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Archive for June 1, 2018

NASHVILLE (BP) — Alex Himaya contends that more Christians need to lose their religion. It’s not that Himaya, pastor of the CHURCH.at in Tulsa, wants them to give up their faith. But in his new book “Jesus Hates Religion — Finding Grace in a Works-Driven Culture,” he says too much religion is bad for your soul. Religion, he says, is about somehow trying to impress God with your actions. Faith is a response to what God has already done for people in Jesus. “We look at the distance between us and God and think we can somehow make that up,” Himaya says. “That’s religion.” Himaya’s book, released May 1 by B&H Publishing, began as a sermon series in 2009. Jesus Hates Religion is a combination of stories and reflections on Scripture, plus comments from people who heard the original sermon series. Himaya admits it’s tricky for a pastor to criticize religion. But he doesn’t mince words. “Religion is poison,” he wrote, “because it kills every opportunity you will ever have to experience genuine intimacy with God.” As a pastor, Himaya says he wants people to develop spiritual habits — like reading the Bible, prayer and serving others — that help grow their faith. But he says many people, both inside the church and outside, see those habits as some kind of scorecard. Some may think if a person earns enough spiritual points God will bless them. But that kind of thinking, Himaya says, undermines the Gospel. “It almost turns faith into a transaction, where God’s favor is for sale,” Himaya says. The book has two main audiences. Himaya says he wants those outside the church to get a clear picture of God’s grace. He also wants to reach Christians who may have gotten off track. “There’s this idea that after I am saved, after I accept Christ as my Lord and Savior, from that point on, it is up to me. It’s about what I can do for God,” he says. “That’s as silly as saying I am saved by my works.” In other words: there’s a difference between working out your salvation, which is a response to God’s grace, and working for your salvation. Himaya uses the parable of the prodigal son to make his point. He focuses on the older brother who was angered after his father welcomed his wayward younger brother home. The older brother was self-righteous, Himaya says, and felt bitter and unappreciated by his father. So he sulked outside, rather than celebrating his brother’s return. “Jesus’ message is clear,” Himaya wrote. “Our acts of self-righteousness can actually be more damaging and unfruitful than acts of unrighteousness. Why? Because the unrighteous man knows he needs help; but the self-righteous man doesn’t acknowledge that he needs help.” Now that he’s written about bad religion, Himaya is considering doing a follow-up book about good religion, based on the book of James. In recent years, his congregation of about 6,000 people has become involved in ministry to widows and orphans. In addition to their three other children, Himaya and his wife Meredith have an adopted daughter from Ethiopia. He says not long after finishing the sermon series on how Jesus hates religion, someone asked him why he never preached about widows and orphans. After all, the book of James says good religion involves caring for widows and orphans. “I reread the Bible and marked every time God talked about the widows and orphans,” Himaya says. That led his church to become involved in orphan care, adoption and foster care, and to help other churches do the same. “So maybe I’ll write a book about getting religion right,” he says. For now, he began preaching an updated version of the Jesus Hates Religion series this year on Easter. The church has created new small group materials and videos to go along with the series, all of which will be available free online. “We’d be happy to share that with anyone,” he says. Jesus Hates Religion is available from LifeWay stores and LifeWay.com. Himaya is also author of the Bible Studies for Life study Overcome: Living Beyond Your Circumstances

June 1, 2018

Do You Want Your Prayers Answered? — Inspirational Christian Blogs

June 1, 2018

First, you must be saved. Second, you must surrender yourself to God by saying something like, “Dear Holy Spirit of God, You are the Spirit of Grace. You are the Spirit of supplications. Pray in me, through me, with me. Guide and energize my prayers.” Third, you are to pray in the will of God. […] […]

