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!

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

He Cares For You

Peninsula Community Church

He Cares For You

May 27, 2018 

Romans 8:26-30 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Two of the great truths we hold onto as believers is that God keeps us and that God loves us with His whole heart. We see this promise throughout Scripture. When I was in Bible College we had a professor that always told us that if there is a principle that is repeated multiple times in Scripture, that principle must be important. The principal of His keeping power is seen throughout Scripture. We know that He is our protector, and He is in the business of keeping us. We can trust Him, and we can hold onto what He promises. 

While that is true, we also struggle with the issue that bad things happen and they happen to both good and bad people. That is why this passage is critical to our understanding of God and the problems we face. For our time here today, I would like to hone in on Romans 8:28 specifically. This passage is often quoted, but it is also often misused and misquoted. We know that everything works out for the good, but that does not mean that everything that happens to us will always be good. Sometimes this passage is quoted as if no bad thing will ever happen to a believer, but when it is interpreted that way it gives us a false hope and a false sense of security. We can also be confused when we believe that only good things happen to good people and bad things only happen to bad people. The fact is it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Everyone experiences problems. The difference is in understanding why these things happen.

Notice two things here. First, God works everything out for the good to those who love God and secondly, everything works out for the good to those who are called according to His purposes. The bottom line is that God uses everything in our life to bring about His will and all that is good. The way we get to His will does not always seem like fun or that it is good at the time, but God will take every circumstance in our life and use it for His glory. So the thing we must understand is that the working out for His glory is all about Him and not about us. It is always His glory and not ours that is paramount. 

To understand this, we must answer a vital question. How, or better yet, why do bad things happen to us? Why do we face struggles and problems in life? I can tell you that the basis of every problem in the world is that we live in a fallen world and the presence of sin is evident all around us. This is a result of mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden. The bottom line is the world is cursed because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God’s one command. Quite often I am asked why difficult things happen to us, if we are good people. In my answer I never want to over simplify the answer, but it is because of sin that bad things happen. For example, the recent episodes of shootings around our country is not a gun control issue. It is not a democratic or a republican issue. It is in fact, a sin issue that motivated these individuals to do the unthinkable. 

In view of sin being a formidable force in the world, let me give you fours reasons why bad things happen. I am sure you have heard these before, but let me rehearse them with you. First, suffering and difficulties come because of own choices. Too often our problems are a direct result of the choices we make. In the last year, I have found that my body does not respond well to spicy foods, even though I really love spicy foods. When I eat now, I have to a make a decision. Will I choose milder foods or will I choose spicy food. My choice will determine my outcome. Not every time but most of the time now if I eat super spicy food my stomach begins to remind me why I should not have eaten that food. I cannot blame the food. I cannot blame the chef. I cannot blame anyone or anything else because I chose poorly and must therefore pay for that decision. 

How often do we find that issues in our life are a result of our bad decisions? Remember Jonah in the Old Testament. He was called to go to Nineveh and instead of going to Nineveh he headed to Joppa. That was a bad choice because it was outside the parameters of God’s will and was in direct opposition to God’s will. In order to bring about His will, God used a storm to help navigate Jonah in the right direction. The seasoned sailors on board the ship he had boarded, had not seen any thing like this before and they were at a loss as to what to do. Upon the assistance of Jonah, they threw him overboard, where God prepared a fish to swallow Jonah. After three days, the fish threw Jonah up on the shore and Jonah ran to Nineveh where he preached the hope of God. Jonah’s failure began with a bad decision. You see a decision to ignore God’s calling and His will is never a good idea. Our decisions and choices have consequences. 

Secondly, we are impacted by the decisions of others. How often have we seen the results of someone driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and then crash into an innocent person? The one who was drunk leaves scars on those who never asked for or chose this outcome. You may have been doing everything correctly, but because of sinful decisions of some  others, our lives have been negatively impacted. In Scripture we find that Achan stole gold and silver from Jericho after being specifically commanded not to take any spoils by God. When Israel confronted the city of AI, the whole army was defeated. It was a direct outcome of the decision of Achan to take what was not his. This seems unfair but it is a reality of life. We are impacted by bad choices others make. For years, I suffered because of the decision of my parents to divorce and the choice of a step father to drink excessively which led to his abusiveness. 

