Spiritual Transformation of the Heart

Peninsula Community Church 

Spiritual Transformation of the Heart 

February 18, 2018

Romans 7:15-21 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

How many can relate to Paul here in this passage? How many struggle in the battle between wanting to do what is right but having the tendency to fail to do or to live up to what is right or good? The truth is for too many there is a real battle that rages within us. It might be the amount of food we eat, the amount of alcohol we drink, the way we treat others, or what we think or feel about  ourselves. No matter the issue, the battle rages, but there is a way of hope and it is called spiritual formation or transformation. That is what we will focus on today.

 

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, there has been a need to deal with the heart and man’s reactions to life itself. This has been the inescapable human problem since the fall. Unfortunately, this problem has no human solution although many have tried to do so by way of human means. Some have tried psychiatry, drugs, and many other things to bring change. I do not discredit these resources because there is a need in many cases to have such things available. Unfortunately, too often, these things become the only source investigated, but in the end they do not always bring permanent change or transformation. The fact is, we need a work of God in us to make this happen in a more permanent and effective way. For example, this week we have witnessed another mass killing. The immediate response by many has been to call for more gun control, but this is not a gun control issue. It is a heart issue. The shooter’s heart and mind had been formed by disappointment, rejection, and low self-worth, and he had come to a place where he would have used whatever means possible to create mayhem and murder.

While the need for transformation is an inescapable human problem, I am afraid that as a whole Christianity has been ineffective in imparting answers to the vital questions of human existence. Now before you misunderstand what I am saying, let me explain. Too often, the Gospel has been liberalized or the message of the Gospel has been softened to the point that it does not bring real change. While the Bible has been and continues to be the source of hope for change, too many do not effectively preach the whole counsel of God in a way that meets the need of man. As Christians, we do not hold the Word as being precious and relevant to our needs. Therefore, many Christians have rejected the Gospel as a source of help, hope, and change. The end result is that we present an ineffective and powerless Gospel by the way we live.

The answer to inner transformation must also be more than the church I attend or the denomination I serve. When we are asked about our relationship with Christ, too often our patented answer is to relate to the church we go to or what denomination we have joined. We often say we are Methodist or Presbyterian or I attend PCC. The answer to our spirituality and Christianity must go deeper than religious associations. We attend an awesome church, but this church in itself is not a solution to permanent change. The real answer must come from a heart aligned with God’s will and His purposes.

A second problem is that we can be so focused on the outward expression of change that we miss the deeper issues of the heart. Too many hold to an inaccurate view that by simply changing the outward man, the inward man will follow. While there is some validity to this, too often this kind of change falls short of its intended purpose. The problem is that while we might change the outward man, the inner man is not necessarily changed which leaves us without the proper motivation for additional change. That is why Paul’s spiritual honesty in Romans 7 is so important for us to consider. There is an ongoing battle in doing what is right, We do what we do not want to do and we do not do what we should be doing.

So what is spiritual formation? For the Christian, spiritual formation refers to the Spirit driven process of transforming our inner being in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ Himself. The result is that what is within us is manifested outwardly. Remember that “out of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 15:18-19, Mark 7:21, and Luke 6:45). We speak and act from what is contained and stored in the heart. While the fruit of a changed heart is an outward manifestation of inward change, we must not just focus on the outward manifestation of change. We must align our inward man and our outward expressions of faith to God’s word. With that said, the outward expression of change must never be accomplished at the expense of the spiritual renewal of the heart. When the external becomes the supreme measure of one’s success or spiritual growth we risk not having real or effective change inwardly.

In Mark 8:36 the Scripture tells us For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? In other words, what good is it to gain notoriety, riches, and outward perfection and lose our souls in the process. I also love 2 Corinthians 3:18 which says And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. In the Old Testament man could come into the presence of God without having their faces covered. In the New Testament that changed and now we are invited into His presence without a veil. In His presence change comes and it is from there that we reflect the glory of God in our life. Paul refers to this to as being changed into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to the next. This happens one step and one victory at a time.

A number of years ago in the Bronx, there was a problem with people vandalizing abandoned apartment complexes. The city, under Mayor Koch’s leadership, decided to handle this problem by applying decals to the windows which gave the appearance that the apartments were occupied. The goal was to deter vandalism and diminish the number of homeless living in the apartments. As you might guess, this action, a costly solution, did little to change the problem. While having the best of intentions, they were in essence trying to change the outward but the inner problem was not addressed or changed.

This is where we must emphasize that growing into Christlikeness is not based on human attainment. It has been and continues to be a gift of grace. The liberty that is ours in the Spirit motivates us and moves us toward acts of righteousness. Action alone is not enough without the Spirit at work in us. Let me explain this in this way. We can make a decision to be more loving and then try to act more patient and kind, but in the end we fail to be as loving as we desire which can be frustrating and painful. Merely trying to act more loving will lead to despair and defeat, if there is no corresponding transformation of the heart. The same is true of faith. We can try to live an outward faith, but we can fall short without an inward positioning of our heart toward God and His goodness, regardless of what is happening around us.

Since this is a work of grace, this transformation should not be a burden. Grace should be the answer to the weariness of trying to do better and live right. How many have been frustrated at trying to do good but fail over and over? That is Paul’s argument in Roman’s 7 and that is why Paul begins Romans 8 some much needed encouragement. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

Notice the law was weakened by the flesh. The law was powerless to bring permanent change. The law can be correlated to the outward expression of action. For that reason outward action on its own is powerless but the Spirit of Life can and will set you free. Why is this? It is because the Savior, the Son of God, took on the flesh and sin and He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law. He gave us the Spirit that can now leads us to transformation.

