Posts Tagged sin

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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Creature of Habit

by Rev. Rick Robinson

When I was a boy growing up in rural Marion county Florida, my dog Stubby took up a sport that many rural dogs enjoyed. He chased cars. That was not a habit cats would participate in, because animals really are creatures of habit. Dogs like to chase cars and hang out the window when they go for a ride in a car. I have never seen a cat do that either, what they must think of dogs.

Are you a creature of habit? We all are, to a point. When I need to buy something for a home repair, I go to the same Lowe’s store. No, they did not pay me to mention that, I am a creature of habit. We shop in the same stores, buy the same products (although pricing these days may drive business more than convenience or loyalty) and go to the same places.

Not all habits are convenience or market driven. When we go to church we tend to sit in the same area and even sit in the same seat if it is available. A few years ago, my wife and I walked into a church with a capacity about 1000. We were the only ones there, so my wife selected a seat by placing her Bible and purse on the pew. She then went to find the ladies room. While I was waiting for the pastor in the sanctuary, an elderly lady came in and discovered the purse and Bible sitting on the pew where my wife had left them. “Oh!” the lady exclaimed. “Somebody is sitting in my seat! What shall I do?” Keep in mind there are still close to 1000 available seats. Instead of sitting in one of those available seats, she picked up my wife’s belongings and moved them back a pew. That is a perfect example of a creature of habit.

Habits become such a part of our life that we don’t even have to think about them, they place us on sort of an auto pilot. There are good habits; we call discipline, and bad habits that cause detrimental things in our lives to happen. Although every habit is not sin, bad habits are encouraged by bad thoughts.

James 1:13-15
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

That is a good reason we should take every thought captive.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

For every 100 people that watch a television commercial only a certain percentage will pay attention to it. A smaller percentage will understand what the message was, and an even smaller percentage will relate to it. The percentage of people who will act on the ad by making a purchase will be determined by the repetition of presenting a relative message to the audience. That’s why the chewing gum ad says it will last longer, you will kiss longer, and have whiter teeth, instead of saying it taste good for a while then you spit it out. It has to look relevant and good.

The devil is a pro at making sin look relevant and good. When God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, the sales pitch began and became very persuasive. What Eve was thinking when she made a decision to sin is something we can all relate to. We are often tempted that a certain sin would be to our benefit or enjoyment.

Genisis 3:6
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

If we fail to take our thoughts captive, our thoughts will take us captive. When your thought process comes in obedience to Jesus Christ, it will cut off your bad habits. This is not a complex issue, it just requires one to keep the habit (or the discipline) of staying in God’s word, and thinking about what you are thinking about. You are either a servant of Jesus Christ, or a prisoner of the devil. There are only two choices; the category of “neither” does not exist, except in the minds of those who lack knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 2:24-26
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

We must make it a habit to have fellowship with God and walk in His word. This does not mean you will never sin again. It is a matter of becoming a creature of habit when it comes to taking thoughts captive and bringing them into obedience to Him.

1 John 1:5-9
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The word walk used here is the Greek word peripateo (per-ee-pat-eh’-o) and it means to make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities. Has that become your habit yet? The good news is when we fall, there is forgiveness and hope. Are you walking in the freedom of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, or living as a captive to sin? Allow Christ to rule in your heart and bring you into the fullness of life that no bad habit or sin can provide.

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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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Acquainted or acquitted?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Once when Jesus went to the region of Caesarea Philippi, the question was raised in conversation with the disciples about whom the people were saying that he is. Simon Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” If you were asked that question, how would you answer? Would it be an intellectually learned answer, or would it be a life-changed testimony to the fact? There are many people today who are confused about the question of who is Jesus. Some say he was created, just like Lucifer. That would make the two of them brothers. Some have a form of Godliness in their life, but yet all the testimonies of what they claim God has done for them is used to point to a particular “true church”. Some believe he is the Son of the living God–but then so does the devil.

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

If we have met the real Jesus Christ on a personal basis, then Jesus is the infinite God-man and there is no other that he could be.

John 1:1,14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Does your life express a life changed meeting with Jesus Christ or just an intellectual understanding of who Jesus is? There is a real difference between the two. What is your testimony when you answer the question about who is Jesus? Are you acquainted or acquitted?

Now let me pose another thought for you here. Suppose people were asked that same question about you? Who would the people say that you are? I am not talking about being famous or popular here, but about your character. Is the joy of being acquitted from your sin bringing genuine change to your life? If there is no difference in your you life, is it because you are simply acquainted with who Jesus is? Your circumstances will give you a difficult path to walk at times. When that happens who would the people say that you are? When you are walking through difficult times, you may feel all alone–deserted by the one who saved you as though you are only acquainted. I am guilty of that many times over. Jesus will not always make your difficult times to go away, but you will not have to walk that difficult path alone, if you are acquitted.

Matthew 16:13-16
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
MyChurchGrowth.com

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