Never Alone

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The worst test I ever went through was when Avery was born, and she fought for life for three and a half months. When we finally got her home, she went right back into ICU and fought for another couple of months until they finally found out what was wrong. They were able to treat it but it depleted things in her body, and some of the meds they were giving her had to be replaced. They gave me her medicine at 6:00 PM on Tuesday night. We were bringing her home the next day. Finally, she was coming home! I gave her the medicine, and instantly she was nauseousness and crying; something was wrong. I complained three times to the nurse saying, "Something’s wrong, something's wrong, something wrong!” They said, “Oh no, everything's fine just the way it's written.” But we knew something was wrong. They said they would give her the next dose and if anything was wrong, they would call us.

We drove home, and I'll never forget my bride; her head hit the pillow, and she said, “I've got a really bad feeling.” It had been a gruesome couple of months it was just raw emotion. We fell asleep.

We woke up an hour later with a call from the hospital. “Mr. Friedmann, get here as fast as you can.” There was no time to talk as they quickly informed us that we might not make it in time. As we're driving, I'll never forget, Janet reached her hand over to mine, and she said, “Is this all the time we get?”

We walk in, and Avery's out, her heart has stopped, and they’re working on her. The doctor came in, and he said, “What's wrong?” I said, “The medicine you gave her, that’s what's wrong!” 

He came back twenty minutes later and let me tell you again, to his credit, this was a man. He walked up to me and said, “It's my fault. I was in a hurry, and I miscalculated the dose, and I gave her five times what she was supposed to have.”

You’ve got to understand that at that moment, everything in me wanted to take this guy and put his head through the wall. But... “No test has overtaken you. Every test is common to man. It is showing that you're not up to the demand, but there's Someone who is. Lay hold of that Someone, and you will overcome.” 

Trusting Jesus, I reached out, and I grabbed that man, and I said, “I love you. I forgive you. Forget about us and go do whatever you need to do to make her better.”

She was out for twenty-two minutes in a coma. Five days later she woke up. And this summer, this child, is going to go work in the burn ward in South Africa at the Red Cross hospital and add more gray hair to my head and for that too, He is sufficient. 

I don't know what you're going through, but I know the world we live in, and that means you're either going through it, coming out of going through it, or you're going into it. But you don't have to go into it alone, and that is such good news because you're not up to the demand, but there's Someone who is, and all it takes is faith to say, "Lord, I'm not up to the demand, I need you." And He's there. Isn’t that wonderful friends?!

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The Way of Escape: His Life Inside Us

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But God is faithful! Did you see the words, “But God”? “We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but God who is rich in His mercy and grace.” It's all over the New Testament. Whenever you have this horrible negative reality, there’s a “But God,” and this great opportunity on the other side of that available at the moment of faith, praise God!

"He will not permit you to be tested or tempted beyond that which you are able, but with the test or temptation will make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it." And the way of escape my friends is His own life inside you! God will provide, God will provide.

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How Far Will You Go With Your God?

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Nick was just your average ordinary guy in Communist Romania, and then he found the Gospel, and this is what he said to the guy who led him to Christ, “I will serve God, but I can't go into the ministry. God don't push me that far.”

It took only a couple of years, and Nick answered the call to go into the ministry. Nick thought, “Well God, I'll do the ministry, but don't lead me away from my kids. Don't push me that far.” Pretty soon he's travelling around the country. How many of you know that it was dangerous to be a Christian in a communist country? Nick thought, “Oh God, don't let me get arrested. Don't push me that far.” Can you guess what happened? He got arrested, and they said to him, “Stop preaching in Christ or you don't know what we can do to you!” 

“Oh God, don't push me that far,” Nick thought. He continued to travel all over the country and teach Christ. So they arrest him again, and this time they tell him, “Don't you know where you are? Don't you know who we are? We have the power to kill you!” And out of Nick's mouth came these words, “Even if you kill me, my messages are on tapes all over this country. My blood will be sprinkled over those messages, and the power of Christ to transforms lives will magnify!” The Communist officer said, “We are not so stupid as to give you your wish.” Later, one of Nick's friends spoke to him and said, “What happened to “God don't push me that far?” Nick replied with these words, “We need to go all the way with our God.”

