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What Action Will You Take

Peninsula Community Church

What Action Will You Take 

June 25, 2017

Luke 5:17-20 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

This is an amazing story when you think about it. As usual wherever Jesus traveled there was a crowd of people. In this case the crowd had grown so large there was no room to get close to Him. It was in this context that the paralyzed man came to Jesus. He needed a miracle. He was ready to receive but he could not get close enough to get His blessing.

Before we look at some specifics let us take a quick look at the characters in the story. First, we have the crowd who was pressing in so they could be close to Jesus. They were so focused on their needs that they did not see this man and his needs. Their own interests blinded them to the needs of this man. Then we have the friends of the man. They were concerned about their friend who had been sick for such a long time. It is possible that he had lost hope and was at the end. Because of their friendship, they were willing to do whatever it would take to see him healed. Then we have the man who in some ways has a passive role in this story. We do not know why he was paralyzed. We do not know how long he was paralyzed. We just know he had a problem and he needed to get to Jesus. The power of God was moving in Jesus to heal. That is why this man needed Jesus.

Because of the crowd, this small group of men could not get close to Jesus. As a result, they had to make one of three choices. The first choice was that they could give up and go home. After all the crowd was too big. After all there was no way for them to get close enough to Jesus. They could have given up but nothing would have changed. He would remain paralyzed. He would continue to depend on his friends to help him get around for the rest of his life.

How many times do we face problems in life and we find ourselves giving up? Whether we realize it or not it is always easier to give up than it is to move forward and get things accomplished. It is easier to do nothing but doing nothing changes nothing. By giving up there is no healing and no future. There are a number of reasons to give up so easily.  For one, we tend to settle for less than God’s best. Sometimes we settle even for the good rather than His best. Secondly, too many times we are not willing to put in the hard work. We get overwhelmed and rather than pressing in we give up and give into the pressures of life. Thirdly, we can be so distracted by the issues around us that do not even realize that Jesus wants to touch us. Being distracted causes us to go after perceived solutions in a hope that hoping we will find an answer but never do.

The second choice we can make is to hang up. It is so easy to get hung up on what we do not have. We can get hung up on the belief that nothing will ever change or be any different than it is right now. When we get hung up on the problem or situation a couple of things happen. For one, we can become critical and judgmental. We are critical because we see everyone else getting blessed but we are not. We are critical because we think we deserve better but we are not willing to make the changes necessary for permanent change.

Newt Gingrich on Fox News made a valuable statement a few weeks ago. He stated that it is much easier to criticize than to actually do anything. We can get hung up on criticizing the issues and complaining about what is not changing but we never engage in a way to bring real change. Criticism is easy, but change is much harder. For me, I have found this to be so true. I can criticize people, plans, circumstances, and issues around me but fail to step up to the plate to bring any real solutions to the table. I must ask myself, “Am I a part of the problem or am I a part of the solution.” Your answer will determine your outlook.

When we get hung up we can begin to focus on the problem so much that we lose hope and faith. We see the problems but do not see anyway out. The result is that we make mountains out of mole hills when God wants to make our mole hills and for that matter our mountains fall into the sea. I remember in the story of Nehemiah that the Israelites become discouraged because they saw all of the rubble. They were so focused on the obstacles that they missed opportunities to respond to God. They became frozen with fear and anxiety.

While we might chose to give up or hang up we can also choose to stand up and move forward. Notice that in this passage the paralytic man and his four friends chose not to give up or to get hung up. They chose to stand up and make a difference. They saw the problems. They saw the crowd. They saw the obstacles but that did not stop them. The desire to see their friend healed far outweighed the obstacles and the problems. Their faith in Jesus moved them to action. They pushed through all of the obstacles to find another way.

Remember the old adage, when a door is closed a window is opened. The door here was closed but a roof opened. They took their friend upon the roof. They tore the roof open. They let him down into the crowd. Strange idea but that is what they did. They were not willing to settle or give up. They did not run away. They chose not to stand around and criticize but they chose to take action.

They needed faith to do what they were about to do. You see change comes by our faith being put into action. Jesus saw their actions and He responded to the man’s need. The Scripture says that Jesus saw their faith. Here is the principle of Biblical faith. We act God responds. We act and God will meet us in the process. Listen to the words of Jesus! “Man your sins be forgiven.”

This may seem to be a strange statement. The man needed healing not forgiveness. Or at least that is what he thought. The reality is that Jesus often gives us what we need and not just what we want. This man needed healing but he also needed forgiveness. Sometimes God knows that the best way to heal the body is to heal the heart. When Jesus touches us He can and will touch the whole man and not just part. Jesus heals and saves. He delivers us from the physical bondage of illness and sickness and He can deliver us from the power of sin. Sometimes, He does both at the same time. That is certainly what Jesus did here.

So the question is how does this apply to us. The fact is we are all confronted with impossible issues. Most of the issues we face are bigger than us and seem to be more powerful than we are. But when we are confronted with such things we can make a choice about what we will do. Will we give up? Will we get hung up? Or, will we stand up and press in to do the impossible by faith.

