Pastor Brandon Lyles | March 13-14, 2021

It’s easy to get caught in the do’s and don’ts of religion. Read the Bible, go to church, walk in love, prioritize God… the list can go on! God, however, never intended for us to be so focused on religion that we forget about our relationship with Him. Refocusing on Jesus changes our perspective in life.

Jesus didn’t stay in heaven and dictate what we should and shouldn’t do from above. He came down and became human. He was a baby who cried and spit up on His mom. He was a teenager who snuck away from His parents. He traveled, loved adventure, and was aggressive. He touched lepers and approached the demon-possessed, even though no one else would. He became human for us.

When you are in the middle of a storm, stop looking at the storm and start looking to Jesus. He is our answer.
Dive Deeper:
Religion tricks us to believe that our time spent doing things for God is the most important element of Christianity; however, focusing on what we do keeps our focus off God’s love and grace that He has made available to us so freely. That gives you the freedom to stop focusing on right from wrong, light from dark, and holy versus unholy. You are free to focus on Jesus. Religion divides us from God, but relationship draws us to Him.

God is holy and just, but that didn’t keep Him from wanting to be with us. God’s name, Emmanuel, means “God WITH us.” Jesus was sent to be human WITH us. Jesus closed the gap between God and us. He is our friend, with us in the middle of difficulty. When we find ourselves in a difficult place, we can lift our eyes from concern and fear to Jesus. When we understand and realize God became human for us, it brings Him close.

So the next time you read your Bible and feel like you’ve flatlined, remember who God is. Remember Jesus’ humanity. He learned to love with God’s love and enter into a relationship with His Father—and you can too.

Read More: 
1 John 4:7-10 (MSG)
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and EXPERIENCES a RELATIONSHIP with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love–so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God SENT his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about–not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and SENT his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our RELATIONSHIP with God.

Ephesians 3:20 (TPT)
Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.

Romans 10:9 (TPT)
For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation.

Discussion Questions: 
1.    How often do you find yourself relying on religion more than relationship? What’s one way you can choose relationship over religion?
2.    How does contemplating the humanity of Jesus draw us closer to Him?

3.    Why is it so easy to get caught up in the “works” of religion? How can we create guardrails in our lives that help us stay focused on our Father?

4.    Read through 1 Peter 1:13-25. How does holiness and our relationship with God work together?

Recent Sermon Notes

Focus on Effect | Mac Hammond

Pastor Mac began a new series entitled, “Focus on Effect.” He started off by telling us the topic of the new series is something we probably think we already know about, but in fact, we don’t know enough about it as we probably should. The scriptural reference was 2nd Corinthians 4:17–18: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Though Pastor Mac has taught on this passage before, he said he’s “gotten a glimpse of a different side of this mountain. And I’m seeing it from a perspective that has really impacted me in a positive way.” He added, “And I want it to be that way for you all as well.”

Are We in the Days of Noah? | Jim Hammond

Jesus’ disciples asked Him what the signs will be of His coming. Jesus said it will be like it was in the days of Noah: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Fellow believers, we are in the days of Noah. All they thought about in the days of Noah was eating and drinking and the like. They were not thinking about the flood that was coming. So it is today!

A Deception of Palestine | Jim Hammond

This past weekend, Pastor Jim ministered a special God-directed message for the congregation entitled, “A Deception of Palestine.” He talked about how there is a division in the body of Christ worldwide, where believers are allowing themselves to become deceived when it comes to the present and ongoing deception regarding the Jewish people and Israel. It’s important that Christians do not allow themselves to be persuaded by worldly and ungodly leaders and news systems. It’s important they know what the Word of God says and exalt it as God’s truth.

The Seven Mountains of Influence Lance Wallnau

This last weekend, we had a very special guest minister, Lance Wallnau, at our weekend services. Lance is well known for his revelation of the “Seven Mountains of Influence” and how these mountains of influence shape and change the world. He preached about how God is calling the church to make disciples of nations. And in order to do that, we need strong, territorial churches that are raising up believers to go out and become the “head and not the tail.” Lance basically taught on the same thing at all three services but much of the information he shared in each service differed. So in light of that, if you want to hear his full message, it would be beneficial for you to listen to all three messages.

A Symbol and a Source of God’s Blessing | Dennis Burke

This past weekend, Living Word’s Guest Minister Dennis Burke taught a message entitled, “A Symbol and a Source of God’s Blessing.” He shared that it is understood that as members of the body of Christ, we have a clear sense that we are living in the last days. And even if these are not the last of the last days, we understand that these are our personal last days. So we must treat this time with a sense of commitment and a sense of design from the Spirit of God for our lives to make an impact, to make a difference. In fact, that’s what we’ve been designed for!