Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Abundant Living L3.Powerlessness


John 10:10

Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows).


LAST WEEK – DENIAL –  you were introduced to the promise in JEREMIAH  - God wants to HEAL our Wounds and set us free  However, a wound can’t be healed by saying it isn’t there..…
THE Principle  – realize we are not God – admit we are powerless to control our tendency to do the wrong thing and admit our life has areas of unmanageability.

The Sermon on the Mount
MATTHEW 5:3–12 Beatitudes
5:3  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[1]
GNB – Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.

 Genuine happiness, said Jesus, comes from
•     recognizing our need for God (spiritual poverty) (5:3)

part of seeing our spiritual poverty is realizing our powerlessness.

What don’t we have power over? –  Brainstorm…& respond/ dialogue
·        The weather  -- what else??
·        FEELINGS/ EMOTIONS (EXPLAIN) can’t stop them from happening but… we can have power over what we do with them.
·        Other People

Even though we are Powerless over Others, we must..

Stop making excuses for them.
And.. we need to Stop making excuses for ourselves.
     While it is our goal to develop compassion and achieve forgiveness, acceptance, and love, it is also our goal to accept reality and hold people
accountable for their behavior.  We can also hold ourselves accountable for our own behavior and, at the same time, have compassion and understanding for ourselves.
     When we claim powerlessness, we are not claiming irresponsibility.  We have no power to control others, what they do, what they did, or what they might do.  We're stating that we are willing to end an ineffective life based on willpower and control.  And we're beginning a spiritual, mental, and emotional journey in which we take responsibility for ourselves.
     We are not victims.  We are not helpless.  Accepting powerlessness when that is appropriate enables us to begin owning our true power to take care of ourselves and let go of others.

We need to avoid making excuses for our own or someone else's behavior.  -- let consequences and responsibility fall where they belong.

Edited version from “The Language of Letting Go”
Author:  Melody Beattie

I Can’t .. God can.   I’ll let Him….

Lessons learned from car remote/ keys.. and electric tooth brush.

When we run out of power what do we have the tendency to do?
1.    give up, feel hopeless, we quit
2.    blame – someone must have unplugged it – didn’t check the battery – it’s their fault
3.    revert to our own power – my example: I could have done this which would have been ok but maybe not as good
4.    call someone hoping they have the power… if nothing else some advice to get out of the mess (like the husband about using the key)
5.    best choice: get plugged in to the power source! Recharge!

What are some of the powerless little gods we plug into – those that we put in place of the One and Only powerful God?
1. our intellects  2. our anger that makes us feel powerful 3. a spouse/ dating partner   4. a substance: drugs, alcohol, food    5. our positions  …. You name it, we will come up with something..

How do we move on.. step closer to abundant living?

1.       Stop denying the pain/ the problem/ the situation/ the area of powerlessness.
2.       Stop playing God.  Stop trying to fix – control, etc..   You know the more out of control we feel the more we control..  ex. Elderly.. caregiver, etc..  eating disorders
3.       Start admitting that we have areas of unmanageability in our lives.
4.       Start admitting our powerlessness.

When we admit we are powerless, we begin to..

- break pride    Prv 29:23   (NLT)

23 Pride ends in humiliation,
    while humility brings honor.
For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

- stop worrying –  Matt 6:34(NLT)

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.   utilize the serenity prayer

- we quit trying to escape – trying to escape pain drains us of precious energy. When we admit our powerlessness, God opens true escape routes showing us His power and grace.  … scripture on providing a way out… 1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
- loneliness ends – why? As long as we maintain our false power, we become isolated and alone. Admitting powerlessness and our need, opens the door to connection in the Body of Christ.
  Read 1 Cor chapter 12
- separation we may feel from God ends – separation from God feels very real and as long as we continue to attempt  to control and have power over things God is calling us to surrender, we pull away.   However, the truth is: Ro 8:38-39 (NLT)
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In conclusion….  We must realize and remember that our God has a name for ALL our needs– including our powerlessness! – God has a name for Power!!!!

God’s name:  El Shaddai = “I am your all powerful God”!
Ps 68:35 “you are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to His people.  Praise be to God!”



1.    Share your thoughts on powerlessness.  How do you feel when you think about being powerless over certain situations or people in your life? 
2.    Who would you like to change and why?
3.    Are you ready to admit your powerlessness over the people in your life – admit that you cannot change them?
4.    What area do you need to admit you cannot change in your own personal life?
5.    What did you do this past week to move out of denial and into a realistic view of your life and situations?

Abundant Living.L2.Denial with Robbie Sedgeman

Agreeing with God

I attended a wonderful seminar this weekend on breaking strongholds.  It was hosted by Lillian Easterly-Smith of LifeCare Christian Center and Dan Hitz of Reconciliation Ministries.  I will interject into this  discussion a portion of what I learned during the seminar because so much of it reminded me of today’s topic, which is about stepping out of denial and into agreement with God. 

It is so easy to focus on other people’s issues and problems, but it is much harder to be still and focus on our own struggles.  God tells us to ‘be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10), which is difficult in itself, but how much harder it is when we don’t want to acknowledge the issues we struggle with!  Much of the busyness of life that drains our energy can be attributed to running from ‘being still.’  And when we run from stillness, we are also running from God.   It is in the stillness that deep calls unto deep and the Holy Spirit can speak – and we can hear Him.

Not facing our pain interferes with our relationship with God.  Deep intimacy is not possible with someone who is hiding themselves.  When Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis chapter 32, God asked Jacob his name.  God was asking Jacob to reveal himself, to be honest and open.  Jacob told God his name was Jacob.  Jacob means “deceiver.”  Jacob was being fully honest about who he was and after that his relationship with God grew.  And in Old Testament days, a defeated enemy revealed his full name as a means of surrender.  Surrender to God - reveal your full identity to Him by revealing the struggles in your life.

Could there be some things that you do not even know you are struggling with?  It has happened to all of us at some point in our lives.  The pain or discomfort is too great to face the pain.  We are masters at ignoring the facts of our lives. Here are some signs and results of not facing the facts:
  • Disables our feelings – Perhaps you are not able to identify how you feel or you may have a perpetual ‘blah’ feeling.
  • Energy lost – Are you always tired or drained?  You may be perpetually busy with activities that do not refresh or invigorate you.
  • Negates growth –   A physical body cannot grow strong and build its muscles with a constant infection.  The same is true of the mental, emotional and spiritual self.  I have read that our emotional and social growth often stops at the age we started our denial.  I have found that to be true in my own life.  As I evaluated my social and emotion age and life skills, I found them to be much younger than my physical age.  But once I started listening to God’s gentle conviction and following his path, I found myself growing and catching up to my age.  I don’t think I’m my full age yet but I am much closer! 
  • Isolates us from God – As mentioned earlier, we control the level of intimacy we have with God.  He is amazingly capable of total intimacy with each of us.  But we must reveal our true self and let him in.  1 John 1:5-6 says “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”   So often we believe, and we may have been taught, that God will reject us if we admit our struggles to him.  But the opposite it true.  It is only when we admit our struggles that he can start moving towards us in healing and fellowship.  God is truth and closeness to him means being in truth.
  • Alienates us from relationships – Just like intimacy with God, intimacy with another person requires honesty and authenticity.  Otherwise, it is two ‘shells’ talking to each other.   And we cannot be authentic with another person if we are not first authentic with ourselves.     
  • Lengthens the pain – The main reason we ignore our pain is that we don’t want to feel it.  Ironically, though, ignoring the pain only prolongs it!  We all know that a physical wound must be healed for the pain to go away.  The same is true of emotional, mental and spiritual wounds.  Jeremiah 6:14 says ‘You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there.”  Even if you are successful at ignoring the initial onslaught of pain, it will reveal itself in other ways.  It is similar to a person with a broken arm that does not have it set – they end up with limited mobility for the rest of their lives with that arm.  What types of emotional, mental and spiritual immobility are you experiencing?

