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This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

This week, at the Wednesday night Bible Discussion group, we had a few carry over thoughts of the fellowship before we focused on the Armor of God.

1. If saints become careless, they will begin to allow petty things to come into their lives and will eventually leave God. We must be faithful in the “little things”, habits of every day life to be able to remain faithful in the “big things” and keep our salvation. Luke 16:10

2. We are fighting a spiritual battle, not one of physical means. 2 Corinthians 10:4 and Ephesians 6:12 .Our fight is against the evil, thoughts and ideas of the world that invade the hearts and minds of people. We are to fight this from coming over us, and show the world that there is a better way.

3. Ephesians 6:14a – having your loins girt about with truth. Jesus is the truth, John 14:6. We are to guard the truth, keep it close to us. The truth is our innermost piece of protection. It guards us where we are most vulnerable. If truth is not apart of us, what do we have to fight for or against.

4. Ephesians 6:14b – Having on the breastplate of righteousness. God is our righteousness. He helps us to live right and holy. To fight this battle against the beliefs of the world, we have to be the example of how we can live right according to the truth; we have to have fruits of righteousness. Philippians 1:11

5. Ephesians 6:15 – your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. In the battle for truth, we are to be peace makers where ever we go. As we go out among the world, one of our missions in this battle is to spread the Gospel. Mark 16:15. The gospel of truth and righteousness will produce an evidence of peace in our lives as well as those we encounter.

6. Ephesians 16:6 – Above all, taking the shield of faith. With out faith we are vulnerable and open ourselves up for defeat. The spirit of unbelief is one of the largest enemies we have. Christ was concerned about our faith. Luke 18:8. Our firm faith in God, backed by the gospel of truth and righteousness will protect us from all the weapons of the enemy. As saints, our shield of faith not only protects us, but our fellow soldiers.

Thoughts from the Wednesday night Bible Discussion Group. This week our topic was on our fellowship meeting that we just had over Labor Day weekend. We were to bring thoughts of how we were challenged or blessed through the meeting. We got a little of topic, but God saw that needs needed to be met and directed us in a manner that we could be used that way.

1. Matthew 23:23…”and have omitted the weighter matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith:” Judgment is one thing that sets the Church of God apart from religion. In order to receive mercy and forgiveness, you must be found guilty in judgment. You can’t be forgiven of nothing. And you have to have faith to receive mercy. All three are crucial aspects of the plan of salvation. Mainstream religion is missing the judgment part of the puzzle, and thus falling short of preaching the truth.

2. We are called to unity; to dwell together in peace. Psalms 133:1. If we all have the same goal in mind and purpose of heart we can worship in unity. But this doesn’t come naturally, we have to work at being a unified body. Ephesians 4:3

3. When the enemy comes against us with thoughts that may cause confusion we can rest against the promise that those thoughts are not from God, for he isn’t the author of confusion. 1 Corinthians 14:33. We can use this scripture to defeat the enemy when he comes to our minds.

4. More promises that we can lean on: 1 John 1:9-2:1 – If we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive and provide an advocate for us through Jesus his son. Our sins have been removed from us “as far as the east is from the west” Psalms 103:12 and cast into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

5. Jesus too was tempted of the devil. We can take his example of using Bible Scripture to defeat the enemy. Matthew 4. There is power in God’s word.

    Speak to the Mountain
    By: Jeff and Sheri Easter

    VERSE
    From strength to strength we sometimes go
    Then again we’re sinking low
    In the shadow of a mountain
    Looming high above our head
    We need not fear what lies ahead
    For the word has clearly said
    That our faith would be sufficient
    To make the mountain disappear

    CHORUS
    Speak to the mountain
    You’ll not triumph over me
    Be thou removed from here to yonder
    Disappear into the sea
    Speak to the mountain
    Speak with authority
    And the mountain must move
    And you will claim victory

    VERSE
    In the midst of the battle
    When the foe is gaining ground
    Just look up and see
    The mighty hand of God reaching down
    Speak God’s name and satan trembles
    Speak God’s word and watch him flee
    Once again our God delivers
    The mountain crumbles at our feet

    KJV – Matthew 21:18-22
    -Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
    -And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
    -And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
    -Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
    -And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

    Amplified – Matthew 21:21-22
    -And Jesus answered them, Truly, I say unto you, if you have faith – a firm relying trust – and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done.
    -And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.

    Let us be careful to not limit God’s power by our lack of faith.

    I have carried a burden for some souls for several years. I have struggled with believing that they can and will be saved. Yes I believe God can save them and improve the situation in a mighty way, but because of those individuals involved, I have had trouble believing that souls will actually get the help they need. When these thoughts were brought in service this morning I was reminded that God’s power is greater than the power of all of the people involved. I need to remember that God has the power to change lives and to just have faith and really believe in him, to change the situation. As I write this now, God is reminding me that he already has moved on the situation in mighty ways and for that I am thankful. But I am not going to be satisfied until souls are saved and get all of their needs met. Because of this, I am going to keep praying and really believe that they will someday be sitting in church with me worshipping God. It can happen.

    If there is a mountain in your life, with firm belief, speak and cast it into the see, and God will do the rest. Go to God with your mountain, believing that he will remove it.

    Imagine the possibilities of God’s power when we no longer keep in within our human thinking or limit him with our lack of faith.

    Ephesians 6:10-18

      Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; KJV

           The whole armour of God

     Stand

     Having your loins girt about with truth

     The breastplate of righteousness

     Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace

     The shield of faith

     The helmet of salvation

     The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

     Praying always for others

     

    The armour of Self

    Unstable

    Having your loins girt about with self-deception

    The breastplate of self-righteousness

    Your feet shod with the preparation to self-preservation

    The basket of compromise

    The helmet of my way

    The sword of my thoughts and opinions

    Selfish and Unthankful

     

    Isaiah 55:6-9

          Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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. KJV

    What are the Lord’s thoughts and the Lord’s ways?

     

    Mark 12:29-31

     And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. KJV

     

    Ephesians 6:13-14 …and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore,…

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