My friends, how far will you go with your God? May we all go all the way!

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God Will Provide

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In my own faith journey, my greatest spiritual weakness is: my God is too small, and I am too big. When we see ourselves as too big and God as too small, we'll trust ourselves instead of Him. So this is what I try to put into my brain, “God will provide, God will provide, God will provide.” And when something new comes into my life, I try to remember that God will provide, and He has provided so wonderfully. 

Abraham had obviously concealed from Isaac what God had told him to do. You know, sometimes we need to do that as human beings. Sometimes to share things will wound another person and in this case that would have caused undue stress for the three-day journey Abraham and his son were embarking on. So finally, in verse nine, they come to the place. Abraham built the altar, laid down the wood, and bound Isaac. 

What happened there? What was the conversation? I wish we knew! 

Did Isaac ask, “Well, where's the lamb father?” 

Did Abraham respond, “I don't have one, YOU ARE the lamb.”

He had to have told him! I want you to see here that it is not just Abraham who was full of faith; look at Isaac! Can you imagine how much faith it took to trust his father? To say, “Go ahead and bind me and put me on the altar?” Where did that boy get that faith? You know, sometimes I think we've spent so much time on Abraham that we miss Isaac. I'll tell you where he got that faith from; he got it from watching his dad. Here's a whale of a challenge for us today, it is not our lips that will teach our kids; it is our lives! And we need to live so they see a living God in us. 

Words surely reverberated in Isaac's mind; “God will provide. God will provide.” Abraham's faith has been so tested over the years it could stretch beyond what we can imagine. Do you realize that at thirty to thirty-five years of age with a one-hundred and twenty-year-old father, Isaac could have easily overpowered his dad and said no? 

Which one had the greatest faith? I don't know that we can answer that. Is it the father who offers his son or the son who lays down his life at the wishes of his father? It was tested faith on both their parts.

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God is Good and Does Only Good

  What do you do when the path that God has you on doesn't line up with what you know of God?

What do you do when the path that God has you on doesn't line up with what you know of God?

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, took two of his young men and Isaac, his son, cut the wood for the burnt offering and rose up and went to the place which God had told him.” These are the most puzzling verses in the Word of God. Why are they so puzzling? Because there's absolute silence in these verses in terms of what was going on inside of Abraham. Notice there's no argument from him?

I've gone through near-death experiences with two of my children already. The first words out of my mouth were, “God. No!” Would they be the first words out of your mouth?

But that’s not what the Bible says; “God, you told Noah not to kill. We can't do this. God, you promised posterity for this boy. You can't kill the son of the Prophet.” We don't see any of that. Oh, he must have wrestled. How could a father's heart not wrestle with that kind of command; “Take your boy up on an altar and kill him.” Was Abraham thinking, “This is the one I waited for so long to have, the one I loved through so much. You said through this one would be prosperity. He has to live! He has to live!”?

What do you do, my friends, when the path that God has you on doesn't line up with what you know of God? What do you do? There's only one thing to do. You go back into your history, and you connect the dots of how God has proven faithful to you over the years, right? And then what kind of conclusion do you end up with, that God is wavering and erratic; He promised a son, and now he wants him back. No!  The conclusion you end up with is that God has provided in the past and He will provide in three days. Abraham doesn't know how, but he knows that God is good and big and wise and powerful and holy and he makes a decision based on what he knows about God.

As he connects the dots of the past, reason gives way to faith. Why do I say that? Because everything in a human mind would say, “No,” to what God was asking. Reason gives way to faith, and he makes the decision of a child. It took God one-hundred and twenty years to get that man to childlike faith. I look at my own life, and I think I'm going to have to live to five-hundred to get there! 

He saddles the donkey and cuts the wood. It will be a burnt offering, a worship sacrifice. God is saying, “Offer your boy in worship to me.”

Notice that Abraham didn't tell Sarah? That would not have gone over well! By the way friends, there's a very important lesson in that. Sometimes even though we're married and we are one, God still works with you individually, and there are some things that God is doing in your life that are just for you and not your spouse. It's a hard thing for a spouse to watch the other one go through something like that because we want to fix them, but you can't fix them. Only God is the fixer.

