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Jesus is the only One who can save people. No one else in the world is able to save us.” Acts 4:12 (NCV)

There is, within each of us a desire to believe in something greater than ourselves. Something more powerful. More passionate and loving. Something that can take us from where we are and bring us to new levels of freedom, hope and peace.

The world is full of answers. Full of people and systems that urge us to follow their way and buy into their system of beliefs. It doesn’t take long to realize that all of that comes with a cost. It could be our lives. It could be money. In most all cases it requires that we ‘do something’ to prove our worthiness.

The enemy’s game plan is to burden us down with rules and regulations. He is fully aware that Jesus came to give us freedom. His goal is to make sure that we never experience the freedom purchased for us on the cross.

He’s also aware of our desire to believe. It may come a surprise to many, but Satan is a great fan of religion and he wants each of us to hold strongly to religion. His personal favorite is atheism by the way, but he’ll settle for any of the other ones. The important thing is that you realize that salvation comes at a cost and if you are going to be saved you must follow the rules.

Religion is a monster whose hunger will never be filled by human activity. The demands are too steep and we are too weak. We fail. We try again. We fail again. We lost heart. We stop trying or try a different religion or relationship. The end result is that we sink into this pit of despair that says “It’s no use. There’s no hope. I simply can’t do it.” We lose. Satan wins.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to burden us with rules and regulations. His purpose for being here is to bring us freedom. He didn’t come to condemn us (John 3:17) he came to give us freedom (Galatians 5:1).

The battle for our faith tells us that we have to perform to be spiritual. The Bible tells us otherwise. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.

There is nothing you can DO to be a good Christian. All the things we measure our ‘spirituality’ by (going to church, reading the Bible, praying, etc) aren’t supposed to be duties to make us better Christians. They are activities that deep our relationship with Jesus. He purchased our salvation on the cross. He sealed our eternal fate in his resurrection. He doesn’t ask for our actions. He only asks for our heart.

Satan would have you believe that you must do something to be spiritual. Jesus only asks that you take his free gift and live in freedom.

The Truth Statement in the battle for our faith is: Our spirituality is based on relationship not rules.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘doing’ and not resting in the fact that my spiritual life rests in relationship and not activity. The enemy is constantly reminding me of my failures and shortcomings in order to keep me in bondage. Forgive me for listening to him. Today I will live in the truth that my walk with you rests on relationship not rules. Thank you. Amen.


“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. John 5:28-29

Have you ever been in a large room with a large group of people? There are conversations going on all around you. Some are a little louder than others. Some are laughing, some engaged in serious conversation.

Suddenly, in the midst of all the noise you hear the voice of your loved one. Not calling you necessarily. Their voice doesn’t even have to be louder than the others. You hear it because it’s a voice of distinction. It’s a voice you know because you love that person. You’ve talked with that person during intimate times and while discussing the mundane things of life. You respond because you have a love relationship with the owner of that voice.

Someday, and perhaps soon, Jesus will return to earth. He’ll come to gather up those who recognize his voice. He’ll call them from the grave that has held them. With one word they will come forth because they will recognize the voice of the one whom they love.

These are the ones who have walked with Jesus during the tough times of life. They’ve followed his ways when the world screamed at them to follow them. They have struggled. Some have fallen, often. But every time they failed they would return to him for forgiveness and then try again to change their ways. Some were victorious in areas of their lives. Some struggled from the day of their birth to the time their earthly bodies could no longer hold them. Regardless of the struggles, they respond because they know his voice as the one they love. This was the voice of one in whom they built a relationship.

Sadly, there will be others who will come forth. These are the ones who heard the voice once or twice but never responded. They chose the way of the world rather than the way of God. They worked hard to make sure that they enjoyed all the ‘good things of life’. They may have followed religion. They may have been spiritual. But they never responded to the call of Jesus to come to him for forgiveness.

They will respond to his voice now. They won’t respond because they recognize him. They will respond because Jesus is Lord of all. He is Lord over those who have responded to him in life. He is Lord over those who have rejected him in life but will come forth in death.

Those who have built a relationship with Jesus in life will be called forth to join him for eternity. Those who have not built a relationship with him in life will be sent into eternity without him,

Today, Jesus is calling you. He’s calling you to enter into a relationship with him. He’s calling you to receive the forgiveness and mercy and grace that comes freely because of his death and resurrection. He’s asking you to let him enter into your life. Someday, and someday soon He’ll call you again. This time, He won’t call you and ask to invite him into your life, He’ll call you to enter into his home. A home that will last for eternity. A home that is free of sin and sorrow and sickness and death.

