God is Faithful: He Sustains Us

God is Faithful: He Sustains Us

March 2, 2020

1 Corinthians 1:4-9I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is a powerful verse that has been sustaining and keeping us. We are grateful for the grace of God and all that is doing for us and that He is doing through us. While we are waiting for the revealing of God’s will and purposes in our life, we will trust God to sustain us because He is totally and completely faithful. 

With that said, it has been a few weeks since I have posted any thing but I wanted to update everyone on what is happening in our life. For some of my regular readers, that may not know, I resigned as pastor from Peninsula Community Church back in July of last year. At the end of September we transitioned out of the church and moved to Glen Allen, VA to be closer to our kids and grandkids. 

In this season of transition, we have tried to be obedient to the call of God and His direction for our life. We have been reminded that there are times when we do not always understand what God is doing but we must be obedient and faithful to obey His word and His calling. While we did not understand the transition, we needed to take this step so we could fulfill the calling of our next step and for the future of the church in Delaware as they sought for the next pastor. 

Since leaving Delaware, Michelle and I both have picked up jobs and are working full time. We are blessed and know that God is taking care of us in such amazing ways. I have been working for Life Care Medical Transports and Michelle has been working for Kroger. We are so glad for God’s provision in this regard. Next month we move from our daughter’s house to our own place in Glen Allen.

My current jobMy job at Life Care provides an interesting opportunity to interact with the EMS world from a different perspective. We transport patients from hospital to hospital, hospital to nursing home/rehab or to their personal residences. We also assist with those who are not ambulatory with doctors appointments and dialysis appointments. And finally, we do airport transports to meet medical flights coming into and out of Charlottesville or Richmond, VA. 

DissertationI am working on finishing my dissertation. I have sent the last chapter to my editor and hopefully he will have that completed within the next couple of days. Once that is completed I can send the last three chapters of my dissertation to the dissertation committee chair who can then approve these chapters. Once that is completed I can then send the entire document to the committee for approval which will be followed by the oral argument. Once all that is approved, I will officially have completed my PhD and will graduate. This has been a long journey, but the end is near. 

Chaplain Certification In addition to finishing my dissertation, I am pursuing a certification for chaplaincy. I have been blessed to have served in several great organizations in the past as a chaplain. During those times I served because the organizations knew me and invited me into the process. Since I am new to this area and do have the same relationships, I now have to complete the certification process. This requires taking up to four classes which includes a commitment of 400 hours for each class. Each class includes 100 hours of class time and 300 hours of onsite work at a local hospital, nursing home, or other certified facility. To begin the certification process I have to complete at least two CPEs.

Workplace Chaplaincy – One of the jobs I have been pursing is workplace or corporate chaplaincy. This is an interesting facet of chaplaincy as companies hire chaplains to be available to minister to their employees and their families. At this time, there are no openings in the Richmond area but I am pursuing this opportunity any way so when there might be an opening I will be ready to pursue it. My prayer is that something will open up soon.

New Church Home – Michelle and I have found a wonderful church. Finding this church was a work of God. In the 1980s I pastored a church in Bohemia, NY. One of the key families in the church had two daughters that grew up and later moved to the Richmond area. About seven years ago Michelle was on an airplane coming back from a conference in Puerto Rico. She had been delayed in Charlotte, NC, and once she boarded the plane, she heard someone call her name. It was one of the daughters from 30 years earlier. The two of them have kept in touch since then and when we moved to Richmond we asked what church she attended. She stated she attended Hill City RVA. We met her at church the next Sunday and the rest is history as they say. 

We are getting connected and love the pastor and the people at the church. The church has an incredible vision to reach Richmond for Christ by supporting organizations in the city that are impacting the city in positive ways. They do not want to reinvent the wheel where people are already being successful in what they are  doing. They also have a mentality of generosity. For example, in November they encouraged people to consider donating one day’s salary to the church. They received nearly $150,000 which 100% of the funds were used to support local projects and programs in the city. They gave it all way. I also love the church because they encourage the people to be curious about their faith and to ask questions about the church and their faith. They consider no question out of bounds and do not judge anyone for asking questions. Through this process of discovery in being free ask their questions, people are finding Christ and are being encouraged to grow in their faith.  

Lessons – Through this process I have once again been assured of God’s faithfulness and His love for Michelle and I. Below are just a few of the reminders of God’s Grace and the lessons learned over the last few months.

  • God never fails nor forgets us. If I am to be honest, and I am, there have been times over the last few months where I have felt alone and forgotten. I have at times felt a bit like Joseph who found himself in the pit and in prison. I felt the pain of loneliness and confusion about what the future would bring us. When we left Delaware we left many friends and relationships so dear to us. Here in Virginia it has taken some time to build new relationships. While I experienced the sense of loneliness like Joseph, I have also found God in my place of loneliness. The fact is God does no forget us. He does not forsake us. This also meant I had to be intentional about making new friends and building new relationships to counter my loneliness. 
  • I do not have to lead a church to be a pastor. I have questioned God if my season of ministry is over but the calling that God put on my heart more than 40 years ago has been renewed in me again and again. I have been reminded that I do not have to be a pastor to be in ministry. There is a new fire burning in me to consider alternative ways to minister to the people around us and in the communities we touch with our lives. I have found that I am a minister of the gospel not because I am a pastor because I am a passionate follower of Christ.
  • My identity is not in what I do but who I am in Christ. For the first few weeks here I struggled with identity. After all I had been a pastor, a fireman, a chaplain, and more in my previous commitment. But I have been reminded that my identity is not in what I do but in whom I serve. I will never cease to have a pastor’s heart but my identity is not in being a pastor. It is in serving the One who called me and instilled in me a vision for ministry more than 40 years ago. That does not have to be a church, but the field of ministry is wherever God might lead. It could be a church. It could be as a hospital chaplain, marketplace Chaplian, or something I have not considered. 
  • If I trust God and not man, I will not be disappointed. Through the last few months I have had some commitments made and many if not most of those commitments have been broken. But, in this I realized that I was trusting man more than I was trusting God. I was trusting people to come through for me, but I needed to trust God for His provision. When all things are considered, man can disappoint but God does not.
  • Comparing myself to others does not benefit me spiritually or emotionally. This one is a hard one for me. When I arrived here I began to see other pastors I knew who were being successful in major ways in their ministries. Their churches were growing and expanding. They were being sent on sabbaticals to be refreshed and to write. They were being asked to speak at conferences. One pastor was posting pictures of their new building they were erecting. Through comparison I in essence was operating with a spirit of jealousy and envy. I was jealous that I was not experiencing those things. I was becoming envious of other’s successes. But I was reminded that walking in a spirit of comparison which led to jealously and envy did not benefit me or my growth. Thanks be to God, I was able to confess that sin and see that God has washed (and still washing) my heart and spirit.
  • I have been in the wilderness but in the wilderness I am reminded that God is my provider. He provides the meat, the bread, and the water we need. And, He provides it when we need it. We learn that God will lead us with a cloud by day and fire by night. We learn that He does not give us the entire plan all at once even though we wish He would. We learn that our resources will go farther than we ever thought. It is in the wilderness that we learn to trust God so that when we come to the place of promise, we know how to trust Him in the good times. In the wilderness, I have been stripped but I have been fed and restored beyond measure.

So many have asked us how we are doing. So let me tell you. We are trusting God. We are leaning hard on Him for His provision. We are leaning hard on Him for our future. We are leaning hard on His guidance as to what He ultimately wants for us to do and to accomplish. We do not know what the future will bring, but we know the One who leads our future and that is all we need. Is it easy? Not always, but it forces us to bow our hearts, our will, and our plans to the living God. 

