Daily Archives: March 12, 2017

Ephesians – Redeemed and Forgiven

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians Finding Our Identity

Choices

August 3, 2014

Ephesians 1:3-10Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of  his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The last time we were together we began looking at the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. We saw that God chose us before the foundation of the world and that He has predestined us to be adopted as sons. Because of this, God has set in motion His plan for redemption long before we could even consider the prospects of salvation. We were reminded that the Bible is in essence God’s plan of redemption that is laid out for us. In our discussion, we also looked at the balance between the sovereignty of God and man’s free will. This is not an either/or but both. God is sovereign but He created us with free will.

This morning we will continue to look at the blessings that God has given us and what He has bestowed upon us by way of redemption and forgiveness. It is noteworthy that as we look at this portion of scripture that there are a couple of notable things. First, there is a Godly design in all of this. He chose to create and form man with the ability to choose right from wrong. Just because God created man with the ability to choose right from wrong does not mean that God created sin. This is because it is beyond His ability to do so. A holy God could not and would provide the mechanism of sin. God cannot sin, not because He lacks the free will to do so, but because it would be inconsistent with His character and His Divine nature.

Then why do we sin? To understand this we must realize that a large part of sin is the rejection of all that is holy and good in God. It is the opposite of God’s intent. It is like light and darkness. The absence of light is darkness and so the absence of good is evil. God created man with free moral agency with a desire that he would choose right from wrong. God wanted a people who would freely choose Him for their own and not be forced to accept His will. That is grace and mercy. God is not a control freak because He in fact allows you to make the mistakes you make because of free will. As everything created by God, free will was pure but once man sinned free will was distorted and convoluted at best.

The second aspect of this is that in God’s ability to foreknow all things, he also knew that man would reject His plan and would fall into sin and disobedience. This concept of the foreknowledge of God is one of those Biblical principles that can blow our minds as we try to wrap our minds and intellect around the fact that God has no beginning or end. Because of this truth, God does not view time as we do. He has no watch to measure time as there is no need for a timeline. The fact is, God is in the ever-present moment of time. David understood this when he stated that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

We see this concept as well when Moses asked God about who Moses was to say was sending him to the Israelites. God’s reply was that he was to say that “I AM” has sent you. In that “I am” statement is this concept of an ever-present existence of God. Norman Geisler, Theologian and apologist, has said that since God created time, He sees all events in time equally vividly. Think about the implications of that for a moment. God who is all knowing, sees all things, and knows everything about you. He knows the beginning of your life, He knows the end of your life, and He knows everything that is in between. He knows what is best for us even though we may choose other avenues.

This brings us to a third point here. Too often we blame the wrong person for our sin and our faults. Too often, we blame God for our choices. It is true that God guides us and He speaks to our hearts about the issues of our life but in the end it is the choices we make that cause us to sin. Secondly, we can blame the devil and his demons for our faults and wrongs. A number of years ago Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine popularized the saying “The Devil Made Me Do It.” When Geraldine would do anything wrong she would blame the devil and would proclaim “The devil made me do it.” Now certainly the enemy of our souls can tempt us, distort truth, discourage, and distract us but he cannot force us to sin, that is our choice.

We are to blame for our decisions and thus we come to the second set of blessings; redemption and forgiveness. Listen again to what Paul said in this passage. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of  his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Let’s define these words.The first word here is the word “redemption.” The word redemption is one of those words that must be interpreted in light of its usage in the original Greek language. In particular, the term was used of the setting free of slaves after a payment was made. The literal meaning of the word is “to release on the payment of a ransom.” It carries a two-fold sense of “payment’ and “freedom.” Notice in this verse we see how the payment was transacted for those who follow Christ. It was transacted through the blood of Christ. By way of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross the payment for our slavery to sin was made. In so doing we were set free.

The second blessing established here is that we have forgiveness. Forgiveness is the result of redemption. It is the immediate response to accepting the payment of sin upon the cross. Forgiveness comes by way of the payment for sin being made. Forgiveness is a legal term which means one is released from a legal charge or one is released from prison. The word for sin here is the word “misstep” or “a failure to rich a goal.” It is the term “trespass.” It is the idea of crossing over a boundary established by God.

As we look at this, we must understand three aspects of forgiveness. There is a past, present, and future to forgiveness. In the past by way of the cross, we have been given forgiveness. The provision of forgiveness has already been accomplished. We are already forgiven because of what Christ has accomplished on our behalf. We do not have to debate or discuss the work of the cross. We are forgiven.

There is also a future sense to the work of forgiveness. There will be a day that all sin will be dealt with and we will no longer battle with the sin nature or sin any more. The sin nature will be forever destroyed once and for all. We will be set free eternally.

But then we reside in this world where the sin nature has not been eradicated. The flesh is real and therefore we need to understand present forgiveness. There is the initial act of forgiveness obtained through repentance upon accepting Christ. And then there is the daily act of forgiveness as we are aware of the sin or sins we may commit. This is in keeping with Christ’s model prayer where He stated that we should request that God forgive our debts as we forgive the debts of others. It is also in keeping with I John 1:9, when John by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit stated that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

It is critical to note how these blessings come to us. Our redemption is a legal work that is taken care of by His blood. His blood, his death has brought our redemption. On the other hand our forgiveness comes as a work of grace. This grace is the unmerited and undeserved favor of God. Notice Paul does not just say grace but we have forgiveness because of the riches of His grace. The idea here is that there is no end to his riches therefore there is no end to His grace. The visual here is that his wealth is full or filled to overflowing. What Paul is saying is that it took the wealth of God’s grace to pay for the sin of humankind. He did so gladly. He did so freely. The good thing is there is no end to the riches he has to pay the debt of sin.

One of my favorite movies is one called “the Ultimate Gift”. It is a story of a rich tycoon who died and wanted to leave his money and assets to his grandson who had been spoiled by the riches of his family. His was angry at the world and at both his dad and his grandfather. After preserving through several tests of character and endurance he met one last time with the grandfathers lawyer who announced that he just inherited the grandfathers estate worth over 2billion. The idea here is that his wealth was limitless. So it is with God, his grace is available to all without fear of running out.

If these are the blessings of God, then we must live as one that is redeemed and one that is forgiven. Life is too short to hold onto personal unconfessed sin and unresolved issues with people. To refuse to do so is to reject the work of God fulfilled on our behalf. These blessings are freely given and they are to be freely received. The purpose is to unite us as one body to accomplish the work of the kingdom. As we get deeper into Ephesians, we will find that God’s desire is for us to walk in unity. This act and lifestyle cannot be accomplished without God’s act of redemption and forgiveness.

So as we close have you accepted his payment of redemption. Do you live as one redeemed or one still under slavery? How about forgiveness? Are walking in the forgiveness given to us by Christ? Notice something here. The grace that provided forgiveness is still available for today. Every sin committed is covered but we must walk in forgiveness.

Copyright © All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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What Motivates You?

Peninsula Community Church

What Motivates You?

March 12, 2017

Nehemiah 2:9-12 Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel. So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem.

This week I shared a story with someone about our son who was known for sleeping to the very last minute. Not only would he sleep to the last minute but he would also sleep so soundly that it would take a bulldozer to get him out of bed. This was an ongoing battle with him. But one Saturday morning I heard a rustling noise downstairs, so I got up and when I got downstairs I was surprised to find my son sitting at the kitchen table, dressed, and eating a bowl of cereal. Now mind you this was at 5:30 in the morning. I stood in front of him with my mouth and jaw on the ground because I could not believe that this was my son.

Why was he up this early? Why was he dressed and eating breakfast? He was motivated to do so. You see he was headed to an amusement park with his girlfriend and her family. Because he was motivated, he did not require much in the way of persuasion to get up and get dressed. It was easy for him. The motivation of his heart drove him to do what was necessary to get ready on time.

The truth of the matter is that we are all motivated by something or someone. The things that  motivate us aid in formulating our reaction to God’s will and His purpose in our life. In our story today, we see the comparison of two motivations. The motivation of Sanballat and Tobiah stand juxtaposed against the motivation of Nehemiah. As we look at Sanballat, we find that his motivation was based in selfishness, jealously, and fear. On the other hand, we find that Nehemiah’s motivation was based in an unshakable faith in God and the trust that God was in control of everything.

As you remember in our previous messages, Nehemiah had returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He was in the center of God’s will and yet he encountered resistance from those who had been in the city and who were its rulers. He could have given up hope but because he was motivated by a higher calling and a deeper commitment to God, he did not give up nor did he give in to the pressures of life even though he would have been justified in doing so. Because of his faith, he was able to endure the testing of his heart.

On the other hand, we have two men who were antagonistic toward the rebuilding of the city. The reason for this was that they had a vested interest in the failure of the city. They did not want the city to succeed. It is noteworthy that Sanballat’s name means “bramble brush – enemy in secret.” It is also important to note, in his day, his name was most often used for a girl’s name. So you can imagine the life he had. He lived with a girl’s name which meant enemy in hiding. How many close friends do you think he had? Tobiah on the other hand had a very spiritual name. His name meant “God is good.” Here is the problem though. Rather than believe in the destiny that had been given him, his life was lived in opposition to what he had been called to. The problem was that he allowed people like Sanballat to distort and destroy His vision of God and of himself.

The enemy of our soul loves nothing more than to force us to live outside the destiny in which we have been called. He is good at getting us to believe the lies and the things spoken to us by others. How sad was the commentary of Tobiah’s life. Rather than living out his destiny he was falling short of and in fact was working hard to impact the work of God negatively. But why is this so? You see I believe it is because his motivation was misplaced. He lived in fear and had placed his trust in Sanballat who was being motivated more by fear rather than trust in God.

Notice the language of our text. We find three things that point to the motivation of Sanballat’s heart. We find that he was displeased with the fact that someone was taking a interest in the condition of the city and the walls around Jerusalem. Here is the clincher, he had been living there and had no concern for its condition until someone else came along to care for the city. His motivation was wrong because his heart was in the wrong place. Listen to Nehemiah’s words and how he described their heart. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king? (Nehemiah 2:19). Do you see Sanballat’s and Tobiah’s heart here?

They despised what Nehemiah and Israel was doing. He jeered at them while they were building the walls. You see to jeer is “to taunt, mock, scoff at, ridicule, sneer at, deride, insult, abuse, or heckle.” He made fun of Nehemiah and the work to be done. They were also using false accusation. He accused them of wanting to rebel against the king which was far from the truth. In fact, Nehemiah had sought the king’s blessing before he arrived so his desire was far from  rebellion. You see when someone’s heart is wrong or their motivation is misplaced they will resort to tactics that wound and hurt rather than build up. They will seek to destroy others in their path so that they feel better about themselves. So you see the motivation of their heart was disconnected from the truth.

Before we close we must also look at Nehemiah whose motivation and heart was in the right place. He trusted God and we find this in his words. Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 2:20). The motivation of Nehemiah’s heart was his trust in God. He knew that God would cause them to be successful. His motivation was founded in the fact that God was faithful and that He would keep his promises. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. It was at this moment that the reality of this promise was about to be fulfilled. God was going to keep His word and that is what motivated Nehemiah’s heart. Nehemiah also believed that God would empower them to fulfill His purposes. God did not lead them to this point in time without seeing the work all of the way through. Nehemiah was motivated by the promise and hope of God.

So what motivates you today? When our heart is not on God we will focus on the wrong things. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:21 that where our treasure is there our heart will be. Will we focus on that which is eternal or will we focus on that which is disposable and will be destroyed in the end? The things in this world will be destroyed but that which is eternal will last forever.

The fact is there is much emotion that can serve to motivate us. First of all, we can be motivated by anger. Anger is a poor motivator as anger is often based in hurts and disappointments that come from failed circumstances, broken promises, and wounded spirits. When we are motivated by anger the tendency is that we externalize the anger which results in treating the world and others as our enemy. In our anger, we often become self-righteous and blind to the truth.

We can also be motivated by fear. When we are motivated by fear we tend to lose our ability to think for ourselves. Fear unfortunately begins to drive our decisions and actions. Sometimes fear comes because we have tried and failed before and thus there is a fear in us that prevents us from trying anything again. Someone has said that we are born with two fears. One is the fear of falling and the other is a fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned or developed which means they can be unlearned. Uncontrolled fear binds us and keeps us from ever moving forward in the things of God. Paul reminded Timothy that we have not been given a spirit of fear but love power and a sound mind. Hear his words. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:6-9).

We can also be motivated by passion and lust. The problem with passion and lust is that we desire what we cannot have.We want to consume things for ourselves. James reminds us that the reason there is so much turmoil in life is that the passions within us are at war (James 4:1). We want and cannot have so we murder and fight and quarrel. The result is division and more hurt and pain.

We are also motivated by guilt. Guilt is not nor has it been a good motivator for our actions. Guilt and fear are cousins. When we are motivated by guilt we do not know how to say no. We will do things not because we believe the are the right things to do but because we do not want to upset someone and or we fear rejection. We are fearful of failure so out of guilt we do the things that we do.

Finally, Paul reminds us that the love should compel us to obedience. We should be motivated by love. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). The motivation of our heart will determine our success. When we are motivated by God and His truth nothing can stop us and nothing can hold us back.

The problem with being motivated by love is that we forget or we can struggle to believe that God loves us regardless of what we have done or for that matter not done. We can believe that because we have committed a particular sin that we are no longer loved or accepted by God. You see when we are motivated by fear, guilt, passion, lust, or anger it is hard to have a right perspective of God’s love and therefore it is hard to believe that God loves us. I am reminded of one of the stories that Kyle Idleman shared in his book “Not a Fan.” Let me read the story from the book. Some of you today may be asking that same question of God. Do you still love me? You ask that question because you believe that the stain of your life is too great and can’d be cleaned but if you listen you will hear the emphatic cry of God’s heart. He loves us, Oh how He loves us.

As we focus our attention upon power of Christ to forgive and on the power of His love to redeem us watch this video which features Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village in Texas and John Piper, pastor emeritus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the song Oh How He loves Me by the Crowder band. Use this as a time for spiritual inspection. Ask God to show you today what is your key motivating factor in living life. Is it guilt, fear, passion, or anger. Or do you truly love God and desire His love to be manifested in  your life.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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