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Reverend B. Branch, pastor of the Living by the word Christian Center Church in Ollie Branch, Mississippi is a great pulpiteer. Hear ye him.

Last Updated September 5, 1998

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 Chapter 8: 28

8: 28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose"

  This text finds Paul explaining to the Corinthians the nature of the Christian experience as it relates to setbacks and persecutions. He explained to the Corinthians that the entire life of man is a suffering experience designed to move him toward a glorious end which is in heaven. The entire 8th Chapter of Romans, believed by some to be one of the most inspirational
books of the bible, focuses on the Christian's need to be guided by the spirit. It is the spirit of God that will guide and keep us, despite the frailty of the human flesh and will.
  In verses 12-17 Paul notes that while we are saved by grace, weshould strive with every fibre of our being to live right and do the right things. When we are striving to do right, the Holy Spirit automatically locks in on a spiritual cruise control that insures that we maintain the right course. Verses 18-25 emphasize how setbacks, mistakes and adversities should be expected by
every Christian because it is the nature of the struggle.
  Paul notes that we should concentrate on the end, rather than the means of any experience. The central thought of this text verse is that we should focus on the final outcome of a matter rather than the troubling details of the moment. This powerfully short verse, when coupled with the rest of the 8th Chapter suggests that the Christian should approach each event of life
looking at the end rather than the means, confident that as long as he is guided by the spirit of God that all things would work "together" for his good and he will eventually profit from every situation not matter how frustrating in appears at the moment.
  In verse 31 Paul summed up the central conclusion of the chapter, "What shall we say then to these things, If God be for us, who can be against us?" With that knowledge and assurance concluded that nothing would discourage him in his service of God, not prospect of life or the threat of death, the power of governments, fears of past failures and present trials, nor any
other situations would be successful in separating him from the love of God. His focus remained on the end and rather than the means. He always projected that we are "more than conquerors through him that loved us."

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Chapter 12: 2 

12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God."

This text focuses on Paul as he writes to the Christians in Rome about several practical doctrines for Christian living.

In this short, two verse passage, Paul notes that Christians offer God a new sacrifice, as compared to the former practice of offering animals, which is themselves. In the past Jewish believers spent great time finding animals that could be sacrificed for a variety of sins. Bullocks, lambs, doves, all were among the various animals sacrificed to atone for sin. Much attention was paid to the cleanliness and holiness of the sacrifice that was to be brought before God. The person bringing the sacrifice did not necessarily make changes in his mind or heart. The emphasis was on the sacrifice itself.

However, Paul reminded Christians that we present ourselves as living sacrifices to God daily. Instead of coming to worship with doves, and oxen and bullocks and inspecting them for perfection, we present ourselves holy and accpetable to God.

To accomplish this "acceptable" state, Paul said we must not be "conformed" to this word. The word "conformed" here is from the Greek "suschematizo" (Soos-kay-mat-id-zo) which means, in this context, to fashion one's self like another. We are encouraged not to fashion our lives in any manner like those of unbelievers or the world. This includes our sympathies, inclinations, dress, speech, actions and manner of thinking. The command is simple and straight forward, "be not conformed to this world", its perception of life and its adverse action. We are in this world but not of it.

Paul challenges every Christian to step up to a higher learning or a higher calling that is in response to the renewing of the mind. The higher learning opens new channels of thought and actions that are not dictated by the routine, mundane and the traditional, but by the word of God. In essence, Paul challenged the Romans to dare to be different, if being different meant freeing themselves to fully prove what is good and acceptable to God. He challenged them to get off the beaten path of and do that which is acceptable to God, regardless to whether it is acceptable to the social order.

The transformation that is mentioned refers to the complete metamorphosis of words and actions that spell a new person for Christ, clearly different from he that is in the world. This transformation however, does not come from simply following the crowd and doing what others do, but it comes from seeking a higher level of expression, living and feeling that allows us think and live independent of the negative influences of others.

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Chapter 15: 13 

15:13; "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."

This text considers the final product of a never ending hope.

In the broadest sense "hope" can have two definitions. Outside of the biblical context, hope refers to a feeling that "what we want to happen will happen." We are said to have "hope" as long as we have that feeling. Hope, in this context, is baseless because it offers no rational reason why something should occur other than the fact that we want it to happen. For some this is baseless optimism, a futile exercise that will yield nothing. Hope in the biblical context takes on a different character. To those who believe in the bible and trust in God, hope is confidence that what God has done for us in the past, guarantees that he can and will do similar acts in our future. Therefore, without God, hope is simply an empty feeling not supported by any evidence of probability. However, with God, hope is based on confidence gained from past experiences.

Paul, writing in Romans 15:13 emphasized that Christians should expect situations to improve and work towards that end. Specifically he wrote to the Christians in Rome, but generally his message was to all Christians: "The God of Hope" is urged to fill each person with joy and peace "in believing" or because they believe, to the point that they never lose hope, despite the adverse circumstances they endured. That hope is sustained in every person through the power of the Holy Ghost.

This text suggests that clouds or adverse circumstances will come for the faithful, but while they may block the sun they never stop the sun from shining. We are encouraged to keep working in faith, with a positive spirit.

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