Strongholds Part 2

Peninsula Community Church 

Defining Strongholds

October 7, 2018 

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Today, we will look at the second part of our study on strongholds. The goal is to learn about these strongholds so that we can understand how to break free from those things that hold us in bondage. I love the author’s perspective here in Hebrews 12. Lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely. There are weights and sin that cling to us in such a way that it seems almost impossible to rid ourselves of them. We try but these things continue to arise and continue to impact us in negative ways. It seems that no matter what we do they are always there and we are always dealing with them. It reminds me of the plastic that clings to us and no matter how much we try and rid ourselves of it, it is there. 

As we look at this subject let us take a moment to review how we define what a stronghold is. Last week, we established that a stronghold is anything that diminishes the knowledge of God in our life or reduces how we see ourselves as a creation of God. That is the power and role of strongholds. Because our knowledge of God and our understanding of ourselves as a creation of God is impacted, these things affect us emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and mentally. Our whole man is impacted. Our whole life is affected. These strongholds become weights that minimize our growth and our effectiveness.

Because we have a diminished view of God and a misunderstanding of how God has created us, our relationships and our circumstances are affected. That is why we never truly sin to ourselves. We can say this will not hurt anyone else but that is a lie. Our sin and the strongholds we hold onto impact our jobs, our relationships, our future, and so much more. That is why it is critical that we both recognize and deal with these issues.

When we have issues because of our misunderstanding of who God is and how we have been created, we can believe that it is impossible to overcome the issue because we have sinned too much and what we have done is too great. We are often deceived into believing that we are the way we are and that will not change. Thus we never progress in dealing positively with our attachments and strongholds. We in fact get deeper rather than getting relief. Suddenly, the snow ball effect begins and the small manageable issue is suddenly a giant snowball out of control. Most of the issues we face did not start over night but slowly we become entrapped. The truth in this regard is that is that most of the issues we deal with in life did not happen overnight or in a instant. And yet it seems that all of a sudden we find ourselves embroiled in a fierce battle. 

How do these things happen? Let me give you a few things that might be helpful. First, weights occur because of the small steps toward compromise and the result of bad decisions. Strongholds are often the result of a series of smaller steps that we take or a series of bad decisions we make. That is why we say that our choices have consequences. The decisions we make today effect us tomorrow and beyond. We are battling strongholds in our life today because of the decisions we made at some juncture in the past. John Piper has stated that today’s decisions will determine what we will become tomorrow and how we will respond to the knowledge of God. That is so true.

In the Old Testament we find the story of Esau. A series of decisions by Esau changed the trajectory of his life. Esau took the temporary pleasure offered to him by his twin brother Jacob to satisfy his hunger, a bowl of stew. In doing so, he forfeited his future inheritance. He chose the now instead of what was promised to come. He chose temporary pleasure by forfeiting the eternal blessing promised to him as the firstborn son.

What temporary fixes are we choosing today? Is it the bottle? Is it a drug? Is it a sexual relationship? Is it uncontrolled anger? Is it gambling? Is it spending that is out of control? Is it isolation? Is it control? Is it an unhealthy love of money? All these things are temporary solutions but can have lasting effects on us! 

When we choose the temporary over the eternal, the easy over the hard, the false over the true, it leads to deception and bondage. It is possible that Esau lived the rest of his life wondering what life would have been like if he had not made these decisions. As we know the awesomeness of God is found later in his life. Because of God’s grace, Jacob and Esau were reconciled and their relationship was restored. It is amazing that we have the privilege to take steps toward God. There is healing from very bad choice and decision we make.

Secondly, unnecessary weight comes upon us when we fail to endure. We are living in a society that fails to endure in marriage, in our jobs, in the church, and in so many other parts of our life. It is a normal way of life it seems. It appears that a consistent long-term obedience is hard to come by. No one is perfect but when we fail to endure and push through, we can succumb to the bondage of giving up. When things get hard we run. When things are tough we give up. The result is that we begin to live with rejection and without a vision for a new day. We talked about this last Tuesday in our men’s study. We fall into bondage when we fail to endure and live out the promises we made. To fight the battles and overcome the weights in our life we must endure. The reward for those who endure is eternal life (Matthew 24:13). 

Thirdly, weights are realized when we do not walk in forgiveness. When we fail to walk in forgiveness we are prone to debilitating emotional strongholds that can control our lives and our way of reasoning. Forgiveness allows others to control us. By not forgiving others we give control to others. By waiting for someone to apologize before we offer forgiveness gives that individual power over us. It is for that reason that we must learn to let go of the hurt, pain, or anger we experience for our own sake. We need to release others so that a root of bitterness does not grow in us. That is the problem when we do not forgive others. We are filled with bitterness, anger, and hatred. Therefore, we must release others so we can be healed. 

Fourth, weights occur when we do not effectively deal with the hurt and pain we have experienced. Rather than release the pain and hurt we hold on to it. Instead of releasing our hurt and pain we weaponize it. We use it as an excuse for failure. We use it against others. We use it get our way. In fact, we become so good at it that we do not even think we have a problem. We begin to think everyone else is the problem and fail to accept any responsibility for our part of the problem. 

We often use our pain to cover up and hide our issues. We can hide our hurt so deeply that we can believe that we can never love again. We can hide behind the pain so that we protect ourselves from any future hurt, or so we think. We turn to drugs, alcohol, sexual relationships, and so on to numb the pain in an attempt to live a normal life. But, the more we depend on these things the less we live in reality. The less we live with the truth of God’s love for us and the destiny of God’s purpose in our life. 

So what do we do? In this passage, we find a couple of specifics that introduce us to how we should deal with strongholds. We will look at this more deeply next week. The passage begins with the letting go of every weight and sin that clings to us and keeps us from running the race we have been called to. It is amazing that when we start to have problems, these things seem to never let us go but they keep fighting and battling us. They cling to us. No matter how we try they are there.

The term here is an athletic term. It refers to the one who runs a race that must rid themselves of everything that hinders them. I have known runners that wear heavier clothing and they wear weights while they are practicing, but when they are in the race they get rid of everything that would slow them down. We must shed the hindrances and the bondages of our life so we can run an effective race for Christ.

The second part of this passage calls us to focus on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. The point being made is this. We began this relationship with Christ by faith and it is that faith that will sustain us. When we have problems if we are not careful our focus will be misaligned and our hearts will be out of focus.

In the final analysis, we have to make a decision. We have to determine that we need and want to change. We have all heard it said that when they reach bottom they will change. There is truth to that but we do not have to wait until we reach the bottom. We can make a conscious decision to lay aside every weight and sin that so easily besets us or clings to us today. 

It is not easy but this works begins with a decision that we want to change and are tired of the way we have been living, and we are tired of giving control over to someone or something else. It is a decision that we will do whatever it takes to overcome the enemy’s purposes for our live and align ourselves with the purposes of God. Are you ready? I know you can do it! It begins with a simple decision to focus on Christ, the one who is the author and finisher of our faith.

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Understanding Spiritual Strongholds 

Peninsula Community Church 

Understanding Spiritual Strongholds 

September 30, 2018 

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 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.

Over the last few weeks, and especially this week, our eyes have been focused on the events surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. This has unsettled so many on both sides of the issues. The way this has been handled, the words that have been spoken, and the lack of substantial evidence should not surprise us. Let me say this, I believe that Dr. Ford has most likely suffered some traumatic event in her life, but it is unfair to accuse one that seems completely innocent. The Bible is explicit that in the last days we would find ourselves facing the truth that right would be wrong and wrong would be right. The enemy is having a hay day and is causing division on so many levels and not just politically. It is happening in government, yes, but, it is also happening in communities. It is happening in our relationships. It is happening within us. It is happening all around us.

With that in mind I would like to take the next couple of weeks to review the power of strongholds and the various aspects of spiritual warfare. During this time we will look at the spiritual influences that impact our life. We will examine the affect of these spiritual influences on us and on society. We will review the process of how strongholds are established in our life. I ask that you pray as we begin to discuss these things, as I know that we will face opposition and will face our own level of spiritual warfare in greater ways. But, I think it will be worth it. 

As we begin, perhaps it would be helpful to define what a stronghold is and how demonic influences impact us. I love what Max Lucado says. A stronghold is a false premise that denies God’s promises and diminishes the knowledge of God. In our passage today, Paul states that a stronghold  “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” It attempts to magnify the problem and minimize God’s ability to solve it. That is the greatest impact of a stronghold in our life. It seeks to destroy or negatively impact the knowledge of God in our life. It’s goal is to distort truth and distract from that which is God’s word and God’s truth. Its goal is to keep us from seeing God for who He is and to see how He has created us.

In my opinion this is the bottom line for most of the issues we face. I remind you that these issues in their most basic understanding are not political but are spiritual at their core. The things we face today are a fight for rulership and authority in our life. It is a battle for control. It is a battle for the moral high ground. It is a battle that goes beyond democratic and republican parties. This is not a political battle but it is certainly a spiritual battle for the soul of mankind. It is not an American issue. It is a battle for spiritual dominance and a reset of the Biblical worldview.

Because these are spiritual issues, most of the problems we face are a result of the fact that God’s influence in our society has been reduced and in many cases has been removed. We have removed prayer from the public arena. We have removed God from our schools. We have not asked God to be at the forefront of our decisions and actions. In fact, in many arenas God is the problem and therefore He must be removed. The result of removing God from the public debate is that we are becoming more and more godless as a nation. We are becoming more interested in political power, self-exaltation, and selfish gain than being a God fearing nation. 

I have argued for some time that most of the issues, if not all of the issues, we face today are a result of satanic influences that move men against God. Whatever the issue, it is spiritual at its core. Whether it is abortion, feminism, gay rights, abortion rights, sexual identity, pornography, or any of the many other issues that are at the forefront of our society, these issues are spiritual at their core. In reality it is an argument against God’s design for the world. Many of the issues we encounter are in reality contrary to what God desires and to His character. 

In our passage today, we are confronted with the idea of spiritual warfare. We fail too often because we fail to understand that we are in a battle and it is a battle for truth and righteousness. It is not just any truth or righteousness, as defined by those around us. It is a matter of what God believes to be true and what He believes to be righteousness. You see once we move off center, in regard to God’s truth, we subject ourselves to strongholds and negative spiritual forces. 

So what do we do. First, we must be aware that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. Here is the point we do not fight like others do. We fight with God’s arsenal. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Notice here that our battle is with spiritual forces whose purpose is to destroy our view of God. If these forces go unrestrained, they will hold sway over this world and will control our thoughts. 

Here is the truth, our battle is not with liberals or the unsaved. Our battle is against demonic forces that influence people with negative attitudes and false doctrine. When God and God’s truth is rejected long enough, God will allow man to believe whatever they want. He will allow man to do whatever he wants. That is what Paul says in Romans 1. Those who refused to acknowledge the truth and refused to acknowledge God, as God, have become futile in their thinking and their hearts have been darkened. 

Sadly, today we are looking at hearts that have been darkened by sinful choices and their thinking is futile as a result of rejecting God. They have become futile in their thinking which blocks truth. It is noteworthy that the word futile comes from a Latin root word that means “leaky.” Because they are futile in their thinking, they are incapable of producing any useful result. Why do we scratch our heads at some of the decisions those without Christ and those who have been captivated by demonic influences make? It is because their thinking is futile and is not producing any positive results. Their hearts have been darkened. That is why many can do horrific things without batting an eye or thinking twice about it. 

