Monthly Archives: May 2018

He Cares For You

Peninsula Community Church

He Cares For You

May 27, 2018 

Romans 8:26-30 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Two of the great truths we hold onto as believers is that God keeps us and that God loves us with His whole heart. We see this promise throughout Scripture. When I was in Bible College we had a professor that always told us that if there is a principle that is repeated multiple times in Scripture, that principle must be important. The principal of His keeping power is seen throughout Scripture. We know that He is our protector, and He is in the business of keeping us. We can trust Him, and we can hold onto what He promises. 

While that is true, we also struggle with the issue that bad things happen and they happen to both good and bad people. That is why this passage is critical to our understanding of God and the problems we face. For our time here today, I would like to hone in on Romans 8:28 specifically. This passage is often quoted, but it is also often misused and misquoted. We know that everything works out for the good, but that does not mean that everything that happens to us will always be good. Sometimes this passage is quoted as if no bad thing will ever happen to a believer, but when it is interpreted that way it gives us a false hope and a false sense of security. We can also be confused when we believe that only good things happen to good people and bad things only happen to bad people. The fact is it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Everyone experiences problems. The difference is in understanding why these things happen.

Notice two things here. First, God works everything out for the good to those who love God and secondly, everything works out for the good to those who are called according to His purposes. The bottom line is that God uses everything in our life to bring about His will and all that is good. The way we get to His will does not always seem like fun or that it is good at the time, but God will take every circumstance in our life and use it for His glory. So the thing we must understand is that the working out for His glory is all about Him and not about us. It is always His glory and not ours that is paramount. 

To understand this, we must answer a vital question. How, or better yet, why do bad things happen to us? Why do we face struggles and problems in life? I can tell you that the basis of every problem in the world is that we live in a fallen world and the presence of sin is evident all around us. This is a result of mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden. The bottom line is the world is cursed because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God’s one command. Quite often I am asked why difficult things happen to us, if we are good people. In my answer I never want to over simplify the answer, but it is because of sin that bad things happen. For example, the recent episodes of shootings around our country is not a gun control issue. It is not a democratic or a republican issue. It is in fact, a sin issue that motivated these individuals to do the unthinkable. 

In view of sin being a formidable force in the world, let me give you fours reasons why bad things happen. I am sure you have heard these before, but let me rehearse them with you. First, suffering and difficulties come because of own choices. Too often our problems are a direct result of the choices we make. In the last year, I have found that my body does not respond well to spicy foods, even though I really love spicy foods. When I eat now, I have to a make a decision. Will I choose milder foods or will I choose spicy food. My choice will determine my outcome. Not every time but most of the time now if I eat super spicy food my stomach begins to remind me why I should not have eaten that food. I cannot blame the food. I cannot blame the chef. I cannot blame anyone or anything else because I chose poorly and must therefore pay for that decision. 

How often do we find that issues in our life are a result of our bad decisions? Remember Jonah in the Old Testament. He was called to go to Nineveh and instead of going to Nineveh he headed to Joppa. That was a bad choice because it was outside the parameters of God’s will and was in direct opposition to God’s will. In order to bring about His will, God used a storm to help navigate Jonah in the right direction. The seasoned sailors on board the ship he had boarded, had not seen any thing like this before and they were at a loss as to what to do. Upon the assistance of Jonah, they threw him overboard, where God prepared a fish to swallow Jonah. After three days, the fish threw Jonah up on the shore and Jonah ran to Nineveh where he preached the hope of God. Jonah’s failure began with a bad decision. You see a decision to ignore God’s calling and His will is never a good idea. Our decisions and choices have consequences. 

Secondly, we are impacted by the decisions of others. How often have we seen the results of someone driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and then crash into an innocent person? The one who was drunk leaves scars on those who never asked for or chose this outcome. You may have been doing everything correctly, but because of sinful decisions of some  others, our lives have been negatively impacted. In Scripture we find that Achan stole gold and silver from Jericho after being specifically commanded not to take any spoils by God. When Israel confronted the city of AI, the whole army was defeated. It was a direct outcome of the decision of Achan to take what was not his. This seems unfair but it is a reality of life. We are impacted by bad choices others make. For years, I suffered because of the decision of my parents to divorce and the choice of a step father to drink excessively which led to his abusiveness. 

Thirdly, we also know the enemy uses well-timed opportunities to discourage us and put us in a place where we are negatively impacted by the results. I see this at work in the story of David and Bathsheba. David, chose not to be in the field with his army. He made a bad decision. Secondly, he made a decision to walk on the roof top of his building. The enemy took advantage of this choice and provided a well-timed opportunity for Bathsheba to be bathing on the adjacent rooftop at the same time that he was there. Because of David’s bad decision and continued bad decisions, the enemy set David up for a great fall. It should be noted that David could have corrected his decision at any time, but he continued to make bad decisions. This was the king of Israel who was a friend of God and had everything he needed and yet he did not choose wisely, and the enemy used these well-timed opportunities to destroy David’s life. 

Finally, the fourth thing we know is that God allows things to happen so that His glory is seen and His will is accomplished. We see this in Joseph’s life when he was continually hampered by the work of evil in his life. He was rejected and sold into slavery. He was falsely accused. He experienced broken promises. But, as we heard last week, no matter what happened God was with Him. In the end, we see that God’s plan was accomplished and fulfilled. Why was this? From the beginning God had made a promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many people and he needed to use Joseph to keep this promise alive.

Listen to the final part of the story in Genesis 50:19-21. But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Notice the reason that God did this. It was so that people would be kept alive. God knew where he needed Joseph and He knew that He needed a plan to get Joseph into the position He needed to be, so He could be used to save the rest of his family. God can allow problems to come that bring about His glory and His will. They are used to redirect us and to refocus our attention on Him. 

 

In the final analysis we see that the issue is this. Not everything will be good in our life. But God will use everything in our life for His good. God takes the worst in our life to remind us of the best in His life. They are three reasons God uses pain. James MacDonald references these in his book, “10 Choices.” God uses everything in our life to humble us, restore us, and refine us.

Let me give you one example. In Deuteronomy 8:2-3 we find these words. And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.  

I am not sure where you are today. I am not sure what some of you are walking through but I know this. If we allow God to use everything in our life, He will work it all out for His good. 

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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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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