Will you answer his voice today? Will you accept his invitation now to join in relationship with him based on forgiveness and mercy and grace? Let him live with you now so you can live with him in eternity.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’ve heard your voice on occasion. I’ve heard about you. I’ve even attended places that teach about you and I’ve sung your songs. But I’ve never asked you to forgive me of my sin. I’ve never chosen to follow you in obedience built on relationship and love. I’m asking you now. Forgive me of my sin. Enter into my life now so I can spend eternity with you. In your name I pray. Amen.


The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Moses and the Israelites were trapped. Ahead of them lay the Red Sea. Behind them, the Egyptian army was closing in fast. It was a hopeless and fearful situation. The Bible says that they cried out to the Lord in their fear. The answer they got was (my paraphrase) “Why are you standing here crying and whining to me about such a small matter? Put your staff up, split the sea and cross! Then turn around and watch how I will deliver you.”

They did just that, and, as we know, the sea parted, the Israelites crossed, and the elite Egyptian army was destroyed! The prayers of God’s people were answered but only after THEY took action. Sometimes it’s not enough just to pray, we need to act.

If God is speaking to you about an enemy that you need to stop hating and start loving, don’t just pray about it, pray sincerely asking God to show you ways to mend the relationship. Then…DO SOMETHING! That something may just mean forgiving them and moving on. That something may mean doing some tangible act to mend the relationship. Sincere prayer often requires action on our part to see God act.

There are times, of course when God will provide answers without a physical action on our part, but even then we must be openly seeking guidance from our Father to know how to act. Do we wait, or is he giving us direction? The closer we are to him in relationship the easier it will be to discern his plan for our lives.

Many times, when Jesus healed someone it required some action on their part to be healed. For example, was there something magical in the mud that Jesus put on the blind man’s eyes so he could see? No, but the act of faith to go to the pool and wash was proof of his sincerity! Was Jesus’ robe ‘magic’ when the woman touched it? No. It was her act of faith the provided the avenue of Jesus’ power to heal her.

What are you seeking God for today? Have you come to him with a pure and sincere heart? Have you come believing that he is willing and able to save? Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone and do something ‘spiritually risky’ in order to open and avenue for his power to flow through you?

When you come before your Heavenly Father with a sincere and pure heart he draws close to you as well. He crosses the room to meet you as you enter. He gives you his full attention. He may not give you the answer you were hoping for, but he always gives you the answer you need.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many times I’ve prayed and felt like you didn’t answer. So many times my prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling and fall harmlessly to the floor. Help me to pray with a sincere heart and a willingness to take any action that you may ask of me so that your power can flow freely through me. Forgive me for my doubt, rebellion and selfishness. Help me grow in relationship to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

When the Lord came to a young man named Gideon he wasn’t approaching someone who we’d see as ‘hero’ material. By his own admission he wasn’t someone who’d stand out in a crowd. No six-pack abs. No fancy car. No mile long resume describing all the people he’d saved. He was just a simple farmer from an obscure family.

In fact, when the angel of the Lord came to Gideon he was threshing wheat in a winepress so he could hide from the enemy! Hardly a sign of courage and valor. Certainly not the way you’d expect a national hero to act. We’d rather see our hero standing atop a hillside announcing to the enemy hidden among the rocks that he was going to thresh wheat as well as anyone who tried to interrupt him!

But, that wasn’t Gideon. At least that’s not the Gideon at the beginning of the story. But then God came along and changed everything. He told Gideon that he was going to be someone great. He, Gideon, was going to be a national hero. Gideon, like any of us, doubted God’s word. Some chastise Gideon for putting God through a series of tests to see if the message was truly of God. I don’t. I see the fleece idea Gideon had as a sign of cautious wisdom. “Okay God, if it’s you make the fleece wet and the ground dry.” [done!] “Okay, God, one more test. Make the fleece dry and the ground wet. [done again.]

From that point on, it doesn’t seem like Gideon has much doubt of his capabilities. Not with the God of peace at his side. Not when he tore down the idols of his neighbors. Not when God told him to whittle down his army to 32,000 to 300!

What was it that gave this simple farmer the courage to conquer his enemies? Peace. Not peace in his own abilities to get the job done. Peace in his God. Gideon learned that when a person has God at his side there doesn’t need to be any worry or fear. Even in the most overwhelming situation God will find a way of deliverance.

That’s grace. Grace says that even though I don’t deserve it, God will walk with me and give me the strength to overcome whatever is before me. Peace is the result of trusting in God’s power, not our own.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many times when I struggle and fail. I worry about the future. I worry about my ability to overcome the stuff that lies ahead of me. Thank you that success in my life isn’t based on my ability, but on your power. Empower me by your Spirit to grow in relationship with Jesus so that I can experience the power you have for me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

 

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