Here is the beauty of all of this, God the Father, gave us grace through the death of His Son, who abolished sin by the cross and the power of sin over our life in the resurrection. He also sent His Holy Spirit to reside in us so that we could be guided to truth and reality. He speaks into our heart and He brings change to the inward man so that we manifest that change on the outward.

So how are you doing this morning? How is your heart? Are you being changed inwardly or are you only working on the outward expression? Is God more important you than your church or your issue? Let us pray!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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How’s Your Heart?

Peninsula Community Church 

How’s Your Heart?

February 11, 2018 

Proverbs 4:20-23 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Today, we hear a lot about the health of one’s heart. We measure cholesterol, triglycerides, heart rate, heart beat, and so on to determine heart health. The fact is, we have many ways of determining the health of our human heart, but how do we perform an appropriate evaluation of the spiritual heart.

Over the next few weeks, I would like to talk about the spiritual heart and how we can be assured that our spiritual hearts are in good shape. So, how do we measure the health of our heart? How do we know when we are healthy? These and other questions will be addressed during this series. To understand this process, let me make a few comments that will point us in the right direction as we have this conversation.

First, we must understand that too many today are not living according to the plan of God. When man was created in the Garden of Eden, he was created in the image of God. Think about this for a moment. Adam and Eve lived in a perfect environment. There was no sin. There was perfect harmony between them and with the world around them. They did not have arguments. They did not have to work, as God provided all they needed. Man’s greatest task was to name the animals and make sure that he was managing what God had given him. They were in essence living in the Utopia that so many long for today.

As we know by reading the story, man failed at the basic level of obedience. They had everything they needed, and yet they allowed the one thing that was beyond their reach to master them. Along with their desire and craving for what they could not have, and the enemy’s use of well timed opportunities and half truths, Adam and Eve were deceived. This changed mankind forever.

When that occurred, mankind moved away from God’s original intent of creation to live in a fallen state of mind and heart. The result has been that instead of living in the freedom that is ours in Christ we have allowed the issues. problems, sin, and the devil’s influence to form and shape our life. From the fall until now, mankind has been formed and shaped by so many forces. Think about it. We are being formed and shaped by the events of our life. We are shaped by both the positive and negative things that come. How many live in regret, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and so forth, all because of the events that have affected their life? How many live with emotions and feelings, and believe that this is just the way it is going to be without any hope for change?

Here is the point to be made. In God, we were created in His image, but because of man’s fallen state we are being formed and conformed into an image that was never intended by God. That brings us to one of the key points we need to make about this process. Because we have been formed and conformed to the world’s image, a non biblical view, we can also be transformed into a new creation. Scripture is replete with examples and admonition toward this process.

In Ezekiel, we have been promised that He will exchange our hardened heart with a heart of flesh. In other words, through the intervention of God’s work in us, we can begin to live again. You see with a hardened, stoney heart there is not much life. With a broken human heart there is a lack of blood flow to the rest of the body. As with the physical heart, when our arteries begin to harden, our life is diminished and without an intervention death or long term damage is possible. So it is with our spiritual hearts. We cannot live the life God chose for us when we are living life from the standpoint of a harden and callous heart.

Listen to Ezekiel’s words in Ezekiel 11:19-20. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Notice the process here. They will be given a new spirit and their heart of stone will be replaced with a heart of flesh. Think about it, a stoney heart is not very sensitive to God’s movement. But with a heart of flesh, we are more sensitive and responsive to the work of God in us. Notice too, the response to this change of heart. Those with a fleshy heart will be empowered to walk in His statures and the directives for living life. Notice, He will empower them to walking in obedience and in following His ways.

You see many times we struggle to fulfill His purposes. Perhaps, and just maybe we struggle in these areas because there remains some areas of hardness which has been untouched or unchanged. Here is the point, so often we allow God to touch certain parts of our heart, but we guard and secure our heart so that we do not allow God’s touch in other areas of our heart.The truth is God wants all of your heart, and He especially wants all of the hardened places of your heart.

Because we have been formed and conformed it is so easy to allow negative stimuli to impact us. Let me explain it this way. Have you ever had a difficult experience with someone. Perhaps you loved someone and you had a deep relationship with that person. At some moment in time that person let you down. Perhaps they lied to you. Perhaps they betrayed your confidence. Perhaps they destroyed your relationship. Perhaps they chose someone else over you to love. You were devastated.

If this happens once, we can take the pain and usually deal with it, but if this happens more than once, we can begin to believe we are defective and that no one could ever love us. What begins to happen is that we can refuse to let anyone into our life, because we are afraid we will be hurt again, even if there is no evidence of that possibility. The result is that it becomes very hard for us to have any significant relationships. We have been formed to believe that their is no hope and no chance we will ever have a positive relationship.

Perhaps we have been formed and conditioned to turn to food, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors to bring peace and hope. The result of this conditioning is that we never really deal with the issue of life. We just cover them up and whitewash them so they are never really dealt with. But here is the truth. God wants our heart and He wants all of us because He has answers to the deep hurt and pain we experience.