So, Abraham makes a three-day journey. Man, that must have felt like an eternity, and you’ve got to believe he's pondering the whole way. Now, I don't believe he was wrestling with what to do; he's already made the decision to do it. What I think he's wrestling with is how. He’s thinking, “I know God's going to do something, but what is He going to do? How's He going to do it?” I believe with all my heart that he concluded that although his son must die because God had spoken it, his son must live. Therefore, I believe he concluded that God was going to resurrect Isaac from the dead. I think we can confirm that if we look at Hebrews 11:19; “By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac as a sacrifice. He that had received the promise, offered up his only begotten son of whom it was said, 'In Isaac shall thy seed be called,' accounting that God was able to raise him from the dead."

Accounting is a keyword in the verse. It’s a math term; mathematics is the science that deals with the measurement properties and relationships of quantities. Mathematics is all about proven theory. Mathematics is all about figuring something out. Mathematics is about always getting an answer, and this is the term Abraham chose to use when it comes to God. When he looked at how God had proven himself in his life over the years, he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, it was proven, God would do something, and Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead. What does Psalm 119 say? “God is good and does only good.” In Abraham's mind, he'd concluded; the only possible solution that was in harmony with the God he had come to know was God could not and would not let this boy die without fulfilling his promise concerning this boy. So in verse five, What does he do? He tells his servants, “Stay here.” This blows my mind, Look at the words, “Stay here, the boy and I will go worship (meaning a burnt offering,) and then we will return again to you. Oh my goodness!

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The Pearl of Great Price

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What is it my friends, that God's calling you to surrender in your life? Because it's whatever you are holding on to that is replacing the hand of God. 

You know, as I meditated on this, I was reminded of the words of my good friend Juan Carlos Ortiz. He talked about this in his book, Living With Jesus Today. He said, “Jesus is the pearl of great price.” Do you remember the gospels, the pearl of great price where the merchant, when he finds the pearl and knowing it's value, will sell everything he has in order to get that pearl?

Juan Carlos explains the pearl of great price with this parable:

“Look at this pearl, Juan Carlos,” says God.

“Oh, I must have that pearl. How much does it cost?” 

God answers, “Well, the costs is one thing. It’s very expensive. I don’t know if you want to buy it.” 

“Well, if it's that expensive, who can buy it?”

“Everybody can buy it,” God replies. 

“Well, Father, how can everybody buy it when it's so expensive?” 

And God replies, “It's simple. It simply cost everyone the same price. It costs them everything they have.”

“Oh man, that's a great price!” 

“And that's why it's called the pearl of great price, Juan Carlos.”

“But I must have that pearl!”

“Okay," God says, “what do you have?”

“Well, I've got $100,000 in the bank.”

“Okay, give that to me.” God instructs.

"So the pearl is mine?”

“What else do you have as well?”

“I have a few dollars in my pocket.”

“I said everything,” God reminds.

“Well, I've got to have that pearl, so here’s the money.” God gives the pearl. “Oh, I can't wait to take it home.”

“You didn't say that you had a home. It will cost you your home.” God responds.

“I've got to have the pearl! Okay, you can have my home. I can't wait to show this to my wife!”

“Wife? You have a wife? You didn't mention a wife. It'll cost you her too.” God says.

“Well, what would I say to my kids?”

“Well, you didn't mention that you had kids. It’s going to cost you your kids too. I said everything.” God reiterates.

“But you’ve left me alone on the street!”

“It will cost you your own life too. Here's the thing though I will give all those things back to you for you to enjoy but when I come calling for one of those things, don't forget to give them to me. Don't become so enamoured with them that you miss Me because the only reason I would call for them is because I want you to have all of Me and something has gotten in the way.”

Is there something you're holding on to instead of the hand of Jesus?

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Taking Hold of God

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Abraham’s long-awaited son is finally born at age one-hundred. Can you imagine the joy, the awe, the wonder of that long-awaited son? Thirty years you wait for that child, and then he shows up; "This is my boy," Abraham would have said, "and it is this boy, and this boy only, through whom God's promise will come."

