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: How to Get a Reprobate Mind #4 | Jim Hammond

Pastor Jim gave his fourth installment in his series entitled, “Grace Unveiled,” with the subtitle being “How to Get a Reprobate Mind.” This is a series on the book of Romans, a book considered to be the greatest writing of Christian doctrine in all the Bible. Pastor Jim says it has multiple themes on redemption. It touches on our inability to work for the favor of God, the guilt that we have to deal with on a daily basis, and the fact that salvation is only to be received by believing. Romans 1: 24–32 is the subject of this message.

FOCUS FOR EFFECT: Love | Mac Hammond

Pastor Mac taught the third installment of his series entitled, “Focus on Effect,” based upon 2nd Corinthians 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” The apostle Paul said the hardships in our lives can be light and momentary. It all depends on what we place our focus upon. Paul says we are to focus our attention on what is eternal, rather than what is temporal. There are three things that are eternal: faith, hope, and love. We are to focus on that.

FOCUS FOR EFFECT: Hope | Mac Hammond

This series is all about focus, meaning where do you give your attention. This is important because whatever you give your attention to will determine how hard or difficult your life will be. And conversely, it will determine how easy and carefree it will be. Teaching on 1st Corinthians 13:13, Pastor Mac says you can gain the clarity you need to succeed in your life by focusing on matters of faith, hope, and love.

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!