The logical next question is:   Are you ready to heal?  Be honest.  After all, honesty is what we are talking about today.  Here are some common reasons people are not ready to heal, which are ultimately lies that we have embraced:
  • Fear that the pain you feel will overtake you.  Please remember that God will not give you more than you can handle.  Although it is almost a cliché in Christianity today, it is nonetheless true.  Ask God to help you trust him and to give you the courage to give it a try.  1 Corinthians 10:13
  • Fear that your issues are too deep to heal.   Again, a theme bordering on cliché is appropriate here:  nothing is impossible with God.   Ask God to help you believe.  Mark 9:23-24
  • Believing that God heals others but not you.   A verse that has always seemed a bit sterile to me is actually comforting in this instance.  Acts 10:34 says that God is not a respecter of persons.  He loves and desires to heal each of us.

Although you may have achieved a measure of success in your quest to ignore the pain, the fact is that it still remains.  Why not try something new today – feel the pain in such a way that leads to healing.   That is what stepping out of denial is all about.  It is about agreeing with God – that we are hurt or that we have sinned or a combination of the both.  Stepping out of denial is listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and agreeing with Him.  That is the better way.  2 Corinthians 7:10 says that ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  We can continue to feel the side-affects of our pain or we can take a step of faith and agree with God that we need to change.

That is the road to healing.  It is a difficult road and it takes courage.  God said to Joshua numerous times in the first few chapters of the book of Joshua, ‘Be strong and very courageous.’ (Joshua 1.7)   Remember that you do not have to take those scary steps alone.  God is with you and he has put safe people around you to walk with you on that road.  Start identifying those people and interacting with them. 

Not sure where to start?
If you’re not sure where to start in this process of determining if you are blocking some issues in your life, here are a few questions to explore over the coming week:
  1. How did your family of origin deal with issues?  Were they ignored?  What was the response to you if you brought up a problem? 
  2. Did your family have a ‘pink elephant’ in the room?  Was there an obvious problem that no one was allowed to talk about?
  3. How did your family of origin deal with pain?  Was it acknowledged?  Where you allowed to express yourself or to cry?
  4. How do you deal with issues and pain today?
  5. Is there a nagging uneasiness within you or a recurring problem?  Are you plagued by the same problems over and over again?
  6. Has someone directly confronted you with a possible issue?  Did you consider their concern?

Start lifting the burden today.  God promises that ‘He frees the prisoners…; he lifts the burdens from those bent down beneath their loads’ (Psalm 146-7-8).   This is the first step down the path of abundant living.  But God won’t force you.  God is gentle and kind.  He lovingly works in us if we allow Him, but He does not force his healing power on us.  We can put up our hand to stop Him and He will stop.  But if we lower our hand, he hears our cries and comes to our rescue.  Psalm 107:13-14 says, ‘They cried to the Lord in their troubles, and he rescued them!  He led them from their darkness and shadow of death and snapped their chains.”    May you start down the path of freedom today.

In Jeremiah 30:17, God promises, “I will give you back your health again and heal your wounds.”  But first we must stand in the truth of what our lives are really like.  As it says in Matthew 5:3:  “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.”   Listen to the conviction of God.  Start considering that you cannot control your sinful nature.  Romans 7:18 says “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  That’s what knowing we are spiritually poor is all about – knowing that we can’t, but God can.  That’s walking in the truth of who God is and who we are.

Group Work

  1. As a child, what coping skills did you use to get attention or to protect yourself? And how do you handle pain and disappointment now?
  2. In your family of origin, was there a ‘family secret’?  How was it kept concealed?
  3. Share any signs or results of denial that you are experiencing now or have experienced in the past.
  4. Is there an area of your life that is unmanageable? 
  5. Are you ready to heal?  What is your reaction (physical, emotional, mental) when you think about starting the healing process?
  6. Are you starting to develop a support network of safe people that can walk with you in this process?  If not, what steps can you take to do so?
  7. If God is bringing an area of denial to mind, would you be willing to commit to sharing it with a trusted safe person during the next week?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stepping Into Abundant Living L1 - Intro/ Defining the Journey

Listen to audio for full lesson & illustrations...


