Sunday, April 15, 2018

Glory {Art} Rewind 2018, Religion

I wanted us to look at a previous study about religion. I see so much talk on various social media sites about being religious, what denomination you belong to, etc. It's so much more than that, and instead my prayer is that people truly understand that it's about a relationship not religion. I encourage you to read Hebrews 11:4-31 before beginning today's study. These passages don't say "By being a Methodist . . ." or "By following this religious law . . ." Our relationship begins by putting our faith in Christ not a religion. So all of these mentioned in this passage had faith in Christ and a relationship with Christ. Wouldn't you too love to experience a relationship with the living God instead of following a bunch of religious rules? Let's read on.

The Study
God has been putting the word "religion" in front of me for several weeks now. It first started with a quote from Bono that said:

"Religion is what you have left when the Holy Spirit has left the building."

Then a few days later, I was preparing my lesson for church to lead the K-5 service. This stood out to me:

"Religion is about our attempt to reach God. The Gospel is about the truth that God 
reached out to us. God is not about religion, He is about relationship." 

There's that word againreligion. In both of these quotes, we see that religion is about us doing something, following rules, and not relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit that fills each and every believer. The Holy Spirit is how believers experience God. It makes Him known to us, to know scripture is truth, and to be able to apply it. He expects believers to follow the Spirit's leading. That honors God. Here we see how the apostles followed the Holy Spirit's leading when Matthias became an apostle.

Acts 1:24-26 "Then they prayed, 'Lord, You know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two You have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.' Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles."

I hear people say or I see on message boards "Well, I am not religious." I think the word religion can have a lot of negative connotations, and it does not necessarily draw people to Christ. As the quote said above, God is not about religion; He is about relationship. He is not about a list of rules. Yes, He wants us to obediently follow Him as His Word leads us but it's not about following a list of rules. We have a relationship with Him, and we serve Him and obey Him because we love Him not because we are following a list of rules. Our joy is in our relationship with Him not by following a religion. He created each and every person on this earth. The power of God's indwelling Holy Spirit and our relationship with Him completely transform us; religion does not do that.

Genesis 1:27 "So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them."

Psalm 139:13 "For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb."

Colossians 1:16 "For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him."

He puts a desire within each person to have a relationship with Him but not all people respond. We respond to Him by accepting Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our sins and believing that God raised Him from the dead. His blood was poured out so that our sins are forgiven. We cannot experience a relationship with God unless we have received this free gift. Even Paul, who was a Pharisee, learned that it was belief in Jesus instead of obeying a list of rules. Our outward religious acts do not save us. He wants to have that relationship with you. He loves you. To read more about accepting His free gift, please click here. Have you experienced religion or a real and personal relationship with Jesus?  

John 1:18 (NLT) "No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us."

Romans 3:25a "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith."

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9 "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT) "Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit."

"Going through the motions of religion won’t ever satisfy. It’s only when we bend down low, open our hearts in complete surrender, and say, 'Jesus, it’s You. Only You. There is no other. There is no other possession or person or position that can ever fill the deep soul place shaped only for You.'" Lysa TerKeurst

So, will you be so bold as to begin saying you have a relationship with Christ instead of calling yourself religious or a Methodist, a Baptist, etc.?

  • Describe your relationship with Christ.
  • How might you deepen your relationship with the Lord?
  • Do you feel feel you are religious or living for Christ? Explain.
The Art
I have not done a journal page in quite some time, and I really wanted to journal about my relationship with Christ. My dear friend and I were also working together in my studio last week, and she had been using some red paint. Of course, we don't waste paint so I used some of the paint to stencil these flowers onto book paper. I never use red, so she challenges me to use it. :) Red is certainly perfect for His blood shed for me!

Anyway, once the flowers were dry, I was able to cut them out and use one of them on today's page. I only used one of the flowers so I have a second one still to use on another project. I put them on the page with a glue stick and then doodled around them before adding the typed prompt.

Original Study Link
I first shared this study July 2015. Click here to see the original post.

Feel free to join us on the Facebook page where some people will be sharing their creations. To see all of the information regarding this challenge and the previous studies, please click here. May you be blessed as you study and deepen your relationship with Him!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Glory {Art} Rewind 2018, Forgiveness

As we approach Easter, I thought we should look at forgiveness again. I also need it for myself right now as I was blindsided and hurt again Friday by someone close to me. Again I have cried, and this time I wanted to call my sister, and my wise daughter said "No, Mom, because you two will just gossip." I thanked her and told her she was exactly right. So, I have not spoken to my sister but have spoken to the Lord and one of my dearest friends that would give my Godly advice. She even told me to go and splatter some black paint and tell God I am angry. Oh how she knows me well! And now, I can say I am in a better place this morning because of it. So, together let's look at forgiveness again.

