Monthly Archives: August 2019

We Dance To A Different Tune

Peninsula Community Church 

August 25, 2019 

Daniel 3:15-18 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

I have entitled this message “We dance to a different tune.” It is noteworthy that the idiom “dance to a different tune” means to change one’s behavior, manner, and attitude. This is a big deal because when we follow Christ passionately we will find that our behavior and attitude changes to match His desire for us. To dance to a different tune means that we align ourselves to His purposes and His goals. Tony Evans has stated “In order to transform what you do, you must first transform how you think.” Therefore, we could say that we need to dance to the tune of right thinking which produces right action. 

For the Hebrew Children they were passionate about following their God and they danced to a different tune. However, this came at a price, but they were willing to pay the price and dance the dance. Because of their relationship with God they had their thinking in the right place and their actions followed. Because their thinking was in the right place, the three Hebrew Children served the Lord and they were obedient to what they had been called to do. 

They did so because they knew something key to their success, we all worship something or someone. It all depends on what we choose. They chose to worship God and put the Kingdom of God first not just in their speech but in their actions. Bob Dylan the great poet and the confused religious guru understood this when he wrote the following lyrics. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes. Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. This is a powerful truth. We all come to an intersection in our life where we must choose who or what we will worship. We will worship God or we will worship man, worship things, success or any other number of things that will seek to take the place of God.

But how did they get to this place in time. You see, because Israel had sinned and disobeyed God’s will, God allowed Jerusalem to fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon. Many were taken from Israel as captives to serve Babylon. Among those taken to Babylon were young Israelites who were of noble birth and from royal families. They were to be trained in the ways of Babylon. Four of those taken to Israel were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Once in Babylon, their faith was tested and they passed the faith test with flying colors. While they did learn the culture, there was one area of their life they would not change and that was their relationship with God. When asked to worship a graven image and a false god they chose to worship God and Him alone. They were not willing to change their allegiance to God. We must note that as a church and as passionate followers of Christ we are to engage the culture in which we live, but we must never compromise our faith in Christ. We must not change our dance partner as tempting as it might be to do so.  

Daniel had his lion’s den moment and now the three Hebrew Children were about to encounter their fiery furnace. It did not matter what they encountered, the fate of the Hebrew Children was sealed in favor of serving God no matter what. It is important to understand this was a decision that had been made long before this moment in time. For that reason, this was not a difficult decision. They chose to go against the tide and they refused to bow their knee to the god’s of Babylon. 

Too often we encounter difficulty and then we want to engage the disciplines that protect us, but that can come too late. We can be sucked into sinful ways if we do not engage with the disciplines of Christ. Conversely, we must be engaged in the disciplines of Christ long before we encounter difficulty. We must be people of prayer, of worship, and must have a commitment to Christ before we face difficulty. In so doing, we will be conditioned for whatever we encounter. Think about it. Before war our armed forces prepare and drill. Firefighters drill and run through scenarios during training sessions. Football teams practice and prepare for the season and for every opponent they face. They consider different scenarios they will face and how they must answer those situations. By engaging in prayer, worship, and the study of God’s word our spiritual man is conditioned for whatever scenario to be faced in this world. 

Because of their commitment to Christ and their ongoing focus on worship and prayer the question of compromise was never a thought in their decision making process. You see this as being critical since compromise begins when we do not know where we stand and we try to fake our way through the process. For many, when asked to bow could have led to compromise, but the Hebrews did not. They could have bowed in the physical as an outward show but they did not. It might have been easier, but it would have started a slide toward compromise. Those who have fallen from grace too often have been captivated by sin. They do so most often through a series of smaller steps of compromise. In general, compromise has never happened in an instant. But the Children of Israel did not compromise. They knew their God and they knew their purpose in the Kingdom of God. They refused to compromise and settle for less than God’s best. 

Second, our worship of God cannot be deterred by the fear of outside influences. Their desire to serve and worship God was greater than their fear of the king. Their desire to serve and worship was greater than their own self-exaltation. How often are we deterred from obedience to God because we are filled with fear and anxiety of what people think or a desire to make a name for ourselves? How many times do we fail to trust the outcome to God? 