In Genesis 17, God had reiterated the promise and said that this time Abraham's descendants would be like the sand of the seashore. That's a lot bigger promise! We have to understand that all of Abraham’s spiritual hopes were in this boy. This is the boy through whom the line of the Messiah will come. If anything happens to Isaac, there's no Messiah. If there is no Messiah, Abraham is dead in his sin. If Abraham is dead in his sin, he goes to hell for eternity. There's a lot riding on this. I put it this way, Isaac is a big deal in the promises of God! And suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, this hope is tested or more like shattered!

In verse one, God comes to Abraham and says, “Abraham!” And Abraham says, “Oh, here am I.” Don't you love that? His response is so innocent, so beautiful, so naive, so responsive; He's totally unaware of what God is about to ask of him. Wait, did you hear the word, “ask”? That's a lie! God was not asking; it's an imperative verb. Doesn’t that make you want to cry for Abraham? God is commanding here; this is the mother of all tests. 

We're going to walk through this slowly; I want you to feel what's going on; I want you IN the passage...

God says, “Take your son.” What must Abraham have thought? God says, “Take your son,” and then look what He does, He keeps going with the superlatives; “Your son, your only son. Isaac, the one that you love.” Is God being mean here? No! He's helping Abraham out. How many of you know that when you go through a difficult time, you want somebody to understand what you're going through? You want somebody to hear you. You can go through it if you know there's somebody that gets it and that's what God is doing here. He's got his arm around Abraham. He's saying, “I get it. I get it. This is your boy. This is the ONLY boy. The only begotten boy, the beloved boy.” How come God gets it? Because a few centuries later, God's going to give his own boy. He’s saying, “I’m in your court Abraham. I know what I'm calling you to, son. I really, really do. I gave him to you, and now I want you to give him back to me.”

One writer says this was a “test of necessity." He has the conviction that Abraham had grown too fond of Isaac, that Isaac had taken the place of God in Abraham’s heart and that it could cause great harm to Abraham's walk of faith because the place reserved for God has been squeezed out by another. We don't know if that's true, but I have to wonder if you wait for a boy that long and that boy finally shows up, he's going to be precious in your heart.

Watchman Nee even commented along the same lines. Listen closely, please my friend, because this is all of us. He said “Isaac represents the many gifts of God's grace. Before God gives them to us our hands are empty, afterwards, they are full. Then sometimes God will reach out His hand to take ours in fellowship. He needs an empty hand to put into His, but when we received His gifts and are nursing them, our hands are full, and when God puts out His hand, we have no empty hand for Him to put His hand into. When that happens, we need to let go of the gift in order to take hold of God Himself.” And then Nee adds these very sobering words. “Isaac can be done without, God cannot.”

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The Bridge

Adam plunged us all into sin, and we're now separated from God; just like a river separates the land. In this short video, Frank explains that there is only one way for us to get across that river to the other side and that is for someone to build a bridge. What a wonderful reminder that it is exactly what Jesus came to do for us!

Walking By Faith

  God is good, and He does only good ~   Psalm 119:68

God is good, and He does only good ~ Psalm 119:68

The Mantra I seek to give you is this: He promises to be all that He is to all that we need at the moment of faith. Well, if we're going to walk by faith, we need a definition of faith, and the Bible itself gives us that definition in Hebrews 11. It says that faith is the assurance of things not seen, faith is a confidence. It's a hope so real that when God speaks something we believe that it is true and we are able to walk in the path that He's called us to with absolute assurance. He goes on to further define that faith is the conviction of things not seen. Sometimes God will call us to something that we cannot see and perceive. But if God said it, it's true, even if we can't perceive it. 

I think of Noah; Noah believed God that it was going to rain. If we understand the pages of Genesis correctly, it had never, ever rained. But Noah believed God, to the point that he built a really, really big boat because God said there was going to be so much rain. 

The essence of faith is simply acting on what God has said, and so I trust you see, that by its very nature, faith has to be tested so that it can be proven so that we can continue to trust God for even bigger things. That is what the testing of our faith is all about.

