Monthly Archives: November 2014

Ephesians – For the Glory

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – For the Glory

November 23, 2014

Ephesians 3:19-20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen

Today, we come to the close of chapter 3 and before us is a powerful scripture that proclaims the greatness of God. Once again, Paul declares the power of God and the benefits that are ours in Christ. In this closing verse, Paul notes two factual realities about God. Paul defines God’s work as Him being able to do amazing things. Secondly, Paul defines God’s purpose as bringing about His glory to the Church and to Christ.

So let’s dive into this verse. Paul defines the purpose of God’s by stating that He is able to do far more abundantly than we can ask or think. This word “able” shows us that God is empowered to accomplish what He said He would. The fact is there is nothing impossible with God (Matthew 19:26). Remember the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. We find Sarah struggling with the prophetic word that she would bear a son at her old age. In fact, it seemed so far fetched that she could not control her laughter at this proposition. The angel of the Lord retorted with a question and a reaffirmation of the prophecy that one year from that date she and Abraham would have a child. The angel proclaimed, “Is there anything too hard for God?” It took less than one year to affirm this proclamation but it happened just as the angel of the Lord said it would. So nothing is impossible.

God is able to do above and beyond what we ask or think. Can you wrap your mind around that? God is able to do more than we can ask Him for and in fact He is able to do more than we can even think about. Let me ask you, “How big is your imagination?” “How big is the need you have?” Let me let you in on a little secret, God is bigger than anything we may need or ask for. Sarah’s longing for a son was satisfied miraculously one year later. She thought she was beyond the time she could be pregnant but that did not matter to God.

Here is another aspect of this passage we need to see. Paul says that God is not only able to do but He does so more abundantly. This is probably not the kind of phraseology we would use on a normal basis. We would not say “that restaurant gave us more abundantly food.” We would say things like “ginormous.” Or, we were stuffed. But in Biblical days, the phrase “more abundantly” Mann means surpassing, beyond measure, exceedingly, overwhelming, more than enough, and over and above. In other words, whatever you might be able think of or conjure up, God can do more than that, and then more than that, and then more than that, and then more than that.

What does this mean to us? It means we can pray big prayers. Because God is able to do abundantly above what we are able to ask or think, we can ask God for ginormous things. How big are your prayers? How big is your God? I often ask this question “How big is God?’ and the reply is “He is big enough.” Perhaps we would be better served by replying that “He is superabundantly more than enough.” This also means that we can believe God for great things. This means that we can dream big things for God. Do you believe great things? Do you trust God to bring about His purpose in you? Do you believe God will do what He said He would do?

Finally, this means that when we have prayed big prayers and have believed God for great things, we leave the results to God. If we truly believe and trust God to do more in us than we can ask or think, we must then leave the results to Him. Why? Because He will do more than we can ever imagine. If we don’t leave the results to God, we have a tendency to try and work things out for ourselves as illustrated by Abraham and Sarah using Hagar to fulfill the prophetic word which was never God’s will to begin with. They thought they would help God out because Sarah was too old. Never under estimate the power of God.

As I was preparing this message I remembered one of the sermons we heard while we were at the conference a few weeks ago. Pastor Robert Morris preached an amazing message about the greatness of God. One of the things he stated was that God does not need us but He chooses to use us in His mission. What is our role in all of this? We ask and we dream. We believe. We do our part. Then we trust God to do the rest.

A second thing that he stated was that our part is never supernatural. We do human things as inspired by the Holy Spirit and God supernaturally intervenes and works out His will. Let me illustrate this in two ways. The scripture does not say this but it is implied that Abraham and Sarah had to have sexual intercourse for Isaac to be born. How do I know this? Nowhere do we see that Isaac was born by way of an immaculate conception. That was reserved for Christ and Christ alone.

As second way to illustrate this is to say that I am believing God for a financial miracle and abundant blessing for PCC. We have been running short each month on our finances and we have some huge expenses ahead of us as the winter approaches. So, I am believing God for a miracle. I am believing that some who have never tithed will begin to do so. I am believing that some who have given minimally will begin to give extravagantly. I am believing that those who have been faithful to give will be so blessed that they will be able to give even more.

How will this miracle come about? It will come about when we understand the principle of tithing and giving to God. In giving to God, my part is not supernatural. I simply give of my first fruits. In other words, the first check I write is my tithe check. That tithe check becomes a simple act of faith. There is nothing supernatural about that. It is very natural. I then bring that tithe into the storehouse. I deposit my tithe into one of the honor boxes in the back. Out of that action, God is able to multiple and grow my finances and the finances of the church. Think about it for a moment, if each of us were to give as God commands in His word, we would have more than enough to accomplish all that God has called us to.

