Avoiding Spiritual Traps

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prison wallOne of the reasons many people aren’t interested in Jesus is because they see people trapped by religion. People who seem addicted to spiritual activity or rules who practice religion in a way that bugs everyone around them. People who restrain themselves with incredible discipline yet lack real peace, joy, impact and sometime humility in their lives.

They see people who have fallen in spiritual traps and they instinctively know they don’t want that for themselves. Who would!!

Recognizing these traps is one thing, avoiding them is even better! Colossians 2:16-23 shows us three timeless spiritual traps that steal freedom and kill joy. These traps deceive by sending us down a road that will never lead to the deep peace of Christ. See which one is most likely to trip you up and make plans to avoid it.

#1  Avoid the Better Rules Trap.

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Why Jesus?!

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question mark coffeeEveryone hopes for a great life. We look different places and try different things searching to make that a reality. We drop some things right away discovering they weren’t what we thought. Other things seem good for a while but then either fade in effectiveness or turn on us.

Life seems like an unsolvable puzzle with the nagging sense that it is supposed to be better.

As a Jesus follower of nearly 45 years, I believe the centering my life on Jesus has hacked life’s puzzle. Jesus is Your Best Hope of a Secure & Significant Life. Why should anyone center their life on Jesus? Let me share some big reasons why.

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Where Do We Start?

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follow-me-shoesJohn 10:27-28 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

I started playing piano officially around age 5. My mom was my first teacher. Later in elementary school she found another teacher for us. This teacher gave each lesson a grade and had her students compete with each other as well as other outside students. Even better. That was a big motivation or me. As I go older and the world got bigger I realized there was one teacher and his best local protégé whose students always won the bigger competitions. So when I got a chance to switch, I was really eager. She didn’t take very many students, so it was a real honor. I remember she interviewed me. What do I like about piano. What do I hope to do with it. What are my current practice habits? The seriousness of this step was rising to a new level.

You must trust me. You must take practice seriously by doing only what I show you, how I show you.

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The Big Reason

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follow-me-graphic-seriesJohn 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

“It’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.” How many times have you heard that? How about this twist? “It’s not WHY you start but WHY you finish that matters.” As we grow in life our insight & motivations change, hopefully for the better.

This happens for believers in our walk with Jesus. For example I first trusted Jesus when I was only 5 years old. I believe it was a genuine and true faith, but 45 years later my faith relationship with Him is much richer and deeper.

Last Sunday we discovered that there were many reasons people began to follow Jesus when he first came. However as time went on there was only one reason they continued. They began out of curiosity, need & invitation. However, before his crucifixion more people left him than stayed with Him. Understanding why is key to knowing what it means to really follow Jesus. We find that answer in John 6.

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Why Follow Jesus?

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follow-me-graphicJohn 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them…

Whether we know it or not, we all follow something in life. What that is might be fuzzy or clear, conscious or subconscious, a person or value system. It might come from inside us or outside us. It could be temporary or long term. But we do follow something.

What we follow shapes who we become, what we experience and where we end up. So who do you follow? That makes it a critical question to answer. It is even more important to know why you follow what you follow and understand the true potential of where it will lead. The reason you follow also makes a difference in the quality of your experience.

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Confession Matters

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reflective womanMost believers feel incredible peace when Jesus’ new life is first birthed in them. As a result we want stay close Jesus, enjoying His deep peace & direction. We love the confident sense of being secure and on track in life. This is the core of the gospel. God is real and wants us to be in life changing relationship with Him! WOW!

Who wouldn’t want that? What gets in the way most often? What can fog it out faster than anything else? The answer: our own sin. It often comes without us noticing. Like forgetting to check your tires and being surprised when one is sitting flat in the morning.

This past Sunday we examined a spiritual discipline that can keep this from happening while keeping us spiritual strong in Jesus. The discipline is intentional confession of sin.

1. Why It Matters: Storing Unconfessed Sin is Dangerous to Our Lives.

Psalm 32:3-5 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. See also vv. 1-2, Psalm 38:4-8 and Proverbs 28:13

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INCARNATION CONTINUES

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christmas ornaments and bows         John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 

I hope the Christmas Celebration isn’t fading too quickly for you. For our house it has been especially great. Enjoying the presence of all of our children and watching their interaction with each other is a true blessing. It reminds me that the presence of loved ones is a greater blessing than any material things. The greatest blessing still is the presence of Jesus, Emmanuel who came through incarnation to be with us.

Christ continues to incarnate Himself in all who follow Him in priority obedient faith.

Incarnation, the core of Christmas, was a real moment in history that carries eternal impact. How incredible it must have been for the generation that got to see Jesus in the flesh. What if He could be seen like that today? What if His voice could be heard, his character observed and His grace felt by those in our time?

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