Grace and Action

Peninsula Community Church 

Grace and Action 

September 16, 2018 

2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

This morning we are on our third installment of our series, Amazing Grace. We have looked at grace and truth and we have looked at grace and mercy. This week we will take a bit of a different track as we will explore our part in grace. While grace is a free gift, we also recognize that we have a role to play in accepting His grace and His mercy. We have a role to play in the stewardship of His grace and what we do with His grace makes all of the difference. 

John Piper has stated After “Jesus” there is no sweeter word in all the Bible than “grace.” As Dr. Widen, a member of John’s church, use to say, It’s the greatest unused resource in all the world. It is the wealth of God’s kindness; the riches of his mercy; the soothing ointment of his forgiveness; the free and undeserved, but lavishly offered hope of eternal life. Grace is what we crave when we are guilt-laden. Grace is what we must have when we come to die. Grace is our only ray of hope when the future darkens over with storm clouds of fear. How true and how powerful that is. 

In considering this study, we must acknowledge that we can do nothing to earn God’s favor or increase His love for us. Too often, we are deceived into thinking that we have to earn God’s favor, and we can believe that we have to work extremely hard for Him to love us more or even consider loving us. This is such a issue and it is an issue that I am most familiar with. For years I worked hard in an attempt to get God to love me more. I felt that if I did not work hard enough, He would reject me and stop loving me as His child. How relieved I was when my understanding of God’s grace changed my mind, and enveloped my heart with the confidence that He loves me, and accepts me no matter what. The frustration and anxiety of trying to please God was diminished and I was freed up to actually accomplish more for His Kingdom. 

While it is true that we cannot earn God’s favor, nor can we work harder to get Him to love us more, there are some steps we need to take. The free gift of His grace must be stewarded or managed in order for us to maximize the gift we receive. Through stewardship, we recognize that we do not own anything, but we have been blessed to receive great gifts from God. That is why stewardship is so incredibly important. We must steward our finances, our possessions, our relationships, our employment, and we must steward the gifts God has given us.  

In Matthew 25, we have the parable of the talents. A landowner headed out on a journey. He entrusted his servants with the talents in order to manage the farm was he was gone. The first sergeant took his five talents and was able to double them. The one with the two talents did the same. Unfortunately the one with one talent went and hid it. When questioned he stated that he did so because he was afraid. The landowner responded by taking the talent from him and giving it to him who has the ten talents. What is the lesson here? We must steward what we have been given or else we can lose it. Now understand we cannot lose God’s grace but we can begin to minimize it in our life to the degree that it no longer guides and directs our steps. We can ignore God’s grace and that has sad consequences and difficult outcomes. 

So how do we steward or manage grace? In our passage today, we see that one way to steward His grace is by growing in the grace He has given us. In other words, grace is not a passive gift. It is active in the sense that we need to recognize the value and power of grace. When that happens, we will be moved to action. The question for us is what motivates us as stewards of grace. Well, we do not act on grace to gain salvation. It is a free gift. We do not act on grace to gain His love. He gives His love freely and graciously. We do not act on grace for His acceptance. He already accepts us because He sent His son into the world to die for us. All of these things are already set in motion because they are free gifts freely given.

With that said, in our passage today, we find that we are exhorted to grow in grace. So, how do we do that? I would suggest four things we can do to steward and grow in the grace God has given us. First, I would suggest to you that we need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul states Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

In this passage, I would propose to you that we must make our salvation our own. We must receive His grace as the gift it is . Notice two aspects of this passage. First, Paul exhorts us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. This relates to the seriousness and necessity of this action. We are exhorted to work through the problems that keep us from understanding His grace. We must deal with the bondages and shortcomings of our life to grow toward a state of healthiness and understanding of His grace. 

This brings us to the second part of this passage. It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. This is important because we often feel we do not deserve grace. We reject His grace, because we somehow feel there is too much water under the bridge for God to accept us. We can also believe we are too defective and too broken to be healed. 

I love this passage because we see that He works in us, because it is His will to do so. In fact, it brings God pleasure to work in us. Did you catch that? It is His will to work in us. It brings Him pleasure. Wow! What grace that is! Notice too that this passage gives us the balance between grace and our actions. We are called to work out salvation, but it is His work in us that makes it happen. We do and He will. He is willing and ready, but we must act. We cannot be passive. 

Secondly, in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 we find that Paul exhorts us to train ourselves for godliness. Listen to his words. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The word here for trained is an athletic term. Just as those who participated in the Grecian games had to prepare themselves so also, we must actively train ourselves for godliness. This means you will not always feel like it. You may be too tired, or you may be disinterested, but train anyway because there is a goal in mind. It is a goal of godliness and that is a most worthy goal. 

While we receive God’s righteousness and godliness as a gift of grace, we must train ourselves in the understanding of that grace. Our training in godliness is not a passive experience but one where we must be engaged in order to grow and develop a greater understanding of who He is. One who is training for an athletic event does not sit in their recliner and eat potato chips all day. No, they are up early and working out. They are eating healthy. They are resting appropriately. They are training their body and getting ready to participate in the event they are training for. 

When it comes to godliness our training includes personal Bible study and growth. I would suggest that we need to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided for us to grow. So, let me be a bit shameless and do a promo for the studies we have going here at PCC. We have the Ladies Thursday Morning Bible Study. We have the Ladies Thursday night BSF Bible study. We have the Tuesday night Bible study for ladies. We have the Tuesday night Bible Study for men. We have Sunday School for everyone. We have Sunday worship. We have one our Life Groups launching this Saturday with more to come. Coming in October we will have the Grief Share Group meeting at IRSC. All of these provide opportunities for growth and personal development. No one has an excuse for not growing in their faith. All of these events are opportunities for personal growth, but it also a time for fellowship and outreach. 