Vain repetitions in prayer? vain repetitions Question: “What does it mean to use vain repetitions in prayer?” Answer: Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7, KJV). The word vain means “empty” or “useless”; so Jesus is warning us that repeating worthless phrases in our prayers will not help them be heard by God. Our Heavenly Father is not concerned with word count, flowery expressions, or mantras; He desires “truth in the inward being” (Psalm 51:6, ESV). “Use not vain repetitions” is the King James translation of Matthew 6:7. Other translations say, “Do not use meaningless repetition” (NASB), “Do not heap up empty phrases” (ESV), or “Do not keep on babbling” (NIV). As Jesus points out, the use of repetitious words or formulaic phrases is a “heathen” or “pagan” practice and should not be part of Christian prayer. Our prayers should be more like the short, simple prayer of Elijah on Mt. Carmel and less like the prolonged, repetitious prayers of the prophets of Baal (see 1 Kings 18:25–39). When we are praying, we are talking with God and worshipping Him. It is like a conversation, from the heart. Many religions—including some branches of Christianity—have rote prayers that they advise repeating over and over again. Some churches even go so far as to require their members to recite a certain prayer a specific number of times in order to be absolved of sin. This is a throwback to paganism and superstition; such formulaic prayers are “vain repetitions” that have no place in the church. Jesus has already atoned for our sins once and for all (Hebrews 10:10), and we can approach the throne of grace boldly on the merit of Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 4:15–16), not because of our “many words” (Matthew 6:7). It’s easy to be caught up in vain repetitions, repeating the same words in our prayers instead of thinking about our words or letting them come from the heart. We should be focused on God in prayer and honor Him in our hearts. In Isaiah 29:13, God says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Jesus’ warning against vain repetitions means we should avoid vain or meaningless words and repetition in our prayers. Repeating things fills up time, but it does not prove our devotion or better our chances of God’s hearing us. We should teach our children at an early age to pray in a natural, conversational manner, with reverence for the One they are addressing. Being persistent in prayer is not the same as using vain repetitions. There is nothing wrong with praying for the same thing more than once (see 2 Corinthians 12:8). After all, Jesus taught us that we should “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). But it’s understood that our prayers are from the heart, spontaneous, and honoring to God, not the repeating of words written by someone else. The Bible teaches us to pray in faith (James 1:6), in direct address to God (Matthew 6:9), and in Jesus’ name (John 14:13). We should offer our prayers with reverence and humility (Luke 18:13), with perseverance (Luke 18:1), and in submission to God’s will (Matthew 6:10). The Bible teaches us to avoid prayers that are hypocritical, designed to be heard only by men (Matthew 6:5), or rely on vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7).