Thirdly, we also know the enemy uses well-timed opportunities to discourage us and put us in a place where we are negatively impacted by the results. I see this at work in the story of David and Bathsheba. David, chose not to be in the field with his army. He made a bad decision. Secondly, he made a decision to walk on the roof top of his building. The enemy took advantage of this choice and provided a well-timed opportunity for Bathsheba to be bathing on the adjacent rooftop at the same time that he was there. Because of David’s bad decision and continued bad decisions, the enemy set David up for a great fall. It should be noted that David could have corrected his decision at any time, but he continued to make bad decisions. This was the king of Israel who was a friend of God and had everything he needed and yet he did not choose wisely, and the enemy used these well-timed opportunities to destroy David’s life. 

Finally, the fourth thing we know is that God allows things to happen so that His glory is seen and His will is accomplished. We see this in Joseph’s life when he was continually hampered by the work of evil in his life. He was rejected and sold into slavery. He was falsely accused. He experienced broken promises. But, as we heard last week, no matter what happened God was with Him. In the end, we see that God’s plan was accomplished and fulfilled. Why was this? From the beginning God had made a promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many people and he needed to use Joseph to keep this promise alive.

Listen to the final part of the story in Genesis 50:19-21. But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Notice the reason that God did this. It was so that people would be kept alive. God knew where he needed Joseph and He knew that He needed a plan to get Joseph into the position He needed to be, so He could be used to save the rest of his family. God can allow problems to come that bring about His glory and His will. They are used to redirect us and to refocus our attention on Him. 

 

In the final analysis we see that the issue is this. Not everything will be good in our life. But God will use everything in our life for His good. God takes the worst in our life to remind us of the best in His life. They are three reasons God uses pain. James MacDonald references these in his book, “10 Choices.” God uses everything in our life to humble us, restore us, and refine us.

Let me give you one example. In Deuteronomy 8:2-3 we find these words. And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.  

I am not sure where you are today. I am not sure what some of you are walking through but I know this. If we allow God to use everything in our life, He will work it all out for His good. 

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Best is Yet to Come

Peninsula Community Church

The Best is Yet to Come

May 13, 2018 

Romans 8:18-25 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

A number of years ago I did the funeral for a lady in our church. In preparing for the service, the family had requested that at the end of the service I would place a fork in the casket before they closed it. When I asked them why, they stated that their mom loved dessert. When she would clear the table after dinner, she would always say “keep your fork because the best is yet to come.” What she meant was that dessert was on the way and for her that was always the best part of the meal. As we review this passage, we find Paul saying there is much that happens in life, but the best is yet come. 

With that understanding let us consider a couple of important truths. Paul begins Romans 8:18 with the word “consider” which means to make a numerical calculation. It means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to deliberate, and to weigh. The idea is one of careful study or reasoning which results in coming to a specific conclusion. So what is the specific conclusion Paul wants us to consider? It is this. Paul is saying I have weighed out the trials I am experiencing now and I have weighed out the glory that is to be revealed and what I found is that the glory to come far outweighs any problems associated with my present condition. Paul has “mentally and spiritually weighed” the evidence and has come to the conclusion that something better is coming and that brings him hope.

As we read this passage, we find that the word suffer is pluralized which means of course that there is more than one problem. Have you ever noticed that when problems come there is usually not just a singular problem but they seem to come in multiples? The point is that in life we will have sufferings. We will have problems, multiple problems. Our heart will be broken. We will sense the pain of sorrow and difficult issues which seem almost unresolvable. We will be confronted by health issues that blindside us. Our children and other family members will disappoint us and fall short of the potential we believe they have. There will be arguments, fights, and issues will arise that seem impossible to overcome. We will have sufferings.

