Monthly Archives: March 2016

Easter the Power to Overcome – Do Overs

Peninsula Community Church

March 28, 2016

Easter the Power to Overcome – Do Overs

John 21:15-17 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

We are in the midst of a series on the strongholds and the mindsets that prevent us from being all that we have been called to or created to be. We started the series by briefly looking at some of the strongholds that are evident in our lives. Last week we were reminded that the debt of our sin has been nailed to the cross. We were reminded that the enemy of our souls loves to throw accusation, lies, and half-truths at us in hopes that we will take the bait and fall victim to his ways. But the cross reminds us that the debt of sin charged against us has been paid and the cross is the receipt of that debt.

Today, we will look at a second aspect of our life in Christ. As I noted last week it is important for us to establish an understanding of who God is before we move on to deal with the issue of strongholds and mindsets more specifically. That is why we looked at the cross last week and today we look at the results of the resurrection. While the cross reminds us that our debt has been forgiven, the resurrection reminds us that we have the power to begin again. The resurrection gives us the power to start over regardless of our past sin or our past failures. In essence we get a do over.

When I moved to New York, in 1979, I began to “try” to play the game of golf. When I first began to play, I played with some people who did not make the game very much fun. They continually corrected me. They criticized my swing, the way I was standing, the way I approached the ball, how I hit the ball, and on and on. They were so critical and such perfectionists that I wanted to give up the game which I did do for some time. But a number of years later I was asked to play again. After some persistence on their part and reluctance on my part, I agreed to play. I was surprised when there was a totally different environment this time. They gave instruction but it was done in a way that was not harsh or belittling. In fact, as we played I hit my normal bad shot. When I did that they said something that revolutionized my life in relationship to golf. One of the guys asked me if I wanted to take a mulligan. Of course I had never heard of that before because the people I had originally played with did not give mulligans. They were serious if not legalistic about their golf and they did not believe in such a thing. For those that may not know what a mulligan is, it is a second chance. It is a do over. You hit a bad shot and you have an opportunity to hit the shot again.

My message this morning is a message of do overs. It focuses on those around Jesus who failed and failed big time. You see when we talk about mindsets and strongholds in our life there is no greater place for this to occur than in the area of failure and blown opportunities. We feel life is over and there is nothing left to do. This comes as well when we have committed that sin or that thing that we believe has derailed us for life. The result is that we feel that our life has come to an end and there is no hope for a better future. You see this is much like the friends that took me golfing earlier in my life. Each failure was overly emphasized and I was reminded how horrible a golfer I really was. Instead of hope, I experienced disappointment and wanted to give up. But the resurrection is a reminder that we have a chance to start over. Because He lives, we have hope and we have a chance for a do over.

As we think about the resurrection and do overs we cannot help but think of the disciples who were negatively impacted by the events of Christ’s death. Think about it, the disciples who were by Jesus’ side for three years were nowhere to be found during His trial or the crucifixion. All of the disciples except for John ran and hid. Thomas doubted Jesus. Peter, as prophesied, denied his relationship with Jesus. We find the disciples are confused and when they received a report that Jesus is alive they reluctantly went to the grave site. This was in part because they struggled to believe the story that He had risen but also because they were afraid they might be arrested by the Roman guards.

Let me ask you this morning do you ever feel confused? Do you feel that you have been betrayed? After all Jesus said He would never leave them? Do you ever feel you have failed so big that there is no chance of forgiveness or opportunity to start over and make things right? Do you feel there are too many pieces to the puzzle of your life that are not fitting together? The fact is there are so many questions and so much brokenness around us. But we must hear the rest of the story to understand the day of new beginnings.

While all of this was happening we must be reminded that actions of the disciples did not prevent Jesus from being raised from the dead. That is the power of who Jesus is. Our lack of belief in Jesus or our sinful condition, no matter how bad it is, does not change who Christ is nor does it change what He has done on our behalf. We find in the story of Jesus that He rose again. Though He was dead, He now lives. But here is the amazing part of the story for me. As soon as possible, Jesus purposely goes to see the disciples. This band of believers who had failed to stay strong when it mattered most were in hiding but Jesus knew where they were. And most importantly, He knew the condition of their heart.