The Study
Last week (Aug. 2016), I was hurt deeply by someone very close to me. I cried for a long time, and I called my mom to rant. Thankfully she wasn't home because that's not who God wanted me to call. I was blindsided by what happened, and I turned to vent. When Mom wasn't available, I turned to the Lord and asked "What am I to learn from this? Why did this happen?" My questions still go unanswered but I am watching for the lesson. Am I still hurt? Absolutely! But I felt the Lord wanted me to settle this so I called the person immediately but they did not answer the phone. I ended up e-mailing the person a very lengthy message. I don't remember starting the e-mail or finishing it. The words just came, and I felt such a relief knowing my feelings were stated and heard. This person did not have the facts correct. Why couldn't this person call and talk to me instead of attacking me and ones I love via e-mail? I will never know the answers. The person that received my message, said they would call to discuss it with me after receiving my e-mail but they never did. I am trying to let it go because I said what God wanted me to say, and I have peace. Now if I could just get Satan out of the way as he tries to bring it back up when I sleep. Has this happened to you? How have you handled it? Do you run to others? Do you run to the Lord? What should we do next?

First, I must forgive this person, and you must forgive the person that wronged you. Whether or not this person ever agrees with me is not for me to worry about but forgiving this person is what I am to do because God has forgiven me, and He has forgiven you.

How did Jesus react when He was rejected, lied to, beaten, and crucified? He responded by praying for them, asking for forgiveness for them, and loving them. As Jesus was being crucified, He still prayed for those that sent Him to the Cross. He didn’t get angry with them but pleaded with the Father to forgive them.

Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

You may ask, how did He love them? He loved them by going to the Cross for their sins. Blood cleanses sin. Without the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, there would not have been forgiveness of sin.

Hebrews 9:22 "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

Jesus was the ultimate and final blood sacrifice. His blood covers all of our sin and thus giving us forgiveness and eternal life with Him if we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. If Jesus can love us and give to us such a tremendous, immeasureable gift, how much more should we forgive and extend grace to others? Jesus is our perfect example. We are not only to forgive those that wrong us but we are to pray for them and love them as Jesus did. And instead of letting those wounds fester and eat at you, experience the joy, happiness, and relief as you truly forgive.

Ephesians 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace."

Colossians 1:13-14 "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

I found this on the American Bible Society blog about forgiveness "But forgiveness doesn’t excuse the crime. It doesn’t minimize it. It doesn’t say it was okay. In fact, it does exactly the opposite. It squarely faces the offense. It says, 'You did wrong, and it hurt me badly. But now I’m choosing not to hate you for it.' God does not shrug off our sin. He asks us to own up to it. We should do the same as we forgive others."

I love that. Do you feel that things have to be 'happy' again once you forgive someone? When someone hurts us or has wronged us, we need to work it out with that person first. Pray hard, and realize that you may have sinned yourself. We should have a desire to restore the relationship not a desire to be proven right. But maybe that someone doesn't want to forgive you. How do you handle that? My pastor once told me that sometimes relationships are not meant to be restored but we are to forgive the person so we can move on. That has helped me in a relationship that I knew would never be restored. Is there someone maybe that you yourself are withholding forgiveness from? And what can you do to bless and love someone that has hurt you? Are you praying for them?

Psalm 103:10 "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities."

Isaiah 1:18 "'Come now, let us settle the matter,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'"

Micah 7:18-19 "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Mark 11:25 "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

Colossians 3:13 "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Hebrews 12:15 "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

We need to be in the habit of forgiving. If we can forgive 77 times, then we will be in the habit of forgiving!

Matthew 18:21-22 "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"

  • What can you do to bless and love someone that has hurt you?
  • How have you been able to forgive someone over and over again?
  • To whom do you have to say "I'm sorry" the most?
The Art
For my art marks journal today, I used a quote I found. I don't know the author. Anyway, I really liked it, and I thought it went very well with the quote above by the American Bible Society. Forgiveness doesn't excuse the crime but I can turn my back on it and forgive the person that hurt me.

I used bright cheery colors today to note how I feel once I forgive someone. And then I added some black paint splatters like my dear friend suggested to tell God I was angry and to get rid of that anger so to speak by throwing a little paint. :)

Original Study Links
I combined two studies for today's lesson. One from 2016, and one from 2010. You can see those older studies here and here.

Join us on our Facebook page, and remember to see all of our 2018 lessons, visit this post here. I needed to write this for today. I needed these scriptures as it is all so fresh (again). I hope some of you are helped by this today too. Being attacked and forgiving someone is hard. But with the Lord, we can do just that because He has forgiven us! Blessings,

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