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

Grace Unveiled, #10: Credited to Your Account | Jim Hammond

Pastor Jim preached the 10th installment of his series entitled, “Grace Unveiled,” a study of the book of Romans. This message subtitled, “Credited to Your Account,” finishes up the study of the sin problem and then begins a study of the solution to man’s sin problem—which is Romans 3:21–22, “…faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Pastor Jim said, “The reason why Paul spent so much time talking about the sin problem is because you can’t understand the solution if you don’t understand the problem.”

At Wit’s End | Jim Hammond

Have you ever been “at your wit’s end?” When you’ve exhausted all your emotional and physical resources and have nothing left to give, what do you do? When the Apostle Paul was at his wit’s end, the Lord gave him direction saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Pastor Jim went on to expound on when we are at our wit’s end, how we can lean on His grace.

Grace Unveiled, #9: Established in the Gift of Righteousness | Jim Hammond

This past weekend, Pastor Jim taught his 9th installment in his series on the book of Romans entitled, “Grace Unveiled.” The first three and a half chapters of Romans, Paul talked extensively, driving home the point, on how no one can make himself righteous in God’s eyes. The Apostle Paul didn’t leave anyone out. He listed the Pagans in the secular world, people just trying to do good, and the zealous disciplined Jews… he made sure they knew that none of them measured up in God’s eyes. No matter what they did, they would never be able to escape God’s wrath… unless there is something that appeases that judgment. That was Paul’s way of working up to a point. Paul then introduced the righteousness of God through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

The Principle of Connection | Mac Hammond

Pastor Mac taught a message entitled, “The Principle of Connection.” Oftentimes, we struggle with obedience to the Word, where our obedience to the Word is not done in faith but out of legalism. We don’t do it from our heart, but we do it out of obligation. However, as Pastor Mac pointed out, if the Word is going to work for you, it has to come from our heart. There is a remedy that puts an end to legalistic obedience: once you understand the principle behind a particular mandate, obedience to the Word becomes exciting. Pastor Mac goes on to discuss the Principle of Connection.

A Faith-Building Weekend With Nancy Dufresne

What a weekend we had with guest minister Nancy Dufresne. She shared on the power of faith and reminded us that God and the Holy Spirit should always remain our focus. That means when we face difficulty, listening to the Holy Spirit, our guide on the inside, is the best thing that we can do. You can walk in faith toward your miracle!