Control is an Illusion

Peninsula Community Church

Control is an Illusion

July 15, 2018 

Mark 4:35-41 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Last week we looked at Jehoshaphat and how God protects us and keeps us. The focus of our study this morning will be on what happens when we do everything right, and God does not hold up to His part of the bargain? What do you do when it feels that God has let us down? Or at least we think He does! What do you do when things are out of our control? In other words, what do you do when you lose control of a situation, event, or person?

This issue of control is seen in the story before us today. Three of the four gospels have some version of this story that impacts the disciples. Let us look at this story and then make a few comments. After a day of ministry, we find that Jesus tells the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake. Jesus joins them and off they go. On their journey, they encountered a storm! Imagine this picture with me. Jesus commanded them to get in the boat and go to the other side. He is right there with them. He commanded, they obeyed.

Jesus was with them, and yet they encountered a fierce storm. It should be noted that this was not a normal storm. We find the disciples were greatly afraid. To understand their fear, we must remember that most of the disciples were fishermen and they had been out on this same lake many times before. They had encountered all kinds of storms in the past, but this storm was a different storm altogether. It effected them to the core of their being. We find the storm was so massive and powerful that water was overflowing into the boat. This could result in the boat sinking and them losing their lives. They were afraid. How many times have you faced a storm that rushed in and overpowered you? It was so powerful that you risked death or you felt like you would drown.

In 1980 I had boarded a plane that was headed from Atlanta to La Guardia airport. I was in God’s will as I was traveling around the US for the ministry that I was leading. It was a normal day but after we took off the weather turned nasty. I had flown many times before and was on other planes when other storms had hit but this flight was different. The plane we were on began to be tossed. We continually felt the storm causing the plane to rise, fall, and shake. I can tell you there was some fear that arose and I was not feeling very safe. I had never worried about crashing before but that thought crossed my mind many times during this flight. I was so excited when we finally landed at LGA. I literally got on the ground and kissed it. 

In this story, we find the disciples had been obedient to Jesus’ command. They had gotten into the boat and had begun to travel to the other side of the lake. What they did not anticipate was the storm that was to blow in. You see they could control the boat. They could control their actions, but they could not control the storm, nor could they control the outcome of the storm.

Even though the disciples were right where they were suppose to be, they encountered a great storm. They were in this situation because they were in obedience to Jesus’ command. One of the great lies propagated by the enemy is that if we encounter a storm, there must be something wrong with us. The enemy of our soul loves to take the storms and issues of life that are beyond our control, and use them to demoralize us and make us feel that we have failed or we are in some state of error. There are times when the storms we face are a result of our actions or our decisions. We face storms because of our failures and because of the sin in our life, but in this case they were right where God wanted them to be. 

For the disciples, notice here they were powerless to control the storm nor could they control Jesus. It is noteworthy that even the best of us can be overwhelmed by the storms of life. We can be a old salt as a Christian so to speak. We can navigate almost anything but then there is that thing, that one event or series of events that rock our world and unsettles us to the core. Lack of control can result in fear which is a powerful emotion. All of us deal with such things at some moment in time. There is the fear of loss. There is the fear of the unknown. There is the fear of pain. There is the fear of death. There is the fear of a hostile world. The result of fear is that we can either be motivated to act in positive ways or it can paralyze us.

Because of the entrapments of the enemy, we are all prone to wander from God’s plan and purpose for our lives. I love the old hymn Come Thou Fount of Blessing. There is a line or two in there that speaks to this. The writer states Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. The point here is that we often try to control that which we cannot control and that is tiring and wearisome. It is fruitless.

We are most often effected by what we cannot control. When we feel we have lost control our world gets turned upside down. The fact is we all love to control things to some degree or another. We all love to have things in order and we love to control our destiny. The problem is when our plans do not always work out, we can get bent out of shape and feel distraught.  

Where was Jesus in all of this? He was asleep on the stern of the boat on a cushion. He was not effected by the storm but the disciples were. They panicked and they called to Jesus. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Notice, they felt that Jesus is not responding to their needs. The disciples who were seasoned fishermen and were acquainted with storms and problems on the lake panicked. For them, everything was out of control. They could not control the storm and they could not control Jesus. 

I wonder if they thought, Jesus, we did our part but you are not living up to your part. We got in this boat because you told us to. If we are honest, we probably all face a moment where we feel that Jesus has failed us. We question whether Jesus is actually with us and whether He is in control. Sometimes, when the pressures of life are overwhelming and seem to overpower us, we can believe God has failed us. We can feel that God is not doing His part. We too can proclaim and at times scream in our hearts, “Oh God where are you?” 

Listen to the words of the disciples. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” There is so much in this statement. Do you not care? Are you just going to sleep through all of this? Do you not see what is going on here? It is at this point in our walk with Christ that our faith is tested. Do you ever feel that way? 

Notice what Jesus does after this. Scripture says And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Notice that in a moment Jesus spoke to the wind and there was calm. The storm that moments before was overflowing into the boat, was now calm. The storm that once seemed as if it was going to sink the boat, was now carrying them across the lake to the other side, which was their destination to begin with. While Jesus may seem distant, He is there all of the time. He is on the journey with us. He is near to us. He has not left us nor has He forgotten us. 

