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From the Desk of Pastor Donald Magaw


 

Dear Friends,

In the past few months, C.Jay McCann has been working to continually improve our web site. One of the improvements has included an updated prayer request section, which will show the current prayer requests at the top of the list (this is not to say that any are more important than others) but it will make it easier to see the "newest" listings without having to scroll through all those that we are already making intersession on their behalf. We do ask that you keep C.Jay updated on the requests along with any answers to prayer that we have received.

Many churches have weekly bulletins but we currently feel that our web page will reach more folks, more quickly without having the expense of mailing out weekly bulletins. Currently on our web pages are things such as our church doctrinal stand, our history, prayer requests, testimony, a memorial page, a memorial to Timmy (who bravely fought cancer), the pastorís corner...which includes a Bible study guide (writings by Pastor Don and the late Rev. A. Donald Magaw) and of course our newsletter. My goal is to prepare, from time to time, a newsletter for the church. Not because I want myself heard, but prayerfully relating to you some of the things the Holy Spirit lays on my heart and also things that other leaders of our congregation want to share with you. (For example, the message delivered by Wanda Wohlin in my absence). We invite other Christians to send me anything that would further the Gospel of Christ and we will prayerfully review them and post them if they are appropriate. Send to donald.magaw@verizon.net

We are so very grateful to C.Jay (and his wife Laurie, for allowing him to give of his time) for all the hard work he puts into the site. Every time I write something, he has to reset it in a format that will be accepted by our web server...a very time consuming work of love for Jesus Christ and our little church. We ask that you pray that our website will be used to lead many folks to the love and salvation that only faith in Jesus Christ can offer.

God bless you all,

Pastor Don Magaw

 

 

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1/21/2019

 

Dear Friends,

As many of you already know, I have had a few health issues over the past several months and God has been good to me,

but that being said, I have had to rest and was unable to attend the service this past Sunday.  In my absence,

Wanda Wohlin wrote and delivered this powerful message and I felt that it should be shared with everyone on our

website.

 

God bless you all,

 

Pastor Don

 

 

 

This morning I like to share with you some thoughts about religion and Jesus. According to the dictionary, Religion

is the quest for the values of the ideal life; the practices for attaining the values of the ideal, and theology or world-view

relating the quest to the environing universe. In other words, Religion is a system in which the quest for the ideal life

 has been embodied. It's the belief, feeling or the spiritual attitude of those recognizing a controlling power. And it's the

practice of sacred rites or observances.

 

To be religious means: to be filled or saturated with or exhibiting religion; pious; devout, godly; scrupulously

 faithful, conscientious; belonging to a religious order; a member of a religious order. So that begs the question

How many of us consider ourselves to be religious? Many people you talk to will tell you that it's a good thing

to be religious. If you consider yourself a religious person I'd like to share some thoughts with you about why

religion may not be all it's cracked up to be. And I'm going to give you several reasons why you should do some

soul searching and consider redirecting our point of view away from religion and instead, focus on Jesus.

 

1. JESUS CHRIST IS SOMEONE THAT YOU CAN KNOW AND CAN TRUST.

 

And that's a wonderful thing! He's much more than a system, tradition, or belief. He's a Person who knows our needs,

feels our pain, and sympathizes with our weakness. In exchange for our trust, He offers to forgive our sins, to intercede

for us and to bring us to His Father. Jesus cried for us, died for us, and rose from the dead to show that He is all He

claimed to be. By conquering death, He showed us that He can save us from our sins, live His life through us on earth,

and then bring

us safely to heaven. And the best news is, He offers Himself as a gift to anyone who will trust Him.

 

2. RELIGION IS SOMETHING TO BELIEVE AND DO.

 

Religion for Christians is believing in God and Jesus, attending religious services, taking catechism, being baptized,

and receiving communion. Religion is tradition, ritual, ceremony, and learning the difference between right and wrong.

It's reading and memorizing Scripture, offering prayers, giving to the poor, and celebrating holy days. It's also singing

in the choir, helping the poor, and making amends for past wrongs. And religion is something that was practiced by

the Pharisees, those Scripture-loving, conservative, separatist, spiritual leaders who hated Christ enough to call for His

death. They hated Him not only because He broke their traditions in order to help people, but also because He saw

through

their religion to their hearts.

 

3. RELIGION DOESN'T CHANGE HEARTS.

 

Jesus compared the religious Pharisees to a group of dishwashers who clean the outside of a cup while leaving

the inside dirty. He said in Luke 11:39: "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean but your

inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did He who made the outside make the inside also?" Jesus

knows that a person can change his image without changing his act. He nailed it when he said in Matthew 23:1-3: "..

The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;

but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not.". He knows that religious credentials and ceremony can't

change the heart. In John 3:3, we see where He told Nicodemus,

one of the most religious men of His day that unless a person is "born again" by the Spirit, he cannot see the

kingdom of God. Yet from that day until now, many of the most religious people in the world continue to forget

that while religion can giveattention to outward appearance, only Christ can change the heart.

