit, for my pride hides it well. God may determine that at the present time, tribulation is a greater need than attaining certain goals.

Romans 5:1-4

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

When we consider the power of one, it is important to understand that it must be Jesus, not ourselves. If a relationship with Christ were automatic, we would not have been given the great commission to share our faith. If it could be done without God’s word, we would not need the Bible. If we could do it alone, we would not need prayer—or the church. Being a Christian is all about a relationship with Jesus Christ. It only happens when we transfer our trust in the power of one from ourselves—to Jesus Christ, regardless of our surroundings.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Where Are You From?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

You probably have heard the old expression, “All roads lead to Rome” at some point in time. When you think of “The Roman Road” today, perhaps you think of sharing the gospel of Christ by using scripture from the book of Romans. The fact is, in Old Testament times, the Romans were the best road builders in the world. Roman roads were straight and level and were made of four layers. They would start with a layer of sand, followed by pieces of stone and rock in concrete, then crushed stone in concrete, and finally a paved surface. Proper drainage was also provided, and where the roads went into the cities, there were raised walkways for pedestrians. Sounds better than the United States roads before the automobile came on the scene, doesn’t it?

Don’t you like the mile markers we have on our interstate system today? Well, in Old Testament times, the Romans placed milestones along the advanced roads to show travelers how far it was to the destination and how far they had come. These stones served another purpose, since Roman law made it possible for a soldier to compel a civilian to carry his pack from one milestone to the next. Jesus had this in mind when he said that if anyone compels us to go one mile, we should be willing to go an extra mile.

Matthew 5: 38-43
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

That is a hard teaching to live by for most of us. Pride, and our sense of justice stand in the way of the “Roman road” to the gospel for us. I have a map of Florida from 1925, given away by Ford Motor Company. (No I am not that old.) None of the roads I use today are on that map. I remember when I was a boy, (in the 1960’s) you could walk in almost any service station and get a free road map. Being able to plan a trip is not something that took place after the first automobiles. Fifty thousand miles of roads were built with this advanced paving throughout the Roman Empire. In the shops in Rome during those days, road maps were even available for purchase. God also wants us to be able to make plans for our life journey, so He gave us a road map we call the Bible.
People did not like traveling in those days for several reasons. Travelers were in danger from bandits.

Luke 10:30-36
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Today, if you look at things from God’s perspective, there are people who have been robbed all around us. You may have been robbed as well, and not realize it.

John 10: 7-10
Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Has Satan been robbing you? Has he stolen your joy…Your peace? How much have you lost, and how much more will he get? Jesus came to give us life to the full, but the enemy lurks on our journey in life to devour us. He doesn’t really need your stuff, he just wants your joy, and your peace, and your relationship with Christ.

1 Peter 5: 8-11
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

God knows when you are hurting. He will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast, even if it does not seem that is possible right now. Don’t feed the lions!

Travelers were completely at the mercy of the local people in that day. Staging posts for the ordinary traveler developed. The inn was built around a central courtyard. Stabling for animals was provided at courtyard level, and other accommodation was above. It was the ancient equivalent of a motel. In theory, the staging posts provided free accommodation, food, and other services were paid for. It was a feature of most of the inns that prostitution was part of the system. Jesus told his disciples to seek accommodations elsewhere. That is one reason it was so important for first century Christians to practice hospitality.

Matthew 10:11
“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.

Romans 12:13
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

another problem with a journey in that day was that taxes had to be paid on goods, wheels, axles, and persons as one passed through successive tax districts. (Toll roads apparently aren’t our idea either.) Your journey in life may seem quite “taxing” at times. Do you feel like one more thing to go wrong and you will break down in despair? Maybe your journey is just there at this time. Maybe the despair has become the lion who devoured your hope and your joy. Is your hope in your ability to navigate through the trouble you face along this journey, or in the one who called you to it? Is not the destination of your journey, and those around you much more important than where you came from?

Greetings on a journey took time. It was not considered polite simply to pass the time of day. It was necessary to ask and receive answers to questions such as “Where are you going? Where are you from? What is your name? How many children have you?” and so on. (Today it would be considered profiling by many.) Jesus gave practical instruction when it came to all these issues.

Luke 10:3-7
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

While you are on this journey in life, you will greet many people. Remember where you came from. There are others around you going through things you have experienced, and they may need help. Will you be that Samaritan on the road of mercy? Your life experiences may bring the encouragement someone needs. Remember where your journey in this life will end. Will you use the “Roman road” of the gospel to provide a map for those who are lost? Jesus knows we are like sheep among wolves, but the peace of God has no limitations except the ones we ourselves place upon it. The journey of life is often inconvenient, dangerous, and taxing, but there are many others going through the same thing you have already seen on your journey. I pray God gives you some encouragement through these words that your journey will be a little less burdensome. We are all in this together, and that includes Jesus.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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