Monthly Archives: September 2017

Don’t be Surprised!

Peninsula Community Church

Don’t be Surprised!

September 24, 2017

1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Peter writes this passage to those who had been dispersed from Jerusalem. In those days, one of the ways the Roman government dealt with Christians was to disperse them throughout the known world. As a result Jewish Christians lost everything. They had to move to a new home. They had to take on new jobs. They had to make new friends. That is why Peter deals with this issue of suffering to the extent that he does. Listen to his words. Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes to test you as if something strange were happening to you.

If you are like me, when I first read this I wanted to respond. Wait a minute Peter! What are you saying? What are you asking? Are you kidding me? Have you lost your mind, Peter? Don’t you know what I am going through? Are you serious, don’t be surprised? At first glance, this word seems to be so contrary to our life experiences and expectations. It seems like an insane proposition, but it comes from a heart that understands pain and understands the trials we face. How many times are we set back and sent reeling at news we receive or by the actions taken by those around us? It is not uncommon even for the best of Christians to falter when they receive bad news or confront trials that seem to destroy them emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

There are several reasons why we face trials. Through Peter’s writings we are reminded that we are in a war. There is a battle for our souls. In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter states that we are to Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. What is Peter saying? We need is to have a right perspective about the problems we face. We are in a battle against an enemy that wishes to take us out and our mindsets make all of the difference.

In our passage, Peter uses the words “fiery trials.” This was not a mistake as the culture and political environment of his day caused the Romans to brutally assault the Christians. History tells us that a fire broke out in Circus Maximus in Rome in AD 64. Nero the ruler of Rome, accused the Christians of starting the fire. As a result, he rose up against the Christians. He followed through with this false accusation and made an example of the Christians. He burned them at the stake and he used all kinds of torture and brutality against them. Just as the Christians in Peter’s day, we all face trials and issues in our life. None of us are being burned at the stake but it feels that way at times, doesn’t it.

Not only do we face trials because we have an enemy, but we also face fiery trials because sin is alive and well on planet earth. Can you imagine what life would be like if there was no more sin in this world? Imagine how different things would be? Everyone would be kind, considerate, and loving. Everyone would be patient. People would never do hurtful things or say things that cause pain. There would be no more pain or sickness due to a person’s actions that are contrary to God’s will. A life without sin would be wonderful but that is not the case nor is it the reality in the world we live. We are all impacted by the power of sin that causes trials in our life.

Thirdly, we face fiery trials because of our own issues and decisions. The fact is, there are times when we make poor decisions that cause trials in our life. The worst decision we can make is to try and live life without God. Too often, we choose to follow our own whims rather than the teachings of Christ. Our decisions always have consequences. For that reason, we need to have our decisions aligned with God’s word and aligned with His will and His purposes. This comes from a relationship with Him.

The fact is most of us know why trials come but the key to navigating the trials of our life is to know how to respond when trials come. First of all, as we have already stated, we should not be surprised by the trials we face. What you are going through is not a surprise to God and does not need to be a surprise to us either. The truth, however, is that is easier said than done, so that is why Peter outlines other responses we need to have as we face trials.

The second response he suggests is that we are to entrust our souls to the faithful Creator. In 1 Peter 4:19, Peter says Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. As we look a the word “entrust” it is noteworthy that this is the same word Jesus used in Luke 23:46 when He cried out on the cross, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! And having said this, he breathed his last breath. This is the same word Peter used to express how Jesus handled his own personal suffering. Listen to this. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). Through His example, we learn how to suffer without retaliation, even when being treated unjustly. We entrust the justice of our cause, and we entrust our souls to a faithful creator who loves us and desires the best for us. In so doing, we focus on God and not the trial.

Our third response to the trials we face is that we should not be ashamed. If we are honest, this is one of the greatest battles we face. Somehow, when we face trials our first inclination is to believe that we have failed and too often that comes with shame and ridicule. Through shame our inner most being is attacked and our identity is tarnished. Once again Jesus is our example. In 1 Peter 2:4, Peter describes the Christian life as coming to him, a living stone rejected by men… We have come to a rejected Christ. He was despised, hated, slandered, spit on, mocked, stripped naked, and nailed to a cross. 1 Peter 2:21 says, To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

What did Jesus do? What should we do? Hebrews 12:2 says, For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame. Listen to that, He despised the shame. Jesus looked to the joy that was over the horizon, and he entrusted his soul to a faithful Creator. He looked shame in the eye, and said, “Shame, I despise you. I despise you so much I will not give you a place in my soul. Jesus would not give his protractors the satisfaction of being stopped from suffering and dying for His people. We too can deny shame its place in our hearts and not give the enemy of our souls the satisfaction of wounding our hearts through the guilt of shame.