In this regard, I thought about the loaves and the fishes in Matthew 14:13-21. One young boy gave up his loaves and fishes which was not supernatural at all. Notice too the disciples did not have a supernatural intervention by Christ, at first. They obeyed God albeit with reluctance and doubt on their part. Christ said to distribute the bread and the fish. The disciples obeyed. This was a very human thing, but there was nothing supernatural about it. But as they were being obedient, God began to multiple. Notice that the fish were not multiplied while laying in the baskets. Too often, we want the miracle without being obedient but it doesn’t work that way. The loaves and fishes were only multiplied after the disciples were obedient to Christ’s command to give.

In the second part of this verse we find the purpose of the work of God is to glorify the church and to glorify Christ. The word used here for glory is an awesome word. It is the word “DOXA” in the Greek. In the Old Testament, DOXA was used primarily of the brightness or radiance of God’s presence. In the truest sense of the word, it means a manifestation of God’s true nature, presence, or likeness. You see the desire of God more than anything is to be manifested in our lives. His desire is for the radiance and brightness of God to be seen in us and to be worked out in us.

In Exodus 33, Moses cried out to God to see His glory or His DOXA. It is interesting to note that God said “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” So God hid Moses in the rock and what Moses saw was God’s back.

Now in Exodus 34, listen to the rest of the story. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 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.  What God revealed was His character and not His might. What is the lesson for us? It is this, God wants to reveal His character through us so that all that He is will be revealed in us and to others around us.

Think about this. We all know that God is every where present all the time. Can we agree on that? But just because God is every where present does not mean He is being revealed all of the time.  And yet that is God’s exact desire. To use my financial illustration for a moment. The reason I challenge you to give is that it honors God and the result is that you will see the glory of God revealed in your life. How much would the church of Jesus be glorified when we have more than enough finances to meet our monthly expenses and then be able to provide for missionaries in a way that honors God? How would it glorify God if we had the funds to reach those who are hooked on drugs and alcohol in our community? To do that we could then fulfill the rest of Paul’s prayer. The church, big C, and Christ will be glorified throughout all generations. What God has done will live forever as a testimony to His power. How awesome is that?

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

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ephesians – How Great a Love

Peninsula Community Church

November 16, 2014

Ephesians – How Great A Love

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

This week we will pick up where we left off last week. In that message, we discovered that this prayer is one that can be prayed when we do not know what else to pray. Not that would be the only case for its usage but we have a powerful example of a prayer that is to be emulated. We began last week by discussing the fact that we can pray for others that their inner man would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that God would find a place to dwell in them and in us.

So now let us move to the second part of this prayer Paul prays that they will be rooted and grounded in love. The first point here is that we are to be rooted in love. Pastor Morris said during the conference we attended that too we often we pay attention so much to the fruit but what we need is to deal with the root. The reason we need to deal with the root is that the kind of soil we are planted in will determine the kind of plant we will be and the kind of fruit we will produce. Why does this matter? It matters because we must understand there are three purposes for roots. First, roots provide nourishment to the plant as the roots absorb water and minerals from the soil where the roots are planted. If the soil is bad the tree will be unsustainable and will produce unhealthy fruit. Secondly, roots provide support and stability. Roots anchor the plant in the soil so that the plant is not easily blown over or destroyed by the winds, rains, or animals. And lastly, roots store water and nutrients for the future. I did not realize this until I prepared this message. The root structure not only provides nourishment but the roots also store nutrients for a future time.

Let us take a moment and apply this to our lives. First, if we want to be healthy and to bear good fruit, we must be planted in the soil of Christ’s love. If we are planted in the soil of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, and so forth that is the kind of fruit we will bear. But, if we are planted in the soil of love we will bear healthy fruit that bears fruit in others lives as well. The fruit that is borne will be multiplied beyond what is conceivable in our lives.

Secondly, roots provide support and stability from what may come our way. It could be a storm, a wind, an outside influence that seeks to destroy. We will remain strong. No matter what comes will not be able to destroy us. Paul in Romans makes this incredible proclamation. 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 (Romans 8:35, 37). When we are planted in Christ’s love, there is nothing that separate us from His love. When we are planted in the soil of Christ’s love we will have great stability and security for there is nothing that can destroy us.

