Wednesday, April 12, 2017

9:10 AM

In the end, what matters most is not what religion you belonged to, what church you went to, or what denomination you followed.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how good you were, how many good works you did, how much trouble you abstained or stayed away from.

In the end what matters is “did you embrace Jesus, God, and all his truth?”  “Did you believe him, accepted his gift, and lived in the faith of Jesus, who loved you and gave himself for you?”
These are the things that matter. In the end the only thing that matters is whether you believed Him and lived according to that faith.

So, what’s the purpose of religion? Why is there religion in the world? What does it mean? What is it?
And what’s the aim of it? Why have religion?

And when we look at God, then, can we say that God wants us to have religion? Is his purpose for us to be affiliated with a certain denomination? Is that what he wants? What he delights in?

What’s God’s ultimate goal? His sole desire for us?
His purpose and desire is for relationship. So, if this is true, then religion doesn’t matter. What matters then?
What matters is if we believe Him, believe His word, His character, His truth, and then live accordingly.
His word is our manual, our guidance, our wisdom. Through His spirit.

Our aim is to know him. To know we are known. To know what pleases Him. What he says about Himself and us.
How he wants us to live. Why he wants us to live His ways!!!
If we believe Him, then we will believe His promises. His words of wisdom. His guidance. We will trust Him.
With our relationships. Our feelings. Our emotions. Our future. We will embrace His plans.

We will desire what he desires. We will love what he loves. We will rest in His care. In his provision. We will let go of hurts. Pain. Doubts. Fears. Stress. Anxiety. Expectations of others.

We will stop trying to please others. To live for ourselves. To bow down to the world and its ways.
We will love eternity and our hope to come. We will hate evil. We will stay away from sin.
And all these things are the things that please Him, that he delights in. That he loves!

And these are the things that give us His life! His eternal life. A life that flows from our everyday trusting His saving power. His saving grace.
And will always be convinced of our need for Him. Our condition without him. Our sinful state. And our doomed and damned existence without Him.
We will believe His gospel. That apart form Him we cannot save ourselves. Our good works are like filthy rags. We cannot ever measure up to His standards.
And that is what religion teaches us, sadly. To work hard, to strive to be better for the sake of “gaining His approval or His acceptance”. And we cannot do it. That is Satan’s lie. To get us to try our hardest but out of a heart of guilt and shame and fear and not out of a heart of gratitude and love.

God will not take sacrifices. He does not delight in burnt offerings. That’s all a lie!!!

Mark 7:1-23

Mark 7The Voice (VOICE)

7 Then the Pharisees returned to talk with Jesus, and with them came some of the scribes and scholars from Jerusalem.

Scribes and Scholars (seeing the disciples eating): 2 Your disciples are eating bread with defiled, unwashed hands.

3 Now you need to know that the Pharisees, and all Jews for that matter, held the tradition of their ancestors that hands must be washed before eating to avoid being ritually unclean. 4 Likewise, they washed when they returned from the market and followed similar purity teachings as well, from the washing of their food to the washing of their bowls, cups, and kettles.

Scribes and Pharisees: 5 Why don’t Your disciples follow the traditions passed down to us? Why do they eat their bread with defiled hands?

Jesus: 6 Isaiah prophesied wisely about your religious pretensions when he wrote,

    These people honor Me with words off their lips;

        meanwhile their hearts are far from Me.

7     Their worship is empty, void of true devotion.

        They teach a human commandment, memorized and practiced by rote.[a]

8 When you cling blindly to your own traditions [such as washing utensils and cups],[b] you completely miss God’s command. 9 Then, indeed, you have perfected setting aside God’s commands for the sake of your tradition. 10 Moses gave you God’s commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.”[c] And also, “If you curse your father or your mother, you will be put to death.”[d] 11 But you say to your aged parents, “I’ve decided that the support you were expecting from me will now be the holy offering set aside for God.” 12 After that he is not allowed to do anything for his parents. 13 Do you think God wants you to honor your traditions that you have passed down? This is only one of many places where you are blind. 14 (to the crowd that had gathered) Listen, all of you, to this teaching. I want you to understand. 15 There is nothing outside someone that can corrupt him. Only the things that come out of a person can corrupt him. [16 All who have ears to hear, let them listen.][e]

17 When they had come in from the road, His disciples asked Him what He meant by this teaching.

Jesus: 18 Do you mean you don’t understand this one either? Whatever goes into people from outside can’t defile them 19 because it doesn’t go into their hearts. Outside things go through their guts and back out, thus making all foods pure.[f]20 No, it’s what comes from within that corrupts. 21-22 It’s what grows out of the hearts of people that leads to corruption: evil thoughts, immoral sex, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wicked acts, treachery, sensuality, jealousy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All of these come from within, and these are the sins that truly corrupt a person.

Jesus and the Pharisees. This is the greatest example. The Pharisees were so focused on man made religion and all the rudiments that they had come up with, that they completely missed the point of Jesus and His coming.
By obeying the law they proud themselves of their accomplishments. Self righteousness. They thought of themselves as better than others because they thought that their own “efforts and great sacrifices and deeds” made them better than everyone else. In fact, they added more things to the law in order to make themselves better.

But who did Jesus have the most trouble with? Them!!!

He said to them “I came to the ones who recognize and acknowledge that they’re sick. Those who don’t see it cannot be saved or healed”.