Jesus addresses their faith and their fear. Rather than trust Him, they had moved in fear. You see faith and fear are opposed to one another. Faith is opposed to fear and fear counteracts our faith. Fear causes us to be out of focus. For the disciples, they had seen the miracles of God, they had received the teachings of Christ, but these things had not impacted their faith. We can go to church every Sunday. We can go to conferences. We can read books. The question, however, is “Have we grown in our faith?” What we do must cause us to develop a greater faith in Christ. 

In this story, I am amazed at the response of the disciples, once the storm is calmed. You would think they would have been overjoyed but instead they are afraid. But this is a different kind of fear. Their fear of the storm turned to an awe inspiring fear because of what Jesus just did. He spoke and the winds ceased and the storm was abated. And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

They were amazed and they walked in the awe of the miracle God had provided. Their fear turned from worry to being overwhelmed with the power of Jesus to control the storm. Their loss of control turned to victory, and their confidence in Jesus to control every problem we experience. So let me ask you? Where is Jesus? Do you feel He has left you? The truth is He has not left us. He is in the boat. He is at peace. He is in control. We can rest in that. 

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Keep your Eyes on Jesus

Peninsula Community Church 

Keep your Eyes on Jesus

July 8, 2018 

2 Chronicles 20:12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

What do you do when the odds are against you? What do you do when the problems of life are overwhelming you? This is what we know from our passage this morning. The land of Judah was in turmoil. They felt powerless and overwhelmed because the armies that were coming against them were powerful and they showed no mercy. In this story, Jehoshaphat gives us insight into how we should respond to the overwhelming difficulties in our life. Let’s look at a few of these this morning. 

When you read all of 2 Chronicles 20, you find a couple of things that assist us when we go through the difficulties of life. In verse 2, we find that Jehoshaphat began with an honest appraisal of the realities they faced. He received a report that a great multitude was coming against them. Sometimes, we can ignore the truth and the reality of what we are facing, but that does not help us in the long run. It only delays healing from the pain, and it can delay the blessing of God. When we acknowledge the issue, we can focus our attention in the right direction. 

My question this morning is what report have you received? What overwhelming news has come to you that has rocked your world? Have you received bad health news? Have you received bad news about a relationship? How about overwhelming financial issues? We all have those things that attack us and keep us wondering what is next. When this happens, are you acknowledging the truth? Are you living in the present reality? Or, do you deny the issues?

Notice Jehoshaphat’s response! He was afraid. What would you do? How would you respond to a coming battle that is sure to devastate you and kill off many that are with you? There was not much to be excited about. This enemy were a formidable army and they were about to do major harm. Jehoshaphat did what most of us would have done. He was afraid. You see fear itself is not the problem, it is what we do with the fear that makes the difference. 

So what did Jehoshaphat do with his fear? He began to pray and to fast with the intent to align his heart and his mind with the heart and mind of God. Elmer Towns, one of the cofounders of Liberty University, along with Jerry Farwell, has written a number of books and articles on fasting. He stated that “we do not fast to get prayers answered as much as we fast to know God.” He describes fasting as that which leads to an intimate knowing of Jesus Christ. Because of Jehoshaphat’s call for prayer and fasting, notice what happens next. Jehoshaphat begins to extol the testimony of all that God has done in the past in an effort to build faith in the present. Through pray and fasting, he was reminded of the goodness and the power of God. 

It is then that Jehoshaphat makes a powerful statement. He said this because their heart was aligned with God’s heart and because they were reminded of all that God had done for them. He proclaimed “We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you.” What a powerful statement of faith. What is he saying? He is saying, yes I see the armies. I see the power of their forces. I acknowledge my fear and my concerns. I recognize that we could be overwhelmed and destroyed. And yet, with all of that in mind there is one thing I can do. We might not know what to do, but we can keep our eyes on God. 

Think about this. Jehoshaphat is saying we do not have a clue, but we have God. He is saying I do not have any answers, but we have God. He is saying this problem is bigger than us and greater than anything we can do, but we have God. The conclusion of this matter could be devastating, but we have God. We are afraid, but we have God. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on God. We trust Him!

Some years ago we had a man in our church that owned a party fishing boat. One day we had been out in the Atlantic fishing the wrecks for black fish and sea bass. Suddenly, on the radio we began to hear chatter about a severe storm that was blowing in and that we needed to return to the dock as soon as possible. You see the inlet we had to go through was rough even on a good day. Now there was a severe storm. Carl, the captain and owner of the boat, asked that I join him in the wheel house, which I did. 

Sure enough the storm came in and the inlet was swirling and the waves were beating the shore with great power. On either side of the inlet were large rocks that would destroy the boat, if we collided with anyone of them. The captain was not deterred. He aligned the boat to go through the inlet and off we went. We were getting tossed around, but he kept his focus and made it through the inlet. How did he do this? He kept his eyes on the boat’s instrumentation and GPS. Though the storm was rough, and I admit I was scared, the captain kept his focus on the instruments. We made it through the inlet and safely to the protected waters of the bay.

When I talked to him later about this event, He stated that he had faith in his equipment and by focusing on the equipment, he navigated the storm. So it is with us. we need to focus on God and He will direct our steps. You may not know what to do, but you can focus on God. He will keep you no matter what. He will move you safely to the protection of the bay. 

Listen to the words of 2 Chronicles 20:14-17. They speak to us more than anything else.  And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”

Did you catch the key to this passage? Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. The battle they were facing was not their battle, it was God’s. How many times do we try to fight battles that we were never intended to fight? We try to work things out, and sometimes we try to get involved where we should be allowing God to work out the situation. Notice they were to stand and see the salvation of the Lord. They were to stand in faith and by faith. They were to let God fight their battles. If we will allow God to do so, we can give every problem we face to Him. We can surrender our will to His will, and we will see Him fight for us.

