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Are You Sure You Aren't Religious?

Religion versus Love for God, Obeying God out of Love
We modern Christians are quick to say we have a relationship, not a religion. 

Religion is about lists and formulas. Relationship is about love for God. But do we truly understand the difference? 

How often do we think: "If I do things a certain way, God will bless me"?

The blessings we try to earn might be health, wealth, comfort, or happiness.

Religion says: "Obey God's commands and I'll get what I deserve."

Love says: "Obey God's commands because that's what He deserves" (Psalm 103).

Religion says: "If I do this for God, He'll do this for me."

Love says: "I want to do this for God with no expectations" (Philippians 3:7-8).

When we don't understand things happening in our lives, we soon find out if we have religion or love.

Jesus lovers are content and grateful no matter what happens (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

3 Reasons We Don't Always Get Along

Some Christians disagreed with my post Love, Not Like. They felt God enables us to solve all relationship problems.

Scripture admonishes us to love each other, but I don't believe we'll necessarily like everyone or work well with everyone this side of heaven.


1. Some Christians are immature. We can only do our part (Romans 12:18).

2. We're all "working out our salvation." It's a process (Philippians 2:12-13).

3. Life is complex. The Bible gives principles, not detailed steps for every situation (Romans 14).

Last year I wrote an acquaintance to ask forgiveness for a situation where I behaved badly. When the situation occurred, I thought I'd done the right thing. Time, maturity, and prayerful self-examination showed me I was wrong and needed to apologize to this person. 

Sanctification is a process. If we aren't growing and seeing our sins more clearly, we need to seek God more fully. But it's unrealistic to think we can solve all relationship problems this side of heaven.


The Power of Negative Self-Talk

thinking 1300 words a minute, 2 Corinthians 10:5, taking thoughts captive
Studies show our normal rate of talking is 120 words a minute, but we can think at a rate of 1300 words a minute.*

No wonder I sometimes get depressed when I dwell on my problems. Imagine ten minutes of negative self-talk. That’s 13,000 negative, sad, angry, and discouraging words pumped into my soul.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)

When we begin to think negative thoughts, we must spring into action…demolishing and taking thoughts captive. What a great picture of warfare—a reminder that most battles are won or lost in our minds.

What are some practical ways to fight these enemy thoughts?

  1. Memorize Bible verses related to our struggles
  2. Interrupt negative thoughts by counting our blessings
  3. Praise God when negative thoughts come

    So next time the battle begins, let’s fight!

    *Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat (Waco, TX: Word, 1987), 102-3 as quoted in Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver, page116.
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    Facts or Feelings

    repentance, being humble and contrite, Isaiah 57:15
    According to studies, people who never apologize can't deal with "feeling" bad, ashamed, responsible or vulnerable. Even more alarming: the non-repentant "feel" happier than those who repent!

    So we must ask ourselves: Are we more interested in feelings or facts? 

    No one likes feeling bad, ashamed, responsible, or vulnerable, but sometimes we're all of those things. 

    God expects us to repent even if we were only 10% wrong and the other person is 90%. That's because repentance maintains a healthy relationship with the Lord and restores our confidence and hope. 

    God says "I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope." Isaiah 57:15,GNT 

    The non-repentant feel "happier" only because they're self-deceived. 

    Genuine repentance refreshes, restores, and changes us. It brings Christ-lovers factual happiness and joy.

    Some good thoughts on repentance:  Thoughts on Jesus' Demand to Repent 

    Would you like to do a short Bible study on this devotion? Check out today's Bite Size Bible Study.
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    All Scripture references NIV unless otherwise noted.