The testing of our faith produces endurance, and the best illustration I can think of is stretchability. For example, take a new rubber band versus an old tested rubber band. When you get a brand new rubber band out of the package, you can only test it and pull it so far. But when you have a rubber band that is old, and it's been pulled and pulled and pulled, it can pull much farther. That's the idea here. Over time, God wants to test our faith so that we can trust Him for bigger things and, trust Him more courageously. That's what Genesis 22 is all about my friends. 

Notice that it says in verse one "after these things did God test Abraham." That's very important to understand! God didn't call Abraham in Genesis 12 and then in chapter 13 tell him that he was to sacrifice his son. No, no, no! There were decades where God continued to test Abraham and stretch him with, for example, Lot, and he had to battle with Chedorlaomer, and he had that long-awaited birth where God said He was going to give him a child, and he had to trust over the years that child would come. Only after all those things did God test in the manner in which He was going to test. 

We need to understand this, my friends, this test originated in the mind of God. This was not the enemy. This was God himself, and it's a test that seems so harsh. So, we first need to remember this life verse; it's a life verse for all of us. Psalm 119:68; “God is good, and He does only good.” Oh my beloved, memorize that verse. If you walk much longer in this world that we're in, you're going to need that verse.

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The One Who Brings Us Through This World

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Let’s take a look at Genesis 22. One writer said that this is one of the high points in the Bible, a mountaintop passage. Another called it “The great climax of the faith life of Abraham.” I would call it, The Supreme Test and the Supreme Victory. This passage dramatizes, maybe better than any passage in the entire Bible, what the life of faith is all about. 

The life of faith is like living in a laboratory if you will, where God is perpetually tested and continually demonstrated to be reliable and true. In fact, Hebrews 11, that great heroes of the faith chapter, almost reads like a laboratory report; "By faith, Moses led the people out of Egypt," "By faith, the walls of Jericho came down." It's saying over and over and over again to us; we can put our hand in God’s hand and journey with Him because He is a trustworthy God. He is reliable. He will provide. We need to understand that my friends because we live in a dark and desperate world, but God breaks into that world with the light of His love and strength, and He offers Himself to us as the only one who can bring us through this world victoriously!

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The Bridge

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You know, Pilot asked a question, “What shall I do with Jesus?” The crowds said, crucify Him. Jesus asks that same question of each of us today; What will you do with Jesus? 

I often use this illustration when I'm sharing Christ with someone in my office or on the street; picture a great big, extremely wide river. Let's go down to that river and make a good effort at jumping over it. How far are you going to go, six feet? Eight feet? I'm an ex-athlete, with the emphasis on "x," so I might go ten feet. Does it earn me bragging rights that I jumped ten feet but you only jumped six? No! Why? Because we're both soaking wet, floating down the river! There is no way that we're ever going to be able to jump across that river. There's only one way across, and that's if someone builds a bridge. It's the same way with our relationship with God. Adam plunged us all into sin, and we're now separated from God just like that great big, extremely wide river separates one side of land from the other. We can try all we want with all of our good works to try and get to that other side, but that big old river of sin hinders us and the only way we're ever going to make it across is if someone builds a bridge and that's what Jesus Christ came to do. He came to build that bridge for anyone who will make that choice when the question is asked, what shall I do with Jesus? 

If you're reading this today and haven't made that choice, I pray you would because this is a choice with the greatest consequence you will ever have. To choose Jesus is to have life eternal with Him; forgiveness of sins and to be put into union with God and enjoy Him forever. What a marvellous, marvellous consequence! To not choose Jesus is to choose death, and why would anyone want to choose that?

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All Things Work Together For Good

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1 John 4 says, “God IS love.” It’s a very important verb choice. He didn't say God HAS love. If He HAD love, He might NOT have love. Instead, he uses the verb "is," the state of "is-ness," this is one's state of being,  the part of you that cannot be changed. God IS love, and He made us a promise in Romans 8:28 that “All things will work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purposes.” This is true even for the worst choice ever made by a man in all of history. A choice that's even worse than the one Adam made two-thousand years ago. 

My friends, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He had healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the poor, heralded the Kingdom of God and proclaimed that in Him there would be forgiveness of sins and life eternal. The people hailed Him as the Messiah, but at that point, the Jewish leadership got a little envious. John 11 reveals that they knew this man did miracles. Did you hear that? Unbelieving, rebellious men, admitted that miracles were being done. These were not Jesus’ followers; these were people who hated Him, and they acknowledged that miracles were being done. The problem for them was that if they let Him keep doing what He was doing, all of Israel would believe in Him, and the key is in their next phrase, “We’ll be out of a job.” 