Secondly, in this process, we must not attack people but we must attack problems. That is why Paul states that our warfare is not of the flesh but it is spiritual. The enemy loves to get us to the point where we make the person the problem, but it is the spiritual dynamic that is at work and that makes the difference. Certain people are the tools of demonic influence but they are not the problem. The stronghold in their life is the problem. Rather than attack the person, we must address the spiritual influences that affect them so they are healed. 

Thirdly, we must pray for those who are darkened in their thinking. Judge Kavanaugh’s daughter had the right idea. We need to pray for those who would attack righteousness and a Godly worldview. I wonder if we realize how powerful a tool we have through prayer. Here is the problem so often. We are quick to post our views on Facebook, and talk around the tables at McDonalds, and the water cooler at work, but how much have we really prayed? How much have we humbled ourselves so that we are coming from the purity of a heart that is focused on God’s will and purpose? Certainly we are angry and we a filled with sadness about a process that has become convoluted. We are dismayed at the level of spiritual influence that is working against the knowledge of God, but in all of that we must focus our attention on our own heart. Last week we talked about giving grace. Grace is given when we humble ourselves before God and focus our attention upon Him with prayer.

2 Chronicles 7:14 comes to mind in this moment. Listen to God’s words. Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. Did you notice what this says? If we do these things God will answer. There is hope in prayer. 

Fourth, we must destroy the arguments and lofty opinions about the knowledge of God. How do we do this? We present the truth. We live the truth. We breath the truth. Truth is the best way to destroy arguments and lofty opinions. Paul continues to tell us that we must take captive those thoughts which diminish the knowledge of God in our life. This is both a personal response and a corporate response. But, we cannot have a positive corporate response if we are not willing to deal with our own futile thinking and the places where our hearts are darkened. 

As we close, let me give you three things that help us take other thoughts captive and that should encourage us. First, God is the origin of all things. He is the creator of all the heavens and the earth. He has it under control. Secondly, He is the Lord of all things. Congress is not Lord! President Trumpet is not Lord! God is Lord. He has been and continues to be our Lord. The enemy’s work does not change the fact that He is the Lord of all things. Thirdly, we are accountable to Him for all that we do. One of the things that rubs man the wrong way is to present an authority higher than he is. We do not want to surrender to any one. We are our own god and we are self-sufficient to the degree that we do not need anyone else in our life. But we must recognize that we are not our own god. We live in authority to God who is higher than all of us. That brings healing and that brings us hope in a convoluted and a spiritually bankrupt world. 

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Giving Grace

Peninsula Community Church 

Giving Grace

September 23, 2018

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

As we wrap up our Amazing Grace series this morning, I want to close with one last concept relating to grace. It is about giving grace to those we encounter. The fact is we will all encounter EGR people at some time. EGR people are those people who need extra grace from us. They are the people who irritate us and cause us great consternation. They are the pebble in our shoe and the bur in our saddle. So often, we are negatively impacted by their actions. It seems we cannot escape what they do or how they act. These people rub us the wrong way. They offend us. They say things that cause us to blush. We can feel intimidated by their very presence. We know this because when we are in their presence, our demeanor changes. These are the people that we see in Food Lion and we turn and will go the other way to avoid them.

It is noteworthy that Jesus had EGR people in His life. His own disciples at times were EGR people. He was repeating Himself over and over. They could not catch the message of His heart. They failed over and over again to grasp the magnitude of His mission. Then of course there were the religious leaders of His day. They were constantly trying to catch Him in a misstep so they could accuse Him of falsehood to diminish His mission and power among the people.

The question we need to answer is this, how do we deal with EGR people? To find solutions we turn to Scripture as it is replete with steps to deal with people who irritate us and create problems in our life. Paul himself was embattled by those who required extra grace. He penned the words of this passage to remind us that we have a way to deal with those who need extra grace. What does he suggest?

To begin with Paul defines those who are to take these actions and show grace. It is God’s chosen ones who must show grace. Who is God’s chosen? It is you and I who have accepted Christ as our personal Savior and our Lord. It is those who have a made a personal commitment to follow Christ with their whole heart, mind, and soul. This message is to those who love God and desire to be a passionate follower of Christ. However, regardless of one’s spiritual foundation or maturity, these actions will assist you with the EGR people in your life even if you are not a believer.

The actions Paul suggest are contrary to the way many people respond to those who irritate them or meddle in their affairs. But as we must remember there is much that God calls us to do that runs against the societal norms and acceptable behaviors of those around us. Look at how Paul describes what our response should be. He says, Put on then, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Do you get this list? Do you grasp what Paul is saying here? 

Our attitude toward the EGR people needs to be different when we represent Jesus, the one who modeled this lifestyle to us. We need compassionate hearts filled with kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love toward the EGR people around us. It seems to me that in the society we now live, people are too busy getting even, having their own way, and manipulating outcomes rather than obeying Paul’s advice. 

When it comes to EGR people we are often quick to follow the letter of the law but slow to give grace, which is the spirit of the law. We want to get even or shut them up but that is not God’s described plan for us. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). It is the all sufficiency of God that gives us grace to give grace to others. 

The concept that is presented here is that when we obey the law without recognizing the grace of God, the law kills. The problem is that we become more concerned about the law than about discipleship. That is why Paul states that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. What a contrast? In keeping the law by grace we honor God and we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives. You see to simply keep the letter of the law causes one to become prideful, arrogant, and unfeeling toward others. 

When Jesus came to earth, He turned the ideas about the law upside down. He did not deny the law nor did He replace the law. He did bring about a different process for carrying out the specifics of the law. Jesus turned the attention of His hearers to the necessity of having the law within one’s heart and out of that motivation one should seek to obey the law. When we carry out the letter of the law, we too often do so because of a legalistic approach which becomes overbearing and harsh.

We see these principles played out in a couple of passages but one stands out to me. In John 8:3-11 we have the following story. In this story we have the comparison of Jesus who gives grace and those who kept the letter of the law. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

In this story, we find that the Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus that had been caught in adultery. Notice they brought the woman and placed her in the middle of where Jesus was meeting. They were keeping the law but did so harshly and unlovingly. They stated to Jesus, as if they needed to, that the law required such a woman to be stoned. Notice their motivation was to entrap Jesus. They did not have any mercy on this woman and they did not give her grace.

But notice what Jesus does. He responds with grace and love. While the Scribes and Pharisees were more concerned about the letter of the law, Jesus was more concerned about the person and her healing and growth. It is noteworthy there is never a denial of what the woman had done or why she was there in the first place. She was there because of her sin. Her sin was not denied by the Pharisees, in fact it is magnified. Jesus did not deny her sin but He moved toward her with grace and truth. The Pharisees were selective in the way they enacted the law, which is the antithesis of what grace is all about. The law actually required that both the male and the female to be stoned. They in essence were picking and choosing which law they would enact and how they would enact it. That is a sign of a person who does not follow grace’s mandates. Through grave we obey the whole law but with a different heart, a different purpose, with a different outcome in mind.

It should be noted that the kind of grace-giving that Jesus models does not delight in calling out sin and is it not prideful about being a truth-teller. The person who practices Colossians and God-inspired grace giving is a person deeply committed to the spiritual vitality of others and deeply attuned to their own spiritual poverty without Christ. He or she has a spirit led humility and a willingness to go the extra mile for others. This is all a part of a deep devotion to the family of God, to one another, and for the glory of God. And perhaps, most importantly, a grace-giver has positioned his/herself to receive from friends the very same truth and grace that he or she is committed to giving.

When we face those who need grace, we can listen to one of two voices. We can listen to the critical life killing letter of the law, or we can listen the amazing grace that Christ models. I would suggest that there a few reasons why and how to give grace. Notice the last two things that Paul mentions in Colossians. We must learn to give forgiveness and put on love. Forgiveness received and forgiveness given is a sign of the grace of God in our life. A grace filled life is a life that flows in giving and receiving forgiveness. A letter of the law person is one who has grown bitter and does not easily forget what others have done to them. 

We must also put on love. Our attitude, our motivation, and our reaction to others must be because we love God and we love people. We must show love to everyone because the expression of your love may be the very thing that may win your friend, family member, coworker, or business partner to the Lord. In fact, Jesus made an incredible statement that bears noting here. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

So how are you doing? Are you a letter of the law Christian or a Spirit driven grace giver. How you deal will others will forever change your life for good or bad.

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Grace and Action

Peninsula Community Church 

Grace and Action 

September 16, 2018 

2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

This morning we are on our third installment of our series, Amazing Grace. We have looked at grace and truth and we have looked at grace and mercy. This week we will take a bit of a different track as we will explore our part in grace. While grace is a free gift, we also recognize that we have a role to play in accepting His grace and His mercy. We have a role to play in the stewardship of His grace and what we do with His grace makes all of the difference. 

John Piper has stated After “Jesus” there is no sweeter word in all the Bible than “grace.” As Dr. Widen, a member of John’s church, use to say, It’s the greatest unused resource in all the world. It is the wealth of God’s kindness; the riches of his mercy; the soothing ointment of his forgiveness; the free and undeserved, but lavishly offered hope of eternal life. Grace is what we crave when we are guilt-laden. Grace is what we must have when we come to die. Grace is our only ray of hope when the future darkens over with storm clouds of fear. How true and how powerful that is. 

In considering this study, we must acknowledge that we can do nothing to earn God’s favor or increase His love for us. Too often, we are deceived into thinking that we have to earn God’s favor, and we can believe that we have to work extremely hard for Him to love us more or even consider loving us. This is such a issue and it is an issue that I am most familiar with. For years I worked hard in an attempt to get God to love me more. I felt that if I did not work hard enough, He would reject me and stop loving me as His child. How relieved I was when my understanding of God’s grace changed my mind, and enveloped my heart with the confidence that He loves me, and accepts me no matter what. The frustration and anxiety of trying to please God was diminished and I was freed up to actually accomplish more for His Kingdom. 

While it is true that we cannot earn God’s favor, nor can we work harder to get Him to love us more, there are some steps we need to take. The free gift of His grace must be stewarded or managed in order for us to maximize the gift we receive. Through stewardship, we recognize that we do not own anything, but we have been blessed to receive great gifts from God. That is why stewardship is so incredibly important. We must steward our finances, our possessions, our relationships, our employment, and we must steward the gifts God has given us.  

In Matthew 25, we have the parable of the talents. A landowner headed out on a journey. He entrusted his servants with the talents in order to manage the farm was he was gone. The first sergeant took his five talents and was able to double them. The one with the two talents did the same. Unfortunately the one with one talent went and hid it. When questioned he stated that he did so because he was afraid. The landowner responded by taking the talent from him and giving it to him who has the ten talents. What is the lesson here? We must steward what we have been given or else we can lose it. Now understand we cannot lose God’s grace but we can begin to minimize it in our life to the degree that it no longer guides and directs our steps. We can ignore God’s grace and that has sad consequences and difficult outcomes. 

So how do we steward or manage grace? In our passage today, we see that one way to steward His grace is by growing in the grace He has given us. In other words, grace is not a passive gift. It is active in the sense that we need to recognize the value and power of grace. When that happens, we will be moved to action. The question for us is what motivates us as stewards of grace. Well, we do not act on grace to gain salvation. It is a free gift. We do not act on grace to gain His love. He gives His love freely and graciously. We do not act on grace for His acceptance. He already accepts us because He sent His son into the world to die for us. All of these things are already set in motion because they are free gifts freely given.

With that said, in our passage today, we find that we are exhorted to grow in grace. So, how do we do that? I would suggest four things we can do to steward and grow in the grace God has given us. First, I would suggest to you that we need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul states Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

In this passage, I would propose to you that we must make our salvation our own. We must receive His grace as the gift it is . Notice two aspects of this passage. First, Paul exhorts us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. This relates to the seriousness and necessity of this action. We are exhorted to work through the problems that keep us from understanding His grace. We must deal with the bondages and shortcomings of our life to grow toward a state of healthiness and understanding of His grace. 