Notice that Judah did not do nothing, they were moved to action but look at the action they took. ’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” Notice what they did. They did not just sit on the sidelines. They engaged, but not in the way that we might think. They began to worship God. They worshipped Him with song, and they worshipped Him with their praise. They prayed, they trusted God, they realized that this was God’s battle, and they praised God with the words of song and worship. Notice that all of their actions aligned their focus on God and His work in their lives. 

Then the most amazing thing happened. God confuses the armies that were set against them and they began to fight amongst themselves to the point that they utterly destroyed one another. They were destroyed but God was glorified. The people praised God and God came through. They focused on Him, and He won the battle. They turned their eyes upon God, and He came through big time. 

How about you? Are you fighting battles that are not yours? Have you become focused on things other than God? Have you forgotten the blessings of God on your life? 

I love the story of Peter and the fact that He walked on water. Why? Because he had his eyes on Jesus, when he stepped from the boat. He was focused on Jesus. Notice that as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus, he fell into the water and was overcome by the storm. While he remained focused on Jesus, he was walking on water. Peter, Peter was walking on water. How awesome is that? What changed in his condition? He was distracted by the waves. He took his eyes off of Jesus. He lost his focus and into the water he went. 

In the end we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We may not know what to do but we can trust God. We can stay focused on Him. We can worship God with songs of praise and songs of worship. We can pick our battles and not fight the ones God already has under His control. 

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The Cost of Freedom

Peninsula Community Church 

The Cost of Freedom 

July 1, 2018 

Ephesians 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

As we read this passage, we find that Paul details two primary benefits we receive as believers in Christ. We know this is written to believers because he begins the verse with “In Him.” This phraseology is used to signify that we are in Him because of salvation through Christ. So as believers, we receive two amazing gifts or benefits. We are redeemed and we are forgiven. 

In regard to being redeemed, we find this is a word that means to buy back or pay a debt. In New Testament times, the term was a reference to slave trading. A slave could be set free if the right price would be paid on their behalf. It was a stiff price, but for those who wanted it, they could make it work. Once the freedom price had been paid, the new owner could release that slave. The slave was now free and never had to fear being sold into slavery again. 

Christ went to the cross as the spotless lamb to give Himself to purchase us from the slavery of sin. He was the sacrificial lamb that was slain so that the penalty of sin could be paid and we could be free from the power of sin. He did this by shedding His blood and paying the ultimate price. As Paul says here, He lavished us with the riches of His grace which paid in full the greatest of all gifts, our spiritual freedom.

This idea of the Lamb of God has been a theme of redemption from the beginning of time. Even as far back as Abraham and Isaac, you will recall that God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. He would be the one who would populate the world. Isaac was the promised son that God had given to Abraham to fulfill this promise. But there was a problem, God tested Abraham and commanded him to take Isaac and sacrifice him on an altar. 

Can you imagine the scene as they are climbing the mountain? Isaac is asking his father where the sacrifice is and Abraham’s answer over and over was God will provide. Abraham had a confidence in God, that if Isaac was the promised son, that God would provide an appropriate sacrifice. Abraham placed Isaac on the altar in obedience to God and drew his knife. God called to Abraham and showed him a lamb caught in the thicket. That lamb became the substitutionary sacrifice for Isaac. That is what Jesus did for us. Because the wages of sin is death, we deserved death, but Christ became our substitute and the wages of sin were paid for through His sacrifice. 

If we fast forward a few hundred years, we find the children of Israel under Egyptian rule and they have been for over 400 years. What started as a good relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh, quickly denigrated to one that set the Egyptians against the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel was in bondage and were slaves to the Egyptians. But God had a plan, God sent a messenger and a deliverer. Moses confronted Pharaoh, and after administering nine plagues, God had a plan to redeem the nation of Israel and to set them free. 

The children of Israel were instructed to take a unspotted and unblemished lamb. The lamb was was to be killed and the blood of the lamb was to be applied to the doorpost of their home. The idea was that the death angel was to pass over them because the blood of the lamb had been applied to the doorposts of their homes. They would not be affected by the death angel. The wages of death would not affect them because they would be redeemed by the blood.

As we fast forward to the New Testament, we find that John the Baptist makes a highly provocative statement for his day. As he sees Jesus approaching, he proclaims “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” How blasphemous this was in His day, but how true it was. Jesus was being ushered in as the one and only lamb that could redeem the world and set us free from our sin. He was the perfect lamb, that had been tasked with this mission. John the Baptist recognized this and in that moment he spread the word about Christ’s mission, His purpose, and His identity. 

As we know now, Christ died a brutal death upon the cross. In so doing, He secured our freedom. It cost Him His life. The slave price was paid for us and Christ secured our freedom once and for all. He died so we could be free. He died so we did not have to face the penalty of death or the penalty of our sin. Because the wages of sin is death, without Christ we would have to face death as a consequence of the sin we committed. But through Christ we have been redeemed. We were bought off the slave market. We were bought with the most precious price that could ever be imagined. It was a price that had to be exacted, so that His will and His purpose could be achieved through mankind and that was the salvation for those who choose Christ. 

Secondly, through the death of Christ we have received forgiveness. The mental bondage that comes from our sin has been erased. We have been forgiven. Imagine that every sin, every mistake, every failure that occurred has been forgiven. This is not something to be taken lightly. God removes our sin from us. Listen to David’s response to God’s forgiveness. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:10-12). We are forgiven and that means that God now deals with us in a different way. He does not deal with us as sinners, but as saints who are moving toward the perfection God is working in us. 