My friends, do you know what really killed Jesus? It was job security. And so they held an illegal trial, trumped up false charges against Him that He was inciting rebellion against Rome and turned Him over to Rome for permission to have Him crucified. The problem was, the Roman Governor found Him innocent of all charges, but the Roman Sanhedrin continued to stir up the people. Pilot was afraid of a riot. If he could not govern well, he'd be out of a job. He realized there was a custom in Israel where they would release one prisoner every year. Coming up with an idea, he made a choice, and the choice was offered to the crowd: Jesus or Barabbas. 

Barabbas, the text says, was an insurrectionist, a murderer and a thief. The choice before them, my friends, was simple; you can have the righteous and innocent Son of God, OR you can have the murderer. What will you do with Jesus? And they chose Barabbas. They chose a murderer over the Messiah, and they screamed for Pilot to have Jesus, who had been declared innocent, crucified. 

I don't know if you've ever thought about the fact that Pilot had already declared Jesus innocent. Jesus not only could have been set free, but He should have been set free. The people CHOSE to have Jesus crucified, and Pilot CHOSE to let it happen. There were so many poor choices made, and those choices had horrible, horrible consequences. 

Pilot washed his hands to try and declare himself innocent; that it was not his choice to crucify Jesus. At that point, the people cried out, “His blood be on us and our children.” They made the most horrible choice that man has ever made, to crucify the Lord of Glory... But God! But God! See my friends; it was a true statement; His blood was on them, it was their choice. But because of God, his blood was FOR them. 

In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said, “I'm coming to give my life as a ransom.” In Matthew 26:28, He said, “This is my blood which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Do you realize my friends, that our incredible God used their choice against Jesus, as a consequence, but not as a consequence against them, but as a consequence for them. It is the greatest fulfillment of Romans 8:28 in all of history, “That all things will work together for good.” The one they killed shed His blood for them that they might be offered a second chance choice to place their faith in Him and secure life eternal and forgiveness.

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Saved From Our Sins

  Our gracious, forgiving, merciful God, will overrule the bad choices that can bring bad consequences. 

Our gracious, forgiving, merciful God, will overrule the bad choices that can bring bad consequences. 

I raised my kids on a mantra; life is all about choices and choices have consequences, so make good choices. Why did I drum that into my kids? Because I wanted them to experience Life. I wanted them to have joy and peace and rest. I didn't want them making choices that would leave a trail of guilt and shame and loss. The same is true for you and me as adults. This mantra is not just for kids. Every one of us in this room is confronted daily, on a moment by moment basis with the need to make good choices and avoid bad choices. 

We were all placed into this predicament by Adam who made a very, very bad choice. He could have chosen God, but instead, he chose the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He could have done what God said, but instead, he chose to do what Satan said. He could have believed what God said, “You shall surely die" but instead he chose to believe what Satan said, “You shall surely NOT die.” That terrible choice, my friends, had very horrible consequences. 

It says in Romans 5 that death spread to all men. To personalize that, death spread to you and I. The world became under a curse, and thus every one of us experiences things now that we were never designed to experience. Having left our state of innocence, we're now confronted daily with the potential to make a wrong choice that will lead us to experience a harmful consequence. Scripture is filled with people who've done this; Cain murdered his brother, a terrible choice that caused him to suffer being cursed from the earth. Hagar gave her handmaid to Abraham and caused family division AND national division, a consequence we still face today; Arab and Jew to this day because of that choice. Noah chose to get drunk and caused his sons to be judged and disciplined. And of course, David chose to have an affair with Bathsheba and brought chaos not only to his family but to the entire nation. 

Galatians 6 says, “Whatever a man sows that shall he reap. Sow to the flesh; you'll reap corruption, sow to the Spirit you'll reap Life everlasting.” What I want to share with you friends is this; that law is NOT a universal law because there is a God who has revealed a place in His New Testament that says, “But God.” 

Ephesians 2 says, “Even though we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and by nature, children of wrath, BUT GOD who is rich in His mercy and His great love with which He loved us, saved us from our sins.” 

God proclaimed His name to Moses in Exodus 34 when Moses said, “What is your name?” God says, “My name is God, the Lord God. Merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” That's a whale of a name, isn't it?! This gracious, forgiving, merciful God, my friends, will overrule the bad choices that can bring bad consequences. 

I think of Jacob; he made a choice to wrestle with God. That's not a good choice! He ended up with a limp for the rest of his life, BUT he also ended up with a changed life. I think of David and his sin with Bathsheba; it had horrible consequences, BUT that union later brought a great gift named Solomon who brought great wonder and mercy to the world because God is who He is. Don't you just love Him?!

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The Life We Need

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One of the misconceptions that I am finding among people who hear us teach grace is that we are against the Law. Nothing could be further from the truth. As true believers, we, like David, love the Law because it comes with a glorious God-given purpose. What is that purpose? Well, it is two-fold.

The first purpose of the Law is found in 2 Corinthians 3:5-9. There we learn that the Law has a purpose, and that is to kill and condemn us. Isn’t that wonderful? In fact, it is even called a “ministry of death and condemnation.” Now, why would God give us a Law that would kill and condemn us? The answer, of course, is to kill and condemn us.

Remember that we as human beings were all birthed under the lie that we shall be as God. Every one of us born on this planet is a god-wannabe. God gave us the Law, which is holy, perfect, and good (Romans 7:12) to keep us from a false hope that one day we just might be able to be like God. The Law came with a demand on our lives but provided no power for us to fulfill that demand. Alas! We are left to our own resources to try and keep the Law, and there is not one of us in and of ourselves who will ever be able to do that – hence the Law kills and condemns us. It pronounces every one of us guilty as sinners before God.

An old proverb went something like this, “Run John, run, the law  demands. But gives him neither feet nor hands.” So the first purpose of the Law is to provide us with a great need for Life, as we are all pronounced dead and condemned by the Law. Wonderful!

The second purpose of the Law is then to lead us to Jesus (Galatians 3:24) because He has the market cornered on Life. He who has the Son has the Life says the New Testament. In John 10, Jesus affirms this when He told the disciples that He came for the express purpose of giving us Life, an abundant Life because the Life He was giving to us was His own Life. Incredible! We have been given the Life of God for us to experience and express, and this wonderful Life came to us because the Law first affirmed our death and then led us to the only true source of Life. Wonderful indeed!

The rest of that proverb goes as follows, “But grace an even greater brings, it bids us fly and gives us wings." The truth is that we would never have found the Life we need without the Law first affirming our need for Life. I love the Law, don’t you? It was the tool that brought us to Jesus.

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Living From God

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Listen to this verse; it is one of the most neglected verses in the New Testament in my opinion. “For through the Law, I died to the Law, that I might live unto God!” (Galatians 2:19).

Did you hear that? One of the purposes of the Law was to lead us to Jesus (Galatians 3:24). By virtue of our union with Him, we would be crucified with Him (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 2:20) so that our relationship with the Law could end and we could instead be married to Jesus (Romans 7:4).

The verse goes on to tell us that this all occurred so that we might live unto God, meaning that until we die to the Law, we really cannot live unto God! Did you hear that? The Law was the very means that ended our relationship to the Law. You really can’t make it any more clear than that! That is why in 1 Timothy 1:9 it tells us that “the Law was not made for a righteous man.” Now that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), the Law no longer is to be a functioning agent in our lives. We have something far better to lead us, and that is the Holy Spirit Himself. That makes great sense, doesn’t it? The only way to truly live unto God is to learn to live from God!

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The Second Worst Lie Ever Told

 Words have the power to devastate another human being. We must take great care that when we speak, we are speaking Life into others and not death.

Words have the power to devastate another human being. We must take great care that when we speak, we are speaking Life into others and not death.

The second worst lie ever told. As you hear that I am sure that your brain is working feverishly to determine what that lie is. You know it; “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will “never” hurt me.” Of course, you knew it. It is a universal mantra on playgrounds and in homes around the world. More children know “sticks and stones” than they know John 3:16!