Secondly, Paul clarifies that he is looking at the sufferings we face in the present time. He calls it “present sufferings.” Paul is saying this is not the suffering of the past. It is not some future suffering we may face. It is what we are going through right now. There have been some that I speak with that share their pain and suffering. When you dig into their story, you find that the problems they are discussing occurred sometime in the past, and yet they share the problem as if it is a current issue. The problem most often is that their past problems have begun to define who they are in the present. You may be divorced, but divorce does not have to define you. You may have had serious sin issues in the past, but that does not have to define you now. Get the point. There are others times that we are perplexed by future issues that may or may not even occur. We spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying over what may never happen. In this regard, I love the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:34. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Jesus understood that we have enough to worry about today, so there is no reason to be concerned about past issues or future problems.

Thirdly, Paul states that whatever we go through now, no matter how great or painful they are, they cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed. That future glory has not been revealed, yet, but it is coming. In other words, be patient and hold on. Just as the mom, who could not wait for dessert, would proclaim the best is yet to come, the glory that is to come also reminds us that the best is yet to come for us. Yes, we have problems, but the best is yet to come. One problem we encounter is that we are impatient. We want things now. We do not want to wait. We want instant healing. We want growth without pain. We want advancement without hard work. We want instant gratification and instant results. We are impatient people.

Paul lets us in on a secret in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. He states, But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. God knows what you are going through this morning, and the best is yet to come.

Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary on Romans that The difference between the present degree of pain we experience and the blessedness to which God has appointed His people is so immensely different that there is no way to compare them. Any comparison we come up with falls short. When you are discouraged by your troubles, know that what is to come for you in Christ will be so much more wonderful than all of your pain. We see this in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. … we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Paul stated that For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Think about this. Paul is saying that hope is always in the unseen. That is why it is hope. Hope that sees the future is not hope at all. For that reason, God gives calls to hope in the glory that is to come, and not in the difficulties we face in this moment of time. In life, we face two great paradoxes: the futility of suffering and the hope of suffering. Paul does not minimize the suffering we face. In fact, Paul knew better than anyone what it meant to suffer for Christ. He knew what it meant to be beaten and be left for dead. He knew what it meant to be sick. He knew what it meant to pray for healing, but healing did not come. He knew what it meant to be betrayed by those close to him. He knew all of this and yet he could express such a hope in a future glory, because His hope was not in the circumstances or the events he faced. He had a “yet to come” perspective. 

In this matter, there are two things to consider in regard to the coming glory of Christ. One is that God’s glory is revealed on the earth, and second His full glory will not be experienced until we go to be with Christ in heaven. Perhaps, it would be helpful to understand the word “glory.” Glory has been defined as the manifestation of God’s presence. Here on earth there are moments when God’s presence is revealed in powerful ways, but His full glory comes when He brings us home with Him and we get to live in His presence for eternity. 

As humans, we experience pain in different ways. This is evident most often in the questions we ask. One of the great questions that is poised by so many of us is “How much more can I bear?” “What else is going to happen to me or them?” “Why is this happening?” “Why is this happening now?” “How am I going to make it through this?” “Why me?” “Why them?” And on and on go the questions. 

When we realize that the best is yet to come, we can endure the difficulties of the present time. The result is that we will have hope and we will be focused on a greater day and a greater opportunity for the presence of God to be manifested. So in the end, this all comes back to where our focus will be. Will we focus on the present problems, or the coming glory of God? Will we focus on the difficulties we face, or the promise that the best is yet to come? 

So where is your focus? Remember Paul started this chapter with the statement that “there is therefore now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” When we are focused on eternity and the coming glory of God, we are less likely to be condemned by the our current circumstances, because our hope is in Christ. So what are you going through? Do you need some dessert? Keep your fork because the best is yet to come. How many are facing some difficult times right now? Who needs some dessert? I have some! 

Let us pray!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Family Matters

Peninsula Community Church 

Family Matters 

May 6, 2018 

Romans 8:12-17 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

When we speak of family I am sure that we all have different opinions and ideas about what that looks like. For some of us, our family experience was a positive one. For many, the family experience provided the foundation we needed to be the man or woman we are today. I am also aware that the opposite is true. For some, the family experience has not been as positive as it could be. As a result, we have been negatively impacted by our families. For some, it was not the entire family, but one family member that seemed to create problems in the home and thus made it hard to celebrate family. Regardless of our background, family matters and family really matters to God. 