That is why Romans 12 is so important to us. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). Paul counsels us to be transformed. How is that accomplished? It is done by the renewal of the mind. You see it is the mind that affects the heart more than anything else. Have you ever talked yourself into a certain way of thinking or action? Has that thought or action later produced a negative response that wore you down rather than building you up. The point here is that God through Christ wants to transform your heart and your life. What we have allowed to be formed in us God wants to transform.

As we close, let me share a couple of thoughts. I must admit that I have borrowed these from Ed Stetzer, the President of LifeWay Research. First, change comes by having a new life and not turning over a new leaf. Too often, we think if we just try harder, or do more, or act differently, we will be changed. God’s intent has always been a total change and not just a different action. The Scripture tells us that if you are in Christ, then you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The past is gone and the new has come. The fact is too often we are trapped by the past: past hurts, past mistakes, and past events. Perhaps, today it is time to move to a new day of freedom and life.

Secondly, real change is a process and not a destination. We never stop changing. On this side of heaven we do not arrive at perfection, but we recognize that we are always in a process. We are on a journey of progressive growth. Paul was keenly aware of this principle when he stated “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Notice, Christ will continue this work until the Day of the Lord. This might be His second coming or His coming to you to bring you home, but He will keep the work going on your behalf until the end of your life.

Thirdly, real change is a process of letting go and grabbing hold of a new way of  thinking and living. It is allowing God to transform the way we look at life and at each other. Listen to Paul. He says, But that is not the way you learned Christ! Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24). We must choose to follow God and to put off the old way of dealing with life. After all the goal is to become like Christ and be able to live in true righteousness and holiness, and not some false or surface righteousness or holiness.

So today, where are you stuck? Where have you roped off a piece of your heart like in a museum? Today is the day to begin the process of letting go and let God heal you. For some it may an instant result. For others it may take time, but God will heal if we open our heart to Him. And by the way if we ask Him, He will come to your aide and help you.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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How Is Your Vision?

Peninsula Community Church

February 4, 2018 

How is your Vision?

Habakkuk 2:1-3 I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Well, I finally get the chance to preach this message today. I have attempted to do so for the few weeks but God had a different plan. Today, you will get a variation of the original message I had planned. For me, and for many of you, I know that January has been an interesting month with the sub zero weather, the snow, building issues, being away for Christmas, health issues, and so forth. For us the weather, building issues, trips and gall bladder surgery all effected us. But we are so glad to be back in the saddle and look forward to see what the rest of the year of the will bring. Here is what I know with all of this, this is going to be a great year. God is up to something exciting, and I am so glad to be a part of what He is doing.

I would not be truthful if I did not acknowledge my disappointment with some of the issues we have faced. But, while I have been disappointed in the weather and health issues, I have not given up. I have not faltered. I had my doubts at times, but never to the point of surrender. Admittedly, there were times where I felt a bit like Paul when he stated that we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).

One of the lessons I have learned is that disappointment does not have to end us but it can be God’s way of bringing us to the next phase of our life. God can turn our disappointments into opportunities to grow us in our understanding of Him, our purpose in His kingdom, and how much we really need to rely on Him for our sustenance and ongoing peace. It is taught me that I need more people around us that are willing to step up to the plate and help us. You see that has not been your issue but mine as it is some times easier to do things on my own that it is to get help. So I will be asking for more help from this point forward.

What I have determined is that our focus or our vision will determine the outcome of our life. With that in mind let me begin with a story, one of which I have personally experienced. Several years ago I went to the eye doctor and he found that I had some deficiencies in regard to my vision. To remedy this, he prescribed a new pair of glasses for me. When the glasses arrived at the office, I went to the doctor who fitted me and set me up with the glasses. That day when I left his office and put the glasses on, I experienced something amazing. Suddenly, everything was in focus and as I began driving with the new glasses, I found I could see in a way that I could not do so before. Trees were crisp and I could read signs before they passed me by. What changed? What changed was that my vision was now being focused through the lens of a new pair of glasses. Because of the glasses, I could now see clearly.

The two passages we have this morning are perhaps a couple of the most popular scriptures related to vision. In Habakkuk, we find that Habakkuk was not idle. In fact, he was quite busy as he was taking his post on the watch stand. The issue in this passage was not his activity as much as it was his vision and his focus. In his busyness he sought the Lord, and he received this word.

The lesson for us today is two-fold. Busy lives do not equate to success. We can be busy and miss what God is doing. To determine where we are to go and what we are to do does not mean that we jettison our responsibilities. The key is where are you focused and what lens you are using to focus your life on. Are you looking through the eyes of God to determine your vision.

It is noteworthy that this word came at a time when things were not going well for the Israelites. You see, God can give vision when things are going well but He can also give vision when they are not going so well. In fact, if you look at the first two verses of this book, we find that Habakkuk was troubled by what he saw in the land. He was frustrated and he questioned whether or not God was even involved in their lives. As we read, however, we begin to see Habakkuk’s heart change as he hears from God. Habakkuk moves from burden to blessing, from wonder and worry to worship, from restlessness to rest, and from focusing on the problem to focusing on God’s Person.

So the first critical note about vision is that vision must come from our interaction with God. When we spend time with Him, He will fill our heart with truth and He will direct our hearts and minds. If we do not spend time with God the chances are our vision will be motivated by our flesh, our feelings, and our friends. From his time with the Lord, Habakkuk received a word from God that would reposition him and place him in alignment with God’s purposes. This leads us to Habakkuk 2:1-2. From his interaction with God and from his honesty, the Lord gave him the following response.