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Final words of encouragement

September 18, 2019  

Jude 1:24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Today marks the end of a journey for Michelle and I. This afternoon we will begin a new chapter in our lives, as will you as a church. In this moment my mind is swirling with so many memories from the last nine years of ministry here at PCC. I want to make this moment to thank you for being a part of our lives. We have learned so much from so many of you. Your courage through the struggles you faced have been a source of encouragement for us. We have been blessed to watch how God has grown so many of you in the Lord over these years. In our conversations and from your questions you have encouraged me to be a better person, better pastor, and have even forced me to consider what I believe so that I can communicate that in a better way.

As we leave, today, we leave with a part of all of you in our hearts. Through these almost nine years we have laughed together. We have cried together. We have just sat and rested in the silence of the moment. Sometimes this happened at McDonalds. Sometimes it was in the ER. Sometimes it was in your homes. Sometimes it was by your bed or the bed of your loved. We were together as some of you were in the hospital recovering from surgery or dealing with the pain of a disease that was controlling your body or the body of your loved you. With many of you we have shared our lives and you have shared some of your deep hurts. Someone asked me the other day if I would continue to keep all of their secrets secret. Please know that is the truth as I leave today I carry with me your stories, your pain, your joy, and so much more. I trust that in these nine years we have made some difference in your life.We may part ways today and go our separate ways, but as believers in Christ we know we will meet again. 

I could spend so much time on these things but I want to share some encouragement and turn our attention toward God and not myself. As I preparing for this, I wanted to share some things that would encourage you and leave you focused on the greatness of God and not on Bob Odom. The first thing I want you know is that God has a plan. We have talked about this often over the last few weeks but I wanted to reinforce this again today. Just because we do not understand the plan does not diminish the work of the Lord. In a particular segment of time we often do not always understand God’s will, but as we are obedient to His will and we align ourselves with His purposes, God’s blessings flows from us to those around us and we begin to see more clearly what God’s will is for us. 

How do I know that God has plan? It is because the idea of transition is nothing new. Throughout Scripture there have been those who have transitioned and given their leadership over to another.  We see this with Moses. We see this with Elijah. We see it with David. Transitions have occurred before and God uses them to bring us to the next place in our lives. Since this is not anything new, what is happening today is not the end of the world because God has a plan for you which means there are better days ahead for you. God has the new pastor already picked out and he will be the perfect pastor for this church. 

We have talked about this before, but remember that Moses led the Children of Israel in the wilderness but he was not allowed to enter into the promise land. God’s plan was to prepare Israel for the Promised Land and God used Moses to get the people to the place where they were ready to enter what had been promised to them. You see during the wilderness journey, they needed to have a change of heart and during this journey they were able to see this happen. While they had been delivered out of Egypt, they still needed to be emptied of the ways of Egypt in their heart. God did that through the 40 days in the wilderness. They were now prepared to enter the promise. But Moses would not lead them. Joshua was to do that and we find in the Book of Joshua that under his leadership they conquered and took the land on behalf of God. I pray that under the leadership of the new pastor that you will do just that. 

When it was time for Elijah to pass from this life to the next Elisha asked that he be given a double portion of what Elijah had. Elijah’s response was if you are with me when I exit this world, I will give you my mantle and will pass along the anointing that has been with me. As we read the story, we find that as Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, the mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha. And as we follow the story, we find that Elisha did do twice as many miracles as Elijah. May this church flourish and grow in the days ahead and do so much more than ever imagined!

David handed the leadership of the kingdom to Solomon. David’s greatest desire was to see the temple built but that did no happen under David’s reign, it was built under Solomon’s. It was under Solomons’ reign that the Shekeinah glory filled the temple and the worshippers could not stand in the presence of God. 

Please know that I do not by any means compare myself to any these as they are so much greater than I am or could be, but this I pray, may God use this transition to bring greater things to this church. The new leader will come with fresh vision and a new sense of God’s will. He will love you and will be the catalyst for a new day for PCC and this community. I so look forward to hearing the reports of all that God is doing and how His will is being accomplished. 

With that said let me share a couple of things with you. First, know that we will be praying for you. We have already been praying for you and we will continue to pray for you. We will be praying for the growth of the body. We will be praying for greater things to come. We will be praying for God to do a new and exciting work in you and through you. My prayer is that He fill you with His grace and power. While we will be praying for you, I ask that you pray for us as we continue to seek God’s will and purpose in our life. There is power in prayer and by praying we are focused on the things of God. Prayer is the thing that will focus us on what God wants of us and how He wants us to live. So, pray for us and we will certainly be praying for you.

Secondly, the best days for PCC are still ahead. God will build on the past and I am sure that the future will look differently than anything we can picture now. God will bring you the right person at the right time so that God’s name is glorified and honored. After all this is God’s church. It has been God’s church and it continues to be God’s church. I so love the passage in Matthew that says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. 

Third, continue to grow in Christ. Seek after God. Seek His will and His purposes so that you are enlarged in your spiritual experience. Draw closer to God. In this regard, I am like Paul, in the New Testament. I would count it a privilege to know and hear of your growth in Christ. Be passionate followers of Christ. Show the love of Christ to all you encounter. Dig into the word of God and make it your own so that you can share your life from the depths of what God has done in you. If I have made a difference in your life, it has been not because I am perfect or that I know it all, but that I have tried my best to be an example of Christ in all I do. I have tried to model for you what a true believer in Christ looks like so that what you see is Him and not me. 

Four, continue to grow in your relationship with one another. Grow in Christ, yes, but grow in your relationship with one another also. Continue to gather for fellowship. Continue to meet in the small groups. This church has so much to offer: Tuesday Men’s Group, Ladies Tuesday Study, BSF on Thursday, and the Ladies Thursday group. Continue to give and continue to be a part of Sunday Morning services. 

Fifth, when God brings you a new pastor love him and support him. Invite him to dinner or lunch. As you did nine years ago, when we arrived, show up and help him move. Pray for him and love him. As has been stated, previously, he will not be like me and that is a good thing. He will come with his experiences, his talents, his abilities, and his personality. He will come with his particular vision for ministry and he will have his own way of doing things but I know that he will lead you to a new day and a new vision. 

So as I close, may God bless you and keep you. We love you and we are grateful for your love for us and all that means. I am grateful for these nine years of ministry here and I am grateful for each of you and the blessing you have been to us. I close with the passage I began with. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Let us pray.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Trust in the Lord!

Peninsula Community Church 

September 15, 2019 

Psalm 37:1-6 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

There is so much in life that brings us reason to give up and give in. There is so much that could give us a reason to throw our hands up and run and hide but that has never been the work of the Lord. It has never been the desire of God that this would be the way things would be. 

In verse 1, this passage begins with the idea that we are not to fret about things. The problem with worry and envy is that we give power to those things to control our life. We worry about things that do not matter. We envy what others have without recognizing what God has done in us. The outcome of worry and fretting is that we give power to those things and in so doing we allow them to control us. You may have experienced this. Someone says something to you. It may be just one word or phrase. But that one word or phrase sticks with us and we become focused on that and it becomes the focus of what we think about. 

I remember when I left for Bible College that my dad said to me. “Why do you want to go to college? Why don’t you stay home and work? Do what your brother is doing?” Those statements messed with my thinking and for years I felt that I did not have my dad’s blessing. For years I was trying get his blessing. I worked harder. I studied harder. I graduated with honors from Bible school. And yet I never seemed to please my dad. Those statements began to control my actions and they began to control my emotions. It wasn’t until I learned that I had to let go of those desires and attempt to please God because the reality was that I might never get my dad to believe in me. I was so relieved when I was able to let those words go and let God fill me with the assurance that He has it under control. 

The point is those words began to control me. They did not have to but they did. They did not have to push me down but they did. But when we take those thoughts captive and we judge them through the template of God’s grace and His mercy, we find that the words and actions of those around us do not have to hold us in bondage. The sad part is that later in life I found that my dad had always been proud of me. He just did not know how to communicate that. So, I spent years holding things that were not really true. 

That is why David so beautifully shares these words. That is why David lays out a plan for us to live effective, passionate, and committed lives. Notice that rather than fretting or worrying we should trust in the Lord. Trust is an amazing word. It is a word that is easier said and communicated than lived out. It is an action that is hard to define and enact because for us as believers it is hard to believe and hold onto what is not seen. It is hard to trust sometimes what we do not know. 

It is hard to trust God for tomorrow because we do not see tomorrow. When we made the decision to start this transition we knew there we would be so many unknowns. But that is where trust is best envisioned and that is where trust is best formulated for the life we need. When we trust God, we will begin to see how much we are blessed of God. That is why I love what Adrian Rogers has stated. I am too blessed to be stressed. He has suggested that the best way to look at this passage is to understand that the word trust means to be face down and have run out of all options, but it is here that you will trust the Lord as your only source and hope. I do not stress because, I am blessed by a heavenly Father that loves me immensely. 

That was the very basis for the beatitudes of the New Testament. Blessed are you when …… and you fill in the blank. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:3-12. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

David in the passage before us today reminds us that we are called not only to trust the Lord but we are to do good. Most people withdraw or retreat when things get tough. They act of the hurt and the struggle, but that is not what the psalmist tells us to do. We are to move forward. We are continue to do what we know to do and do it well. Adrian Rogers suggests that God puts you in school. And God will keep you there until you pass the test. If you flunk out the first time, He will enroll you again. Therefore do good! Walk in righteousness even though you might have every reason not to do so. 

I love this next section. How wonderful it is to know that we can delight ourselves in the Lord. When your dreams, your hopes, and your thoughts about your future are dissolved, stop and delight yourself in the Lord. Here is what David says. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. When our dreams dissolve it is tempting to lose heart. It is tempting to fret and worry. Why is that? It is because our joy is threatened. The solution is to find a joy that cannot be threatened. That joy is only resourced by the Lord and is only found in the Lord. Corrie Ten Boom said, Look around and you’ll be distressed. Look within, and you’ll be depressed. Look to the Lord, and you’ll be at rest. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

The idea suggested through this passage is that we make Jehovah, the Lord, the joy and rejoicing in our spirit. Think about this for a moment. If we remember that God is ours, there will be no incentive to worry or fret. To remember that God is ours and we are His means that we can trust Him and we can delight ourselves in the Lord.

The promise is that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. But notice this, if our delight is in the Lord then we will not ask for anything that is opposed to His will or outside the bounds of His will and His purpose. We will delight in Biblical truth. We will delight in God’s promises. We will delight in God’s character and recognize that He loves us and cares deeply for us. 

It is here that David makes this powerful statement of hope. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. So let me ask you, when you feel threatened or life is fighting against you what do you do? When we have committed our way to the Lord, we do fret? We do not worry? We do not lose trust? I love this. four times in the New Testament we are told not to lose heart. And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1). So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory (Ephesians 3:13). It has been suggested that the word here for “way” really means “lifestyle.” It carries the idea of a well traveled path. This means that we rest in the Lord. When we live a life filled with commitment to Christ we will rise above the fray and above the problems of life.

When we commit our ways to the Lord He will act on our behalf. I love what Psalm 55:22 says. Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Solomon wrote, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8).

When trials arise, do you run toward the Lord? Or do you try to handle things yourself? He who created you can handle any difficulty and pain, even when it seems overwhelming. What He desires is your surrender and trust. It is in His arms that you will find rest for your soul.

Are you delighted by God?  Do you take pleasure in God?  Are you satisfied with God?  Do you look to stand on what God has revealed about Himself in His Word. Do you delight in knowing Him?  Are you awestruck by His Will and Commands?  Do you see God as He is presented in the Scripture and desire Him? Do you want to know Him? Do you want to please Him? Do want to be satisfied with Him? Do you know there is and can never be anything or anyone greater?  Do you desire to do everything in your life to delight in God?

If you were given one choice, would you want God more than money, more than comfort, more than sex, more than security, more than praise, more than food, more than honor, more than ability, more than friends, more than family, and more than fame. If you had the choice between God and knowing Him and everything beautiful and pleasurable in all of Creation, would you choose God? I hope that you would. Let’s pray. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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It’s a War Out There!

Peninsula Community Church

September 8, 2019

Daniel 10:11-14 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

Throughout history there have been many great battles. Many of these battles changed history and redirected the destiny of the world. When I think of great battles, I think of the battle of Waterloo, Gettysburg and Antietam in the Civil War, Yorktown in the Revolutionary war, Normandy in WWII, and many more. Yorktown was particularly interesting as this victory was won by a group of poorly organized and untrained men who had an overwhelming desire to achieve freedom for the fledgling nation called America. Their enemy was more powerful and better equipped but they won because they had heart and they had vision. 

As we look at this part of Daniel’s story we find that it is really a story about spiritual warfare and victory that comes from God alone. As we review the story, we understand this is truly God’s story. As I have noted so many times before, the Bible is a story of God’s redemption. While Daniel is just one of the characters God used to bring about the vision of redemption for those in captivity, it was really God’s story. God’s plan had always been to redeem Israel and He was using Daniel to set the stage for that work. Prophetically, God had promised Israel that they would return to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem would be restored as a city and Israel as a nation.

As we pick up this story, we find that Daniel had been praying. He had been praying persistently. He had been praying defiantly. He had been praying confidently. He had faith in His God and He trusted God big time. The problem however is that Daniel was not getting an answer to his prayer. He had prayed and nothing was happening. For many of us we might have given up, but Daniel did not. He continued to pray, and he continued to reach out to God. He trusted God more than anything else or anyone else. His trust was not in his prayers but in the God to whom he was praying. He knew that God would answer in His time and in His way.

At this point in the story, we find that the angel of God appears. Although Gabriel is not directly mentioned in this particular verse, there is an assumption that this was Gabriel as he was the angel God sent to deliver critical messages. Also, we believe this is Gabriel because we find that Gabriel was quick to attend to Daniel’s need in Daniel 9:21. It is noteworthy that the name Gabriel means “God is my strength.” The angel speaks and the words he speaks are powerful and important. The message he shares is a message for us today as much as it was in Daniel’s day.

Notice the first words spoken by Gabriel. Gabriel says that Daniel is greatly loved. He is not just loved, he is greatly loved. Gabriel communicated God’s love for Daniel. God always wanted the best for Daniel in every area of his life, including answered prayer. In this communication, Gabriel is saying that the reason for the unanswered pray is not that Daniel was not loved, but rather that God had a plan for Daniel and the answer had already been set in motion. Too often the enemy makes us believe that because we do not hear from God, we are somehow not loved by God. We can feel forgotten when our prayers are not answered.

Gabriel speaks words of life to Daniel. He let him know that his prayers were being answered. His prayer had already been answered, but the answer was being detained. Notice that Gabriel gave two reasons for the answer to prayer and he gave one reason why the prayer was delayed. The reason Daniel’s prayer was being answered is that Daniel had set his heart to understand and that he humbled himself. His prayer was being held up because there was a battle in heaven.

One of the things that is acknowledged by Gabriel is that Daniel had an understanding of faith and the power of prayer. There is much in life that we do not understand but that must not stop us from praying. How refreshing it is to know that God wants us to understand Him and His word. There is nothing more confusing and heartbreaking than not understanding what God wants from us or being confused about His purpose for our life. Daniel was experiencing dreams and He had been placed before the king at this time to be a servant of the Kingdom of God. Daniel needed understanding and he prayed for that. 

It is also noteworthy that Gabriel praises Daniel for his humility. Daniel had executed a level of humility that had not gone unnoticed by God. The truth is no one else sees or knows our heart, but God sees us and He knows us. He knows our attitude and He knows our heart. He sees us and knows us better than we know ourselves. Many times we are judged and criticized by others but God judges the heart because He knows us and He knows our every thought. 

Know this, God hears our prayers as soon as we pray them even though we do not readily see the answer. We have also been assured through Scripture that God knows our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8). Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. You see the Pharisees believed that number of words, the repetition of words, and length of one’s prayer would get God’s attention. While that was their belief, the best way to pray is through humility of heart and honesty before God. 

So often God is working behind the scenes and is accomplishing a great work that will be manifested through us and on our behalf. He is at work when it seems that things are dark and we are struggling. God never sleeps nor does He slumber. We need to understand that when we pray God hears our prayer, but sometimes there is a battle that erupts and the answer seems to be afar off. The battle which began in heaven and was reinvigorated in Genesis 3 is still being waged today. It is a battle of what our view of God will be like. That is one of the greatest battles we will face. Does our view of God change when we do not see prayer answered? If our view of God is distorted through unanswered prayer, the enemy of our souls will work overtime to stop our prayers from being answered. He knows that in so doing too many times we will turn from God as our source and provider.

When we pray, sometimes the answer seems to avoid us. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because there is sin in our hearts. When there is unconfessed sin, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. He will answer, but He is not obligated. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because we are asking from the wrong motivation. That is what sin does. It leads us to ask with the wrong motivation in our hearts. James 4:3 states“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Sometimes our prayers are not answered because of relational issues. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). This does not mean that we are responsible for the way our wives or others for that matter act, but we are responsible for how we love our wives and how we love others. When we do not honor our spouses, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. 

And then there are times when our prayers are not answered because there is a battle being waged. This is what happened to Daniel. He prayed and his prayer was delayed. Notice that Daniel was not even aware of the battle, but it was happening none-the-less. God is fighting on our behalf even when we do not see it or realize it. This battle was taking place in the heaven-lies. For twenty-one days Michael the Archangel was doing battle on Daniel’s behalf. He was fishing on Daniel’s behalf and he won. Here is the deal, if you are a child of God you need to know that God is fighting for you. He is dispatching His angels on your behalf to conquer what you face. It may take a day. It may take a week. It may take 21 days. It may take a month. What matters is that we keep praying and in due time God will bring the answer we need. 

That is why Paul could says For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

This passage is critical for us. Notice the words here. “I have come because of your words.” Put that together with the words in verse 11: “I have been sent to you.” The point is that God answered Daniel’s prayer as soon as he began to pray three weeks before. From the first day Daniel humbled himself before God, his words were heard. The bottom line is that Gabriel had come to Daniel because of Daniel’s words or in other words his prayers. Know this, you are important to God and He is answering your prayers. You might not see an answer right away. You might be losing hope, but keep praying. Keep holding on. God is working on your behalf. He may have even dispatched angels to fight for you but He is working and His purposes will be accomplished. Let us pray. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The God of Miracles

Peninsula Community Church 

September 1, 2019 

Daniel 6:19-22 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

As we begin this study, today, let me ask you a question. Have you ever experienced a real, true, genuine miracle? When I talk about a miracle, I am talking about much more than finding a good parking place at the mall, although that might be a real miracle, especially at Christmas. I am not talking about going to your favorite restaurant and finding out that you are getting the last serving of your favorite meal before they run out. I am talking about a full fledge no holds barred miracle. You see the word miracle has been abused much like the word love. In both cases, the power and majesty of the words have been lost or diminished.

Today, I want to assure you that miracles still happen and they can happen in your life. Before we get into the meat of the message, let me take a moment and define what a miracle is. The Bible does not use the word miracle too often, but when a miracle happens in Scripture there is no denying it and no mistaking it. The dictionary defines a miracle as a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable (understood) by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. Baker’s Dictionary of the Bible defines a miracle as “an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God.” A miracle is not limited to the laws of matter or the mind, as a miracle interrupts fixed natural laws. C. S. Lewis defines a “miracle” as an interference with nature by a supernatural power.

Take creation for example. God supernaturally speaks the world into existence out of nothing. That is a miracle. By His words we have the earth, a miracle. The seas, oceans and land are divided, a miracle. We have birds, flora and fauna, and all sorts of creatures created, a miracle. We have the days measured by the sun and moon, a miracle. We have the complexity of humankind, a miracle. The truth is miracles always point to God as the instigator and provider. He steps outside of the boundaries of the natural and provides something that could not be provided or explained by any other means. 

Today, many are attempting to discredit the Bible by trying to explain the miracles of the Bible by way of natural means. Such miracles as creation, the parting of the Red Sea, the Virgin birth, the resurrection, and so on are all being tested by those who would seek explainable reasoning to define the miracles of the Bible. Here is the deal though, sometimes there is no explanation and no reason, that is why it is a miracle. 

Our story today is one more of God’s story where God brings a miraculous intervention on behalf of His children. In this case it was Daniel, the faithful and dedicated servant of God. When we read the first part of the story, we find Daniel is accepted by Darius, but is being setup by Darius’ cohorts. They were conniving in order to attack and destroy Daniel. They falsely accused him and when their accusations did not stick, they went after the one thing that defined Daniel the most, his faith in God. They in fact created a conflict that needed to be resolved. And of course they were the ones who had to resolve the problem. Please know that when people cannot attack your character they will try to attack you where it hurts the most. They will attack your beliefs and they will attack your family. When that fails they will create conflict. 

In their conniving, they tricked Darius into signing a 30 day decree that anyone making a petition of prayer would be cast into the lion’s den, where they would be eaten alive. Notice there was no command to worship Darius or any other God. They were not to pray. Does this sound familiar? Prayer is being removed from the public square in our day. The enemy of our souls knows that without prayer we become weak and easily persuaded to compromise and change. However, after the decree was given, notice that Daniel did not hesitate to continue to pray three times a day. You see laws can change, decrees can be made but remember you cannot legislate righteousness and obedience. We must be obedient to God, no matter the cost or the price. The secret is that when we are obedient and we are faithful, God comes through big time in big ways. What did Daniel do, he worshipped and he prayed? He could have played games, but he chose God and he chose faithfulness to his faith in God. 

This reminds me of Romans 12:2. 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. Daniel did not conform to the world’s standard just to fit in, but he renewed his mind by going to God in prayer. Daniel did not conform to the ways of Babylon or the edicts of the king. He stayed true to the commands of God. You shall have no other gods before me. He loved God more than he loved being accepted by those who were godless. He trusted God more than he trusted the king’s advisors. Note that it is by testing that we discern the will of God. In testing our faith is assured. If we allow it, God shows us His will and what is right and is good.

Because he did not obey the edict, he was thrown into the lion’s den. The fact is when one was thrown into the lion’s den those days, the lions were often starved for days before hand. In this way, they were ready to devour whatever was thrown into the den. But instead of attacking him, a miracle took place. Rather than devouring Daniel, God shut their mouths so that he would not be eaten alive. What was a natural occurrence, being eaten by the lions, was instead a supernatural intervention and the mouths of the lions were shut so they would not harm Daniel!

Here is the amazing thing about this miracle. God not only saved Daniel, but God used that miracle to reach those who were engaged in the process of putting him in the lion’s den. An amazing thing happened when Darius returned to the lion’s den. Darius realized that God had saved Daniel and he wanted what Daniel had. Let me ask you this morning, when you go through deep difficulties and people witness you doing so, how do they respond? Do they turn to God or witness God doing something amazing or do you they turn from God because of your experience? You see that we can experience the miracles of God and yet still complain and grumble which diminishes the world’s view of God. In this case, because of the testimony of Daniel, Darius turned toward God. That was the second miracle. But notice what Daniel did. Rather than take any of the credit, he turned all of the praise and honor back to God. Notice that he stated “My God sent his angel and shut the lion’s mouths.” He gave credit where credit was due because he could take no credit for the work of God.

I love this. Listen to Daniel 6:21-23 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Notice the third part of this miracle. Notice how God defended Daniel. Those who had connived with Darius to make this happen were thrown into the lion’s den. Their entire family were thrown in and they were immediately devoured. God protects His people. God saves those who trust in Him no matter what. Daniel trusted God and God came through big time. 

As a result, Darius made a proclamation to the people in Daniel 6:25-27. Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 

As we close, listen to this. If God could close the mouths of lions for Daniel, part the Red Sea for Moses (Exodus 14:21), make the sun stand still for Joshua (Joshua 10:12-14), send ravens to feed Elijah (1 Kings 17:2-16), open a prison door for Peter (Acts 16:26), put a baby boy in the arms of Sarah (Genesis 21:2), and raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44) then He can certainly provide for you. You have no reason to despair or be hopeless today. Nothing you are facing today is too hard for Him to handle. Trust Him to take care of you, just like He took care of everyone that came before you. Remember the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are watching us. They are cheering us on. They have experienced the miracles of God and today they stand as a testimony to what God can do with the man whose heart is fully devoted to Him. 

So, let me ask you, what is your lion’s den? You may be facing some difficult times. You may feel betrayed and wounded. You may have had someone come against you and spread lies about who you are. You may be faced with having to hold onto your convictions in your workplace. What is your lion’s den? You can go quiet, blend in, compromise, or you can stand firm regardless of the consequences. When you choose to stand, you are choosing what’s harder. You are choosing the lion’s den. And that is okey because in this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, God has overcome the world (John 16:33). God will save you and He will protect you. Trust  Him! Give Him the credit He deserves! Amen!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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We Dance To A Different Tune

Peninsula Community Church 

August 25, 2019 

Daniel 3:15-18 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

I have entitled this message “We dance to a different tune.” It is noteworthy that the idiom “dance to a different tune” means to change one’s behavior, manner, and attitude. This is a big deal because when we follow Christ passionately we will find that our behavior and attitude changes to match His desire for us. To dance to a different tune means that we align ourselves to His purposes and His goals. Tony Evans has stated “In order to transform what you do, you must first transform how you think.” Therefore, we could say that we need to dance to the tune of right thinking which produces right action. 

For the Hebrew Children they were passionate about following their God and they danced to a different tune. However, this came at a price, but they were willing to pay the price and dance the dance. Because of their relationship with God they had their thinking in the right place and their actions followed. Because their thinking was in the right place, the three Hebrew Children served the Lord and they were obedient to what they had been called to do. 

They did so because they knew something key to their success, we all worship something or someone. It all depends on what we choose. They chose to worship God and put the Kingdom of God first not just in their speech but in their actions. Bob Dylan the great poet and the confused religious guru understood this when he wrote the following lyrics. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes. Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. This is a powerful truth. We all come to an intersection in our life where we must choose who or what we will worship. We will worship God or we will worship man, worship things, success or any other number of things that will seek to take the place of God.

But how did they get to this place in time. You see, because Israel had sinned and disobeyed God’s will, God allowed Jerusalem to fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon. Many were taken from Israel as captives to serve Babylon. Among those taken to Babylon were young Israelites who were of noble birth and from royal families. They were to be trained in the ways of Babylon. Four of those taken to Israel were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Once in Babylon, their faith was tested and they passed the faith test with flying colors. While they did learn the culture, there was one area of their life they would not change and that was their relationship with God. When asked to worship a graven image and a false god they chose to worship God and Him alone. They were not willing to change their allegiance to God. We must note that as a church and as passionate followers of Christ we are to engage the culture in which we live, but we must never compromise our faith in Christ. We must not change our dance partner as tempting as it might be to do so.  

Daniel had his lion’s den moment and now the three Hebrew Children were about to encounter their fiery furnace. It did not matter what they encountered, the fate of the Hebrew Children was sealed in favor of serving God no matter what. It is important to understand this was a decision that had been made long before this moment in time. For that reason, this was not a difficult decision. They chose to go against the tide and they refused to bow their knee to the god’s of Babylon. 

Too often we encounter difficulty and then we want to engage the disciplines that protect us, but that can come too late. We can be sucked into sinful ways if we do not engage with the disciplines of Christ. Conversely, we must be engaged in the disciplines of Christ long before we encounter difficulty. We must be people of prayer, of worship, and must have a commitment to Christ before we face difficulty. In so doing, we will be conditioned for whatever we encounter. Think about it. Before war our armed forces prepare and drill. Firefighters drill and run through scenarios during training sessions. Football teams practice and prepare for the season and for every opponent they face. They consider different scenarios they will face and how they must answer those situations. By engaging in prayer, worship, and the study of God’s word our spiritual man is conditioned for whatever scenario to be faced in this world. 

Because of their commitment to Christ and their ongoing focus on worship and prayer the question of compromise was never a thought in their decision making process. You see this as being critical since compromise begins when we do not know where we stand and we try to fake our way through the process. For many, when asked to bow could have led to compromise, but the Hebrews did not. They could have bowed in the physical as an outward show but they did not. It might have been easier, but it would have started a slide toward compromise. Those who have fallen from grace too often have been captivated by sin. They do so most often through a series of smaller steps of compromise. In general, compromise has never happened in an instant. But the Children of Israel did not compromise. They knew their God and they knew their purpose in the Kingdom of God. They refused to compromise and settle for less than God’s best. 

Second, our worship of God cannot be deterred by the fear of outside influences. Their desire to serve and worship God was greater than their fear of the king. Their desire to serve and worship was greater than their own self-exaltation. How often are we deterred from obedience to God because we are filled with fear and anxiety of what people think or a desire to make a name for ourselves? How many times do we fail to trust the outcome to God? 

Third, the Children of Israel had a confidence that God wanted to keep them and preserve them. This is seen through their response of being thrown into the furnace. They experienced a so what moment. They may have had questions but that did not deter them from obedience. What if we are burned up? What if we are just burnt and we find that we are disabled for the rest of our life? Here is a big one. What if God doesn’t show up? These were real questions, but because they had lived in the reality of God’s presence they knew God would rescue them. Corrie Ten Boom was quoted as saying. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

And now, here is the crux of the matter. Four, they experienced God’s presence in worship long before they experienced God’s presence in the fiery furnace. They danced to the music of worship and the reality of God’s presence. This holy dance of worship kept them from compromise and kept them from falling for the oldest scheme of the devil, give a little which requires a little more which leads to more and more compromise. While we see the power of the three Hebrew Children also notice the response of the king. He was filled with fear. He was angry. He was surprised at the power of God. He depended on himself. Nebuchadnezzar was dancing to a different tune. He was dancing to the tune of pride and self exaltation. 

Let’s look at the end of the story. God came through, end of story. Because the three Hebrew children refused to compromise, God showed up. Because they had committed themselves to worship and trust in God, God came through. Their world was rocked. God showed up and the men did not even smell like smoke. This is surprising for a couple of reasons. First, because of Nebuchadnezzar’s anger he had the furnace heated up seven times more than normal. Second, the men who tossed them into the furnace were destroyed instantly (Daniel 3:22). And thirdly, they were bound in their tunics, their hats, their other garments (Daniel 2:21). This alone would have caused them to be consumed by the fire, but they were fully protected by God. 

Everyone were surprised at the outcome. Everyone was changed because God showed up. As we worship God alone, we are positioned for God’s work to be accomplished through us and to experience the surprises of God. Rather than tell the story listen to Daniel’s word as he describes this event in Daniel 3:24-28. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Their faith and their obedience changed them but it changed the world they encountered. Nebuchadnezzar in the end danced to a different tune because he witnessed the miracle of God in real time. So are you ready to worship? Are you ready no matter what comes? Are you ready to change the world as they see God at wok in you? 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Power of Positive Transition

Peninsula Community Church  

August 18, 2019

Joshua 1:1-4 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”

I love the Bible and I love how Scripture speaks to our spirit and to our soul in our times of need. I love how God gives us answers to the questions we have in life when we focus on God’s Word. Through Scripture we are encouraged and we see God’s grace through the myriad of surprises, disappointments, and changes that occur in our life. The passage before us today is no exception. 

In the almost nine years I have been here, if you have learned anything about me, you will know that whatever passage we are dealing with in the moment tends to be my favorite passage, because I am in love with God’s word. For me, I have always loved the story of Moses. It is a story of redemption, salvation, and fulfilled promise. Even though this verse focuses on Joshua and his new leadership role, this is also Moses’ story. 

As you will remember by reading the story, we find that Moses was born during a season of upheaval and turmoil for the Jewish people (Exodus 1:12-14). There had been an edict given to the midwives that every male born to Hebrew women were to be killed at birth (Exodus 1:15-16). The purpose was to control the growth of the Hebrew people. But there was a problem. The midwives feared God more than they feared Pharaoh. Because of this conviction they purposely disobeyed the command to murder these babies. As a result, we find that Moses was born and Moses’ mom loved him and she hid him in a home made basket among the bullrushes at the river’s edge. She fully trusted God for his protection and his safety (Exodus 2:3). As you read the story, we find that Pharaoh’s wife finds him and takes him into her home as her own child (Exodus 28:10). This is a abbreviated story but encourage you to read the entire story for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Through this story we come to understand that God was planting Moses into the Egyptian culture and environment. In the moment that Moses’ mom placed Moses in the little boat into the bulrushes that plan was not realized, but it was to be seen in a future context. As Moses grows while he was engaged in the Egyptian culture, he had not forgotten his roots. God had planted Pharaoh’s sister at the right place at the right time. As a young man he was a protector of the Hebrew people. When Moses found one of Pharaoh’s men beating one of the Hebrews, Moses defended the Hebrew man against the guard to the point of murdering him (Exodus 2:11-12). This led to a transition in Moses’ life. From Egypt he fled to the back side of the desert (Exodus 2:15) where he would spend the next 40 years in preparation for his final task here on earth. He was to be the deliverer of the people of Israel. 

So, as we consider these things let me make a couple of points here. The first point we have to consider is this. We need to understand that God never wastes anything. Even when we do not realize it God is using what we are going through to mature us, define our purpose, and help us be more like Him. God placed Moses in Pharaoh’s home, so that he would be immersed in the culture, so that when the time came he would understand and know how to precede into the future promise of God. He knew the inner workings of the government and he was able to navigate the pitfalls he might encounter when he returned to do God’s work. God also placed Moses in the wilderness so that he could be trained in the ways of survival because God already knew he would be tasked to lead the children of Israel through the wilderness. Do you grasp that this morning? Whatever you have experienced or what you are experiencing, even in this moment, is not wasted by God. He will use it for His glory, if we allow Him to do so. That is the grace of God at work in us. It is the power of God that manifests His will in us and through us. 

Secondly, God is never surprised at the transitions that occur in our life. While we might be surprised, God is not surprised and most of all He is not worried. In fact, in Moses’ life we see that God was orchestrating His will and He was positioning Moses for more than he could ever imagine. So many times transitions rock our world, but God’s world is not rocked. In fact, God is never rocked by the things that happen in our life. Remember God is never surprised. 

Thirdly, God’s purpose does not end with a transition. That is where we pick up today. Notice that God speaks to the new leader, Joshua, to let him know that good things are ahead. Just because Moses is not in the picture anymore the vision God had for Israel does not cease. In fact, I would suggest that in the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua, the vision in fact was becoming more of a reality than it had ever been before. Moses had brought them to the promise land, but he was not to take them in. God had a new leader in mind and that leader was Joshua. 

If you remember it was God’s plan all along for Israel to possess the land that had been given to them. It had been the plan of God all along to establish a nation that would go after God with all of their hearts. God wanted a nation that would exhibit the love, grace, and power of God through their lives and through their obedience to God’s word and His commandments. That did not end with Moses who gave the reigns of leadership over to Joshua.

It is important to note that the people of God were to go into the Promised Land together (Joshua 1:2). It was not a time to bail or run but to remain faithful in following God into the place of promise and the place where God would be glorified. I challenge you today to remain faithful and commit to go into the promised land that God has for PCC. Commit to be a part of the success of what God is doing here in a church in the cornfield. Commit to be a part of what God is doing here in this place in the days to come. If you have not been engaged spiritually or financially before become engaged now for the kingdom and the future of this church. 

Fourth, with transition comes a promise. Notice the promise that God gave Joshua. God made this incredible statement. “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.” Here is the deal. God has a promise and He will fulfill that promise. This church will grow. This church will continue to be an effective part of this community. This church will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. That fulfillment is not dependent on a person but on God’s plan and His purposes. That is not to say that leadership is not important because it is, but our dependence must be on the God of the promise, always. 

So what do we do during times of transition? Let me give you three things. First, we must trust in the Holy Spirit. Trust is a major factor in navigating the things we confront. That is why the Bible is replete with passages that encourage our trust and hope to be fully positioned in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to work out all things for His glory. One of my favorite passages is this. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Holy Spirit gives us the inner peace that takes us by the hand and assures us that all will be well. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday (Psalms 37:3-6).

Notice the wording of Joshua 1:1. The lord speaks to Joshua and brings confirmation to him that this is all God’s plan and nothing has changed in terms of the promises of God. While waiting to see what God is doing, we trust in God. While making plans for the future, we trust God. While doing what we need to do, we trust God. While we seek God for what He will do, we trust God. Trust and obey for there is no other way.

We must believe that God is greater than our transition. It is in times of transition that we learn how big our God is. I have preached so often that God is bigger than anything we face. How big is God? He is big enough and He will be big enough now and into the future. In preparing for this I came across this quote. “In seasons of transition, we are tested and stretched by new circumstances and relationships, and it can be tempting to look back and cling to the certainty and comfort of the last season while steeling our emotions against the uncertainty of what’s to come. But the Lord calls us to move with Him through the seasons of life and trust His work and timing.”

Finally and foremost, this has been and continues to be God’s church which is positioned here in this place to accomplish God’s will and purpose. Do not forget that what He has begun in you will be completed. Listen to Paul’s words of affirmation in this regard. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Pastors may come and go, people may come and go, but God’s will and purpose will not change. 

Let us pray!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Obedience to God Brings God’s Supply

Peninsula Community Church 

August 11, 2019 

Philippians 4:13; 19-20 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul was an incredible disciple and apostle for Christ. Paul had experienced just about everything in his life. He had great successes. He had suffered great setbacks but like Job, Joseph, Daniel and many others throughout Scripture; they were the bounce back kids. I remember not too long ago Bill Clinton was called the teflon president because nothing would stick to him. It is also noteworthy that in several articles I read that President Reagan and Thomas Jefferson had also been given similar titles. While these were meant to be negative attributes, we understand that when we are God’s people we are positioned for that kind of lifestyle so that nothing that is thrown at us has to stick to us or define us. We can overcome all things because of God’s grace and His love for us. 

That is why Paul could make these two amazing statements. One, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” and two, “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” It is a fact that God will empower and strengthen us to accomplish His will and adapt to the changes in life that come our way. It is God’s supply that positions us for Kingdom results. It is God’s supply that positions us for obedience. In obedience God provides everything we need to fulfill God’s purpose. 

Throughout Scripture men and women of God had moments in their life that seemed devastating and many were confronted with great change and new direction that amazed them, but these changes were not a surprise to God. Sometimes we struggle with these changes, but God uses them to change us and develop in us all that we need to be so that He is glorified. 

As I have studied so many of the stories in the Bible, I have found something amazing. Think about this. Job had lost it all but he had his “though He slay me, yet will I serve Him” moment (Job 13:15). He knew His confidence was in God and not in his possessions because He knew his redeemer lived and that He was in an eternal relationship with Him (Job 19:25).  Joseph had his “what you desired for evil, God turned it for good” moment (Genesis 50:20). Joseph could say that because the presence of God had been with Joseph throughout his journey from the pit to leadership in Pharaoh’s court. Daniel had his deliverance moment when God shut the mouths of the hungry lions (Daniel 6:21-22). 

The three Hebrew children had what I call the “so what” moment in their life. The king was going to cast them into the fiery furnace and when the king asked them what happens if they are burned up and not delivered. Their reply was “so what, we will still worship God.” They trusted that their God was big enough to protect them and provide for them (Daniel 3:16-19). Jonah had his moment in the belly of the whale where he had to come to terms with his need to be obedient to God’s call (Jonah 1:17). We could go on but I think you get the message. No matter what we face we will and can have a God moment that forever changes us and move us to a greater glory and a greater definition of who we are in Christ. 

I am amazed that while the events these men faced did not define them, it also did not deter them from being or becoming all that God had for them. In fact, the very thing that could have defined them in reality jettisoned them into a greater purpose in God’s kingdom. This is a reality for us as a church and as individuals.

Clayton spoke about obedience a few weeks ago. Obedience is an amazing concept, because when God directs our steps, we do not always understand it nor do we always accept it, immediately. Sometimes God has to repeat Himself to get us to hear what He is saying. But this we know, without obedience there is no growth and there is no forward movement in Christ. We will be destined for mediocrity and will be less than what God has for us, if we are not obedient. 

For the few moments we have, let us look at these promises this morning. First of all, Paul states that I can do all things through him who strengthens me. No matter what was before him and no matter how hard the difficulty, he knew where his strength and purpose came from. No matter the changes that he experienced, he knew that his strength was from God almighty. I love the definition of this word in the Greek. To strengthen means “to pour power into.” Think of it this way. When I was a teenager I worked on a nursery. In the summer, in the deep south, it would get extremely hot with very high humidity. We would be working in the fields cultivating the plants. The sweat would be pouring off of us but when we took our break the first thing we would do is head for the water hoses. We would pour that water over us and drink the coolness of the water. That is what God’s strength is like. When we are tired, parched, and weary of the task, He strength is poured into us and over us like cool water on a steamy hot day.

The fact is, unless He strengthens us we will not be strong at all. We can attempt great things apart from God but they will have no eternal value whatsoever (John 15:5). When it comes to our deeds the fact is we can accomplish a lot in life. We have been created in the image of God and even for those who do not serve God it is possible for them to accomplish great things. We can build wealth. We can build success. We can have favor with people. But, if the things we build are not kingdom minded, kingdom oriented, and eternal in their purpose whatever we build will fall short (1 Corinthians 13:11-15).

Secondly, we find here that Paul makes this amazing and powerful statement. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. We need to make one thing clear, Paul’s wording here is not a license to do whatever we want and then expect God to provide. It is however only when we focus on God’s plan and purpose for us that He will supply our every need. He may not supply our wants but He will certainly supply our needs. 

It is only as we are in the word of God and we are faithfully praying for God’s will to be accomplished and we are obedient to that calling that we find His supply at hand. That is why I love the words of the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who stated Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.”

A good friend of mine who just passed away a few days ago used to say that God owns a cattle on a thousand hills, but He also owns the hills (Psalm 50:10). He has the ability and the capacity to supply every one of our needs. Peter in fact stated that He, God, has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). He can and He will when we submit our ways to Him. 

So what is your need? Where do you look for your supply? I trust this morning that it is in the workings of God and not in your own power or in your own strength. I trust that you will look to Him from this day forward for God to supply you with all you need. Let us pray! 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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So, What Are You Thinking?

Peninsula Community Church 

August 4, 2019

Philippians 4:8-9 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.

To fully understand this passage we must know that this is a continuation of Paul’s discussion from the prior verses. How do I know this? I know this because Paul ends the passage with this statement of promise “and the God of peace will be with you.” Wow! If I do these things then the God of peace will be present in my life. Think about this. Last week we found that prayer and focusing our attention on God produces in us a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that is beyond our capacity to understand or for that matter comprehend the depth of the peace that comes from prayer. No matter what comes we can have peace and can rest in Christ’s peace.

This week we will direct our attention on another aspect of walking in peace. You see what we focus our thinking towards can affect our peace. How many of us ever talk ourselves out of being at peace? You begin with a problem and rather than deal with the problem you begin to meditate and think about that problem or person. Suddenly, your imagination goes wild and you begin to develop a narrative that is not based on truth but one that is based on distorted thinking and half truths.

As we preview these passages we find there are two imperatives within this verse that must be considered. The first imperative is that we need to think about what Paul is saying. It is noteworthy that the word here for “think” is one that really means “to dwell.” In other words, we give these words great consideration and we do not glance over them lightly. The exact Greek used here is a present imperative which means we thought this way but we continue to think this way. It is a way of life resultant in a life of peace. 

William Barclay rightly observes that…The human mind will always set itself on something and Paul wished to be quite sure that the Philippians would set their minds on the right things. This is something of the utmost importance, because it is a law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it.

The second imperative is that we are to put into practice these things. Yes, we need to be actively engaged in thinking about these things, but we must also put them into practice. Too often we think, but never act. It is time to act and set in motion these things so we can live in peace. 

I have said it a number of times. Our thoughts will determine our outlook on life and where we focus our attention our emotions will follow. Through this passage we come to realize that our thoughts and actions will also have an effect on the level of peace we will experience. To live in peace we must engage the truths presented through Paul’s writings in verses 8 & 9. It is here that he lists eight qualities that every passionate follower of Christ ought to consider when processing issues in their life, the thoughts they entertain, the words that are spoken to them, and the messages they receive. This thought process goes hand in hand with Paul’s admonishment in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 

The first of these directives is to consider the truth. In life, we can be so susceptible to the lies of the enemy. He is so skilled at packaging lies in such a way that makes the lies acceptable and believable. Sometimes one of the lies that is propagated is that we are not good enough or that we are a failure. Another lie is that there is no hope. Another lie is fear even in our obedience to Christ. Another is confusion when events happen in us, to us, or around us that we do not understand. But rather than believe the lies, we are to think on that which is true. We do not just think about truth, we put truth into practice, so that our emotions are changed and we are fortified in God’s truth. 

As we look at this idea of truth, here is one definition of truth that might help you. To be true means to be in line with what actually is. In the case of a passionate follower of Christ, our truth most always be in line with Scripture and with God’s word. We do not allow truth to be aligned with lies or falsehoods. As we align our understanding of truth with the truth of God’s word and the character of God, we can only then begin to focus on that which is real truth.

Secondly, Paul commands us to think on what is honorable. This word relates to that which is worthy of respect or entitled to honor. It means to take life seriously. It is to think on that which is lofty and majestic as opposed to that which is vulgar, crude, frivolous, or trivial. We should think on those things that lift the mind rather than dragging the mind through the gutter. This includes our language, our response to people, what we watch, what we believe in social media, and for that matter the 24 hour news cycle.  


Thirdly, Paul command us to think on what is just or right. John MacArthur suggests that the word used here refers to the perfect harmony with God’s eternal, unchanging standards as revealed in Scripture. I agree with that statement. We live in a day where the idea of ultimate righteousness and Godly justice is ignored, and even mocked. We have a mixed up understanding of what true justice is about and too often we determine what justice is by one’s skin color, social standing, position, bank account, or personal opinion. But again as passionate followers of Christ, we must stay focused on God’s standard for justice which is always right.


Fourth, think on that which is pure e.g. free from defilement and that which is uncontaminated. Jesus is holy, and because He is living in us, we too must be holy as He is holy. We do not talk much about the holiness of God and God’s admonishment for us to be holy, but our minds must remain pure in our thoughts, in our deeds, and our words.

Fifth, we think on those things that are lovely. It is here that Paul focuses on that which calls forth or evokes love and admiration. These are the sorts of things that are endearing. We are three part beings: body, soul, and spirit. We need to feed our souls with things that are lovely just like we feed our bodies with good physical food. We should be feeding our spirits on the word of God of daily and in large doses.


Sixth, think on that which is commendable. We should think on that which is praiseworthy and avoids giving offense or adding to one’s offense. We fail too often to commend others of what is praiseworthy in one’s life. We all need encouragement and we all need to hear “Well done!” from time to time. In fact, I would suggest that most studies show that we all need to hear well done much more than what we are doing wrong. The fact is our deeds and our thoughts ought to move people to admiration and praise. So the question is “Are we concentrating on the good things we see in others, or do we dwell on their faults and shortcomings?” 


Seventh, is there any excellence in what I am thinking. Too many Christians settle for mediocrity. They are okey with just getting by. Others look for the negative faster than they see the good and many are quick to express that through complaining and grumbling and the judging of one’s character. But there is a huge difference between “excellence” and professionalism and performance. Excellence is doing everything to the best of one’s ability as enabled by God, and in such a way that no one is distracted by it or is tempted to give credit to anyone but the Lord. Professionalism and performance are man-centered and are concerned with drawing attention to a person or persons. The pursuit of excellence should direct attention to God. Think on that.


Finally, we should think on that which is worthy of praise. Certainly here we mean the praise of God and not man. By this I think he means the sort of conduct that wins the affection and admiration of others, even non-Christians. 


In the final analysis Paul says that we are to think on these things but we must also enact these things and put them in motion. The full of effect of peace only comes as we put these things into practice. May we do that as we continue to grow in the grace and love of God!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom



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Is It Possible to Live in Peace?

Peninsula Community Church

July 28, 2019

Philippians 4:4-7 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. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

One of the deeper questions of life is the question of how one can achieve a life of peace? How does one reach the place where they can live in peace? That is the cry of most hearts. In this passage, Paul defines peace by saying that God’s peace passes all understanding. This is a peace that is there when everything around you is falling apart and the world is filled with torment and difficulty. It is a peace that is achieved not by what we do, but whose we are and who we trust. 

It is noteworthy that the dictionary defines peace as follows. Peace is the freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. It is a mental calm; serenity. It is a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended. It is the freedom from dispute or dissension between individuals or groups.

It is noteworthy that Scripture suggests there will be no peace in this life. There will always be something that will cause upheaval and turmoil in our life. The kind of peace most people want is just an illusion. It is a fantasy. In Matthew 10:34 and Luke 12:51 we find that Jesus stated that he had not come to bring peace but a sword and division. You see the Jews of Jesus’ day wanted the war and struggle with the Roman government to end. They wanted the factions within their own community to be united, but Jesus reminded them that He did not come to bring peace. Instead of peace, Jesus’ ministry would in fact create more division and more fighting. I believe that today we are in a battle that is not democratic or republican, but it is a battle for the standard that Christ has set for us individually and as a nation. It is a moral battle.

While Scripture gives us the bad news about tribulation in this world and the lack of peace here, Scripture also allows us to see where real peace comes from. Jesus in John 14:27 made this statement. 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. The world considers peace as the cessation of war and disputes but this peace is much more than the cessation of war or dispute. It is the internal peace that comes from deep within one’s soul and within one’s spirit. It is a peace that comes from a deep relationship with the living Christ. 

In John 16:33 we are reminded of Jesus’ words. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. The world focused on the outward cessation of tribulation but Jesus focused on the internal cessation of tribulation, so that inwardly we are at peace. That is why in Romans 8:6 Paul without hesitation states For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. That is why Isaiah proclaimed. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3).

It is from this perspective and understanding of peace that Paul writes the words of Philippians. He begins this passage with the command that we are to rejoice in the Lord always. Wow, what a statement because there are a lot of things in my life that I do not want to rejoice over. In fact, more often than not I have an opposite response but if I am dependent on Christ for all things and if my mind, my soul, and my spirit is at rest in Him, then I can be comforted with the peace Paul defines. He says it is a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that baffles the mind. It is a peace that passes all human capacity to understand. Out of this rejoicing everything flows and is ignited by faith. 

As he continues in this passage we find that Paul states that we are not to be anxious about anything because anxiousness takes our peace away. It is anxiousness that deprives us of our ability to rest in Christ. Anxiousness is a deterrent to our peace and to our ability to be all that He desires of us. When we are anxious, our peace is robbed and our hearts are filled with concern about the future and what is to come. The wording here tells us to stop worrying. Give it up.

The cure for worry is prayer and a spiritual focus on Christ. We are all prone to worry, but the principle applied here is that prayer and worry are mutually exclusive. Prayer and worry do not go hand in hand. To cure anxiousness we pray. The truth is worry will destroy prayer, and prayer will destroy anxiety. In other words, worship and prayer is a divine deliverance from the power of worry. One result of coming to the living God in prayer is that worry shrinks and dies at the feet of Jesus. That is why Paul reaffirms that in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

In this Paul gives us an antidote to worry. First, Paul states that we are to pray. Pray! Now that is an amazing idea. Let me ask you, do you take your problems to the Lord immediately or is it a last resort or last ditch effort to secure God’s blessing? How often do we take things to Him after they have become problems? How many times do we take things to God after we have already become overwhelmed or controlled by anxiousness? That is why Jesus commands us to make prayer a priority in our life by seeking the Kingdom of God first. In so doing, all of the things we need will be added to our lives. 

Second, we are go to the Lord with our supplications, e. g. our needs and our concerns. The word “supplication” means to ask humbly and earnestly of the Lord. It means to request of God answers to prayer. It means that we carry to the Lord what He alone can handle and take care of. This is an echo of Paul’s writings in Ephesus 6:18. We catch Paul mid breath when he says that we should be praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

This is also a reminder of Peter’s words. We are to release everything to Him because He cares for us and He knows us intimately. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7). Listen to the Psalmists. Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22).

Thirdly, we are to do so with thanksgiving in our heart. Thanksgiving and gratefulness must be the corner stone and bed rock of all we do. A thankful heart is a grateful heart. A thankful heart is one that recognizes that God is the only one that can provide and care for us. A thankful heart is a humble heart. When you think about it, it is amazing that Peter, of all people, would write these words. The tempestuous and quick tongued disciple is writing about humility but the reality is that he more than anyone else understood this dynamic. He had learned the lesson of humility big time. He did so through the multiple mistakes he made and problems he faced.

It is here that we come to the conclusion of this passage. As we pray, as we bring our needs to God, and as we begin to express our thankfulness, we find that God’s peace comes sweeping into our hearts and minds because we have the heart of God. That is why Paul could say And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The result of praying, of bringing our concerns to Him, and living with a grateful heart is that we will obtain a peace that passes all understanding. The opposite of worry is peace and the opposite of peace is worry. The peace that Paul presents here surpasses or exceeds our ability to understand peace. That is why the world around us can be falling apart and we can still be at peace in God. We can rest in who He is. 

And finally, the result of praying is that God will guard our hearts and our minds. The word guard is a word that means to put up a garrison. The literal translation of the word is that He will keep our minds and hearts as a well-garrisoned stronghold. What does that mean? Our thoughts are protected. When we are focused on God, our minds will be like a well garrisoned stronghold that will not allow any thought that is not of God to enter and find residence. It also means that the heart, the seat of the emotions, will be protected. 

This is not a magic pill or a magic formula. The idea is that we continue to press into God through prayer. We continue until we are at peace. We continue until worry is dispelled. We become like the man who had unexpected company and did not have bread to feed his visitors which was a huge necessity of that day. To not give his guest bread would have been a great travesty and a social disgrace. He knew his neighbor had bread and he began to knock on the door until he answered and the man gave him what he needed.

Listen to the story out of Luke 11. And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves,  for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:5-13)!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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