11/22/17 – Pastor Brian’s Blog

Thanksgiving is a nice season, in that we get to eat a lot of food. For many, it is one of the few times that families get together.  It also gives us opportunity to think about things we are thankful for.  Last night we had a pie social at our church.  I enjoyed a large sampling of pies and had the opportunity to hang out with friends.  Life does not get much better than that!

As I was thinking about what to write this week, I came up with several things for which I am thankful.  But as I was thinking, I realized that for all the things I am thankful for, apart from one thing; everything had a down side to it.

For example…. I am very thankful for my kids and my 16 grandchildren, but I don’t like the fact that they all live so far away from us. I am very thankful for Double Stuff Oreo’s, but I don’t like the 2700 calories in each bite. I am thankful that I can watch sports with friends but I don’t like what professional sports have become.

I was talking with my neighbor about the problems we see in the world around us.  And although I am very thankful for our military and their service, I do not like the Washington politics that are involved in our military.

I am thankful for the different seasons, until we get a wind storm blowing trees on and around my house.  I am thankful for the beauty of winter until that “beauty” has to be shoveled.

You may find this odd coming from a pastor; but I am not thankful for religion and I cannot think of one upside to it.  Think about it… Religion can make you do some pretty weird things.  If you are Muslim, women are told how they are to dress or be punished; if a man wants to be guaranteed heaven, he must do some heinous act, like flying airplanes into buildings, or kill a Jew, a Christian or an infidel.

The Hindu is required to find perfection through reincarnation.  The Buddhist has to find enlightenment through striving.  The Jews trust in their good works to get to Jehovah. Yet they never know what good enough is.   Other religions require you to go to church, act the right way, dress the right way, say the right things or confess to the right person, and then walk away hoping that they did enough of the right thing.

Religion – I am not thankful for it because although it might make you live a better life, it does not give you any eternal benefit.  The problem with religion is that your religion dies when you do.  That is why I am thankful for Jesus Christ and I have found no downside with Him.

Please understand this: every one of us has messed up. We have all made mistakes that we wish we could undo.  And even if reincarnation were true, you could not come back enough times to be perfect.

The Bible says this… There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:22-23) Every one of us have done wrong. We have all sinned.  The sins may vary: you may have lied, you may have stolen money, you may have cheated on a test or a spouse, or may have done something you think is worse than that.  But the fact remains that we all have sinned.

The Bible says that there is a price to pay for sin… For the wages of sin is death.  (Romans 6:23)  The fact is, sin kills. It can kill you emotionally. It can kill relationships.  Sometimes it kills people.  Sin will always kill eternally.  The truth is, there is no upside to sin.

Now if that were the end of the story, there would be nothing to be thankful for. Although the Bible does say… For the wages of sin is death; the verse continues… BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

And you might ask, “What is this gift of God?” It is this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

I need to let you know that this gift of God is not found in religion. It is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Religion condemns; Jesus gives life.  Jesus said this… I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28

Religion, denominations, or religious groups do not impress God.  Matter of fact, Jesus saw religion as a negative thing, as an act of bondage and not freedom.  What interests God is not what church you attend or even if you attend a church at all; the only thing that interests God is what you have done with His Son Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John wrote… But to all who received him (Jesus), he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them. All those who believe this are reborn!—not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan—but from the will of God. John 1:12-13

So are you thankful for your religion, your denomination, and what you think you can do for God? Or are you thankful for what God has done for you: And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:10-13

My friends, be careful what you are thankful for, because the results can affect you forever.  Please know that today, I am thankful for you and your willingness to read my blogs.

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