June 1, 2018

COMMANDMENTS OF JESUS I. REPENTANCE 1. “Repent” Matt. 4:17; Rev. 2:5 2. “Come unto Me” Matt. 11:28 3. “Seek first God and His righteousness” Matt. 6:33 4. “Forgive if ye have ought against any” Mark 11:25 5. “Deny Yourself” Matt. 16:24 6. “Ask…seek…knock” Matt. 7:7 7. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” Luke 13:24 II. BELIEF 1. “Believe the Gospel” Mark. 1:15 2. “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me” John 14:1 3. “Believe on Him who He (God) hath sent” John 6:28-29 4. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me” John 14:11 5. “Believe the works…I do” John 10:37-38 6. “While ye have light believe in the light” John 12:36 7. “Believe that ye receive” Mark 11:24 III. THE NEW BIRTH 1. “Ye must be born again” John 3:7 2. “Cleanse first that which is within” Matt. 23:26 3. “Make the tree good, and his fruit good” Matt. 12:33 4. “Abide in Me and I in you” John 15:4 5. “Have salt in yourselves” Mark 9:50 6. “Labor…for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life” John 6:27 7. “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” Luke 10:20 IV. RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT 1. “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” John 20:23 2. “Let the children first be filled” Mark 7:27 3. “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink” John 7:37-39 4. “Keep my commandments and…the Father…shall give you another Comforter” John 14:15-17 5. “Ask…with importunity” John 16:24; Luke11:5-13 6. “Tarry…until ye be endued with power from on high” Luke 24:49 7. “When the Comforter is come…He shall testify of Me: and ye also shall bear witness” John 15:26-27 V. FOLLOWING JESUS 1. “Follow Me” John 12:26 2. “Be baptized” Matt. 3:13-15; Matt. 28:19 3. “Take this…(communion) in remembrance of Me” Luke 22:17-19 4. “Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” John 13:14-15 5. “If any man will come after Me…let him take up his cross daily” Luke 9:23 6. “Learn of Me” Matt. 11:29 7. “Continue ye in My love” John 15:9 VI. PRAYER 1. “Pray always” Luke 21:36 2. “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” Luke 22:40, 46 3. “Pray…the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers” Luke 10:2 4. “Pray for them which despitefully use you” Luke 6:28 5. “Pray to the Father…in my name” Matt.6:6; John16:24,26 6. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven…” Matt. 6:9-13 7. “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions” Matt. 6:7-8 VII. FAITH 1. “Have faith in God” Mark 11:22 2. “Be not faithless” John 20:27 3. “Neither be ye of doubtful mind” Luke 12:29 4. “Take no thought for your life” Matt. 6:25-34 5. “Let not your heart be troubled” John 14:1,27 6. “Be of good cheer” Matt. 14:27 7. “Be not afraid” Mark 5:36: Luke 12:4-7 VIII. SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES 1. “Search the scriptures” John 5:39 2. “Remember the word that I said” John 15:20 3. “Let these sayings sink down into your ears” Luke 9:44 4. “Take heed therefore how ye hear” Luke 8:18 5. “Take heed what ye hear” Mark 4:24 6. “Beware of the leaven (doctrine) of the Pharisees” Matt.16:6, 12 7. “Beware of false prophets” Matt. 7:15-17 IX. LETTING YOUR LIGHT SHINE 1. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works” Matt. 5:16 2. “Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness” Luke 11:35 3. “Go and bring forth fruit, and …bear much fruit” John 15:16, 8 4. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father” Luke 6:36 5. “Tell…how great things the Lord hath done for thee” Mark 5:19 6. “Lift up you eyes, and look on the fields” John 4:35 7. “Walk while you have the light” John 12:35 X. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST 1. “Hold fast till I come” Rev. 2:25; Rev. 3:2-3 2. “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh” Luke 12:40 3. “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord” Luke 12:35-36 4. “Take heed…lest…your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life” Luke 21:34 5. “Remember Lot’s wife” Luke 17:31-32 6. “Take heed that ye be not deceived” Luke 21:8; Mark 13:5-6 7. “Watch” Mark 13:34-37 XI. SUPREME LOVE TO GOD 1. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…soul…mind…strength” Mark 12:30 2. “God, and Him only shalt thou serve” Matt. 4:10 3. “Worship the Father in spirit and in truth” John 4:23-24 4. “Call no man your father upon the Earth” Matt. 23:9 5. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” Matt. 4:7 6. “Fear Him (God) which…hath power to cast into hell” Luke 12:5 7. “All men should honor the Son” John 5:22-23 XII. OUR DUTY TO GOD AND MAN 1. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” Mark 12:17 2. “Swear not at all” Matt.5:34-37; Mark 4:22 3. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” Matt. 19:5-6 4. “Agree with thine adversary quickly” Matt. 5:25 5. “We saw one casting out devils in thy name…Forbid him not” Mark 9:38-40 6. “Eat such things as are set before you” Luke 10:8 7. “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost” John 6:12 XIII. OUR DUTY TO OUR NEIGHBOR 1. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” Matt.19:17-19 2. “Thou shalt do no murder” Matt. 19:18 3. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” Matt. 19:18 4. “Thou shalt not steal” Matt. 19:18 5. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” Matt. 19:18 6. “Honor thy father and thy mother” Matt. 19:19 7. “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” Luke 6:31 XIV. COVETOUSNESS 1. “Take heed and beware of covetousness” Luke 12:15 2. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” Matt. 6:19-20 3. “Ye pay tithe…and not leave (them) undone” Matt.23:23 4. “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” Matt. 5:42 5. “Give alms of such things as ye have” Luke 11:41 6. “When thou makest a dinner..call not thy friends, nor thy brethren…but….call the poor” Luke 14:12-13 7. “Make yourselves friends of the mammon…” Luke 16:9 XV. HYPOCRISY 1. “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” Luke 12:1 2. “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes” Luke 20:46-47 3. “Do not ye after their works” Matt. 23:2-3 4. “Make not My Father’s house an house of merchandise” John 2:16 5. “Do not your alms before men, to be seen of them” Matt.6:1-4 6. “When thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites…to be seen of men…enter into thy closet and pray in secret” Matt. 6:5-6 7. “When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast” Matt. 6:16-18 XVI. MEEKNESS 1. “Take my yoke upon you…for I am meek and lowly in heart” Matt. 11:29 2. “The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them…but it shall not be so among you” Matt. 20:25-26 3. “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” Mark 10:43-44 4. “Be not ye called Rabbi” Matt. 23:8 5. “Sit not down in the highest room” Luke 14:8-11 6. “Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you” Luke 10:20 7. “Say, we are unprofitable servants” Luke 17:10 XVII. OUR LOVE TO THE BRETHREN 1. “Love one another as I have loved you” John 15:12 2. “Despise not one of these little ones” Matt. 18:10-14 3. “Have peace one with another … and be reconciled to thy brother” Mark 9:50; Matt. 5:23-24 4. “If thy brother…trespass against thee go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone” Matt. 18:15-17 5. “If thy brother trespass against thee seven times a day…thou shalt forgive him” Luke 17:3-4; Matt. 18:21-22 6. “Judge not according to appearance… first cast the beam out of thine own eye” John 7:24; Matt. 7:1-5 7. “Condemn not” Luke 6:37 XVIII. PERFECT LOVE 1. “Be ye therefore perfect” Matt. 5:48 2. “Sell that ye have and give alms” Matt. 19:21; Luke 12:32-33 3. “Love your enemies” Matt. 5:44; Matt. 26:52 4. “Do good to them which hate you” Luke 6:27-28 5. “Lend, hoping for nothing again” Luke 6:35 6. “Resist not evil” Matt. 5:39-41 7. “In your patience posses ye your souls” Luke 21:19 XIX. FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH 1. “Be thou faithful unto death” Rev. 2:10 2. “Hold that fast which thou hast” Rev. 3:11 3. “When men shall revile you, and persecute you,…rejoice, and be exceeding glad” Matt.5:11-12 Luke 6:23 4. “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another” Matt. 10:23 5. “When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak” Matt. 10:19 6. “Murmur not among yourselves” John 6:41-43 7. “Look up and lift up your hands” Luke 21:28 XX. PREACHING THE GOSPEL 1. “Preach the gospel to every creature” Mark. 16:15; Matt.10:7 2. “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His (Christ’s) name” Luke 24:46-47 3. “Baptize disciples, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost” Matt. 28:19 4. “Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded” Matt. 28:20 5. “What I tell you … that speak” Matt. 10:27; Mark 4:22 6. “Feed my sheep” John 21:15-17 7. “Heal the sick” Matt. 10:8 XXI. WISDOM 1. “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” Matt. 10:16 2. “Beware of men” Matt. 10:17 3. “Let (the blind leaders) alone” Matt. 15:12-14 4. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine” Matt. 7:6 5. “Consider the lilies… how they grow” Matt. 6:28 6. “Whatsoever city … ye shall enter, inquire who is worthy; and there abide … Go not from house to house” Matt. 10:11-13; Luke 10:5-7 7. “Whosoever will not receive you … shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them” Luke 9:5; Luke 10:10-11 “IF A MAN LOVE ME, HE WILL KEEP MY WORDS.”

June 1, 2018
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