A Religion Of Fear

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Religion is based on fear. Fear is how you attract people to Church, fear is how you keep them going to Church. 
Now, you might wonder why someone would be attracted to going to Church through fear. Usually they grew up in a religious, Church-going family with a mother or father who dragged them to Church every time the doors were open. Maybe they grew up and rebelled against that and decided Church wasn’t for them. So they go out into the world and go their own way. 
Meanwhile, mom and dad are worried about them and concerned for their soul, and they keep bugging them to go to Church. Nothing seems to work. Until there is an accident, or a sickness or illness, or something goes wrong in life. Then mom and dad say, “Well, you know, if you had stayed in Church, this might not have happened. You need to stop fighting against God and get back into Church.” And the person is in a weakened condition, they are worried or depressed or looking for whatever help they can get, and they think, “You know, maybe mom and dad are right. My life is a real mess. I think I’ll try this Church thing out again. Maybe it will help me.” 
So they go to Church, and their life is a mess, so when it comes time to get prayed over, they usually wind up going to the altar and breaking down, and everyone gathers around and prays, and there’s more crying. But just the process of crying and expressing your feelings is therapeutic… all that emotion comes out, and you’re in an environment that seems welcoming and comforting. People are praying for you, and they seem nice and supportive. And mom and dad are overjoyed that you’ve come back to Church. So you begin to think, “You know, Church isn’t that bad after all.” So you start going to Church.
Now that’s a fairly typical pattern of behavior. I’ve seen that scenario play itself out in hundreds and hundreds of people’s lives (if not thousands). I just want to point out that the whole story I just shared didn’t involve the Lord. Not one bit. It’s all Church-Centered. It’s not Christ-Centered. It’s about whether or not you’re going to Church, and the idea is, if you don’t go, bad things will happen; but if you do go, good things will happen, or at least, it will make the bad things easier to deal with. But the whole thing is based on attending Church, and it’s based on fear. It’s not based on where you are with the Lord, it’s based on where you are with the Church…
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https://www.chipbrogden.com/a-religion-of-fear/
I am your brother,

Chip Brogden 

 
PO Box 282

Bunn NC 27508

USA
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Receiving The Blessing Of The Cross

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By David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

God delights in using failures—men and women who think they can do almost
nothing right. A woman wrote to me recently saying, “My marriage is failing. I
seem to do everything wrong in raising my children. I feel like I’m not worth
anything to anybody. I’ve not been a very good wife, mother or Christian. I’ve
got to be the world’s worst failure.”

She is just the kind of person the Lord is looking for—people who know that
if anything good happens through them, it must be because of God. All the
hotshot Christians who go about bowling people over with their great abilities
never impress God. God looked down on a scheming, base, weakling of a man
called Jacob and said, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob . . . I will help thee . . .
behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth . . .
thou shalt rejoice in the Lord” (Isaiah 41:14–16).

Men often use God to achieve fortune, fame, honor and respect. Talent,
personality and cleverness are used to advance God’s kingdom, but He is not
impressed. His strength is perfected in our weakness, our inability to obey His
commandments in our own strength.

God calls us to a life of holiness and separation. He tells us we can be free
from the bondage of sin. His Word comes to us with some impossible challenges:
“Resist the devil. Walk in the Spirit. Come out from among them. Love your
enemies. Leave behind all your fears. Put down your lustful desires. Let no sin
have dominion over you.”

When you think honestly about how little you can do on your own to fulfill
these challenges, you realize how very weak you are. Your heart begins to cry,
“Lord, how can we do such great, holy things?” That is when our Lord takes
over! He comes with such a comforting message: “Lay down your weapons. Quit
trying to be so self–sufficient and strong. I am your weapon and your
strength. Let Me do what you never can do. I will give you My righteousness, My
holiness, My rest, My strength. You cannot save yourself or please Me in any way
other than by receiving the blessings of the cross by faith. Let Me be in charge
of your growth in holiness.”

Read this devotion online: http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/node/22537?src=devo-email

Favor Makes For A Dangerous Life

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By Gary WilkersonThe angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and said “‘Greetings,
O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the
saying” (Luke 1:28-29).

I believe Mary was troubled when the angel spoke to her because she was aware
of her people’s history. She knew what had happened to the Israelites who
found favor with God. The result was blessed, true, but it wasn’t always
pleasant. Consider these examples:

Abel found God’s favor through his acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. But
Abel’s brother, Cain, was jealous because he did not find the same
favor—and Abel paid with his life.

Noah found favor with God. He lived righteously in an evil generation and was
spared the destruction of the flood. Yet every comfort that Noah knew in the
world was wiped out. The story of his building an amazing ark wasn’t some
children’s story; it was a sad story of judgment on a global scale. Although
Noah and his family survived, they lost everything they held dear.

Lot found favor with God and was able to escape judgment. God delivered him
from Sodom, a city poised to face fiery destruction. But by escaping, Lot lost
almost everything dear to him, including his wife.

Joseph found favor with God and was blessed with prophetic dreams. But the very
gift that marked Joseph’s favor also angered those around him.

My point is that favor is dangerous—and Mary knew this. The Hebrew Scriptures
made it clear in story after story: Favor can be accompanied by danger,
hardship, pressure, persecution, pain, and tribulations. Sadly, much of the
American church will not acknowledge this about God’s favor. Many pastors
teach that favor means being prosperous, having a nice house or car, never
being persecuted, living without difficulties, always being on top.

Mary knew better and it showed in her response to the angel: “Behold, I am
the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
That is the response I want to have! No matter how dangerous God’s favor is, I
do not want to trade it for an easy, comfortable life. I do not want to be off
the hook for trouble if it means missing His favor.

Read this devotion online: http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/node/21604?src=devo-email

I Will Strengthen Thee

By David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

I want to talk about bondage to sin— that is, your battle with the flesh.

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under the New Covenant, God will allow situations to show you how wholly
dependent you are on Him to deliver you through faith.

God will never lead you into temptation but He will allow you to come to your
wits’ end. If you have a besetting sin, Satan will come against you continually
with his lies: “You’re too weak! You’re never going to make it.”

You hear the rattling of chains as Satan tries to bind you to your habit once
more and you wonder, “Lord, how will I ever get up from this? I’ve gone down so
low!”

What can you do? You know you can’t outrun the enemy and you are no match for
him in a fight, so you cower before him, trembling in fear.

You may say to yourself, “I’ll just go back to my old ways. At least I’ll be
spared from all this spiritual warfare. It’s too much for me!” But you know you
can’t go back to your old master. If you turn back now and desert Christ, it
will cost you your life.

Many Christians become caught in the hellish cycle of sinning and confessing,
sinning and confessing. They run to friends, counselors, anyone who will listen
to them as they cry and pray. Such believers will do everything except stand
still and trust the Lord to bring their deliverance.

The Old Testament gives us example after example of how we have no power in our
flesh to fight spiritual battles. Our old man is utterly weak and powerless but
we have a new man inside us. This new man understands there is no human way
out, that God has to do all the fighting. We resist the devil not in our
strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is revealed in us by faith
alone.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will
strengthen thee” (Isaiah 41:10).

The Beggar’s Escort

 

Here’s Today’s Devotional from The Vine

English: Old Beggar, 1916, by Louis Dewis, pai...

English: Old Beggar, 1916, by Louis Dewis, painted just outside his clothing store in Bordeaux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It happened that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. – Luke 16:22

Nothing is said about his funeral — of course it was only a poor mans burial. Earth had no honor for the beggar, no fancy coffin or expensive flowers… but the angels came and were his bearers to escort him to glory. Notice also that nothing is said about what became of his body, but that doesn’t really matter, for the man himself was no longer in that old, worn-out, battered body. He was soon far away in a realm of God‘s glory. While the body was dropped, the beggar, the real man, was carried away to heaven; and we see him there, a beggar no longer, enjoying the presence of God.

There is still another thought here. We are afraid of death. It seems the end of existence. But really to the Christian it is only an incident in his life. It is just a moment’s passage through an experience we never can understand. One minute this poor beggar lies at the gate, despised, suffering, hungry; the next, a strange sensation passes over him, and all is confusion; then he awakes flying through the air with angel-escort, and in a little time is inside the gate of heaven where he lives on. There is no break in his life.

Death came also to the rich man. His riches could not save him from that. No doubt he had a fancy funeral. There would be a long procession, many mourners, great waste of decorations and every show of honor. But who would not rather have the beggar’s escort after death than the finest funeral earth ever gave to a mortal? There have been funerals of rich men at which there was genuine sorrow, where those who had been blessed by their kindness on earth came and wept by their coffins. But in this case there were no sincere mourners, for the man had allowed the needy to lie hungry at his gates. He had lived for himself only and no one really missed him when he was gone.

The Difference Between Faith and Works

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Isn’t it funny how there are basically two kinds of religions in the world? There are those religions of works, which are false religions. And then there is religion by faith, which is true religion. Those are the only two categories: works-based religion and faith-based religion.

Now, a religion of works says do. It tells you that if you accomplish XYZ in your life, you’ve done well. If you haven’t, then you’ve done badly. That’s how works-based religion determines the success of the follower.

But the faith-based religion, the religion of Christ (which is not a religion but a relationship) has already been done. It takes into account the fact that God is so holy and man is so sinful that there’s no amount of good works we can do to even come close to success. That’s why Jesus came… to live the life we couldn’t and give us His righteousness as He took away our sin.

When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” He said, “Done!” The work of salvation has been accomplished. And because of His faithful obedience which took Him to the cross, you can now have life in His name by placing your faith in Him!

CHRIST DID THE WORK YOU COULDN’T DO SO THAT YOU CAN HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. SO THANK HIM TODAY FOR THAT WONDERFUL GIFT!

Pastor Graham

Trained to Discern

Hebrews 5:11-14

In today’s world, impatience is all too common a trait. We want food, help, and information fast. Just waiting for the computer to boot up or the “next avail-able agent” to answer our call can cause frustration. But the Lord specializes in slow, steady work. He’s more interested in a quality outcome than a speedy process.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of spiritual discernment. When we become Christians, we aren’t instantly wise and knowledgeable. It takes a lifetime to grow to maturity. Some believers, however, don’t seem to grow up at all. They get older, but their understanding of God’s Word never goes very deep.

This lack of godly wisdom is caused by ignorance of the Scriptures, apathy and complacency about spiritual things, and a failure to apply biblical truths. Discernment requires time and effort. You can’t simply move through life, thoughtlessly reacting to situations yet never learning from them. Take time to reflect on your responses and observe the consequences of your actions and choices. If you feel convicted by what you notice, let that motivate you to begin a lifelong pursuit of the Lord and His ways. Start reading the Bible regularly. And as you do, ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to understand what He’s saying.

But just reading God’s Word isn’t enough. Without applying what you’ve read, all you’ll have is head knowledge. Obedience trains us to discern good and evil. Through practice, we learn wisdom and develop spiritual maturity. If you’ll begin today and patiently persevere, in time discernment will come.

Dr. Charles Stanley

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