Students, teachers, and parents herald it as a truth that is supposed to heal and protect the heart of a child by minimizing the painful words that they hear; but it fails to accomplish that stated agenda because it is a lie! In my opinion, it is second only to the “WHOPPER” that Satan told in Genesis 3, when he told Adam and Eve, “You shall surely not die, you shall be as God!”

Now there are so many lies told on this planet, so many that could have made the “Top Two” that you might be wondering why these two lies are at the top of the list? What makes them so much worse than other lies? The one is obviously the worst lie ever told because it plunged the entire world into sin and death! I don’t believe anyone would dispute that. The second lie is second because it ministers the same end result of death – only on an individual basis as each destructive word is spoken and heard relationally.

Listen to Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Have you ever asked yourself, why that is so? Let’s ponder it together. Think back with me to Genesis 1 and 2. There we learn that God created the world and all that is in it. And how did He create? He spoke things into existence. The Creator spoke, and it was so! In a very similar, but much smaller way, that is how it is with us. We are made in the image of God – we are little creators who create in the same way He did, by speaking. Every time we speak, we are either creating Life or death in the ones we are speaking to! OUCH! Ouch indeed!

We have an awe-full (spelled purposely) responsibility. Every time we open our mouths we are either speaking Life or death into someone. When it is death, it hurts, and it hurts bad. I would put it this way – there is murder in our mouths. Proverbs 18:8 says, "Words go down deep into the heart." Words have the power to devastate another human being. That is why “sticks and stones” is a lie… words hurt and they hurt bad. We must take great care that when we speak, we are speaking Life into others and not death. I once heard a sociologist say that negative words are so powerful that we need ten positive affirmations to overcome one negative slander made against us. The tongue has so much potential for ministry but also the potential for murder. Which one will you be choosing to minister? Life or death? The choice is yours!

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Another Way to Live

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The New Testament makes it very clear that when we come to Jesus, our relationship to the Law has ended. The New Testament also makes it very clear why our relationship to the Law needs to end. In 1 Corinthians 15:56, we are told that “The strength of sin is the Law.” In other words, sin gets its power from the Law. Allow me to illustrate; I am going to give you a command, “Do not think of a green monkey!” You haven’t even thought of a green monkey, but I bet you are now. Some of you are even saying, “Oh yeah! Watch me!” There was nothing wrong with the command I gave you; the problem is that sin uses the Law to make us think of a green monkey. This principle is true, even with the Law that came from God on Mount Sinai!

In Romans 7, Paul said that the power of sin used the Law to stir up in Paul, “all manner of coveting.” In other words, Paul was not struggling with coveting, until the Law told him not to covet. Again, this is not the fault of the Law; it is simply a revelation to us of how sin uses the Law to stir up more sin. That is why all diets fail. We are told not to eat the cookie! Do not eat the cookie! The power of sin uses that Law to stir up within us desire for a cookie, and what are we going to do? We are going to eat the cookie, right? Wrong! We are going to eat half the bag!

Can I share with you one more verse? It is Romans 5:20. Now before we go there, let’s ponder how life works for humanity. I as a parent, have kids running in the house. It is not safe for them to run in the house, they might get hurt. So I make a law, “No running in the house!” Now, why did I make that law? To stop them from running in the house. This is why we make laws as a people. Our country made a law that there should be no killing. Why did our country make that law? To stop people from killing. Own this reality; we make laws to stop certain behaviors! That is normality for the world.

Now go to Romans 5:20, and hear the other worldly reality that God declares. He says that “the Law came in that sin might INCREASE!” Oh my goodness, did you see that? God gave the Law, knowing full well that it would not stop sinful behavior in any way, shape, or form. God gave the Law knowing full well that we would sin even more! Now, why would God do that? My personal conviction is that God did that so that just maybe we might get sick of sinning by trying to follow the law and cry out to Him for another way to live! Then, and only then, could we be led to Jesus and find in Him the power of His life to live differently! The reason we don’t want a relationship to the Law is because sin will use the Law to stir up more sin in our lives. The glory of the New Covenant is that we have died to the Law so that we could be placed into union with the very Spirit of God Himself instead! Now that is worth living for!

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