First of all Habakkuk was to write the vision down. To write the vision down, is to know the vision and understand God’s purpose through it. Too often, we are wishy washy because we do not know what He wants us to do. The result is that we lack vision and thus we lack hope and we lack focus. For that reason our second passage today shows us that where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law (Proverbs 29:18). A right vision is based in the law of God which is the word of God. A right vision is connected to the knowledge that comes from knowing God. You see a vision is not some abstract set of action items but it is directly connected to a knowledge of God and His will. Too often we think up ideas then want God to bless them. We tend to begin with a presuppositional idea of what we think God wants and then we try to fit our thinking into the will of God, but Habakkuk’s vision came from His relationship with God and His word.

Zig ziglar has stated that a lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem for most of us. We all have twenty-four hour days. It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Henry David Thoreau stated that “to be everywhere is to be nowhere.” We need to know where we are headed. We need to know what we are called to do. I love this quote as well. Not all dreamers are winners, but all winners are dreamers. Your dream is the key to your future.

Secondly, the vision must be plain so it can be easily communicated. The problem for too many of us is that we tend to complicate the things of God to the point that we do not understand what He requires of us. The vision of God should be plain and easily communicated to others. What is your vision? What is God calling you to do today? Let me say this, God is not schizophrenic and yet to listen to some you would think so. Every time you speak with them they seem to be headed in a different direction.

As we grow in our vision we must be aware that a person who has the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue. He is devoted to God Himself. By being devoted to God we are more likely focused on what matters and less on the trivial pursuit of our own ideas or ideals. When we are devoted to God we will be less motivated to self-centeredness. We will be less argumentative and will be more willing to work with others to accomplish the will of God. You see each of us are a part of the fulfillment of the vision for our church, even though we do so from different gift sets and abilities.

The third part of the vision is that we must be patient and not be discouraged as it takes time for the vision to be accomplished. We can give up too soon or get distracted when we are impatient. This is especially true in our quick fix, instant world. You see there are times where God is working behind the scenes to bring about His will and His purposes. But too often we try to help God out and that usually does not work too well.

So let’s make this practical and bring it home here this morning. Our vision here at PCC is to grow people and reach people for Christ. The vision is simple: grow strong committed disciples of Christ and reach people (unchurched and unsaved) for Christ. The vision remains the same. It does not change frequently, but we must also establish some goals as to how we will accomplish the vision.

More specifically we want to:

  1. Continue to grow our teaching and discipleship opportunities. Personal spiritual and practical growth is paramount to the success of the church by way of men’s and women’s ministry, life groups, Sunday school, Sunday morning preaching and worship, and other opportunities that come our way.
  2. Have specific intercessory prayer opportunities.
  3. Look for ways to reach our community for Christ both the unsaved and the unchurched.
  4. Continue to grow our children’s ministry: life kids, nursery, youth.
  5. Provide opportunities for regular fellowship so that we grow relationally and dynamically.

So what is your vision? What has God called you to do? If you focus on God and get into His word, I am convinced that He will show up and will lead you to a bigger plan and purpose than you have dreamed of.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Power of Our Testimony

Peninsula Community Church 

The Power of Our Testimony 

December 31, 2017 

Revelation 12:10-11 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Today, we have heard from three of our members who have shared their testimonies about God’s grace and His intervention in their life. Thank you so much for sharing. As we consider these testimonies, I want to challenge us all to consider sharing more of your testimony. With that in mind let me remind you that a testimony is a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law. It is also the evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something. And it is a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. In Psalms 22:22 David penned offers this insight. I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

By sharing our testimonies, we are in fact giving evidence and bearing witness to what God has done and is doing in us. We are honoring God’s name and His work in our life. The fact is, every person has a testimony. We have all been touched by the power of Christ in some way. Sometimes because we do not have a glowing testimony of a life delivered from drugs or alcohol, we can be deceived into thinking that we do not have anything to share. But, the reality is we all have a story. At a minimum, we have all been kept by the power of Christ and His grace. He has provided us with protection and He has supplied our needs. He has brought healing to our bodies and salvation to our souls. We all have a testimony.

So why is it necessary to share our testimony. I would suggest it is necessary because of the following reasons. First, sharing our testimony builds our faith. When we share our testimony, we have an opportunity to build our personal faith. Sometimes we need to hear our own words proclaiming the goodness of God so that our heart responds to those words. We are not talking about a self-centered, self-motivated testimony but one that is focused on Jesus, the one who has aided us in our victory. If we are honest, we cannot share our testimony without acknowledging God in the process.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were encouraged and challenged over and over to share the work that God had done. They were to retell the stories of God’s grace. They were to remind each other of what God had done. In so doing, their faith was built and their hope transcended their circumstances to see God in the midst of their daily life.

Secondly, sharing our testimony encourages others. Over and over the Scripture challenges us to encourage one another, especially as the days get darker. One way to do that is share what God is doing in you and through you. How has He blessed you? How has He met your need? Where has He led you? Where have you engaged with sharing the gospel. Where has He motivated you to change, so that you are more in alignment with His will and His purposes. What sin or wrong have you had to overcome that has lead you to a new found faith and hope.

It is also noteworthy that one of the benefits of sharing our testimony is that it binds us together in a stronger way. When we hear another’s story, we realize that we are not too far removed from them. We realize that we have a hope. We can then acknowledge that our issue or problem is not so big or so beyond the touch of God. So, rather than being distanced and isolated through our testimony we move closer together and we are encouraged.

Thirdly, sharing our testimony honors God. Giving our testimony, honors God in that it turns the focus away from ourselves to God. A simple definition of a testimony is it is simply honoring the Lord by bearing witness to others about His work in your own life. Paul in Romans 1:16 understood how important it was For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 2 Timothy 1:12 But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.

In the final analysis, our testimony puts flesh and blood on the Gospel. One of the things that people want to know today is does this thing called Christianity work? One of the complaints in the early church was that they had a form of godliness but no real power (2 Timothy 3:5).They were doing all of the religious stuff, but they were not witnessing much of the power of the Gospel. The problem is that too often people have witnessed the negative outcomes of legalism and pride, but have not experienced the spiritual freedom that comes from knowing Christ. They have seen the coldness that can comes from those who proclaim that God is a loving God, but they have not experienced the abundant life that flows from God. They have wondered if God is real, but too often those in the church are presenting a false, plastic God that seems powerless and weak.

The world wants truth and we are the truth to those who do not know Him. The one giving testimony is obeying the Lord by “telling his greatness in the midst of the congregation.” So, let us shout it from the roof top and let the world know that God is working, He is powerful and He is trustworthy.

So what will you share? What is your story?

Listen to the words of the great hymn Blessed Assurance. Fannie Crosby had been blinded at an early age from a medical mistake. Through her blindness, she saw more than anyone else could. She penned so many of our hymns today. Her story could have been one of defeat but instead she turned to victory. Her faith was built, people were encouraged, and God was honored. Listen to the words:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine

O what a foretaste of glory divine

Heir of salvation, purchase of God

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Perfect submission, all is at rest

I in my Savior am happy and blessed

Watching and waiting, looking above

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my Savior all the day long

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my Savior all the day long

 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Journey to Peace

Peninsula Community Church

The Journey to Peace

December 24, 2017 

Luke 2:11-14 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 

At Christmas, we often ask people what they would like as a Christmas present and inevitable some will say they wish for world peace. In most cases, what they are asking for is a cessation of all conflict, violence, and war. While this is a noble request, there is a problem. Since the creation of mankind there have been struggles and conflict, and there is no end in sight as long as human beings are in this world.

To understand peace, it would be helpful for us to know and understand what real peace is all about. When we consider the word peace, it is my guess that a variety of ideas come to mind. For example, as noted before, some would suggest that peace is the absence of all conflict. Others, would suggest that peace is not having any problems and being free from stress. Contrary to these ideas, the meaning of peace, from a scriptural standpoint, is not just an absence of conflict but represents a much deeper and richer meaning.

In Scripture, we find two primary words used for peace. In the Old Testament, the word for peace is Shalom, and in the New Testament the word for peace is irḗnē. It is noteworthy that both of these words can mean a cessation of conflict, but both Shalom and irḗnē go beyond a cessation of conflict to mean wholeness and completeness. In John 14:27, Jesus stated, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Jesus understood the mindset of the day. They wanted a cessation from conflict, but Jesus was bringing wholeness of mind and heart. Jesus recognized that life will have its issues, but if you seek the kind of peace He brings, you will not be afraid. For that reason, Jesus could honestly tell His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled (John 14:1).

In our passage this morning the angels make a powerful, life changing proclamation. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Jesus came to bring peace but not the kind of peace that most people expected. As with the wise men, most were looking for a warrior/king but they found a baby. Most thought He came to end conflict and war, but He came to make people whole and complete. His mission was to provide the means for spiritual wholeness, so regardless of the circumstances or events that come, there will be peace.

As we look at the concept of peace, I would suggest that Christ came to give peace in three areas of our life. First, we have peace with God. Christ came to reconcile us to God so we would be at peace with Him. Notice the words of Romans 5:1-2. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And then in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Paul says, All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Through reconciliation, we now have peace with God. We are no longer His enemies. Our relationship has been restored, and we are now whole and complete. We are restored because Christ gave Himself for us. Our sin, all sin, every sin, is covered by the blood of Christ. We no longer live disconnected, disjointed lives. The Greek word irḗnē means to bring together and that is exactly what Christ did, He brought us together with God.

Before Christ, there was no way to span the gulf between us. There was a wall of separation, and there was no way for us, as sinners, to be united with a perfect holy God. We were separated  because of our sin. Our relationship was broken, but He came and died to restore our relationship with God. When we have a right relationship with God, we will experience real peace! Without a right relationship, nothing else will be right. It all begins right here.

Listen to the words of Paul in Ephesians 2:13-17. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Secondly, Christ came to give peace within. This emotional peace is the peace of God. When I have peace with God, then I get the peace of God inside me. Paul again is our inspiration in this regard. In Colossians 3:15, Paul states, And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. Here is the deal, God wants the peace of God to rule our hearts. He wants His peace to motivate us, guide us, and determine where we will focus our attention. Listen to this quote by Rick Warren. For those with a broken heart, God gives us comforting peace. For those with a confused heart, he gives us guiding peace. For those with a shamed heart, he gives us forgiving peace. When we have a worried heart, he gives us confident peace. He provides peace for every problem.