This leads us to our fourth response which is to respond with joy. In verse 13, we see that we are to rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. Jesus said it. Luke said it, Paul said, and James said it. Joy was a pervasive teaching in the early church even though they faced great suffering and unimaginable trials in their life. What these authors were saying is that the best response to suffering is joy. To understand this, we need to be clear that joy does not come from the suffering, it comes from acknowledging God and recognizing that He will take care of us as we entrust our souls to Him.

The fifth and final response is that we need is live a life that overflows in good deeds. This is best applicable when our joy overflows into good deeds to those who do not deserve it. In verse 19 we find that Peter exhorts us to Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. Too often when we face trials we want to get even. We want justice even if it is false justice. But that is not what we are called to do. We are to live a life that overflows in good deeds, especially when we are going through trials. This is a testimony to the world around us, especially those who despitefully use us. These folks will question why you are experiencing their mistreatment and you are not retaliating. They will question why you are not walking in self-pity, miserableness, and a mopey attitude. They will question why you are rejoicing and you are returning good for evil (1 Peter 3:9). In our trials we must respond with good works that honor God.

The result of responding in these ways is that in the end we glorify God even in our pain. Peter stated, Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. When you suffer and you are not surprised, you trust God, you do not allow shame to rule your heart, you are filled with joy, you overflow in good deeds, the result is that you show that your treasure is not in this world but is in God. The result is that you show that He is glorious and His name endures forever.  And perhaps, by God’s mercy, 1 Peter 2:12 will come true. So that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. All of this works together to show the world that your treasure is not in this world but in the all-glorious God.

So whatever form your fiery trial takes, God calls us not to be surprised, but to entrust our souls to him, to despise the shame, to rejoice, and to overflow with good deeds. The one thing we know is that we might be surprised but God is never surprised. He already knows the outcome. So the fiery ordeal that is coming upon you to test you is not strange. It is necessary. It is God’s refining judgment so that your faith may bring praise and glory and honor to His name.

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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The Blessing of Memories 

Peninsula Community Church

The Blessing of Memories 

September 17, 2017

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

This morning I want to look at the subject of memories. The fact is we all have them. Some memories are good and there are some memories we wish we could forget. There are memories that are buried and these memories seem to come racing from the depths of our mind when something similar happens in our life. It could be a good memory that brings us joy or a bad memory that causes our heart to ache. Either way we have been created with the power of remembering.

This week was the anniversary of 9/11. There is no doubt that if I were to ask you where you were and what you were doing on Tuesday Morning, September 11, 2001 you would be able bring to your memory the exact spot your were, and what you were doing, with great detail. This tragedy and assault against our nation was one of those events that will be forever etched in our memory. For Michelle and I, 9/11 was personal in the fact that we were living on Long Island. We had family living in the city, at that time. We had several friends and members of our church who worked in and around the World Trade Centers. We also had several fire fighters and police officers in our church that responded to the call for help. For days, we were glued to the tv and our phones getting updates and communicating with those at ground zero. We will never forget that season of our life. You see the thing about memories is that they are forever etched upon the pages of our history.

The Bible is not silent on this topic of memories. In fact, on several occasions God called His people to set up memorials so they would remember their past and thus remember His goodness and protection over them. I will mention a couple of the these.

One such memorial was erected in Ebenezer. Listen to the words of 1 Samuel 7:10-13. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The purpose of the memorial in Ebenezer was to help the Israelites remember the goodness and the help of God in their lives. This memorial was to serve as a tangible reminder to the Israelites of God’s protection and power. Every time the Israelites would gaze upon the stone, they would be reminded of the goodness of God and the protection of God.

