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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Our Only Hope

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The evangelical community needs to wake up!

So much time, energy, and money are spent lobbying and trying to change our culture through political means. That is not our job. Our job is not to moralize the dead but to bring them Life in Christ. Our job is not to change the culture we live in, but to change the people who live in the culture and once enough people in the culture get "changed," (born again and instilled with Life from God,) those changed people will change their culture.

It is time for the church to really draw Life from God and then express that Life to the dead around us. It is time to radically declare Christ, not morality to a dead and dying world.

He is our only hope, NOT legislation!

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Longing For Him

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I have experienced enough of "life" in this fallen world to have grown quite weary of this fallen world. Come quickly Lord Jesus has become my mantra.

Last week though, Father spoke to my heart and said, "Son, you long for heaven, more than you long for Me!" OUCH! I apologized, for He was right.

By the way, I do not believe I am alone in that longing, let's all repent of that "faulty longing," for that is like a woman who longs to be married instead of longing for that special man to be married to. Just as it is not the institution of marriage that her heart really longs for but for that special guy, so it is with us, Heaven is not really what our hearts are longing for, it is Him.

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He Leads Down Well-Worn Paths

Our world calls us in a million different directions. How can we ever know which way to go? In this insightful video Frank shares that we have a loving Sheppard who never gives up on us and how by putting our hand in His, He will always lead us down His well-worn paths.

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Father Sees and Understands Your Struggle!

Can any comfort be found as we face unthinkable circumstances we never dreamed we would face? How do we survive the pain and sorrow of a world that we were never designed to live in? In this video, Frank invites us into the truth that we are not alone and that there is One who understands our grief and pain and will walk with us through it.

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Being Right vs Being Loving

Freedom is promised when we know and walk in God’s truth. But how will others share in this same freedom if we neglect to tell them what we know to be right and correct them when they’re wrong? Find out in this short video what we need to be right about as Frank shares how we can love one another even when we disagree and what evidence should be seen in our lives as we walk in the truth of the Grace of God.

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The WOW of Christ

As I get older, I am finding myself less and less interested in the new and novel. Rather, I'm finding myself increasingly focussed on what Paul referred to in Corinthians as... "the simplicity of Jesus"...

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Sin Isn't The Supreme Issue

When Adam sinned, God's heart was grieved - of course it was! What grieved His heart most is what man would have to experience fear, grief, sorrow, anxiety, guilt, shame, and isolation as a result.

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