I suggest and encourage you to stand up and do the impossible. One of the things that has baffled me about this passage is how did Jesus see their faith. Certainly they pressed through the crowd. Certainly they had broken through the roof. Certainly they did not settle for the status quo. Certainly they took action but I think they did one more thing. When they lowered the paralyzed man through the roof, I believe they let go of the ropes. That was faith in action. They did all they could do and now they left the rest to Jesus. I encourage you to do your part and then let go of the ropes and giving your cares and issues to Jesus. Their part was that they sought Jesus. They drew near to Him. He saw their faith and He answered the man’s need.

The story is told of a mountain climber who set off all by himself to conquer a mountain he had always wanted to conquer. This was not a good idea because the protocol was to always climb with a partner. In a moment of arrogance he took off to make the climb. When he had climbed almost to the summit he slipped and began a rapid descent. All of a sudden the rope reached its end and he snapped to a stop. Because darkness had come, he lost all track of where he was. It was in that moment that he prayed. From the darkness he heard the voice of God. Cut the rope and let go. He argued and refused to cut the rope. The next morning, the park rangers found him. He had frozen to death. They found him tightly holding onto the rope. It was there he died. If he had obeyed the voice of God, he would have lived, as he died hanging only two feet off the ground.

Perhaps, today Jesus is calling you to let go of the rope and by faith give what every you struggle with over to Jesus. It is time to let go. It is time to stand up and push through the obstacles. Do so and Jesus will meet you where you are.

Let’s pray.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Let Your Light Shine

Peninsula Community Church 

Let Your Light Shine

June 18, 2017

Luke 11:33-36No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

In our passage today, although Jesus is not speaking directly to dads, He is speaking to believers and those who desire to be passionate followers of Christ. In this passage, Jesus does what He does so often. He uses a word picture to teach a spiritual truth. In this particular case, He is using the word picture of light. This is an important discussion as light refers to the work of Christ in our heart and the influence of that light shining through us.

Jesus begins the passage with an important statement. No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. This may seem to be a absurd picture but it speaks to the reality of our hearts. No one with any wisdom would take a light and hide it under a basket or put it in the basement. You see the purpose of light is to illuminate. Notice he says that we should put the light on a stand so that those who enter may see the light. Thus, the purpose of light is to light the way of those entering one’s home or one’s world. For us today this is a reference to our sphere of influence. Does our life illuminate the way of Christ?

As fathers and passionate followers of Christ we are called to influence those around us by letting our light shine. We are called to be a light to our families, our friends, our neighbors, and coworkers. Whether you realize it or not, you are influencing those around you in many ways. Our influence is never neutral. It is an active process in which we are engaged. To influence means we have “the power to change or affect something or someone.” It also means “the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen.” Know today you are an influencer.

The light represents our influence but it also represents our involvement because we are called to be involved with those around us. That is why we do not put our light under a bushel or in the basement. The point here is that we are to be people of the light. We are to be people through which the light of the gospel shines bright. Too often those who want to go to the cellar or the basement want to hide. But to hide is to conceal the light and that is never good. Christ’s desire is that our life is a light and a beacon of hope to others. So, do not hide your light but let it shine.

A good friend told the story of how he would encourage his kids to get MAD. He stated that MAD meant Make a Difference. His desire was that they would make a difference in the environment they were heading into whatever the environment. Of course his kids were not as excited when Jack would yell from the front porch… “Get MAD today!” His point was that he wanted them to be engaged with their culture and their environment so their light would shine.

But how do we do this? First, we must make a choice to let our light shine. The question is how do you want to affect people? What legacy do you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be remembered for the light you allowed to shine or do you want to be remembered for the darkness you share? It is your choice.

Secondly, remember that Jesus is in us and He is the light. When we walk in the light of Jesus then He will be revealed in us. The worldview of the day is that we are not suppose to let our light shine. This worldview says to us, be a good person but don’t let your light shine. Keep your religion to yourself is the mantra of the day by liberal thinkers. In other words hide your light or keep in the basement so no one wiles sees it. But the reality is those around us really desire to hear your thoughts and heart on Jesus. They are not as interested in your political position or spiritual arguments but they are interested in seeking answers to life problems. They need real answers for real problems. They need an everlasting hope and they need Jesus. So, let you light shine wherever you go and in whatever you do. Do not conceal the light but rather let your light shine brightly.

Thirdly, to know Jesus, the light, we must know the word of God. Jesus is the Word and we are challenged as believers to read the Word of God and allow the Word to be the guide of our life. As we hide the word in our heart, we become a lighthouse of grace where Jesus is revealed. By allowing the word of Jesus to affect us, we are changed and we begin to affect those around us. So let your light shine.

A third idea here is that we must be an inspiration. We are to be an influence, we are to be involved, and we are to be an inspiration. By letting our light shine we become an inspiration to those around us. Light dispels darkness. Light conquers darkness. As we let our light shine for Jesus, we find that the darkness in others is impacted. Sometimes they are convicted. Sometimes they refuse to listen. Sometimes they become more entrenched in what they are doing. But many will seek out the light for themselves. Our responsibility is to simply let our light shine. We are not responsible for the affect of the light on others. The light will take care of itself.

It is noteworthy that in this passage there is only one imperative noted. Jesus says “be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” This is a strange statement because how can light be darkness. The fact is there is much in the world that can be presented as a false light. There is much that seeks to negatively impact our influence, our involvement, and our inspiration.

