Peninsula Community Church
It is a New Day
January 6, 2019
Isaiah 42:5-9 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
As we enter a new year I trust that you are as excited about the prospects of what God will do in and through us as I am. The question for us is one that is simple. How will we respond to what God has for us? What we will do with His will and purpose in our life? Will we respond to Him as He leads us, or will we be wrapped up in other ideas that prevent our success in Christ?
As a church, 2018 has been a great year in many ways. We have grown as a body numerically, spiritually, and financially. In terms of attendance, we have seen a 40% growth with the added attendance increasing our giving by 15 – 20% over 2017. If we include all giving we have seen a 27% growth. This includes monies donated for the roof and parking lot as well as the memorial gifts given for the sign. That totals $40,000 in additional income with another $20,000 still outstanding that is yet to be donated to the sign. This will allow us to get three major projects completed early this year: the roof, the parking lot, and the installation of a new sign.
While this is exciting, there has also been an exponential growth in opportunities for spiritual growth, fellowship, and outreach. I am more blessed by this than anything else. Including the worship time, we have opportunities each week for our adults to get together with other believers to grow in the Lord and to grow relationally. These include Sunday School, Ladies Tuesday Book club, Ladies Thursday Morning Bible Study, BSL on Thursdays, Men’s Study on Tuesday nights, Wednesday men’s lunch at McDonalds, and Life Groups. We have also seen an increase in our Life Kids and younger adults. Two years ago the average age of our attendees was 56 years old. Our average to date is approximately 45 years of age. That is awesome. That is a 20% drop in the average age of our attendees.
All of this should be seen in light of the fact that statistics say that 1200 churches a month are closing their doors. That is also in view of the fact that 1500 pastors a month are leaving the ministry. For those churches who continue to existence many are experiencing stagnate or declining growth. I give God the praise that we do not fit into any of those categories.
With that said, this is not a time to puff ourselves up but to give God praise for all that He is doing and has done. In fact, we cannot rest on our laurels and the good things we have seen occur thus far. While this is exciting, we must continue to seek God’s will and purpose for the ministry of PCC and all that God has for us. We must not settle for the good and fail to move toward finding God’s best. We must never be guilty of worshipping the ministry we have and failing to worship the God of the ministry. If we are not careful, it is possible to transform Godly victories into spiritual traps, because we begin to idolize and worship the ministry and our successes, more than we worship God. As we consider this, I am so glad for those passages that cause us to focus on what is important and critical to our success as a church and as individuals. The Isaiah passage we just read is just such a passage.
The first truth is He is the Lord! I love the language in this passage. “I am the Lord!” This is a declarative statement of fact. This means that He is in charge and that He never changes. His character is constant and His ways are so far above our ways. No matter when you encounter Him or experience His Grace, He is or to use incorrect English “He am.” He never ceases to be. He never stops being the Lord! And, because He never stops being the Lord, His character does not change. His love does not change. His grace does not change. His willingness to forgive does not change. The bottom line is “He is” and will always be.
As we look ahead to this new year, I have come to an important conclusion. While everything has changed, the truth is nothing has changed. Now before you get too excited or worried, let me explain. While our circumstances change and we cannot control the events of our life, the one constant in life is God. He never changes and He is always with us to help us and direct our steps. I believe this passage tells us that and shows us that God never changes but is always with us. It is only as we recognize this that can we move ahead to a new day and a new adventure with God. Here is the fact. No matter what comes in 2019, God’s got it and He has you because He is the Lord!
Secondly, the Lord proclaims that I have called you in righteousness… As Lord, He has called us to righteousness! The problem with our interpretation of righteousness is that too often we relate righteousness with a list rules and regulations. Most of these rules and regulations have little or nothing to do with salvation and eternal life. When we understand the righteousness given to us by Christ, we find that our righteousness has little to do with us and everything to do with the one giving the gift. We are righteous because He has made us righteous. We do not have to work to be righteous because we are already righteous through Him.
Notice something here. It is the Lord that has called us righteous. For too long we have tried to live up to what others think of us and what others perceive as righteous living. Too often we become stymied by feelings of trying to please others and to get others to recognize us for who we are. The Lord is the only one who can call us righteous. He is the only one who sees us for who we are. We are called to righteousness and we must now live in the righteousness He has called us to.
Thirdly, He will lead you and He will keep you! In this passage, we find that the Lord says I will take you by the hand and keep you… Did you catch that? I have called you in righteousness and I will also lead you and keep you through whatever you face or encounter as you live your life. Here is a fact. I do not know what 2019 will bring you. I do not know what may come to you, but I know that He will be there. He will guide you by His hand and He will keep you. There is nothing that can destroy you. Through good and bad we are guaranteed that God will be with us.
I love how the New Living Translation treats Psalm 32:8 The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. If we trust God and lean upon Him He will guide you along the best pathway for your life. If we listen and obey He will give us the best He has for us. So we must let go of the reigns and give Him control over our life. Do not make Him your copilot, but rather put Him in the pilot’s seat.
Fourth, you are in Covenant with Him in order to draw others into covenant relationship with Him. Listen to the words of Isaiah. I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Notice the wording here. It is so powerful when you realize what God is saying. God has purposefully placed you where you are as a means to lead people by the light that is resident in you.
He calls us to righteousness and He will keep us and hold our hand not so that we can become self serving and self focusing, but so we become the light in a dark world. We are called to give sight to the blind, to release those who are in bondage. We have a mission. We have a purpose. There are people who need what God offers. We are advocates for Christ and we are His instruments of service. The question today is what kind of light are you emitting. Is it one that draws people to Christ or is it one that pushes them away? Are you an instrument to free people from their bondages, or do you not care, or even worse are you contributing to the bondage people share? We are in covenant with Him so that we draw others into a covenant relationship with Him.
Finally, He wants your commitment to Him. I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. One of the things we find about God is that He is a jealous God and He does not want His glory to go to another person or being. God wants to be first in your life. He wants you do what you do to honor Him and bring His praise. He wants to know that He holds a spot in your life that no one else can hold. Choose to serve Him. Choose to follow Him with all of your hearts. Choose to make Him number one and all else second.
God has a plan for your life and He has a plan for your 2019. What was is now passed but we now have a new future. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom