"Yet they act so pious! They come to the temple every day and seem so delighted to learn all about Me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask Me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to hear Me. ‘We have fasted before You', they say. ‘Why aren't You impressed?' ‘I will tell you why!' I respond. ‘It's because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with Me…Do you really think this will please the Lord? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: free those who are wrongly imprisoned, lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help." Isaiah 58:2-7 (NLT)
The name "Christian" may be a noun; a title that connects us to Christ. More importantly, however, is that it should an adjective.
When we claim to be a Christian, we are identifying ourselves with Christ. We are saying we have surrendered to His Lordship and are committed to becoming more like Him, living as He lived.
This means we actively participate in living the same kind of life Jesus did while He walked this earth. He called His followers the church, and the church His body.
We are not called to be religious, following an outward set of rules and regulations; we are called to be a living and active member of the body of Christ.
The title Christian is used so flippantly these days – merely a check mark in a box on a questionnaire. But when was the last time we gathered with other believers? When was the last time we hungered for God's word, allowing it to penetrate our hearts, causing us to be more like Christ?
I wonder if some of us would even be comfortable in a Heavenly Kingdom. Think about it for a moment: No pre-marital sexual relationships, no drinking parties, no foul music, no foul movies, unforgiveness or gossip. In contrast, there will be a lot of prayer, a lot of worship, many opportunities for studying the word of God, wholesome music, wholesome movies, and wholesome fun.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Christians that have become so zealous in their religiosity that they ridicule and criticize anyone who "has not seen the light". They are arrogant and forget who they once were. They love to claim how often they go to church and they love to point out the sin in other people, but their hearts are hard, wicked, and judgmental.
Each of us must examine our own lives and be honest with ourselves – Which category do you fall into? Is there another option?
How can we walk in true Christianity, exercising a proper mixture of grace and truth – how can we be the church?
Over the years, three things have been a constant help to me – not that I have attained perfection, but by God's grace, I live out my faith, getting farther and farther away from the person described in Isaiah 58:2-7.
Perhaps the following can be of help to you as well.
1) Repent – Ask God to show you your sin – then be faithful to repent.
2) Remember – Before you surrendered to Christ, you too were an enemy of God.
3) Read – Study the word of God so that you will be transformed into the image of Christ.
I leave you with the following passages of Scripture – allow them to speak to you, listen to what the Lord says, and respond.
"..In view of all of this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and more excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins." 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)
"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT)
"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people for every good work". 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
"How can a man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are you, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word" Psalm 119:9-16
Is Christianity a check mark in a box, or is it who you are – Don't just go to church, be the church.
Lord help us all.
© Teresa Ortiz – World-Wide Bible Studies 2009
» left by Lenz from Nigeria (2 years 304 days ago.)
Hi Sister Teresa, I enjoyed your lecture. I pray God to give you more annointing and His grace. You are a blessing. Thanks. Lenz from Nigeria.Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa (2 years 280 days ago.)
Hello Lenz thank you for reading. Praise the Lord for Christian family all across the world. Lord bless you always! Teresa
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» left by Anonymous (2 years 274 days ago.)
Thanks for the Post.... I'm actually a back slider who really wants to repent. (but much more even worst, I'm a church leader who pretends to be a religious person, where in fact, my faith is so lame....) Pls pray for me.... I'm blessed with the message and this will help me to restore my faith...Respond to this comment
» left by Anonymous (2 years 273 days ago.)
Thank you for reading and taking a moment to share your heart. It is easy to fall away when we lose sight of the beauty of our Lord. I will certainly keep you in prayer. I would suggest that you do the right and difficult thing and step down from leadership. If you are a pastor, go to the elders of the church, if an elder or sunday school teacher, go to your pastor.
The first step to repentance and a right relationship with God is humility and honesty. Your focus should be your heart and your time in fellowship with God. In the right time if God sees fit, let Him restore you to leadership.
Scripture is very clear on the judgment that comes upon a false leader. A false leader is not just one who teaches against the Bible, but it is also one who teaches the truth of the bible and he/she is not right with God.
You are not alone, but by admitting this here, you are ahead of many in that you are obviously responding to the work the Holy Spirit is doing in your heart. This is a good place to be - just keep moving forward and you will be restored and blessed.
Fatther, thank you for the work your are doing in this persons life. I pray for a heart of humilty and courage to do what is right in your sight so that peace, joy and faithfulness are restored and when this comes, I pray you would use this person mightly to reach the hearts of others who are in this same place. Thank you for your love and your faithfulness to forgive and cleanse us when we repent. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
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» left by Anonymous (2 years 244 days ago.)