There is a story about a Catholic priest in the Philippines. He was a much-loved man of God who carried the burden of a secret sin he committed many years before. He had repented but still had no peace. He had no sense of God’s forgiveness. In his church, there was a woman who deeply loved God and claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Jesus and Jesus spoke with her. He tested the woman by saying to her, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask Him what sin your priest committed while he was in seminary.” The woman agreed. A few days later the priest asked, “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?” “Yes, He did,” she replied. “And did you ask Him what sin I committed in seminary?” “Yes.” “Well, what did He say?” “He said, ‘I don’t remember.’” This little story reminds us of the fact God forgives and He forgets our sin, even if we do not. God reminds us I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).

That is what Jesus did for us. The pile of sin’s bills in our life were too much for us to handle. We were weighed down under the legal requirements of that sin and the sins we committed. But, Jesus went to the cross and He paid the debt we had, so the sin we once experienced could no longer effect our life. It was paid completely and in total. The bill of sin is now stamped with the words debt paid in full. 

A number of years ago we had purchased a car from a friend. Because we could not afford to pay for the car in full, we arranged interest free payments with him. We had paid about one third of the cost when he invited me out for lunch one day. As we were talking at lunch, he took a piece of paper from his pocket and on the paper were the words “paid in full.” You see he took the debt we owed and forgave us of the debt. It was our debt, but he forgave us and we were debt free.  

How did Christ pay our debt? He did this according to the riches of his grace. Here is the point Paul is making. No matter how great the debt, no matter how much you think you owe, the riches of His grace is more than enough to redeem us from our sin and He forgives us of every sin ever committed. 

Today, we are often reminded of past sin. The enemy of our soul loves to remind us of what we have done. He loves to remind us of our past failures. He loves to condemn us and try to get us to look back rather than look to what Christ has done and that our future is bright because of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. 

When satan comes to condemn you with past sin, you have the right and the privilege to hold up your list of sin and the paid in full receipt. Your sin has been covered by His blood and you are fully forgiven. How powerful that would be if we could walk in the vision of who we are in Christ! It would save us from returning to our old way of life. It would prevent us from being stagnated in our current existence, because we are being reminded of past sin that has already been forgiven. 

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Peninsula Community Church 

The Power of God’s Word

June 24, 2018 

Psalm 19:7-10 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Let me begin with a question this morning. What would you pay for a document or a tool that would give you solutions to life’s problems and would bring you great joy and wisdom? The fact is, we already have such a tool and such a document. It is called the Word of God. The problem, however, is that somewhere along the line, we have replaced the Word of God with psychology, secular counseling, new age philosophies, and secular mindsets. So many today do not believe they need God, therefore they believe they do not need His word! How sad and misplaced that is. It is sad because we have turned to those things that fail to embrace the power of God’s word as the source for help and assistance the with issues we face. Please note, that I am not opposed to counseling, but counseling apart from God’s word is not a healthy pursuit. 

In complete disclosure the outline of this message is one that I heard given by John MacArthur at Jack Hayford’s pastor’s conference a number of years ago. It is his outline but I have added my ideas and thoughts to the message. As we look at this passage, we find that Psalm 19 allows us to look into David’s heart and gain a greater understanding of the power of God’s word to bring change. Here we find that David lists six attributes of God’s word and what those attributes, when properly applied, can accomplish in the life of the believer. As we look at this passage, we must not miss the reality that all six of these attributes have one thing in common. All six attributes contain the phrase “of the Lord.” This settles the issue of authority and it confirms the source of the Word of God. The Word is powerful and sufficient because it has divine origins. This is the law of the Lord and not of man. Let us look at these six attributes this morning.

In verse 7, we find that the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. In essence, the law of God is the source and guide for all of man’s conduct. Today, man’s moral compass is off kilter. The result is that we seem to be flying upside down. The problem is that when Scripture is rejected as the sole moral compass of our life, we are left to our own devices to make sense of life. When that is our focus it does not always end well. I am thankful, however, that we have been given a fixed point of reference, and that fixed point of reference is the Word of God. Once we lose that, we are indeed lost. 

David says the law is perfect which carries the idea, not so much of being flawless, but that the Word of God is complete in every way. God’s law covers every aspect of life. It leaves nothing out. It is sweeping and complete in its effect. It is the completeness of the Word that gives it the power to restore the soul. Because it restores the soul, it can transform everyone who applies the Word to their heart and their way of life. Through God’s Word, that which was broken is made whole. That which was dead is now alive. That which was lost has been found.

Secondly, David proclaims that the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The essence of this passage is that God’s Word is the testimony of the Lord. It is God’s self-revelation. To know God, read the Scripture and through it’s pages we see Him revealed. That is because the Bible is God’s personal testimony. It is the revelation of who He is.

David states that the testimony of the Lord is sure which means that it is absolutely reliable and trustworthy. The result of its reliability is that it gives the simple wisdom. The word simple, as used here, means to be ignorant and without understanding. In the Hebrew language, the root of the word means “an open door.” To have an open door means that we let everything in but we also let everything out. Scripture says that even a fool is thought to be wise until he opens his mouth. From a mental standpoint this term relates to the inability to discern and distinguish truth from fact.