I recently had to get my car inspected and I noticed that my headlights were not as bright as they had been. The problem was that road film had built upon the lens. The light was not able to penetrate the dirt and film build up. The light inside was the same. In fact, the bulbs were brand new. The problem was not the light it was the lens had been darkened and the light could not penetrate the dirt and grime on the lens. The solution was to clean the lens so that the light could shine brightly again.

You see there are things around us that try to mask the light and attempt to be the light. The enemy of our souls often disguises himself as a light. But when we go after that light the way ends in more hurt and more pain. Listen to Paul’s writings in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15. And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Notice here that satan, the enemy of our souls, disguises himself as a light. He is not the light but he presents himself as a light. It is for this reason that Jesus wants us to refuse to let our light be darkness. Cleanse your lens which are your eyes. They are the entry way into the mind and the heart. Purify your eyes and your heart and your light will shine even brighter.

So in the final analysis, we are called to let our light shine. By letting our light shine, we impact others. We become influencers for the all of the right reasons. By letting our light shine we make a big difference in others. That is our goal. That is our purpose. That is God’s plan for you and me.

Today, we need to get MAD. Today, we can make a difference. Let your light shine. Let your life mean something. It is in many ways easier than you think. Follow Him! Obey His word! Do not let the darkness overcome you and you will be empowered to make a difference. Your influence will be felt in your family, your job, your children, your community, and your sphere of influence. So as our friend Jack Crabtree use to say, “Go get MAD today.”

Let’s pray!

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Radical Grace, Radical Forgiveness

Peninsula Community Church

June 11, 2017

Radical Grace, Radical Forgiveness

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, Holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.

This week I read a story about a farmer who was plowing his fields. He was sweating and yanking on his mule to get him to turn and go the way he wanted him to go. This was all done without saying a word to the mule. His hands were bloodied from yanking the reigns so hard. He had exhausted himself and he was behind where he needed to be in planting his fields.

A fellow farmer stopped by and saw how strange it was that he never said a word to the mule. After all this was the customary way of controlling one’s horse or mule. He talked with the farmer and asked him if he thought it would be easier to give verbal commands like “gee” and “haw” to get the mule to turn. The old farmer said “yeah it would but that mule stepped on my foot a year ago and we have not talked since.” Now this is a crazy story and it is somewhat absurd I suppose, but it relates well to the topic of forgiveness.

Why is that? You see the farmer chose to hold onto the pain of the past. He refused to allow himself to walk in forgiveness. The farmer was hurting himself more than he was hurting the mule by his refusal to forgive. He also made his job much harder than it needed to be. He refused to forgive and he suffered the consequences of his actions or his inaction for that matter.

In our passage today, Paul reminds us that relationships matter and that forgiveness is the cornerstone of those relationships. Because relationships matter, forgiveness is a necessary action that must be taken by each of us. Without forgiveness, our relationships can be damaged but when we walk in forgiveness our relationships are healed and restored.

Paul made the statements in this passage because he knew that forgiveness has the power to liberate us from the suffering of the past and that it inspires us to be present in the here and now. There is a problem that occurs when we do not forgive others. When we fail to forgive others we tend to live in the past. We are locked in the past because of the words that have been spoken. We live in the past because of what someone has done to wound or injure us. However, when we live in the past it is hard to be effective in the present. When we live in the past it is hard to have a future vision of what could be in our life.

In addition to living in the past, when we live without forgiving others we allow ourselves to be under the control of the one who has hurt us or who has wounded us. The result is that our growth is stunted and we treat others differently. We become afraid of what people may say or do because of our hurt. We are afraid to deal with the realities of our life when we refuse to forgive others. It has been said that when we do not forgive others, it is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person will die.

To refuse to forgive is to allow others to have power over us. They become tied to us in our spirits and we begin to carry them wherever we go. They begin to effect everything we do. And the funny thing is that the other person is usually oblivious there is a problem. But when we walk in forgiveness we can take back the ground we have given to others. We can begin to walk in the freedom given to us through Christ.

A second thought about radical forgiveness is that it is undeserved by the one receiving it. It also means that radical forgiveness extends radical grace. It is noteworthy that a key part of the word “forgive” is the word give. Therefore we “give” forgiveness as a gift. It is a gift given especially when the person we are forgiving does not deserve it. That is radical forgiveness and radical grace. We give to others what they do not deserve. You might say that radical forgiveness is a bit selfish in the sense that by radically forgiving the other person and extending radical grace we are healed in the process.

Paul reminds us that we are to forgive just as Jesus has forgiven us. We do not deserve His forgiveness. We do not deserve His grace but He gave it any way. He gave it because the gift was from the one who was forgiving and not the one who was receiving the gift. Verbalizing the words “I forgive” can be easy but giving forgiveness is another struggle altogether. True forgiveness requires releasing the other person from the effects of their actions and their words upon our life.