This brings us to the second part of this passage. It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. This is important because we often feel we do not deserve grace. We reject His grace, because we somehow feel there is too much water under the bridge for God to accept us. We can also believe we are too defective and too broken to be healed. 

I love this passage because we see that He works in us, because it is His will to do so. In fact, it brings God pleasure to work in us. Did you catch that? It is His will to work in us. It brings Him pleasure. Wow! What grace that is! Notice too that this passage gives us the balance between grace and our actions. We are called to work out salvation, but it is His work in us that makes it happen. We do and He will. He is willing and ready, but we must act. We cannot be passive. 

Secondly, in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 we find that Paul exhorts us to train ourselves for godliness. Listen to his words. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The word here for trained is an athletic term. Just as those who participated in the Grecian games had to prepare themselves so also, we must actively train ourselves for godliness. This means you will not always feel like it. You may be too tired, or you may be disinterested, but train anyway because there is a goal in mind. It is a goal of godliness and that is a most worthy goal. 

While we receive God’s righteousness and godliness as a gift of grace, we must train ourselves in the understanding of that grace. Our training in godliness is not a passive experience but one where we must be engaged in order to grow and develop a greater understanding of who He is. One who is training for an athletic event does not sit in their recliner and eat potato chips all day. No, they are up early and working out. They are eating healthy. They are resting appropriately. They are training their body and getting ready to participate in the event they are training for. 

When it comes to godliness our training includes personal Bible study and growth. I would suggest that we need to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided for us to grow. So, let me be a bit shameless and do a promo for the studies we have going here at PCC. We have the Ladies Thursday Morning Bible Study. We have the Ladies Thursday night BSF Bible study. We have the Tuesday night Bible study for ladies. We have the Tuesday night Bible Study for men. We have Sunday School for everyone. We have Sunday worship. We have one our Life Groups launching this Saturday with more to come. Coming in October we will have the Grief Share Group meeting at IRSC. All of these provide opportunities for growth and personal development. No one has an excuse for not growing in their faith. All of these events are opportunities for personal growth, but it also a time for fellowship and outreach. 

That leads us to a third vital point. Do not stop gathering together. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25). We need one another and it is in the assembling of ourselves together that we can and should experience God’s grace. As we work with one another, we have the opportunity to experience grace and give grace. Grace is best worked out through our interaction with one another. The temptation most often is for us to isolate and hide, but in isolation we are more susceptible to defeat and depression. We need one another! We need encouragement! 

Finally, I will end where we began. We are to grow in the grace and the knowledge of God. As we close let me summarize these keys to growth. This list is not exclusive, but I believe it is the priorities we need to seek. First, we grow in grace through worship and prayer. Through prayer and worship we experience a greater understanding of who God is and all that God has for us. Second, we grow through His word. Read the Bible and study the Bible for yourself. It is God’s manual for life to accomplish He desires. And finally, we must continue in fellowship. Do not isolate. While it is a gift of grace, when we isolate, we fail to share that grace with others. 

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Grace and Mercy 

Peninsula Community Church 

Grace and Mercy 

September 9, 2018

Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This is the second installment of our Amazing Grace study. Last week, we looked at the duality of grace and truth to realize that grace does not allow us to do what we want, but rather grace empowers us to overcome sin in our life. This week we will take some time to focus on the idea of grace and mercy. As we do that, we find this passage focuses on the great high priest that came to give Himself to provide the opportunity for us to receive grace and mercy. 

As we examine this passage, we determine that we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens. Here is what I see this means for us. Christ came to earth as a baby born of Mary. He came to us, so we could get to Him. He reached down to us, so we could reach up to Him. He came to fill the void between us and God. 

What is this void? We find in scripture that man could not look upon God because God was completely holy and totally sinless. In fact, God’s glory was so powerful that there was no way for man to look upon God without death. When Moses, one the holiest men ever to live, wanted to see God, God stated that “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). So it was that God in His glorified state could not come to man directly nor could man get to God in his sinful state. There was a great chasm between man and God. That was a big problem. A bridge needed to built and Christ came to be that bridge for us. 

As we noted last week, Jesus came to earth to become man. He dwelled among us and it is here that He sympathized with our weaknesses and our struggles. Notice in this passage that He was tempted in every way we are, but there was a caveat. He was tempted, but He never sinned. He never succumbed to the temptations He faced. He successfully navigated the pitfalls of temptation and was able to maintain His sinless state. Some have rejected this concept as they cannot believe that Jesus was tempted and if He was He could not give into temptation because He was God and God cannot sin. They argue that He could not really understand us if He never sinned, because He was perfect in His ways. 

However, I love what C.S. Lewis had to say about this subject when imagining someone objecting to Jesus being tempted without sin. Here is what Lewis wrote in response to that objection. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.

John Piper suggests that perhaps Jesus can sympathize with us in our allurements to sin, because He was tempted in many areas. Perhaps, he was tempted to covet all the nice things that Zacchaeus owned, when He himself had no place to lay His head. Perhaps, He was tempted to take revenge, when He was wrongly accused. Perhaps, He was tempted to lust, when a young girl Mary wiped His feet with her hair. Perhaps, He was tempted to pout with self-pity, when His disciples fell asleep in his last hour of trial. Perhaps, He was tempted to murmur at God, when John the Baptist died at the whim of a dancing girl. Perhaps, He was tempted to gloat over His accusers, when they couldn’t answer His questions. We do not know if that is true, but we do know that He was tempted in every way we are, but He resisted that temptation and remained pure and sinless. He knows temptation and He knows how to resist temptation. Therefore, He can sympathize with whatever you are facing. He has been there.  