Tonight we are beginning a series of talks and processing groups on the topic of abundant living.  We will be offering some Biblical principles, & thoughts to digest and process as well as some practical insights and applications we can make from The Beatitudes, the 12 Steps, Freedom in Christ, etc.. etc..

LifeCare is all about creating a safe place of help hope and healing for ANY life circumstance….  Bringing people to a place of abundant living!

How do we get there…  well… it is going to take courage!  This kind of radical life change is going to take radical trust in Jesus Christ and the support of His body.. the people around you!  And those who are yet to come….

The Scripture that will be the foundational focus for our class is John 10:10  NLT “10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.[1]   KJV  10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,(A) and have it to the full.(B)
10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows).
6-10 Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
Illustration. The Good Shepherd at the gate. At night sheep were kept in an enclosure with a single opening, the gate. The shepherd slept in the doorway so that no wild beast could attack, except over his own body. Jesus as the “Gate for the sheep” interposes His own body between us and sin and Satan. He actually gave His life that we might have life. He truly is the Good Shepherd.
This fact reminds us that no one can dismiss Jesus as a “good man.” He was either an impious deceiver, a madman, or exactly who He said He was: God the Son, God with us in human flesh.
The thief, that is, a false shepherd, cares only about feeding himself, not building up the flock. He steals sheep in order to kill them, thus destroying part of the flock. But Christ has come to benefit the sheep. He gives life which is not constricted but overflowing. The thief takes life; Christ gives it to the full.
I am come that they might have life, and … more abundantly—not merely to preserve but impart life, and communicate it in rich and unfailing exuberance.[4]

We will be looking at the enemy’s schemes that he uses to rob, kill and destroy and what we can do in cooperation with God’s Spirit to move into abundant living.


Webster’sa : marked by great plenty 
b : amply supplied : abounding

Joel 2:12-27 says “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten”.   For many of us the locust is anxiety, worry, relationship challenges, loneliness, disappointment, unforgiveness, anger & frustration, self-pity, low self-worth, a horrible past, etc…   God wants to restore us… God wants to breathe new life in us.  His desire is that we experience the life He designed for us.. and fully embrace life to the full.

I read a story about a woman who hid $20,000 worth of jewelry in a plastic garbage bag in her home hoping to prevent burglars from finding it.  Later, having forgotten about it, she accidentally threw the plastic bag out with her garbage.  Several workmen searched for 9 hours in a landfill before finding her treasure and restoring it to her. 

Some people throw away God’s abundant and gracious blessings in their lives through blatant sin. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t experiencing the blessing of God because of worry, anxiety, bitterness, anger and some behaviors that were very detrimental to myself and those around me. When I finally realized that I couldn’t help myself, I turned to God, repentant and broken. Gradually God has taught me how to rely more fully on Him and His word.  The result of that is life change …and eventually.. a life that is abundant!  Now… am I able to always be in that place?  Are you?  Of course not, however, there are some of us in this room that have never experienced what I am talking about at all. God wants you to know it, experience it and live it. When the things of life hit us –life may knock us down but we are always able to get back up and keep walking in abundance.

I mentioned Joel – In Joel 2, there was an invasion of locusts that stripped God’s people of everything.  What those locusts did to them is exactly what our negative choices and sins will do to us.  Our only hope is to heed God’s call in Joel 2:12 “turn to me with all your heart”.  To those of us who turn, he promises in vs 25 “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten”.  Do you need to get rid of some locusts in your life? - Locusts that are robbing you of abundant living?

