Avoid the Traps of Religion

Jesus Argues Against the Traps of Religion / John 8:12-59
(4 Ways to know the Difference between Religion and a Relationship with Jesus…)

  1. Religion: obligation; Relationship: encounter.
    1. Do you follow Jesus out of obligation or habit rather than because you have had an encounter with the living God?
    2. Do you believe what others have said about Jesus rather than discovering Jesus through his Word?
  2. Religion: association; Relationship: change.
    1. Are you a part of the church because of the relationships here, or because your family is connected to the church rather than being here due to an encounter with Jesus producing a changed mind and heart and habits?
    2. Are you happy and content with personal preferences at church or open to change than might bring in new people and expressions of worship?
  3. Religion: claims; Relationship: devotion.
    1. Do you make claims over the church rather than recognize that the church belongs to Christ?
    2. Are you able to express your devotion to Jesus in all circumstances and methods without making claims and objections that uphold personal preferences in worship?
  4. Religion: institutionalism; Relationship: Christ-centered.
    1. Is your focus really on Christ and his mission at church or do earthly methods prevent you from encountering and enjoying the worship of God and the fellowship of other believers?
    2. Have you embraced the institution of the church tighter than the Lord over the church?
    3. In what ways have you sought to build your own kingdom rather than allowing Christ to build his kingdom here at King’s Grant?

Questions for Further Discussion:

  1. To what sort of things do people today become enslaved?
  2. What does it mean to you to be free? What doesn’t it mean?
  3. What did Jesus say to the Jews who had believed in Him? (John 8:31)
  4. What did Jesus say the truth would do for those who knew it? (John 8:32)
  5. How did the Jews respond to Jesus’ statement about freedom? (John 8:33)
  6. Who did Jesus say is a slave to sin? (John 8:34)
  7. How does Jesus distinguish a slave from a son? (John 8:35)
  8. What is the result of being freed by the Son? (John 8:36)
  9. What did Jesus say the Jews were ready to do? (John 8:37)
  10. Who did the Jews say was their father? (John 8:39)
  11. In what way were the Jews mistaken about Abraham? (John 8:39)
  12. What did Abraham not do? (John 8:40)
  13. What claim did Jesus’ accusers make? (John 8:41)
  14. Of what did the Jews accuse Jesus? (John 8:48)
  15. How did Jesus respond to the accusation against Him? (John 8:49)
  16. What did Jesus say He wasn’t seeking? (John 8:50)
  17. What did Jesus say would be the result of keeping His word? (John 8:51)
  18. How did the Jews respond to Jesus’ claim? (John 8:52)
  19. What question did the Jews ask Jesus? (John 8:53)
  20. Who glorifies Jesus? (John 8:54)
  21. Whom did Jesus claim to know? (John 8:55)
  22. What made Abraham rejoice? (John 8:56)
  23. Why were the Jews so astonished by what Jesus said? (John 8:57)
  24. Before whom did Jesus claim He had existed? (John 8:58)
  25. What did the Jews attempt to do to Jesus? Why? (John 8:58-59)
  26. How are you like your mother or father?
  27. To what sin are you a slave?
  28. From what sin have you been set free?
  29. How does truth set someone free?
  30. How has the Son set you free?
  31. In what way are we like God our Father?
  32. When do we act like illegitimate children?
  33. How can you better enjoy your freedom in the Son?
  34. How do you usually respond to things you don’t understand or can’t explain?
  35. How do you respond to situations that you can’t control?
  36. How do you respond when your authority is being challenged?
  37. To what authorities in life do you appeal for truth?
  38. Whose glory do you seek?
  39. How can you honor God with your life?
  40. How does a person keep Jesus’ word?
  41. How well do you keep Jesus’ word?
  42. How do you know that you know God?
  43. From what enslaving sin will you ask God to set you free?
  44. What action will you take in order to act more like a child of God?
  45. What is one way that you can honor God with your life today?
  46. How can you seek God’s glory rather than your own in your work this week?
  47. What do you need to do in order to keep Jesus’ word?

“Get This” for May 27

From Pastor Ken:

I was speaking with a member of our church family yesterday who has walked through some medical challenges within his own family. He commented that when people learn what he and his family have recently gone through, they usually respond with, “wow, I don’t know how you are dealing with this.” He then replied, “I just tell them, ‘IT’S JESUS’.”

I love his story, for this defines the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus. Not once has religion ever given someone that sweet presence of a loving Heavenly Father when going through an unimaginable crisis. Not once has religion caused the spirit to rest well in the midst of life’s storms. But a relationship with Jesus? Absolutely! There is no other way to walk through life than with Jesus.