That leads us to a third vital point. Do not stop gathering together. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25). We need one another and it is in the assembling of ourselves together that we can and should experience God’s grace. As we work with one another, we have the opportunity to experience grace and give grace. Grace is best worked out through our interaction with one another. The temptation most often is for us to isolate and hide, but in isolation we are more susceptible to defeat and depression. We need one another! We need encouragement! 

Finally, I will end where we began. We are to grow in the grace and the knowledge of God. As we close let me summarize these keys to growth. This list is not exclusive, but I believe it is the priorities we need to seek. First, we grow in grace through worship and prayer. Through prayer and worship we experience a greater understanding of who God is and all that God has for us. Second, we grow through His word. Read the Bible and study the Bible for yourself. It is God’s manual for life to accomplish He desires. And finally, we must continue in fellowship. Do not isolate. While it is a gift of grace, when we isolate, we fail to share that grace with others. 

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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Grace and Mercy 

Peninsula Community Church 

Grace and Mercy 

September 9, 2018

Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This is the second installment of our Amazing Grace study. Last week, we looked at the duality of grace and truth to realize that grace does not allow us to do what we want, but rather grace empowers us to overcome sin in our life. This week we will take some time to focus on the idea of grace and mercy. As we do that, we find this passage focuses on the great high priest that came to give Himself to provide the opportunity for us to receive grace and mercy. 

As we examine this passage, we determine that we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens. Here is what I see this means for us. Christ came to earth as a baby born of Mary. He came to us, so we could get to Him. He reached down to us, so we could reach up to Him. He came to fill the void between us and God. 

What is this void? We find in scripture that man could not look upon God because God was completely holy and totally sinless. In fact, God’s glory was so powerful that there was no way for man to look upon God without death. When Moses, one the holiest men ever to live, wanted to see God, God stated that “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). So it was that God in His glorified state could not come to man directly nor could man get to God in his sinful state. There was a great chasm between man and God. That was a big problem. A bridge needed to built and Christ came to be that bridge for us. 

As we noted last week, Jesus came to earth to become man. He dwelled among us and it is here that He sympathized with our weaknesses and our struggles. Notice in this passage that He was tempted in every way we are, but there was a caveat. He was tempted, but He never sinned. He never succumbed to the temptations He faced. He successfully navigated the pitfalls of temptation and was able to maintain His sinless state. Some have rejected this concept as they cannot believe that Jesus was tempted and if He was He could not give into temptation because He was God and God cannot sin. They argue that He could not really understand us if He never sinned, because He was perfect in His ways. 

However, I love what C.S. Lewis had to say about this subject when imagining someone objecting to Jesus being tempted without sin. Here is what Lewis wrote in response to that objection. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.

John Piper suggests that perhaps Jesus can sympathize with us in our allurements to sin, because He was tempted in many areas. Perhaps, he was tempted to covet all the nice things that Zacchaeus owned, when He himself had no place to lay His head. Perhaps, He was tempted to take revenge, when He was wrongly accused. Perhaps, He was tempted to lust, when a young girl Mary wiped His feet with her hair. Perhaps, He was tempted to pout with self-pity, when His disciples fell asleep in his last hour of trial. Perhaps, He was tempted to murmur at God, when John the Baptist died at the whim of a dancing girl. Perhaps, He was tempted to gloat over His accusers, when they couldn’t answer His questions. We do not know if that is true, but we do know that He was tempted in every way we are, but He resisted that temptation and remained pure and sinless. He knows temptation and He knows how to resist temptation. Therefore, He can sympathize with whatever you are facing. He has been there.  

We then come to the crux of the issue here. Because He was tempted without sinning, a door was opened for us to come before the throne of grace with confidence. At that throne He will hear us, and most importantly that He will understand us. It is there we are accepted. That is a miracle in itself. He understands us. He knows us and He is still willing to accept us even with all of our flaws. 

Notice this, the Son of God, who understood grace and mercy more than anyone else, has opened a door so that we can confidently approach the throne of grace. Notice two things here. It is a throne. That tells us that there is majesty and royalty on the throne. Thus the throne needs to be approached with honor and respect. Secondly, it is a throne of grace. While we approach with honor and respect, we do not have to fear the one on the throne in the sense that we believe He will reject us. It is a throne of grace. The problem for so many, and the lie that has been propagated by the enemy of our souls, is that when we have been tempted and we succumb to that temptation, there is no hope. We feel lost and helpless. But notice that when we approach the throne of grace with confidence, He gives us grace and mercy in our time of need. 

You see we approach the throne of grace with confidence, not fear and doubt. We can approach the throne of grace without the fear of rejection and the worry that we are good enough to be accepted by Him. Sometimes, it feels like we are being called into the principle’s office, or before the judge for a crime we have committed. But, when we are in God’s presence, it is a place of grace and mercy. It is a place of acceptance, where we boldly come to ask for repentance and healing. 

Because He has done what He has done, we can approach God with confidence. One of the saddest results of temptation is to be drawn away from God, but the lesson here is that He is for us. Rather than hide from our sin, our wrongs, and the issues we face, we can enter with confidence that He is going to accept us. Rather than trying to hide because of our sin, the author of Hebrews shows us that we should draw near to Jesus, our sympathetic high priest, who gives us access to God’s throne. For those who are in Christ, the throne is not a place of fear, but rather it is a throne of grace! It is not a place of doubt and questioning if He will accept us, it is a throne of grace. It is not a place of rejection because we have sinned some great sin that we believe is past God’s touch. It is a place of grace! It is a place of mercy! 

The story is told of a little boy who wanted to buy a puppy. He had saved his money and the day came to go down to the pet store to buy this new pet. The shop owner paraded several dogs before the young boy and finally he showed the boy four brand new puppies. The boy loved those puppies and wanted to buy them, but when he heard the price he hung his head. He responded that he could not afford to buy them, not even one of them. Suddenly, from around the corner came one last puppy. That puppy was also a part of the litter and had been born with only three legs and several birth defects. The shop owner stated that the dog would never grow up to be a normal dog. The little boy proclaimed emphatically that was the dog He wanted. The shop owner asked him why and the little boy rolled up his pant leg to show that he was missing a leg because he too had a birth defect. He told the shop owner that his family did not reject him and loved him in spite of his defects. The shop owner with a tear in his eye gave the dog to the young boy for free. Because Jesus knows our pain and our shortcomings, He accepts us just the way we are.  Regardless of our defects and issues, God receives us and accepts us, because His throne is one of grace and mercy. 

As we close this morning, let us look at the words grace and mercy for a brief moment. We discussed last week that grace is the unmerited favor of God. By grace we get what we do not deserve. Mercy on the other hand means that we do not get what we do deserve. We deserve death, but Christ came to pay that debt for us. You see the wages of sin is death, but Christ paid that debt upon the cross, and if we come before Him and humble ourselves before Him, He will receive us and give us grace and mercy.

Here is the point being made. We can enter with confidence into the throne room of grace because God understands us. That is amazing and that is amazing grace at its best. Jesus understands this and He knows the difficulties firsthand that we face in every day life. It is for that reason that He can extend us grace and mercy, so that we are free to live full lives, as a result. 

Finally, we can rejoice that there is a throne of grace. What a world would this be if God sat on a throne of “justice” only, and if no mercy were ever to be shown to people! Who is there who would not be overwhelmed with despair? But it is not so. He is on the throne of grace. By day and by night; from year to year; from generation to generation; He is on the throne of grace. In every land He may be approached, and in as many different languages as people speak, they can plead for mercy. In all our trials and temptations we may be assured that He is seated on that throne, and wherever we are, we may approach Him with confidence that He will receive us.

So, where has the enemy lied to you. How often has he communicated to you that you are not worthy to approach God? Where has He lied to you that you have sinned too much or that what you have done could never be forgiven? These are all lies because the throne of grace is alway available to us. We are never prevented from coming to that throne. It is a gift freely given through a God who freely gave His all for us. So, enter now with confidence and boldness. 

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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Grace and Truth

Peninsula Community Church

Grace and Truth 

September 2, 2018

John 1:14-17  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

As we read Scripture, there are some words that blow me away, as I try to understand them. The word grace is one of those words. Within this word there is so much truth that bears our consideration. For that reason, over the next couple of weeks, we will look at the amazing grace that has been given to us. We will explore the duality of grace and truth, as well as grace and mercy. We will consider what it means to be a good receiver of grace, but also what it means to be a good giver of grace. Additionally, we will consider how to give ourselves much needed grace personally. An understanding of grace is critical as we encounter those who are EGR people, and when we face EGR moments in our life. Do you know what EGR people and moments are? They are people and moments in our life where Extra Grace is Required. Of course many times, we are that EGR person, even to ourselves. 

This week we will begin our study by briefly defining what grace means. In that regard, we find that one of the most common definitions of grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” To understand grace is to understand that grace is receiving what we do not deserve. We receive the blessings of God not because we deserve them, but because of who He is and because it is He who is giving them. The fact is, grace has been and continues to be the mechanism by which God gives us everything we need for life and spiritual growth because none of us are worthy in ourselves of God’s grace and blessing because we have all sinned.

In our passage today, we find that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That is a big deal. Christ freely came to give us grace. That is the linchpin of our salvation and it is the cornerstone of the belief system we live by. Without grace, there would be no free salvation. Without grace, we would have to work and work hard for our salvation. We would also have to work hard to keep our salvation. Without grace, there would be no hope for us. We would worry about making it to heaven and being acceptable to God. Without grace, we would be forced to attempt to reach a level of holiness and righteousness that is unattainable, apart from grace.

The Word, Christ, became flesh and He dwelt with us. That is grace at its best. Christ freely left heaven to come to earth and be an example of what life could be and should be. Think about this, the God of Heaven came to live among us. He did not just come to earth as an observer or an uninterested party, He came to live among us. That is amazing to me. He did not have to, but He did. He did not have to give up heaven, but He did. He did not have to humble himself, but He did. He did not have to forgive me, but He did. That is amazing and that is grace in action. 

The second aspect of this passage is that grace and truth are inseparable. There is a sense, by some, that grace is an excuse to sin and do whatever we please, whenever we want to. That is not the objective of grace at all. Grace is never an excuse for sin, but it is a means to receive forgiveness and healing. Unfortunately, there are some who believe in hyper grace that says we can do whatever we want because we are under grace and God will cover our sin. While that is true to some degree, grace can never be an excuse for sin, but it is the primary reason to seek forgiveness and redemption. 

When discussing grace, we find that too often grace is equated with the idea of a free pass. We see sin, and somehow we imagine that God gives us a free pass, but when grace is combined with truth we realize that we cannot ignore sin but rather we must confess it. We are living in a culture that encourages the minimization of sin, and the cover up of unrighteousness, particularly if it is our sin and our unrighteousness. Our culture scoffs at taking responsibility and accountability. We are quick to give a free pass and to receive a free pass but that is not entirely what grace is about. True grace gives us the power to give forgiveness and seek redemption, because, we recognize these things are freely given by a gracious God. We do not have to hide them, but we can expose them and be delivered from them.

