Romans

Did Paul Really Tell us Not to Grieve?

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In 1 Corinthians 15:55 Paul says “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he writes, “so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” Please hear this beloved, it’s so very important. Paul is not saying, do not grieve. The Christian community has taken this passage and twisted it many, many times to do something ridiculously wrong, and imply that we're not supposed to grieve. 

When I was pastoring in Delaware, there was a sweet young woman who was thirty-four years old with four babies. She was in the ICU and was dying, and did die. We held a round the clock vigil for that young lady, and people were there with her praying the whole two weeks she was there. I showed up one day just in time to see one of our dear ladies come out of that ICU with tears streaming down her cheeks, and the next lady ready to go in stuck her finger in that woman’s face and said, “Stop crying! That doesn't manifest victory.” If ever I wanted to slap somebody in Jesus' name! You know what, maybe it didn't manifest victory, but it manifested compassion, which is, in my understanding of the New Testament, what Jesus Christ is all about!

We grieve. Paul said in Romans 12:15 through the spirit, “Weep with those who weep.” Jesus himself wept at the death of Lazarus. And this is so important, it doesn't say He cried a few tears, it says He wept. Weeping is full-fledged, heartfelt crying. That's an important distinction. If Jesus felt the freedom to openly grieve the loss of a loved one, even though it's temporary, we should feel the same freedom. 

What Paul is speaking to us in these verses, is that he wants us to grieve with hope, to grieve with confidence that ours is never a permanent goodbye. I challenge every one of you, because until the Lord returns there will be death in your family and friends, when you're at that graveside, don't say goodbye, say until we meet again. Until we meet again.

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Glorious News for Mankind

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In the final analysis, there are really only two “religions” in the world. First, there is the religion of Human Achievement; this is the religion that all mankind was placed into the moment Adam ate from the wrong tree, the tree of good and evil, or the tree of right and wrong. This tree says "Tell me what to do and I will do it. Tell me what not to do and I will not do it." Of course, the huge assumption is that we will be able to pull it off, and of course, there isn't, and never has been, a man who can do that.

Romans 3:23 tells us that, "ALL of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." So the religion of Human Achievement, no matter what emblem it falls under or what name it is known by, emphasizes what man does in order to merit life and acceptance from God. 

There is, however, another “religion” – the religion of Divine Accomplishment. Here the emphasis is not on what man must do for God, but what God “has done” for man – hence the name Divine Accomplishment. God has done it! It is finished! This is the most glorious news available to man! God offers what He has done for man, to man as a gift; the only “requirement” for man is simply to humble himself and open up his arms and receive the gift by faith. A gift given is not necessarily a gift that has been received. That is where faith comes in, and that is in Hebrews it says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God!”

What is your religion? Is your religion the religion of Human Achievement, a religion that is all about you, and all that you have done and are doing in order to try and achieve merit before God? Or have you entered into the religion of Divine Accomplishment, where God loves you so much that He has done it all for you! The choice is yours!

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Sin Isn't Your Master

 If I am not "under grace"... but instead look to self-discipline, or principles, or effort, or meeting expectations of myself or others, SIN WILL BE MY MASTER!

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What Is Grace?

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GRACE! GRACE! GRACE! 

That is all I hear and I am so glad I hear it from Father's Word. "Grace upon grace" - it says in Jn 1. "The abundance of grace" - it says in Rom 5. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!

May I suggest though that it is only truly wonderful when it is properly understood and applied? When perverted, it no longer remains grace --- even though people continue to call it grace.

First: What grace is not!  Grace is not the freedom to do whatever you want. Paul spoke about this in Galatians 5. He tells us we are not to use our freedom to serve our flesh. This is exactly what happens when a person doesn’t understand that the LIFE they received in Christ is ‘others-centered’.

It’s a LIFE that seeks to serve, instead of being served.
It’s a Life that looks to the interests of others, not its own interest. 

When we fail to realize and live out the others-centered life of Jesus, the inevitable end result is ugly: grace used for selfish gain.

So what is grace? May I venture a definition?

Grace is being delivered from an economy of being IN ADAM, which is an economy of achieving for self; and being placed instead into an economy of receiving IN CHRIST, all that He is, to all that we need, at the moment of faith.

Grace is NOT a doctrine, nor a teaching. Grace is the Person of Jesus offering to express His life in and through a person as they trust Him by faith to do so. That Christ-life is then both experienced by the individual and expressed to others in a spirit of love, acceptance, awe, and wonder as we live out our having become partakers of the divine nature.

And may I add that this Grace, Jesus, living in and through us, fulfills the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW in our lives.  We live righteously because it is the only kind of life the Spirit knows how to live (Rom 8:1-4).

Thank you, Jesus, for your grace. (wonderfully redundant, huh?)
Thank you, Jesus, for giving me your LIFE which saves me from me (Rom 5:8-10).

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No More Fish Out Of Water

...we got caught, cast out of God onto some very dry land where we flopped around, gasped, entered the dying process and were really getting eaten up. 

...we got caught, cast out of God onto some very dry land where we flopped around, gasped, entered the dying process and were really getting eaten up. 

The shortest sermon I ever taught was out of Romans 11:36. One verse.

"For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things!"

"OF HIM" --- God is the source

"THROUGH HIM" --- God is the means, the ability

"TO HIM" --- God is the purpose and the goal

God is everything that pertains to what true life is all about. Kind of like a fish in the water. All that fish knows is water. When you catch that fish and pull him out of the water onto dry land, the fish gasps, flops around, enters the dying process, and then dies. (Then he gets eaten up)

This is what happened to us. We were like that fish in water. All we knew was God. Then, we got caught, cast out of God onto some very dry land where we flopped around, gasped, entered the dying process and were really getting eaten up. 

However,

If you had compassion and intervened, you threw that fish back into the water and the fish "lived" once again.

This is what happened to us. God had compassion on us, and through the work of His Son placed us back into God and put God back in us and now we really "LIVE"...

No more gasping. No more flopping around. We have found God to be our source, our means, and our home. Enough said!

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We Were Never Designed to Live by Doing Good, and not Doing Evil.

One of the most amazing verses I have ever read is Romans 5:20. Before you read it though, let's think together.

When as a parent you made a rule: "There will be no running in the house!" Why did you make that rule? Because you intended that this new rule would stop the kids from running in the house, right? How did that work for you?

When our government made a rule, "There shall be no murder" - why did our government make that rule? They did it of course to stop murder. They did it to stop the faulty behavior. How did that work?

So when we as humanity make a law, we do it to curb behavior... our motive is to alter behavior, right? Otherwise, why would be make a law?

Now let's read Romans 5:20. "... the law came in that sin might INCREASE!" Did you see it? God made the law, knowing full well, that the law would NOT alter behavior, and that in fact through the giving of the law our behavior as human beings would in fact --- GET WORSE!

This happens because as Romans 7 says, "the power of sin uses the law to stir up more sin!" The problem is not with the law, for the law is "holy, perfect, and good." The problem is with the power of sin that thrives on law like gasoline poured on a fire."

Don't look at the wall behind your computer screen! Do you hear me? You better not look at the wall behind your computer screen! Most of you have already looked at the wall as soon as the command came forth. Others of you are pondering why it is so wrong to look at the wall and will soon join your other wall viewers! Some of you will now stare at the wall all day!!! This is how the power of sin works!

And yet, still God gave "the law" knowing full well that this would happen to us. God gave the law knowing that "sin would INCREASE!"

That tells us that God is not afraid of sin! He is more powerful than sin. It can increase and He will still take care of it! WOW! We have a big God.

That begs a question however, and that is "Why?". Why would God give the law knowing full well that we were going to sin and sin and sin in the giving of the law?

My friends, I believe it was so we would get sick of that law system and pursue God for another economy. I believe it was so we would get sick of sinning and cry out for another way. You do know, that we were NEVER designed to live by doing good and not doing evil. That is an economy that Adam plunged us into when he ate from that tree. We were NEVER intended to live by right and wrong.

We were created to live in an intimate and dependent relationship with God! We were designed to live by a Person, the Spirit of God, not by an outside, lifeless, economy of demand! Praise God, through the Person and Work of Jesus, God established a New Covenant... a covenant of relationship with a Person, none other than God Himself Who now lives in and through us as we trust Him by faith.

It is this glorious new way of life that allows us to fulfill our intended design to be experiencers and expressers of God to His own glory. This is true worship and a life that is satisfying and rewarding.