Priorities [Luke 6:10-11]

After looking around at them all, [Jesus] told [the man with a paralyzed hand], “Stretch out your hand.”  He did so, and his hand was restored.  [The Scribes and Pharisees], however, were filled with rage and started discussing with one another what they might do with Jesus.  (Luke 6:10-11)

The religious leaders were more concerned about maintaining their protocol than experiencing God’s power.  Rather than rejoice that God showed His glory by making a man whole, they were enraged that He didn’t bow to their tradition.

These people were so hyper-concerned with practicing their religion “rightly” that they wanted to stop Jesus from changing a man’s life because it didn’t fit their box.

Some people still do.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus came to set you free from religion

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Galatians 2

JESUS CAME TO SET YOU FREE FROM RELIGION

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.  (Galatians 2:4-5)

Religion is slavery, but Jesus came to set you free.

Religion creates burdens too heavy to bear, but Jesus came to bear your burdens.

Religion adds rules to God’s commandments to weigh you down, but Jesus came to lift you up to walk in God’s ways in the fullness of joy.

There is a fine line between godly sanctification and religious slavery, and the biggest difference is usually motivation.  Religion says, “Live right and you will be accepted.”  Jesus says, “In me, you are already accepted, so now you can live rightly as a result.”

Don’t let rules and traditions force you into the obedience of fear.

Let Jesus remind you of His perfect grace, and let that grace result in the joyful obedience of love, because because of the hope found in this truth: Jesus came to set you free from religion.

-Pastor Phillip


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Spirit-led service leads to joy

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 7

SPIRIT-LED SERVICE LEADS TO JOY

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.  (Romans 7:6)

Obligation strips the joy out of obedience. Isn’t it true that when you are forced to do something it’s much harder to be happy about doing it?

This is the dominant method of religion, though.  Rules and regulations and duty and shame and fear, these are the hallmarks of a law-centered life.

But Jesus came to set you free!

If you’re in Christ, your life is no longer about being a slave to sin, which causes you to disobey God’s law.  It’s also not about being a slave to the law itself so that you’re under the constant burden of performance.  Jesus came to give you life so that your obedience to God can now come out of the overflow of His love rather than an obligation to the law.

Here’s the thing.  The hallmark of a life that’s truly free is a genuine desire to serve.  When you experience true freedom in Christ, it will produce gratefulness, a desire to obey Him, and a willingness to share His love with others.  And, you’ll discover that as you pour yourself out, you’ll be continually filled with hope because of this truth: Spirit-led service leads to joy.

-Pastor Phillip


AUDIO VERSION (Click here to subscribe to the daily podcast on iTunes.)


 

Jesus came to set you free from religion

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Galatians 2

JESUS CAME TO SET YOU FREE FROM RELIGION

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. (Galatians 2:4-5)

Religion is slavery, but Jesus came to set you free.

Religion creates burdens too heavy to bear, but Jesus came to bear your burdens.

Religion adds rules to God’s commandments to weigh you down, but Jesus came to lift you up to walk in God’s ways in the fullness of joy.

There is a fine line between godly sanctification and religious slavery, and the biggest difference is usually motivation. Religion says, “Live right and you will be accepted.” Jesus says, “In me, you are already accepted, so now you can live rightly as a result.”

Don’t let rules and traditions force you into the obedience of fear.

Let Jesus remind you of His perfect grace, and let that grace result in the joyful obedience of love, because Jesus came to set you free from religion.

-Pastor Phillip

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

AUDIO VERSION
[click here for today’s. | click here to subscribe via iTunes.]

Really From God?

Why does Jesus keep breaking the rules?

“Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’  But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?'” -John 9:16

Some people are more concerned with the do’s and don’ts of religion than with the deliverance and restoration of people.  It’s not wrong to want to keep the Sabbath, but Jesus said “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)  The spirit of the Pharisees is one that elevates procedure over people, more concerned with enforcing a moral code than expressing and enabling the glory of God through healed lives.

This is simply a deeply rooted and cleverly concealed root of pride.  It is pride that uses religion to beat others down to raise oneself up.  It is pride that bludgeons the soul of a man who was healed by Jesus, telling him his healing wasn’t valid because it didn’t fit in the right religious box or happen on the right day.

Even more than this, it is only a short step to cross over from nit-picky religious legalism to something worse, “calling good evil and evil good” (Isaiah 5:20), denying the work of Jesus and calling into question from whom His power comes.  This is what the Pharisees did in Matthew 12:22-32, and Jesus gave it a name: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the sin that will never be forgiven.

May the Church be a people with the heart of Jesus, concerned less with the regiments of religion and more with showing the glory of God by our passion for people.

Jesus the Troublemaker

Have you ever noticed that sometimes Jesus is a troublemaker?

Jesus said to [the invalid], “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” -John 5:8-11

The crippled man had been waiting 38 years, so surely another twenty-four hours wouldn’t have mattered. Jesus could have healed him just fine and told him to relax and wait to carry his mat the next day, the day after the Sabbath.

But He didn’t.

This was no accident. Jesus knew full well what He was doing: intentionally targeting the legalistic hearts of the religious leaders of His day.

While He never condones sin, when Jesus moves His goal is always to draw the focus to Himself rather than to tradition. His actions consistently demonstrate and declare that resurrection triumphs over religion. Why is this the case? Because it is the power of Christ that restores us, not our own ability to save ourselves.

In this story, in a bold act of righteous rebellion against the man-made rules of religious nitpickers, Jesus prioritized people over principles, love over law, the Spirit of Life over the letter of God’s command.

He still does.

Religious People

“Religious people” can be so dense.

Here they go again… In Luke 20:1-8, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day come to Him with questions, but not good honest, heartfelt questions.  They come with questions designed to trick Jesus, to trap Him and take Him down.

He isn’t fooled, though.  Asked a question about His authority, He poses a counter-question to them: “John’s baptism, was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:4)

What’s interesting is that His opponents’ deliberation reveals something about their character.  In their private discussion, they don’t even mention what they actually believe, only how their answer will affect their own interests.  They are more concerned with looking right than being right, more concerned about people’s opinion of them than the truth.

Most “religious people” are.

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