A third thought here is that radical forgiveness is an act of obedience. The fact is radical forgiveness is not easy. Radical forgiveness must be a decision that is made on an ongoing basis. The truth is that our natural inclinations do not push us to forgive others. True forgiveness is outside our natural ability to forgive. Forgiveness seems impossible because we believe our feelings and hurts are justified. We feel justified for not forgiving a friend, a loved one, or a coworker because of what they have done to us. The problem however is is that too often we ask of others what we are not willing to do ourselves. That is where radical forgiveness comes into play in our life and that is where an act of obedience is required.

When we choose to act on forgiveness we are released from the power of guilt, judgement, and criticism. Have you ever found it is much easier to criticize, judge, and place guilt on others than it is to extend grace and forgiveness? It is not easy to offer grace and forgiveness as our natural inclination is to hold others at a place we ourselves are not willing to go. It is for that reason that we must act in obedience to God’s purpose and will as to forgiveness. We must forgive others because it is the right thing to do.

And finally, Jesus illustrated radical forgiveness on the cross. He hung on the cross and yet He was innocent of His crimes. He had been brutally beaten and abused emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Can you imagine the restraint, the calm, and the power He exerted on the cross? In the midst of one of the most horrific days of His life He uttered some of the most powerful words that still reverberate down through history. “Forgive them because they do not know what they do.” When reading these words we might shout “Wait a minute Jesus!” Don’t you realize what these people have done to you? Don’t you see the pain and the anxiety imposed upon you? How can you utter such words? Why don’t you just call 10000 angels and get this over with? After all you are the Son of God!”

The reality is that Jesus could have done any of these things. He had the power. He had the means. After all He was literally the most powerful man in the world. But there was a greater purpose in mind for Jesus’ death. His death was not just any death, it was a death that would change the world and empower us to be receivers and givers of this divine forgiveness.

It is noteworthy here that while He could have taken things into His own hands, He chose to exhibit the restraint necessary to control His actions and His responses. He acted not out of the reality of the moment but a heart that was filled with forgiveness and righteousness. Some would say that is weakness but the reality is that is strength under control. What radical grace! What radical forgiveness! He looked His accusers right in the eye and asked the Heavenly Father to forgive them. He extended grace and forgiveness to those who deserved it least. That is the power of radical, amazing forgiveness.

Today it may seem an impossible task for you to forgive that one who has hurt you. It may seem you cannot do that but I am convinced that if you will call upon the name of Christ and ask Him to help you then you will receive the power and grace you need to act upon your need.

Let us pray!

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Seed, the Sower, and the Soil

Peninsula Community Church
The seed, the sower, and the soil.
June 4, 2017

Matthew 13:1-9 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

As we look at this passage, we find that Jesus uses a powerful communication tool to define a very important issue for us. Jesus was a master at using word pictures and that is what He does here. The people listening to His message that day were very familiar with the concept of farming and sowing seed. For that reason Jesus used the familiar word picture of the farmer sowing seed to illustrate a powerful point about the Word of God and man’s heart.

This particular parable is broken into two parts. The first part is found in Matthew 13:1-9 and the second is found in Matthew 13:18-24. In the first section, Jesus shares the parable and then in the second He explains what the parable means. In this parable we find three key components. There is the seed, the sower, and the soil. The sower is Jesus Himself. The seed is the word of God. Then we have the soil which represents four conditions of the heart. Upon review, we find that all of these conditions can be evident in our heart in various ways.

The first heart condition noted is the hardened heart as represented by the hard ground. Jesus stated When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path (Matthew 13:19). Notice that the seed never had a chance to take root because the evil one snatched it away. The emphasis by Jesus in this passage is on the understanding of the word of God. The enemy loves to confuse us and create doubt so that our understanding of God’s word is diminished. The result is that the seed of the Gospel does not take root.

The second kind of heart condition is seen in the rocky soil. This seed takes root but it does not last because the sun bears down on the new growth and it is destroyed before it has time to take root. Jesus stated As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away (Matthew 13:20-21).

In our hearts, we can receive God’s word but tribulation and persecution can cause us to lose sight of the purpose of the Gospel. Our spiritual growth can be stunted when we focus more on the problems of life than the God who is able to keep us through every situation. The word is received with joy but the problem is not the receptivity to the word. The problem comes after the word is received. There is an excitement that comes from having the word planted in us but as soon as some one says something or we come against a problem we begin to doubt and we lose the joy we once had. Thus we are negatively impacted by persecution and tribulation which steals the seed from our heart.

The third condition of the heart is represented by the soil that is infested with thorns. There is growth but it is quickly smothered by the vines. In this case, the cares of the world smother the seed that is planted in our heart. This heart is negatively effected by the cares of life and there is little or no fruit produced. Jesus had this to say about the thorns. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).

The thorn infested heart is looking for external things to satisfy the longings of the heart. Too often this heart is looking for riches to provide the assurance they need, but as we know riches can be deceitful. John Piper says the one thing that brings us the greatest joy is our satisfaction in Christ. When we are satisfied in Him, we will be less effected by the cares of the world.

At our home in New York we had a beautiful vine in our back yard. It was called Wisteria. It was a deceptive plant in that the flowers in the spring were so beautiful. They looked like clusters of grapes. However, the vine overtook other vegetation and killed it off. We had to take down a tree in our back yard that had been overrun by the vine. So it is with the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. They can overcome us and destroy the Word in our heart.

The fourth kind of Heart is the one that is open to God’s word and His purpose in our life. An open heart is a soft heart. The Bible teaches us that God’s plan all along was to give us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). A good heart is one that has been cultivated by the Holy Spirit. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:23). A good heart is a fruitful heart. It is one that bears much fruit.

While we have looked at four kinds of hearts we must also consider the change necessary to create a heart that is fertile ground for the Word. The first step is to prepare the soil of our heart by breaking up the fallow or hardened ground. Hosea said it best. Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you (Hosea 10:12).

We must allow the Holy Spirit to operate on us. In the Old Testament, scripture reminds us that God will take our stoney or hardened heart and He will give us a heart of flesh. This is something that requires an outside influence. We need the influence of the Holy Spirit in us to soften our hearts to receive the word of God.

Secondly, we must remove the issues that cause the seed of God’s word not to take root in our heart. We must keep our focus on Jesus who will guide us and keep us focused on what He desires. We must renew our confidence in who He is and what He can accomplish when we allow Him to work.

Finally, we must welcome the word of God into our heart. We must have a desire for the Word of God. We must want God’s activity to be evident in us. We must hunger and thirst after righteousness. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus states that blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. This is not a passive reaction but one that requires us to take action to receive God’s word and then allow His word to impact our hearts positively.

So how is your heart? Let us pray!

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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You Reap what you Sow

Peninsula Community Church 

You Reap what you Sow

May 21, 2017

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

Late one summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. The waitress had just served him his food when three tough looking motorcyclists decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his french fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it. The trucker did not respond as one might expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the cash register, put the check and his money on the counter, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night. When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I don’t know about that, but he sure ain’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.” You might say they reaped what they sowed.

Today, we will look at the principle of sowing and reaping. A right understanding of this principle is critical as we have been called by Christ to be fruit bearers in His name and the fruit we bear is directly related to what we sow. Jesus reminded us of the importance of bearing good fruit in John 15:5. He stated I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Through a study of scripture, we have an understanding that bearing good fruit does not just happen. It is an ongoing process and a key part of this process is sowing and reaping.

The Bible is replete with passages that speak to the sowing and reaping principle. Listen to a few of these. As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same (Job 4:8). Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail (Proverbs 22:8). These two verses show us that when we sow evil, we reap evil. Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5-6). Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you (Hosea 10:12). And finally, Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:7-10).

So what is the point here? It is simple. We all sow and we all reap what we sow. Everyone of us is in the process of sowing and reaping. We all sow through our deeds. We all sow through our words. We all sow by how we handle our possessions. We not only sow but we also reap the rewards of what we have sown; both good and bad. If we sow evil, we will reap evil. If we sow good, we will reap good. So what are you sowing? Your answer to that question is important because everyday we sow into our families, our marriages, our relationships, our church, our community, and the world. Someone has said “Today is the father of tomorrow.” The fact is what we do today directly impacts our future and all of the tomorrows to come.

In this passage we understand that sowing and reaping specifically affects our finances but there is much more to sowing and reaping than just finances. Our finances have been and always will be a reflection of what you are sowing in the other areas of your life. For example, how you sow your finances will determine your trust factor. How you sow your finances reveals your heart and the priorities in your life. Your financial generosity will define how generous you are in other areas of your life. So do you have a generous heart? Are you giving generously to the Lord? Paul states that if you sow generously you will reap generously.

With that said, we must understand that to reap good fruit we must sow good seeds because we to reap we must sow. When it comes to our walk with Christ sowing cannot be a passive process. If we do not sow good seed we will end up with weeds, thorns, and vines. The good we do can be destroyed if we are passive in our approach. To reap good fruit, we must sow good seeds. The question for us is whether or not the seed we sow is good or bad. It is a choice as to what we sow. What seed will you actively sow? Will it be good seed or bad seed?

 

How many farmers would be successful if they were passive in planting their fields. How many farmers sit back and hope their fields are planted? How many farmers sow just any seed or how many would carefully choose the right seed and sow that seed at the right time to produce the best harvest possible. To reap we must sow and we must sow good seed. Standing by wishing we have a harvest produces no fruit. Good fruit comes only as we sow good seed.

Secondly, sowing requires patience. Why is this? It is because we do not sow today and then reap tomorrow. There is a space of time between the time of sowing and the time of reaping. This is the most difficulty part of sowing seed. We do not see the results of what we have sown immediately. Sometimes we sow a lifetime of seed to only reap later in life. For example, how many have abused their bodies with drugs and alcohol only to find they have major health issues later in life because of the seed they sowed. They sowed bad seed and now they reap the results of that seed.

The opposite is true as well. We can sometimes sow good seed and not see much fruit right away but in due time we will reap a harvest. That is why Paul stated And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:7-10). We be faithful to sowing good seed. At the right time we will reap a good harvest.

Thirdly, you will always reap more than you sow. I found that one piece of see corn can produce up to ten ears of corn or more on one stalk. Each ear of corn will have about 400 kernels of corn on it. So we could say that each piece of corn seed has the potential of producing 4000 new seed that can be planted and produce more seed. Let me put it another way. Granville told me that one bushel of good seed corn can produce 260 to 300 bushels of corn on irrigated property. So you see whatever we sow, much more is reaped. When we sow good seed the ripple effect impacts multiple lives. We always reap more than we sow.