True grace does not ignore truth, but the real power of grace starts with truth. It is grace that settles the score that is against us and it is that grace that sets us free. It is by grace that we are redeemed. It is by grace we are given the free gift of salvation. So you see, grace is the undeserved favor of God. 

As I was preparing for this message I read an interesting take on how the Lord’s Prayer illustrates God’s grace in many ways. Let me explain. It begins by calling God “Our Father.” We do not deserve to call Him Father, but by grace we have been adopted into His family. We ask for His kingdom to come. We do not deserve His kingdom, but he allows us access. In this prayer we ask for “daily bread” we do not deserve, and for forgiveness we cannot earn, and for deliverance from temptation we cannot overcome, from a devil we cannot defeat on our own. This prayer from beginning to end is a frantic cry for undeserved favor. It is call for grace. Why? Because grace changes us. As we encourage truth, God’s grace turns rebels into citizens, orphans into children, enemies into friends, and an adulteress into a sinless bride.

The second aspect of this passage is that For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John here makes a great theological statement. He states that the law came through Moses. This is critical for those in John’s day as they understood the concept of the law. The law was all that was available to them to deal with their sin. The problem however is that the law was good at pointing out sin, but it did little to remove sin. John understood this and that is why John’s next statement is so powerful. The law came from Moses, but the fullness of grace and truth came from Christ. 

Paul understood this when he wrote the following in Romans 5:20-21. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law increased the trespass by revealing what was wrong.  Grace came so that where sin abounded grace was there in great abundance. In other words, there is no sin beyond the ability of grace to cover and redeem. The law calls us to work harder. Grace calls for us to trust God. The law does nothing to heal, but grace restores and heals. 

The law was limited but grace came in the fullness of all we needed. It does not lack anything. The law continually demands righteousness from man, while grace gives righteousness freely to man. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (Romans 3:21-25). Listen to romans 4:15-16. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

The law is connected with Moses and works; grace is connected with Christ and faith. The law demands that blessings be earned; grace is a free gift. I love this quote “The law was given by the servant, and made men guilty. The grace which came by the King freed them from guilt.” In His grace toward us, God says, I see your sin and I have made a way for your specific sin to be dealt with upon the cross of Christ. You do not have to cover it up, ignore it, or try to deal with it on your own. Because of Christ, you have an avenue to be free of your sin. How? We confess, repent, accept his grace, and you will be completely forgiven.

Here is what God’s word says to us. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7). For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17). Grace amazing!

So where do you need grace today? What sin or wrong is haunting you? What are you trying to cover up and hide rather than deal with? Where do you need to confess sin and receive His grace? That can be done and the riches of His grace is available to all who will seek Him. Turn to Him, repent, confess, and accept His grace, today. 

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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It Is Finished

Peninsula Community Church 

It Is Finished

August 26, 2018 

John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Colossians 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Today, we have our sixth and final installment in our series “the Battle is the Lord’s.” Specifically, in this study we will focus on the battle won by Jesus on the cross. It is noteworthy that some, in today’s anti-Christian and anti-Jesus society, have tried to deny the fact that Jesus died on the cross. They purport that either Jesus never died on the cross, or this was a false narrative made up by the disciples to cover up the claims that Christ would die and then rise again. However, to remove the cross from history would be to make us powerless over sin, and would place us in an untenable position of having to face our battles without Christ.

Let me ask you. What, most often, is the greatest battle we face? I would suggest that, for most of us, the great struggle of our life is the impact of sin. Sin robs us and strips us of so much of the vitality and power we have been freely given. We constantly battle the work of sin. While we may not be personally engaged in the big ten of sin, we are often impacted by the power of sin. 

To fully understand the work of the cross, we must go back to the beginning of what we know as time. We must come to an understanding of how we got to where we are today. In Scripture, we find that satan was cast out of heaven because of his pride and his desire to usurp the authority of God, which is a foolish proposition. Because of his sin, he was cast down to earth and has been the nemesis of all humankind ever since.

As we look back in time, we find the story of creation and that everything God created was good. However, the one who had fallen from grace, and was now an accuser and deceiver, was waiting to corrupt all that was good. Since creation and until today, the enemy’s ploy has been to corrupt all that God made good. This hit me like never before, as I was preparing for this message. Satan’s primary goal is to corrupt all that God made good. Think about the things that have been corrupted in society: relationships, families, marriage, our view of God, the sanctity of life, morals, sexuality, addictive behaviors, religion/spiritual things, our thoughts, and so on. All of these has been corrupted by satan. 

Almost immediately after the creation, Satan was at work and through deception man disobeyed God’s will and sin was ushered in. This resulted in man being cast out of the Garden of Eden. The woman was cursed and now suffers the pain of childbirth. The man was cursed and must now work the ground by the sweat of his brow. For the deceiver, a prophetic curse was placed upon him. God stated, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. God recognized that from that moment of time there would be warfare and confrontation with the enemy, until he was finally subdued at the end of time. 

While that is true, in this passage we find a promise to bruise the head of the serpent. The serpent will wound the heel that crushes him. He will afflict humanity and bring suffering and persecution. He will attempt to corrupt that which is good but, at the right time, Christ will put His foot on the head of the serpent and he shall be bruised. This is critical because the serpent’s poison is in its head; and a bruise on that part of the serpent would be fatal. The fatal blow occurred 2000 years ago when Christ died on the cross. In the Garden, the enemy bruised the heal. On the cross, the head of the serpent was bruised. Christ won!

In our first passage, we find the culmination of this prophesy in three powerful words. “It is Finished!” In that moment of time the head of the serpent was bruised. In this act of great love, the future was changed forever. The Greek word for “it is finished” is TETELESTAI. We could get into the weeds of the grammar used here, but instead let me give you some insights based on the grammatical structure of the word. First, the action has been completed, and the results of the action are ongoing and in full effect. The work of Christ was completed that day and that work continues today.

Second, the word insinuates this was not for the one taking the action, but for the one who was receiving the action. Here is what is amazing, we are the benefactors of the cross. The work of the cross was completed on our behalf. We continue to benefit from that action today. Christ died not for Himself, but He died for us. He who had no sin died for “our sin.” He took all of our sin, shame, and the accusations of the enemy upon Himself that day. He did that for us.

The third truth is this action was an actual event that occurred. This was not the figment of someone’s imagination. It was a reality. It happened and all the world was changed. Through the cross, the ceremonial law was fulfilled. Through the cross, the head of the serpent was not just bruised, it was crushed. Through the cross, we have redemption and the forgiveness of sin. Through the cross, sin was overcome. Through the work of the cross, the rulers and powers of the world were disarmed. What began in the Garden was completed on the cross. 

In preparing for this I came across this interesting information and thought I would share it.  nowThe work was finished! In the Greek, this word is used in different ways but some of these may help us understand the power of the statement “It Is Finished.” An artist might proclaim Tetelestai! when he finished a painting. He would announce “the picture is perfect.” A servant might confidently proclaim Tetelestai! when asked by his master if the work he had been assigned to do was complete. The servant would say, “Yes, master. I have finished the work.” A judge might say Tetelestai! when he conferred a sentence or when issuing a ruling that a sentence had been completed. The judge would say, “Justice has been served.” A merchant might say Tetelestai! after stamping a bill “the debt has been paid.” A soldier might shout Tetelestai! as a battle cry toward a vanquished foe. The soldier would yell, “You are finished!”

You see, the artist had the last word as to the meaning of the painting, not the art critic. The Servant knew if the work in the house had been completed and approved by the Master, not the stranger who entered the house. The Judge determined the sentence and it’s execution, not the convicted criminal. The Priest determined if one’s sacrifice was acceptable to God, not the penitent one. The Merchant determined if a debt was paid, not the debtor. The Victorious Warrior determined the future of his combatant, not the defeated enemy. Jesus Christ is the Artisan, the Servant, the Judge, the Priest, the Merchant, and the Victor, you are not. Your religion is not. Your intellect is not. He has determined that you are free and that all your debts have been paid because of who He is and not who you are.

In our second passage, we find that the power of satan has been neutralized and diminished. We see this in the word disarmed which means to put off completely, to undress completely, and thus render powerless. It carries the idea of stripping the clothes off of a deposed official. At the cross, the leaders and authorities of satan’s force and his kingdom were stripped of their authority and power.

In the death of Christ, Satan was stripped of the power to accuse us of the guilt we try to carry. He was stripped of the power that causes us to believe there is no hope. Because of the cross, we no longer have to walk in the accusations of the enemy. We are empowered to walk in the confidence that He overcame the power of the enemy to falsely accuse us. The result is that there is nothing that can defeat us, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing, no nothing has the power to do that. Since satan’s power has been diminished, we must remember that satan can only take what we give him. He has no right to take anything. He has no right to accuse us. He has no right to torment us. And yet, he does it over and over because we allow him that territory in our life. He knows his destiny and he desires more than ever to weaken our spirits and our hearts by false accusations and false identities of who we are. 

Too often, we are fighting battles already won. Too often, we are giving up ground we do not need to give up. Many years ago during the days of the settlers, a father and his son were traveling west when they encountered a huge fire that was burning all around them. The son was terrified, but the father placed the son in the middle of where the fire had been burning. At first, the son could not understand why he did this, but the father explained that the fire would not burn the same spot twice. He would be safe because the fire had already burned a safe spot for him. Here is the point. The Savior has paved the way for us. He has conquered ground on our behalf which means the enemy cannot touch us when we are standing on ground already secured by the Son. After doing all we can do to stand firm, we can take on the promise that the head of the serpent has been bruised and he does not have power over us as believers. 

So what ground are you giving over to the enemy? Where have you allowed the enemy to deceive you and take ground that has already been won by the Savior on the cross? Where have you allowed the name to corrupt that which is good? Do not allow the enemy to deceive you or accuse you any more.

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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God Uses Everything

Peninsula Community Church 

God Uses Everything 

August 19, 2018 

1 Samuel 17:31-37 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

Today, we continue our study of the Old Testament battles. The goal is to understand how these battles prepare us to do battle against an enemy that is very real and powerful. It seems that we either deny or minimize his existence, or we see and blame the enemy for everything. The truth is we have an enemy who is battling us, but the battle is not ours, it is the Lord’s. It has been and will continue to be His battle. When we fight His battle, His way, we will always be successful. We saw this with Moses, with Joshua, with Gideon, and today we see this with David. 

Our focus will be on how God uses our past experiences to effect positive outcomes in the present. He uses our past successes and experiences to empower us to be victorious in the present. As a shepherd in the desert, David was prepared to face the giant of the battlefield. David’s confidence was secure in what He had witnessed God do in the past. That confidence  allowed David to step up and beat the giant with the simplicity of a sling shot and a stone. 

As we dig into this story, we find that the Philistines had been tormenting the Israelites. There has been no real fighting, only words had been exchanged. Most of the verbal attacks had come from Goliath, who was a giant of a man. He was 6 cubits and a span. In English, that means that he was about 9 foot, six inches tall. It has been suggested that he may have had the blood of  the Anakites who were considered to be giants in their day. In Deuteronomy 9:1-2, we find God warns them they would encounter giants, and Goliath was just such a person. How big was Goliath? He was big enough to handle a shield that weighed 78 pounds and the shaft of his spear weighed 15 pounds. He wielded these things as if they were nothing at all. It is noteworthy that he was well armored for a giant, which is interesting to me. As a giant he could probably take anyone single handedly, and yet he still stood behind his armor. 

Notice what Goliath did. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid (1 Samuel 17:8-11).

Two points are worth mentioning here. First, the enemy is good at taunting us. He is good at slinging insults and accusations at us. After all, he is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). He knows that if he can accuse us long enough we will succumb to the feelings of fear and defeat. In this case, Israel was already defeated because they refused to confront Goliath. They were intimidated and neutralized to the point of inaction. They allowed the accusations the enemy to defeat them before they even entered the battle. Psychologists tell us that when confronted by issues, we will resolve them by flight, fight, or we will freeze. In this case, Israel was frozen to the point of inaction because of fear and intimidation.

Second, Goliath used compromises and purported agreements to discourage and defeat the children of Israel. He was trying to get Israel to agree to something that would place them under bondage to the Philistines for life. For Goliath, it was all or nothing. He assumed that whoever they would match up with him would be defeated, and it would be easy to place them under bondage to the Philistines. Our problem is that we often make agreements with the enemy that cause us to be in bondage to his ways. 

Now let’s contrast David to the army of Israel. David was the son of Jessie. He was the youngest of seven brothers. David’s three oldest brothers had already joined Saul’s army and as a concerned father, Jesse would send David to his brothers on a regular basis. This served a twofold purpose. For one, Jesse could shuttle food and provisions to them, but this also gave Jesse an opportunity to check up on the brothers vicariously through David. For David, this was an opportunity to be close to the army, so he could see what was happening on the battlefield. It was on one of these trips that our story unfolds and God’s will is played out for David and Israel. 

When David saw what was happening and as he listened to the threats of Goliath, he was inspired to take down the giant. This was met with accusations and laughter which lead Saul to meet with David where he rejected David’s idea because he was too young. David countered this false perception of his youth by expressing to Saul what qualified him for the role. David began to detail the number of times that God intervened on his behalf when he was watching his father’s sheep. He shared the times a bear and a lion had come to take one of the sheep. Through God’s power and strength he attacked and killed the predator. This empowered him with a confidence in God, and in that confidence, he could overcome the giant that was now battling the Israelites. His experiences had taught him well, and had prepared Him for this moment in time.

Saul agreed to allow David to fight Goliath. We know the story, he offers David his armor which would not fit David. Saul was trying to fit David into his way of fighting but that was not David’s way and it certainly was not God’s way. David rejected the armor of Saul and proceeds to take five stones from the stream near by. These were carefully chosen stones that would be used to deliver the death blow to Goliath. As he approached Goliath, Goliath tormented him and spewed slurs against him. 

What does David do? First, he proclaims the majesty of God. “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. (1 Samuel 17:45-46). He then loads the sling with a stone and winds up his arm and let’s the stone go. It struck Goliath in the forehead and he fell dead before the Israelites and the Philistines. Why? It is because David came in the might and power of God.

As we close, let me give you three things about David’s experiences that are applicable to us. First, our experiences build faith and confidence in us. David overcame the lion and bear through the strength of God’s power. Listen to David’s words in 1 Samuel 17:36-37. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” God will fight our battles. We can look back to see battles already won in our life. That gives us faith and courage to face any new battle that comes our way. So what bear or lion have destroyed because of God’s strength. Paul understood this and we see his confidence in expressed in 2 Corinthians 1:10. Paul stated He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. That is the confidence we have. What He has done in the past, He will do again. He has delivered us, and He will do it again.

Second, God never wastes anything. No matter how bad or how horrible the events of our past might be, God can use them for His glory. Remember the story of Joseph. He could have lashed out at his brothers, and he had every right to harm them. He did not do that because his experiences had taught him to trust God and walk in forgiveness. His experiences had taught him about the bigness of God. Listen to Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:20. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Our experiences will cause us to be bitter or better. It is our choice.

  

Third, the intervention of God in our experiences show the world the majesty and supremacy of God in our lives. The army was afraid and frozen and stood before Goliath without any action on their part. David, as a result of his experiences and his witness to the power of God to kill the lion and the bear, was able to step up when everyone else was frozen with fear. When we step out in faith and confidence because of battles already won, those around us will take notice and God will get the glory. 

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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God Prepares the Army

Peninsula Community Church

God Prepares the Army

August 12, 2018 

Judges 7:1-7 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water.  And the LORD said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”

Last week we looked at the preparation of the man to lead the army. God transformed Gideon from a weak, intimidated, and fearful man to one who was ready to lead the army against the Midianites. This week will focus on the army that God will use. As we see in this passage, Gideon had 32,000 men that were trained for war but that was not in the plan of God. Think about this scene for a moment. Gideon finally musters enough strength and faith to assume command of this army and then God does the unexpected. God requires that the army be slimmed down to the bare bones. 

It is noteworthy that the odds of them winning this battle was against them, even with 32,000 warriors. Based on Judges 8:10 Midian’s numbers exceeded 135,000 warriors. How would you like the odds they had been given? With135,000 men versus 32,000 men, the odds were certainly against them. The odds were 4:1. But, God does something that amazes Gideon and still amazes me in many ways. You see the 32,000 were too many for God to use effectively. So he began a process of slimming the army down. As we will see, the army would be reduced to 300 men. This increased their odds of winning to 400:1.  What a reduction? What a decrease? But, with God nothing is impossible.

We find in this story a paradox. It is this, less is more! It is amazing how many paradoxes there are in Scripture. To be rich, you give away. To be lifted up, you go low. We conquer by yielding. We find rest by taking on a Christ’s yoke. We reign by serving. We are exalted when we are humble. We become wise by being fools for Christ’s sake. We are made free by becoming bondservants. We gain strength, when we are weak. We triumph through defeat. We find victory by glorying in our infirmities. We live by dying. And to do more, we become less. It seems that all of these are against what the world would propose as a way to success. It runs counter to the prescribed ways of winning, but it is God’s mode of operation here. Less is more. 

Look at the people God uses. God commanded Noah to build an ark in the middle of a desert. God commanded Moses to lead the Israelites through the Red Sea, rather than going around it. God sent a teenage boy with a slingshot and five stones to take down a giant. God sent Samson to take down 1,000 Philistines, armed with nothing but the jaw bone of a donkey. God commanded Elijah to have the servants soak the wood on the altar before He sent down fire from heaven and consume it.

As we look at the paradox before us, today, we see that Gideon and his army are about to fight one of the fiercest enemies they will ever face. To make this even more interesting and seemingly impossible God tells Gideon he has too many men. I wonder if in Gideon’s mind that he was thinking, I do not have enough to fight as it is and now you are asking me to reduce the number I have. How crazy and absurd that is, he thought? Are you sure God, you know what you are doing? Are you sure you are aware of the enemy’s size and might? Are you sure you are aware of how few there are of us already?

Through this, we learn a valuable lesson. God is in control and He has a plan. God wanted Gideon to have men who were ready for battle. He wanted an army that would be aware of their surroundings and would not walk in fear. He wanted an army that would not fight in their might but in the might of His power. The army had to be slimmed down. You see there were two key ways God would reduce the numbers. First, God said that the ones who were fearful and trembling could return home. As a result 10,000 men left to go home. Secondly, God wanted those who would be aware of their surroundings and would be observant of the enemy coming their way. So, he chose those who would lift the water from the stream and lap the water from their hands. These men would stay while everyone else could leave and go home. It is estimated that 21,700 men returned home as they failed God’s terms for enlistment. 

You see, God wanted an army that would fulfill His words of Deuteronomy 8:17-18. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. God wanted to use this reduced number to glorify and honor His name through victory. After all, this has always been the goal of God. He wants us to trust Him and He wants to get the glory and honor for His successes.

It is here that I thought of John the Baptist and his words in relationship to Jesus in John 3:30. He proclaimed that He must increase, I must decrease.  This is one of the great paradoxes of the Bible. To win, we get smaller. To be successful, we go with less. God is saying to Gideon that He needs a smaller, leaner army. Gideon’s army needed to decrease, so that God might increase. He was forcing Gideon and his army to a place where they would be totally dependent on God and not their individual ability or power. This reminds me of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:7. …we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. Outside we are weak, but inwardly we are strong, because within us is a power that belongs to God. He fills us and anoints us to accomplish what only He can do.

I wonder today if God is calling us to get smaller so that He is glorified and honored in our life. I wonder if He is calling us to let go of some things so He gets the credit for the victories in our life. Perhaps, we need to let go of pride that is preventing the healing of a relationship. Perhaps, He wants us to let go of the need to control outcomes. Perhaps, we need to stop worrying about who gets the credit. Perhaps we need to let go of false expectations, hurt or rejection, the distractions of life, and personal intimidations. Too often, we tend to hold onto these things and we continue to lose battles. 

God is calling us to decrease that He might increase in us and through us. We give up these things so that He is glorified and so that He is honored. In essence, we fight the battles we face with a different spirit. What we give up is matched by God. Instead of forcing our way, we rely on God to make a way. Instead of relying on our ability to negotiate, we rely on God. Instead of moving from the position of pride, we move from a position of humility. 

Now let’s look at the rest of the story. What did God call them to do? Gideon divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon (Judges 7:16-18). When the army follows the lead of Gideon, the Lord confuses the Midiantes and they began to kill themselves. The rest of the Midianites began flee, fearful of their life.

Gideon called for the rest of the army, who had gone home, to go after what was left of the Midianites. You see, those who went home were blessed by the obedience of those called by God to battle against the Midianites. Here is the truth we learn from this. When we get small and allow God to be honored, we bless others in return. Others are blessed and are encouraged to enter the battle because of our obedience. We encourage others when God is revealed through us. That was God’s purpose. He wanted to show Himself strong and that those who surrender to His ways are blessed and victorious. 

You see if they had battled in their own strength, they would have been royally defeated. But in their obedience, God was honored and His name was glorified. How about you? Where do you need to get smaller? Where are you trying to control? Where are you trying to move in your own power, when God wants you to humble yourself so that His power is revealed through you. 

So are you ready to get small so that God is magnified? Are you ready to decrease so that He is increased? Are you ready to see Him glorified and through you glorify others? His goal is to transform our fear, intimidation, and trials into amazing testimonies of God’s grace. Are you ready? God prepared an army and He will prepare 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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God Prepares the Man

Peninsula Community Church 

God Prepares the Man

August 5, 2018 

Judges 6:11-16 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

As interesting as Gideon’s battle is, because there is so much to cover, I will be splitting this sermon into two parts. The fact is it is impossible to deal with everything that needs to be considered in one sitting. The two parts of this message will the preparation of the man, and the second part will be the preparation of the army. Both of these are important and we will look at these over the next couple of weeks. Let us begin by looking at the preparation of the man. 