We then come to the crux of the issue here. Because He was tempted without sinning, a door was opened for us to come before the throne of grace with confidence. At that throne He will hear us, and most importantly that He will understand us. It is there we are accepted. That is a miracle in itself. He understands us. He knows us and He is still willing to accept us even with all of our flaws. 

Notice this, the Son of God, who understood grace and mercy more than anyone else, has opened a door so that we can confidently approach the throne of grace. Notice two things here. It is a throne. That tells us that there is majesty and royalty on the throne. Thus the throne needs to be approached with honor and respect. Secondly, it is a throne of grace. While we approach with honor and respect, we do not have to fear the one on the throne in the sense that we believe He will reject us. It is a throne of grace. The problem for so many, and the lie that has been propagated by the enemy of our souls, is that when we have been tempted and we succumb to that temptation, there is no hope. We feel lost and helpless. But notice that when we approach the throne of grace with confidence, He gives us grace and mercy in our time of need. 

You see we approach the throne of grace with confidence, not fear and doubt. We can approach the throne of grace without the fear of rejection and the worry that we are good enough to be accepted by Him. Sometimes, it feels like we are being called into the principle’s office, or before the judge for a crime we have committed. But, when we are in God’s presence, it is a place of grace and mercy. It is a place of acceptance, where we boldly come to ask for repentance and healing. 

Because He has done what He has done, we can approach God with confidence. One of the saddest results of temptation is to be drawn away from God, but the lesson here is that He is for us. Rather than hide from our sin, our wrongs, and the issues we face, we can enter with confidence that He is going to accept us. Rather than trying to hide because of our sin, the author of Hebrews shows us that we should draw near to Jesus, our sympathetic high priest, who gives us access to God’s throne. For those who are in Christ, the throne is not a place of fear, but rather it is a throne of grace! It is not a place of doubt and questioning if He will accept us, it is a throne of grace. It is not a place of rejection because we have sinned some great sin that we believe is past God’s touch. It is a place of grace! It is a place of mercy! 

The story is told of a little boy who wanted to buy a puppy. He had saved his money and the day came to go down to the pet store to buy this new pet. The shop owner paraded several dogs before the young boy and finally he showed the boy four brand new puppies. The boy loved those puppies and wanted to buy them, but when he heard the price he hung his head. He responded that he could not afford to buy them, not even one of them. Suddenly, from around the corner came one last puppy. That puppy was also a part of the litter and had been born with only three legs and several birth defects. The shop owner stated that the dog would never grow up to be a normal dog. The little boy proclaimed emphatically that was the dog He wanted. The shop owner asked him why and the little boy rolled up his pant leg to show that he was missing a leg because he too had a birth defect. He told the shop owner that his family did not reject him and loved him in spite of his defects. The shop owner with a tear in his eye gave the dog to the young boy for free. Because Jesus knows our pain and our shortcomings, He accepts us just the way we are.  Regardless of our defects and issues, God receives us and accepts us, because His throne is one of grace and mercy. 

As we close this morning, let us look at the words grace and mercy for a brief moment. We discussed last week that grace is the unmerited favor of God. By grace we get what we do not deserve. Mercy on the other hand means that we do not get what we do deserve. We deserve death, but Christ came to pay that debt for us. You see the wages of sin is death, but Christ paid that debt upon the cross, and if we come before Him and humble ourselves before Him, He will receive us and give us grace and mercy.

Here is the point being made. We can enter with confidence into the throne room of grace because God understands us. That is amazing and that is amazing grace at its best. Jesus understands this and He knows the difficulties firsthand that we face in every day life. It is for that reason that He can extend us grace and mercy, so that we are free to live full lives, as a result. 

Finally, we can rejoice that there is a throne of grace. What a world would this be if God sat on a throne of “justice” only, and if no mercy were ever to be shown to people! Who is there who would not be overwhelmed with despair? But it is not so. He is on the throne of grace. By day and by night; from year to year; from generation to generation; He is on the throne of grace. In every land He may be approached, and in as many different languages as people speak, they can plead for mercy. In all our trials and temptations we may be assured that He is seated on that throne, and wherever we are, we may approach Him with confidence that He will receive us.

So, where has the enemy lied to you. How often has he communicated to you that you are not worthy to approach God? Where has He lied to you that you have sinned too much or that what you have done could never be forgiven? These are all lies because the throne of grace is alway available to us. We are never prevented from coming to that throne. It is a gift freely given through a God who freely gave His all for us. So, enter now with confidence and boldness. 

Let us pray!

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Grace and Truth

Peninsula Community Church

Grace and Truth 

September 2, 2018

John 1:14-17  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

As we read Scripture, there are some words that blow me away, as I try to understand them. The word grace is one of those words. Within this word there is so much truth that bears our consideration. For that reason, over the next couple of weeks, we will look at the amazing grace that has been given to us. We will explore the duality of grace and truth, as well as grace and mercy. We will consider what it means to be a good receiver of grace, but also what it means to be a good giver of grace. Additionally, we will consider how to give ourselves much needed grace personally. An understanding of grace is critical as we encounter those who are EGR people, and when we face EGR moments in our life. Do you know what EGR people and moments are? They are people and moments in our life where Extra Grace is Required. Of course many times, we are that EGR person, even to ourselves. 

This week we will begin our study by briefly defining what grace means. In that regard, we find that one of the most common definitions of grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” To understand grace is to understand that grace is receiving what we do not deserve. We receive the blessings of God not because we deserve them, but because of who He is and because it is He who is giving them. The fact is, grace has been and continues to be the mechanism by which God gives us everything we need for life and spiritual growth because none of us are worthy in ourselves of God’s grace and blessing because we have all sinned.