This Week’s Quote: “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.” – Martin Luther

I really want you to get this! – Today, don’t fall into the trap of simply practicing religion. Discover afresh and anew the powerful reality of living daily in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” He said this to demonstrate to a very religious crowd a truth that is just as significant today as when Jesus first spoke these words: Jesus is the light of the world because He openly reveals God to us, leads us from the darkness of sin, and provides an opportunity to walk in the light (the truth) of His love. Only through Jesus can we really live. Religion may help someone demonstrate faith, but religion should never be understood as equal to faith. Placing your total trust in a relationship with Jesus is indeed the only definition of Christian faith.

One’s religion is only as good as one’s faith in Jesus Christ. Today, cherish a relationship with Jesus more than the simple practice of religion.

This Sunday, May 27, I will share a message from John, Chapter 8, titled, “Jesus Argues Against the Traps of Religion.” (This Sunday will also offer a moment to pause as we commemorate Memorial Day by thanking God for those who have laid down their lives for the freedom of our nation.)

I look forward to seeing you Sunday.

“Get This” for May 20

From Pastor Ken

Have you ever felt guilt and shame?

A woman is caught in sin, used as a pawn in religious games by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. She is paraded before a crowd and before Jesus with her sin and condemnation announced publicly. (John 8:1-11)

This one episode from the Scriptures exposes the brokenness of mankind in two ways:

  1. A life of religious pride, which sees no need for personal change (as demonstrated by the Pharisees and Scribes);
  2. A life of guilt and shame which feels unworthy of love and forgiveness (as demonstrated by the woman caught in adultery).

Jesus responded to the pride of the religious leaders by reminding them in one simple statement that they too have sinned: “let he who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery by asking a very important question: where are your accusers? When she realized that those who had previously held a condemning sentence against her had walked away, Jesus then spoke those words that announce freedom to us all: neither do I condemn you.” It is as if Jesus said, I am the only one who stands over you as judge, but I say you are not condemned. Jesus then sent her forward to live a life free from sin.

I really want you to get this!

While the Scriptures remain silent on how the woman responded, we know that several days later, when Jesus died on the cross, forgiveness of sin and a life made brand new became possible through faith in Jesus Christ.

Lewis Smedes, in his book Shame and Grace, recognizes the distinction between shame and guilt: a person feels guilt because a person did something wrong; a person feels shame because a person thinks he or she is something wrong. Smedes will admit that these two actually overlap at times. But, the point is this:

if you feel you are something so wrong that Jesus cannot help, or if you feel you have done something so wrong Jesus cannot help, I announce to you today that Jesus came to take away your guilt and shame.

He didn’t just make them vanish; He died to take away your guilt and shame. Although He was completely perfect and innocent, He bore your sin and shame on the cross. And He gladly did this so that you and I could be forgiven, freed and made new.

Don’t allow guilt and shame to get the best of you. Trust Jesus.

Can you imagine living everyday free from the burden of regret, the oppression of shame, and the perpetual struggle against the condemning feeling of guilt?

This is what Jesus desires for you; I will be sharing a sermon on this reality this Sunday, May 20th, at the outdoor service at King’s Grant Baptist. I look forward to seeing you there.

Five Ways to Honor Your Mother

5 Ways to Honor Your Mother (Radical Love)
John 19:26-27

Honoring Mothers (Jesus’ example)

  1. Otherness
  2. Recognition
  3. Priority
  4. Care
  5. Follow-through

Loving Radically (Our Calling)

  1. Radical love always comes from within a context of otherness.
  2. Radical love always perceives deeper needs and not just a common expression of care.
  3. Radical love never allows larger commitments to cancel your commitment to those closest to you.
  4. Radical love reinforces the bond of a spiritual relationship.
  5. Radical love always seeks to bear the burdens of others.

Questions for Further Discussion:

  1. What sort of sacrifices did your parents make for you?
  2. What to you is the most humiliating situation you can imagine?
  3. To where was Jesus forced to take His own cross? (John 19:17)
  4. What did the soldiers do to Jesus? (John 19:18)
  5. Who was crucified with Jesus? (John 19:18)
  6. What notice did Pilate have fastened to Jesus’ cross? (John 19:19)
  7. How did the chief priests want Pilate to change the sign over Jesus’ head? (John 19:21)
  8. What did Pilate tell the chief priests? (John 19:22)
  9. What happened to Jesus’ clothes? (John 19:23-24)
  10. Why were Jesus’ clothes divided among the soldiers? (John 19:24)
  11. Who stood near the cross of Jesus? (John 19:25)
  12. What did Jesus say to His mother and the disciple with her? (John 19:26-27)
  13. Why do you think Pilate had the notice placed on the cross?
  14. If you had been a member of Jesus’ family or one of His disciples, how do you think you would have reacted to His crucifixion?
  15. How was Jesus humiliated?
  16. What sort of humiliation did Jesus suffer?
  17. What humiliation have you suffered for being a Christian?
  18. How can we sacrifice our wants and desires so that others might benefit?
  19. In what way has God’s family become your family?
  20. To what degree are we responsible for caring for the needs of other believers?
  21. What want or desire can you sacrifice so that someone else might benefit? How?
  22. How can you care for another Christian’s needs this week?

“Get This” for May 13

From Pastor Ken

Jesus’ words, “He who believes in Me, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38), represent a beautiful invitation to lay aside doubt and fear, and to come to Him for forgiveness, cleansing, and renewal…to come to Him for LIFE! Do you trust in Him to the point that His life flows liberally from you. Sometimes, negative emotions, frustrations, and expressions of a sinful heart seem to flow more readily. But, the more that you trust Him and the more that you cling to Him daily, the more His life flows from within you like rivers of water… living water that spiritually satisfies your deepest longings, cares, and needs.

Today, remember why you can trust Him with absolute abandon to your own fears and doubts. Today,remember a very fundamental and inarguable truth: Jesus cares! He truly cares, and desires that you come to Him to lay your cares down. He carried the cross, and He will carry you.

From the truth of John 7, fast forward to John 19, where we encounter the words of Christ from the cross.

I really want you to get this! Jesus spoke from the cross to Mary, His earthly mother, words of care and comfort as He placed her well being into the provisional and protective hands of His beloved disciple, John. There is something significantly moving in the fact that Jesus, in the agony of the cross, with the salvation of the world on His shoulders alone, thought of the need of His mother. (John 19:27) In the midst of the greatest love every shown, Jesus cared for the personal life of His mother.

As I reflect on this scene, the passion Jesus has for one solitary life is overwhelmingly reinforced. (He also demonstrated such a passion with the thief on the cross beside Him). At this crucial moment, Jesus cared for the individual life.

The Cross of Jesus!
What an amazing sacrifice offered to the world! What a personal and passionate expression of love and care for one life!

Today, take a moment to realize that He cares for every detail of your life; He desires that you trust Him with every detail. I realize this is a basic truth of Christian faith, but how easily forgotten this truth becomes as we attempt to solve our own problems and deal with life in our own strength. Trust Him. He cares.

This Sunday, Mother’s Day, (May 13), I will share a message from John 19:26-27 on this radical love of Jesus toward his mother, toward the world, and to you and me. Join us as we discover 5 ways to love radically from the example of Jesus’ love for others, including his own mom.

If Anyone is Thirsty, Come to Me

If Anyone is Thirsty, Come to Me
John 7:1-53
Why do we tend to doubt?

  1. The Disciples – John 7:1-11 – We don’t fully understand the mission of Jesus.
  2. The Crowd – John 7:12-31 – Fear can paralyze us – like the loss of comfort or change.
  3. The Religious Leaders – John 7:32-53 – Our hearts become hardened toward a downward spiral of unbelief.

Questions for Further Study:

  1. In what do people today put their faith?
  2. What ideas tend to cause division among the people you know?
  3. What questions did the people begin asking about Jesus? (John 7:25-26)
  4. Why was it significant that people knew where Jesus was from? (John 7:27)
  5. What did Jesus cry out in the temple court? (John 7:28-29)
  6. What did the people try to do? (John 7:30)
  7. Why were the people unsuccessful in trying to seize Jesus? (John 7:30)
  8. What reason did some of the people give for putting their faith in Jesus? (John 7:31)
  9. What did the Pharisees do when they heard the crowd talking about Jesus? (John 7:32)
  10. How long did Jesus say He would be with His audience? (John 7:33)
  11. What did Jesus say the people would be unable to do? (John 7:34)
  12. How did the Jews respond to what Jesus said? (John 7:35-36)
  13. What invitation did Jesus offer on the last day of the Feast? (John 7:37)
  14. What result did Jesus promise for those who believed in Him? (John 7:38)
  15. Why hadn’t the Spirit been given yet? (John 7:39)
  16. What conclusions did the people come to about Jesus? (John 7:40-41)
  17. Why did the people get confused over Jesus’ identity? (John 7:41-42)
  18. What effect did Jesus have on these people? (John 7:43)
  19. What did some of the people want to do? (John 7:44)
  20. What has the world as a whole concluded about Jesus?
  21. What can you tell about a person from his or her hometown?
  22. How has your background shaped you into the person you are today?
  23. When do you feel most refreshed in your relationship with Christ?
  24. How has Jesus caused division among groups of people with whom you are associated?
  25. How has Jesus satisfied your thirsts and longings in life?
  26. In what way do we attempt to satisfy our thirsts and longings in life outside of Christ?
  27. What specific thirst or longing do you need to trust Christ to satisfy this week?
  28. How can you refresh your relationship with God today?

“Get This” for May 6

From Pastor Ken…

Have you ever considered that we look for satisfaction in other places than in a relationship with Jesus because we really don’t know Him as we should?

A Moment in the Life of Jesus

After the feeding of the 5,000, the crowd continued to look for a convenient blessing of physical bread. Jesus redirected their superficial desires by teaching that He himself is the “bread of life” that alone satisfies man’s soul (John 6). Jesus then revealed Himself even more personally during a popular Jewish festival (the Feast of the tabernacles). On the last day of this event, after the priest had given a visual reminder of when God provided water for Israel during the wilderness years, Jesus cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Wow! At the very moment when Israel was looking back to when God provided physical needs, Jesus invited everyone to have a deeper need satisfied: the need of the human heart.

I really want you to get this!

Jesus gave this invitation to an audience comprised primarily of those who doubted Him (the Jewish Leaders, the crowd at large, and even the disciples). To overcome the doubt that constantly swirled around Him, Jesus simply gave an invitation to believe that He alone can satisfy the deepest longing of the heart. In fact, Jesus actually promised that through faith in Him, life will be as rivers of living water flowing from within (John 7:38). Now,that’s a full life.


But, maybe you feel anything but rivers of life coming from within. Maybe bitterness, discouragement, regret, or fear seems to flow more readily. If so, remember the invitation of Jesus: come and drink, which means, come and receive by faith Jesus’ love and forgiveness that alone can satisfy your soul.

  • Jesus gives you this invitation today. Isn’t it time you RSVP?
  • What doubts swirl about your mind and heart today?
  • Do these doubts keep you from desperately thirsting for Jesus?

I will be preaching a message this Sunday, May 6 on why we doubt and why we shouldn’t (from John 7). Please join us!

Do you want to receive “Get This” directly to your inbox? Use our online contact form and let Ken know.

I am the Bread of Life

Knowing Jesus, Knowing Real Life:
I am the Bread of Life.
John 6:26-71

  1. Three Life-problems Jesus Exposed (John 6:26-34)
    1. A superficial commitment (John 6:26) What’s in it for me?
    2. An ignorance of the spiritual (John 6:27-29) A love for the material where faith is devalued.
    3. An attitude of entitlement (John 6:30-34) Wow me or else I’m out of here.
  2. Three Reasons Jesus Referred to Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:35-59)
    1. Jesus is Essential (John 6:35-40) Both are essential for life.
    2. Jesus fulfills the “I Am.” (John 6:41-51) “Flesh” here means “flesh,” not “soma” (body).
    3. Jesus Satisfies (John 6:52-59) Living bread will provide lasting satisfaction.
  3. Three Ways This Truth Affects My Life (John 6:60-71)
    1. A challenge to our basic knowledge of Jesus and our idea of following Him (John 6:60-61) The gospel is offensive, scandalon.
    2. An openness to the spiritual work of God through Christ in our lives (John 6:62-65)
    3. The resolve the Jesus is the absolute and only answer for my life (John 6:68-71)

Questions for Further Study:

  1. What kind of bread do you like most?
  2. How do people attempt to satisfy their need to feel secure and significant in life?
  3. What needs do you spend the majority of your time trying to satisfy?
  4. Why did the crowd seek Jesus? (John 6:26)
  5. What did Jesus say the Son of Man would give to these people? (John 6:27)
  6. What did Jesus say was the work of God? (John 6:28-29)
  7. What did the crowd ask Jesus to do? (John 6:30-31)
  8. Who did Jesus say was the true bread of life? (John 6:32-33)
  9. What did Jesus say would be the result of coming to Him? (John 6:35)
  10. What did Jesus say He would never do to those who came to Him? (John 6:37)
  11. Why did Jesus come down from heaven? (John 6:38)
  12. What did Jesus say is the Father’s will? (John 6:39-40)
  13. Why did the Jews begin to grumble? (John 6:41-42)
  14. Who did Jesus say could come to Him? (John 6:43-44)
  15. What did Jesus say would be the result of believing? (John 6:47)
  16. What contrast does Jesus make between manna and the bread of life? (John 6:48-51, 58)
  17. What did Jesus say about His flesh and His blood? (John 6:53-57)
  18. What things do we seek from Jesus?
  19. In what ways do you have a demanding attitude toward God?
  20. When and why did you come to Jesus?
  21. In what way has Jesus satisfied your hunger and thirst for acceptance and meaning in life?
  22. In what ways do you still feel empty?
  23. What situations cause you to feel insecure?
  24. When do you feel secure in your relationship with God? Why?
  25. How has the Christian life turned out to be different from what you expected?
  26. In what way is Jesus an example for us to follow?
  27. What can you do today to rely on God, rather than on things or people, to satisfy your needs?
  28. What demanding attitudes do you need to ask God to help you change?