04 Grace is awe-FULL – part 1

Crazy Love: Grace is awe-FULL

So people think the conservative living or even orthodox living or even fundamentalist living or legalistic living or legalism is hard or harsh.

 

This piece today though is not only going to challenge that but over-turn it. Trump it! Blow it out of the water. Lets think about this for a moment. ALot of people have this idea that God is harsh and that being Christian is tough.

And they are right!

We’re gonna look at a few places in the Bible and check out how Grace works.

What we’re actually discussing is the living what the Bible calls under the Law vs what the Bible calls living under Grace

So many people think that they are against each other. But God never intended this. We’re using both wrong. The Law was never meant to be lived under but was meant to point us to God. Point us to our need for a Savior and a Deliverer. Then we were meant to live under Grace.

Check it out.

Matthew 1:21Matthew 1:21
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She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Modern 2019 English – you know what this means…or what the Bible is trying to say to us? -> She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus

… Gabriel was trying to give Joseph the heads up that even Christ’s name was supposed to be a sermon. Jesus or in Hebrew Yehoshuva – which means “God Himself, will save me” not an angel, not a prophet but God Himself will make the time, put in the effort, will re-arrange His schedule, will divert His attention from whatever else He was doing governing the universe and turn to me…and save … little ol’ me. Yes little me. 

Yes you… why

Because he (Christ) will save His people (who’s people) … from their sins

wait … so uh … sin is so powerful you mean only the Creator Most High God can save us from our sins

… save us from …. ourselves?! The answer is Yes.

Check out Romans 7: Paul breaks it down into 3 pieces.

  1. In verses 1-6, Paul explains how we were delivered from “under the law.” – wait… We needed delivery from under God’s own holy law?! That sounds unfair! But Paul gives a beautiful example of marriage. And uses the wife (the church, God’s bride … dont miss it) – As long as a couple is married, they cant marry anyone else otherwise that’s adultery. But if the wife’s husband dies, she’s free to marry again. So as a sinner, the law condemns us from birth before we even take our first breath. We are under the law. To escape, we need death. Dying to sin.
  2. In verses 7-13, he explains why being “under the law” isnt unfair and then he breaks down the function of the law. See Jesus’ name means we need to be saved by God Himself and Gabriel explains … from ourselves. So then .. what is the Law for! If its not unfair, and only God can save us…what’s the Law’s job…Simple the law is supposed show us how desperately we need God and how strong our Savior needs to be to save us. See the Law is supposed to show us how overwhelming, how deep sin is, how much apart of us it is. How impossible to please God it is. How good we are at sinning. How much we enjoy sinning and literally hate holiness even when we love God (Romans 5:6-11Romans 5:6-11
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    ** read it now) .. So the Law’s job is simply to be a mirror. Show us ourselves and point us to God. And if you think about the Law being a reflection and an explanation of God’s character – this means God is in our hearts all the time work to reveal Himself to us and ourselves to us. To show us the difference. And so that we realise the difference is wrong. The difference was never in God’s plan. And God wont let the difference remain and stay there. He has to change it. Change us. But we need to want the change.
  3. In verses 14-25, here Paul then makes it very clear how the Law and Sin work inside us. He shows us how God’s holy law and sinful humanity are incompatible. They cant live together. They cant stay married they have to divorce. They cant love each other. Just like any couple that took beautiful wedding vows then later on in life got divorced and walked away from each other. He show us that its only through God’s grace, through Jesus Christ and His Spirit, that we can live the Christian life.  Only Grace can help us receive God’s love, accept God’s love and then show other people God’s love. Show other people Grace. The purpose of the last section of Romans 7 is to destroy any idea that we can ever be good people, godly people.

 

Now that’s where this devotional comes in. This devotional is going to use practical examples and the lives of people in the Bible to show how serious Romans 7 actually is…

 

You ready? Truly – Grace is awe-FULL and … its harsher than legalism. BY FAR!