Throughout the New Testament, there are many Scriptures that point to the family and being the children of God. In this passage, Paul makes a wonderfully powerful statement. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

In our passage, Paul reminds us that we do not owe the flesh anything. Because we are sons, we are free from slavery. We must take care that we do not reconnect with the slavery of the past. Regardless of what you think about Kenye West, he made a powerful statement this past week.  He stated that “Slavery is a choice.” He was not talking about historical or institutional slavery but the mindset of slavery. You see what we set our minds on, will control us. If we focus on being slaves, our identity becomes one of slavery. The issue here is that the flesh will continue to attempt to extract a huge debt from us, but it is a debt that we no longer owe. It is a debt that can never be fully paid, as the flesh wants more and more. The flesh keeps raising the debt ceiling so that the debt becomes impossible to pay.

Paul also reminds us that through the Spirit we have become sons of God. We are a part of His family. This week, I read that God does not call us to do something without empowering us to do what He calls us to do. In this case, we are called to be sons of God and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do just, be sons of God. We were slaves to sin, but now we are the adopted son’s of God. It is our adoption that seals the deal for us and sets in place the work of the Holy Spirit within us. For a few moments let us look at this idea of adoption. 

During the times of the Romans and at the time of Paul’s writing, adoption was a common practice. By definition adoption refers to the legal action by which a person is taken into one’s family as a member of the family with full rights and authority as a member of the family. The one that is adopted is granted all of the rights and privileges of a true child of the new father. When we understand the act of adoption, we find that it is filled with grace, mercy, and love. For the believer, adoption is one of the most beautiful and rich theological concepts of Scripture.

According to Roman law, the father had ultimate power over a son and for that matter a daughter. That power never ended regardless of the status of the son as an adult. The son was always under the authority and power of the father. He had absolute power and he controlled the family absolutely. It is interesting to note however that by Roman law, if a man saw a son that he wanted to adopt, he had to go through a formidable process to adopt the son. 

The Roman law required a two step process. The first step was “mancipatio.” From here we get our word emancipation. This act of mancipatio was a symbolic sale of sorts. One father would approach the other father with the desire to adopt his son. Once they agreed, the two fathers would meet in a public place and transact business. The son’s father would sell the son to the adopting father and then he would buy him back. This would occur twice. On the third time, the father would not buy the son back. The deal was struck. With that, the control of the father was broken. Once this occurred the adopting father would go the Roman magistrate and present a legal case for the transference of the adopted one to the new father. When completed the adoption was final. 

Notice the spiritual implications of this. The flesh, the enemy of our soul, had control over our life. We were completely controlled by the flesh. The flesh, because of sin, had been given authority and control over our life. But one day, Christ made the case that He wanted to adopt us as His children. Through the cross, Jesus publicly bought us and finalized the adoption. He gave Himself as the price of adoption so He could adopt us by the power of the Spirit. 

When it comes to Roman adoptions there were a few principles that applied. These principles are critical to our understanding of the work of adoption in our life as believers. First, the adopted person lost all of the rights he had with his previous family and the previous father had no rights to his son. While he gave up the old family, He now had all of the rights and privileges of his new family. He was now considered to be a fully legitimate son in the new family. 

We have been adopted by God, and we are His children thus the enemy has no right to rule over us or to control us. We lost all of the rights once associated with our previous family. Now, we have all of the rights and privileges of our new family. We are not illegitimate children, we are fully and completely His children. It is for that reason that we are not in debt to the flesh any more. Listen to Paul’s words in Galatians 3:25-26, But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

This leads us to the second thought. The adopted child is a full heir to his new father’s estate, even if there were other sons who were born into the family. The adopted child was an inalienable identified heir of the father’s fortune. Because of our adoption, we are now full heirs to our Father’s estate. Notice, the passage states we are not just heirs, we are joint heirs with Christ. We have a great inheritance. So often we think of an inheritance as property and other assets. With our spiritual inheritance, we inherit eternal life, but more than that we inherit God Himself. The greatest gift is that we get to live in the presence of God for an eternity. In the Old Testament, there are no less than five occurrences where Scripture tells us that God is our inheritance (Numbers 18:20, Deuteronomy 10:9, Deuteronomy 18:2, Psalm 16:5, and Lamentations 3:23-25).  

Thirdly, the old life of the adopted person was completed wiped away. If the son had debts, those debts were cancelled. All records were wiped away as if that person never existed before. The adopted person was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with no past. When we are adopted by God, every sin and debt is wiped away. That is why we do not live as the condemned. Our past record has been wiped away, just as if we never existed before. That is why Paul says that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). That is why we do not lived as condemned men nor do we owe a debt to flesh.

Fourth, in the eyes of Roman law, the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father in every sense. So it is with Christ. We are not partial children. We are full blown, complete sons of God. Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

In the movie Ben Hur there is a scene that illustrates this idea of adoption. It is a beautiful scene that shows Arrius adopting Judah as his son, which made him a freedman, a Roman citizen, and Arrius’s heir. All of the rights of the family were given to Judah Ben-Hur. To view this go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbHDk6Uzri4. 

Finally, while other children were born into the family, adopted children were chosen to be a part of the family. As an adopted child, we were deliberately chosen. I am reminded of one adoptee who thought for years that his family had rejected him, but one day he was reminded that he may have been rejected by one family but he was chosen by another. Christ chose to adopt us. He chose to accept us into His family. We are the preferred choice of God. On the basis of free and voluntary election, God chose us to be His sons. That should excite our hearts. The living, powerful, awesome God has chosen us to be His children. We were not just born into the family, we were chosen by God to be His family. 

Because of our adoption we cry Abba Father. In the Aramaic and Greek languages these were the most passionate words for Father their were. They were intimate beautiful words of love and adoration. As His children today we look into His eyes and cry Abba Father, Daddy God. As the adopted one’s we can now call Him our Father. 

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Flesh VS Spirit 

Peninsula Community Church 

April 29, 2018 

Flesh VS Spirit 

Romans 8:3-9 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Last week we talked about not being condemned by our past failures and issues. We discussed the fact that we are free from sin and from the past as a result of the work of Christ on the cross. This week we will continue to look at how this transpires and how we can be assured that we are no longer condemned. From our discussion last week, we found that Romans 8:1 tells us that we are free from the guilt of sin, while Romans 8:2 tells us that we are free from the power of sin.

As we will see today, our mindset makes all of the difference and our focus will determine where we go and what we do. Our focus will determine what we will achieve or not achieve in life. Notice that in our passage today, we find that the law was weak because of the flesh. Therefore, if our focus is on the flesh we will fail to be what God has called us to be. We will be guided by a law that is weakened by the very flesh that we focus on. 

To understand this, we must recognize that the law was weakened by the flesh for two reasons. First, the law was weak as it is an outworking of the flesh that drives us to do things that we do not desire to do, and we do not do what we should do. It is the carnal nature that is the focus of Paul’s words in Romans 7. Let me explain what is meant by the flesh. The flesh is that part of us that recoils when we try to do what is right. It is that part of us that came alive when man sinned and disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. From that time until now, it is the part of us that is at war with God’s desires for us and the purpose of the Spirit within us.

As I was preparing for this message I came across this. We know the work of the flesh in us when, like the disciples, we should be watching and praying, our flesh really wants to sleep. When we should be sleeping, our flesh finds Facebook browsing and catching up on email fascinating. When we should be diligently teaching our children (Deuteronomy 6:7), our flesh would love to watch a relaxing, family-friendly movie. When we should be meditating on Scripture, our flesh becomes a fountain of ideas for reorganizing the room, improving the yard, or critiquing political candidates. When we should be focusing on our work, our flesh brings up that focus-dominating fear and what we could be doing for fun. When we should be cutting our calories, our flesh demands a sugar-laced snack. When we should be eating because we have become undernourished due to believing the lies about how our weight relates to our value, our flesh screams shame-filled things to stop us. When we should be relishing the joy and freedom of sexual purity and fidelity, our flesh desires to imagine or view defiling, lewd images. When we should be humbly resisting premature conclusions regarding a potentially offensive concern or comment, our flesh immediately turns defensive and suspicious, proposing fantasy scenarios that will indulge sinful anger with a feeling of righteous indignation. Have you ever experienced that? Do you know how that feels? That is the struggle of the flesh.

The second reason the law was weakened by the flesh is that the law had no power to bring change. It could guide us, it could teach us, and it could point out sin, but it could not give life. It was powerless to bring peace, and it was powerless to help us please God. The law could tell us what is wrong, but it could not bring change. Have you ever had that person in your life that loved to point the wrong in your life and uncover your failures, but were unwilling to aide in changing or overcoming those issues? That was the problem with the law. It pointed out sin, but it did nothing to relieve it. 

The one positive thing that came from the law is that it taught us we need a Savior. It taught us that following the rules alone is not good enough. We need a Savior. It taught us that towing the line is not productive, because we fear failing and coming up short, which happens when we try to follow the legalism of the law. We can do all of the right things and still fall short of what was intended. We need a Savior. 

That is why Paul’s next statement is so powerful. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Notice that Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin in order to accomplish what the law could not do. The law required righteousness. The law required us to tow the line. The law required us to keep in step.

The law had a requirement for righteousness which could not be fulfilled any way but through Jesus Christ. That is why He who knew no sin took on all of our sin past, present, and future. He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law. What the law could not do, God did by sending His Son. At first glance, we might miss the depth of this statement. God sent His Son. This meant that He existed before. He is eternal and came to earth to save that which was lost. 

What we know is that the righteous requirement of the law was fulfilled in Christ. We are now empowered to follow Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The law could not defeat sin; it could only detect it. Only Jesus can defeat sin, and He did just that through His work on the cross. The question then is is where will we focus our attention? What will we set our minds on? Will we focus on the spirit or will we focus on the flesh? By focusing on the flesh we become obsessed with the rules and the dos and don’ts and we miss living life. We will be focused on just getting by, rather than living life to the fullest. By focusing on the flesh, we miss the opportunity to walk in freedom. On the other hand, if we focus on the spirit, we live in freedom and power. 

Why is this? For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. As Paul noted, the flesh is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law because it cannot. In the flesh it is impossible to please God. That was the plight of Paul in Romans 7, but it is his victory in Romans 8. 

With that in mind let me make an observation or two. We must remember that the fruit of the Spirit is not produced through legislation but by what the vine is connected to. That is why we must be in Christ. That is why we cannot legislate morality, but we must live a spirituality that comes by living a life fully connected to Christ. How many have ever passed a fruit tree and have heard it groaning and moaning to produce fruit? That is not the case at all. That is because fruit is produced from the connection it has to the vine. It does not worry about its fruit, it just stays connected. So are you connected? How do we connect? 

For the guys who were at the men’s retreat this year you might remember Garret Barbush’s message. At the close of his message, he gave us some perspective into how we can set our minds on the spirit and stay connected which leads to bearing the fruit of the spirit. First, we must be confident of our position in Christ. In John 10:10 we find that a full life is a contented life. It is a life of balance. Jesus came to be our life, so you can make a difference as a believer. If we do not remain in Him, we will not be fruitful and we will not make a difference. Instead, we will be tempted to live by the flesh and not the spirit. As believers, we are in Him and we should rest in that.

Second, be aware of God’s desire to be in constant fellowship with you. We will abide in Him only as we are aware that He wants to abide with us. We know this because He chose us. In John 15:16 we find that “He chose us to bear fruit in us.” He chose us to bear fruit and we do that best when we are in fellowship with Him. The result is that we keep our minds set on Christ. 

Third, be intentional about spending time with God. In Matthew 22:36-37 the question is asked about what is the greatest commandment? How do we love God with all of our heart and soul? If we were loving God the way He wants, we will be changing culture. We will be bearing fruit because it is the defining mark of a believer. We must spend time together. We do this through prayer and solitude. 

Fourth, be in God’s word so we get to know Him. We are ineffective without His word. Without His word, we fail to understand what He wants for us. Without His word, we are left to our own demise. Without His word, we become disconnected and discontented. 

My challenge today us to take the next 30 days and focus fully on the Spirit. Spend time in the Bible and in prayer so that we become more connected to Christ. At the end of the thirty days report back and let me know how you are doing. My guess is that you will find that you are doing much better than you hoped or thought. 

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized