Inside Out and Right Side Up

Peninsula Community Church

Inside Out and Right Side Up

August 13, 2017

Luke 11:37-41 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.  And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 

I began my formal ministry in 1979. Immediately following Bible College, I moved to New York where I began to minister in a number of different ways to a number of different communities. One of the things I remember about my earlier days of ministry is that there were times where I learned more about what not to do in ministry than what to do from those who were around me. Now granted, those that surrounded me were not evil people, they just lived out of the distortions in their life. It was these distortions that directly impacted the way they did ministry. After a couple of years of ministry, I realized that some of those to whom I was connected loved themselves more than they loved God. They loved the notoriety of being a pastor more than they did the glory of God. They tended to use people for their gain, but did little to personally assist in the growth of individuals.

As I read this passage, I began to identify with what Jesus was confronting here. It is noteworthy that throughout Jesus’ ministry, He showed such grace and mercy to the sinner and the struggling believer. He did, however, reserve His harshest criticism for the Pharisees and the spiritual leaders of His day. At one point, Jesus described them as tombs that were painted white on the outside but were empty on the inside (Matthew 23:27). The idea presented by Jesus is that outwardly they appeared to have it all together, but inwardly they were empty. Because of the emptiness experienced by the Pharisees, they tended to focus more of their attention on their outward appearance than on their inward depth. Spiritually they were wide but not deep. Today, we will look at the attitudes exhibited by the Pharisees and then make an application of this truth.

First of all, we find that the Pharisees were empty on the inside so they flexed their spiritual muscle on the outside. Listen to Jesus’ words here. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it (Luke 11:44). And then in Luke 11:46 Jesus had this to say. “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers (Luke 11:46). Here is the bulk of the problem for the Pharisees. They burdened people with rules, laws, and requirements that they themselves were unable to obey or follow. I have often said that when our hearts are not right with God it is easier to make a law than it is to allow God to transform our hearts. Jesus is and has always been more about the transformation of the heart than He is about obeying man’s religious rules. The Pharisees missed this as they thought they could legislate morality but from my experience you cannot legislate morality. And for that matter you cannot legislate immorality. Legislation does not make right wrong nor does it make the wrong right. For Jesus, it was more about relationship than it was the law. Now unless you misunderstand, there are biblical, godly principles that we are called to obey but when applied correctly they are not burdensome but in reality they are very freeing and they move us to a place of growth and depth.

Jesus had the Pharisee’s number. He uncovered the fact that they not only forced others to obey these mandates but they did little to help others to obey. Those to whom Jesus referred to as lawyers, loved to weigh people down with laws and regulations. They were well educated, well trained people but they loved to place great burdens on others. The problem is that they imposed laws on others but were not willing to lift a finger to help carry the burden they forced on others. This is juxtaposed to Jesus’ desire for us to help each other, encourage each other, and push each other to do our best.

These actions were a result of their emptiness and dryness inside. Their emphasis was on the outward man and not the inward. As you know, I love football. To me there are two types of players. There are the ones who are puffed up and brag about how great they are and then there are the guys who go out on the field and prove they have the ability they say they do. That brings us to our second point.

The second characteristic related here is that instead of grace they functioned from a perspective of legalism and idolatry to the rules.But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Luke 11:42). They thought the rules applied to everyone else but not themselves. They felt they were above the law. They expected everyone else to tow the line. They expected everyone else to follow the rules. And yet, they bent the rules when it favored them. It could be said they worshipped the rules of God more than they worshipped the God of the rules. When this occurs, it creates a disconnect between what is true and what is false.

Notice here that they were good at giving gifts. They were dutiful and followed through with outward spiritual disciplines but they missed what was important. They attended church. They sang in the choir. They even taught a class but they missed the mark by failing to exhibit justice and love. These can be summed up in one word, grace. They lacked grace. They were well educated on the rules but missed the mark of loving others and showing others the amazing grace they had been given. Outwardly, they were obedient and rigidly held to the rules of the day, but inwardly they were empty and lacked spiritual depth. Here is a truth for us. Following the rules is great but to do so without grace and love leaves us cold and indifferent.

The third characteristic is that the Pharisees were all about control which was centered in a spirit of pride. They wanted the best seats in the house. They wanted to be recognized in the town. They would enter a room with great fanfare and pomp and circumstance. You knew they were in the room because they made sure you knew they were there. Once again listen to Jesus’ words. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces (Luke 11:43). The Pharisees were the type that would arrive late and would make a fuss coming into the building so that you would know they were there. They were the type that would continually remind you how important they were. Again this action was a means for them to cover up the emptiness within them.

The fourth characteristic of the pharisee, and this for me is the saddest one of all, is that they stripped people of the joy of knowing God. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering (Luke 11:52). Because they burdened people with the law, they failed to minister with grace, and they exhibited a spirit of pride that stripped people of the joy of knowing God. The fact is they gave what they had, a lifeless, empty lifestyle. They stood in the way of others knowing the truth by virtue of their attitudes and actions toward others. Rather than seeking a knowledge of God by way of a personal relationship, they rejected that for an attitude of performance and outward visibility.

As we close this today, I am keenly aware that there two ways we can apply this passage to our life. First of all, we can look at this study and do an evaluation and then come to the conclusion that we often act as the Pharisees did. We want others to tow the line but we give ourselves grace and compromise on the very rules we set in place. We judge and condemn others while crying out for grace in our life. We are good at knowing the rules and we make sure that everyone else follows them when we fall short in accomplishing that ourselves. One way to illustrate this how do you respond when someone asks you about your Christian walk. Do you list your good deeds or do you list the good deeds of a heavenly father that loves us more than we will ever know or understand this side of heaven? Are we more concerned about following the rules, or receiving God’s grace which actually assists us in obeying the rules? Are you more concerned about how others follow the rules or do we come along side of others to help them grow in the knowledge of God.