 

4. RELIGION MAKES A LOT OUT OF A LITTLE.

 

Jesus spoke to there ligionists who had a passion for detail when He said in Luke 11:42, "But woe unto you,

Pharisees for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God; these

ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Jesus is calling out our tendency to make rules and

to focus on "morally correct" behavior instead of keeping our eyes on the bigger issue of why we are trying to be

so right. While the Pharisees were big on knowledge carried outto its logical conclusions, they forgot that God doesn't

care how much we know until He knows how much we care. It was this greater "why" that the apostle Paul had in

mind when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, "Though I speak in tongues ofmen and of Angels, and have not charity (love),

I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though

I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing."

 

5. RELIGION OFFERS THE APPROVAL OF MEN RATHER THAN GOD.

 

Jesus reserved His strongest criticism for religious people who used their spiritual reputation to get social attention

and honors. To such religionists Jesus said in Luke 11:43: "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the uppermost seats

in the synagogues and greetings in the markets." Then, speaking to His disciples, He said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:5:,

"But all their works they do for to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of

their garments. Phylacteries were small boxes worn on the arm or forehead of the priests and the borders refers to

tassels composed of white and blue threads, intended to remind the wearers of the commandments of the Lord;

they made these overly large to draw attention to themselves. Jesus saw clearly into the practice of religion back

then and today, which holds the opinions and attention of man to be more important and desirable than the approval

of God.

 

6. RELIGION MAKES HYPOCRITES OF US.

 

In Luke 11:44 Jesus said, "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are as graves which

appear not, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them." What looks better than being dressed right,

attending religious services, and doing things that mark us as decent, God-fearing people? Yet how many religious

scholars,ministers, and faithful followers withhold honor and encouragement from their spouses, attention from their

children, and love from their doctrinal enemies? Jesus knew what we often forget: What looks good may have a

heart of evil.

 

7. RELIGION MAKES A HARD LIFE HARDER.

 

Because religion can't change a heart, it tries to control people with laws and expectations that are not even kept by

the leaders who interpret and apply the rules. With this "burden factor" in mind, Jesus went on to say in Luke 11:46:

"Woe unto you also, you lawyers! (those who were supposed to be experts in the Law of Moses) For you laden men

with burdens grievous to be borne, and you yourselves touch not the burdens with one of our fingers." Religion is good

at describing high standards of right behavior and relationships, but poor at giving real and merciful help to those who

realize they have not lived up to those expectations.

 

8. RELIGION MAKES IT EASY TO DECEIVE OURSELVES.

 

It's been jokingly said, "I love humanity. It's people I can't stand." Well, the Pharisees acted out a similar idea,

but it wasn't funny. According to Jesus, the Pharisees prided themselves in honoring and building memorials to

the prophets. The irony is that when they met a real prophet, they wanted to kill Him. They honored the dead

prophets with tombs and memorials, but they dishonored the living one with persecution and death. This is the point

Jesus made in Luke 1:47-51 and in a parallel passage in Matthew 23:29-32. The Pharisees had fooled themselves.

They didn't think of themselves as prophet-killers. Religionists don't see themselves as the God-rejecting people

they are.

 

9. RELIGION HIDES THE KEY OF KNOWLEDGE.

 

One of the greatest dangers of religion is that it causes us to be a danger not only to ourselves but also to others.

To the very religious biblical experts of His day Jesus said in Luke 11:52: "Woe unto you, lawyers! For you have taken

away the key of knowledge; you entered not in yourselves, and them who were entering in you hindered." Religionists

take away "the key of knowledge" by distracting people from the Word of God and from a "right attention of heart" by

the unnecessary additions ofdenominationally correct traditions and expectations. Rather than leading people to God,

religionists shift the focus to themselves and their own rules. Religionists are those who trust the beliefs and actions of

their religion to do what only Christ can do.

 

10. RELIGION LEADS ITS CONVERTS ASTRAY.

 

In Matthew 23:15 Jesus said "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea

and land to make one proselyte (convert), and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than

yourselves." Converts of religion are in double jeopardy. They bring a double enthusiasm to their new way of life,

and with zeal they blindly defend their blind teachers. They put themselves in the trust of people who have

exchanged a system of rules and traditions for the life, forgiveness, and relationship of an infinite Savior.

 

Don't get me wrong, Religion is important in its place, but only when it points us to the Christ who died for our sins

and who now offers to live His life through those who trust Him.

 

CLOSING:

We must always remember that Jesus Christ is someone to build a relationship with, religion is something to do.

We all know it's better to put our faith and trust in people and not things. Don't let religion cloud your judgment

about who Jesus really is and cause you to do things that lead you away from Him. We must be careful because

religion can make Christians shallow. It doesn'tmatter what the appearance is on the outside. If there is nothing inside

supporting the outward actions, it means nothing. Jesus can and does change hearts. Jesus gives Christians depth of

emotion and character. If you focus on Him and let Him change your heart, and you work hard to live your life as He

lived His, then my friends, you don't need religion. Instead, you will have all you need, and not only will the world

see an outwardly loving person, they will come to know someone who is truly loving on the inside where it counts.

 

Choose Christ over religion and you will find there is no guilt or burden associated with your faith. Rather there is

only love, kindness, and forgiveness given to you from Christ and shared by you with others. Putting our faith and

trust in Him and being an example of Him will secure a place for us in heaven.

 

The only true way to know that we aren't putting religion over Christ is to know the Bible. It tells us how we should

live and takes away the need to rely on religion as our life's guide.

 

God bless you all.



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