Monthly Archives: May 2017

You Reap what you Sow

Peninsula Community Church 

You Reap what you Sow

May 21, 2017

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

Late one summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. The waitress had just served him his food when three tough looking motorcyclists decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his french fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it. The trucker did not respond as one might expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the cash register, put the check and his money on the counter, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night. When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I don’t know about that, but he sure ain’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.” You might say they reaped what they sowed.

Today, we will look at the principle of sowing and reaping. A right understanding of this principle is critical as we have been called by Christ to be fruit bearers in His name and the fruit we bear is directly related to what we sow. Jesus reminded us of the importance of bearing good fruit in John 15:5. He stated I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Through a study of scripture, we have an understanding that bearing good fruit does not just happen. It is an ongoing process and a key part of this process is sowing and reaping.

The Bible is replete with passages that speak to the sowing and reaping principle. Listen to a few of these. As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same (Job 4:8). Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail (Proverbs 22:8). These two verses show us that when we sow evil, we reap evil. Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5-6). Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you (Hosea 10:12). And finally, Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:7-10).

So what is the point here? It is simple. We all sow and we all reap what we sow. Everyone of us is in the process of sowing and reaping. We all sow through our deeds. We all sow through our words. We all sow by how we handle our possessions. We not only sow but we also reap the rewards of what we have sown; both good and bad. If we sow evil, we will reap evil. If we sow good, we will reap good. So what are you sowing? Your answer to that question is important because everyday we sow into our families, our marriages, our relationships, our church, our community, and the world. Someone has said “Today is the father of tomorrow.” The fact is what we do today directly impacts our future and all of the tomorrows to come.

In this passage we understand that sowing and reaping specifically affects our finances but there is much more to sowing and reaping than just finances. Our finances have been and always will be a reflection of what you are sowing in the other areas of your life. For example, how you sow your finances will determine your trust factor. How you sow your finances reveals your heart and the priorities in your life. Your financial generosity will define how generous you are in other areas of your life. So do you have a generous heart? Are you giving generously to the Lord? Paul states that if you sow generously you will reap generously.

With that said, we must understand that to reap good fruit we must sow good seeds because we to reap we must sow. When it comes to our walk with Christ sowing cannot be a passive process. If we do not sow good seed we will end up with weeds, thorns, and vines. The good we do can be destroyed if we are passive in our approach. To reap good fruit, we must sow good seeds. The question for us is whether or not the seed we sow is good or bad. It is a choice as to what we sow. What seed will you actively sow? Will it be good seed or bad seed?

 

How many farmers would be successful if they were passive in planting their fields. How many farmers sit back and hope their fields are planted? How many farmers sow just any seed or how many would carefully choose the right seed and sow that seed at the right time to produce the best harvest possible. To reap we must sow and we must sow good seed. Standing by wishing we have a harvest produces no fruit. Good fruit comes only as we sow good seed.

Secondly, sowing requires patience. Why is this? It is because we do not sow today and then reap tomorrow. There is a space of time between the time of sowing and the time of reaping. This is the most difficulty part of sowing seed. We do not see the results of what we have sown immediately. Sometimes we sow a lifetime of seed to only reap later in life. For example, how many have abused their bodies with drugs and alcohol only to find they have major health issues later in life because of the seed they sowed. They sowed bad seed and now they reap the results of that seed.

The opposite is true as well. We can sometimes sow good seed and not see much fruit right away but in due time we will reap a harvest. That is why Paul stated And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:7-10). We be faithful to sowing good seed. At the right time we will reap a good harvest.

Thirdly, you will always reap more than you sow. I found that one piece of see corn can produce up to ten ears of corn or more on one stalk. Each ear of corn will have about 400 kernels of corn on it. So we could say that each piece of corn seed has the potential of producing 4000 new seed that can be planted and produce more seed. Let me put it another way. Granville told me that one bushel of good seed corn can produce 260 to 300 bushels of corn on irrigated property. So you see whatever we sow, much more is reaped. When we sow good seed the ripple effect impacts multiple lives. We always reap more than we sow.

Fourth, what we reap is different from what we sow. We sow a kernel of corn but we reap a whole harvest of corn including the stalks and the ears of corn. The truth is that the seed sown is contained in that which is harvested. The problem with sowing is that too often we are waiting for the exact kind of thing to come back to us. Sowing good seed affects every area of our life. We sow and reap a harvest that is different from what is sown. Hosea has said that if we sow righteousness we reap love. Notice righteousness is sown but we love is reaped.

Sixth, the one who sows shares in the reaping. When we sow good see others are blessed by what we sow. There are times where others pay for our mistakes and the choices we make. The opposite is true as well. There are many people who reap the good we have sown. They reap a harvest of blessing because of our faithfulness to sow good seed. We see this in evangelism. We sow seeds of God’s love and others get the credit and the glory when the harvest occurs. The key for us is that we do not allow a spirit of jealousy to rise up within us and refuse to take credit for what only God can do. Having others join the harvest is the blessing of sowing good seed.

If you feel like you are not bearing good fruit perhaps you need to change what you are sowing? Sometimes we need to make a choice to sow something different to get a different result. When a farmer looks at his barren fields, he doesn’t gripe about it. One of two things will occur. For one, if he is not getting a harvest he will change the seed he uses.

Secondly he may start with the seed he has. He can hoard the seed or he can plant it. If he holds onto it, that’s all he’s got. If he gives it away, God will multiply it. So do not be stingy in your sowing. Do not be stingy with your finances. Do not be stingy with your grace. Do not be stingy with your love and compassion. Do not be stingy in sharing your faith. Stingy people reap what they sow. They reap emptiness but generous people reap life and hope. So sow your finances, your love, your faith, and you will reap a righteous harvest. Paul challenged us to be generous sowers so we will become blessed reapers. Give God a chance and see what He can do. Do you want to have friends? Sow friendship. Do you want people to love you? Sow love. Do you want to feel secure? Sow your finances in the right place. Do you want good health. Sow good eating habits. Do you want to see people come to know Christ? Sow seeds of evangelism. Remember to reap you must sow, and you must sow generously.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Peninsula Community Church

May 14, 2017

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Before I begin this morning, let me share a story I read this week. It is a beautiful story of love by a little girl trying to honor her mom. The girl’s mother was sick in bed with the flu. To bless her, she brought her mom an extra pillow and a magazine to read. She even brought her a cup of hot tea. The mother being quite surprised by her gesture of love proclaimed, ”Wow! I didn’t even know you knew how to make tea!” The little girl said, ”Oh, yes. I learned by watching you. I put some water in the pot, and then I put tea leaves in the pot. I boiled the water, and then I strained it into a cup.” Then she said ” I couldn’t find the strainer so I used the flyswatter.” Her mother exclaimed, ”You what?!” The girl replied, ”Oh, don’t worry, mom. I didn’t use the new flyswatter; I used the old one.”

In preparing this message, I was drawn to the attributes of a Godly woman as listed in Proverbs 31. In reading through the chapter, I found that Solomon listed several qualities that define a good woman. He suggests the following. A good woman is one who cares for her family. She is thrifty. She speaks well of her husband. Her actions and her lifestyle make her children and her husband proud. She is a blessing to everyone she meets. She encourages and strengthens everyone around her, especially her family. There are many positive attributes listed here, but these attributes pale in comparison to the one which is supreme to all the others. At the end of the chapter, in Proverbs 31:30, Solomon gives us the one quality that exceeds all others. He says. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Solomon recognized the one characteristic or quality needed by every woman, and for that matter every man, is an understanding of the fear of the Lord.

It seems today we have a mixed up view of motherhood. In our nonChristian, postmodern society there is a sense that moms are to work full time, be perfectly dressed all of the time, have all of the answers, keep a house in perfect order, and have it all together. As a result, there is a tension between God’s perspective of womanhood and the nonChristian, postmodern view of womanhood. This tension affects every aspect of our understanding of what true motherhood is about. For many there is a pressure to perform. As a result we have lost our fear of the Lord! We have forgotten the value of following God. We have become more focused on pleasing societal norms and what others think rather than what God thinks.

We find there is a tendency to value charm and beauty over character and a personal relationship with Christ. No matter how one attempts to change the outward, if the heart is not affected by Christ, there is no real change. Scripture instructs us not to put new wine in old wine skins (Matthew 9:17). The reason for this is that by putting new wine into old skins the fermentation process will cause the wine skin to expand which will eventually cause the wine skin to tear. The wine will leak out and the value of the wine will be diminished.