Today, we are encouraged by many to be open minded, but in those days, if you were to say you had an open mind, people would say, “Well close the door.” The point is, you need to know what to keep in and what to keep out. A door is a point of discretion. When it comes to the mind, you should not be proud that you let everything in and for that matter everything out. We must close the door and be aware of what goes in and comes out of our mind. The word of God does that for us. It teaches us discernment. It teaches us to have good judgement and higher standards. It teaches us to distinguish between truth and lies. It takes the simple and makes them wise.

Third, the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart. Through Scripture comes doctrine, dogma, and propositional truth. As the Word of God, it sets down truths to be believed and these truths are right. This is not so much right as opposed to wrong, but it is a matter of heading in the right direction. Therefore, it is the Word that sets us on the right path. 

In Psalm 119:105 David proclaimed, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and light to my path.” The Word is not just a lamp and a light, it is the path. In life, there is a way which seems right unto a man, but that way ends in death (Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25). Scripture’s testimony is that we are to walk in the precepts of God. It is all about the path we are taking. Thus, when you walk in His way, the result is rejoicing in the heart. His way is the path of joy. It is through God’s Word that we receive exuberant joy that overflows into celebration. It is the right path.

Fourth, in verse 8, David proclaims, the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. This is not a book of suggestions. This is not a book of good thoughts and nice ideas. These are commandments from the sovereign king of the universe who has total authority over every aspect of life. Notice here that the commandments of the Lord are pure. The idea presented in the Hebrew language is that the commandments are clear. They are transparent and translucent, and not opaque. They are not hard. The commandments are not pointless because God made them clear and understandable. To say the Bible is not clear is an indictment of God as that would put us in an impossible situation. This is the problem that arises if we do not believe that the Word is clear. God does not ask us to do anything that He does not make clear through His Word. By following the commandments of the Lord, we can see clearly what He has intended for us, and it becomes easy to obey His commands. 

Fifth, in verse 9, we find that “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” The way fear is used here is a reference to reverence, awe, and worship. The fact is, the Bible is a manual on worship. It tells us how we should worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Scripture defines the One to be worshiped and how He is to be worshiped. This is a testimony to Scripture’s inerrancy, it is clean and it is pure. How do we know? We know this because Scripture never changes and it lasts forever.

Finally, the judgments of the Lord are true, they are righteous altogether. In society today, we do not like the term judgement, but the reality is judgement is a necessary part of what God does. Judgment is the act that makes grace what it is. Without judgment, grace would not be such a beautiful gift. The difference between our judgments and His judgments is that His judgments are absolutely true and accurate.

The truth is, Scripture gives us God’s verdict on everything. It is decisive and true. In a world of lies and in a world of deception, Scripture is absolutely true and reliable. As a result, the phrase, “they are righteous altogether,” can be translated as producing comprehensive righteousness. In John 17:17 Christ proclaimed, Sanctify them by thy truth, thy word is truth.” His Word is that which sanctifies and brings glory to His name because it is true and it is reliable. 

When all is said and done we know this, Scripture is God’s law, God’s testimony, God’s precepts, God’s commands, God’s manual on worship, and it is His judgments. It is comprehensive, perfect, sure, right, clear, clean, and true. It totally transforms the whole person. It makes the undiscerning skilled in all aspects of living. It produces an unassailable joy. It makes the dark things light, and it endures forever. Every culture, every place, every age, and every person finds it relevant and that it restores life.

As a result, when we look at verse 10, we understand the value of God’s Word in our life. Listen to David’s words. The Words of God “are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” The Word of God is more precious than anything. It is to be desired more than the best gold. It better than anything the world has to offer as it is eternal, powerful, and all sufficient. It is more precious than the best commodity the world has to offer. It is sweeter than anything life can bring.

I love John MacArthur’s comment in this regard. If you have a choice between the Word of God and GOLD, choose the Word of God. If you have a choice between the Word of God and MUCH gold, choose the Word of God. If you have a choice between the Word of God and much FINE gold, choose the Word of God. The point is plain. The benefits of knowing and doing the Word of God are greater than all that money can buy.

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Who Are You?

Peninsula Community Church 

Who Are You?

June 17, 2018

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Today is Father’s Day. It is the day we set aside to celebrate dads and all that fatherhood means! In preparing for this message, I came across this quote from Mark Twain who gave the following insight into fatherhood. “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned.” Charles Swindoll said that “A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.” And then Kent Nerburn said “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.”

I think we would all agree that fatherhood, as we know it, is being challenged. In most sitcoms, the father is portrayed as a bumbling idiot who is constantly failing in his role as a father. We continue to witness a culture that has become antagonistic toward the ideals of biblical fatherhood! Truthfully, the value of manhood as a whole is being weakened. Rather than finding their God given role and place in the kingdom of God, men have abrogated their responsibility to others. They have abrogated their responsibility to their wife, the school system, the media, and the government. And of course all of these have been willing accomplices. 

Much has changed since the days where fathers worked side by side with their family on the farm day and night. It was here the family would talk and life lessons would be learned. Both statistically and historically studies have shown that after WWI and WWII fathers returned home numbed by the harsh experiences of war. These men were tested not just physically but emotionally as well. Additionally, with the arrival of the industrial revolution, men began to travel to work rather than work at home or in the community they lived. They would leave home early in the morning and would return late in the evening. Once home they would eat dinner, go to bed, and get up the next morning to do it all over again. Please note this does not mean that every father is bad or that fatherhood is dead. What it means is that we must come to a greater understanding of what fatherhood means in light of the Gospel and all that God has done for us. That is the point of this message. 

