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Signs you are becoming too religious

Christianity is not about religion, but it is a relationship with a Person, who is Jesus Christ, and that is the basis and foundation of Christianity.  The Pharisees were religious people and they were considered enemies of Jesus, but so many Christians are becoming religious in their walk of faith.

Here are some signs to see if you fall in to that category:

1.  You feel like you must read the Bible everyday to earn points with God- There is distinction between reading the Word to get a rhema, and to get an insight, but to feel like it’s like an obligation or something that you do to put a checkmark on your to do list, then you know you are getting into muddy waters.

2.  You pray because you feel like you are forced to pray and that the desire to communicate doesn’t come from your heart:  This is another to do thing on your checklist.  Jesus warned of not doing vain repetitions as heathen do, but he actually showed us how to pray.  Praying without ceasing actually means to be in constant communication with God and to have your minds continually set upon Him.  It doesn’t necessarily always mean interceding for others or making requests or supplications.  Yes it is good to pray in the Spirit, but even Jesus had conversations with God that we know nothing about because He was in constant communion and fellowship with Him.  The Father never left the Son up until the point where He was crucified.

3.  You feel like God cannot interrupt your plans and the way you decide to worship and pursue Him – You have those set songs on your youtube, or cd player, or music device, and unless you listen to those specific songs in that specific order you feel like you are not going to experience God.

4.  You judge others and are very critical of people that don’t have as a high a standard then you do – You are in danger of becoming self-righteous if you hold yourself in higher esteem than other people.   The Bible says that we should hold people that have less honorable positions of higher esteem, and Jesus even said, that He came for the sick who are need of a physician, but not those that are well.

5.  You become unteachable – You are so set in your doctrines, and whenever someone points out something that may be a different angle, you say, “No, no, it can’t be this way”, and that the doctrines you are following are the only right way.  Paul warned against divisions and factions and separations in the Church.  There is a distinction to be made between apostasy, (the falling away of the Church), and denominationalism.  The problem is that we have been sidetracked by so many different kinds of  dispensations all of which bear fruit, that we can’t tell the difference between good fruit and bad fruit and so we are easily deceived, but if Christ is preached in according to the full incorruptibility of the Truth of the Gospel then the fruit will be evident of itself.  I was asking the Holy Spirit about this, that how come there are so many divisions of dispensation, and one Holy Spirit?  Some people say that Law is the only way, and some people say that Grace is the only way.  We know that the Blood of Jesus is the primary way, so I was asking Him about it and I came to the parable of the Wheat and the Tares, that there was some wheat sown in the ground, and some tares.   The parable says if you have good wheat and bad tares, you let them grow up together until harvest time, and then the angels will take up what is bad and cast it into the fire.  There may be different doctrines, but the ones that bear fruit will reveal the characteristic and nature of God.  It has to go by primarily what Jesus said, and secondary by what anyone else said because Jesus is the primary authority on the matter even though the whole Bible is in the inspiration of God, and no Scripture is of private interpretation.  The Bible also says that the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians because they searched out everything in the Scriptures to see if it was Truth bearing.

6.  You look at people that are not Christians or those who have fallen away as not worthy to be loved because of their sin. – This is a very dangerous way of thinking and can really grieve the Holy Spirit.   When Whitney Houston passed away some people were gossipping about the problems at the end of her life, but one very wise person pointed out that it doesn’t matter what happens at the end of a person’s life, and there are lessons to be learned, but each person is to be appreciated.  This is very important because the same way which you judge you will be judged, and God had mercy on you when you were a sinner so why shouldn’t you have mercy on sinners when they are sinners, because we are all sinners without the Blood of Christ.

7.  You have become so detached from the world that you become heartless to the things going around- This is based on selfishness too, but the heart of it is religiousness.  Because you want to be separated, and set apart for the things of God you make yourself numb to all that’s going on around you because you don’t want to have anything to do with the world, and the people of the world.  You don’t want to take part in the world’s sins.  Jesus wasn’t like that – He ate with the outcasts and the sinners, and He was called to bring sinners to repentance.  Sinners are supposed to turn their lives around and make change. Now if a righteous person doesn’t repent and turns back into sinning there is judgment for him as well.

8.  You become all knowledge with no heart – This can be a very dangerous place to be in, especially for people that have been in ministry a long time, or people that have read their Bible so much, that they think that it can’t hold anything new for them.  With this kind of knowledge the Bible says you become puffed up and in sorts conceited.  You think you know everything and have no need for God and His Word.  You think that because you have studied everything that the Holy Spirit can’t give you fresh new insight.  You come to the point where you know all about Jesus, but don’t know Jesus, you don’t have an intimate walk with Him.  This is what is meant by Matthew 7:23- the “I never knew you” passage.

9.  You become ritualistic- This means everything has a set pattern.  While it’s good to have structure, order, and discipline, we can get to the point where we put God in a box and God is not in a box.  It takes time to figure out how God operates and to listen to Him.

10.  You cannot tell the difference between conviction and condemnation – A person who is walking closely with the Holy Spirit will be able to discern the difference between conviction and condemnation.  According Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus for those who do not walk after the dictates of the flesh, but  are led by the Spirit.  (paraphrase) And according to James 3:1 -NOT MANY [of you] should become teachers ( self-constituted censors and reprovers of others), my brethren, for you know that we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation].  So fellow blog evangelizers make sure you have strong footing in your relationship with the Lord and not to judge anyone or you will be judged in the same respect.  This is when you are becoming to legalistic when you are following God’s word and when you strictly adhere to God’s law and beat yourself up for every mistake you make and don’t allow room for mistakes or error.