As we consider this story, we find that Israel had become intimidated by the Midianites. The Midianites had been ruthless and had caused the Israelites to walk in fear and trepidation. It is noteworthy that the Midianites were descendants of Abraham. So in essence, this was family against family. They had become an enemy of Israel and the enemy of Israel is always an enemy of God. They might be fighting against Israel, but God was ready to fight against the Midianites. 

This situation however did not happen in a vacuum. In Judges 6, we find the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of God. What is critical here is that their sin was in the open. They did not even try to hide it. The result of their sin was they had been given over to the Midianites for seven long years. Their evil acts put them in the position to be manipulated by an outside force, rather than being lead by the power of God. In this, we are reminded that our decisions have consequences. When we reject God, there are consequences. When we go our own way, there are consequences. When we believe we do not need God, there are consequences. Here is the problem, Israel, like many of us, began to allow the Midianites to control their lives, their emotions, and actions rather than surrendering to the power of God to achieve His purposes. They willfully submitted themselves to these outside influences. The result was fear and intimidation had snared them. In Judges 6:2, we find the Midinaites had overpowered Israel. Israel had become so intimidated and fearful of the Midianites, they were driven into the mountains and caves. The Midianites were stealing and robbing them blind not only emotionally, but physically as well. When they planted crops, the Midianites would come in and take the crops they needed, and would destroy the rest. They would take their live stock and left them without anything to eat. 

Israel was desperate. In Judges 6:6, we see they were at a low point in their life and “… the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.” They had given territory to the enemy because of their disobedience before God. When we give territory to the enemy, we can feel intimidated and robbed as well. When we are disobedient to the word and ways of God, we give up territory to the enemy. We become trapped by the lies, the pride, and actions that are opposed to the ways of God. Throughout Scripture, we find that disobedience by His people led to destruction and bondage. 

At this point, Israel felt hopeless, but God was working behind the scenes. Listen to Judges 6:7-10 When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”

In those days, God appointed judges to rule and lead for short periods of time. Israel was in a cycle of obedience and then disobedience. It seemed that Israel would do their own thing, walk in sin, and then become desperate. God would then appoint judges to rule over them to save them. Then they would return to obedience and His ways. In our story, we see God calls Gideon. What is noteworthy is where God finds Gideon. He is beating out wheat in a winepress so that he would not be discovered by the Midianites. He, like Israel, is intimidated and afraid. He is hiding in the hopes that the enemy would not find him and steal his food. But God knew where he was, God knew what he was doing, and God had a plan for His life. 

You might question God’s choice here, but before we question God’s choice and chastise Gideon for his emotional bankruptcy, we need to be aware that many times we have reached this place of discouragement and despair. We often reach the place where we feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the events and the issues of life. We have become more intimated by the enemy and the problems we face than we should be. The enemy has gained more territory than he should have in our lives. The truth is this does not have to be the case. We can live in victory and the power of God’s grace. 

When Gideon is called to rescue Israel against the Midianites, he does what many of us would do. He rejects the calling of God. He felt he did not merit or deserve what God was asking him to do. In Judges 6:15 we see his response. “How can I save Israel? Behold my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my father’s house.” Too often we are defeated before we even get started. We believe we are powerless to accomplish anything of merit. But, God does not see us through our eyes, He sees us through the eyes of what Christ has done on our behalf. God does not see Gideon as weak and demoralized, He sees him as a mighty man of valor. God does not see Gideon as defeated, but as victorious. Therefore, to overcome, we must see ourselves as God sees us. We must see ourselves in light of God’s view of us.

Know this, God does not see us as weaklings, because in our weakness He becomes our strength.This reminds us of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. In our failures, He becomes our success. He becomes the power we need to act on His behalf. Look at the Lord’s response to Gideon. “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Here is the point God is making. If He is with you and you are doing what He called you to do, you have already won. Notice God says “You shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Together, we will overcome. We will be victorious. 

In the New Testament, we find that God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong … (1 Corinthians 1:27). Here is the point. In relationship to the world’s wisdom and idea of leadership, Gideon would have never been chosen. They would have chosen someone already proven and who had already won many battles but, God does not do this. God sees in Gideon, what Gideon did not see in himself. 

As we bring this to a close, let me make a couple of final points. First, God equips those He calls. It has been said that He does not call the equipped, He equips the called. We see this in the case of Gideon. God is preparing Him and working in Him. God is equipping him for a mission.

Second, God had to deal with Gideon’s heart before He could use Gideon. Gideon is called to tear down the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole. This was a test for Gideon and a work of the Lord to build confidence in Him. Notice, Gideon does this under the cloak of darkness. He does it so no one sees him. He goes at night because he is still afraid and scared of the Midianites. The success of his mission builds confidence and hope in him however. You see, sometimes, God calls us to do small things behind the scenes in order to be successful in the open. Our hidden successes become outward successes. 

Thirdly, God prepared his heart and moved him from fear and intimidation to peace with God. How do we know this? In Judges 6:23-24, we find the following. But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. Though, inwardly, he continued to have fear and was still dealing with intimidation, he stepped out in faith to accomplish the will of God. 

Here is what we need to know. God has a plan for our life. God has something for you and nothing can stop that but ourselves. We may be fearful. We may be intimidated. We may feel less than capable of doing what we have been called to do but God equips us and God gives us all we need.

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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