I can imagine what you may think about religion and I do concur with you.
Religion is human's way to be approved by divinity. Atrocities occurred that
way. Children were sacrificed to appease the god of Molek for example. During
the Middle Ages anyone not concurring with the church were tortured and burned
is another example. Joan of Arc was among them. And all for what? Supposedly to
What does God think about that?
"Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD." (Lev 18:21, NIV)
Or in other words: "I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. (Amos 5:21, NIV2)
Indeed, religion is the opium of people. Our Heavenly Father doesn't approve of such practices!
This may shock us, but it is true!
In all reality, it isn't us who are searching for God. It's the other way around: Our Heavenly Father is the One who looks desperately for us, doing anything possible to draw us to his unconditional love: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (Jer 31:3, NIV2)
Our God pursues us, encouraging us at any times to do what is good and right: "Do what is right and good in the LORD's sight" (Deut 6:18b, NIV2) Inquisition, persecution and anything similar to this is done by people who know nothing about God. They may proclaim to be believers, but truly they are not! "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8, NIV2)
After all, who did the unimaginable sacrifice to reconcile us with God? After all, we had greatly erred! Humans? They certainly did a poor job in doing so! All those poor victims sacrificed under the name of religion! Only One did the inconceivable sacrifice: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1John 3:16,a NIV2) "And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Col 1:20, NIV2)
To many, God is an unknown. However, once we realize that our Heavenly Father loves us to the brim, our lives change subliminally! His presence resides in us when we invite Him to do so. "The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14:17, NIV2)
This is why those who accept God know beyond a doubt that He is alive. He lives in us and He guides us. "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:13, NIV2) His presence within us proofs that He cares for us without a doubt!
The religious have never experienced this ever, as their focus is on works to appease God. However, God doesn't need any appeasing: He is nuts about us! "For whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye." (Zech 2:8b, NIV2)
To those who have never experienced Him, they will remain doubtful, even though He welcomes anyone with open arms! "Whoever comes to me, I will never drive them away." (John 6:37,NIV)
I too used to be religious. It all changed when I met God face to face. However, being involved in a church does not necessarily co-exist with having a close relationship with God! I was involved, but I didn't personally know my Maker. Oh, I thought I did - but no matter what I did, I couldn't explain the huge emptiness in my heart. It was very confusing. I was spiritually dry, spiritually empty.
Then one day, I received an invitation by e-mail to attend a Messianic synagogue. It sounded interesting, and they were only a 2-hour car drive away from where I lived. Why not try it? It would be an interesting experience.
As we entered the synagogue, an overwhelming presence was felt by both my wife and myself: God's presence through His Holy Spirit was in that place! I never had felt His presence that way before. During the service there was prophesying. The Rabbi's wife prophesied that there was someone in the congregation that was facing the open door, the door of the Messiah Yeshua. She was encouraging that person to not hesitate any longer, but to go through that door. Little did she know that she was prophesying to me.
I thought I knew Jesus, I thought I knew my Bible, but that day I tumbled down from my ivory tower and accepted Jesus into my life. That day, He became real to me, and my whole life changed. He gave me total victory over the addiction I had struggled with for 30 years. But even more amazing, after my first encounter with the Holy Spirit, I found I could open my Bible and actually understand it. I mean really understand it like I never could before! The difference simple: God's Spirit was dwelling in me. Jesus was so right when he said: John 16:13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth."
My outward attitude changed as well. I used to be an egotistical selfish individual who would only think about himself (just ask my wife!). Dishes? That's women's work! Cleaning up? Women's work! My wife had long ago given up hope that I would ever change, and she had stopped asking me to help out with these things. But she began to see changes happening in me. I began insisting on doing the dishes, putting away my shoes without any reminders, and cleaning up all my working areas. God made a difference in my life, He has become my Messiah! Praise the Lord for leading me to Him!
Yes, I used to think I was saved. After all, didn't I obey all of my church's doctrines? Didn't I try to read my Bible? Didn't I try to pray? Didn't I…? But I learned that being saved is not about what I can do, it's about what God does in a person's life. Jesus came on this earth to die in my place, to save me. He saved me through His own blood! Jesus loved me! Jesus loves me! He manifested that love by making His dwelling place in me, through His Holy Spirit! Praise to God!
All my life I went to church without knowing my Saviour. All of my life I tried to earn heaven, but I never succeeded. Jesus made the difference in my life!
Through His guiding, I started an online prayer ministry. I wanted to share His love to those who were hurting. After all, isn't that what people do when they fall in love? They share this good news with everybody.
One of the first prayer request that I ever received when I started this ministry came from a damsel in distress. She needed prayer big time. She had so many troubles that she didn't know what to do. The problem was, she didn't tell me what she was going through. She simply asked for prayer.
At that time, I was still attending a legalistic church that didn't even believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the Bible, however, I found that this was not the case, so I did something I had never done before: I asked God's Holy Spirit to reveal to me what this lady was facing so that I could help her better.
I received this message from God's Holy Spirit: "Ask about Tony" (Not the person's real name). I wasn't sure what to do. What if it was my imagination? God's Spirit insisted I ask that question, however, so I did.
The lady was shocked when she received my email. Her response: "Do you know me? Do you live in my town?"
Of course I didn't live in her town and I had never met her, but this was used by God to help her open her heart and share her experience about an abusive relationship. In turn, this opened the way for her to experience our Heavenly Father. She was quite resistant at first; however, our loving Father showed her over and over again how much He loved her. He resolved her abusive relationship, and she found peace through Him. In the end, she decided to follow Him with all her heart.
How could I have known any of this, unless my Heavenly Father is truly alive? Nothing is too difficult with our Father. We just have to trust in Him and Him alone.
Would you like to experience Him? Ask Him to show Himself to you with a sincere heart. It will blow you off your socks!
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