Third, the Children of Israel had a confidence that God wanted to keep them and preserve them. This is seen through their response of being thrown into the furnace. They experienced a so what moment. They may have had questions but that did not deter them from obedience. What if we are burned up? What if we are just burnt and we find that we are disabled for the rest of our life? Here is a big one. What if God doesn’t show up? These were real questions, but because they had lived in the reality of God’s presence they knew God would rescue them. Corrie Ten Boom was quoted as saying. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

And now, here is the crux of the matter. Four, they experienced God’s presence in worship long before they experienced God’s presence in the fiery furnace. They danced to the music of worship and the reality of God’s presence. This holy dance of worship kept them from compromise and kept them from falling for the oldest scheme of the devil, give a little which requires a little more which leads to more and more compromise. While we see the power of the three Hebrew Children also notice the response of the king. He was filled with fear. He was angry. He was surprised at the power of God. He depended on himself. Nebuchadnezzar was dancing to a different tune. He was dancing to the tune of pride and self exaltation. 

Let’s look at the end of the story. God came through, end of story. Because the three Hebrew children refused to compromise, God showed up. Because they had committed themselves to worship and trust in God, God came through. Their world was rocked. God showed up and the men did not even smell like smoke. This is surprising for a couple of reasons. First, because of Nebuchadnezzar’s anger he had the furnace heated up seven times more than normal. Second, the men who tossed them into the furnace were destroyed instantly (Daniel 3:22). And thirdly, they were bound in their tunics, their hats, their other garments (Daniel 2:21). This alone would have caused them to be consumed by the fire, but they were fully protected by God. 

Everyone were surprised at the outcome. Everyone was changed because God showed up. As we worship God alone, we are positioned for God’s work to be accomplished through us and to experience the surprises of God. Rather than tell the story listen to Daniel’s word as he describes this event in Daniel 3:24-28. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Their faith and their obedience changed them but it changed the world they encountered. Nebuchadnezzar in the end danced to a different tune because he witnessed the miracle of God in real time. So are you ready to worship? Are you ready no matter what comes? Are you ready to change the world as they see God at wok in you? 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Power of Positive Transition

Peninsula Community Church  

August 18, 2019

Joshua 1:1-4 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”

I love the Bible and I love how Scripture speaks to our spirit and to our soul in our times of need. I love how God gives us answers to the questions we have in life when we focus on God’s Word. Through Scripture we are encouraged and we see God’s grace through the myriad of surprises, disappointments, and changes that occur in our life. The passage before us today is no exception. 

In the almost nine years I have been here, if you have learned anything about me, you will know that whatever passage we are dealing with in the moment tends to be my favorite passage, because I am in love with God’s word. For me, I have always loved the story of Moses. It is a story of redemption, salvation, and fulfilled promise. Even though this verse focuses on Joshua and his new leadership role, this is also Moses’ story. 

As you will remember by reading the story, we find that Moses was born during a season of upheaval and turmoil for the Jewish people (Exodus 1:12-14). There had been an edict given to the midwives that every male born to Hebrew women were to be killed at birth (Exodus 1:15-16). The purpose was to control the growth of the Hebrew people. But there was a problem. The midwives feared God more than they feared Pharaoh. Because of this conviction they purposely disobeyed the command to murder these babies. As a result, we find that Moses was born and Moses’ mom loved him and she hid him in a home made basket among the bullrushes at the river’s edge. She fully trusted God for his protection and his safety (Exodus 2:3). As you read the story, we find that Pharaoh’s wife finds him and takes him into her home as her own child (Exodus 28:10). This is a abbreviated story but encourage you to read the entire story for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Through this story we come to understand that God was planting Moses into the Egyptian culture and environment. In the moment that Moses’ mom placed Moses in the little boat into the bulrushes that plan was not realized, but it was to be seen in a future context. As Moses grows while he was engaged in the Egyptian culture, he had not forgotten his roots. God had planted Pharaoh’s sister at the right place at the right time. As a young man he was a protector of the Hebrew people. When Moses found one of Pharaoh’s men beating one of the Hebrews, Moses defended the Hebrew man against the guard to the point of murdering him (Exodus 2:11-12). This led to a transition in Moses’ life. From Egypt he fled to the back side of the desert (Exodus 2:15) where he would spend the next 40 years in preparation for his final task here on earth. He was to be the deliverer of the people of Israel. 

So, as we consider these things let me make a couple of points here. The first point we have to consider is this. We need to understand that God never wastes anything. Even when we do not realize it God is using what we are going through to mature us, define our purpose, and help us be more like Him. God placed Moses in Pharaoh’s home, so that he would be immersed in the culture, so that when the time came he would understand and know how to precede into the future promise of God. He knew the inner workings of the government and he was able to navigate the pitfalls he might encounter when he returned to do God’s work. God also placed Moses in the wilderness so that he could be trained in the ways of survival because God already knew he would be tasked to lead the children of Israel through the wilderness. Do you grasp that this morning? Whatever you have experienced or what you are experiencing, even in this moment, is not wasted by God. He will use it for His glory, if we allow Him to do so. That is the grace of God at work in us. It is the power of God that manifests His will in us and through us. 

Secondly, God is never surprised at the transitions that occur in our life. While we might be surprised, God is not surprised and most of all He is not worried. In fact, in Moses’ life we see that God was orchestrating His will and He was positioning Moses for more than he could ever imagine. So many times transitions rock our world, but God’s world is not rocked. In fact, God is never rocked by the things that happen in our life. Remember God is never surprised. 

Thirdly, God’s purpose does not end with a transition. That is where we pick up today. Notice that God speaks to the new leader, Joshua, to let him know that good things are ahead. Just because Moses is not in the picture anymore the vision God had for Israel does not cease. In fact, I would suggest that in the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua, the vision in fact was becoming more of a reality than it had ever been before. Moses had brought them to the promise land, but he was not to take them in. God had a new leader in mind and that leader was Joshua. 

If you remember it was God’s plan all along for Israel to possess the land that had been given to them. It had been the plan of God all along to establish a nation that would go after God with all of their hearts. God wanted a nation that would exhibit the love, grace, and power of God through their lives and through their obedience to God’s word and His commandments. That did not end with Moses who gave the reigns of leadership over to Joshua.

It is important to note that the people of God were to go into the Promised Land together (Joshua 1:2). It was not a time to bail or run but to remain faithful in following God into the place of promise and the place where God would be glorified. I challenge you today to remain faithful and commit to go into the promised land that God has for PCC. Commit to be a part of the success of what God is doing here in a church in the cornfield. Commit to be a part of what God is doing here in this place in the days to come. If you have not been engaged spiritually or financially before become engaged now for the kingdom and the future of this church. 

Fourth, with transition comes a promise. Notice the promise that God gave Joshua. God made this incredible statement. “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.” Here is the deal. God has a promise and He will fulfill that promise. This church will grow. This church will continue to be an effective part of this community. This church will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. That fulfillment is not dependent on a person but on God’s plan and His purposes. That is not to say that leadership is not important because it is, but our dependence must be on the God of the promise, always. 

So what do we do during times of transition? Let me give you three things. First, we must trust in the Holy Spirit. Trust is a major factor in navigating the things we confront. That is why the Bible is replete with passages that encourage our trust and hope to be fully positioned in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to work out all things for His glory. One of my favorite passages is this. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Holy Spirit gives us the inner peace that takes us by the hand and assures us that all will be well. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday (Psalms 37:3-6).

Notice the wording of Joshua 1:1. The lord speaks to Joshua and brings confirmation to him that this is all God’s plan and nothing has changed in terms of the promises of God. While waiting to see what God is doing, we trust in God. While making plans for the future, we trust God. While doing what we need to do, we trust God. While we seek God for what He will do, we trust God. Trust and obey for there is no other way.