In order for us to get a ‘pulse’ on where we are at in our growth and pursuit of a ‘life to the full’, let’s go over some of the characteristics of a spiritually mature person – a person who is on the path to abundance.  As I go through these, jot down some notes to yourself – consider the ones you know are not characteristic of you personally that God desires change in:

1.    Firm in their faith
2.    Growing in love
3.    Capable and willing to serve
4.    Standing for truth in the face of critics
5.    Knowledge of the word, can give evidence for the gospel
6.    Not easily influenced, doesn’t jump to conclusions
7.    A committed person, but doesn’t make rash or hasty commitments
8.    A person of peace and a mentor of others
9.    Has endurance/ perseverance
10.                     Rational, understanding of others’ weaknesses
11.                     Allows the Spirit to take control of the flesh/ sinful nature
12.                     Able to say ‘no’ to temptation
13.                     Teachable, disciplined, humble
14.                     Aware that maturity is a process and continues to pursue health and wholeness

The road to success is not straight
There is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion..
Speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies,
Caution lights called family and you will have flats called jobs….   BUT…
If you have a spare tire called determination,
An engine called perseverance, insurance called Faith
A driver named Jesus, You will make it to the place called Success/Abundant Life!!
                ~Author Unknown



1.   Share your thoughts on abundant living. On a scale from 1-10 what is your level of fulfillment right now – 10 being the highest?
2.   What are some of the locusts eating away at your life?
3.   As you consider figuring out where you are currently in your personal growth, what areas listed in the characteristics of spiritual maturity do you need to work on?
4.   What hope and encouragement did you receive tonight?
5.   Share steps you will take this week in preparation for the journey ahead.

Soul Detox L13 - Religion Gone Bad

Listen to audio for complete lesson and illustrations..


Time to toss out moldy legalism, spoiled churches and sour Christians!
“The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world! ~Georgia Harkness

My Story
Pastor C’s story on a flight. “I’m not religious, and I can’t stand religious people!”

Jesus did not come to earth to make us religious.. He came to set us free (John 10:10), 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,(A) and have it to the full.(B)
He came so we could learn to love through Him. He didn’t come for the self-proclaimed righteous people – He came for sinners (Luke 5:32)I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”(A) .  Christianity is supposed to be about relationship not about religion!  Relationship with the one, true, living, loving God thru His Son, Jesus.

Pic of triangle – Father, Identity, Obedience illustration

The purity of the gospel has been tainted by poisonous human beings – people who refuse to live by faith.. so.. when they are afraid of trusting God and the power of His love, they usually resort to some formula or set of rules. Religion: def. any system, set of rules, expectations, or regulations that promises God’s acceptance in return for human effort.  Religion causes us to ‘return to bondage’. Isn’t the freedom we experience and the relationship we have with God supposed to set us apart from all other spiritual systems/ occults?

Toxic religion – Biblical example – church in Galatia… Judaizers added to the word.. added to Paul’s teachings. They taught and believed that all the Jewish laws were still in force.  Paul’s response: Gal 1:6-7  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called(A) you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel(B) which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion(C) and are trying to pervert(D) the gospel of Christ”  The Greek word is translates as ‘to pervert” means “to taint, corrupt, distort, or poison”.  The Judaizers’ additional rules polluted the purity of the gospel with religion.

Toxic Religion has 2 poisoning problems:
1.    leads us to focus on externals rather than the internal. Behavior oriented path toward pleasing God. Focus is on the outward expression rather than inward transformation. Examples. Reduces the gospel to a check list of do’s and don’ts. 

Inside of the dish –Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish,(A) but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.(B)  Pharisees – prayer… wanted to be seen and heard by people rather than God. Long showy prayers to impress.  God really hates the outward show.

Sadly it’s not just behavior that is the focus.. also how you look (example from Citadel of Faith: Pastor H. Carey) – homeless person. Why do we focus so much on what people wear and how they look when they come to church instead of the fact that their heart is searching for God and that is why they are there.

I long to see Christians portrayed as healthy, compassionate, loving, accepting human beings. Have you noticed how Hollywood portrays Christians? Think of some television or movie examples… sheesh even the Christian movie Letters from God had the typical stereotypical portrayal of a pastor and congregation – what!?