11.  There is no transformation in your life – You may know everything, but since you became a Christian, your life doesn’t bear fruit, and you have the same testimony you had ten years ago and your walk is not growing.  People can’t tell the difference between you and an unbeliever.  They may think you are just sweet, nice, or a good person, but they don’t see the light.  This may be especially true with your family.  Your family may see you as the same person you were several years before and you may not have changed at all.

If any of these things is true here’s a prayer for you-

Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for becoming too religious and not seeking a true and intimate relationship with You.  I may not know how to do it and I may be caught up in my ways, that I don’t know how to change.  I can’t do it without You and I claim Your Blood to wash over my life and give me a fresh start and new direction.  You take over my life and I surrender to You this moment forward.  Let Your Spirit operate in me and dwell inside me and show the power of a transformed heart.  I admit that I am not perfect and that I am still learning, but help me to not always be learning but never come to the knowledge of truth.  Holy Spirit help me walk the Christian life and call me into my purpose and destiny and help me not to become lukewarm but to become hot in love with God.  Renew my heart and renew my spirit and take control from this moment forward.  I turn my life over to you.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen.

 

 

The Grasshopper Season

I don’t know how many of you guys have ever heard the story of the ant and the grasshopper, but here’s how it goes-well at least my adaption of it.  An ant was preparing for the winter floods in the summer by gathering food and preparing it’s home so that it wouldn’t get destroyed by the floods.  The grasshopper was lazy and did not prepare and kept procrastinating and saying, “It’ll be ok when the floods come.”  I think the ant might have even told him to prepare for the flood, but he just didn’t listen.  He just had better things to do than to prepare for the floods.  Then one day the floods came and it came and the grasshopper came knocking on the door of the ant’s home, but the ant only prepared enough for his family.  The floods came and destroyed the grasshopper.

Proverbs 30:25 says this about ants:

25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;

Proverbs 6:6 has this to say about ants:

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!

 

Then there is the parable of the foolish virgins and the wise virgins –

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour[b] in which the Son of Man is coming.

I’ve been also looking at these few verses and just trying to comprehend the depth of these statements:

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ [Matthew 7:21-23]

I’ve taken apart as many ways as I can and still all I can come up with is?  Do I really know the LORD?  Or better yet does the LORD know me?  We need to be sure of this.

When the Bible talks about ants and even in the story I gave in the beginning sheds light on certain seasons of testing that we have in our spiritual lives.  Some people go through a season of testing based on how much they prepared in the previous season they will reap when that harvest cycle comes into completion.  There are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Whatever is gathered together in the Spring is harvested in the Fall and whatever is gathered together in the Summer is harvested in the Winter.  Sometimes if we are not attacked physically, we can get attacked emotionally, or mentally, or financially, or even spiritually depending on how much time and effort we have sown into the kingdom during the harvest cycles.  The Bible says that we are to grow from glory to glory so that means that we are supposed to increase in growth, maturity, and fruit from season to season.  But when happens when God draws away from us, or it just seems to get harder to be in the Presence of God, or to gather anything from your daily Bible readings?  What then?  Are we just supposed to give up?  Are we supposed to spend all that time buying and listening to cd’s from other preachers,  when we cannot seem to have clarity of thought and seemed to be pulled apart in every direction?

Jesus talks about the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.  In that Parable He says that both the foolish and the wise were sleeping, but the wise virgins had oil in their lamp, and they actually told the foolish virgins to buy from someone else lest, they would run out of oil.  Oil is the anointing and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  He is encouraging people to pursue their own relationship with God, and not draw from other people, because in the end the other people will let them down in the end, but the ones who had been prepared and had done their work before hand in keeping their oil in their lamps fresh would get to meet the bridegroom when He comes.

So then you look at Matthew 7:21-23 – and that really hits you right between the eyes, and in the middle of the heart.  These people that had the “anointing”, they were doing things like prophesying, casting out demons, performing miracles, or they could have even been blogging, and preaching the gospel, but Jesus said that He will say, “I never knew you…depart from me you workers of iniquity (lawlessness)”  I guess I am just a Christian that tries to love by seeing the best in other people, but that statement was like, “Whoa God, What can I do so that you don’t cast me out?  What can I do so that you will accept me?”

That brings us to the will of the Father.  What is the will of the Father?  There is only two that I can think of:

John 6:40 – 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

And the other one- I don’t know where it says it, but the other one is to give thanks or to be appreciative or grateful of all that God has done.

Can these people who are going to be cast out of heaven be thankful, appreciative, see and believe in Him, and still be cast out of heaven?  The Bible says that anointing is without repentance, so how come anointed people are being rejected by God?  How is repentance achieved when we are supposed to be saved by grace, once and for all?

All these questions started entering my mind and in this season of testing, where the enemy knows you are weakest, he will try to attack you any way he can.  So if he can’t attack you physically, he will go after your mind and heart.  Which is why we need that time with the Holy Spirit, and to actually cultivate a relationship with Jesus.  These are the times when we  have to seek Him more.  In essence so that we know without a doubt who He is.  It is a time for us to know without a doubt who we are in Christ.  It is a time to change from victim mentality to victor mentality.  So if you know your season of testing is coming up it is wise to prepare and keep your oil lamp lit so that when that time comes you can be full equipped to engage in spiritual warfare, and at the same time draw closer to the LORD and to guard your hearts and mind.

Let us be like ants preparing bit by bit, line by line, precept by precept, preparing the way of the LORD, and leading people to repentance, without giving them a feeling of condemnation because that’s when they will know that they don’t have be grasshoppers in a grasshopper season, but they are like ants in a grasshopper season.