In our passage today, we find that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That is a big deal. Christ freely came to give us grace. That is the linchpin of our salvation and it is the cornerstone of the belief system we live by. Without grace, there would be no free salvation. Without grace, we would have to work and work hard for our salvation. We would also have to work hard to keep our salvation. Without grace, there would be no hope for us. We would worry about making it to heaven and being acceptable to God. Without grace, we would be forced to attempt to reach a level of holiness and righteousness that is unattainable, apart from grace.

The Word, Christ, became flesh and He dwelt with us. That is grace at its best. Christ freely left heaven to come to earth and be an example of what life could be and should be. Think about this, the God of Heaven came to live among us. He did not just come to earth as an observer or an uninterested party, He came to live among us. That is amazing to me. He did not have to, but He did. He did not have to give up heaven, but He did. He did not have to humble himself, but He did. He did not have to forgive me, but He did. That is amazing and that is grace in action. 

The second aspect of this passage is that grace and truth are inseparable. There is a sense, by some, that grace is an excuse to sin and do whatever we please, whenever we want to. That is not the objective of grace at all. Grace is never an excuse for sin, but it is a means to receive forgiveness and healing. Unfortunately, there are some who believe in hyper grace that says we can do whatever we want because we are under grace and God will cover our sin. While that is true to some degree, grace can never be an excuse for sin, but it is the primary reason to seek forgiveness and redemption. 

When discussing grace, we find that too often grace is equated with the idea of a free pass. We see sin, and somehow we imagine that God gives us a free pass, but when grace is combined with truth we realize that we cannot ignore sin but rather we must confess it. We are living in a culture that encourages the minimization of sin, and the cover up of unrighteousness, particularly if it is our sin and our unrighteousness. Our culture scoffs at taking responsibility and accountability. We are quick to give a free pass and to receive a free pass but that is not entirely what grace is about. True grace gives us the power to give forgiveness and seek redemption, because, we recognize these things are freely given by a gracious God. We do not have to hide them, but we can expose them and be delivered from them.

True grace does not ignore truth, but the real power of grace starts with truth. It is grace that settles the score that is against us and it is that grace that sets us free. It is by grace that we are redeemed. It is by grace we are given the free gift of salvation. So you see, grace is the undeserved favor of God. 

As I was preparing for this message I read an interesting take on how the Lord’s Prayer illustrates God’s grace in many ways. Let me explain. It begins by calling God “Our Father.” We do not deserve to call Him Father, but by grace we have been adopted into His family. We ask for His kingdom to come. We do not deserve His kingdom, but he allows us access. In this prayer we ask for “daily bread” we do not deserve, and for forgiveness we cannot earn, and for deliverance from temptation we cannot overcome, from a devil we cannot defeat on our own. This prayer from beginning to end is a frantic cry for undeserved favor. It is call for grace. Why? Because grace changes us. As we encourage truth, God’s grace turns rebels into citizens, orphans into children, enemies into friends, and an adulteress into a sinless bride.

The second aspect of this passage is that For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John here makes a great theological statement. He states that the law came through Moses. This is critical for those in John’s day as they understood the concept of the law. The law was all that was available to them to deal with their sin. The problem however is that the law was good at pointing out sin, but it did little to remove sin. John understood this and that is why John’s next statement is so powerful. The law came from Moses, but the fullness of grace and truth came from Christ. 

Paul understood this when he wrote the following in Romans 5:20-21. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law increased the trespass by revealing what was wrong.  Grace came so that where sin abounded grace was there in great abundance. In other words, there is no sin beyond the ability of grace to cover and redeem. The law calls us to work harder. Grace calls for us to trust God. The law does nothing to heal, but grace restores and heals. 

The law was limited but grace came in the fullness of all we needed. It does not lack anything. The law continually demands righteousness from man, while grace gives righteousness freely to man. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (Romans 3:21-25). Listen to romans 4:15-16. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

The law is connected with Moses and works; grace is connected with Christ and faith. The law demands that blessings be earned; grace is a free gift. I love this quote “The law was given by the servant, and made men guilty. The grace which came by the King freed them from guilt.” In His grace toward us, God says, I see your sin and I have made a way for your specific sin to be dealt with upon the cross of Christ. You do not have to cover it up, ignore it, or try to deal with it on your own. Because of Christ, you have an avenue to be free of your sin. How? We confess, repent, accept his grace, and you will be completely forgiven.

Here is what God’s word says to us. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7). For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17). Grace amazing!

So where do you need grace today? What sin or wrong is haunting you? What are you trying to cover up and hide rather than deal with? Where do you need to confess sin and receive His grace? That can be done and the riches of His grace is available to all who will seek Him. Turn to Him, repent, confess, and accept His grace, today. 

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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It Is Finished

Peninsula Community Church 

It Is Finished

August 26, 2018 

John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Colossians 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Today, we have our sixth and final installment in our series “the Battle is the Lord’s.” Specifically, in this study we will focus on the battle won by Jesus on the cross. It is noteworthy that some, in today’s anti-Christian and anti-Jesus society, have tried to deny the fact that Jesus died on the cross. They purport that either Jesus never died on the cross, or this was a false narrative made up by the disciples to cover up the claims that Christ would die and then rise again. However, to remove the cross from history would be to make us powerless over sin, and would place us in an untenable position of having to face our battles without Christ.

Let me ask you. What, most often, is the greatest battle we face? I would suggest that, for most of us, the great struggle of our life is the impact of sin. Sin robs us and strips us of so much of the vitality and power we have been freely given. We constantly battle the work of sin. While we may not be personally engaged in the big ten of sin, we are often impacted by the power of sin. 

To fully understand the work of the cross, we must go back to the beginning of what we know as time. We must come to an understanding of how we got to where we are today. In Scripture, we find that satan was cast out of heaven because of his pride and his desire to usurp the authority of God, which is a foolish proposition. Because of his sin, he was cast down to earth and has been the nemesis of all humankind ever since.