Thirdly, roots store water and nutrients for the future. When we are rooted in love we will be continually feeding off of the soil. The roots store up nutrients for the days of drought or lack of rain. I love what David said in Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. You see, the roots do not just work as a conduit but they are storing up the word for those days we feel we are in a drought. When we store the nutrients of God’s word in our hearts we are able to make it into the future with strength and hope. Once again listen to the words of  David in Psalms 1:3-4. David proclaims that the believer is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Jeremiah adds to this discussion in Jeremiah 17:5-8. While Jeremiah uses the word “trust” we can only trust what we love. Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. 

Not only are we to be rooted in love but we are also to be grounded in love. The foundation of our understanding must be grounded in love. True love brings true stability. We are to be grounded in love which is Christ. When we are grounded in God’s love, we become unshakable and unmovable like that tree planted by the streams of water.

Have you ever known someone that seems to be all over the place emotionally? One day they are up and then they are down. One day they are on fire for God and then they are cold as ice. One day they are ready to storm the gates of hell and the next they are cowering in fear and shame. Perhaps, the problem is that they are not grounded in Christ’s love because when we are grounded and rooted in love our life will be more stable and secure.

You see when you experience Christ’s awesome love, we can trust Him. We are assured that He will not leave us. We are assured that all He does, is for our good. He is willing to open the banks of His riches to touch our life and to meet every need we have in the way He chooses.

Third, Paul prays that they would have strength to comprehend the love of God that surpasses knowledge. The two words used here are interested. The word strengthen used here is defined as “to be fully able.” The second word “comprehend” is defined as “to know or to understand.” It has also been defined as “to eagerly seize or lay hold of.” So what does that mean? Paul is praying that they would be fully able to know and understand the love of God. He is praying that they will have the capacity to know God’s love.

In the second phrase Paul prays that their understanding of love would surpass knowledge. The fact is the love of God is to be understood intellectually but intellectual love falls short of a full understanding. True love must be experienced. The only way to truly know His love is to experience His love. It seems to me that when we fully comprehend the love of God, we will not be able to contain it. We will be effected emotionally, mentally, and physically. What we find on the cross is that Christ demonstrated His love to us by giving Himself wholeheartedly for all of mankind. He left heaven to come to earth to live as a man. He was tempted as a man. He was rejected as a man. He was deceived. He was cursed. He was lied to. All for the purpose of demonstrating His love toward us. Romans 5:8 reminds us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That is the ultimate demonstration of His love.

True love is a demonstrated love. It is a love that is felt, touched, received. It is a love that responds with love, nurturing, and kindness. As a married man, I must not love my wife intellectually but I must also demonstrate that love to her. Can you imagine our relationship if I never greeted her. I never kissed her. I never helped to provide for her. She would not feel loved even though intellectually I have a knowledge of that love. She can have a knowledge of my love but it is enhanced by my demonstration of that love.

And finally, Paul prays that they would be filled with the fullness of God. This fullness of God is the completeness of God in us. This is an interesting proposition since we were filled with all that God has for us and filled us with Himself when we came to know Christ. In John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  And in John 1:16  For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

The problem is that we leak and use up what God has given us. We can become broken cisterns that struggle to maintain a spiritually healthy life. But God is calling us to be filled. Later in Ephesians Paul says that we are to be filled with the spirit. The idea expressed here is that we are to be filled but we are to continue to be filled with the spirit. Just this week we had to add water to our pond. Why? The water was leaking out and it was evaporating. We must be filled over and over again. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul challenges us to be filled with the Spirit. The verbiage here in the Greek is to be filled and keep on being filled. The verb filled carries the idea of something that has begun must be continued.

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

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ephesians – The Inner Man

Peninsula Community Church

November 9, 2014

Ephesians – The Inner Man

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

One of the struggles we often face as believers is to understand what or how we should pray. I have this discussion with folks so often. They question how to pray, when to pray, and when should pray. The blessing for us is that the Bible is filled with examples of how we ought to pray. Paul in particular gives us several examples of how we should pray. Before us today is one such example.

One of the greatest things we can do in our prayers is to focus on others. Paul does that in this passage. In the prayer before us, Paul prays one of the most powerful prayers in the Bible. It is a prayer that should be emulated on a regular basis. This prayer is for others in our life. It is a prayer that we can pray when we do not know what else to pray. It is a powerful prayer of restoration and revival. As I say that let me say that this is not to be considered some secret formula that works in every case, for every person. Nor is it the specific verbiage that make this prayer so powerful. It is the focus and intent of the prayer. It is the focus on God and an understanding of His grandeur.