Thirdly, He gives us peace with others. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:16, Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. Here is a truth you can take to the bank. If you want to strengthen your relationship with others, like your spouse or your kids, strengthen your relationship with God. The only way to have lasting peace with others is to be united with God. It all works together.

This Christmas, as we sing and talk about peace on Earth, know that God wants to give you real lasting peace in each of these three areas. Peace is an attainable dream, as it is a free gift from God and it involves our inner being but, how do we maintain peace? To answer this question, we must understand our focus will determine our outlook and will determine how we live in peace.

In Philippians 4:4-9, Paul hones in on how peace is worked out in us. Listen to his words. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. If we do this, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Isaiah 26:3 states You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Notice, we have the Holy Spirt to help us focus our mind upon Him. That is where our peace will come and there it will be maintained. Paul in Colossians 3:1-2 states If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

When we focus our attention, our hearts, our minds, and all we are in Christ, we will find peace even in the midst of the storms of life. This is seen most vividly in the life of the author of one of the all time great hymns of the faith. In 1870, Horatio Spafford’s only son died of scarlet fever. In 1871, his major real estate investment burned to the ground in the great Chicago fire. Then, in 1873 he was devastated by the news that all four of his daughters had died in a shipwreck in the Atlantic. As he was in route to Europe to meet his wife, who had survived, he was shown the spot in the mid-Atlantic where his daughters had perished. He was suddenly overwhelmed by an rush of the peace of God. With tears streaming down his face, he recorded his feelings.

In that moment, he penned these words! When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. Why could he say “It was well with his soul?” He was complete in Christ and that served to give him all of the peace he needed, even though he had lost almost everything in his life. So, how is your peace? What are you dealing with today? It begins with a relationship with Him and from there everything else springs forth.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Journey of Joy 

Peninsula Community Church 

The Journey of Joy 

December 17, 2017 

Luke 2:8-11 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

Let me begin this morning by asking you a question. Here it is. In life, what brings you the most joy? What ignites your heart with passion? I am sure that if we polled this room we would most likely get all sorts of answers and responses. I am sure that some would say their kids or grandkids bring the joy. Some would say a specific trip they have enjoyed. Others would say a certain meal or a dessert would bring joy. Still others would say sitting before a fire with a good book brings them the most joy. The fact is each of us has a different opinion as to what would bring us joy. This morning, I propose, however, that the greatest doorway to joy is a personal relationship with Christ. It does not matter what specific items or events bring joy, if those things are not founded in a relationship in Christ.

As we review this particular Christmas story this morning, notice if you will, the shepherds were in the field minding their own business. They did not expect or anticipant a visit of any kind, much less the kind of visit that occurred. You see, there was nothing extraordinary about these men. They were shepherds and perhaps the lowest of all people on the totem pole of social standing. People did not visit shepherds. In fact, most people did not associate with shepherds, as they tended to be an isolated nomadic group of people who hung out with people just like themselves. And yet, this is to who God chose to bring the proclamation that Christ was born.

If you will, look at their response with me. It is probably no surprise that their initial response was one of fear. Now these were tough burly men who had confronted lions and bears without giving it a second thought, but this encounter was a bit much for them. They were filled with fear because of the activity occurring that dark night. So, why were they afraid? For one, angels were speaking to them and that by itself was enough. What would you do if you encountered a real angel or angels in the middle of the night with a choir singing behind them? I would imagine there would be some fear expressed.

It is also noteworthy that this circumstance was enhanced by the fact there had been no word from the Lord for 400 years. Can you imagine that? There had been no word from the Lord for 400 years. This was a dark time in terms of a visitation from God. But now at the appropriate time, and at the right moment God chose to come to the lowly shepherds. Listen to the words of Paul but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5). At the right time Christ came to earth, and this was the right time.

The fear they were experiencing was happening on multiple levels. Their fear was a natural reaction this encounter. The angels were aware of this fear and they countered that fear with a message “Fear not…! Fear not…!” What a statement in comparison to the circumstances. Can you imagine what the shepherds thought? All this is happening and you want me to not fear. You just rocked my world and you want me to act without fear? You see this declaration to not fear was not some passive, unrealistic command, but was founded in the truth that God was up to something. To understand this, we must read the rest of the proclamation as this is directly connected to the birth announcement of Christ. The angels announcement was Do not fear, because, we bring you good news of great joy and this message will be for all people.

It is noteworthy here that the answer to their fear was a message of joy. This was a message that would counter the fear and anxiety of the moment. Even today, it is a joyful heart that neutralizes fear. For that reason, it is hard to be joyful and to be fearful at the same time. The fear I am talking about is the kind that brings bondage and prevents us from any forward movement in life. It is the emotion that for many has prevented them from experiencing life to the fullest. It is a fear of the future. It is a fear of failure. It is a fear of outcomes. It is even a fear of the good that God does. We fear that somehow we are undeserving of His blessing.

Know this fear binds but joy releases. That is why the Old Testament writer said that weeping may endure for an evening but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Another writer spoke with conviction when he stated that the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy is an internal reaction to delighting in Christ. As we delight in Christ, He exposes us to His joy which is already resident in us.

Remember the movie the Wizard of OZ. I know that we all have our favorite movie around Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom’s was the Wizard of OZ. Watching this movie was an annual event for us. If you have seen it, you will remember the main characters in the movie. There was Dorothy who had lost her way. There was the scarecrow who had no brains. There was the tin man who had no heart or emotions. Then there was the lion who had no courage and was afraid of his own shadow. As you watch the movie, you find that they made it to the great city of OZ where they made a request of the great wizard. They asked that he would give them a brain, a heart, and courage. But what we find in the end, is that each of them already possessed these characteristics, they just needed to allow them to be released into their life.

Today, the enemy of our soul has robbed us of joy and has filled so many with fear. One of the lessons of the movie the Wizard of OZ is that what we desire is often already in us. That is a Biblical principle and I am here to tell you that all that you need is already in you, spiritually. You see joy has come as a child but more than that it is a fruit of the spirit that is resident in our hearts because of the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Christ came, He died, and He sent us the Holy Spirit who would provide us with joy as it is one of the fruit that is resident in us as we receive Christ as our Savior (Galatians 5:22).

Since joy is a fruit of the spirit, we understand that it is therefore a work of grace for us to receive that joy. It might be noteworthy that we find that joy and grace come from the same root word in the Greek. The Greek word for joy is CHARA and the Greek word for grace is CHARIS. You see it is by grace that we have joy, and it is the joy we experience that shows us the grace of God in our life. It seems like a bit of circular thinking, but it is the truth as they are intricately connected in our spiritual being. Rather than walking in fear, we can walk in the joy provided to us by the grace of God. Rather than working at producing or manufacturing joy, we can realize that joy comes to us as a gift of God by way of His son. The fact is we have the potential for a joy-filled life because of God’s amazing grace.

Know this, Christ is the source of our joy. Most exciting announcements bring immediate happiness, but afterward, the emotional high evaporates, leaving us unchanged. However, when we believe the good news of Jesus’ birth and we accept Jesus as our Savior, the joy is lasting and it is transformative in its power. As we abide in Him like a branch in a vine, His life flows through us, and the Spirit produces fruit in us (John 15:4, 11; Gal. 5:22-23).

Perhaps the problem with our joy and the power of fear that overwhelms us is that we are looking to the wrong sources to provide our joy. So, where are you looking for joy? Are you trying to control the events of your life and the actions of the people you are invested in, only to find that the end result is more sadness and pain. How many times have we looked to things to provide us with joy to find that it is only a temporary joy that is easily lost, when the thing we look to is destroyed or no longer available? The reason for this is that joy, true joy, is not something we create but something we receive from a heavenly father that so desire. Listen to this: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13). Our joy is a direct result of the relationship we have with Christ.

He is the source of our strength. When the shepherds heard about the Messiah, their elation propelled them into action. They could not keep the news to themselves. Christ’s joy is powerful, and as was true of the shepherds, it should likewise transform and motivate us to serve Him. A joyful life is the most appealing witness you and I will ever display to a lost and hurting world. People are searching for joy in all the wrong places, so when they see us going through pain, trouble, and conflict with calm contentment and peace of mind, the door opens to share the message of a Savior who came to give new life.

Finally, even if your circumstances aren’t perfect this Christmas, do not give up on your joy. It is a precious gift from Christ, and He wants you to live in joy to the full this day and every day. Just  remember, Christmas is just a preview of what awaits us in heaven. There we will have uninterrupted and uninhibited delight in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That alone is a reason to celebrate, but we do not have to wait until heaven. We can experience that now through Christ. Are you ready? Is that the life you want to live? Let us pray.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Journey of Love

Peninsula Community Church

The Journey of Love

December 10, 2017 

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Last week we looked at the idea of the wisemen taking a journey to find the Christ child. They looked for one thing, but found another. They were looking for a king and a warrior, but what they found was a baby and what a baby He was! This child was about to do what no other person in the history of the world could do. He was about to save the world and bring to each person who trusts Him hope, love, joy, and peace.

Last week, we looked at the idea of hope and the light that shines into the darkness. This week we will look at the power of Christ’s love that came to set us free. From the early writings of the New Testament, we find that John recognized a truth that is needed in our life today. We need love. We need true love and not a facsimile or imitation love. As John penned these words, he recognized the source of our love is the One who came to save us. Listen to the words again. For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

The passage begins with for God so loved. He loved. He loved the world. This term world here is the term KOSMOS. It was a word that meant universe and/or adornment. In the New Testament, it was also used to describe man in his fallen state that resulted from the sin and the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Thus, we could say that God so loved mankind that even in his fallen state He sent His only Son to save man from his failures and from being a fallen creation of God.

Notice too, that He did not come to condemn the world. The world was already condemned and was living life in shambles. Most were well aware of their difficulties and their sin. Additionally, many were living hedonistic lives apart from God. While proclaiming to be fulfilled, free, and at peace, they struggled with their identity and self-esteem. The fact is, they were living life devoid of real love. Does that sound familiar in our society today?

The blessing we have is that in our self-centered, self-focused life, we can find that His love reorients us to His purpose and plan. His love reorients us to the destiny He has for us and He empowers us to fulfill the purposes we have been created to achieve. So what kind of love does Christ offer? To understand this it would behoove us to consider the words used in the Greek to define love. Unlike our English language, the Greeks had four words to describe love.

The first of these words is Eros. This is defined as erotic love. This is the love that is engaged through body chemistry and is relegated to feelings. Eros love is focused on others but only as others fulfill their desires. The motto of this kind of love is “I love you because you make me happy,” but “if you cease to make me happy, then I will no longer love you.” This kind of love is based on a characteristic in the other person that brings pleasure, but if that characteristic ceases to exist, the reason for love is gone. Eros love looks most often for what it can receive and not give. Many of us have experienced this kind of love. As long as we are giving and we look a certain way, we are accepted and loved. As long as we meet another’s expectations, we are loved. But let changes come and that love is diminished.

Secondly, there is Phileo love which is a brotherly or friendship love. This speaks of affection, fondness, or liking. Phileo love responds to kindness, appreciation, or another’s love. It involves giving as well as receiving, but when it is strained it can collapse in a crisis. How many have had a friendship fall apart because of a disagreement or problem? What you thought you had was quickly destroyed.

Thirdly, there is Storge which is the love that has its basis in one’s own nature. This love is based in one’s natural affections. It is the natural movement of the soul for a husband, a wife, a child, or even a dog. It is a quiet, abiding feeling within a man that rests on something close to him and that he feels good about. If Storge love is not centered in Christ, our feelings can cause us to move toward unhealthy and immoral love. We see this today in many of the issues we face. Romans 1 speaks of a generation that would seek that which goes against their nature because they reject the truth. Their passion for unnatural affection has lead them to be be deceived and destroyed. Their hearts have been darkened.

Then we have Agape love. Agape love is focused on the preciousness of the object loved. This speaks to the character of God! It carries the idea of prizing. It is not kindled by one’s personal merit or worth. Agape love delights in giving. Agape love keeps on giving when the one being loved is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love. Agape love desires only good for the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well-being of the other person. So let us look at our text this morning in view of Agape love.

First of all, His love is based in the preciousness of the object loved. He loves us because He believes that we are precious in His sight. Remember the song we sang in children’s church so many years ago. Jesus loves the children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children.

We are precious because we are a creation of God. Therefore, we have value and we have significance. One of the great lies of the enemy is to get us to believe that we are less valuable than we are, or that we do not have any significance in this life. I can tell you this morning that you are precious in His sight and He extends His love to us as a result. The Psalmist said “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Who is the “we?” It is you and I. If we agree that we are a creation of God, then we must accept that we have value and significance. We must rise up and live like we believe it. We are not talking about a sense of false security or pride, but rather the truth enveloped in Christ’s love for us.

You see value is given to person or object by the one who adores or loves it. In the case before us today, God loves us and has added great value to us as a person. That is Agape love. Agape love places a high value on us as a person. In 1973 I bought a used 1970 Dodge Charger. I paid $900 for it. That was considered to be the value assigned that car, at that time. In 1976, when I left for Bible college, I sold the car for $4000. The value in someone’s mind had gone up. Today, I have seen similar 1970 Dodge Chargers sell for over $100,000. Why? Because someone has given a greater value to the car. Let me tell you, we have a Father and an elder brother named Jesus who has assigned value to your life and no matter what someone else tells you, and no matter what you think, you are valuable and you are worth more than you know.

Secondly, this kind of love is not kindled by meriting His love nor is it based on one’s idea of self-worth, but it is solely the action of one doing the loving. Here is the amazing thing about Agape love. It is not conditioned on the one receiving the love, it is fully based in the one giving the love. With that in mind, think about this. The perfect, eternal, faithful God has loved you and has assigned value to your life, no matter what you may have done. No matter what condition you are in, you are valuable to Him. It is for that reason that no matter where you are, He is reaching out to you. How can a car that was worth $900 in 1972 be worth over a $100,000 today? It is because someone saw value in the car. Most of these cars have been rescued from backyards, junkyards, and from the side of the road. The car had nothing to offer but the master mechanic stepped up and repaired the brokenness in the car. That is what Christ has done for us. He saw us on the trash heap of life, He saw value in us and He came to save and redeem us.

Thirdly, Agape love delights in giving. There is an amazing joy that comes in giving to others. Know this, God counts it all joy to love you and give you all you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He delights in you. Think about that, the God of heaven delights in you. He loves you and wants to minister to you in a way that will enrich your life. He does not withhold His blessing from those He loves, but rather He lavishes His love upon us. John succinctly stated See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are (1 John 3:1). The Greek shows us that the work has already been done. He has lavished His great love on us as a completed work. We do not work for it. We simply accept the work already done on our behalf.

Fourth, Agape love keeps on giving when the one being loved is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love. Here is the most amazing thing about God’s love. It is unshakable. The greatest fear in our life is that we have failed God or that somehow God cannot or should not love us because of what we might have done. This also means that there is no place to hide from the power of His love. The Psalmist stated that he could run to heaven or to the depths of the earth but there He finds God and where God is, there is His love (Psalm 139:8).

Fifth and finally, because of Agape love, He desires to have a relationship with you. He is not interested in an Eros love relationship that is secure as long as you are pleasing Him. He does not love you for what you can offer Him and when you cease pleasing Him He will discard you. He is not looking for friendship love that might be diminished when there is a problem or a difficulty. He is not looking for a love based on the naturalness of our nature that can easily change based on the condition of our heart. Christ is looking for a deeper relationship. He is looking for a personal, real, ongoing, and life changing relationship with you. It is out of this relationship that we realize that He loves us and that He has our best interest in mind. In this relationship, we can experience His love and the magnitude of His grace to us. It is because of this love that He promises not to leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). It is because of this love that we can also be assured that we cannot be separated from the love of God.

Let me close with this verse, so that we hear for ourselves the power of God’s love in Romans 8:31-39. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is Agape love defined!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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