Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Spirit of the Lord Brings Freedom

Peninsula Community Church

The Spirit of The Lord Brings Freedom 

July 24, 2016

Good morning! To be honest with you I did not anticipate that I would be sharing this message this morning as I had thought I would be in Richmond welcoming our new little prince into the family. But, as He often does, God had a different plan. With that said turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 and let’s read together.

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

As we look at this passage this morning let me ask you a question. How many times have you found that people reject the truth? Have you ever tried to share undeniable truth with someone and they defiantly reject the truth that you are offering? For us, who know truth, the truth seems so believable and right and yet, there are those around us who resist the truth and the path of righteousness. We find that such blindness to truth comes from two sources. First, the god of this world blinds us so that the truth is not revealed. Secondly, truth is rejected when there is a desire to believe a lie more than to accept the truth.

As we look around our world, we do not have to look too far to see the results of this around us. Notice how Paul starts this passage. Paul stated that there were problems but there is also hope. That hope is found in Christ. Paul also makes an interesting observation. He notes that Moses had to place a veil over his face because the people of Israel were not ready to receive the truth and thus they missed the hope that was available to them. In essence, Paul is saying that this was the way things were but that was not the way things had to be.

You see the reason Moses would place a veil over his face is that the Children of Israel could not see what God had done in Him. The reason was simple. The children of Israel had hardened their hearts and they were not ready to receive what God had done. They saw, but they refused to allow the work of God to make a difference in their life. They closed God out and they kept God at a distance. We see this evidenced in the way they lived. One moment they would be praising God and they would deny and reject Him in the next moment. Why was this? It was because the truth had not found its way into their heart. They were rejecting the truth and the ways of God.

Paul also addresses this when he makes the following statement in 2 Corinthians 4:3-11. He says and even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

Though different, Paul is presenting the same message. The god of this world had blinded the mind of the Corinthians so they could not see the light of the gospel. Their minds had been blinded so that the word of God cannot penetrate their heart. You see when we share faith with others we must understand that many have had their minds darkened and their minds cut off from the light of truth. But that is not the end of things.

Rather than give up we can stand strong as God promises us that the light can shine into darkness. You see no matter how dark one’s life might be the light of the gospel can penetrate the darkness. Notice what Paul says in our text this morning when one turns to God and the veil is removed, truth is revealed and life comes rushing in. Then Paul makes a powerful statement that should be held close to our hearts. He states that the Lord is a spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Because the Spirit of the Lord brings freedom we realize three things that come from the spirit of freedom.

First, the Spirit of the Lord brings freedom. By way of the spirit of the Lord there is freedom to receive the grace of God. By way of the spirit of the Lord there is freedom to change. By way of the spirit of the Lord there is freedom to live in truth and not in darkness that leads to a hardened heart.

I love one of the first messages that Christ spoke. It was the initiation of His ministry. We find it in Luke 4:18-19 that Jesus proclaims “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The Spirit of the Lord is upon Christ and He has been anointed to proclaim the good news, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. The ministry of Christ is to bring liberty and that liberty is available to those who turn to Christ.

Elmer Townes had this to say about revivals and the experience of witnessing the move of God in one’s life. He says that we are to seek intimacy with God rather than the hand of God. In other words while God moves in us He calls us to seek His intimacy. He wants a relationship. In his book “The Worlds Ten Greatest Revivals,” in regards to the great revival of 1904, Townes states The changed lives of converts resulted in reductions in crime, drunkenness, and gambling, along with increases in honesty, truthfulness and chastity throughout Great Britain. In America throughout the nation, political reform was effected as corrupt district attorneys, mayors, governors, senators and assemblymen were replaced with those perceived as honest. Why was this happening? It is because the Spirt of the Lord came and things began to change. The Spirit of the Lord brought freedom and change. How many would like that kind of change?

Second, the Spirit of the Lord shines His light in and the darkness goes. Now that is a powerful statement. You see He is the light of the world. In Him there is no darkness. In Him there is no shadow of darkness. He is the light. And where He is there is light as well. So yes, one’s heart and mind might be darkened by the god of this world but that does not mean that is where they have to stay.  It is for that reason that I love this year’s VBS theme. It is Following Jesus The Light of the World. He is the light. He brings hope and He brings us freedom. Jesus is the Word and it is the Word that is a lamp unto our feet and a light on our path.