Another memorial set up by the Israelites was when they crossed over the Jordan River into the promised land (Joshua 4). Joshua instructed them to take twelve stones from the land of captivity and place them in the river. From the river, they were to take twelve stones and place them in the Promised Land. Why? Joshua instructs the people that when their children ask what these stones mean, they were to remind them of the victory, protection, and gifts of God during their days in the wilderness. They were to tell the story of how God brought them into the Promised Land.

We all have memorials established in our lives. It might be a specific date. It might be a specific event. Regardless of the memorial it serves to remind us of what God has done for us and in us. In one of my older Bibles, I have entered dates of specific events in my life. These dates and events serve to remind me of the goodness and graciousness of God in my life. As we review the purpose of memorials, we find there are four primary purposes for memorials.

First, memorials serve to remind us of the blessings of God. For those at the Jordan River, it was a reminder that God had kept them and protected them through forty years of aimless wandering. God’s protection was so strong that the shoes and clothes they wore did not wear out. Think about that. They were in the desert for forty years. They walked through the desert across rocks and stones and yet their clothes did not wear out. By way of this memorial, they were reminded of the goodness, greatness, and provision of God.

Secondly, memorials move us to personal renewal. We remember what God has done and we are moved to honor God with our lives and all that we are. We are moved emotionally which moves us to affect change in ourselves. There are times in my life that I need encouragement and God reminds me of the times when He has been faithful, and He has been present in my life. In being reminded of the past victories in Christ, I am motivated to keep the faith and to grow deeper in Christ.

Third, memorials remind us of a time where our old defeats have been rolled away. Memorials serve as a way to remind us that our past defeats do not have to impact our present life.  These memories remind us of the victories won and the ground that has been taken from the enemy of our soul. When the twelve stones, taken from the Jordan river, were placed in the promised land, they became a reminder that the defeats of the past did not have to be the reality of the present. The past was behind them and while it shaped them it did not have to define them.

Think about the children of Israel in the wilderness. They failed big time. They failed to trust God. They mumbled and they complained. They rejected God. They worshipped idols. And yet God brought them to the Promised Land. Yes, we were defeated! Yes, we were sinners! Yes, we had failed big time, but not any more! Now we can live free, and we can be whole as a passionate follower of Christ.

A fourth purpose of memorials is to keep our focus on a better day and a time yet to come. You see, He is not just a God of the past and the present, He is also a God of the future. For that reason, we can commit our past, present, and future to Him. When you read the story of Israel living in the promised land you find that things changed when they crossed the Jordan River. They were given the land but they had to fight for it. They had to focus their attention on God. They were no longer provided manna from heaven. Their faith was maturing and their trust level in God was at an all time high. They were looking to the future of living in the Promised Land. They stopped looking back and began to look forward.

This morning there is one last memorial we must consider. It is the cross. As we review the story of the cross, we pause to remember what God has done in and through us. Think about it for a moment. Because of the gift of Christ upon the cross, there is no sin beyond the power of God to forgive. There is no mistake that cannot be corrected at the foot of the cross. As we look back, we see the protection and guidance of God in our life. We also understand that at the cross we find an opportunity for renewal and a fresh start. It is here at the foot of the cross that we can bring our failures, our insecurities, and dreams and lay them at the altar.

We also see the cross as a time to roll away old defeats. When we remember the cross, we are reminder that what I use be does not define who I am now. Yes I was a sinner, but now I am saved by His grace. I was a drug addict or alcoholic, but now I am clean and sober. I was rejected and confused, but now I am accepted in Christ. I was filled with fear, but now I am trusting in Christ the solid rock. I was looking for love in all of the wrong places, but now I know I am loved by Him.

And finally, as we remember the cross, we are reminded that no matter what is happening in our life things are not over yet. There is a better day to come. There is more to life than what we are experiencing right now. We are growing in grace. We are growing in knowledge. We are saved, but one day we will experience ultimate salvation when we pass from this life to the next. We receive healing now, but one day we will be healed completely and totally. We receive precious blessings now, but one day that blessing will be ours forever.

So, today, we gather around the Lord’s table to celebrate the greatest memorial of all time. We have been set free and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The cross stands as memorial of this event, and today we take the elements of communion to remind us of all that has been done on our behalf.

