Is there any encouragement?

"Encouragement seems hard to come by these days. I've been dwelling on the negative aspect of things and it has made me bitter. For a time it was necessary to investigate the facts of the evil that existed in the assemblies because so many things were glossed over for so long that a good look at the ugly truth was in order. Now the facts have been clearly laid out for all who wish to see. Can I begin to see the goodness of God again? Is there any encouragement for me?"

Dear Wounded Pilgrim,

There are many who come here who are feeling very down and confused about what it means to be a Christian. This is the main point I hope I can drive home to those wounded by the Assembly: that is Jesus has a special interest in those wounded by a religious system. He is the loving friend of needy people!

Why do I believe this? Am I just trying to encourage people by saying something like this, but really have no scriptural basis for saying it? I see this demonstrated in the Gospel stories where Jesus meets individuals. I have shared these examples in the past, but the "sinner woman" is probably one of the best. This is also the point I tried to get across in my treatment of "The Good Samaritan."

Personal experience of Jesus is discovered by the needy and poor of spirit and God pours out His grace on the humble. This grace is the discovery of who Jesus really is: a committed loving true friend of those trampled by the misrepresentation of God we received in the Assembly.

What kind of change does grace work? It does not turn us into 'super' Christians who instantly overcome all doubts, fears, or weakness, but it produces a quiet confidence in the fact that God loves them and desires to bless them in wonderful liberty!

The old Assembly training is deeply engrained with our own natural religious nature and I still get into that mode from time to time. This toxic combination is formulated from the concept that I must earn God's blessing. The fact is God's blessing is our inheritance now (put that in your pipe and smoke it GG!). Our gift based relationship with Him means that from out of His faithfulness, faith is produced in me (Rom. 1 :17), and from that is formed an unshakable bond (Rom. 8 :31-39).

I know there are those who are reading here who can't seem to read their Bibles now, pray, go to church, or even enjoy life. The very thought of 'spiritual' things brings guilt and depression. You doubt your salvation or even your own sanity! Many of us have been there and understand how you feel, but there is a way out and a way to have joy in your Christian life.

God will bless,
Mark C.

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