Fourth, what we reap is different from what we sow. We sow a kernel of corn but we reap a whole harvest of corn including the stalks and the ears of corn. The truth is that the seed sown is contained in that which is harvested. The problem with sowing is that too often we are waiting for the exact kind of thing to come back to us. Sowing good seed affects every area of our life. We sow and reap a harvest that is different from what is sown. Hosea has said that if we sow righteousness we reap love. Notice righteousness is sown but we love is reaped.

Sixth, the one who sows shares in the reaping. When we sow good see others are blessed by what we sow. There are times where others pay for our mistakes and the choices we make. The opposite is true as well. There are many people who reap the good we have sown. They reap a harvest of blessing because of our faithfulness to sow good seed. We see this in evangelism. We sow seeds of God’s love and others get the credit and the glory when the harvest occurs. The key for us is that we do not allow a spirit of jealousy to rise up within us and refuse to take credit for what only God can do. Having others join the harvest is the blessing of sowing good seed.

If you feel like you are not bearing good fruit perhaps you need to change what you are sowing? Sometimes we need to make a choice to sow something different to get a different result. When a farmer looks at his barren fields, he doesn’t gripe about it. One of two things will occur. For one, if he is not getting a harvest he will change the seed he uses.

Secondly he may start with the seed he has. He can hoard the seed or he can plant it. If he holds onto it, that’s all he’s got. If he gives it away, God will multiply it. So do not be stingy in your sowing. Do not be stingy with your finances. Do not be stingy with your grace. Do not be stingy with your love and compassion. Do not be stingy in sharing your faith. Stingy people reap what they sow. They reap emptiness but generous people reap life and hope. So sow your finances, your love, your faith, and you will reap a righteous harvest. Paul challenged us to be generous sowers so we will become blessed reapers. Give God a chance and see what He can do. Do you want to have friends? Sow friendship. Do you want people to love you? Sow love. Do you want to feel secure? Sow your finances in the right place. Do you want good health. Sow good eating habits. Do you want to see people come to know Christ? Sow seeds of evangelism. Remember to reap you must sow, and you must sow generously.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Peninsula Community Church

May 14, 2017

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Before I begin this morning, let me share a story I read this week. It is a beautiful story of love by a little girl trying to honor her mom. The girl’s mother was sick in bed with the flu. To bless her, she brought her mom an extra pillow and a magazine to read. She even brought her a cup of hot tea. The mother being quite surprised by her gesture of love proclaimed, ”Wow! I didn’t even know you knew how to make tea!” The little girl said, ”Oh, yes. I learned by watching you. I put some water in the pot, and then I put tea leaves in the pot. I boiled the water, and then I strained it into a cup.” Then she said ” I couldn’t find the strainer so I used the flyswatter.” Her mother exclaimed, ”You what?!” The girl replied, ”Oh, don’t worry, mom. I didn’t use the new flyswatter; I used the old one.”

In preparing this message, I was drawn to the attributes of a Godly woman as listed in Proverbs 31. In reading through the chapter, I found that Solomon listed several qualities that define a good woman. He suggests the following. A good woman is one who cares for her family. She is thrifty. She speaks well of her husband. Her actions and her lifestyle make her children and her husband proud. She is a blessing to everyone she meets. She encourages and strengthens everyone around her, especially her family. There are many positive attributes listed here, but these attributes pale in comparison to the one which is supreme to all the others. At the end of the chapter, in Proverbs 31:30, Solomon gives us the one quality that exceeds all others. He says. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Solomon recognized the one characteristic or quality needed by every woman, and for that matter every man, is an understanding of the fear of the Lord.

It seems today we have a mixed up view of motherhood. In our nonChristian, postmodern society there is a sense that moms are to work full time, be perfectly dressed all of the time, have all of the answers, keep a house in perfect order, and have it all together. As a result, there is a tension between God’s perspective of womanhood and the nonChristian, postmodern view of womanhood. This tension affects every aspect of our understanding of what true motherhood is about. For many there is a pressure to perform. As a result we have lost our fear of the Lord! We have forgotten the value of following God. We have become more focused on pleasing societal norms and what others think rather than what God thinks.

We find there is a tendency to value charm and beauty over character and a personal relationship with Christ. No matter how one attempts to change the outward, if the heart is not affected by Christ, there is no real change. Scripture instructs us not to put new wine in old wine skins (Matthew 9:17). The reason for this is that by putting new wine into old skins the fermentation process will cause the wine skin to expand which will eventually cause the wine skin to tear. The wine will leak out and the value of the wine will be diminished.

To understand the fear of the Lord we must understand what fear the Lord really is! Fear has always been a reality we face. Fear can be a huge negative factor in one’s life. Fear can bind and prevent many from accomplishing what they strive for. We fear crime, auto accidents, storms, terrorists, sickness, failure, and so many other things. Even when we try to accomplish positive things, we do so with reservation and emotional resistance. The fear of the Lord, however, is different. The fear of the Lord is less about fear and more about respect and honor. It is about having a reverence and awe for the One who is greater and more powerful than we are. Through reverence, we are driven to honor God with our lives, devote ourselves to His purposes, and accept the challenges of life with a new power and endurance. The fear of the Lord has been defined as a continual awareness that one is in the presence of a holy, just, almighty God, and that every motive, thought, word, and action is open before Him and will be judged by Him.