If you are familiar with the resurrection story you know that Jesus sought out the disciples. Jesus knew their pain. He knew the hurt, confusion, and rejection they were feeling. They should have known better but they still acted in a way that betrayed who they were. They failed to follow Jesus’ words and yet Jesus wanted to see them. It is noteworthy that while over 500 people saw that Jesus was alive, the scripture hones in on his visits to the disciples.

First, Jesus encountered Thomas who was a doubter. He doubted everything. How many have doubts today about your future and the hope you have? Doubt is such a robber of faith and it can cause us to be frozen in the past and in only what can be seen in the present. Notice that Jesus did not discredit Thomas’s doubt but gave him a chance for a do over. He allowed Thomas to touch His side and His hands and in so doing Thomas found a spirit of faith arise in him. He had a do over.

Then Jesus went to see Peter. He knew Peter’s rejection and denial. While Peter had failed, Jesus saw beyond his failure and saw his heart. If you remember, Peter was a passionate person. He was quick to speak out. Peter defiantly had promised Jesus that he would not forsake or leave His side. In that moment there was no doubt that Peter meant and believed what he said. He had ever intention of fulfilling his word but as we know from the crucifixion story, it was not long before Peter denied his relationship with Jesus, and he did so not once but three times. Can you imagine the heart of Peter in the moment when the rooster crowed? Can you imagine the guilt and the rejection he felt? What did Peter do, he ran and hid. Rather than heading to the cross, he headed to a back room in Jerusalem.

But here is the amazing part of the story. While Peter was confronted by Jesus and was questioned about his love of Jesus there is a greater story here. Notice that each time Jesus asked about Peter’s love for Him, Jesus commanded Peter to feed the sheep. That speaks to the fact that Jesus still trusted Peter to fulfill His mission. Peter was given a second chance. He was given a do over.

So what do we learn from this? First of all we see through the story of the resurrection that Jesus is always concerned about us and He is ready too give us a second chance. There is nothing that you can do to cause Him to stop loving you. Some of you who are here may feel that you have blown it and that there is no way that God could love you or forgive you. But here is the good news. He is seeking you out today. He wants you to know that He loves you and He desires that you come close to Him.

So how do we do that. We surrender your fears, your doubts, and your failures to Him today. In so doing, we must remember that our failures and shortcomings are not the end. They are a chance at new beginnings. There is hope and there is an opportunity to start over. Jesus is calling and He is coming to you today. He wants you to know that no matter what you might have done, life is not over. He loves you and He is extending His hand to you today.

Secondly, we must be aware that we need a do over. The problem too often is that we do not accept the fact that we need a do over when we have failed. We can be deceived into thinking that everything is ok, when it is not. It is also possible that no one has ever shared with you that you have the opportunity for a do over. Here is the fact we need to understand. Jesus has extended a hand of forgiveness. To go back to my golf analogy, there have been times where I have refused to take the mulligan and it cost me each time. Instead of being on the green in three or four I ended up with 7 or 8 strokes before landing on the green. The result was that my confusion and frustration was magnified. It did not have to be that way but I allowed it. So then the key is to recognize our need for Christ in our life and accept his do over.

And thirdly, confession is always a necessary process in this discussion. John was clear about this when he stated that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Paul also stated For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Romans 3:22a-25). Here is a fact we can live with. We all need forgiveness. We all need restoration. Because we have all blown it at one time or the other. But thank God for do overs.

So as we close do you need a do over? If so, Jesus is here and He is extending His hand to you. Will you take His hand and hear His heart? He is saying I am ready to give you a do over. It comes by way of confessing the issue that is at the core of your heart. And it requires you to make whatever change is necessary to never go back there again. Are you ready? Let’s pray.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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How Easter Gives Hope to Overcome

Peninsula Community Church

How Easter Gives Hope to Overcome

March 20, 2016

Colossians 2:8-15 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

The week we continue our look at the strongholds that impact our life. If you remember last week we defined a stronghold as a mindset or a thought process that controls our lives. Last week we looked at the fact that we walk in the flesh but we do not use the armaments of the flesh to fight our battles. This week we want to look at the victory that has been won on our behalf. Because of Christ’s death on the cross we have been positioned for complete and total victory. Now before we get into the details of strongholds and mindsets I want to set the stage by talking about the power of God and work of God on our behalf. That is our focus today.