The second way we can make application of this passage is to recognize that we often live under Pharisaical influences. We are subjected to the judgment and criticalness of one who knows the rules and expects everyone else to obey while they themselves fail to do so. They hold us to a different accounting than they are willing to hold themselves. The result is that we can become discouraged and weakened in our spiritual state. We are hindered by the words of others. But the truth is we don’t have to be. We can recognize that God’s grace is there for us and we do not have to be subjected to the emptiness of others. The fact is we must show the grace of God of those who show so little grace to us.

Here is the deal there is grace at the foot of the cross. There is grace to overcome the Pharisaical attitudes we express. There is grace to overcome the power exerted over us to obey the rules at the cost of a depth in Christ. In Matthew West’s song “Grace Wins Every Time” reminds that grace wins in every situation. We receive grace and we give grace.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Power of Prayer

Peninsula Community Church

The Power of Prayer

August 6, 2017

Mark 9:29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

If we were to poll the group gathered here today, I am sure that we would find that everyone one of us have an issue or problem that is exerting its influence upon our life. Too often, these issues are exert their influence which causes us to doubt our connection to God as a believer. It also move us to a place where we fail to recognize the power of God in our life, or at least we question His power. As we consider these issues, today, we will review one of the great principles of Jesus’ ministry. This principle is the power of prayer. It is a principle that can change us from having an ineffective and fruitless life to one where we live in the fulness of what God has done and is doing in us.

To understand this principle, we begin with the premise that there is power through prayer. Throughout Scripture there is a consistent and ongoing reference to the power of prayer. In the Bible there are illustrations of the power of prayer. There are stories of God’s intervention through prayer. There are statements made by Jesus and other writers that encourage us toward a lifestyle of prayer. The passage before us is one such reference. Here we find that Jesus makes a powerful proclamation of truth. He states “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Personally, I am grateful that Mark thought enough of this story to include it in his narrative of Jesus’ life. The result is that we are the benefactors of the truth expressed here. The result is that we come to an understanding that prayer has an impact on our lives.

Let me relate the story to you. The parents of a boy had a son who had a spirit attached to him. In those days many illnesses and diseases were defined as demonic or spiritual attachments. They did not know how to define it any other way. His condition was one that made him mute and at times caused him to be thrown to the ground where he would grind his teeth, foam at the mouth, and become very rigid. The symptoms experienced seem to describe some kind seizure activity. Regardless of the problem, this issue was pressing on the parents and it caused grief to the young boy. The parents had become tired of the activity and they wanted something to change. They wanted to get past this obstacle. They wanted their son to be free and they wanted to be free from the torment they realized as a result of his condition.

Because Jesus was busy teaching and ministering to others, the parents brought the child to the disciples in hopes they could bring some relief. The disciples did what they knew to do but were ineffective. They tried to cast out the spirit but were not able to do so. This was a frustrating moment for the mother, for the child, and for the disciples. What they wanted to do did not happen. They were frustrated that nothing changed. Nothing was different.

The only one in the story not frustrated was Jesus. In His review of the situation He ascertained that the problem lay in the fact that the disciples had tried to exert spiritual power without being connected to the source. For that reason, Jesus stated that the resolution to this kind of problem could only come by prayer. You see they faced a problem that was bigger than they were and it was a problem bigger than they could manage. It was a problem that devastated the family. They needed an answer and prayer was the one tool that was most effective in bringing needed results.

The fact is, in life, we are all confronted with problems that are bigger than us. We feel devastated and we fill powerless to accomplish much or overcome the difficulties we face. Let me bring this closer to home. We all have family members we want to see be better or do better. We all have issues that seem so large that it is almost impossible to overcome them. We all have fears and anxieties that loom large in life. These issues control us and neuter our ability to make progress in life. For example, here in Sussex County, as in many parts of our nation, we are facing a drug epidemic that is effecting everyone in some way. Recently, I met with some folks in regard to the drug epidemic and the overwhelming sense was that there was not much that could be done immediately. In their mind the problem is out of control without a solution. But I am convinced that through prayer even the drug epidemic can be dealt with. There is power through prayer.

Through prayer we can confront the problems we face. No matter what the problem is, there is hope. There is power available to us. We can overcome. One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the story of David and Goliath. In 1 Samuel 17, we find that the nation of Israel was neutralized in their power and were back on their heels. They were filled with fear and anxiety. Why? They had a giant that stood before them. Day after day Goliath, the giant, mocked them and ridiculed them. He did all of this without throwing a spear or actually attacking them in any way. He simply hurled insults and lies their way.

For forty days, all he did was throw out accusations and demeaning words at them. The children of Israel succumbed to these words which resulted in them standing powerless before the giant. They were intimated and were frozen in their tracks. You see the army of Israel and Saul were to be the protectors of Israel. Instead they stood cowering in the shadow of the giant. He had power over them and they gave him this power. He neutralized their ability to answer his attacks.

While they stood cowering in fear, a young boy shows up. David had no outward sign of being able to take on the giant. He had no armor. He had no professional training as a soldier. But he had something that no one else had. He had a connection with God that was missing in the army’s life and for that matter in the king’s life. This was no ordinary boy. He had a confidence in God’s ability to overcome whatever was thrown his way. He had an experience that far exceeded any training or education the army had.

What made the difference? Day after day David communed with God. He prayed to God. He worshipped God. He had a connection with God like no other in his day. How do we know this? We find that David had overtaken a bear. He had destroyed a lion that had gone after his flock. We see this through the Psalms that David penned. He proclaimed the greatness of God. He proclaimed the need to have a connection with God. The Psalms give insight into the heart of David. David was a worshipper of God and he was a man of prayer.