Key verse remember: Ephesians 2:4Ephesians 2:4
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-But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

 

Why does He need to be rich in mercy of have a lot of mercy. Why does His love for us need to be great?! We’re gonna go through some examples

 

Famous musicians:

So many people, Christian or not, look at the lives of musicians and judge them for the way they live their lives. The fame, the fortune, the bad press, the sex, the alcohol, the drugs, the lyrics Parental Advisory. If these artists in this picture came to your church would we welcome them? Look at them again… or maybe if we had some conditions we might accept them. For example what if any of them wanted to get baptized or serve would we let them? See some below that we “know very well” seem to be making changes in their lives. Like Snoop … he’s a preacher and minister now, when a few years ago he claimed that he had “revolutionized porn” and the industry as a whole. Would we let him preach in our pulpit now that he’s a preacher.

We look from afar, way over here and we make a judgement call. We dont know them. We dont how they grew up, where they live. In fact we dont care about them. We dont know what their every day life is like. What they eat, where they sleep, if they’re well, lonely, healthy … nothing. We love pointing fingers though right? But where can they call home even while they’re still deciding. Still thinking of they believe in Jesus let alone want to follow him. What if they start attending our churches but dont change immediately. After 2 years. After 10. Where’s our limit our line our no go area. Imagine one of them wanting to sing in our praise and worship team? Even just the question… the raising of their hand? How would we react…? Grace is crazy people!

 

Serial Killers – Corrupt Leaders

Look at this other picture below. We’ve got a mix of men. Some have perpetrated some of the worse crimes in human history. Leading to the deaths of millions of people. Some genocide. Some simply for politics and ideology. When you look for example at leaders or even business men who have made their wealth through corruption or through exploitation (which is common). When you look at some serial killers, notice these pictures here of some of the most infamous ones in recorded history all seem to be smiling when they get to court. Some like Jeffrey Dahmer or David Berkowitz… found Jesus in jail. Do we even believe that. Some supposedly didnt and died unrepentent.

 

Would we be able to have these guys in our church. Repentent or not. Let alone serving. Could we serve these men potluck or lunch after a sermon. Could we work with them. Love them. Council them. Is there space amoung us for them? See once again how crazy how demanding Grace is?

 

So…whats the formula?

Who deserves Grace….?

So we’re finally gonna look at some of our Biblical forefathers. How did they do in their walk with God and how did Grace operate in their lives. How powerful did it need to be? How much did they need God in their lives to help them. To save them from their sins. Save them from themselves.

 

Cain  and Abel: Genesis 4

Bible tells us that when it was time to come before God with a sacrifice and offering of worship and atonement that Cain who was a farmer brought fruit. Abel who was a shepherd brought livestock. Now remember as always God was clear about what He wanted from Adam’s family. But Cain thought, being a farmer, thought after his sweat and hardwork. Wrestling with thorns, that he could bring his best not God’s request. God wanted a lamb simply as an offering pointing to when Jesus would come and bleed and die. And there’s no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. Which God never intended us to shed, but always intended to come, and bleed out, on a Cross, for us Himself (Revelation 13:8Revelation 13:8
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the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world). Thus the name – Jesus. God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice of the lamb. And rejected Cain’s offering of produce. Now dont get this twisted. Cain didnt bring sour grapes or wrinkled apples or small oranges or tiny corn. He did his best and brought his best. But Cain simply did wrong. He then turns around and kills his brother Abel. Imagine that! We think Cain was evil. But jealousy and envy drove him to murder. He wanted from God, his approval, his acknowledgement his acceptance. So in his rejection, he turns on his brother. A kid he saw grow up. That he fed. That he bathed that he dressed that he picked up when Abel fell and hurt his knee. He killed him. And look at his unrepentant answer when God confront him “Am I my brother’s keeper” Genesis 4:9Genesis 4:9
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. The arrogance?! The bravery!! He was talking to God! Madness right?! The Question: If you were God … could Cain get some Grace? Some forgiveness. God even brands Cain and then warns anyone who touches Cain that there would literally be heaven and hell to pay. Hold on! Would you stand up for a brother killer?! Would you protect someone like that?

 

Absalom: 2 Samuel 15

Here’s another character in the Bible. Absalom. King David’s son. Apparently this guy was so handsome that every morning he’d go sit out by the gates of the city and have his long locks and long hair combed. Men would come to hang out with him. Women and girls would come to drool over him. At some point, because David lived to a ripe old age, his ambition began to  get to him. He wanted to be king so bad. That he decided to try take the throne before David died and before even talking to his dad and getting his blessing. He just started a rebellion. Uh… that would mean that if he had succeeded he would have had to kill his father to be king …. he was ok with that. Umm and not only that (Parental Advisory) – he slept with his fathers concubines. Really ultimate insult. Makes you wonder. In the end, when David’s general’s defeated him and the rebel generals, Absalom ran. While he was running, his long locks got caught in a tree. David’s soldiers found him hanging by his hair. And as you can guess. He died there. Badly. The Question: If you were God … could Absalom get some Grace? Some forgiveness. By the way look at David’s reaction in the Bible when he found out that Absalom had died. He cries out loud when he gets the news (2 Samuel 19:4-62 Samuel 19:4-6
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). He’s so crazy that David’s generals get angry and accuse David of embarassing all his loyal servants and soliders. He even says to David that David would rather they all had died and Absalom lived. … wait … if you’re son had tried to kill you and slept with your wife, would you mourn him like that when he died… really? Grace is so much crazier. So much harder to live up to. So much harder to fake!

 

But wait what about David? Check this out… 2 Samuel 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can we really blame Absalom? This sin thing is deep. One day when Israel’s army was off fighting against its enemies, David, stayed home. Uh now some context. The whole reason Israel had asked God for a king was because they wanted someone to lead their armies!!! So … uh … what was David doing at home? Ok now, again just wait. Remember David was between 12 – 15 years old when he killed Goliath. Then Saul hunted him for about 15 years and only came to the throne at 30 years. Years of being hunted. And doing what? Well he was a mercenary – Phillistine kings would use him to fight their wars. And he would win. Well. Totally decimating their enemies for them. He was such a terror that whenever the Philistines had to fight against Israel while David was still in exile they asked him and his men to stay behind because they were afraid that specifically David might turn on them in the fight and destroy them. To make it worse, David wasn’t alone. He went into exile with a bunch of men, a bunch of army stopping, army decimating men. A bunch of super men. Mighty men, that the Bible calls his mighty men of valour. 37 of them! Army dominators (2 Samuel 23:82 Samuel 23:8
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–39,1 Chronicles 11:101 Chronicles 11:10
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–47). One of them … was called Uriah … known as Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 23:392 Samuel 23:39
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). Now we’re building this one so relax. When these men originally joined David in exile they were cast outs. Men in debt. Divorcees. Men that society had literally thrown out of their homes. They were unwelcome. Unwanted. They were worth nothing. They owned nothing. Forgotten. The dregs of society. Anyway fast forward, back to the story one day after Saul had died, and David had come to the throne, a few years later, his boys were out doing their army destroying thing and David decided “I’m gonna just chill at home … I deserve anyway”. And to be honest he was right! Well deserved rest. But do kings really do what they deserve … or do kings do what their kingdom needs them to do. Are kings meant to chill and be served or are they meant to be the first to serve? (I hope that sounds familiar)

Anyway he’s at home chilling. Standing on his balcony. Look at all his hard work. Not worried about the war because he knows his boys got this covered. One time! No stress no mess no fuss. I can relax he’s thinking. And as he looks out over the balcony he sees this woman! … bathing. Chief … bathing on her roof. Now … before you get all judgmental again … Israel is at war, she’s not expecting any men to be at home. Especially not anyone in kings chamber/bedroom. But David sees her, loses control of his kingly self and tells his servants “go get me that woman”! (Cue sinister laugh … seriously). She is brought to him. He takes her into his bedroom, has his way with her…and lets just call that what it is rape. Woman was married and the kings guards turned up at her door. Did she wake up that morning planning to cheat on her husband with her husband’s best friend?! NO. And yes best friend. Remember Uriah’s been with David in the caves for 15 years! Uriah was there when David met Abigail. Uriah was there when he met all his wives except maybe Micah. Plus the concubines after. Think about it. David and Uriah have fought together, bled together, gone hungry together. Slept in caves in the cold with empty bellies together. What does David do? Absalom’s father. What does he do? He sleeps with Bathsheba. Gets her pregnant then tries to hide it by calling Uriah home from the war. Uriah gets home and refuses to even go into his house. He sleeps outside on the door steps. David panics! Calls Uriah and asks him “Hey! Wassup with you sleeping on the step outside your house. Bathsheba kick you out or something?” (Cue nervous laughter…) Uriah responds “No sir! How can I sleep in a nice cozy bed and lay with my lovely wife, when our friends our boys are out fighting and dying in battle and me I’m at home just chilling?! No can do sir! Not happening, sir!”

 

So then David plots to have him killed. Send’s his boy back to the battle. But before that, he instructs his general to take Uriah into the worst fighting of the war. Then when the battle is at its fiercest to leave Uriah there. To die. No quick lets break that down. Remember Uriah is mighty! Uriah is a one man army killer. A one man army crusher. Thats why David said take him to where the battle is at its worst. Because Uriah would be hard to kill. Now imagine that. There’s Uriah. Surrounded by his comrades in the melee! And as usual he’s in the thick of things. He’s used to it anyway. So as was his habit he charges in. Taking down the enemy mercilessly. Terribly. Enemy panics and realizes its the Hittite. The call in reinforcements knowing that if they leave this man to continue he’ll simply crush them. He’s done it before. As they send more and more soldiers on him. With swords, with spears, with bows and arrows, with cross bows, with hammers etc. Uriah isnt phased isnt afraid, he plunges on into the thick of it know his boys got his back! Then … he sees them withdrawing … leaving him there. His comrades in arms. His blood brothers. Hes too injured to retreat with them. To catch up. He calls out for help. But help doesnt come…. Look at him raising his hand as enemy’s plunge their weapons into him over and over. Imagine the confusion! The anger! The surprise! Maybe even in his dying moments … cause we can assume he wasnt a dumb or stupid man, imagine in his moments him wondering why David called him back the other day and why his wife had been acting funny. He dies … not just his body broken but his heart broken. The Question: If you were God … could David, Absalom’s father, get some Grace? Some forgiveness. … check out Grace. As God, would you name yourself after a man like this … Son of David! By the way … did you know that in the New Testament whenever Jesus was busy or on His way somewhere or in a crowd … if you wanted to be sure to get His attention … do you know what you had to shout out? Do you want how you could be guaranteed to get his attention … yes you guessed it … you called him Jesus, Thou Son of David! (Luke 18:38Luke 18:38
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, Mark 10:47Mark 10:47
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, Matthew 9:27Matthew 9:27
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)

 

Saul – Paul: Wrote half of the New Testament

So when Christianity was just starting out, the Jews didnt like it at all. They were afraid of the Roman empire punishing any chaos that broke out. They were afraid of all the people converting to Christianity. And they began hunting Christian converts down. If you were caught you were put to death, by stoning. At least thats how the Jews interpreted that Law. Stephen was one of the people who got caught (Acts 7:54-60Acts 7:54-60
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). Among many others. Look at the picture… one of the biggest culprits of this hunt this persecution was a man by the name of Saul. We arent even sure how many good people died by his hands who had committed no other crime than being believers. Christians werent killing anyone. They didnt stop paying tithe. They didnt incite rebellion against Rome. In fact they were peace loving and for the most part a good thing. But ideology and religion have been some of the biggest reasons for the most heinous crimes and worst wars. So there’s Saul at the back. After presenting the evidence bring Stephen to be stoned and carrying people coats who were actually gone do the stoning. A little while later, on his way to Damascus, Saul has a Jesus-encounter. A God moment. Christ confronts him (Acts 9:1-19Acts 9:1-19
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). Smacks with some lightening. Yeah God does that sometimes. And Saul goes blind for a while (yes that was his only temporary injury). His name was changed to Paul after the experience. The Question: If you were God … could Saul now Paul, get some Grace? Some forgiveness. … check out Grace. By the time he died Paul had literally written half the New Testament that we all believe and love today. Including Romans and Ephesians etc. Jesus 101 courses in Christianity. God not only forgave him. Jesus not only changed his name. But somehow Jesus decided Paul was going to be one of His best Christian authors of all time. From murder and persecution…to author and teacher. Somehow Jesus decided this is the best guy to teach the Gospel. Guys … thats Grace … Would you let Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer teach Bible study in your church? Would you read their books? Become their disciples!

 

Last one in this piece. Judas Iscariot.

Lets look at this saga of his betrayal of Christ. 30 pieces of silver. Its the equivalent of about $600. Yes Judas sold God, sold Jesus out for $600. Think about it. This is man who’s seen Jesus walk on water, feed thousands of people. Bring Lazarus and the little girl and others back from the dead. Deliver a man from demons, heal a mans hand, heal blindness, heal and hug people with leprosy. And on the night of his betrayal, Judas guys … dude has no shame, he’s sitting right next to Jesus sharing the same bowl of gravy!!!! (John 13:27John 13:27
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)… When Jesus was hungry Judas was there “foxes have holes, birds have nests”. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well…Judas yes was also there. When the Pharisees tried to kill him, Judas was there. When Mary broke open a bottle of expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair and kissed his head, Judas was also there (and complaining). So … next thing you know Judas is selling Jesus for some silver. Not even some gold or some diamonds or rubies! a few hundred bucks today. So … The Question: If you were God … could Judas, get some Grace? Some forgiveness. … check out Grace. Later when Judas brings soldiers to come arrest Jesus (Matthew 26:48Matthew 26:48
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– 50) … knowing they are coming to take him to be killed. He knows this. He walks up to Jesus and identifies Jesus by kissing him on the cheek. Now stop and think for a second … the insanity of it. You’re about to betray a man, who at a minimum, is super man. An Xmen. You’ve seen Jesus do some super super natural stuff. Before He even talks demons beg for mercy. And … there you are, you walk up to this Man and kiss him! Judas must have been out of his demonic mind. But look at Grace. Look at Jesus’ response.

Matthew 26:48Matthew 26:48
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– 50 -49 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.”. 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?

Wait, even while Judas is betraying, Jesus, Grace, is still trying to get through to him. Grace is still trying to save him. No anger. Not even coldness. But gentle deep love.

 

Now look at all these examples above … surely you’d agree, Grace is harsher than legalism. If you’re not convinced, stay tuned for part 2. We’re gonna look at God’s best, the best people in the Bible. Our heroes and heroines. And see just how Grace worked for them.

 

Here is the truth. Legalism. Self-righteousness. Having a form of religion but lacking the power thereof … its not too hard to fake it. You will struggle to find people in the Bible faking forgiveness. Or faking gentleness. But there are plenty of self-righteous fake Pharisees. Plenty of examples of people who put on a show of holiness.

 

But nobody shows off with lifting up and loving their enemy. No one wants to be seen being merciful to people who have hurt them deeply. You dont find such examples. From back then and even today. Its very very very hard, to be like Jesus. Very very hard. Especially when it matters most.

“Forgive us father, as we forgive those who trespass against us” – what you think Jesus, in teaching is how to pray, just threw that in there by mistake?

 

Shalom … until next time.

 

 

 

(artwork by eikonik, narutofanatic16 – deviantart.com)

 

 

 

 

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