As best as I can tell, this article is nearly a year and half old. I just found it today. I am a youth pastor looking for some info for something our group will be doing next week. Anyhow, I just wanted to state that in a lot of ways, so many of us missed the point of this article. The article talks about hungering for God's word, and yet after a year and half, nobody has noticed that the main section of scripture, attributed to Isaiah at the beginning of the article, and then cited again in the middle of the article, is not from Isaiah 59 at all? Go ahead, look it up, see if you can find this section of scripture in Isa 59, it's not there!! I am looking at a little counter above where I am typing my comments, and it says this article has been read 3241 times. That mean that NONE of the last 3000 people to look at the article have bothered to check the references that Teresa has given, or the context, or the legitimacy of the quote, or or or. Yes, it could also be true that some who read, and checked her accuracy simply decided it was not worth commenting, but the same cannot be said of the few dozen people who have commented.Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa Ortiz (2 years 244 days ago.)
Thank you for taking the time to point this out. I made an honest mistake here. The quote is actually from Isaiah 58:2-7. I am going to fix it right now.
I would have caught this immediately had I memorized the book and chapter, but unfortunately, I did not memorize it.
I do think however, that the point of the message is not just going to church, but living as Jesus did daily, expressing the love and grace of God and being obedient to the call.
Again, thanks so much for pointing out this error. The reference may have been incorrect, but the quote is legitament. Maybe that is why others did not point it out.
God bless you and may He lead you to the message He would have you give the youth group this next week. Teresa
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» left by P.M.Edward from Colombo (2 years 174 days ago.)
your writing on the subject how to be a good christian was very nice and thoughtful by the way are you a sabbath keeper thank you Edward ColomboRespond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,345) (2 years 165 days ago.)
Hello P.M. - Thank you for the encouraging words.
No, I am not a Sabbath keeper. For several biblical reasons.
1. I am not Jewish
2. In Christ we are no longer under the Law and everyday is a Sabath rest. (Hebrews)
3. Paul discusses this at length in Romans chapter 14 about Christian liberty
4. We are under the New Covenant and in the New Testament we read where believers gathered on the first day of the week as well as the Sabath day.
Why do you ask? Are you?
Blessings to you!
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» left by Vivian A. from Indianpolis,IN (2 years 139 days ago.)
Thanks for your encouraging word and scripture, I needed that right now. As I try to grow in Christ I sometimes forget that he is the one in control and that I need to let go and let God because I can't do it by myself! I ask that you pray for me and mine and I will pray for you and yours! God Bless!Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa Ortiz (2 years 137 days ago.)
Hi Vivian. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I will be praying for you and your family. Remain strong and true to the word of God. No matter what discouragement comes your way. Remember we have an enemy who wants to stop growing and turn away from God, but don't listen to that voice.
Please stop by anytime you need encouragment. Many blessings to you! Teresa
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» left by Grace from Louisville, Ky (2 years 25 days ago.)
Wow I never has much talent in understand what the bible tells us but Your post just gave me inspiration to be a better christan. I take the name Christan very seriously but often times I find myself sinning very often, and on jesus's scale, on my best day I'm a dissapointment. I liked to believe that I'm a kind, loving, understanding person, and from the outside looking in, I appear to be, but in my heart I'm selfish, self- centered, and critical. Now I just want to be a faithful and good servant for God, and you just helped me to believe that I can be. Thank you so much and may god be with you and all people.Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,345) (2 years 25 days ago.)
Hi Grace! Thank you for taking to the time to share how this word encouraged you. Yes, we can all choose to be a better Christian. It starts with being genuine. No pretending to be something we are not, only that we walk with God, align ourselves with His word, and then do what he asks. It's a process, but it doesn't have to be a chore. If we recognize how much God loves us and what He has done for us, we realize it is a privilege and honor to follow Him. Blessings to you and you become more like Jesus! Teresa
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» left by Erwin from Phillipines (1 year 344 days ago.)
Hi im Erwin can i ask questions.About the 3 steps, about remeber what do you mean by that?.I just dont understand it. Please help me becouse my faith to him is fading and i dont want it to happen. Now theres something bothering in my mind about my relegion if where should i go, becuose i had two relegion in a one time and every relegion theres deferent beleifs and it makes me to bother if where should i belive. Should i chose Born Again or Jehovas Witness. Please help me and pray for me to be inlighten.Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,345) (1 year 344 days ago.)
Thank you for writing and sharing your heart. I understand that following God and knowing the truth can be complicated. This is why we need the Holy Spirit to teach us and why we need to read the Bible - for it gives us the truth of what to believe.
First, let me explain what being born again means. "Born Again" is not a religion or organization that you join or believe in. Being "Born again" is what happens to people spiritually speaking when they accept and believe that they are a sinner and ask Jesus to come into their heart and save them.