The passage we have before us today issues us a warning but it also gives us a solution for winning the battle for our minds. Paul begins where we left off last week. He states See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. He offers us a warning to watch out for philosophies and empty words that control our way of thinking. In essence, Paul is saying that the ideas presented by a worldview which is not secured in Christ will be found empty and useless.

Paul continues by stating that the full authority of God is found in Christ. Paul states that in Christ the whole fullness of Deity dwells bodily. In other words, Christ is the manifestation of God here on earth because He is God. While that is pretty awesome, Paul goes on to say that we have been filled in Him. What is Paul saying? While it is true that all of the power of God is in Jesus, it is also true that we have Jesus in us. Therefore, we have the fullness of who God is in us. Remember last week we stated that greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Paul explains why here. Jesus who is full of everything God, and who lives in us, has all authority and rulership over the kingdoms of our lives. That makes Him greater than any force that can come against us. So why would we not choose to follow Him and obey His commands.

At the end of this passage, Paul makes an incredible powerful life changing statement. He says look not only was Christ raised from the dead but you were too. Listen to Paul’s words. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

There are a couple of things in this that bears comment. We have been made alive in Him. We who were dead in our trespasses and in the works of our flesh have been made alive in Christ. In so doing, we have been forgiven and the sin debt we had was cancelled. So the shame, regret, and desire to control has been dealt with on the cross and we are free today as a result.

But there is a problem in that the enemy of our souls loves to bring accusation, lies, and half-truths against us (Revelation 12:10). His very nature is to be deceitful and to distort the truth we need (John 8:44). When this occurs we have a choice to make. Will we allow false accusation to rule us and therefore walk in the lie of misinformation; or will we reject the lies and live in the truth that is ours through Christ. What truth is that? It is the truth of forgiveness and the fact that our debts have been paid. The debt we owed has been cancelled and it is been discarded as if it never existed.

A few months ago I received a bill from a doctor who was looking for a payment on some medical work that Michelle had done back in 2006. They had attached a note that read if I did not pay the bill I could be taken to court and I would be reported to the credit bureau. Their note was an attempt to intimidate and pressure us to pay a debt that had already been resolved. But heres the deal. Yes! There was a time that I owed that bill but the debt had been paid and it had been paid in full. Fortunately, for us I had all of my receipts and I was able to go back and locate the bill and the check that that had been written to pay off the debt. I contacted the company and sent them a copy of the check and the paid invoice as well as the monthly statement that showed we were paid in full. There was nothing they could do.

You see in our life the enemy of our souls loves to bring up past due bills that have in reality already been paid. He loves to remind us where we have been and what we have done. He loves to remind us how many times we have been rejected and how many times we have done things that have brought us guilt and shame. He is so good at reminding us of our past but when He does that we can go to the file cabinet of our heart and pull out the paid in full receipt that we were given when we came to know Christ and have confessed our sin. Christ paid the debt. What receipt do we have? Spiritually, we have the cross because it was there that our debt was nailed to the cross. Therefore the cross serves as a reminder that the debt has been paid and it has been paid in full. The debt no longer exists.

Let me give you another illustration. A number of years ago I received a call from a collection agency demanding the payment of a debt we did not owe. Even though I provided evidence that I was not the person they were looking for, they continued to call. Each time they demanded payment of a debt that we did not owe. In fact it was a debt that was never ours. Each time they called they agreed they had the wrong person and said they would not call again. Then one night they called and got Michelle on the phone and started pressuring her with scare tactics and manipulation. It upset her. About the time I got home they called again and I had enough. I asked for a supervisor and after some hesitation they finally had a supervisor come to the phone. Because I had journaled all of the dates and the times they called when the “supervisor” finally came to the phone, I let them have. I told them that I was tired of the accusation and the phone calls. I began to list the dates of the calls and who I had spoken to each time they called. I demanded in that moment that the calls stop or else the next person they would be speaking to would be my lawyer. I must have gotten to them because we never got another call again. Here is the point. The pressure to pay the debt was not removed until I threatened to bring in an advocate to handle my case. You see Jesus is that advocate and he is ready to stand in the gap on our behalf. But we must be willing to stand our ground and make the call for Him to do His work. That is why we pray Your kingdom come, Your will be done. We invite God into our world and into the issues we face.