To understand the fear of the Lord we must understand what fear the Lord really is! Fear has always been a reality we face. Fear can be a huge negative factor in one’s life. Fear can bind and prevent many from accomplishing what they strive for. We fear crime, auto accidents, storms, terrorists, sickness, failure, and so many other things. Even when we try to accomplish positive things, we do so with reservation and emotional resistance. The fear of the Lord, however, is different. The fear of the Lord is less about fear and more about respect and honor. It is about having a reverence and awe for the One who is greater and more powerful than we are. Through reverence, we are driven to honor God with our lives, devote ourselves to His purposes, and accept the challenges of life with a new power and endurance. The fear of the Lord has been defined as a continual awareness that one is in the presence of a holy, just, almighty God, and that every motive, thought, word, and action is open before Him and will be judged by Him.

It is for that reason, the fear of the Lord is the one overarching characteristic that must be evident in every life. Why is this important? It is important because Scripture is replete positive results of  fearing the Lord. Through scripture we find that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111.10) and it is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). The fear of the Lord prolongs life (Proverbs 10:27) and it gives us a strong confidence which gives children a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26-27). The fear of the Lord in effect leads us to real life (Proverbs 19:23).

In another of Solomon’s works, Ecclesiastes, we find a summation of all that life offers. Listen to his final words in the book. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). This all boils down to our focus in life and that focus is how do we respond to God’s presence in our life. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. You see what we focus on is where our heart will be. Jesus knew this when He stated For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). He also gave us this advice. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).

With that said let me give you a couple of outcomes for those who fear the Lord in the right way. First, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about what’s going to happen in her life. Proverbs 31:25 states Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. A woman who fears the Lord prepares for the future. She does not worry about the future because she knows the one who controls her future. She trusts God with her life, her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her friends, her destiny, and so on. Jesus confirms this truth in Matthew 6:25. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

The problem with worry is that the things we worry about often serve to reveal our attitude towards God and who we perceive Him to be. For example, do we see God as sovereign? Do we see God as all powerful? Do we see that God has the power to do what is needed in our life? Do we believe He cares about the mundane details of our life and that He is working everything out for the best possible outcome in view of eternity? Our view of God will determine our view of the future and will set a course for us in terms of how we move into the future.

There is no doubt that life is filled with anxiety and difficulty but when we fear the lord, we will find a peace and trust that is not easily swayed. It affects the way we pray for our kids. It affects the way we approach health issues for us and our loved ones. It affects the way we pay bills. It affects our present condition and it affects our future. When we have a healthy respect and understanding of God, we will fulfill the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He shall direct your path.

Secondly, a woman who fears the Lord speaks wisdom and kindness. In Proverbs 31:26 Solomon states She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. A right understanding of God affects the way we communicate with others. A right view of God will affect the way we choose to spend the gift of language He has given us. We will choose our words wisely. We will seek to build up and not tear down. We will season our speech with the salt of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 4:6). We will remember that life and death is in our words. From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:20-21). A right understanding of God brings life through our words.

Third, a woman who fears the Lord is strong. In Proverbs 31:25, we find that Strength and dignity are her clothing. In Verse 17, we find that She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is clothed with God’s strength. The woman who fears the Lord is not easily depressed, deterred, or diminished in her calling.

The woman who fears the Lord does not just talk about being strong, she is strong. A holy strength brings contentment in Christ. If you want to know if your fear of the Lord overflows into strength? Ask if you envy others. Are you always wanting more than what you have without being grateful for what you have already been given. Threads of discontentment reveal a heart that does not grasp the greatness and goodness of our maker. Isaiah grasped this truth when he made this statement. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation (Isaiah 12:2).

Fourth, a woman who fears the Lord will live for others. In Proverbs 31:11,12 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life. Our view of God plays out in our interaction with others. If we trust God is for us, it frees us to be there for other people. We can look out for their interests because we know God is looking out for us. We do not fear people because we know God has our back. We are not self-focused or worried about our needs because we can trust Him with our needs.

In the end, all four of these characteristics overflow from a right understanding and relationship with God. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is clothed with God’s strength and is for other people. The solution is a gloriously simple complexity: fear the Lord. Let the words of Proverbs remind us of the opportunity we have to grow in our fear of the Lord. Let that opportunity excite you and draw you into a deeper understanding of His grace. As we grow in our understanding of Him, we will be transformed. We will not be transformed into the image of some cool Proverbs woman, but we will be transformed into the very image of His Son.

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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Who is Your Master?

Peninsula Community Church

Who is Your Master?

May 7, 2017

Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When I was in high school back in 1973, I witnessed an amazing event take place. You see for most that year there was a short skinny kid named Jimmy who had been picked on and had been abused emotionally and even physically in many ways. It had begun as fun but now it was a daily exercise from many in the school. While many were engaged in this brutality others had begun to feel sorry for Jimmy but felt powerless to do anything. That all changed one day, however. It was regular day for the most part. As I headed to my next class, I noticed a crowd had gathered outside the gym and they were shouting at someone in the middle of the group.

As I got bit a closer, I realized Jimmy was in the middle of the group. In front of him was one of the biggest, toughest guys in the school. He was slapping Jimmy, and each time he did, people would cheer and laugh. It seemed that Jimmy was being beat down. But something happened in that moment that changed everything. From somewhere deep inside of Jimmy, he suddenly stood up taller than ever before, and before we knew it the big, tough senior was on the ground. He had blood pouring from a broken nose and and he was in the fetal position grabbing his stomach where he writhed in pain. You see what no one knew was that Jimmy was a black belt in karate. He had enough that day and he finally retaliated for the first time.

For some of us, we are living like Jimmy. Every day we are beaten down, pushed around, and ridiculed. We feel defeated and we feel we have lost control of our lives. We feel mastered by both external and internal forces of our lives. We find that we are being subjected to unnecessary and undeserved abuse physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But like Jimmy we don’t have to live defeated, but instead we can be victorious. We can leave the enemy with a broken nose writhing in pain. The fact is Jimmy had the power to deal with his enemies within him the hole time, he just never used that power.

You see no matter what you experience whether it be anger, insecurity, feelings of failure, or other issues, you have the power to overcome each of these. To overcome, we must come to the place where we recognize we are in a battle. We must understand there is a war going on within us and the winner of the battle will master us. Paul describes this war as one between the flesh and the Spirit.

I did not know this until this week that May 4th has been designated as Star Wars Day. As you might remember, Star Wars is a movie that deals with the battle between good and evil. In this passage, Paul reminds us that a real battle is going on within us. This battle is not some conflict that happens on a movie screen that is resolved within an hour to two hours. It happens within our hearts and souls on a daily basis.

Paul defines this battle by way of the symptoms manifested as a result of the battle. He describes these manifestations as the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. When you go to the doctor he/she will ask you a series of questions. Most of the answers we give are really just symptoms which point to an underlying problem. What Paul describes here are the symptoms of a life being mastered by the flesh or the Spirit. The symptoms of walking in the flesh are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Juxtaposed to these symptoms are the symptoms manifested by one who is walking in the Spirit. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These are a matter of the condition of our heart.

Paul understood the concept of symptoms and understanding when it comes to the question of who masters us. That is why in verse 17 he states there is a necessity to walk in the Spirit. Paul reminds us that by walking in the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. The truth is we have been set up for failure in so many ways. For some, we have been raised in such a way that has negatively impacted us spiritually and emotionally.

All of us at different times have allowed the flesh to master us, but there is a difference between being mastered by something and having a short time failure. For example, when it comes to anger there is a difference between getting angry and having ongoing fits of rage. Of course, we can insert whatever issue we deal with here. It might be fear, envy, jealously, strife, and rivalries. All of these can control our life and how we respond to others but they don’t have to.

As I have talked to some of you over the last few weeks one of the issues we have discussed is anger. Some of you express anger through fits of rage while others use the silent treatment. When we deal with anger, or any of the other issues found this passage, there are a few thing we must recognize. First of all, fits of rage or anger can be a learned response. We respond in anger because that is what we learned through experience. Therefore, when things don’t go the way we want, we get angry. I know this because I was one who learned to respond to things in anger because my stepdad would do that.

Secondly, anger can become our “go to” when we are frustrated or we do not get our way. Because it is our go to method of dealing with things, it is easy for us to go negative. We find that anger is a result of unmet expectations which is based on a false concept of expectation. We also get angry when we feel our is identity is being tested or is being diminished by another. When our anger goes unchecked, it is so easy for us to respond with anger because it has become the norm for us. The fact is it can be easier to get angry rather than deal with the problem before us. But though it is the norm it does not have to be that way.

Paul closes this verse out by saying that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. By the spirit’s power we can crucify the flesh’s work in us. In practical ways how do we do this? First, we must have a desire for change. Without a desire for change, we will not be positioned for change. We will allow ourselves to be battled and the flesh will win every time. A desire for change begins with taking very thought captive and bringing our thoughts into obedience to Christ’s will and desire for us (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Secondly, we must saturate ourselves with the Word of God. The Word of God gives us guidance and details how we should live. David stated that he had stored up God’s word in his heart so he would not sin against God (Psalms 119:11). That is what we need to do. For example, this week I shared with someone a particular Scripture that could guide their life. I suggested they write the scripture down and post it on their mirror, in their car, or any place they would see the Scripture on a regular basis. Then every time they feel anger or they experience any fruit of the flesh, they could go to that Scripture, read it, and by the power of the Holy Spirit live it out.

Thirdly, we ask the Holy Spirit to establish in us right thinking. We take every thought captive to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). How we think determines how we will respond to the stimuli in our life. When we have our thinking under control, we will find that the flesh will be gratified less and less and the fruit of the spirit will be revealed more and more. You see fruit is the outcome of how we live and how we think. If we allow the flesh to master us, we will have flesh like fruit. If we allow the Spirit to master us, we will manifest spiritual fruit.

Fourth, I would suggest we learn the power of the pause. When we feel we are getting angry we need to pause and ask the question. Why am I getting angry? Why am I flying off the handle? You see there is something to be said of counting to ten, twenty, hundred, or even a thousand. Whatever it takes we must do. When we slow down and think through why we are angry, most of the time there is no real answer. We are just angry. For that reason James commands us Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20) The desire of James is that we become less reactive and more active in our responses to life’s issues.

Finally, we cannot and must not forget the power of prayer. We begin our day by asking the Heavenly Father to help us overcome these things. We pray for God to guard our hearts, help us to take every thought captive, and we pray that our emotions are guided by the Holy Spirit. Then whenever we are driven to walk in the flesh, we ask for God’s help to overcome in that moment and to empower us to walk in the spirit.

So today let me ask you, “who is your master?” “Who controls you?” It is your choice!

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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Devotion to Cause Greater than Ourselves

Peninsula Community Church

April 30, 2017

Devotion to Cause Greater than Ourselves

Acts 2:42-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

I always love to look at the anatomy and how we are so fearfully and wonderfully made. For example, in the thigh there are four muscles that make up what is called the Quadriceps or the Quads. These four muscles interact with one another to serve to move the legs. We usually don’t think much about the Quads until we try to run or workout without stretching. It is at that moment or just after that moment we are reminded they exist. For immediate treatment of the Quads they say you should use the R.I.C.E. treatment plan for healing (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). To prevent injury and to bring healing to the church, we also have a treatment plan of Biblical teaching, fellowship, meals together, and prayer.

In our passage, today, we see how the early church was devoted to these disciplines. The word devoted means to love, to be loyal, or to be enthusiastic about a person or cause. The disciples were devoted to these disciplines because they had an insatiable desire to draw closer to Jesus and to one another. The disciples were enthusiastic about being guided, built up, and strengthened individually and also as a local body of believers.

With that in mind let us take a look at these disciplines. The first of these is the apostles teaching. The apostles had lived with Jesus and had personally experienced the words, life, and ministry of Jesus. For that reason, they could speak with authority and power. When they spoke they did not speak by hearsay but they spoke the truth of the gospel which is the good news.

Today, their teachings are presented in the gospels and the books of the New Testament. Their words where the truth of the story of Christ and were presented by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit! These words were powerful then and they are just as powerful, today. These words serve to give us guidance and direction. They serve to correct negative and unhealthy issues in our life. They serve to encourage us and empower us to serve in the mission of Christ more faithfully.

For the disciples, the word of God was nourishment to their soul. For them, the Word was not just to be read or memorized but it was to be lived out each and every day. Without the word of God in us we begin to die spiritually as one would die without daily nourishment. Now granted there is much in this world we can eat, but by eating that which is not good for us, we have a unhealthy outcome. The old saying is “We become what we eat.” That is true about the eating the word of God. We must have a healthy diet of the Word and then must live out the word. It is not enough to just read the word. As Scripture states in We must be doers of the word and not just hearers.

As in that day, today there is no lack of teaching. There were many who offered teachings about Jesus that were based in lies and misunderstandings. We hear a lot about fake news in our media today. In the disciples day there was a lot of fake news. There is no exception to that in our day either. Today, there are many ministries and many people who are not being nourished by the truth of the gospel. They are being fed lies and half truths which are based on man made laws and legalism. Too many are dying spiritually because they are feeding on an extremely watered down version of the gospel. Too often, individuals tend to pick and choose which of the doctrines of Jesus they will follow and obey. And, too often many would choose to believe the lie rather than the truth which sets us free. The problem is that when we water our doctrine down, we will not grow the way we should. We will not be focused on the right issues. We will actually be in more bondage than in freedom when we believe a lie or a half truth. Our energy as believers will be zapped from us. So for that reason, may we be faithful to the doctrine of Christ and His word.

The second of these disciplines is that they continued in fellowship. Fellowship was not just a good thing, it was a necessity. Through fellowship, the early church encouraged each other, built each other up, and cared for one another. In the New Testament Church there was a sense of community. They shared life together and they shared their possessions so that no one lacked what they needed when there was a genuine need. It is noteworthy that fellowship did not just occur in the church but outside the church. Fellowship took place in the marketplace, on their jobs, and in their homes.

True fellowship is a powerful weapon that can be used against division in the body and the attacks of the enemy. Strong, stable churches are made up of those who desire fellowship with Christ and with one another. It is for this reason that the writer of Hebrews gave this insight. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Do you see what he is saying? Encourage one another! Stir one another to good works! That is fellowship at its best. And let me tell you there is so much in this world that is looking to discourage us and to knock us down. That is the reason that we are encouraged to not forsake meeting together as believers of Christ. It is in meeting together that true fellowship is experienced.

For this reason it is understood that fellowship is more than just an activity. It is more than being social. It is not a superficial friendliness. We can be in a room filled with people and yet not have fellowship. True fellowship comes from the word “koinonia” which means “to partner, or to share in common interests.” “Koinonia” is a deep association. What the disciples understood was that an unattached Christian is vulnerable and to live an unattached spiritual life is impossible. The quest for us today is to be devoted to Biblical fellowship.

The third discipline considered is that they continued to break bread together. They shared meals together regularly. Even in communion in those days they enjoyed a meal together. It was a feast.  Have you ever considered the power of eating a meal together. It breaks down walls and it brings people together in ways not considered before. In his book “A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission Around the Table,” Tim Chester stated that Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance. “Few acts are more expressive of companionship than the shared meal. . . . Someone with whom we share food is likely to be our friend, or well on the way to becoming one.”

Food connects. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends. It is noteworthy how many times Jesus was having a meal or there was an event that involved food in His life. Some would say He was a good Christian because so much of what He did was centered around food. He turned water into wine at a wedding feast. He fed 5000 and then 4000 respectively. He was accused of eating with sinners. After his resurrection, he prepared the disciples a breakfast of fish and bread. He plucked corn on the Sabbath so His disciples could eat. In fact, the communion elements we take are the Bread and the wine. Meals together were important to Jesus and they should be important to us as it has a way of bringing us together.

Meals are a way to reach those who are isolated and disconnected from the church. Meals are a way for us to reach the lost and disenfranchised. People will join us for a meal when they might refuse to do anything else. Around the table people feel more open to talk and share life. Around the table people are more open to share their heart. So may we continue to share life around the table of fellowship.

The fourth discipline was they continued in prayer. Prayer is a powerful discipline. The disciples continued in prayer because they knew that prayer was a tool for change. In prayer things change, but in prayer we change as well. Prayer can move mountains and prayer can touch the heart when nothing else works. Prayer is more than a ritual, it is a lifestyle of connection with God. It is communication with a living, powerful God. May we be devoted to prayer.

As we bring this to a close, I want to remind you that the result of the disciple’s devotion to the apostles doctrine, fellowship, sharing meals together, and prayer was that they experienced joy. There is nothing that brings more joy than being in fellowship with others. There is nothing that brings more joy than sharing the doctrine and teachings of Jesus. They experienced life in a new way by coming together. They experienced a wholeness by celebrating Jesus together.

By living out these disciplines they also experienced growth in the church. Here is a fact. People are attracted to a healthy body. People come to Christ when they sense that the church is a place of healing and wholeness. This was the atmosphere in this new church and it must be the atmosphere in our church today.

So how are we doing? How is our fellowship? How is our meal times? How is our desire for doctrine? How is our prayer life? I encourage you to inventory your life and have the courage to change where necessary. Fall in love with God’s word again. Don’t isolate yourself. Have a meal with someone this week to encourage them. And finally, renew your commitment to prayer. You will be amazed at what can happen when we continue in these disciplines. We too will experience joy and spiritual growth. Are you ready?

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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