As we look back in time, we find the story of creation and that everything God created was good. However, the one who had fallen from grace, and was now an accuser and deceiver, was waiting to corrupt all that was good. Since creation and until today, the enemy’s ploy has been to corrupt all that God made good. This hit me like never before, as I was preparing for this message. Satan’s primary goal is to corrupt all that God made good. Think about the things that have been corrupted in society: relationships, families, marriage, our view of God, the sanctity of life, morals, sexuality, addictive behaviors, religion/spiritual things, our thoughts, and so on. All of these has been corrupted by satan. 

Almost immediately after the creation, Satan was at work and through deception man disobeyed God’s will and sin was ushered in. This resulted in man being cast out of the Garden of Eden. The woman was cursed and now suffers the pain of childbirth. The man was cursed and must now work the ground by the sweat of his brow. For the deceiver, a prophetic curse was placed upon him. God stated, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. God recognized that from that moment of time there would be warfare and confrontation with the enemy, until he was finally subdued at the end of time. 

While that is true, in this passage we find a promise to bruise the head of the serpent. The serpent will wound the heel that crushes him. He will afflict humanity and bring suffering and persecution. He will attempt to corrupt that which is good but, at the right time, Christ will put His foot on the head of the serpent and he shall be bruised. This is critical because the serpent’s poison is in its head; and a bruise on that part of the serpent would be fatal. The fatal blow occurred 2000 years ago when Christ died on the cross. In the Garden, the enemy bruised the heal. On the cross, the head of the serpent was bruised. Christ won!

In our first passage, we find the culmination of this prophesy in three powerful words. “It is Finished!” In that moment of time the head of the serpent was bruised. In this act of great love, the future was changed forever. The Greek word for “it is finished” is TETELESTAI. We could get into the weeds of the grammar used here, but instead let me give you some insights based on the grammatical structure of the word. First, the action has been completed, and the results of the action are ongoing and in full effect. The work of Christ was completed that day and that work continues today.

Second, the word insinuates this was not for the one taking the action, but for the one who was receiving the action. Here is what is amazing, we are the benefactors of the cross. The work of the cross was completed on our behalf. We continue to benefit from that action today. Christ died not for Himself, but He died for us. He who had no sin died for “our sin.” He took all of our sin, shame, and the accusations of the enemy upon Himself that day. He did that for us.

The third truth is this action was an actual event that occurred. This was not the figment of someone’s imagination. It was a reality. It happened and all the world was changed. Through the cross, the ceremonial law was fulfilled. Through the cross, the head of the serpent was not just bruised, it was crushed. Through the cross, we have redemption and the forgiveness of sin. Through the cross, sin was overcome. Through the work of the cross, the rulers and powers of the world were disarmed. What began in the Garden was completed on the cross. 

In preparing for this I came across this interesting information and thought I would share it.  nowThe work was finished! In the Greek, this word is used in different ways but some of these may help us understand the power of the statement “It Is Finished.” An artist might proclaim Tetelestai! when he finished a painting. He would announce “the picture is perfect.” A servant might confidently proclaim Tetelestai! when asked by his master if the work he had been assigned to do was complete. The servant would say, “Yes, master. I have finished the work.” A judge might say Tetelestai! when he conferred a sentence or when issuing a ruling that a sentence had been completed. The judge would say, “Justice has been served.” A merchant might say Tetelestai! after stamping a bill “the debt has been paid.” A soldier might shout Tetelestai! as a battle cry toward a vanquished foe. The soldier would yell, “You are finished!”

You see, the artist had the last word as to the meaning of the painting, not the art critic. The Servant knew if the work in the house had been completed and approved by the Master, not the stranger who entered the house. The Judge determined the sentence and it’s execution, not the convicted criminal. The Priest determined if one’s sacrifice was acceptable to God, not the penitent one. The Merchant determined if a debt was paid, not the debtor. The Victorious Warrior determined the future of his combatant, not the defeated enemy. Jesus Christ is the Artisan, the Servant, the Judge, the Priest, the Merchant, and the Victor, you are not. Your religion is not. Your intellect is not. He has determined that you are free and that all your debts have been paid because of who He is and not who you are.

In our second passage, we find that the power of satan has been neutralized and diminished. We see this in the word disarmed which means to put off completely, to undress completely, and thus render powerless. It carries the idea of stripping the clothes off of a deposed official. At the cross, the leaders and authorities of satan’s force and his kingdom were stripped of their authority and power.

In the death of Christ, Satan was stripped of the power to accuse us of the guilt we try to carry. He was stripped of the power that causes us to believe there is no hope. Because of the cross, we no longer have to walk in the accusations of the enemy. We are empowered to walk in the confidence that He overcame the power of the enemy to falsely accuse us. The result is that there is nothing that can defeat us, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing, no nothing has the power to do that. Since satan’s power has been diminished, we must remember that satan can only take what we give him. He has no right to take anything. He has no right to accuse us. He has no right to torment us. And yet, he does it over and over because we allow him that territory in our life. He knows his destiny and he desires more than ever to weaken our spirits and our hearts by false accusations and false identities of who we are. 

Too often, we are fighting battles already won. Too often, we are giving up ground we do not need to give up. Many years ago during the days of the settlers, a father and his son were traveling west when they encountered a huge fire that was burning all around them. The son was terrified, but the father placed the son in the middle of where the fire had been burning. At first, the son could not understand why he did this, but the father explained that the fire would not burn the same spot twice. He would be safe because the fire had already burned a safe spot for him. Here is the point. The Savior has paved the way for us. He has conquered ground on our behalf which means the enemy cannot touch us when we are standing on ground already secured by the Son. After doing all we can do to stand firm, we can take on the promise that the head of the serpent has been bruised and he does not have power over us as believers. 

So what ground are you giving over to the enemy? Where have you allowed the enemy to deceive you and take ground that has already been won by the Savior on the cross? Where have you allowed the name to corrupt that which is good? Do not allow the enemy to deceive you or accuse you any more.

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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