Third, the spirit of the Lord comes to transform us into the image of Christ. You see, not only does the Spirit of the Lord change sinners but it changes us as well. First of all because Christ is in us, we find that we do not have to wear a veil. We have an open invitation into the presence of God. We can behold the glory of God. What is the glory of God? It is the character of God being revealed in us and through us.

Often I am asked what a mature Christian looks like. I would say to you today that a mature believer is one that looks like Christ. Are you being transformed into the image of Christ? Are you being changed? If the spirit of the Lord in us we will find that we are being transformed. Once again the idea of transformation is to be totally changed. We are not what we were and we are not going to be what we are now We are changing and we are being changed for His glory and for His honor.

We must understand that our model is not anyone person here on earth. We have some good role models but they are still human and humans will fail and will fall short of the glory of God. That is why Christ must be the model of our transformation. The spirit of the Lord transforms us into His image. How much do you look like Christ? That is the measure of your success and maturity as a believer.

Will you stand today in recognition of your need for the freedom that comes from Christ? Will stand and receive the truth that we need a revival in our hearts? Will you acknowledge that the revival must begin in us?

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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Living Faithful in a Messed Up World

Peninsula Community Church

Living Faithful in a Messed Up World

July 17, 2016 

Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Good morning! I would like to begin this message with a question. How many find that in light of the news and problems in our country, our community, and the personal issues you might face that there are times where you struggle to keep the faith and to live victoriously. As we listen to the news it seems that all we hear is negative. We struggle to know who to believe and who we can trust. We are also faced with so much corruption in government and around us that it baffles the mind. And then we get news that a loved has died and or they have received a serious medical diagnosis. Then flashed across the screen is the killing of more than 80 people celebrating the French Independence. The result is that we walk in fear, doubt, and insecurity rather than in faith.

 

As we look at the passage before us we find that Jesus, as He does so often, uses a story or parable to teach a spiritual truth. This time He speaks about a persistent widow who comes to an ungodly and unloving judge to present her case to him. She had been abused and had been treated unjustly by someone in her life. She was not a “happy camper” as life had cast a cruel blow on her. Her problem was that she had an adversary against her. How many of you feel you have an adversary or adversaries in your life? Bad news, health problems, lost trust have assaulted us until we feel helpless and all we can do is cry out for help. We have a tendency to search for help and do anything for help even it is the wrong thing.

In this case the only one she could call on was this judge who was ungodly and did not respect men. When she approached the judge she was persistent in her request for help. As a result, the judge finally gave in and honored her request to give her justice. The purpose of this story is that Jesus is making a comparison between the ungodly and non compassionate judge and a loving, compassionate God. His point was to show us that if an ungodly man can show that much grace and compassion to one that is persistent how much more will God love us and show us compassion. A second lesson being taught is that Jesus is encouraging us to be persistent. Don’t give up so easily. Don’t lose your faith as it is the basis of all we do.

It is noteworthy that at the end of the parable Jesus proposed a critical question. He questions whether or not He will find anyone faithful when He returns. Sadly, faithful people who really trust God and live for Christ day in and day out are hard to find these days. Jesus is questioning is whether or not His children will be found committed and dedicated to the cause of Christ? This is not just a rhetorical question but is one based on His discussion with the disciples in Luke 17. In Luke 17, Jesus details the mindset of the end times generation. Jesus compares the coming of the Lord to the time of Noah’s day. They were eating, drinking, and enjoying life for all of the wrong reasons with all of the wrong motives. They did not care about God and they did not care about the future. They were living hedonistic lives where it did not matter what they did as long as the flesh was being satisfied. There was no faith in God. Just as in the day of Noah, the greatest question of our time, is not conservatism versus liberalism or Democrat versus republican. It is whether men can live without God and that question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Just this week I received word that a pastor I respected was ask to step down from the ministry he led. He had been the founding pastor and had seen the church grow to several thousand. In his farewell address, he noted that he had come to the place in his journey that he had begun to trust alcohol as a source of strength more than he trusted God. He had in essence become an alcoholic. I am not saying that alcohol itself is wrong but it can begin to control one’s life and make one numb to life and faith, if we do not keep it in the proper perspective. Why would Jesus be so concerned about our faith? You see what we put our faith in is what we begin to focus on. What we begin to focus on begins control us. You see this pastor began to trust the alcohol more than he trusted God. Rather than trusting God we begin to trust others, new philosophies, and things to help us.

It is noteworthy that Jesus deals with the proposed question he asked before He ever asks the question. I have been told that a good lawyer will never ask a question he does not already know the answer. Jesus was a master at teaching us. While he asked the question about faithfulness, at the end of the passage He ultimately gives the answer on how to live faithful in the first verse. Jesus begins the passage with this. “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Two things will help us remain faithful. Prayer and keeping one’s heart focused on God.

First, let us realize that to avoid faithlessness we must always pray. We must have a committed prayer life. Just as the woman who was persistent with the ungodly judge and unloving judge we should be persistent with God. This does not mean that God answers prayer just because we bug Him to death but He answers because He loves us and knows what is best for us. This is the very point that Jesus is making. If an ungodly and unloving person can do the right thing how much more can a good gracious God do.

Throughout scripture we are encouraged to pray without ceasing. In Romans 12:12 Paul tells us to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. In Ephesians 6:16-20 he tells us that in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Then again in Colossians 4:2 Paul challenges us to Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. How do we overcome in a faithless world? We do so by continuing to pray. You see by praying we turn our focus on God and His ability to answer our prayers to see us through every situation.

Secondly, Jesus encourages us not to lose heart. I loved Ronald Reagan as president. He was a master at the one liners that spoke volumes. One such line was “Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.” You see the enemy’s desire is to intimidate and cause us to walk in fear. By walking in fear our effectiveness is diminished and our faith is shaken. The idea of losing heart is not a new topic. 2 Corinthians 4:1 says therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 states that we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. To lose heart is to lose faith so to avoid losing faith we should not lose heart. That may sound circular but it is true.

So how do we avoid losing heart. Look at these three things in these passages. My ministry is from God, so I don’t have to be discouraged when I feel fruitless and ineffective. Secondly, even though my physical man is dying, my heart is growing in faith and so I do not have to be discouraged no matter what comes. And finally no matter what I am called to, I am challenged to not grow weary but to stay focused on God’s calling in my life.

As we close, let me suggest a few things we can do to remain faithful. First, find some good news. While it may seem that there is nothing but bad news, that is rarely the case. Look for positive stories to lift your spirits. Sometimes we have to turn off the negative chatter. Let me ask how much time do you spend watching the news or reading negative stories about things going on in our world. Let me be clear here, I am not suggesting that we isolate or stick our head in the sand, I am saying however that we sometimes are discouraged by the overdose of negative news. Instead, I would suggest that we fill ourselves with that which is positive and good.

Second, read the Good News. Our faith is a story of hope even in the midst of dark times. Spend some time reading Bible passages about hope and resurrection. Or read through one of the gospels to be reminded of how Jesus brings hope in our struggles. The Bible is replete with stories of the impossible. These stories are great faith builders.

Third, give thanks for what you have. In the midst of difficult times, there are still things for which we can be thankful. Take a few minutes to consider all the wonderful ways God has blessed you. No matter what is going on in your life there is much to be grateful for and celebrate.

Fourth, serve someone. While we may not be able to do much about world issues like disease or terrorism, there are problems in your community where you can be part of a solution. Find places in your community to serve people in need. Seek and you will find. You will find those who need help and you can be the difference.

Fifth, don’t forget that God is still in control. He is still the king and He is still Lord. Regardless of what is going on around us He is still in control.

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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Jesus is the Door

Peninsula Community Church

Jesus is the Door

July 10, 2016

John 10:7-18 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

Today, we will look at the last of our doors. In doing so we find that Jesus Himself is the door to faith and salvation. The one truth that must be realized more than any other is that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. That is not very politically correct in today’s environment, but it is true. One of the great lies that is being propagated in this society is that all roads lead to heaven. Others believe that if they only have more things in the plus column than they do in the negative column, they will make it to heaven. Still others simply deny that Christ exists and that there is no God. But each of these beliefs are false and are predicated on a lie whose goal is to diminish the grace and power of God. The result is a life lived without hope and no vision for a greater day.

As believers, we must know that accepting Christ is the only way to receive eternal life and freedom from past sins committed by us. Here is a fact that needs to be made. If, and that is a huge if, we never committed a sin in our life, we would still need to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Through the Scriptures we find that Christ paid the ultimate price and He is the only one that can bring us life, hope, and security. When we consider this, it is noteworthy that many religions have leaders who have made great philosophical statements, but only Christ has died and has risen to bring us eternal abundant life. You see there is a huge difference between a great, encouraging philosophical statement and the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind. Jesus did not just die, He rose again to provide us the power to overcome sin.

As we understand these truths we are empowered to live for Christ in a new dimension. First, we find that Jesus is the door. He is not a door. He is the door. He is the one and only entrance way into salvation. If you have been a student of the word or have read through the New Testament you will know that Jesus often used the common place to illustrate Biblical truth. To fully understand the illustration before us we must understand the role and work of the shepherd in Biblical days. You see, sheep pens or folds were common fixtures along the country side around Jerusalem. Sheep pens were usually ruggedly built to hold the sheep. While most were different sizes, different shapes, and were built from different kinds of material; there was one thing that was common to all sheep pens. There was no door. The shepherd was in fact the door. It was his job to protect the sheep. He protected them from what might enter the fold and he kept the sheep from escaping or wandering off as they were so prone to do. It is for that reason that Jesus made the statement that no one could come into the fold without crossing through him. To come into the pen another way would make one a thief. There would be no other reason to come into the pen in any other way unless they wanted to rob the shepherd or steal the sheep.

Jesus communicated through this passage that there have been leaders who have tried to bring people in a different way but in so doing Jesus classified them as robbers and thieves. They have tried to circumvent the purpose of God and have tried to do things there own way. Too often there is desire by some to add to or take away from the Scripture to make it palpable but that causes one to rob and steal the truth of the gospel from others. They rob followers of Christ and those who need eternal life of the very existence of life and hope. They deceive through lies and half-truths.

It is my belief and I believe that it is borne out through Scripture that many of the issues we face today is a direct result of trying to reach God by a means that was never intended. We have tried to do things our own way and thus we have left God out of the equation. We give Him an honorable mention but He is not the center and the focus of our lives. People have been robbed of the truth. We have been left empty and have been robbed of the truth that we need to do what is right. That is why an angry black man can shoot and kill five policemen and wound another seven in Dallas, Texas. That is why a lone gunman can go into a gay bar and kill fifty people including himself. Because we have diminished Christ and have denied His existence, we are living with the morality that is birthed by such thinking which says there is no God and there is no moral high ground.

The second concept presented through this passage is that we are apart of the sheep fold. Know this, if you are a believer then you are in the fold with Christ. Through this passage we have an assurance that we have eternal life. While the thief comes to rob and destroy, Christ came to give us life. He came to give us abundant life. We do not just get by but we live with all of the life we have been given. One work of the thief is marginalize us and make us struggle with our position as a Christian. For that reason many struggle to know whether are they are in or if they are out. They walk with guilt, fear, doubt, and disbelief rather than with wholeness and freedom. The result is that they have become marginalized and weakened. The tendency therefore is that so much energy is exerted and too much time is spent trying to get what we already have.

A secondary result of this thinking is that we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on our getting in and making sure that we are in and less time on getting others into the fold. Let me let you in on a secret that I hope changes your life and your focus. If you have accepted Christ, you are in. You don’t have to worry about being in or out. You are secure in Christ as you have been bought with a price. We do not need to settle for less than what God has given us. We have been given the riches of heaven and not the squalor and we have been commissioned to share that wealth with those around us.

You are secure in Christ. Listen to the words of Jesus and look at the chain of security we have in Christ. Those whom the Father chose for Himself, He gave to the Son. For those who belong to the Son, He also laid down His life. Those for whom He laid down His life, He also called to Himself. Those whom He called, heard His voice and followed Him. To those who followed Him, He gave eternal life. Those to whom He gave eternal life cannot be taken from His hand. That is the hope and promise of our life within the fold. So don’t worry and begin living as a passionate follower of Christ.

There is a third concept presented through this passage. Jesus makes an incredible statement: there are more sheep who are to be brought into the fold. They are not there yet but they will be coming because He has already chosen them and has ordained that they should be in Christ. Specifically, Jesus is referring to the Gentiles who have not accepted the call to enter through the door. But this can be applied to those within our sphere of influence and with those we encounter on a daily basis. Jesus had a vision of a larger sheep pen with a whole lot more sheep.

For us personally, we must come to terms with the inward focus that can haunt the local church. The church as a whole has developed a self-centered and inward focused life. As I have noted before we tend to spend a lot of time trying to secure our place in the sheep fold when we are already a member. The result is that we have become ingrown and indifferent to the world. We in essence don’t have a desire to see others come to Christ. Even if we do have the desire, we don’t act on it and we fail to bear witness to the greatness of God. Or, we believe that it is someone else’s job. But the truth is God has always given us new life and has awakened us from the slumbers of ingrown, self-satisfied, this fold-and-no-more attitudes.

I would like to issue a challenge to you. What if we turned our attention to the those around us for the next three months? What if we sought to share Christ with someone every day? What if we make the choice to bring others into the sheep fold? What if we took as much time trying to get others into the kingdom as we do trying to secure a place we already have? What a difference this would make. The sheep fold would be expanded and the kingdom of God would rejoice for those coming to Christ.

As we close today I would suggest that there are some who are struggling to understand their position in christ. They are continuing to struggle with knowing they are in or if they are out. Be assured, if you have accepted Christ you are in. Secondly, I would like to throw the gauntlet down. How many will focus their attention over the next few months on sharing Christ with others and leading others to the Door of faith? You will be amazed at what God will do.

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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Door of Opportunity

Peninsula Community Church

Door of Opportunity

July 3, 2016

Colossians 4:1-6 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Over the last few weeks we have looked at three different doors found in Scripture. We have examined the door of hope, the door of faith, and the door of invitation. Each of these doors teach us something about the grandeur of God’s grace and His love for His people. By examining the door of hope we found that our sorrows, our disappointments, and our troubles can all be turned into a door of hope. We also found that God uses our difficult experiences and the victory that comes from Christ as a means to reach others with a message of hope and comfort. Secondly, we looked at the door of faith and found that true faith is based on truth and reality and is not a rejection of either. And then last week we looked at the door of invitation and that Christ is at the door of our heart seeking an entrance way into our hearts because He wants to live with us and not just visit.

Today, I would like to look at a third door and that is the door of opportunity. As we look over the landscape of our current society and the condition of our world, we could be discouraged and we could sense that things are hopeless. If that is your reaction to where our society has fallen, your feelings might be justified because when we look at our world we find that sin and immorality is running amok. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Look at the issues that confront us today: Isis, mass shootings, extreme liberalism, financial crisis, broken homes, an ever growing drug culture, the destruction of the moral fiber of our nation, the acceptance of all kinds of sexual perversion, and so on. As we deal with these issues, we need to know that the problem is not guns. The problem is not gay and lesbians. The problem is not drugs. We have lost our moral footing and it seems we are on a slippery slope headed to destruction.

But, while things may seem bleak and hopeless let me remind you that the Valley of Achor; the valley of sorrow, disappointment, and trouble can be turned into a door of hope. God wants to transform us and He wants to use us to transform our society. The fact of the matter is that God is providing ample opportunity for us to share the message of grace and hope to a world that is hurting, fearful, and discouraged. There is also a door of faith that allows us to step into the unknown and the dark places of our lives. We are also reminded that Christ is standing at the door of our heart and is seeking access into our inner most being. Do we have a long way to go? Yes! But there is hope!

Why do I believe there is hope? First of all we find that Jesus is the Word made flesh. A couple of weeks ago Clayton and I had a conversation about how the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us. While this is a passage that can be easily quoted, it is harder to grasp the concept in its fullest sense. The Word, the King, the God of all creation became flesh and dwelt among us. He did not come to dwell outside of our lives as some disconnected energy or force but He came to dwell in us. Here is the point. As believers we know that the Word became flesh and therefore we know that He lives in us and has the power to bring change. And because Christ is in us we become Christ in the flesh to those we encounter. In other words, Christ is wrapped up in our personalities. He is manifested through our lives. The Word became flesh, He dwelled among and now He lives in us so that we can touch the world.

Just a couple of days ago my sister-in-law made bacon wrapped corn on the grilled. She wrapped the corn with bacon and then replaced the husk and then grilled it. When we ate the corn we found that the corn had the flavor of bacon. We carry with us the flavor of Christ with us wherever we go. We exude His odor and flavor as we live out life.

The second Scripture reminds us that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). Notice that it is He who is lifted up. It is not our church. It is not our doctrine. It is not our personality. Jesus said that if He were lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself. So here is the question? Where do you see Christ being lifted up in your life? Where is He being manifested as the Lord of your life? Where is He living through you? If these things are evident in you God will provide a door of opportunity for you to share love with others. He will draw people to you because He is being lifted up. By lifting up Christ you will find that Jesus will draw all men to Himself. Remember what Jesus said. He stated that we are the light of the world and that light can not be hidden (Matthew 5:14). We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We can effect society for good or bad. Paul also reminded us that we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are His representatives in this world. We have been called to go into all of the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15-18). Note that we do not make ourselves salt, or light, or ambassadors. We are already salt and light, and we are ambassadors because of Christ living is us.

Imagine if we grasped these two primary doctrinal ideas. If He has come into the world and has invaded our hearts and our lives and if He is lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself. What else could we ask for. Our job is made easier as it takes the pressure off of us. We manifest His presence in our life and we lift Him up and He does the rest.

How is this accomplished? I would submit to you that Paul gives us an outline of how this is done. First, it begins and ends with prayer. Paul prayed that God would open a door of opportunity to share Christ with others. His prayer was for himself but it was others focused in that He wanted be an effective minister of the Gospel. Let me ask you a question. How often do you ask God to open a door of opportunity to share your faith with others? How often do you ask God to lead you to those who need God? I can tell you from personal experience that if you seek God and ask God to open doors, He will.

Let me share with you a personal illustration on how this works. It is not some story of grandeur but it is one that illustrates the power of prayer. Almost every morning I pray that God would open a door of opportunity for me to share my faith with others. I did that on Wednesday morning. When I woke up I found that the sump pump in the basement had a leak. I examined the problem and went up to Ace to get the part. I quickly grabbed the part that I thought I needed and made my way to the cashier. In doing so, I passed one of the employees that I knew. I greeted him but his answer was less than a joyous one. He seemed to be discouraged. He was with a customer so I could not talk with him. When I arrived home, I found that I had picked up the wrong part and had to go back to Ace to return it. When I went to the cashier I found that the cashier was none other than the person I had encountered easier and sensed that something was up. So I asked him again, “how are you?” I noted that he did not sound very good before. He turned to me and thanked me for asking and noted that his wife had a lump on her neck that has raised some concern because she has battled cancer before. I told him that we would be praying for him and asked if there was anything I could do for him. I noted that we believed in the power of prayer and the fact that God is able to do an amazing work. I also noted that we would mention his request to our congregation. He thanked me and stated that he felt better already. You see I lifted Christ and invited Christ to do His work in this young man.

Secondly, we need to walk in wisdom toward those that are outsiders. The point here is that we must meet people where they are and we must focus on answering the questions they are asking. Too often we try to answer questions that people are not asking. We have done a disservice to God and His kingdom by showing a lack of wisdom toward those who do not know Christ. We must also understand that those we encounter are not the enemy to be destroyed or hated but they are a creation of God who needs Christ. You see, sometimes, we expect others to live as believers when they have not accepted Christ. And then, we also try and slam the Bible down their throats rather than building relationships.

Thirdly, we make the best use of our time by watching for opportunities to share the love of Christ. Paul is saying is that we should not waste the opportunities that are presented to us. I love one of the themes of the VBS. The kids participating in VBS are encouraged to look for ways they see God blessing. I would encourage you to watch for God opportunities to share Christ with others and then step through those doors as they are opened to you. If you are sensitive to the work of God in your life, He will open doors. When we are faithful to obedience in this regard, He is faithful to open doors.

Fourth, let your speech be gracious. Notice two things here. Our speech is to be seasoned with salt. Salt is a preservative but it also adds to the taste of food. But too much salt turns one off. If we read Scripture we know that we do not need to become salt, we are already salt. I had a friend that when he would sit to eat, he would automatically reach for the salt and add it to his food. He would never check the saltiness of the food he would simply add the salt and then he would readily admit that he had added too much. Why do we need to have the right seasoning? It is so that we know how to answer those with whom we encounter.

In the final analysis, if we ask God for open doors, He will do so. When that happens we must go through the doors with grace, wisdom and through obedience. And then we will find that God will do a great work in and through us.

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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