Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, former newspaper columnist, licensed/ordained minister, and founder of two outreach ministries.
Religiously adhering to activities
Religion is defined as a belief system in a supernatural power or supreme being. To operate religiously is to do something with consistent, conscientious regularity. Christian who attend church services on a regular basis, quote scriptures in every sentence, greet others with "Praise the Lord saints" or "God is good all the time" may be doing so religiously but these things don't indicate a personal relationship with the Father.
In the Wizard of OZ, Dorothy was told to click her heels three times and say, "There's no place like home." She followed the instruction that were given to her personally. Others who did this may not have received the same results. When it comes to faith, simply doing or saying what you have seen or heard religiously without His backing can be dangerous. In Acts 19:11-20 the seven sons of Scheva attempted to be religious and cast out demons by the method Paul used, which was calling on the Name of Jesus. Paul was operating in faith but these young men were mimicking his actions without faith. The demons replied that they knew Jesus and Paul but did not know Scheva's 7 sons and proceeded to tear the young men apart. The following are five things to consider which may indicate you are religious but do not have a relationship with Him.
1. Misusing scipture
Many believers quote scriptures like magic charms and wrongly assume that if something is in the Bible it is a personal promise to them. We cannot pull Bible verses at will and confess them and say He promised such and such.
Consider Luke 1:28
"And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." Gabriel told Mary she was highly favored above all women because she had been chosen to give birth to the Christ. Preachers have taught women today to use this Bible verse as a positive confession. I cannot count the number of times I have spoken to sisters in Christ who parrot, "I'm blessed and highly favored." The truth is there is no woman on earth who has ever been blessed like Mary so this is a misuse of the word.
God can and does give us specific scripture and I have witnessed this for myself. One day, shortly after praying for a relative who had been diagnosed with heart failure, I opened my King James Bible and it was on Psalms 73:26
"My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever".
I had never read this before but I knew immediately this was for my family member. This individual is a person of strong faith and this scripture gave much comfort. I am pleased to say that my loved one is improving better than the doctor's expectations and has even been taken off of some medication. Initially, there was the talk of a defibrillator or pacemaker but they have now been taken off the table. God confirmed that this was indeed His word in this particular situation. This does not mean that anyone who confesses this verse has His backing.
I know people who quoted healing scriptures daily and died. Scripture is not like a magic phrase such as Presto or Abara Kadabara where you wave a wand and instantly a rabbit pops out of a hat. Yes, healing can be instantaneous but, quoting Bible verses out of context, without faith, or without the leading of the Holy Spirit is like applying the wrong combination when attempting to open a lock.
2. Lying on the Lord
I was in a church that emphasizes speaking a positive confession and never speaking negatively. The problem with that is that in this life the negative happens. This is especially true regarding death. In 2004 my oldest son had a friend who was shot to death a few blocks from where we lived at the time. One day a few years after this tragic event, I was walking through that area praying. Each time I got to the spot where the young man had died, I would ask the Lord to not allow such a tragedy to happen again. After a few weeks of this, I was walking on that particular street and as I prayed against gun violence, I heard in my spirit, "It will happen again."
This took place four or five times, but I continued to pray that no one else would lose their lives in that neighborhood. Sadly a few months later my youngest son had a friend who was shot and killed in the same spot. I spoke the positive confession but His Spirit was warning me that death would come again and it did. I am convinced there are others who are religiously speaking positive confessions when He is trying to convey that He is going to allow a different outcome. This is why a personal relationship is a must. We cannot speak things into existence unless it is His will.
Lamentations 3:37-38 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
37 No one can say something and make it happen,
unless the Lord orders it.
38 God Most High commands
both good and bad things to happen.
3. Don't fake it
Believers in Christ need to be themselves through Him and not fake it. I was watching a few recent episodes of Uncensored on the TVOne network and three women were each giving their backstories. They all had the same mannerisms, speaking slowly and methodically, enunciating their words and using hand gestures that reminded me of Oprah. Each woman also had an air of churchiness, and dropped popular phrases like "due season, favor, and generational curses. They were presenting themselves the way they have obviously seen and heard professional Christian women operate. I thought about growing up wondering why many Baptist preachers walked with their heads cocked to the side and seemed to whisper when they spoke, extending a hand to shake and referring to you as brother or sister. This was a practiced, learned behavior.
4. Don't misread your personal cicumstances
I was sitting in a church in 1995 when the pastor said he had something to read to the congregation after the benediction. I recalled that a former pastor had read a letter to the church before he resigned. I turned to my daughter and told her that the pastor was about to read a letter of resignation and that is what he did. Of course, every preacher who reads a letter to the church is not resigning. For every situation like this where God confirms there are many that are misread. I have listened as people said someone else's testimony was confirmation God would do the same for them but it never came to pass. I know people who died saying God promised to heal their illness or send them a husband. Be careful to not misread your wishes or personal opinion for what God is saying.
5. Mistaking activities for a relationship
I once heard a pastor say that church activities had nothing to do with a personal relationship with the Lord. He told the congregation that if you spent all your time in the building it may cause your family members to resent God and the church. Soon after another pastor said that when we were at church all the time, for services, meetings, and cleaning that this was part of our relationship with the Lord. I tend to agree with the first pastor because you can be a good church worker without ever getting to know Him intimately.
© 2019 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on November 09, 2019:
Thank you Ashly. I appreciate you. I do however face enormous backlash.
Ashly Christen from Illinois on November 08, 2019:
This is truth I'M proud of you writing such truth that can be hard for people to read.
charlie from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans on November 08, 2019:
wow you are on a run, keep up the good work