Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Best is Yet to Come

Peninsula Community Church

The Best is Yet to Come

May 13, 2018 

Romans 8:18-25 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

A number of years ago I did the funeral for a lady in our church. In preparing for the service, the family had requested that at the end of the service I would place a fork in the casket before they closed it. When I asked them why, they stated that their mom loved dessert. When she would clear the table after dinner, she would always say “keep your fork because the best is yet to come.” What she meant was that dessert was on the way and for her that was always the best part of the meal. As we review this passage, we find Paul saying there is much that happens in life, but the best is yet come. 

With that understanding let us consider a couple of important truths. Paul begins Romans 8:18 with the word “consider” which means to make a numerical calculation. It means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to deliberate, and to weigh. The idea is one of careful study or reasoning which results in coming to a specific conclusion. So what is the specific conclusion Paul wants us to consider? It is this. Paul is saying I have weighed out the trials I am experiencing now and I have weighed out the glory that is to be revealed and what I found is that the glory to come far outweighs any problems associated with my present condition. Paul has “mentally and spiritually weighed” the evidence and has come to the conclusion that something better is coming and that brings him hope.

As we read this passage, we find that the word suffer is pluralized which means of course that there is more than one problem. Have you ever noticed that when problems come there is usually not just a singular problem but they seem to come in multiples? The point is that in life we will have sufferings. We will have problems, multiple problems. Our heart will be broken. We will sense the pain of sorrow and difficult issues which seem almost unresolvable. We will be confronted by health issues that blindside us. Our children and other family members will disappoint us and fall short of the potential we believe they have. There will be arguments, fights, and issues will arise that seem impossible to overcome. We will have sufferings.

Secondly, Paul clarifies that he is looking at the sufferings we face in the present time. He calls it “present sufferings.” Paul is saying this is not the suffering of the past. It is not some future suffering we may face. It is what we are going through right now. There have been some that I speak with that share their pain and suffering. When you dig into their story, you find that the problems they are discussing occurred sometime in the past, and yet they share the problem as if it is a current issue. The problem most often is that their past problems have begun to define who they are in the present. You may be divorced, but divorce does not have to define you. You may have had serious sin issues in the past, but that does not have to define you now. Get the point. There are others times that we are perplexed by future issues that may or may not even occur. We spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying over what may never happen. In this regard, I love the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:34. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Jesus understood that we have enough to worry about today, so there is no reason to be concerned about past issues or future problems.

Thirdly, Paul states that whatever we go through now, no matter how great or painful they are, they cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed. That future glory has not been revealed, yet, but it is coming. In other words, be patient and hold on. Just as the mom, who could not wait for dessert, would proclaim the best is yet to come, the glory that is to come also reminds us that the best is yet to come for us. Yes, we have problems, but the best is yet to come. One problem we encounter is that we are impatient. We want things now. We do not want to wait. We want instant healing. We want growth without pain. We want advancement without hard work. We want instant gratification and instant results. We are impatient people.

Paul lets us in on a secret in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. He states, But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. God knows what you are going through this morning, and the best is yet to come.

Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary on Romans that The difference between the present degree of pain we experience and the blessedness to which God has appointed His people is so immensely different that there is no way to compare them. Any comparison we come up with falls short. When you are discouraged by your troubles, know that what is to come for you in Christ will be so much more wonderful than all of your pain. We see this in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. … we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Paul stated that For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Think about this. Paul is saying that hope is always in the unseen. That is why it is hope. Hope that sees the future is not hope at all. For that reason, God gives calls to hope in the glory that is to come, and not in the difficulties we face in this moment of time. In life, we face two great paradoxes: the futility of suffering and the hope of suffering. Paul does not minimize the suffering we face. In fact, Paul knew better than anyone what it meant to suffer for Christ. He knew what it meant to be beaten and be left for dead. He knew what it meant to be sick. He knew what it meant to pray for healing, but healing did not come. He knew what it meant to be betrayed by those close to him. He knew all of this and yet he could express such a hope in a future glory, because His hope was not in the circumstances or the events he faced. He had a “yet to come” perspective. 

In this matter, there are two things to consider in regard to the coming glory of Christ. One is that God’s glory is revealed on the earth, and second His full glory will not be experienced until we go to be with Christ in heaven. Perhaps, it would be helpful to understand the word “glory.” Glory has been defined as the manifestation of God’s presence. Here on earth there are moments when God’s presence is revealed in powerful ways, but His full glory comes when He brings us home with Him and we get to live in His presence for eternity. 

As humans, we experience pain in different ways. This is evident most often in the questions we ask. One of the great questions that is poised by so many of us is “How much more can I bear?” “What else is going to happen to me or them?” “Why is this happening?” “Why is this happening now?” “How am I going to make it through this?” “Why me?” “Why them?” And on and on go the questions. 

When we realize that the best is yet to come, we can endure the difficulties of the present time. The result is that we will have hope and we will be focused on a greater day and a greater opportunity for the presence of God to be manifested. So in the end, this all comes back to where our focus will be. Will we focus on the present problems, or the coming glory of God? Will we focus on the difficulties we face, or the promise that the best is yet to come? 

So where is your focus? Remember Paul started this chapter with the statement that “there is therefore now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” When we are focused on eternity and the coming glory of God, we are less likely to be condemned by the our current circumstances, because our hope is in Christ. So what are you going through? Do you need some dessert? Keep your fork because the best is yet to come. How many are facing some difficult times right now? Who needs some dessert? I have some! 

Let us pray!

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Family Matters

Peninsula Community Church 

Family Matters 

May 6, 2018 

Romans 8:12-17 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

When we speak of family I am sure that we all have different opinions and ideas about what that looks like. For some of us, our family experience was a positive one. For many, the family experience provided the foundation we needed to be the man or woman we are today. I am also aware that the opposite is true. For some, the family experience has not been as positive as it could be. As a result, we have been negatively impacted by our families. For some, it was not the entire family, but one family member that seemed to create problems in the home and thus made it hard to celebrate family. Regardless of our background, family matters and family really matters to God. 

Throughout the New Testament, there are many Scriptures that point to the family and being the children of God. In this passage, Paul makes a wonderfully powerful statement. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

In our passage, Paul reminds us that we do not owe the flesh anything. Because we are sons, we are free from slavery. We must take care that we do not reconnect with the slavery of the past. Regardless of what you think about Kenye West, he made a powerful statement this past week.  He stated that “Slavery is a choice.” He was not talking about historical or institutional slavery but the mindset of slavery. You see what we set our minds on, will control us. If we focus on being slaves, our identity becomes one of slavery. The issue here is that the flesh will continue to attempt to extract a huge debt from us, but it is a debt that we no longer owe. It is a debt that can never be fully paid, as the flesh wants more and more. The flesh keeps raising the debt ceiling so that the debt becomes impossible to pay.

Paul also reminds us that through the Spirit we have become sons of God. We are a part of His family. This week, I read that God does not call us to do something without empowering us to do what He calls us to do. In this case, we are called to be sons of God and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do just, be sons of God. We were slaves to sin, but now we are the adopted son’s of God. It is our adoption that seals the deal for us and sets in place the work of the Holy Spirit within us. For a few moments let us look at this idea of adoption. 

During the times of the Romans and at the time of Paul’s writing, adoption was a common practice. By definition adoption refers to the legal action by which a person is taken into one’s family as a member of the family with full rights and authority as a member of the family. The one that is adopted is granted all of the rights and privileges of a true child of the new father. When we understand the act of adoption, we find that it is filled with grace, mercy, and love. For the believer, adoption is one of the most beautiful and rich theological concepts of Scripture.

According to Roman law, the father had ultimate power over a son and for that matter a daughter. That power never ended regardless of the status of the son as an adult. The son was always under the authority and power of the father. He had absolute power and he controlled the family absolutely. It is interesting to note however that by Roman law, if a man saw a son that he wanted to adopt, he had to go through a formidable process to adopt the son. 