We must believe that God is greater than our transition. It is in times of transition that we learn how big our God is. I have preached so often that God is bigger than anything we face. How big is God? He is big enough and He will be big enough now and into the future. In preparing for this I came across this quote. “In seasons of transition, we are tested and stretched by new circumstances and relationships, and it can be tempting to look back and cling to the certainty and comfort of the last season while steeling our emotions against the uncertainty of what’s to come. But the Lord calls us to move with Him through the seasons of life and trust His work and timing.”

Finally and foremost, this has been and continues to be God’s church which is positioned here in this place to accomplish God’s will and purpose. Do not forget that what He has begun in you will be completed. Listen to Paul’s words of affirmation in this regard. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Pastors may come and go, people may come and go, but God’s will and purpose will not change. 

Let us pray!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Obedience to God Brings God’s Supply

Peninsula Community Church 

August 11, 2019 

Philippians 4:13; 19-20 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul was an incredible disciple and apostle for Christ. Paul had experienced just about everything in his life. He had great successes. He had suffered great setbacks but like Job, Joseph, Daniel and many others throughout Scripture; they were the bounce back kids. I remember not too long ago Bill Clinton was called the teflon president because nothing would stick to him. It is also noteworthy that in several articles I read that President Reagan and Thomas Jefferson had also been given similar titles. While these were meant to be negative attributes, we understand that when we are God’s people we are positioned for that kind of lifestyle so that nothing that is thrown at us has to stick to us or define us. We can overcome all things because of God’s grace and His love for us. 

That is why Paul could make these two amazing statements. One, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” and two, “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” It is a fact that God will empower and strengthen us to accomplish His will and adapt to the changes in life that come our way. It is God’s supply that positions us for Kingdom results. It is God’s supply that positions us for obedience. In obedience God provides everything we need to fulfill God’s purpose. 

Throughout Scripture men and women of God had moments in their life that seemed devastating and many were confronted with great change and new direction that amazed them, but these changes were not a surprise to God. Sometimes we struggle with these changes, but God uses them to change us and develop in us all that we need to be so that He is glorified. 

As I have studied so many of the stories in the Bible, I have found something amazing. Think about this. Job had lost it all but he had his “though He slay me, yet will I serve Him” moment (Job 13:15). He knew His confidence was in God and not in his possessions because He knew his redeemer lived and that He was in an eternal relationship with Him (Job 19:25).  Joseph had his “what you desired for evil, God turned it for good” moment (Genesis 50:20). Joseph could say that because the presence of God had been with Joseph throughout his journey from the pit to leadership in Pharaoh’s court. Daniel had his deliverance moment when God shut the mouths of the hungry lions (Daniel 6:21-22). 

The three Hebrew children had what I call the “so what” moment in their life. The king was going to cast them into the fiery furnace and when the king asked them what happens if they are burned up and not delivered. Their reply was “so what, we will still worship God.” They trusted that their God was big enough to protect them and provide for them (Daniel 3:16-19). Jonah had his moment in the belly of the whale where he had to come to terms with his need to be obedient to God’s call (Jonah 1:17). We could go on but I think you get the message. No matter what we face we will and can have a God moment that forever changes us and move us to a greater glory and a greater definition of who we are in Christ. 

I am amazed that while the events these men faced did not define them, it also did not deter them from being or becoming all that God had for them. In fact, the very thing that could have defined them in reality jettisoned them into a greater purpose in God’s kingdom. This is a reality for us as a church and as individuals.

Clayton spoke about obedience a few weeks ago. Obedience is an amazing concept, because when God directs our steps, we do not always understand it nor do we always accept it, immediately. Sometimes God has to repeat Himself to get us to hear what He is saying. But this we know, without obedience there is no growth and there is no forward movement in Christ. We will be destined for mediocrity and will be less than what God has for us, if we are not obedient. 

For the few moments we have, let us look at these promises this morning. First of all, Paul states that I can do all things through him who strengthens me. No matter what was before him and no matter how hard the difficulty, he knew where his strength and purpose came from. No matter the changes that he experienced, he knew that his strength was from God almighty. I love the definition of this word in the Greek. To strengthen means “to pour power into.” Think of it this way. When I was a teenager I worked on a nursery. In the summer, in the deep south, it would get extremely hot with very high humidity. We would be working in the fields cultivating the plants. The sweat would be pouring off of us but when we took our break the first thing we would do is head for the water hoses. We would pour that water over us and drink the coolness of the water. That is what God’s strength is like. When we are tired, parched, and weary of the task, He strength is poured into us and over us like cool water on a steamy hot day.

The fact is, unless He strengthens us we will not be strong at all. We can attempt great things apart from God but they will have no eternal value whatsoever (John 15:5). When it comes to our deeds the fact is we can accomplish a lot in life. We have been created in the image of God and even for those who do not serve God it is possible for them to accomplish great things. We can build wealth. We can build success. We can have favor with people. But, if the things we build are not kingdom minded, kingdom oriented, and eternal in their purpose whatever we build will fall short (1 Corinthians 13:11-15).

Secondly, we find here that Paul makes this amazing and powerful statement. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. We need to make one thing clear, Paul’s wording here is not a license to do whatever we want and then expect God to provide. It is however only when we focus on God’s plan and purpose for us that He will supply our every need. He may not supply our wants but He will certainly supply our needs. 

It is only as we are in the word of God and we are faithfully praying for God’s will to be accomplished and we are obedient to that calling that we find His supply at hand. That is why I love the words of the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who stated Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.”

A good friend of mine who just passed away a few days ago used to say that God owns a cattle on a thousand hills, but He also owns the hills (Psalm 50:10). He has the ability and the capacity to supply every one of our needs. Peter in fact stated that He, God, has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). He can and He will when we submit our ways to Him. 

So what is your need? Where do you look for your supply? I trust this morning that it is in the workings of God and not in your own power or in your own strength. I trust that you will look to Him from this day forward for God to supply you with all you need. Let us pray! 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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So, What Are You Thinking?

Peninsula Community Church 

August 4, 2019

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

To fully understand this passage we must know that this is a continuation of Paul’s discussion from the prior verses. How do I know this? I know this because Paul ends the passage with this statement of promise “and the God of peace will be with you.” Wow! If I do these things then the God of peace will be present in my life. Think about this. Last week we found that prayer and focusing our attention on God produces in us a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that is beyond our capacity to understand or for that matter comprehend the depth of the peace that comes from prayer. No matter what comes we can have peace and can rest in Christ’s peace.

This week we will direct our attention on another aspect of walking in peace. You see what we focus our thinking towards can affect our peace. How many of us ever talk ourselves out of being at peace? You begin with a problem and rather than deal with the problem you begin to meditate and think about that problem or person. Suddenly, your imagination goes wild and you begin to develop a narrative that is not based on truth but one that is based on distorted thinking and half truths.

As we preview these passages we find there are two imperatives within this verse that must be considered. The first imperative is that we need to think about what Paul is saying. It is noteworthy that the word here for “think” is one that really means “to dwell.” In other words, we give these words great consideration and we do not glance over them lightly. The exact Greek used here is a present imperative which means we thought this way but we continue to think this way. It is a way of life resultant in a life of peace. 

William Barclay rightly observes that…The human mind will always set itself on something and Paul wished to be quite sure that the Philippians would set their minds on the right things. This is something of the utmost importance, because it is a law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it.

The second imperative is that we are to put into practice these things. Yes, we need to be actively engaged in thinking about these things, but we must also put them into practice. Too often we think, but never act. It is time to act and set in motion these things so we can live in peace. 

