Religious Trap

Joshua 23:11-13

Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you,  know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you.

When God brought the Israel people from slavery in Egypt to their promise land, Joshua was their leader. On his last few days on earth, he recorded the above warning (Joshua 23:11-13) to the people. Since God did a mighty work removing many of the nations around them, Joshua reminded the people to be careful and not associate with those people still remaining who do not follow the Lord. In other words, do not be influenced by the religious practices of others.

The situation is no different today as back then. We live in a multi-religious world. There are those who believe no difference exists between the religions. They are generally the people who have no faith except in themselves. Those who have a belief are either fully committed in their way or simply live culturally within the community. And every religion has multiple divisions within themselves. So, stating they are all the same is a distorted observation of a complex situation. 

The religious trap is believing all faiths are the same. That there is no difference and one of them can’t be more correct than the other. They all worship the same God but choose different methods of expression is the false illusion of the trap.

If there is no absolute truth, than one’s person opinion is as good as another. However, if you believe in objective truth, than only one faith is on target and all the others are leading people away from experiencing God’s fullness and purpose.

I remember the start of my own journey in pursuit of God.

As a teenager with a mission to discover what is the purpose of life, I read everything I could get my hands on.

I took classes on world religions. I read about the eastern faiths. I read books by people who discussed their faith and the reason why they practiced their faith. Even though I was raised in a Christian culture, I was open to everything else. I wanted to know the truth and wherever the evidence led me I followed.

In some ways I completed a circle of knowledge. But this time I had evidence, factual history, and experience of putting God to the test and seeing circumstances and situations come together in a pattern weaved over time. My entire worldview was reshaped. Today, the best grasp I have is knowing God as Triune consisting of Father-Son-Spirit.    

Now when I read Scripture with God’s macro plan in mind, I plan and execute strategy built upon my micro plans knowing HE is involved in our lives more than we even realize. As I pursue my work, HE is accomplishing HIS objectives with me. As I yield to HIM and learn to walk HIS ways, HE occasionally lets me see what HE is doing in the lives of those around me. After these many years of applying myself to do things HIS way, slowly the eyes become more attuned to HIS Kingdom and purpose.

The world is a chaotic place. The institutions and practices around us were developed over time to put order into the culture. Generally, though, the systems are most often built upon ungodly principles unless its founder was a Believer. Even then though, unbelievers’ step-in overtime and changed the Judeo-Christian foundation into a secular rock. You can look at many of the Ivy universities in this country as an example. The majority of them started as Christian institutions for the development of pastors and lay leaders. But today, they are all secular.    

When you understand that God’s way allows you to order your way in this world patterned after HIS character, you have a roadmap on how to deal with others and prioritize your life values for the greatest return on your time and investment. Life becomes more than survival or experiencing the next thrill. Life is designed to groom you and me for eternity. When you capture God’s macro vision for you, you find purpose and meaning behind everything you do.

In fact, you realize others may call you religious, but in reality, you are not religious but living life to the fullest with the least amount of heartache, and a Spirit of abundance in everything you do. The trap is failing to choose the faith that maximizes your human potential while serving others to achieve theirs. Pursue God and HE will let you find HIM. This is not religion, but a deep, intimate relationship with the Master Designer of Life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler  

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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What is Prayer?

Psalm 42:8

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”

Prayer is the direct means of communicating with your Heavenly Father. Jesus maintained direct contact with his heavenly Father through prayer. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. Prayer was Jesus’ main staple throughout his life.

As his disciples, we likewise have the opportunity to keep in constant connection with our Heavenly Father throughout the day. The apostle Paul instructed us to be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). Prayer is the prime activity of a mature Christ-follower. (Acts 6:4)

Below are a few Biblical examples which highlight the impact of a prayer life.  

  • Prayer strengthens faith (Luke 22:32)
  • Prayer heals people (James 5:16)
  • Prayer builds common ground (1 Timothy 2:1)
  • Prayer maintains your focus on God. (Jer. 29:12-14)
  • Prayer empowers people (2 Chronicles 7:14)
  • Prayer changes you (Eph. 3:14-19)
  • Prayer produces Godly outcomes (Jeremiah 42:4)??
  • Prayer opens doors where there are no doors. (Eph.3:20)
  • Prayer is worship. (Luke 2:37)
  • Prayer is offering yourself to God. (1 Kings 8:54)
  • Prayer is submitting yourself to God. (Ps. 86:1)
  • Prayer is our memorial to God. (Acts 10:4)
  • Prayer makes everything that is good in God’s creation holy (I Tim. 4:5)
  • Prayer personally reveals the power of God. (2 Kings 6:18)
  • Prayer opens God’s Spirit in you. (Romans 8:26)
  • Prayer is our incense to God. (Rev. 5:8)
  • Prayer reduces anxiety. (Phil. 4:6)

These came to me just this morning. You probably could list more yourself as you pray and meditate on the means of directly communicating with Him.

The bottom-line: Jesus was a praying rabbi and so are HIS students. Learn the value, honor, and privilege of directly praying with the Creator of the universe, your Heavenly Father who wants you to know HIM and learn to share your life with HIM as HE prepares an eternal home for you. In prayer, you will discover a whole new world and way of life when you unleash the divine relationship you have with the Almighty.

You find yourself participating with an Infinite God in HIS work. You slowly learn HIS view on many topics. You begin a personal journey with HIM sharing your life with HIM as HE shares HIS life with you. You find yourself enjoying HIS presence while you live out your everyday routines. And if you keep a journal of your prayers and record the outcome, you will strengthen your faith and become more assured that HE cares for you and wants what is best for you.

Prayer is your access to a Heavenly Dad who wants HIS child to live a meaningful life being prepared to serve in HIS Kingdom for eternity.

PS: You may want to check out my latest devotional prayer e-book “Overflowing Prayers Rooted in Jesus Christ” (see below) if you seek a way to jump start into a more effective prayer life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler  

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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Accountability

Colossians 3:23-24

 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Paul writes the above passage addressed to bond-servants. The Greek word is Doulos which is translated as slave or servant in various writings. The word bond-servant is more appropriate as it relates to those who are under the authority of an earthly master whether as a paid laborer or an indenture servant.

In Christ’ time it is estimated that 1/3 of the population were slaves and another 1/3 were slaves at one time but became free later in life. So, when Jesus spoke about the greatest being a servant for all rather than lording over people, HE was stretching the cultural norms of the day. In fact, Paul and other church leaders including Jesus’ brothers James and Judas likewise acknowledged in their writings they were bond-servants to Jesus.

So as Christ-followers, we have chosen to become bond-servants of HIS. We have accepted the position to be ultimately held accountable by HIM. Though meanwhile we also have earthly associates to hold us accountable. Though they may not be perfect like our Lord, and may not even know our Lord, and may even be against our Lord, we accept their authority in our life to maintain law and order in the land. However, if they require us doing something against the authority of our Lord, then we defer to HIM first and accept the consequences of the matter.

Our reward comes from Jesus. He is our Lord, and we are citizens of HIS Kingdom. Paul writes elsewhere that you and I are only ambassadors in a foreign land. Whoever opposes us on Christ’s behalf, opposes HIM and will reap the consequences of their decision.      

Meanwhile, we are all accountable to someone in this life. Whether our mates, parents, friends, employers, clients, HOA’s, or governments, there is someone we are answerable too. Even the hermit living alone is still accountable to some authority in their world. For example, the land they reside on is under some governmental jurisdiction. Without accountability, we are left alone with our human tenancies which eventually will lead to ugly and destructive consequences. Most human-to-human destructive actions are the result of human leaders left alone without accountability for their actions. Any person without a stronger accountability source is playing god without the innate character to manage the situation.

As a Christ-follower, we have a proven leader who conquered his human desires, established a government which allows all to flourish in freedom, and paved the way for all to participate. Our highest priority is to first serve HIM and introduce others to HIM. Our reward is from HIM. In every situation, we first seek HIS will. Whenever we fail HIM, HE disciplines us. But HE also showers HIS grace upon us and restores us in HIM. We serve HIM in all matters, even when we hold ourselves accountable to others.  

Count it all joy to have an accountability partner or group who helps you through the maze of life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books 

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