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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The Power of Blessing

Peninsula Community Church 

The Power of Blessing

September 10, 2017

Numbers 6:22-26 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

I love this passage. It reminds me that we are blessed by our Heavenly Father. Today, we are here to pray a prayer of blessing for our children, their teachers, and those who impact their life. Before we do that, it behooves us to understand how blessed we are through God’s grace. The truth is, we can only bless others when we recognize how blessed we are as people of God.

In this passage, we understand just a bit about that blessing. Time does not allow us to give the time to this that it truly requires. So our focus will be on this passage as it shows us the blessing of God to Israel and subsequently to us as His people. What we find here is that Moses was commanded by God to have Aaron speak a blessing over the people. Culturally and historically these words were not just spoken but were lived out and manifested in their lives. In Moses’ day, a word of blessing was worth so much more than we can imagine. It was in fact worth more than land or money in many cases. These were not empty words but were also prophetic words. So let us take a moment and look at the words spoken by Aaron as directed by Moses through the inspiration of God.

First, Aaron was to proclaim “The Lord bless you and keep you.” As we have noted already, we are a blessed people. We have been given so much that we would be unwise to ignore or fail to acknowledge that truth. Here is a fact that you can take to the bank. God, wants to bless you. He wants to give you good and gracious gifts, and in fact, He already has given great gifts (James 1:17, 2 Peter 1:3-4). The problem, too often, is that we squander the gifts we have been given. It is sad that we have squandered so many of the blessings that God has bestowed upon us.

One reason for this is that we have pushed God out of the picture and have tried to live life on our own. But the fact is He, God, is the source of our blessings. He is the originator, the giver, and the keeper of our blessing. The word, to bless. literally means “to kneel in order to serve.” We see this manifested in Jesus when on the night of the last supper, He took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5). The blessing of God is in fact the goodness of God in action, by which a supply of His grace pours down to us from His good favor (Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Ephesians 1:7, 2:8). Just think of the fact that He sent His son to give us eternal life (John 3:16). The result of His blessing is that we are preserved, protected, and kept for His purposes.

Secondly, Aaron proclaims “the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.” In the first part of the blessing we find that He will bless us and will keep us. It is here that we see the manifestation of the favor and grace of God. We are blessed because we get to experience the grace of God. We are blessed to know that through forgiveness and His gift of grace that we do not always get what we deserve. What a blessing?

Listen to the words of Moses and his personal encounter with God. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7). He is a gracious God. He is a patient God. We are blessed by His grace.

Thirdly, Aaron proclaims “the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” The end result of God’s blessing is that it brings peace. Peace is that inner strength that comes in the midst of a storm. Peace is that settledness that comes as a result of a trust in one who is able to keep us, show us His grace, and empower us with peace. Through the blessing of God we get to experience His protection, His grace, and His peace. Wow! But as His people, we are not to just receive these blessings, we are to share this hope and life with others. We are truly blessed, but we are called to share this blessing with others. The great Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

With that in mind let me give you a couple of ways that we can bless others today. John Trent and the late Gary Smalley have studied this idea of blessing and have produced five common means by which we can bless others. Let me share these with you. First, the blessing requires appropriate meaningful touch. In the Old Testament, before a word was spoken, there was the laying on of hands. There was a hug or other meaningful touch. We say meaningful because some are raised today as I was. The only touch received is one that is done in anger. It is a slap, a push, or an act of abuse, and is certainly not an encouraging touch. Meaningful touch is powerful in that it conveys in non-verbal ways that we love and affirm others. Meaningful touch in fact prepares others for our words.

Research affirms the many benefits of touch. Several studies conducted indicate the improvements in sleep and digestion among infants who are massaged regularly. Healthy touch releases endorphins such as the bonding hormone oxytocin and can calm the aggressive behavior of adolescents. Holding hands or giving and receiving hugs on a regular basis can lower blood pressure and calm a racing heartbeat. “Touch is without a doubt one of the most, if not the most powerful means of communication we have available to us as human beings” says James Smith, professional Christian counselor. “We may speak, express ourselves through words, tone and the volume of our voice, or body language, however nothing comes close to touch.”

Second, we have the spoken message or word. Words are important and what we communicate through our words is critical. Biblically, through the spoken word a child was not left to “fill in the blanks.” They did not have to wonder whether they were valuable to a parent or grandparent. The goal of the spoken word has always been to place unconditional love and acceptance into the heart of a child or loved one. By the way, it is never too late to do this for our children, no matter how old they are.