2.    Internal Pride – the external emphasis produces internal pride. Rules following religious people believe their behavior and beliefs are right and everyone else is wrong. Jesus told this story in Luke 18:10-12 ““Two men went up to the temple to pray,(A) one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself(B) and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast(C) twice a week and give a tenth(D) of all I get.’

Pharisees were outwardly religious and tax collectors were the opposite. Actually, tax collectors were despised and society put them in the same class as murderers. A Pharisee wouldn’t even allow the hem of his robe to touch a tax collector. In these passages we find that he could not even see his own poisonous pride. Spiritual pride is almost impossible to see in the mirror. L  When we are convinced that we are right about religion, any correction from others is seen as wrong. Toxic religion puffs up and it pollutes and infects those it touches. It causes closed mindedness and lack of teach-ability which is the opposite of being humble.  Humility = teach-ability….. it is understanding who we are in relation to who God is.

Why do you think so many non-Christians can’t stand Christians? Because our spiritual pride often makes it impossible for us to get along with each other. We disagree among ourselves and then venomously defend it creating conflict and discord. Where’s the unity Jesus prayed for before leaving this earth? He didn’t come to make religious people.. He came to bring good news – good news of eternal life.

So what’s the good news and what’s the bad news? There’s a difference between ‘head knowledge’ and ‘heart knowledge’.   The good news:  Romans 3:20-22  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law;(A) rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.(B)   21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God(C) has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.(D) 22 This righteousness(E) is given through faith(F) in[a] Jesus Christ(G) to all who believe.(H) There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,(I)

3 foundational elements:

1.    We cannot earn God’s acceptance by observing the law. Observing the law will never make us righteous and the good news frees us from attempting to earn God’s favor by our hard work. NO ONE can earn it!!!  NO ONE can be good enough on their own!
2.    The purpose of the law is to show us that we need a Savior. The law makes us aware of our need.. makes us aware of our sinfulness. It shows us that we are not good enough and we need help.  Ray Comfort asks a series of questions to help us get this point (Pastor Craig’s version from Soul Detox):    a. have you ever told a lie? If you say no, you just lied. Telling a lie makes you what?.. a liar.   b. have you ever put something ahead of God? I am sure you have. What does that make you? Idolater Feel bad yet? c. have you ever stolen something? Ever take something that didn’t belong to you? If you have, that makes you what? Correct.. a thief… so that makes us lying, idolatrous, thieving sinners and the list could go on and on…. We are not good enough. We need a Savior. We don’t need religion with a bunch of rules, we need Christ!
3.    Righteousness from God comes by faith in Christ alone.  Romans 3:22  This righteousness(A) is given through faith(B) in[a] Jesus Christ(C) to all who believe.(D) There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,(E)
Clarify good vs bad…  all of us – have both

The Hope:

Robes of righteousness Isaiah 61:10
“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

 2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Relationship is what it is all about!
Luke 18:13 – 14   13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast(A) and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’(B)
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”(C)

Instead of having pride in himself, the tax collector cried out to God for mercy. What an amazing response from Jesus.
Christ has taken his robe of righteousness and covered the tax collector’s sins, just as he does with yours and mine.

The gospel is Christ plus nothing.. that is the equation. It is not Christ plus tithing, Christ plus saying the right words and the right prayers, Christ plus doing and wearing the right thing..  The gospel is Christ plus NOTHING!

Toxic religion is all about what I do. The gospel is all about what Jesus did. Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus. Religion highlights my efforts to do right. The gospel highlights what Christ has already done. Religion lures me to believe that if I obey God, He will love me. Religion puts the burden on us. A relationship  with Christ puts the burden on Him – because of what He did for us, we get to do what is right. Instead of an obligation, our right living becomes a response to His gift.


1.      Has there been a time that you fell into practicing ‘religion’?  Share.
2.      What have some of your experiences been like in dealing with people that are ‘religious’?  Have you gone through times where you felt judged? Why?
3.      Why is practicing religion so toxic?
4.      Share some of the portrayals you have seen of Christians in the media. How are we different? Are we?
5.      What was the most valuable point you are walking away with from tonight’s lesson?