We should know that the army of Saul were not bad people. They were good at what they did. The disciples were not bad people either. The problem is that they missed a critical part of the mission to which they had been called. They needed to communicate to the one who was truly in charge and who had the power to bring the victory they needed.

The difference was found in their ability to pray and focus on God. Through prayer David lived in a reality that caused him to focus on a source bigger than himself and his problem. It allowed him to recognize the character of God. When we focus on a source bigger than ourselves, it allows us to see God for who He is. We will see Him as the one who is able to destroy every giant we face. Whether we face a spirit that demoralizes us or a giant that intimidates us, through prayer these issues are neutralized.

Listen to the words of David. “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). Powerful words from a man who had encountered a powerful God.

Through prayer we invite the presence of God into our lives. We can have Him in our heart but not allow Him to direct our life. Too often we try to live without God and then wonder why things are so messed up. The fact is we need God to be intricately involved in every aspect of our lives. Through prayer we are focused on inviting Him to do that in our lives. By having His presence in our lives, we are conditioned to hear the voice of truth rather than the lies the enemy tries to promote.

So what are your giants today? Is it anxiety? Is it fear? Is it intimidation? Is it family issues? You name it, we all have giants that want to intimidate us and destroy us if at all possible. We all have giants in our life that desire to minimize our impact for God. What is your giant? I can tell you that if you will focus on God in prayer that your giant will be diminished.

As we close take a moment and listen to a song by Casting Crowns entitled the “Voice of Truth.” Listen to words and recognize today that the giants in your life can and will fall when we hear the voice of truth and commit ourselves to focusing on God’s will and plan for our  life.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Don’t Give Up!

Peninsula Community Church

July 19, 2017

Don’t Give Up!

Galatians 6:7-10 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

A number of years ago thieves broke into a posh clothing store in the heart of London, England. When the police arrived and subsequently the store owner, they could not find anything missing from the store. The cash was still in the drawer. Nothing seemed to be missing off of the racks or shelves and the storage room seemed to be intact. The police filed their report and the store owner went back home. It was not until the store opened and customers began to shop that they realized the crime that had been committed. The thieves had switched the price tags on most of the products in the store. Very expensive items were now priced at a very low price and those items that were not very expensive were now over priced.

The enemy of our souls has done a good job at switching the price tags in our life. It started in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time. Since then, his goal has been to switch the price tags and to get us to go after what is not important. We have begun to add value to that which has no value and we have devalued that which is most important. The enemy in the beginning used doubt to get Adam and Eve to reevaluate what was important and what was worthy of value. He switched the price tags and cheapened that which was valuable. He did this by deceiving both Adam and Eve to give into temptation which caused sin to permeate our human nature from that point forward. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul noted But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

That is why here in this passage Paul warns the church at Galatia not to be deceived. Paul warns them and he warns us about being deceived into believing what we do does not matter. The word deceived in this context means “to be led astray” or “to take a wrong path.” This is certainly what occurred in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were lead astray by the temptations that were exacted by satan. Paul did not want the church at Galatia to switch the price tags and go after those things that have a false value attached to them. The problem for us in our depraved state of mind is that it is easier to be deceived than we believe.

Scripture deals with the idea of deceitfulness in many ways. Listen to a couple of these verses. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (1 Corinthians 3:18). Paul also states Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6). Let no one deceive you in any way (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

John also engaged in this conversation when he made the following comments. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous (1 John 3:7). Even in the Old Testament Moses dealt with the issue of deception. He warned the Children of Israel to take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them (Deuteronomy 11:16). Guarding one’s heart is critical as sin will take advantage of a deceitful heart. Listen to Paul in Romans 7:11. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

If the Bible develops a such a consistent view and ongoing discussion about deceitfulness then it behooves us to take notice. It is for this reason Paul deals with this topic here in Galatians. His desire is that the church at Galatia would not be deceived about the importance of what they sow in life. He wanted them to know that what they invest in is what they will receive in return. He knew they would reap what they sow.

Paul recognized that in this area of sowing we can do one of two things. First, we can sow to the flesh but that brings corruption and destruction. Paul noted that when we sow to the flesh, we reap the flesh. Here is the problem. We sow to the flesh and we reap the flesh and then we sow more to the flesh which leads to reaping more flesh. It is a vicious cycle of sin and destruction. The problem is that we keep sowing the same thing expecting different results. Sometimes we don’t recognize the futility of this until it is too late. The flesh represents that which is sinful and is outside the boundaries that have been established by God Himself. We could spend a great deal of time here discussing this but let us leave it at sowing to the flesh does not add value to our life. It is a means for satan to switch the price tags in our life and to devalue what is important.

The second thing is that we can sow to the Spirit which brings eternal life. To sow in the Spirit causes us to sow more of the Spirit. When we sow to the Spirit we reap spiritual benefits. When we sow righteousness, we will reap righteousness which ends in eternal life. That is the ultimate and most prosperous benefit of sowing seeds to the Spirit. We gain eternal life not just in some distant future but also in the here and now. Because we sow to righteousness, we reap righteousness and we have the privilege of living a full abundant life in Christ.

We must understand that there is a war going on for our souls. The enemy loves to deceive us into thinking that what we do does not matter. He will switch the price tags and make us believe that when we sow to the flesh, we will not suffer any negative benefits. That is a lie because when we live out of a carnal nature we receive the reward of doing that. It is broken lives, lost hope, and sorrow. But sowing in the Spirit brings righteousness and life to us.

It is for that reason, Paul challenges the church at Galatia, do not be weary in doing what is right because at the right time you will reap the benefits of doing good. One of my favorite sayings, when a person seeks my counsel on what to do under difficult situations, is to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. That to me is not some trite saying but one that requires us to do right even though it might cost us and we might get weary in the process of doing what is right. In essence, do not be weary in doing what is right and do not be deceived into doing what is wrong because it is easier.

You see we can become weary in doing the right thing because we do not see immediate results. Paul recognizes a couple of things here. First, reaping the rewards of sowing does not happen overnight. Paul knows the reaping process takes time and he does not want us to get tired and weary in the process. Secondly, we can become discouraged and tired when we do not see the benefits of doing the right thing. We can come to a place where we want to give up. We want to throw in the towel. We begin to believe there is no use in continuing to do the right thing.

Paul in this passage challenged the church at Galatia not to give up or to lose heart. Paul recognized how powerful a tool discouragement can be. We can be discouraged when we do not see fruit in our labors. We can become frustrated at a lack of movement in the right direction. We can be frustrated with our kids who seem to be doing their own thing. We can be frustrated when we have shared Christ with a particular individual and they never come to faith. There is so much that can discourage and frustrate us. But what Paul is saying is do the right thing, do good to others, be patient and you will see the fruit of your labors come to pass.

Too often we give up too soon. We throw in the towel! We fall short and we give into the pressures of life. We begin to believe the lie. In the movie “Facing the Giants” there is a scene where coach Grant Taylor challenges one of his star players, Brock, to step up and lead the team. He challenges him to do the death crawl with one of the players on his back! Coach Grant cheers him and challenges him not to give up. Because of this Brock thinks he can make it to the 50 yard line but ends up in the end zone.

God’s call today is don’t give up! You might be weary! You might be tired! But don’t give up. The answer is on its way and you will receive the fruit of righteousness. Do not be weary in well doing! Like Coach Grant, God is cheering us on! He is for us! If He is for us who can be against us. Press on and don’t give up.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Cure for Pride

Peninsula Community Church

The Cure for Pride

July 16, 2017

Galatians 6:1-5 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

Last week, we dealt with the issue of pride and how pride causes us to push God out of our lives and brings us to believe we do not need God. Today, we will explore the cure for pride. First, restoring others to a right standing in Christ helps one deal with pride. In this passage Paul uses an example of someone who has fallen into sin and that sin has been openly revealed. There is no discussion of the specifics. The sin could have been an act of adultery. It could have been an act of stealing. It could have been one caught in a lie. While we may not know the specific sin or even the specific person, we do know that Paul encourages believers in Christ to respond in a way that is different from what we might be inclined to do. He encourages the spiritually mature to restore the sinner to their right place in Christ with gentleness.

I do not know about you but this can run so counter to what I really want to do. When someone is caught in a sin my human flesh wants them to get what is coming to them. My flesh wants to judge, criticize, and condemn their actions. My flesh wants to reject them and push them away so that I am not tainted by their sin or influenced to commit a similar sin or worse yet a greater sin in terms of its consequences.

But notice something in this passage. Paul suggests that it is those who are spiritual that should restore the sinner with a sprit of gentleness. Too often, we love gotcha moments. We love to hear when others get caught in sin because it makes us feel better. That was not God’s plan or purpose in this thing called Christian community and life. This passage reminds me of the opportunity Jesus had to model this for us. He encountered a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. As we read in John 8:1-11, the religious leaders of the day had brought an adulterous woman into the city square. She had been caught in the act of adultery and the religious law of the day required that she be stoned to death.

Think about this picture. The religious leaders had gathered around her with stones in hand. They were ready to punish her for her sin and exact the penal code upon her. From a legal standpoint they had every right to do that. But in the midst of this, Jesus showed up. He assessed the scene and in so doing He found that those who were gathered around this woman were just as guilty of sin as she was. In that moment, Jesus made a profound statement. He stated that those who where without sin should cast the first stone. He stood nose to nose with her accusers and challenged them with their own spiritual condition. If there was anyone without sin, they had His permission to throw the first stone. Sadly, all of these leaders silently slid into the crowd and disappeared under the weight of their own guilt.

Now lest we think that Jesus did not deal with her sin and that He was somehow soft on sin, look at what Jesus did. He approached her to ask where her accusers were and if there was anyone left to condemn her. Of course, no one was left as they had sin which they needed to be deal with. In that moment, Jesus modeled for us what we need to do. He ministered gentleness and He gave her grace. Rather than get on the band wagon of judgment and guilt, He set her free. He lovingly cared for her. He never condemned her but He never justified her sin either. He walked in truth and grace.

You see the religious leaders were more about the law than they were grace. They wanted to punish others while ignoring their own sinful hearts. This is the highest mark of pride possible. Remember that Jesus reminded us to get the log out of our eye before we try to remove the speck in someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). That was the problem with the religious leaders that day and that was Paul’s point here.

In our passage, Paul uses the word “restore.” The word means to make things right. It was used in Jesus’ day of repairing one’s fishing nets. The idea was when the fishing nets had holes in them, much of the catch would get away. This would negatively impact their life as fishermen. To repair another’s nets meant they were looking to help make others as effective as possible. Sin is a breakdown in the machinery of life. It has to be repaired. In other words, if you find someone that is broken down do what you need to do to help restore that person back to a good working order. Ultimately it is Christ’s responsibility to forgive and restore but we can be a tool to assist in pointing the person in the right direction. Yes we are to admonish, rebuke, and warn each other about attitudes and plans which are wrong but we do so with grace and love. Then we point them to the one who is able to restore and renew them. Helping others keeps us humble.