It is for that reason, the fear of the Lord is the one overarching characteristic that must be evident in every life. Why is this important? It is important because Scripture is replete positive results of  fearing the Lord. Through scripture we find that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111.10) and it is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). The fear of the Lord prolongs life (Proverbs 10:27) and it gives us a strong confidence which gives children a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26-27). The fear of the Lord in effect leads us to real life (Proverbs 19:23).

In another of Solomon’s works, Ecclesiastes, we find a summation of all that life offers. Listen to his final words in the book. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). This all boils down to our focus in life and that focus is how do we respond to God’s presence in our life. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. You see what we focus on is where our heart will be. Jesus knew this when He stated For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). He also gave us this advice. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).

With that said let me give you a couple of outcomes for those who fear the Lord in the right way. First, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about what’s going to happen in her life. Proverbs 31:25 states Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. A woman who fears the Lord prepares for the future. She does not worry about the future because she knows the one who controls her future. She trusts God with her life, her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her friends, her destiny, and so on. Jesus confirms this truth in Matthew 6:25. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

The problem with worry is that the things we worry about often serve to reveal our attitude towards God and who we perceive Him to be. For example, do we see God as sovereign? Do we see God as all powerful? Do we see that God has the power to do what is needed in our life? Do we believe He cares about the mundane details of our life and that He is working everything out for the best possible outcome in view of eternity? Our view of God will determine our view of the future and will set a course for us in terms of how we move into the future.

There is no doubt that life is filled with anxiety and difficulty but when we fear the lord, we will find a peace and trust that is not easily swayed. It affects the way we pray for our kids. It affects the way we approach health issues for us and our loved ones. It affects the way we pay bills. It affects our present condition and it affects our future. When we have a healthy respect and understanding of God, we will fulfill the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He shall direct your path.

Secondly, a woman who fears the Lord speaks wisdom and kindness. In Proverbs 31:26 Solomon states She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. A right understanding of God affects the way we communicate with others. A right view of God will affect the way we choose to spend the gift of language He has given us. We will choose our words wisely. We will seek to build up and not tear down. We will season our speech with the salt of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 4:6). We will remember that life and death is in our words. From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:20-21). A right understanding of God brings life through our words.

Third, a woman who fears the Lord is strong. In Proverbs 31:25, we find that Strength and dignity are her clothing. In Verse 17, we find that She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is clothed with God’s strength. The woman who fears the Lord is not easily depressed, deterred, or diminished in her calling.

The woman who fears the Lord does not just talk about being strong, she is strong. A holy strength brings contentment in Christ. If you want to know if your fear of the Lord overflows into strength? Ask if you envy others. Are you always wanting more than what you have without being grateful for what you have already been given. Threads of discontentment reveal a heart that does not grasp the greatness and goodness of our maker. Isaiah grasped this truth when he made this statement. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation (Isaiah 12:2).

Fourth, a woman who fears the Lord will live for others. In Proverbs 31:11,12 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life. Our view of God plays out in our interaction with others. If we trust God is for us, it frees us to be there for other people. We can look out for their interests because we know God is looking out for us. We do not fear people because we know God has our back. We are not self-focused or worried about our needs because we can trust Him with our needs.

In the end, all four of these characteristics overflow from a right understanding and relationship with God. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is clothed with God’s strength and is for other people. The solution is a gloriously simple complexity: fear the Lord. Let the words of Proverbs remind us of the opportunity we have to grow in our fear of the Lord. Let that opportunity excite you and draw you into a deeper understanding of His grace. As we grow in our understanding of Him, we will be transformed. We will not be transformed into the image of some cool Proverbs woman, but we will be transformed into the very image of His Son.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Who is Your Master?

Peninsula Community Church

Who is Your Master?

May 7, 2017

Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When I was in high school back in 1973, I witnessed an amazing event take place. You see for most that year there was a short skinny kid named Jimmy who had been picked on and had been abused emotionally and even physically in many ways. It had begun as fun but now it was a daily exercise from many in the school. While many were engaged in this brutality others had begun to feel sorry for Jimmy but felt powerless to do anything. That all changed one day, however. It was regular day for the most part. As I headed to my next class, I noticed a crowd had gathered outside the gym and they were shouting at someone in the middle of the group.

As I got bit a closer, I realized Jimmy was in the middle of the group. In front of him was one of the biggest, toughest guys in the school. He was slapping Jimmy, and each time he did, people would cheer and laugh. It seemed that Jimmy was being beat down. But something happened in that moment that changed everything. From somewhere deep inside of Jimmy, he suddenly stood up taller than ever before, and before we knew it the big, tough senior was on the ground. He had blood pouring from a broken nose and and he was in the fetal position grabbing his stomach where he writhed in pain. You see what no one knew was that Jimmy was a black belt in karate. He had enough that day and he finally retaliated for the first time.

For some of us, we are living like Jimmy. Every day we are beaten down, pushed around, and ridiculed. We feel defeated and we feel we have lost control of our lives. We feel mastered by both external and internal forces of our lives. We find that we are being subjected to unnecessary and undeserved abuse physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But like Jimmy we don’t have to live defeated, but instead we can be victorious. We can leave the enemy with a broken nose writhing in pain. The fact is Jimmy had the power to deal with his enemies within him the hole time, he just never used that power.

You see no matter what you experience whether it be anger, insecurity, feelings of failure, or other issues, you have the power to overcome each of these. To overcome, we must come to the place where we recognize we are in a battle. We must understand there is a war going on within us and the winner of the battle will master us. Paul describes this war as one between the flesh and the Spirit.

I did not know this until this week that May 4th has been designated as Star Wars Day. As you might remember, Star Wars is a movie that deals with the battle between good and evil. In this passage, Paul reminds us that a real battle is going on within us. This battle is not some conflict that happens on a movie screen that is resolved within an hour to two hours. It happens within our hearts and souls on a daily basis.

Paul defines this battle by way of the symptoms manifested as a result of the battle. He describes these manifestations as the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. When you go to the doctor he/she will ask you a series of questions. Most of the answers we give are really just symptoms which point to an underlying problem. What Paul describes here are the symptoms of a life being mastered by the flesh or the Spirit. The symptoms of walking in the flesh are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Juxtaposed to these symptoms are the symptoms manifested by one who is walking in the Spirit. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These are a matter of the condition of our heart.

Paul understood the concept of symptoms and understanding when it comes to the question of who masters us. That is why in verse 17 he states there is a necessity to walk in the Spirit. Paul reminds us that by walking in the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. The truth is we have been set up for failure in so many ways. For some, we have been raised in such a way that has negatively impacted us spiritually and emotionally.

All of us at different times have allowed the flesh to master us, but there is a difference between being mastered by something and having a short time failure. For example, when it comes to anger there is a difference between getting angry and having ongoing fits of rage. Of course, we can insert whatever issue we deal with here. It might be fear, envy, jealously, strife, and rivalries. All of these can control our life and how we respond to others but they don’t have to.

As I have talked to some of you over the last few weeks one of the issues we have discussed is anger. Some of you express anger through fits of rage while others use the silent treatment. When we deal with anger, or any of the other issues found this passage, there are a few thing we must recognize. First of all, fits of rage or anger can be a learned response. We respond in anger because that is what we learned through experience. Therefore, when things don’t go the way we want, we get angry. I know this because I was one who learned to respond to things in anger because my stepdad would do that.

Secondly, anger can become our “go to” when we are frustrated or we do not get our way. Because it is our go to method of dealing with things, it is easy for us to go negative. We find that anger is a result of unmet expectations which is based on a false concept of expectation. We also get angry when we feel our is identity is being tested or is being diminished by another. When our anger goes unchecked, it is so easy for us to respond with anger because it has become the norm for us. The fact is it can be easier to get angry rather than deal with the problem before us. But though it is the norm it does not have to be that way.

Paul closes this verse out by saying that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. By the spirit’s power we can crucify the flesh’s work in us. In practical ways how do we do this? First, we must have a desire for change. Without a desire for change, we will not be positioned for change. We will allow ourselves to be battled and the flesh will win every time. A desire for change begins with taking very thought captive and bringing our thoughts into obedience to Christ’s will and desire for us (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Secondly, we must saturate ourselves with the Word of God. The Word of God gives us guidance and details how we should live. David stated that he had stored up God’s word in his heart so he would not sin against God (Psalms 119:11). That is what we need to do. For example, this week I shared with someone a particular Scripture that could guide their life. I suggested they write the scripture down and post it on their mirror, in their car, or any place they would see the Scripture on a regular basis. Then every time they feel anger or they experience any fruit of the flesh, they could go to that Scripture, read it, and by the power of the Holy Spirit live it out.

Thirdly, we ask the Holy Spirit to establish in us right thinking. We take every thought captive to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). How we think determines how we will respond to the stimuli in our life. When we have our thinking under control, we will find that the flesh will be gratified less and less and the fruit of the spirit will be revealed more and more. You see fruit is the outcome of how we live and how we think. If we allow the flesh to master us, we will have flesh like fruit. If we allow the Spirit to master us, we will manifest spiritual fruit.

Fourth, I would suggest we learn the power of the pause. When we feel we are getting angry we need to pause and ask the question. Why am I getting angry? Why am I flying off the handle? You see there is something to be said of counting to ten, twenty, hundred, or even a thousand. Whatever it takes we must do. When we slow down and think through why we are angry, most of the time there is no real answer. We are just angry. For that reason James commands us Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20) The desire of James is that we become less reactive and more active in our responses to life’s issues.

Finally, we cannot and must not forget the power of prayer. We begin our day by asking the Heavenly Father to help us overcome these things. We pray for God to guard our hearts, help us to take every thought captive, and we pray that our emotions are guided by the Holy Spirit. Then whenever we are driven to walk in the flesh, we ask for God’s help to overcome in that moment and to empower us to walk in the spirit.

So today let me ask you, “who is your master?” “Who controls you?” It is your choice!

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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