I have said it a number of times. Our thoughts will determine our outlook on life and where we focus our attention our emotions will follow. Through this passage we come to realize that our thoughts and actions will also have an effect on the level of peace we will experience. To live in peace we must engage the truths presented through Paul’s writings in verses 8 & 9. It is here that he lists eight qualities that every passionate follower of Christ ought to consider when processing issues in their life, the thoughts they entertain, the words that are spoken to them, and the messages they receive. This thought process goes hand in hand with Paul’s admonishment in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 

The first of these directives is to consider the truth. In life, we can be so susceptible to the lies of the enemy. He is so skilled at packaging lies in such a way that makes the lies acceptable and believable. Sometimes one of the lies that is propagated is that we are not good enough or that we are a failure. Another lie is that there is no hope. Another lie is fear even in our obedience to Christ. Another is confusion when events happen in us, to us, or around us that we do not understand. But rather than believe the lies, we are to think on that which is true. We do not just think about truth, we put truth into practice, so that our emotions are changed and we are fortified in God’s truth. 

As we look at this idea of truth, here is one definition of truth that might help you. To be true means to be in line with what actually is. In the case of a passionate follower of Christ, our truth most always be in line with Scripture and with God’s word. We do not allow truth to be aligned with lies or falsehoods. As we align our understanding of truth with the truth of God’s word and the character of God, we can only then begin to focus on that which is real truth.

Secondly, Paul commands us to think on what is honorable. This word relates to that which is worthy of respect or entitled to honor. It means to take life seriously. It is to think on that which is lofty and majestic as opposed to that which is vulgar, crude, frivolous, or trivial. We should think on those things that lift the mind rather than dragging the mind through the gutter. This includes our language, our response to people, what we watch, what we believe in social media, and for that matter the 24 hour news cycle.  

 

Thirdly, Paul command us to think on what is just or right. John MacArthur suggests that the word used here refers to the perfect harmony with God’s eternal, unchanging standards as revealed in Scripture. I agree with that statement. We live in a day where the idea of ultimate righteousness and Godly justice is ignored, and even mocked. We have a mixed up understanding of what true justice is about and too often we determine what justice is by one’s skin color, social standing, position, bank account, or personal opinion. But again as passionate followers of Christ, we must stay focused on God’s standard for justice which is always right.

 

Fourth, think on that which is pure e.g. free from defilement and that which is uncontaminated. Jesus is holy, and because He is living in us, we too must be holy as He is holy. We do not talk much about the holiness of God and God’s admonishment for us to be holy, but our minds must remain pure in our thoughts, in our deeds, and our words.

Fifth, we think on those things that are lovely. It is here that Paul focuses on that which calls forth or evokes love and admiration. These are the sorts of things that are endearing. We are three part beings: body, soul, and spirit. We need to feed our souls with things that are lovely just like we feed our bodies with good physical food. We should be feeding our spirits on the word of God of daily and in large doses.

 

Sixth, think on that which is commendable. We should think on that which is praiseworthy and avoids giving offense or adding to one’s offense. We fail too often to commend others of what is praiseworthy in one’s life. We all need encouragement and we all need to hear “Well done!” from time to time. In fact, I would suggest that most studies show that we all need to hear well done much more than what we are doing wrong. The fact is our deeds and our thoughts ought to move people to admiration and praise. So the question is “Are we concentrating on the good things we see in others, or do we dwell on their faults and shortcomings?” 

 

Seventh, is there any excellence in what I am thinking. Too many Christians settle for mediocrity. They are okey with just getting by. Others look for the negative faster than they see the good and many are quick to express that through complaining and grumbling and the judging of one’s character. But there is a huge difference between “excellence” and professionalism and performance. Excellence is doing everything to the best of one’s ability as enabled by God, and in such a way that no one is distracted by it or is tempted to give credit to anyone but the Lord. Professionalism and performance are man-centered and are concerned with drawing attention to a person or persons. The pursuit of excellence should direct attention to God. Think on that.

 

Finally, we should think on that which is worthy of praise. Certainly here we mean the praise of God and not man. By this I think he means the sort of conduct that wins the affection and admiration of others, even non-Christians. 

 

In the final analysis Paul says that we are to think on these things but we must also enact these things and put them in motion. The full of effect of peace only comes as we put these things into practice. May we do that as we continue to grow in the grace and love of God!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

 

 

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