The second cure for pride is bearing one another’s burdens. The truth is we all deal with issues in life. Sometimes it is easy to bear another’s burdens when they are sick, have financial issues, or have relational issues. But it becomes more impossible to bear one’s burdens when it comes to sin. Rather than bearing one’s burdens, we tend to load up the sinner with guilt and regret. We cast stones rather than gently restoring and or helping to heal the heart of the sinner. Listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 11:46. “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. And then Paul had this to say in Acts 16:10-11. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

In our passage today notice that in bearing the burdens of one another we are in fact fulfilling the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? Remember when Jesus was asked what law was most important? He gave an answer that befuddled the Christian leaders who posed the question in the first place. He stated in essence that no one law is greater than another but that the law could be summed up by two commandments: love God, love others. That is the law of Christ. If we love God with all of our hearts and we love others as we love ourselves, we cannot go wrong.

In essence, the law of Moses was powerless to change our hearts so we could freely obey God’s law. When Christ summons us to obey the law of love, He offers us Himself to slay the dragon of pride, change our hearts, empower us by His spirit, and to fulfill His law in us. The law was powerless but through Christ we can do anything, including bearing the burdens of others so that they are restored in Christ and they are healed of their sin.

Thirdly, to remove pride we must have a proper perspective of who we are. Paul recognized that we are susceptible to pride and we can begin to believe that we are more than we are. We can puff ourselves us with a spiritual slap on the back when we are just as guilty of sin as the one we are encountering. The Bible is replete with warnings about pride and warnings about the potential to fall into the same sin that we judge in others. For that reason Jesus warns us not to judge others because we will be judged by the same judgement we exact on others (Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus knew that the enemy of our souls loves for prideful judgement to be the hallmark of our life. In contrast, Jesus showed us that we are to respond to others with a spirit of grace and love. For that reason, Paul issues this warning, those who are spiritual must guard themselves from the legalism of law and ignoring their own sin.

This idea of restoring another who had been caught in a sin was brought home to me when Michelle and I attended a conference at Gateway church in Dallas Texas. At the conference was Mark Driscoll. Mark had been a pastor for several years. His church had grown to several thousand and he had touched many lives. That all came crashing down when he revealed that he had been guilty of plagiarism, bullying his staff and coworkers, and fits of anger. While he had not been guilty of moral failure per se he acknowledged that his actions were as much a sin as anything else. There were two responses to his resignation.

One part of the body of Christ wrote excoriating letters. His family faced death threats and people confronted his children on the streets. It was a difficult time for him and his family. His children lived in fear and they were forced to move to a new state to start over. But there was also a second response. At the conference, Pastor Robert Morris brought Mark up before the 1500 plus pastors and leaders attending the conference. It was here that Mark admitted the error of his ways and expressed his desire for healing and restoration. Rather than being excoriated the body stood and prayed for him. They did not ignore the accusations but there were more concerned about the person than casting stones. The result was the beginning of healing in his heart and in the heart of his family. Because of the ministry of gentleness and healing, he has been restored and his family has been healed.

Pride causes us to condemn. Pride causes us to ignore other’s needs. But when we follow Paul’s advice healing comes and people are restored. Remember, we are in the restoration business. We are more of a hospital as a church where we restore the wounded and less a day care where we simply maintain. When we restore others in gentleness we change lives. That is God’s plan.

Today there are two types of people who will receive this message. You are either the condemned or the condemner. In being condemned we fall short of Gd’s plan. We are burdened by the guilt of sin and feel that there is no hope. We have had those around us who have and continue to throw stones at us rather than lovingly restore us. On the other side of the there are those who stand with stones in their hands ready to condemn and destroy. The good news is there is grace for both. God sent His son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). May we receive His grace and love today.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Keeping In Step With the Spirit

Peninsula Community Church

Keep In Step With The Spirit

July 9, 2017

Galatians 5:16; 25, 26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

We closed the message last week with the thought that we are to receive the freedom that is ours. We must personalize it and make it a part of who we are. This works for us as a nation but it also works for us as individuals who follow after Christ. We must receive and accept the work of the Holy Spirit into our lives. As we read last week, The Lord is a spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). We walk in the Spirit and He gives us freedom. Through Him, we are liberated from the bondage of sin and the bondage of misplaced emotions. Rather than freedom, too often we are constrained by fear, regret, worry, and unconfessed sin. That was never God’s plan for us. With that in mind, I would like to explore this idea of freedom some more.

I will begin with a personal illustration. When my children were younger we loved to go hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the Catskill Mountains. While hiking, I would instruct our kids to follow directly behind me. My job as a father and the leader of our little band of hikers was to make sure that I was choosing a safe path and a good experience for them. When we encountered tough terrain I would make sure that we navigated the terrain as safely as possible.

 

On the journey through the mountains there were many distractions. There were beautiful vistas, wildlife, flora, and other people on the trail. All of these served to distract and cause us to veer off course at times. With the amazing beauty all around us, there were unseen dangers that could cause us to lose focus and could possibly cause us harm. Loose rocks, exposed tree roots could easily cause us to stumble and fall. Many times we would get off the trail to explore. Sometimes we would take detours in order to explore things not seen on the regular trail. Even when we were off of the trail, I would always be in the lead. I knew that I had a role to play and that was to get my family safely to the end of the journey but I also needed them to enjoy the journey.

 

As we look at the passage before us, we find a truth that will save us from many of the pitfalls and difficulties we face in life. Paul encouraged the believers in Galatia not to wander aimlessly through life but to “keep in step with the Spirit.” Keeping in step with the Spirit, helps us to avoid many of the dangers lurking around every corner in this journey called life. When we recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can feel much like the experience I had with my kids. The Holy Spirit helps us navigate the path of life and if we will follow Him, we will navigate life more successfully.

 

As we review this passage, we also find a couple of issues that prevent us from keeping in step with the Spirit. Paul understood that becoming conceited is one way we can get out of step with the Spirit. Conceit has been defined as vanity, narcissism, conceitedness, egotism, self-admiration, self-regard, pride, arrogance, hubris, smugness, and big-headedness. Pride has been and continues to be one of the biggest problem we have on our journey. Pride certainly effects how we stay in step with the Holy Spirit and it prevents us from accomplishing much that God has for us. Solomon, one of the writers of the books of wisdom, had much to say about pride. Just two of these remind us of the power of pride. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

 

You see when we walk in pride we tend to depend on God’s spirit to save us but fail to depend on Him to sustain us. Max Lucado shares the following story that illustrates this. A Welsh woman who lived many years ago in a remote valley felt it was worth the cost and trouble to have electricity installed in her home. Several weeks after the installation, the power company noticed she had barely used any electricity. A meter reader went to see her. “Is there a problem?” he asked. “Oh no,” she responded. “We’re quite satisfied. Every night we turn on the electric lights so we can light our oil lamps.” She had the power but continued live in the old ways.

 

We can do the same! We have the power of God in us but only turn to Him when we need Him. We turn to Him to help us get started on the journey as a believer but after that we try to continue in our own strength. It is for that reason Paul urges us to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)We can not coast in pride but must stay in step and stay connected to the Holy Spirit who wants to not just save us but wants to sustain us in everything we do.

 

Pride also leads us to believe we do not need God. What a sad commentary but it is the commentary of so many today. Society as a whole has rejected their need for God. They are self sufficient and so smart they no longer need God’s help. This same pride has entered the church as well because too many live disconnected from God. Many claim to be believers but live without God. Many believe they do not need faith because they have been blessed in so many ways. Many believe they do not need His word because they are busy reading Facebook and Twitter. They are so busy, they do not have time to read His Word which is His instruction manual for our lives. They would rather read about man’s opinion about God than read His words directly. In so doing, they have missed being in step with God. In so doing, they have pushed God to the margins because they do not need Him.

 

As I was preparing for this I realized something. The difference between the words trial and trail is where the “i” is positioned. This is a simple illustration and may be a slight stretch but I hope you see what I am talking about. Notice that in the word trail the “i” is after the “a.” To me the “a” represents almighty God. In the word trial notice the “a” comes after the “i.” Heres the deal when we put “I” before God we will face greater trials and tribulations. When we walk in pride we can miss what God is doing. This does not mean that we will not face trouble when we follow God, it just means that God takes our trials and turns them to opportunities to show Himself strong.

 

What a sad commentary to think that we have reached a point where we believe that we do not need God. We isolate and push God out of the equation. No wonder we live with anxiousness, fear, and depleted lives. No wonder sin abounds and the absolutes of truth have been cast off. Sadly, we are seeing a great attempt to remove God from the fabric of our nation. But in the end it all falls apart without God. When we remove God, we remove His power and His spirit from directing our lives. Remove God and we remove His favor and His grace. Maintain a God focused life and we experience His favor and grace in deeper ways.

 

Thirdly pride leads us to compare ourselves with others. We become so concerned about what others think we end up compromising our walk by pleasing others. You see God never called us to be like someone else but we are called to be like Christ. We are originals created by God with a plan and purpose. Here is the problem however. When we compare ourselves to others we can feel we do not measure up because we are using the wrong measure. God is and must be the measure of our success and accomplishments. When we keep in step with the Spirit we will be less likely to compare ourselves to others.

The problem with comparing ourselves with others is that we can begin to seek the applause of man rather than the heart of God. John Piper stated that we do not seek the applause of men or the glory of man but to know that we are pleasing and honoring God in all we do. The great problem in contemporary Christian living is not learning the right things to do but how to do the right thing. The problem is not to discover what love looks like but how to love by the Spirit. For Paul it is absolutely crucial that, if we come to life by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit, then we must learn to walk by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit as well.

Finally, the answer to the issue of pride is to recognize that the Holy Spirit’s primary role is to point us to Christ and transform us into Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18). By His spirit, we can be transformed from having a spirit of pride to one of humility. After all, Jesus modeled forgiveness for us by going to the cross. Jesus humbled Himself and offered Himself as an obedient sacrifice for our sin and our sins. Accepting the work of the Spirit into our hearts transforms us. It changes us. Too many say they follow Christ but there is no change. There is no transformation.

Our transformation into the image of Christ is more important than our ministry. It is more important than our spiritual experience. It is more important than our spiritual gifts or even the knowledge we may have. If we are not being transformed and changed by the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel, we are not living up to the desire God has for us.

So today, we are being called to keep in step with the Spirit. In so doing, we live in victory and the freedom given to us by Christ. Give up pride and we will find that it is easier to keep in step with the Spirit. We will be sustained through every difficulty. We will be transformed. We will be free and victorious.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Price of Freedom

Peninsula Community Church 

The Price of Freedom 

July 2, 2017

Galatians 5:1,13; 1 Peter 2:16 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

This is the week we set aside to celebrate our freedom as a nation. As a result I have been thinking a lot about our freedom both as a nation and as a believer in Christ. As I was thinking about this I have a couple of thoughts about freedom I would like to share with you.

The first of these is freedom is never free. Throughout our history as a nation, wars have been waged and lives have been sacrificed for freedom. The men who founded our nation loved their freedom. They were weary of the constraints and the bondage the state and the church had on them. In that day the Church of England controlled its members and the state controlled the church. They wanted their freedom from an oppressive state of rules and laws of the state and church. That is why in our constitution it states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

They wanted a separation from a government run church but their goal was not to remove God from government but rather it was to remove the state’s control over one’s religious beliefs. They had a conviction that mankind should be able to worship freely however they may choose without constraint from the government. Because of their convictions these men were willing to pay whatever price necessary to make their freedom a reality. In the end, they sacrificed their lives, their homes, and their finances to secure this new freedom. What a price to be paid!

Our freedom as believers is no different. We were under the constraints and bondage of a spiritual force that was set on keeping us bound with guilt, regret, and sin. Something needed to be done, so the Father of all creation devised a plan. He would send His son to pay the ultimate price that would secure our freedom. He was no ordinary man. He was the very son of God who came to this world for one reason. He would give His life and every drop of blood to secure our spiritual freedom. He died so that the curse of sin would be lifted and we would be free from the chains that bound us and held us back. He did what man’s law and religious rituals could not do, He died to purchase our freedom. And oh what a price!

Secondly, freedom must be preserved! Our freedom as a nation cannot be taken for granted. We have been so blessed as a nation but too often people find a way to complain, grumble, and find-fault. They would rather complain than actually do something. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot to complain about. Politicians promise one thing and do something else. There are those who obstruct what is right and march in the streets and bring violence to the streets in the name of liberty and freedom.  We have become selfish and have sought political correctness and financial gain at the expense of truth and righteousness. The problem we have is that when freedom is not preserved it leads to bondage.

Spiritually, Paul warns us that we are to be careful and not become slaves again to sin. We can never coast so to speak. We must continue to move forward by allowing God’s truth to permeate us. You see there is a battle for your soul. It is a fierce battle that is being waged at all levels of our life. This hit home this week when the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, stated that he envisions Facebook becoming the entity that will mimic religion’s role in society.

But why not, especially since many in modern Christianity have settled for less than God’s best. The church in many ways has abrogated its role in society. It seems that there is one of two extremes that occur. There is the legalistic arm of the church, where the rules and law are paramount. Sin is managed through a list of do’s and don’ts rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to bring change and transformation. They bind people up in rules and regulations rather than through grace and love. They demand legalism but cannot obey all the rules themselves.

The second extreme is to compromise one’s lifestyle and Biblical truth. It is here that anything goes. There is no moral high ground and there are no absolutes of truth. The gospel is watered down in an effort to attract people but in so doing it becomes powerless to bring change. John Wesley the founder and leader of the methodist movement understood this when he made the following observation. I am not afraid that the people called Methodists (add whatever church you want here) should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out (from Thoughts Upon Methodism, 1786). Sadly for many churches this has become their commentary. They have a form of religion but one absent of God’s power. I read this week that one church is removing God from its vocabulary as it has become too offensive.

You see the overarching question today is whether or not we will be transformed by society or we will transformer the society in which we live. That was Paul’s exhortation to the church at Rome when he stated in Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. You see it is easy to be conformed and shaped by society. It is easy to go with the flow. It is easy to settle for less than God’s best. It is much harder to go against the flow and be a transformer. To be a transformer we must do more than just talk about freedom we must live as freedmen. Freedom requires accountability and it requires responsibility. Without these elements we tend to drift. Without these we risk losing our freedom.

The third concept here is that freedom has never been a license to do whatever we want! The greatest misunderstanding about freedom is that we can do whatever we want to. Some believe that freedom gives them permission to act and to say whatever they may choose. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. We must have a system of reasonable laws and boundaries. For example, how many would say to your child or grandchild “go be free.” There are no boundaries or rules. Go ahead run with those scissors. Go ahead stick your finger into the electrical outlet. Go ahead cross that busy street without looking. Do not worry about it because you are free to run and roam. The truth is none of us would consider doing this as we have an understanding that there are some non debatable rules for us to have a long life and a full life. At the same time we would not place our child in their bedroom never to venture outside the door in fear of something happening to them. You see, there is a necessity for man to have real boundaries in which to live. It is in these boundaries that one is the freest.

As a believer, we have been freed from sin but we have also been called to righteousness. Therefore, we cannot live any way we want to because there is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to destruction. We are saved by faith alone but salvation leads us to obedience. God has given us reasonable boundaries in which we can live. It is in those boundaries that real freedom exists.

One of the problems is that too many promise freedom but the result is bondage to a greater degree. Notice here that whatever overcomes a person is what they become enslaved to. This can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental issues. What we give ourselves to is what we become ensnared by. In 2 Peter 2:19 Peter stated, They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. Peter also understood that we must never use our freedom to cover up evil. We see that today in our society. We see so much that is allowed because we use freedom as a means to do whatever we decide.

Fourth freedom is to be received! 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. The Holy Spirit’s presence brings the freedom we need. When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we are exposed to the power of freedom. That is God’s plan. We receive Him and He gives us freedom. He convicts of sin. He speaks truth. He warns us of impending trouble. We always have the right to refuse but if we allow Him to He will guide us into truth and real freedom of heart, mind, and spirit.

The Holy Spirit never seeks to bring us into bondage but chooses to free us from the power and guilt of sin. Christ frees us from the power of sin. He frees us from the cringing fear of God. He frees us from the fear of man. He frees us from the fear of death. He frees us forever. We never have to go back to the way was. As Jesus said “Whom the son sets free is free indeed!”

How are you doing? Are you living as a free man? Do you allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your steps? He wants to and He will if we give Him full reign of our hearts!

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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What Action Will You Take

Peninsula Community Church

What Action Will You Take 

June 25, 2017

Luke 5:17-20 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

This is an amazing story when you think about it. As usual wherever Jesus traveled there was a crowd of people. In this case the crowd had grown so large there was no room to get close to Him. It was in this context that the paralyzed man came to Jesus. He needed a miracle. He was ready to receive but he could not get close enough to get His blessing.

Before we look at some specifics let us take a quick look at the characters in the story. First, we have the crowd who was pressing in so they could be close to Jesus. They were so focused on their needs that they did not see this man and his needs. Their own interests blinded them to the needs of this man. Then we have the friends of the man. They were concerned about their friend who had been sick for such a long time. It is possible that he had lost hope and was at the end. Because of their friendship, they were willing to do whatever it would take to see him healed. Then we have the man who in some ways has a passive role in this story. We do not know why he was paralyzed. We do not know how long he was paralyzed. We just know he had a problem and he needed to get to Jesus. The power of God was moving in Jesus to heal. That is why this man needed Jesus.