You see, life and death are in our words. we can build up or we can destroy in a matter of minutes (Deuteronomy 30:14-19; Proverbs 15:4, 18:21). There is power and death in our tongue. We can give life or death through our words. So, choose your words wisely. How many stories have you heard of people who have given up and have lived with brokenness because of the words spoken into their lives? It is not by chance that the Bible tells us that Jesus became the Word (John 1:1, 14). He is the living embodiment of the Word that was spoken and revealed to us. He attached value to His word by making it personal.

Third, we attach high value to others. The word “blessing,” itself, carries the idea that the person you are blessing is of incredible worth and value, even if they are an imperfect person. In short, you are helping others get the picture that you see things in their life that make them special, useful, and of great value. By our words and our actions we are adding value to the people we encounter.

There is so much in society that beats us down. There is so much that seeks to destroy our value. Our personal value is being threatened by a media that sets a standard of what one’s value should look like. Too often today our value is based on our Facebook posts, Twitter accounts, Snap Chat, and other media outlets. Our value is weakened through comparison and trying to achieve what others think we should be. If we do not give value, our children, our families, and our friends will get their value somewhere and it may not be the value we admire, necessarily.

Fourth, we show that each child or person has a special future. With our touch, with our words that attach high value, come a response in a child or loved one’s heart that can be nothing short of transformational. The light that is illuminated in their heart and mind about how God has made them, can do more than we think to help them to live out a God-honoring future. That is why Jeremiah’s words have so much meaning as he reminds us of the future we have. 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 (Jeremiah 29:11).

Fifth and finally, we establish a genuine commitment. Blessing a child in particular does not mean we never discipline or point out areas growth needed. But children “know at an incredibly deep level if they have their parents blessing. They will do almost anything to get that blessing and attention even if it is negative. But, they will know if that parent, grandparent, or other loved one really sees high value in them, even in the tough times. Genuine commitment is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person that says as long as I have breath, I will be there to seek to build these five elements of the blessing into your life and life-story.

So how are you doing? Are you blessed? Are you being a blessing?

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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Persistent Prayer

Peninsula Community Church

Persistent Prayer 

September 3, 2017

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?”

Let me begin by asking you a couple of questions. Have you been praying for something that you desperately need to have an answer? Have you become a bit discouraged by the lack of answers? Let me ask you another question. Do you believe God to be sovereign? Can God do whatever He wants? If God is sovereign and He can do what He wants, then why do we pray? If we pray, then how much do we have to pray? Why does it seem sometimes that we have to bother or pester God to get Him to answer our prayers?

As we consider the theology of prayer, we must first come to the conclusion that we must be people of prayer. We pray because it builds faith. We pray because it keeps us focused on Christ. We pray because within us is the power of Christ, and through prayer that power is released into the circumstances and events of our lives. And then, from our passage, today, Jesus reminds us that we are to pray and not lose heart. It is here that we find that prayer and hope are intricately connected.

It is noteworthy that He says that they ought to pray. This speaks to me that the disciples did not always do that. Just like the disciples, we often fail to be persistent and committed to prayer. Here is a fact. To fail to pray is to set ourselves up to lose heart and be discouraged. The enemy of our souls loves to get us to shorten our prayers, delay our prayers, or even omit our prayers altogether. He knows that if he can deceive us into a lack of prayer, we will be more subjected to hopelessness and discouragement. In our lack of prayer, we get our focus off of Jesus. In our lack of prayer, we focus on the problem and not Jesus.

There was much in Jesus’ day to cause one to lose heart. The Romans were brutal to the people around them. They had economic problems. They had sin problems. But as in their day, there is much for us to lose heart over as well. There is the flooding in Texas and Louisiana. There is violence on the streets. There is an all out effort to destroy the fabric of who we are as a nation. Marriages are failing. Children are rebelling. People are filled with anxiousness. People are sick. Friends die. So many are losing heart.

This idea of losing heart is nothing new. In 2 Corinthians chapter three and four, Paul reminds us that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17) and for that reason we should not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1). Paul recognizes that resident within us is the power of God. Through prayer His power is released to reach people and bring hope (Ephesians 3:20-21). In 2 Corinthians 4:16 we find that because the grace of God is being extended to us, we do not have to lose heart. Through prayer we see and experience the impact of this upon our life. Through prayer, we release the Spirit of the Lord in our life, and by grace we recognize our need for pray.

To illustrate the power of prayer, and in this case persistent prayer, Jesus shares a parable, a story or word picture that helps us understand a Biblical truth. In this parable, we see there are three key characters. The first is the persistent widow. Notice there is no mention of her social standard or her spiritual condition. What we know is that she was a widow, she had a need, and she was persistent in bringing her need to the judge. Historically, we know that widows in Jesus’ day did not fair well. When a woman was widowed and there was no one in her husband’s family to marry her, she was not cared for and she had to fend for herself.

That brings us to the second character in this story. The widow went to this judge to arbitrate her case. The judge she addressed was described as a godless man. He had no fear of God nor did he reverence God in his decisions. Secondly, this judge did not respect men. He was not only an ungodly man, he was one that did not get along with others. Historically, it has been documented that many judges in that day were known to give favors to those who would give a wink and would pass a few bucks under the table. He made decisions based on one’s status and what he could gain. He was always worried about his status. He was concerned more about what was in it for him than what was best for the people.

The widow had a need and she presented her need to the judge. She was persistent in her request for help. She would not leave him alone. She would not give up or let go in presenting her need. He finally, in desperation, surrendered to her request. In so doing, it is noteworthy to see the verbiage he used. The judge states that he relented so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. This literally meant that he was afraid that she would give him a black eye. He was not worried about her harming him physically, but that his credibility in the community would be impacted (even though he had done that to himself). Because of her persistence he came to her aide.

It is at this point in the story, that Jesus turns a corner and brings us to a third character in the parable. Jesus expresses the idea that if an ungodly, unjust, and unfriendly judge would come to the aid of a persistent woman, how much more will a God who loves His children do for them, especially when they are persistent in their prayers.

Notice in this passage, Jesus states that He will answer speedily. This seems to be a contradiction of terms in the sense that we are to be persistent and yet He answers speedily. Here is the point, we are to be persistent and recognize the work of God in our life. We continue to pray even though we do not see the answer immediately. But, He does answer us immediately. I say yes He does. Sometimes He says yes. Sometimes He says no. Sometimes He says wait because He has something better for you and/or there is something for you to learn about life.

Here is the lesson for us today. First, we must not give up on prayer. Be persistent. Do not give up. Continue to focus on God and His ability to bring an answer to our questions and to our need. As noted before, there is a tendency to hurry, shorten, be careless, or even omit our prayer. In so doing, our lives get out of focus and we can begin to lose heart and become discouraged.

Secondly, we endure things not durable through prayer. Through prayer we remain focused on God’s ability. Through prayer we are expressing our faith in God who can bring about His will and His purpose in our life. Peter added to this discussion when he made the following observation. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Peter 4:7).

Third, through prayer we build hope because we focus on the one who is able. Our trust level is increased and our trust in Jesus brings us hope. Notice what Job had to say about hope. Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face (Job 13:15). Do you remember Job? In a very short period of time, Job lost everything. He lost his source of income. He lost his business as they were attacked by an enemy force. A fire fell from heaven that destroyed his livestock. And then a storm blew through and he lost his family to a strong wind when their home was destroyed. With all of this, He was able to keep his focus on God. Here is Job’s point. Though I lose my life, I will have hope and I will continue to bring my needs to Him. I will not give up. I will press on and I will keep focused on God.

So here is where the rubber meets the road. What are you confronting? What is weighing you down? Where do you need an intervention of God’s grace? How are  you doing? Are you discouraged? Is your faith failing? I would suggest that you turn to the one who is able to build hope and faith in us today. Press in. Be persistent. In due time God will answer you. He will make a way. By the way remember the story of Job.

Here is the end of the story. In Job 42 we find that the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before (v 10).  And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys (v. 12). And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days (v. 16-17). He could have given in and he could have lost hope, but He stayed focused on God no matter how bad things had gotten.

Today, I encourage you to stay focused and trust that God will answer and He will provide. If we pray, we will be able to live life to the fullest so that when we are no longer here it can be said of us, he/she died an old man/woman and full of days. Let us pray

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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