The Roman law required a two step process. The first step was “mancipatio.” From here we get our word emancipation. This act of mancipatio was a symbolic sale of sorts. One father would approach the other father with the desire to adopt his son. Once they agreed, the two fathers would meet in a public place and transact business. The son’s father would sell the son to the adopting father and then he would buy him back. This would occur twice. On the third time, the father would not buy the son back. The deal was struck. With that, the control of the father was broken. Once this occurred the adopting father would go the Roman magistrate and present a legal case for the transference of the adopted one to the new father. When completed the adoption was final. 

Notice the spiritual implications of this. The flesh, the enemy of our soul, had control over our life. We were completely controlled by the flesh. The flesh, because of sin, had been given authority and control over our life. But one day, Christ made the case that He wanted to adopt us as His children. Through the cross, Jesus publicly bought us and finalized the adoption. He gave Himself as the price of adoption so He could adopt us by the power of the Spirit. 

When it comes to Roman adoptions there were a few principles that applied. These principles are critical to our understanding of the work of adoption in our life as believers. First, the adopted person lost all of the rights he had with his previous family and the previous father had no rights to his son. While he gave up the old family, He now had all of the rights and privileges of his new family. He was now considered to be a fully legitimate son in the new family. 

We have been adopted by God, and we are His children thus the enemy has no right to rule over us or to control us. We lost all of the rights once associated with our previous family. Now, we have all of the rights and privileges of our new family. We are not illegitimate children, we are fully and completely His children. It is for that reason that we are not in debt to the flesh any more. Listen to Paul’s words in Galatians 3:25-26, But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

This leads us to the second thought. The adopted child is a full heir to his new father’s estate, even if there were other sons who were born into the family. The adopted child was an inalienable identified heir of the father’s fortune. Because of our adoption, we are now full heirs to our Father’s estate. Notice, the passage states we are not just heirs, we are joint heirs with Christ. We have a great inheritance. So often we think of an inheritance as property and other assets. With our spiritual inheritance, we inherit eternal life, but more than that we inherit God Himself. The greatest gift is that we get to live in the presence of God for an eternity. In the Old Testament, there are no less than five occurrences where Scripture tells us that God is our inheritance (Numbers 18:20, Deuteronomy 10:9, Deuteronomy 18:2, Psalm 16:5, and Lamentations 3:23-25).  

Thirdly, the old life of the adopted person was completed wiped away. If the son had debts, those debts were cancelled. All records were wiped away as if that person never existed before. The adopted person was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with no past. When we are adopted by God, every sin and debt is wiped away. That is why we do not live as the condemned. Our past record has been wiped away, just as if we never existed before. That is why Paul says that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). That is why we do not lived as condemned men nor do we owe a debt to flesh.

Fourth, in the eyes of Roman law, the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father in every sense. So it is with Christ. We are not partial children. We are full blown, complete sons of God. Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

In the movie Ben Hur there is a scene that illustrates this idea of adoption. It is a beautiful scene that shows Arrius adopting Judah as his son, which made him a freedman, a Roman citizen, and Arrius’s heir. All of the rights of the family were given to Judah Ben-Hur. To view this go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbHDk6Uzri4. 

Finally, while other children were born into the family, adopted children were chosen to be a part of the family. As an adopted child, we were deliberately chosen. I am reminded of one adoptee who thought for years that his family had rejected him, but one day he was reminded that he may have been rejected by one family but he was chosen by another. Christ chose to adopt us. He chose to accept us into His family. We are the preferred choice of God. On the basis of free and voluntary election, God chose us to be His sons. That should excite our hearts. The living, powerful, awesome God has chosen us to be His children. We were not just born into the family, we were chosen by God to be His family. 

Because of our adoption we cry Abba Father. In the Aramaic and Greek languages these were the most passionate words for Father their were. They were intimate beautiful words of love and adoration. As His children today we look into His eyes and cry Abba Father, Daddy God. As the adopted one’s we can now call Him our Father. 

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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