So with that in mind, I want to speak to you about what it means to be a real man. The world today is trying to get us to measure up to their idea of manhood and fatherhood which is a wimpy, feminized manhood. God wants us to be real men, with real strength. The real measure we need to take is God’s plan is for our life and not what societal norms dictate. Why is this? It is because societal norms change from day-to-day, but God’s word never changes and it always provides the foundation we need to live life to the fullest. I suggest to you there are four questions that need to be considered when dealing with the subject of being a real man.

The first question we must consider is who am I? This speaks specifically to our identity. This question must be answered because if it is not settled in our mind we will be forever trying to find answers in unhealthy ways. The result is that we will work a lifetime to measure up to all of the wrong things. We will seek to live up to the identity placed on us by some one else, rather than our God given destiny.

John Piper stated that “Christian selfhood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does to us and the relationship He creates with us and the destiny He appoints for us. God made us who we are so we could make known who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known his identity.”

The truth is, if we are honest, we will acknowledge that we often feel insecure about who we are. It seems that those who hide it best, often deal with the pain and difficulty of insecurity the most. As we investigate Scripture, we find that our insecurity is really an invitation from God to escape the danger of false beliefs, about who we are, so we can find true peace in who He is.

Scripture tells us that in Christ we become a new creation at salvation. In being a new creation, we do not lose ourselves but in fact in Christ, we actually find ourselves. It is only in Him that we find our true self, as we are His creation and we are His workmanship. In Him, our joy becomes His joy. His love becomes our love. His peace becomes our peace. His strength becomes our strength. Then and only then can we begin to understand our identity. 

Too often, we try to find our identity in our jobs. We search for our identity in what we do and perhaps in how well we keep all of the rules. We search for our identity in how much money we have. We search for our identity in our success. Now there is no problem with any of these things in themselves, but too often we seek our identity in these things apart from Christ. That never ends well when we do that. So who are you today? Have you found your identity in Christ or do you continue to try and find your identity in everything apart from Christ and His will for you. 

The second question is whose am I? Who do you belong to? Who are you connected to? As a believer we belong to God. We are His. Too often, we struggle with the knowledge of who we are accountable to. The man who knows he is a creation of Almighty God and the redeemed of a loving Savior is likely to live a different kind of life from one who does not. We belong to God. We are His! Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 7:22-23 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. Here is the truth, we belong to Christ. He has purchased us and He has bought us with a price that could never be matched. We belong to Him!

The third question is What am I here for? To live full lives we need to know what our role or purpose is in life? Why has God put us here on earth? Is the purpose just to find ourself, express ourself, fulfill ourself, or is each person here for a higher, nobler purpose? We must be reminded that your job, your heritage, your wealth or lack thereof does not fully define you. Your purpose in Christ does define you and make you who you are. 

You see, once you recognize who you are and whose you are, you can then begin to effectively understand what you are here for. In the Westminster Catechism the question is posed, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Man’s chief purpose on earth is to glorify God. We glorify God in our family, on our jobs, in our hobbies, and in all that we do. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that … whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. And then Paul in Colossians 3:17 states that whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

What am I here for? It is to give God glory. So it does not matter what you do for a living. It does not matter your heritage. It does not matter what your heritage is. It does not matter your social or financial standing is. What matters is do you glorify God in all of these things. 

And finally, we must answer the question where am I going? Someone has said that the destination is not as important as the journey. While this is true we must succeed in life by knowing where we are going. If we do not know our destination we will tend to drift and we will ramble through life without a purpose or a plan. That can be boring, dissatisfying, and confusing.

To fully understand this principle we need only to look at the life of beleaguered Job. I love his testimony. In the midst of his excoriating pain and suffering, in the darkness of his soul’s depression, his faith was still intact. He called out, For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27).

Why did Job survive the difficulties that he experienced? He did so because he had an eternal perspective on his life. He knew who he was. He knew who he belonged to. He knew his purpose in life and he knew his destiny. He knew that this life was not the end. There was more to come. That encouraged and motivated Job to overcome every issue he faced. We too will overcome every problem that we encounter when we set that problem against the template of eternity. 

So how are you doing with these four questions? Who are you? Whose are you? What is your purpose? Where are going? When we answer these questions effectively, we no longer try to measure up against society’s norm or what others think we should be. We will be the man, and for that matter, the woman God has called you to be. My prayer is make it so Lord!

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More Than Conquerors 

Peninsula Community Church

More Than Conquerors 

June 10, 2018 

Romans 8:35, 37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As we look at the words of Paul today, the first realization we have is that life happens. We all face problems, difficulties, and trials. Jesus Himself stated 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” (John 16:33). Notice what Jesus says. In Him you will have peace, but in the world you will have tribulation. Does this mean that we stick our head in the sand and never interact with the world around us? No, that is not the point at all. What Jesus is encouraging is that when we have a right view of Him, we find our peace in Him. We also find that He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Because our peace is in Him, no matter what comes at us, we will be able to overcome it. To know that He has already overcome the world, should bring us peace.

In our passage, Paul asks somewhat of a rhetorical question which he then answers. He asks “What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He then proceeds to list a number of things that invade our space and causes problems. Each of these have a potential to disrupt life and cause us to believe that God somehow does not love us any more. In our humanity, apart from God, it seems that any of these things could take us out. We find that tribulation is the pressure that comes from outside. Distress is that pressure that comes from within. And then of course, there is persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword! All of these things impact our lives. All of these things want to take us out. 