The scripture here today says that Jesus has disarmed the rulers and authorities. This word disarm literally means to strip or to deny power to. In others Jesus by way of the cross has stripped the enemy of his power to effectively accuse us or use any false accusation against us. Listen to me this morning the debt of your sin and past mistakes have been paid for on the cross. Yes in some cases we suffer the consequences of what we did but the guilt, the shame, and the power of the enemy to hold that over you has been dealt with at the cross and you are free today as a result. The power of that sin has been disarmed and the accuser of the brethren has been shamed and defeated. You have been forgiven so forgive yourself. You must walk in the righteousness you have been given. When the debt of guilt comes knocking, let God open the door. When the debt of past failures comes knocking, let God open the door. When the debt of past sin comes knocking, let God open the door. He has come and we are free because of Him.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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How Easter Gives Hope

Peninsula Community  Church

How Easter Gives Hope

March 13, 2016

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

This morning I am excited about this new series. Over the next few weeks we will look at how we can overcome strongholds and mindsets that hold us back from being what we need to be in Christ. This series is a natural outflow of the prayer series we just completed. You see through the movie “War Room” we were challenged to pray. Through small groups we have been challenged to understand the grace of God and the power of forgiveness.

Two weeks ago, we looked at the Lord’s Prayer to gain a greater understanding of how to pray effectively. As you remember, one of the key parts of the Lord’s prayer is praying that God’s kingdom would come and that His will would be done in us and in our circumstances. By praying this pray we are literally asking that God’s Kingdom and His will would invade everything about us. We pray He would invade our minds, our jobs, our relationships, our health issues, and so forth. The fact we are verbalizing the desire we have for Him to rule our life.

That brings us to our study today. While we sincerely pray and desire for the kingdom of God to be established in us, the fact of the matter is there are many kingdoms vying for that position. As we have read in our text today, Paul reminds us that we walk in the flesh. We live in a world that has been subjected to the power of sin and the rebellion of mankind. Because of this, we walk in the flesh and we are subjected to the work of the flesh in our lives. But Paul is also clear that even though we walk in the flesh, as passionate followers of Christ we have a set of weapons that can destroy the schemes of the enemy and the the strongholds that have been established in us.

So what is a stronghold? If you look at the second part our passage for today, you will find that Paul defines the idea of a stronghold. He states We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. So a stronghold is a mindset or thought process that controls our lives. It can be a sin we continue to confront, a shortcoming or failure we continue to experience, a past experience we can’t let go of, or a strong emotion such as fear, jealously, or anger that keeps surfacing. Without dealing with these strongholds they hang onto us and deter us from who we should be. They become a stumbling block and serve to defeat us rather than strengthening us.

As we look into this subject let me give a warning at this stage. We must never become so focused on spiritual strongholds or demonic activity that we fail to see that Christ is victorious in us. To do so gives credit to the enemy that he does not deserve. To do so allows us to justify our sin, our actions, and our negative thoughts. It is more effective to focus on His victory, His word, and His power in our life. That is the message of Easter and it is our message today.

With that said, let me dive into this subject. We must understand that while we have come into a relationship with Christ, we come into that relationship with baggage from our past. This baggage can include but is not limited to various mindsets, emotions that have not been healed, sins that have not been confessed, or a misconceived theology for living. As we live life we are also impacted and affected by the experiences we have and the people we encounter.

To fully understand this battle our discussion must not begin at the fall of mankind or focus on the post fall condition of man. We must begin our story earlier in the narrative. The fact is we must begin with the intent and desire of God in the creation. Therefore it is necessary to  begin with the creation and not the fall. That is why it is not a mistake that the Biblical story begins in Genesis 1:1. The first chapters of the Bible teach us that God created something beautiful and wonderful. After each day of creation, God proclaimed His work “good.”

But why start here? We do so because we need to be reminded that in creation we were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). We were not only created out of the dirt of the earth, but we were created in the image of God. That should mean something to us. Because we are created in the image of God, we have value and we have a purpose. This also means that every life has value no matter who the person is. He made an amazing creation created in His image and filled with His breathe.

But as we know, by way of the historical perspective of the Bible, there was a problem. Because of the fall of mankind, what God created was contaminated by sin. If you will for a moment think about life in the Garden of Eden before the fall. Man walked with God and He had an acceptance with God and with each other. That was priceless. They walked in an innocence that was pure and perfect. In the Garden, man was called to have dominion over the earth and the animals of the earth. So, we find that in the Garden of Eden mankind had acceptance, he walked in innocence, and he had dominion over God’s creation.

But, as we know, that all changed on the day Adam and Eve sinned. All of life was pushed out of kilter. From that day forward what was once so easy for mankind had now become a battle. What God had given man and the essence of creation has been defamed and destroyed. With that said let me make sure that we know that while the situation has changed we are still valuable in the sight of God. We are still a creation of God. That is why the process of redemption is to restore mankind to His original purpose. Redemption provides us with acceptance. We are given  forgiveness which is restored innocence. And dominion over all of creation has been restored.

As we consider this in relationship to the theme of strongholds, we begin to realize that humankind’s attributes before the fall become glaring needs after the fall. First of all in the Garden mankind walked in acceptance. But after the fall acceptance by God and subsequently by others was replaced by rejection. The result was a need to belong and because of sin it became more difficult to feel accepted. The problem is exasperated when we are rejected over and over again. The result is that we begin to feel rejected as a person and we begin to think that rejection is a way of life for us. Because of the feeling of rejection we strive more and more to be accepted and loved. In our effort to be more accepted and loved we succumb to peer pressure to be liked and loved. If we are not careful we will do whatever it takes to be accepted by our peers, our coworkers and our family. We end up in a vicious cycle of wanting acceptance but we experience rejection. The result is that we allow a stronghold of rejection to establish a false kingdom in our heart. When this happens we filter our decisions and the actions of others through the filter of rejection. Because we feel rejected, we lose the will to try.

Secondly, because of the fall of mankind innocence was replaced by guilt and shame. The result is that too many people have a poor sense of self-worth therefore they strive to find their worth and value in people and things rather than in Christ. The advertisement world plays on the need for self worth. If you buy this car, shop at this store, wear this brand of clothes you will have worth and you will be accepted by your peers. Striving for a sense of worth can cause a stronghold to be established as we will do anything to feel worthy, even if it is a false worth. You see we strive for self-worth by doing things we believe will fill that void in our life. We work harder and do more and yet we feel more shame and guilt. To make things worse we begin to filter the activity of our through shame and guilt which inevitable brings more shame and guilt.

The third aspect here is that dominion was replaced by weakness and helplessness therefore we have a need for strength and self-control. People attempt to meet this need by disciplining themselves or by trying to control others. Trying to control others is in reality a symptom of insecurity and a lack of self worth. In essence, we try to satisfy the need for dominion by trying to control others. Control is a stronghold that is sin’s answer for lost dominion. On the other hand while we try to control others we also try to control ourselves. We do so through strict and extreme efforts to discipline one’s self and one’s actions. We try to manage sin rather than dealing with sin. The result is that we are led to a spirit of legalism, perfectionism, and self-destruction. Additionally, when we try to control ourselves and control others we are never satisfied so we try and control more. Thus the stronghold only gets stronger.

As we bring this to a close today, I read this week that as believers we are not trying to become saints we are saints who are becoming like Christ. That is so true. That is why we do everything we can to bring every thought into captivity to the glory of God. We filter everything not through the hurt or stronghold but through the filter of God’s word, His redemption, and His power. In our HVAC systems we have filters that take out contaminates and dust out of the air. If that filter becomes clogged it will not allow the air flow through the filter and then there are problems. The same goes for our mind as well. We need a new filtering system. That is what we will be talking about over the next few weeks.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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