If this prayer is to be emulated, then let us take a look at the dynamics of the prayer. Paul begins the prayer with phraseology that is not new to Paul’s writings. He clarifies from the beginning that this prayer will be answered through the riches of Christ’s glory. This is both a reason to pray and the assurance that our prayer will be answered.

For a moment, let us look at this idea of riches in Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:7 Paul states that our salvation comes according to the riches of His grace. In Ephesians 1:17-18 we find that our future hope is founded in the riches of His glorious inheritance. It is a guarantee you can take to the bank. In Ephesians 2:18 we find the immeasurable richness of His grace in kindness. In Ephesians 3:8 Paul understands that the preaching of the mystery of the Gospel is rich.

Here in Ephesians 3:14, Paul  reminds us that we grow and mature in Christ because we have the bank of heaven at our disposal. This is not a bank of money but of answered prayers and the vastness of God’s love and grace that is distributed to all of mankind. You see our task is to pray prayers of faith that focus on the power of God to bring results. It is not our specific prayer as much it is the heart of faith that calls out to a loving God that wants to answer prayer for us more than we want to pray prayers. We pray in faith and leave the rest to God. Too often we are trying to control the outcome of our prayers but that is not faith. That is not trust in a God that knows best.

So what does Paul pray for? First, Paul prays for them to be strengthened through the spirit in their inner being so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. Would you notice there are two aspects of this strengthening. There is the aspect of being strengthened through the Spirit in our inner being and there is the aspect of making room for Christ to dwell in us.

Why does Paul pray for the inner man to be strengthened? Paul does so because the inner man is where our emotions and reasoning are deposited. The word used here for strengthen is an interesting word in that it means to “become strong.” Specifically, in the Greek, it denotes growth in childhood, especially from the standpoint of mental independence. You see what God is strengthening is the mental processes and reactions we use in life. He knows that if the inner man of reasoning, faith, and right thinking is strengthened, then the rest of what we do will fall in line with God’s will and His work.

Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. He says So 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.

Think about what that means to us. The truth is we can be filled with anxiety, fear, and discouragement. We can be weighed down by thoughts that destroy rather than build up. Our bodies can be literally wasting away but our inner man can continue to be renewed day by day. You see the world can be falling apart around us but we can survive when our inner man is good. As my inner man is restored and strengthened, I have found that I can endure so much more. Here is another aspect to this. When we are strengthened in our inner man, we have the power to resist the devil more so than with our flesh. More than just positive thinking. More than guilting ourselves into change. Here is what Paul is praying. I am praying that their inner being will be strengthened so that you will be an overcomer.

Think about it for a moment. If you trying to diet from the flesh, you will not make it. The smells and desires for food will overcome you. But, let your inner man be strengthened and let your heart be focused on good eating habits, you will survive. We would try to wake him in the morning and it was so difficult. An army of soldiers could come marching through his room and he would not stir. He wanted to wait to the last minute to get up. But an amazing thing took place. One Saturday morning he was scheduled to go to an amusement park with his girlfriend and her family. They were to leave at 5:00AM. At 4:00AM I heard a noise downstairs which I went to investigate. I found my son dressed, his back pack ready, and sitting at the table eating cereal. What changed? His heart was in it. His inner man had been moved and effected by his love for this girl. How much more will we do for God when we set our affections on the things of God and we see our inner man being strengthened?

Paul now transitions to help us understand why this is necessary and why it is important. The purpose of being strengthened is to be a dwelling place for Christ. For Christ to dwell in us means that He is no longer a visitor. He is no longer one that has to be invited in, He has come to reside or dwell in us. When we accept Christ, we are filled with Christ. He comes to live within us. He is with us in our private time when no one else is watching. He is with us when we transact business with others. He is with us when want to gossip and talk about others. It is interesting to note that the Greek word used here for dwell represents a completed act and not a progressive act. The work is already accomplished. To often though, we live like Christ never entered our lives. We push Him away rather than drawing closer. We try to hide Him when we are around people that may not accept Christ. We turn to other solutions for life’s problems rather than depending on the one that is in us.

A number of years ago we were invited to a family member’s home for the weekend. We were a guest in their home but we did not feel like a guest. In fact it was a very awkward time. When it came time to eat dinner, the main reason we were there, we were placed in the kitchen with our children and Michelle’s grandmother while the rest of the family was in the dining room. We could hear the laughter and the clinking of silverware. We hear the drone of cover station that we were not privy to. We felt isolated and not welcomed. You see one of the problems was that they had invited their daughters boy friend over who was Jewish. They had a fear that we would say or do something that would offend him. Too often we invite Christ in into our lives but we do not give him a seat at the table. We are afraid that he will interrupt our lives but when we are built up in our inner man we will not be afraid of what Christ may do or what He may do through us.

In the second part of this prayer Paul prays that they will be rooted and grounded in love. We are to be rooted in love. The purpose of roots are to provide nourishment and they are to provide support. When we are rooted in love, we will receive the nourishment of love but we will also give it out. The roots receive the nutrients from the soil in which they are planted. If the soil is bad the tree will not be sustained.

This idea of being rooted in love reminds me of Psalms 1:3-4. David proclaims that the believer is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. This means that our nourishment through Christ is His love. God does not just love, He is love. He demonstrated that love by sending His son to earth. We demonstrate our love for God by being rooted in Christ which is His love.

We are also to be grounded in love. This a construction term. The foundation of our understanding must be grounded in love. This is not so much an emotional grounding as it is the stability of living in God’s love. True love brings true stability. What are we to be grounded in? We are to be grounded in love. Our foundation must be Christ. When we are grounded in God’s love, we become unshakable and unmovable like that tree planted by the streams of water.

Have you ever known someone that seems to be all over the place emotionally? One day they are up and then they are down. One day they are on fire for God and then they are cold as ice. One day they are ready to storm the gates of hell and the next they are cowering in fear and shame. Perhaps, the problem is that they are not grounded in Christ’s love because when we are grounded and rooted in love our life will be more stable and secure.

Third, Paul prays that they would be able to comprehend the expanse of God’s love. For those who were here on Sunday evening heard Louie Giglio tell us how great our God is and yet how He loves and cares for each of us. Paul says something fairly amazing here. He says that this understanding of love must surpass knowledge. We need to experience His love. Paul’s desire was that they would have the strength to comprehend the breadth, height, and depth of God’s love. And His love is unfathomable in one sense. The only way to truly know His love is to experience His love. It seems to me that when we fully comprehend the love of God, we will not be able to contain it. We will be effected emotionally, mentally, and physically.

And finally, Paul prays that they would be filled with the fullness of God. This fullness of God is the completeness of God in us. This is an interesting proposition since we were filled with all that God has for us and filled us with Himself when we came to know Christ. The problem is that we leak and use up what God has given us. We can become broken cisterns that struggle to maintain a spiritually healthy life. But God is calling us to be filled. Later in Ephesians Paul says that we are to be filled with the spirit. The idea expressed here is that we are to be filled but we are to continue to be filled with the spirit. Just this week we had to add water to our pond. Why? The water was leaking out and it was evaporating. We must be filled over and over again.

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

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ephesians – The Stewardship of Grace

Peninsula Community Church

November 2, 2014

Ephesians – The Stewardship of God’s Grace

Ephesians 3:1-13 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

As we read this verse, one of the first things that hits us is this idea of the stewardship of God’s grace. This call to stewardship was a critical calling for Paul. It is also a critical calling for us as well. We have been given the stewardship of grace. We are saved by grace and we must minister the gospel by grace.

One of the things that is missing in so many churches to today is an attitude of grace. God is a forgiving God who releases us from our past sin and recklessness. We must be reminded that the context through which we share the gospel is always grace. Grace is how it is received and it is how we are to disperse the gospel to those around us. Through grace we are reminded that we have been redeemed from a life destined for failure. Through grace we have been redeemed from the power of sin.

We read earlier in Ephesians 2:8 that it is by grace that we have been saved. By grace we have been given the gospel. By grace we must preach it and live it. The gospel is a message of grace, therefore the church must be a place of grace. It must be a place that allows for people to fail, but also to be there to lift them up and continue to disciple them as long as it takes. When we are a place of grace, we will encourage all to come to the cross.

Pastor Robert Morris, the senior pastor at Gateway Church in Dallas, related a story about a young lady who decided to attend a large church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area one Sunday. She had rushed to get to the service. She had rushed to get her kids into the children’s program that morning. But when she arrived at the doors to the sanctuary, she found them closed with an usher standing guard. As she tried to enter the sanctuary, the usher told her that she could not enter the sanctuary because the service had already started. She replied “but sir I have been running around trying to get my kids in the children’s program.” The usher replied “no you are not allowed in.” And then as she appealed to him one more time the usher became very rough and told her that if she did not stop, she would be asked to leave the building. Let me ask you where is the grace? Where is God’s love in all of that?