We are born sinners because of the sin of Adam and Eve. This means that we are born physically, but our spirit is dead to the things of God. But when we accept Jesus as our Savior and believe that He is the Son of God, then our spirit is brought to life - this now means we are a child of God. When our spirit is made alive, this means we are born again. So it was happens to you, not what you join.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus himself claimed to be the Son of God and the only way to get to heaven. I realize a lot of religions say the same thing, but the Bible is the only religious book that has proven to be accurate about history, and prophecy, and it has been proven by outside sources of history. This means we can trust it to be correct. The Jehovah Witness organization claims to teach from the Bible, but they do not follow what it says. The organization does not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. They teach that Jesus is actually the Arch Angel Michael. So this does not match the Bible.
I encourage you to read the book of John and the bbok of Ephesians and ask the Holy Spirit of God to give you wisdom and understanding. I encourage you to join a nondenominational church that teaches from the Bible so that you can learn. Also there are many good bible studies on this web site to help you as well.
About the things to remember this is what I mean and what the bible says to do.
1) Repent - Repent means to tell God that you are sorry for your sin, and that you want to change your mind about the way think toward God. It means that you ask Him into your life to save you and help you not to do the same sin any more, and it means that you are going to make a choice to live by God's standards and not your own.
2) Remember - This means that after you ask Jesus into your life and that you begin to study the Bible and live a life that pleases God, that you are not going to start to treat other people who are not Christians badly. You are not going to judge them because you will remember that before you became a Christian that you were a sinner too. It means that you are going to help others to see why being a follower of Jesus is a much healthier and stronger way to live and that you are going to heaven not because you are a good person, but because you have believed Jesus as your Savior and you are born again by the Spirit of God.
3) Read - This means that you are going to make a choice to read and study the Bible so that you can learn more about Jesus and more about how you should live and love. It means you will trust the Holy Spirit to show you what God means and that you are going to make a choice to do what God says it right even if you don't agree at first.
Being a Christian is about who you become as a person and follower of Jesus. It is not just a religious group.
I sure hope and pray this helps you a little bit. I am praying for you for wisdom and knowledge and that you will continue to seek the truth of God even though it gets tough and confusing. Start with inviting Jesus into your life and it will all start to come together and make sense.
Blessings to you. Please come back and read more and share more and fell free to ask questions to any of the writers on this bible study sight. They will be sure to answer you and pray for you.
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» left by Erwin from Phillipines (1 year 343 days ago.)
Im so bless for your response to my question. Thank you for understanding me even thou my english speaking are not good you still helping me in your very best ways.Can you give me an example of nondenominational organization which i can join. Because its hard for me to understand alone the word of god by my self. No one can ask, no one can teach me and give me more idea to understand what i've been reading. Not knowing if my understanding are right or not in a particurlar verse. Please help me again.Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,345) (1 year 341 days ago.)
I am praying I can be of great help to you, but more so praying that the Holy Spirit will speak clearly to your heart about the word of God. I encourage you to read the book of Ephesians because it will explain a lot of things about Jesus and how by giving us the Holy Spirit we have salvation and that we can learn and grow as Christian by praying always and not getting discouraged when we do not understand something.
Examples on nondenominational churches are:
Calvary Chapel - these are all over the world, so there may be one close to your area. You can search the name "Calvary Chapel in _______" put the name of your city in the blank space."
Community Bible Churches that teach the word of God.
This is what to look for when you are searching for a Bible believing church:
1) They teach that Jesus is God in human form
2) They teach that Jesus was born from a virgin
3) They teach that mankind are sinners and are in need of redemption
4) They teach that the only way to heaven (Salvation) is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
5) They use the Bible as their source of learning and teaching.
I am praying for strong Christians to come your way. Also, what are you reading right now? I can answer any questions you have as best I can.
Keep reading, your faith and understanding will grow stronger. Don't give up.
Blessings to you! Teresa
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» left by Anonymous (1 year 59 days ago.)
The only way to be saved, is by believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. Believe, and you are saved! It is that sipmle When you believe in Jesus, then you are given the Holy Spirit. You can pray and ask Jesus for more filling of the Holy Spirit if you like, but it is believing that Jesus died for your sins and believing that Jesus rose from the dead, that saves you Salvation is a FREE GIFT that happens in a split second when you believe in Jesus alone to save you! It is impossible to lose or leave salvation (John 6:39-40, 1 John 5:13). The truth about Jesus is that the only way to be saved and to get into heaven and avoid being sent to eternal hell, is by believing in faith alone that Jesus, who is God, died for our sins on the cross as FULL PAYMENT for all our sins, and then Jesus rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Believe this and you will be in heaven, no matter what! Please pray now: Jesus, please forgive me of my sins. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and You rose from the dead. Thank You for eternal life! You will be in heaven with Him forever when you die.Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa O'Driscoll (158 days 1 hour ago.)We appreciate your comments!
Teresa, this was the article that first drew me to your wonderful work. May God continue to bless your ministry.Respond to this comment