As Paul lists these possibilities, he emphatically answers the rhetorical question by saying there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Nothing! No thing! No situation! No problem! None of the issues Paul listed is able to separate us from His love. Later in the verse, we find that He goes into even more detail. He says For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To fully understand this, we must understand the love of God. First of all, too often we equate God’s love to human love. When it comes to human love, we have been deceived, forsaken, and forgotten. This world does not always provide us with a good example of love because our view of love is often predicated on our personal experience with love. We tend to place onto God the failures of those who failed us. We place onto God the hurts of those who have hurt us. We place onto God the rejection we have experienced. The result is that we believe that God’s love wavers and ebbs and flows based on how people treat us or what circumstances we face. 

But, God’s love does not ebb and flow. God’s love is eternal and it is everlasting. How do we know this? We know this because He loved us before the foundation of the world, and He already had in motion His plan for redemption. The blessing is that you and I are a part of His plan. When He went to the cross, He had you on His mind. He thought of you when He died. When He took His last breath, He had you on His mind. In fact, if you were the only one on earth He would have died and He would have given Himself, just for you. Why? Because He loved you with an everlasting love and He still loves you with that kind of love.

You see unless we understand God’s love the way it really is, we will never understand that His love never fails and that He never fails us. Moses gives us some insight into the love of God in Exodus 34:6-7. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,  keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Here is the point. We must understand that God loves us and that His love is not contingent upon the issues we face. He loves us and continues to love us no matter what comes. We know the depth of His love because it cost Him everything. He modeled His love by giving us what we did not deserve and it seems sometimes the more undeserving we feel the more He gives. Only as we recognize God’s love for us can we understand there is nothing that can separate us from His love. So, do you know His love?

Paul says that nothing can separate us from His love but he also helps us to see that because of His love we are more than conquerors. Notice that it is through Christ that we are conquerors. The word Paul uses for conqueror is the word “nikao.” You might be familiar with the word Nike. The word nikao is the word where Nike is derived. Specifically, the verb ‘nikao’ means to conquer, to vanquish, or to overcome.

Secondly, the word conqueror is prefaced by the words “more than.” The idea presented in this phrase is that there is an abundant and an overwhelming ability to conquer. Therefore, we are not just a conqueror, we are more than a conqueror. We do not just get by, but we more than exceed. We do not just conquer, we completely overcome. How often do we live in the mentality that we are going to just get by? We do not exceed expectations, but we stay on the margin. When this happens we can be motivated to settle for less than what God has for us. God’s plan for us is that we will be more than a conqueror. Because of His love, His plan is that we live above and beyond and not to just get by. We must be “more than conquerors.”

The problem is that too often we allow the enemy to get a foothold in our life when we live as a victim rather than a victor. In our society, today, there is a pervasive mindset that we are victims. Thus everyone is a victim and since everyone is a victim we are easily offended. We live as a victim which diminishes our ability to overcome and be effective. Thus succumbing to a victim mentality demoralizes and weakens us. It is almost impossible to walk in victory, as we will always find fault and we will blame others for our failures, our lack of joy, and our ability to move forward in the things of God. Once we renounce a victim mentality, we can begin to take responsibility for our sin, our wrong, and our failures. Then and only then can we accept God’s love. Then and only then can we walk in victory. But as long as we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our actions, we will not be able to live victoriously and we will certainly not be able accept His love as He meant it. 

We must also understand that with all of the tactics of the enemy, Satan lacks the power to steal our eternal destiny, and he cannot separate us from the love of God. The problems of life cannot separate us. Nothing we face worries God in the least. If we are His children through faith in His Son, then we have His pledge of love and protection. In John 10:27–29, Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Because of Jesus’s resurrection, all threats against you are tamed. Jesus conquered death, so death and evil are not the end of the story.

To be more than a conqueror means that before you ever get a problem, you already know that whatever problem comes your way, you can overcome it through Jesus Christ. You can live with confidence that God loves you no matter what and He will never leave you nor forsake you. That is a promise! When you have this kind of relationship with Christ, you are not constantly afraid of bad news or of things that may happen that are not in your plan. When the unexpected happens or you are disappointed, you will not be devastated by it.

This is an amazing truth and Paul encapsulates all of this in one verse. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).

Therefore, since we know that God loves us, we do not have to worry about being destroyed or conquered. We are more than conquerors! We do not have to fear what comes our way. We are more than conquerors! We do not have to worry about any external or internal force overcoming us. We are more than conquerors! He loves us and when we follow Him wholeheartedly, we do not have to fear defeat because He loves us and we are more than conquerors.

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God Is For You

Peninsula Community Church 

God Is For You

June 3, 2018 

Romans 8:31-35 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

In this passage, Paul presents three thought provoking questions. First, he asks if God is for us who can be against us? Secondly, he asks who will bring a charge against God’s elect? His third and final question is even more thought provoking. Who or what can separate us from the love of God? These questions go to the core of our idea or concept of who God is and whether we really believe He is all powerful. These questions and their subsequent answers have a direct correlation to the level of trust we will have in God and how much we will depend on Him to be our source of strength and help. We need to come to terms with these questions because if we cannot answer these questions correctly, we will struggle with the issues of life even more. 

As we review these questions, we should consider some of the lies that are propagated against us. One of the great lies propagated by the enemy is that when bad things happen, we believe that God has somehow stopped loving us or He loves us less. We are trapped into believing that our goodness or lack thereof changes God’s love for us. The lie is that if we are good enough, God will love us, and if we are not good, He will not love us as much. This often comes as a result of our view of love. Too often, we are try to gain people’s love and our success is measured by that level of love. 

Secondly, we can feel that the whole world is against us when we try to stand for the truth. The lie propagated here is that we are alone and have been forsaken. This is a difficult place to be. When we feel that we are up against the world, it is painful and exasperating. This is illustrated by Elisha and his servant. From the servant’s perspective what he saw was a fierce enemy that was about to attack them. The servant felt alone and devastated, but Elisha had a different perspective. He saw beyond the visible to see God at work and there was a whole army surrounding them. 

We are not alone, because God is with us and He is protecting us. Listen to 2 Kings 6:15-17 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. May God open our eyes to see God is for us.

A third lie is that when bad things happen to us, we are devalued by the problems we encounter. Too often our value is determined by how good or bad things are. If things are good and going according to our plan, then we must be good. If things are bad, then we must be bad. That is a wrong mindset and is one that is destructive because we look to others and things apart from God to bring us satisfaction. Even worse, we believe that if things are good, then God is good and if things are bad, then God is bad. We are deceived into thinking that our view of ourselves and of God is measured by the circumstances in our life, rather than the unchanging truth of who God is, and what He has provided for us through His grace. 

It is noteworthy here that the word “if” does not denote doubt, as in can God could do this, but rather it is a conclusion that has been reached by Paul. As the word “if” is used here, it is the recognition of a consequence or an affirmation signifying since. That is, since God is God, He will not forsake us. The argument is this, because God is for us nothing or no one can be against us. There are forces that oppose the believer, but nothing can successfully overthrow us when we are following God with our whole heart. The world may give way, but God will always be there. 

The fact is God has always been for us and we see this communicated in the following verses. Isaiah 54:16-17 Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its purpose. I have also created the ravager to destroy; no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.” 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

There is much that is against us and there is much that aims to take us out. In Romans 8 alone we see some things aimed at us with a goal to take us out. Look at these. There is the condemnation of past of sin which has already been forgiven. The sinful nature is at war with His spirit. We face sufferings. The body is decaying and is filled with pain and weakness. There is much to fight against us. After all, we have an enemy according to 1 Peter 5:8 who wants to take us out. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

While all of this is true, to dispel the lies and fully grasp the truth there is nothing that can come against us, we must know that He is for us. We begin by acknowledging that He is for us. In this chapter there is concrete evidence that He is for us and not against us. Let’s look at the evidence. The first exhibit that we know that God is for us is that He has given us His Son. In one of the most sacrificial acts of the ages, God sent His son to die for every sin that had ever been committed, is being committed, or will ever be committed (verses 3 and 32). 

What more could God do than send His own Son into this world to be our Savior? Surely this is sufficient proof that He is for us as seen in John 3:16. In Romans 8:32, we are told not only that God did not withhold His own Son, but He delivered Him up for us all. He entered the world to become a sacrifice for our sins and to offer Himself upon the cross of Calvary. The result is that God guarantees to give us “all things.” He gives us everything we need to survive and make it through this war zone. God is for us!

The second piece of evidence that proves that God is for us is that He has settled the question of sin. As we saw last week it is sin that is at the root of every problem in life. God is for us because He dealt with not just sin, but the power of sin to control our life. Apart from Him, we were condemned (John 3:18); but no more. He died as our sin-bearer, savior, and substitute for us. We are no longer under condemnation (John 5:24). So then, who can charge us or condemn us? Christ died and He rose to be exalted at the right hand of God the Father, to intercede for us. He has justified us once and for all. He has removed the penalty of condemnation from us forever. God is for us!

The third piece of evidence that proves that God is for us is the fact that He has given us His Spirit. He did not leave us to our own demise. He sent us the necessary support and the helper we need. It is noteworthy that while Romans 7 never mentions the Spirit, we find that in Romans 8 the Spirit is mentioned twenty times. The Spirit has come to live within us. This is true of every child of God. He indwells us to give life (verse 10). His indwelling guarantees our resurrection (verses 11, 23). He is in us to emancipate us (verse 13). He is our constant guide (verse 14). He leads us according to God’s will. He gives us the assurance that we really are the Lord’s (verse 16). He indwells us to be our Helper (verse 26). God is for us!

The fourth piece of evidence that proves God is for us is He has adopted us into His family and has made us joint-heirs with His Son (verses 14-17). Notice the word ‘sonship’ in verse 15 and try to grasp that stupendous thought. God has brought us into His family. He is our Heavenly Father and we can utter those most precious words “Abba, Father.” These words are a child’s first cry of recognition and relationship. He then goes beyond this because verse 17 tells us that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ! God is for us!

The final piece of evidence for us to know that God is for us is that He has guaranteed our future. Romans 8:35-39 makes a triumphant conclusion to this great chapter, and includes the final evidence that God is for us. Nothing in time or eternity, in heaven or on earth, no force of evil, no demon from hell, absolutely nothing will ever separate us from the Lord and from His love for us. God is for us!

So yes, God is for us, but there is one question we must ask: are we for Him? Are you? Are you on the Lord’s side? If so, banish your fears and doubts and be content in the assurance that “since God is for me, who can successfully be against me?” Our view of God will make a difference in our view of life. We can view God as a genie, or we can view him as an ATM but both are faulty views of the Heavenly Father. Remember your view of God will determine your outlook on life.

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