Because of the crowd, this small group of men could not get close to Jesus. As a result, they had to make one of three choices. The first choice was that they could give up and go home. After all the crowd was too big. After all there was no way for them to get close enough to Jesus. They could have given up but nothing would have changed. He would remain paralyzed. He would continue to depend on his friends to help him get around for the rest of his life.

How many times do we face problems in life and we find ourselves giving up? Whether we realize it or not it is always easier to give up than it is to move forward and get things accomplished. It is easier to do nothing but doing nothing changes nothing. By giving up there is no healing and no future. There are a number of reasons to give up so easily.  For one, we tend to settle for less than God’s best. Sometimes we settle even for the good rather than His best. Secondly, too many times we are not willing to put in the hard work. We get overwhelmed and rather than pressing in we give up and give into the pressures of life. Thirdly, we can be so distracted by the issues around us that do not even realize that Jesus wants to touch us. Being distracted causes us to go after perceived solutions in a hope that hoping we will find an answer but never do.

The second choice we can make is to hang up. It is so easy to get hung up on what we do not have. We can get hung up on the belief that nothing will ever change or be any different than it is right now. When we get hung up on the problem or situation a couple of things happen. For one, we can become critical and judgmental. We are critical because we see everyone else getting blessed but we are not. We are critical because we think we deserve better but we are not willing to make the changes necessary for permanent change.

Newt Gingrich on Fox News made a valuable statement a few weeks ago. He stated that it is much easier to criticize than to actually do anything. We can get hung up on criticizing the issues and complaining about what is not changing but we never engage in a way to bring real change. Criticism is easy, but change is much harder. For me, I have found this to be so true. I can criticize people, plans, circumstances, and issues around me but fail to step up to the plate to bring any real solutions to the table. I must ask myself, “Am I a part of the problem or am I a part of the solution.” Your answer will determine your outlook.

When we get hung up we can begin to focus on the problem so much that we lose hope and faith. We see the problems but do not see anyway out. The result is that we make mountains out of mole hills when God wants to make our mole hills and for that matter our mountains fall into the sea. I remember in the story of Nehemiah that the Israelites become discouraged because they saw all of the rubble. They were so focused on the obstacles that they missed opportunities to respond to God. They became frozen with fear and anxiety.

While we might chose to give up or hang up we can also choose to stand up and move forward. Notice that in this passage the paralytic man and his four friends chose not to give up or to get hung up. They chose to stand up and make a difference. They saw the problems. They saw the crowd. They saw the obstacles but that did not stop them. The desire to see their friend healed far outweighed the obstacles and the problems. Their faith in Jesus moved them to action. They pushed through all of the obstacles to find another way.

Remember the old adage, when a door is closed a window is opened. The door here was closed but a roof opened. They took their friend upon the roof. They tore the roof open. They let him down into the crowd. Strange idea but that is what they did. They were not willing to settle or give up. They did not run away. They chose not to stand around and criticize but they chose to take action.

They needed faith to do what they were about to do. You see change comes by our faith being put into action. Jesus saw their actions and He responded to the man’s need. The Scripture says that Jesus saw their faith. Here is the principle of Biblical faith. We act God responds. We act and God will meet us in the process. Listen to the words of Jesus! “Man your sins be forgiven.”

This may seem to be a strange statement. The man needed healing not forgiveness. Or at least that is what he thought. The reality is that Jesus often gives us what we need and not just what we want. This man needed healing but he also needed forgiveness. Sometimes God knows that the best way to heal the body is to heal the heart. When Jesus touches us He can and will touch the whole man and not just part. Jesus heals and saves. He delivers us from the physical bondage of illness and sickness and He can deliver us from the power of sin. Sometimes, He does both at the same time. That is certainly what Jesus did here.

So the question is how does this apply to us. The fact is we are all confronted with impossible issues. Most of the issues we face are bigger than us and seem to be more powerful than we are. But when we are confronted with such things we can make a choice about what we will do. Will we give up? Will we get hung up? Or, will we stand up and press in to do the impossible by faith.

I suggest and encourage you to stand up and do the impossible. One of the things that has baffled me about this passage is how did Jesus see their faith. Certainly they pressed through the crowd. Certainly they had broken through the roof. Certainly they did not settle for the status quo. Certainly they took action but I think they did one more thing. When they lowered the paralyzed man through the roof, I believe they let go of the ropes. That was faith in action. They did all they could do and now they left the rest to Jesus. I encourage you to do your part and then let go of the ropes and giving your cares and issues to Jesus. Their part was that they sought Jesus. They drew near to Him. He saw their faith and He answered the man’s need.

The story is told of a mountain climber who set off all by himself to conquer a mountain he had always wanted to conquer. This was not a good idea because the protocol was to always climb with a partner. In a moment of arrogance he took off to make the climb. When he had climbed almost to the summit he slipped and began a rapid descent. All of a sudden the rope reached its end and he snapped to a stop. Because darkness had come, he lost all track of where he was. It was in that moment that he prayed. From the darkness he heard the voice of God. Cut the rope and let go. He argued and refused to cut the rope. The next morning, the park rangers found him. He had frozen to death. They found him tightly holding onto the rope. It was there he died. If he had obeyed the voice of God, he would have lived, as he died hanging only two feet off the ground.

Perhaps, today Jesus is calling you to let go of the rope and by faith give what every you struggle with over to Jesus. It is time to let go. It is time to stand up and push through the obstacles. Do so and Jesus will meet you where you are.

Let’s pray.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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