Remember the Love of God Always

When you hear the word “God” spoken, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many, it is terms like “all powerful”, “ruler”, “judge”, “creator” and it is certainly true that God is indeed all of these things. Yet He is so much more. One of the more popular cliché statements used in our current culture is that Christianity is not about religion, but about relationship… and while that is absolutely true, for many of us, the truth of that statement is lost in our daily lives.

For many people the relationship with God does not progress beyond the basic “Christian behaviors” and rituals that most people perform because it is what they think a good Christian is supposed to do. I’ve spoken with people time and time again who are not actually living out of a true relationship with Jesus, but out of rituals and traditions that are empty and unfulfilling. And they flounder around – many of them their entire life, searching for something that they don’t even know exactly what, because they can sense something is missing but they have not made the connection, that what is missing is the foundation of a real relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what we will be studying today.

Jesus is the Perfect Sacrifice

God is great. God is mighty. God is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the Creator and Ruler of all. Naturally for anyone who believes, it is easy to proclaim that God is all of these things, and just as naturally we want to give Him all honor and praise which is rightfully His. The question then must be asked, how exactly do we honor God? What is the measuring line by which an offering is measured? By what standards do we judge what is offered to Almighty God?

I have found in my time that many people who like to tout the perfect holiness and awesomeness of God, really don’t give much thought to what they offer Him. It’s an amazing double-standard that a perfect holy God seems to have no trouble accepting flawed offerings. They say “Oh well, just do your best, that’s all God requires.” Really?? Is that what the Bible truly says? In reality my friends, (and if you have glanced up at the title), there is only one truly acceptable offering to God – only one which meets His perfect standard; Jesus. This is what we will be studying today.

Taking Up Your Cross in the New Covenant

A phrase which makes a lot of people uneasy, is when Jesus said to “Take up your cross”. It makes people uneasy because the cross is an instrument of torturous suffering, terrible pain and an agonizing death. It is certainly not a pleasant image to have in our mind, and it generally doesn’t fill us with peace or confidence to have this image imprinted on us either. This situation is exasperated further when religious teachers use this phrase as a way to hammer legalistic, performance-driven ideas into our brain either; as is often the case in many churches today.

So today in this study, we will be examining this phrase from the perspective of the finished work of Jesus Christ, and what this statement means for us today. Jesus obviously said it for a reason, and it wasn’t to frighten or intimidate people – He knew what He was doing and He knew what He would do for us. As we see the truth of Christ in this area, it will free us from the irrational fear that this statement causes due to lack of understanding of what Jesus truly said.

Stay in the Simplicity of Christ

There’s a statement I often say that sometimes offends people… that the Gospel is simple, and there is great simplicity in Christ. This sometimes offends people because they are thinking of the word “simple” to mean stupid. This sometimes also offends people because they have spent their entire lives working hard and studying the scriptures, yet the Gospel is so simple that even a child can understand. So with one single statement I have managed to offend a wide audience. Yet in no way am I suggesting that the Gospel of Christ or Christ Himself are stupid, nor am I suggesting that studying the Gospel is of no value. It may in-fact surprise you to learn that my statement does not originate with me, but it is from the scriptures themselves.

The simplicity of the Gospel of Christ has been largely corrupted in modern Christianity today; replaced by something complicated, convoluted and full of mans efforts… not at all what Jesus intended. This is what we will be studying today. We will be taking a look at what the true simplicity of the Gospel is, and by seeing this we will also be able to see some of the ways man has complicated what God has made simple.

The Real Sacrifice of Praise

A long time ago, there was a popular praise song that we always used to sing; the lyrics in-part were “we bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD.” This is a reference to Hebrews 13:15, saying that we should continually offer such a sacrifice to God. This phrasing has always puzzled me. Because in my human mind, the word “sacrifice” always implied cost, or some kind of a victim. Often times we hear preachers say that in order for our praise and worship to mean anything to God, it has to “cost us something”, and this left me even more confused because it really wasn’t costing me anything to praise God – as a matter-of-fact I enjoyed praising Him! So did this then mean that my praise was worthless?

I struggled with this thought for many years, and it led me into a performance-driven, merit-centered mentality where I was trying to give something of value back to God, which I naturally assumed was my own works and efforts; my performance and law-keeping. However, this idea is not actually supported in scripture. In-fact the Bible is very descriptive regarding what the real sacrifice of praise is which we are to offer, and this is precisely what we will be studying today.

You Have A Different Spirit

Ask a typical Christian to describe themselves, and you will likely hear one of a few answers, ranging from “sinner”, to “sheep”, to the more esoteric “nothing”. Likewise, if you ask them to describe their position, status or power, they will often tell you that they have none. Most believers think that they are utterly helpless and totally powerless today, due to a lack of understanding of what the Bible teaches regarding such things.

While it is true that we have no power, authority or position of ourselves, it is also true that we have great power, authority and position in Christ Jesus. The scriptures go into wonderful detail when explaining who we are in Christ and what we have in Him as well. This is what we will be studying today: the realities of the Holy Spirit of God on the inside of us, and what this has made us in Christ.

Christ Jesus: Your Victory Over the World

Nearly every single day, I invariably have at least one encounter with someone struggling in their behavior to some degree. I am not speaking about people of the world here, but about believers. People who genuinely want to “do the right thing.” but find themselves incapable of accomplishing their goal. This should not be surprising, because as we have been studying in the scriptures, it is very clear that we have no ability to perform within ourselves. Our victory does not come from our own self-effort, striving or willpower.

This does not mean that we have to live in defeat. There is a source of strength, there is an avenue of victory over the world – though it may not come the way that you expect. Many believers actually think that victory only comes by buckling down, gritting your teeth and clenching your fist tighter – in other words through “trying harder”, but this is not what the Bible teaches. What we will be studying today is how to have true victory, through Jesus Christ.

Bless God by Receiving From Him

It’s safe to say that most believers want to bless God. We sing songs about “blessing His name.”, speaking well of Him (which is technically all that blessing means). But there is a commonly held idea that in order to truly bless God, we must give to Him; an idea that has led many into bondage by trying desperately to give to God something of worth and value in order to somehow demonstrate gratitude.

However is this idea of “giving back to God” really the best way to demonstrate gratitude or bless Him? Is this really what the Bible says? Today we will be answering these questions from scripture to see what really gladdens the heart of God.

The Love of Jesus in Matthew 18

You may have heard it before “If your eye offends you, pluck it out! If your hand offends you, cut it off!” These words spoken by Jesus are absolutely true and necessary – however when these verses are quoted, they are unfortunately extolled in a very negative and condemning way which fails to demonstrate the love of Jesus and reveal His heart.

That’s why today we are going to examine these famous words of Jesus, and see the details in what He said which will allow us to see that He was not speaking out of harshness or hardness but that He said these words out of His Perfect Love and care for us.

Jesus Comes to You

You may have heard it said before that Christianity is different than all the religions of the world. It is a true statement, but do you know why it is true? One of the ways that Christianity is fundamentally different is that in all the religions of the world, man is reaching for God; either through good works, or other forms of self-effort in an attempt to attain an elevated status.

This is not so with Christianity. Now unfortunately, Christianity (and the message of Jesus Christ) has been vastly misrepresented by pastors and leaders who have twisted the message into one of self-effort and works, but this is not the message that God originally gave. So today we will be exploring how in reality, it is not man that reaches for God, but how He actually reaches for us, and as we see this, it will not only strengthen our faith, but draw us closer to Him as well.