Phillip Yancey in His book “What’s so Amazing About Grace?” tells the story of a prostitute who had come to a friend of Phillip Yancey. She was in a wretched state. She was homeless. She was sick and unable to buy food for her two year old daughter. Through her sobs she told him that she was renting out her daughter to men that were interested in having sex with her. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could on her own for a whole night. After talking with her, his friend said to her, “Have you ever thought of going to church for help. Her answer shocked him. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I already feel terrible about myself. They would just make me feel worse.”

He then poses the question What does the world learn about God by watching His followers on earth? Do they see God as a mean, uncontrollable, judging God or do they see a holy God who is full of grace and forgiveness? What would someone learn about God from your life? Are you honest in your business dealings? Do you require others to do what you are not willing to do yourself? Do you profess to be a Christian and yet live as a pagan or one who has no knowledge of God? What would people think if they found you to be a Christian? Would they be surprised? When we live and minister in grace, we recognize that we have been given a precious gift and we must steward that gift with purity and reverence.

This brings us to the second point in this passage. This stewardship is not to a select a few but to the multitudes. When we are good stewards of the ministry of God, we cannot be selective about who hears because the gospel is not selective. It is for whosoever. Paul states that the gospel is shrouded in mystery but that we have been given the stewardship and the calling to make the mystery known to those who are at a distance from God. You see, it is the proclamation of the gospel to those who have not heard; and the proclamation to those who may have heard but have a distorted view of God’s purpose and plan for their life, that we are called to. That is grace. The gospel is for those who in human terms do not deserve it or may even want it. The Gospel is to be directed to those who are lost or outside the knowledge of Christ. We have a message of hope and life that must be spread to those who do not know the gospel.

But there is a third idea in this passage as well. This stewardship has the power and authority to minister a redemptive message to the powers that are at work in our culture and in our communities. The Gospel of grace not only impacts humanity but it impacts the spiritual forces around us. Think about this for a moment. This may be foreign to you but think about it. What happens in our society is either God-driven or it is not God-driven which means that there are forces at work against God’s plan. These forces want to keep people in bondage to emotions, desires, and ways of living that in fact destroy them more than give them life.

As believers who recognize that we have an incredible gift of grace, we can begin to change the tide of evil in our world by how we live, by our prayers, and by our testimony. We live as the redeemed of the Lord. We pray with the power and authority that has been given to us as believers in Christ. We share our testimony because we are made overcomes by the words of our testimony as it is a reminder of the grace of God at work in us. The goal of the gospel is redemption and transformation and not just information. Think about that for a moment? We have been called for redemptive transformative works in our communities.

With that in mind, let me ask you, what are some of the powers and strongholds at work in our community? How many would say drugs are a force to be contended with? How many would say divorce and the brokenness of families is a prevalent enemy that destroys the wholeness that God intended? How about the voice of entitlement and laziness in our land? What about pride and arrogance? Have these strongholds and powers invaded our land? So what do we do about these strongholds?

First, we must realize that greater is He that is in us than He that is the world. We as the church have the power to thwart the enemy and not be thwarted by the enemy. Remember what Jesus said to Peter. He stated that “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” We have the keys, it is the redemptive power of Christ to change lives.”

I don’t know about you but I am tired of drugs taking the lives of people in our community. I am tired of families being destroyed by alcoholism, divorce, anger, and selfishness. What about you? So many of the issues in society are considered to be “diseases” but a disease excuses and medicates our actions rather than calling for us to respond to bad choices and sinful ways. The issues noted above are strongholds that the enemy establishes in us so that we are prevented from living as we have been created. Let’s say for a moment that these are diseases. If that is so, then God sent Christ to be the healer of every disease and He has been given power over every stronghold that has been raised up.

We have a choice this morning. We can get angry and throw up the white flag or we can be called into action to battle the enemy that seeks to rob, steal kill, and destroy. Listen to the words of John 10:10. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. We need to choose to build strong marriages. We need choose to assist those who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol. We need choose to minister to those who are wayward. We need to choose to allow God to heal the brokenness in our own lives so we can touch others with our healing and not our brokenness. We need to be aggressive in sharing our faith with those who do not know Christ. We must be proactive and not reactive? Are you with me?

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

Copyright © All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized