The Cost of Freedom

Peninsula Community Church 

The Cost of Freedom 

July 1, 2018 

Ephesians 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

As we read this passage, we find that Paul details two primary benefits we receive as believers in Christ. We know this is written to believers because he begins the verse with “In Him.” This phraseology is used to signify that we are in Him because of salvation through Christ. So as believers, we receive two amazing gifts or benefits. We are redeemed and we are forgiven. 

In regard to being redeemed, we find this is a word that means to buy back or pay a debt. In New Testament times, the term was a reference to slave trading. A slave could be set free if the right price would be paid on their behalf. It was a stiff price, but for those who wanted it, they could make it work. Once the freedom price had been paid, the new owner could release that slave. The slave was now free and never had to fear being sold into slavery again. 

Christ went to the cross as the spotless lamb to give Himself to purchase us from the slavery of sin. He was the sacrificial lamb that was slain so that the penalty of sin could be paid and we could be free from the power of sin. He did this by shedding His blood and paying the ultimate price. As Paul says here, He lavished us with the riches of His grace which paid in full the greatest of all gifts, our spiritual freedom.

This idea of the Lamb of God has been a theme of redemption from the beginning of time. Even as far back as Abraham and Isaac, you will recall that God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. He would be the one who would populate the world. Isaac was the promised son that God had given to Abraham to fulfill this promise. But there was a problem, God tested Abraham and commanded him to take Isaac and sacrifice him on an altar. 

Can you imagine the scene as they are climbing the mountain? Isaac is asking his father where the sacrifice is and Abraham’s answer over and over was God will provide. Abraham had a confidence in God, that if Isaac was the promised son, that God would provide an appropriate sacrifice. Abraham placed Isaac on the altar in obedience to God and drew his knife. God called to Abraham and showed him a lamb caught in the thicket. That lamb became the substitutionary sacrifice for Isaac. That is what Jesus did for us. Because the wages of sin is death, we deserved death, but Christ became our substitute and the wages of sin were paid for through His sacrifice. 

If we fast forward a few hundred years, we find the children of Israel under Egyptian rule and they have been for over 400 years. What started as a good relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh, quickly denigrated to one that set the Egyptians against the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel was in bondage and were slaves to the Egyptians. But God had a plan, God sent a messenger and a deliverer. Moses confronted Pharaoh, and after administering nine plagues, God had a plan to redeem the nation of Israel and to set them free. 

The children of Israel were instructed to take a unspotted and unblemished lamb. The lamb was was to be killed and the blood of the lamb was to be applied to the doorpost of their home. The idea was that the death angel was to pass over them because the blood of the lamb had been applied to the doorposts of their homes. They would not be affected by the death angel. The wages of death would not affect them because they would be redeemed by the blood.

As we fast forward to the New Testament, we find that John the Baptist makes a highly provocative statement for his day. As he sees Jesus approaching, he proclaims “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” How blasphemous this was in His day, but how true it was. Jesus was being ushered in as the one and only lamb that could redeem the world and set us free from our sin. He was the perfect lamb, that had been tasked with this mission. John the Baptist recognized this and in that moment he spread the word about Christ’s mission, His purpose, and His identity. 

As we know now, Christ died a brutal death upon the cross. In so doing, He secured our freedom. It cost Him His life. The slave price was paid for us and Christ secured our freedom once and for all. He died so we could be free. He died so we did not have to face the penalty of death or the penalty of our sin. Because the wages of sin is death, without Christ we would have to face death as a consequence of the sin we committed. But through Christ we have been redeemed. We were bought off the slave market. We were bought with the most precious price that could ever be imagined. It was a price that had to be exacted, so that His will and His purpose could be achieved through mankind and that was the salvation for those who choose Christ. 

Secondly, through the death of Christ we have received forgiveness. The mental bondage that comes from our sin has been erased. We have been forgiven. Imagine that every sin, every mistake, every failure that occurred has been forgiven. This is not something to be taken lightly. God removes our sin from us. Listen to David’s response to God’s forgiveness. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:10-12). We are forgiven and that means that God now deals with us in a different way. He does not deal with us as sinners, but as saints who are moving toward the perfection God is working in us. 

There is a story about a Catholic priest in the Philippines. He was a much-loved man of God who carried the burden of a secret sin he committed many years before. He had repented but still had no peace. He had no sense of God’s forgiveness. In his church, there was a woman who deeply loved God and claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Jesus and Jesus spoke with her. He tested the woman by saying to her, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask Him what sin your priest committed while he was in seminary.” The woman agreed. A few days later the priest asked, “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?” “Yes, He did,” she replied. “And did you ask Him what sin I committed in seminary?” “Yes.” “Well, what did He say?” “He said, ‘I don’t remember.’” This little story reminds us of the fact God forgives and He forgets our sin, even if we do not. God reminds us I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).

That is what Jesus did for us. The pile of sin’s bills in our life were too much for us to handle. We were weighed down under the legal requirements of that sin and the sins we committed. But, Jesus went to the cross and He paid the debt we had, so the sin we once experienced could no longer effect our life. It was paid completely and in total. The bill of sin is now stamped with the words debt paid in full. 

A number of years ago we had purchased a car from a friend. Because we could not afford to pay for the car in full, we arranged interest free payments with him. We had paid about one third of the cost when he invited me out for lunch one day. As we were talking at lunch, he took a piece of paper from his pocket and on the paper were the words “paid in full.” You see he took the debt we owed and forgave us of the debt. It was our debt, but he forgave us and we were debt free.  

How did Christ pay our debt? He did this according to the riches of his grace. Here is the point Paul is making. No matter how great the debt, no matter how much you think you owe, the riches of His grace is more than enough to redeem us from our sin and He forgives us of every sin ever committed. 

Today, we are often reminded of past sin. The enemy of our soul loves to remind us of what we have done. He loves to remind us of our past failures. He loves to condemn us and try to get us to look back rather than look to what Christ has done and that our future is bright because of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. 

When satan comes to condemn you with past sin, you have the right and the privilege to hold up your list of sin and the paid in full receipt. Your sin has been covered by His blood and you are fully forgiven. How powerful that would be if we could walk in the vision of who we are in Christ! It would save us from returning to our old way of life. It would prevent us from being stagnated in our current existence, because we are being reminded of past sin that has already been forgiven. 

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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Peninsula Community Church 

The Power of God’s Word

June 24, 2018 

Psalm 19:7-10 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Let me begin with a question this morning. What would you pay for a document or a tool that would give you solutions to life’s problems and would bring you great joy and wisdom? The fact is, we already have such a tool and such a document. It is called the Word of God. The problem, however, is that somewhere along the line, we have replaced the Word of God with psychology, secular counseling, new age philosophies, and secular mindsets. So many today do not believe they need God, therefore they believe they do not need His word! How sad and misplaced that is. It is sad because we have turned to those things that fail to embrace the power of God’s word as the source for help and assistance the with issues we face. Please note, that I am not opposed to counseling, but counseling apart from God’s word is not a healthy pursuit. 

In complete disclosure the outline of this message is one that I heard given by John MacArthur at Jack Hayford’s pastor’s conference a number of years ago. It is his outline but I have added my ideas and thoughts to the message. As we look at this passage, we find that Psalm 19 allows us to look into David’s heart and gain a greater understanding of the power of God’s word to bring change. Here we find that David lists six attributes of God’s word and what those attributes, when properly applied, can accomplish in the life of the believer. As we look at this passage, we must not miss the reality that all six of these attributes have one thing in common. All six attributes contain the phrase “of the Lord.” This settles the issue of authority and it confirms the source of the Word of God. The Word is powerful and sufficient because it has divine origins. This is the law of the Lord and not of man. Let us look at these six attributes this morning.

In verse 7, we find that the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. In essence, the law of God is the source and guide for all of man’s conduct. Today, man’s moral compass is off kilter. The result is that we seem to be flying upside down. The problem is that when Scripture is rejected as the sole moral compass of our life, we are left to our own devices to make sense of life. When that is our focus it does not always end well. I am thankful, however, that we have been given a fixed point of reference, and that fixed point of reference is the Word of God. Once we lose that, we are indeed lost. 

David says the law is perfect which carries the idea, not so much of being flawless, but that the Word of God is complete in every way. God’s law covers every aspect of life. It leaves nothing out. It is sweeping and complete in its effect. It is the completeness of the Word that gives it the power to restore the soul. Because it restores the soul, it can transform everyone who applies the Word to their heart and their way of life. Through God’s Word, that which was broken is made whole. That which was dead is now alive. That which was lost has been found.

Secondly, David proclaims that the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The essence of this passage is that God’s Word is the testimony of the Lord. It is God’s self-revelation. To know God, read the Scripture and through it’s pages we see Him revealed. That is because the Bible is God’s personal testimony. It is the revelation of who He is.

David states that the testimony of the Lord is sure which means that it is absolutely reliable and trustworthy. The result of its reliability is that it gives the simple wisdom. The word simple, as used here, means to be ignorant and without understanding. In the Hebrew language, the root of the word means “an open door.” To have an open door means that we let everything in but we also let everything out. Scripture says that even a fool is thought to be wise until he opens his mouth. From a mental standpoint this term relates to the inability to discern and distinguish truth from fact.

Today, we are encouraged by many to be open minded, but in those days, if you were to say you had an open mind, people would say, “Well close the door.” The point is, you need to know what to keep in and what to keep out. A door is a point of discretion. When it comes to the mind, you should not be proud that you let everything in and for that matter everything out. We must close the door and be aware of what goes in and comes out of our mind. The word of God does that for us. It teaches us discernment. It teaches us to have good judgement and higher standards. It teaches us to distinguish between truth and lies. It takes the simple and makes them wise.

Third, the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart. Through Scripture comes doctrine, dogma, and propositional truth. As the Word of God, it sets down truths to be believed and these truths are right. This is not so much right as opposed to wrong, but it is a matter of heading in the right direction. Therefore, it is the Word that sets us on the right path. 

In Psalm 119:105 David proclaimed, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and light to my path.” The Word is not just a lamp and a light, it is the path. In life, there is a way which seems right unto a man, but that way ends in death (Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25). Scripture’s testimony is that we are to walk in the precepts of God. It is all about the path we are taking. Thus, when you walk in His way, the result is rejoicing in the heart. His way is the path of joy. It is through God’s Word that we receive exuberant joy that overflows into celebration. It is the right path.

Fourth, in verse 8, David proclaims, the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. This is not a book of suggestions. This is not a book of good thoughts and nice ideas. These are commandments from the sovereign king of the universe who has total authority over every aspect of life. Notice here that the commandments of the Lord are pure. The idea presented in the Hebrew language is that the commandments are clear. They are transparent and translucent, and not opaque. They are not hard. The commandments are not pointless because God made them clear and understandable. To say the Bible is not clear is an indictment of God as that would put us in an impossible situation. This is the problem that arises if we do not believe that the Word is clear. God does not ask us to do anything that He does not make clear through His Word. By following the commandments of the Lord, we can see clearly what He has intended for us, and it becomes easy to obey His commands. 

Fifth, in verse 9, we find that “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” The way fear is used here is a reference to reverence, awe, and worship. The fact is, the Bible is a manual on worship. It tells us how we should worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Scripture defines the One to be worshiped and how He is to be worshiped. This is a testimony to Scripture’s inerrancy, it is clean and it is pure. How do we know? We know this because Scripture never changes and it lasts forever.

Finally, the judgments of the Lord are true, they are righteous altogether. In society today, we do not like the term judgement, but the reality is judgement is a necessary part of what God does. Judgment is the act that makes grace what it is. Without judgment, grace would not be such a beautiful gift. The difference between our judgments and His judgments is that His judgments are absolutely true and accurate.

The truth is, Scripture gives us God’s verdict on everything. It is decisive and true. In a world of lies and in a world of deception, Scripture is absolutely true and reliable. As a result, the phrase, “they are righteous altogether,” can be translated as producing comprehensive righteousness. In John 17:17 Christ proclaimed, Sanctify them by thy truth, thy word is truth.” His Word is that which sanctifies and brings glory to His name because it is true and it is reliable. 

When all is said and done we know this, Scripture is God’s law, God’s testimony, God’s precepts, God’s commands, God’s manual on worship, and it is His judgments. It is comprehensive, perfect, sure, right, clear, clean, and true. It totally transforms the whole person. It makes the undiscerning skilled in all aspects of living. It produces an unassailable joy. It makes the dark things light, and it endures forever. Every culture, every place, every age, and every person finds it relevant and that it restores life.

As a result, when we look at verse 10, we understand the value of God’s Word in our life. Listen to David’s words. The Words of God “are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” The Word of God is more precious than anything. It is to be desired more than the best gold. It better than anything the world has to offer as it is eternal, powerful, and all sufficient. It is more precious than the best commodity the world has to offer. It is sweeter than anything life can bring.

I love John MacArthur’s comment in this regard. If you have a choice between the Word of God and GOLD, choose the Word of God. If you have a choice between the Word of God and MUCH gold, choose the Word of God. If you have a choice between the Word of God and much FINE gold, choose the Word of God. The point is plain. The benefits of knowing and doing the Word of God are greater than all that money can buy.

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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Who Are You?

Peninsula Community Church 

Who Are You?

June 17, 2018

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Today is Father’s Day. It is the day we set aside to celebrate dads and all that fatherhood means! In preparing for this message, I came across this quote from Mark Twain who gave the following insight into fatherhood. “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned.” Charles Swindoll said that “A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.” And then Kent Nerburn said “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.”

I think we would all agree that fatherhood, as we know it, is being challenged. In most sitcoms, the father is portrayed as a bumbling idiot who is constantly failing in his role as a father. We continue to witness a culture that has become antagonistic toward the ideals of biblical fatherhood! Truthfully, the value of manhood as a whole is being weakened. Rather than finding their God given role and place in the kingdom of God, men have abrogated their responsibility to others. They have abrogated their responsibility to their wife, the school system, the media, and the government. And of course all of these have been willing accomplices. 

Much has changed since the days where fathers worked side by side with their family on the farm day and night. It was here the family would talk and life lessons would be learned. Both statistically and historically studies have shown that after WWI and WWII fathers returned home numbed by the harsh experiences of war. These men were tested not just physically but emotionally as well. Additionally, with the arrival of the industrial revolution, men began to travel to work rather than work at home or in the community they lived. They would leave home early in the morning and would return late in the evening. Once home they would eat dinner, go to bed, and get up the next morning to do it all over again. Please note this does not mean that every father is bad or that fatherhood is dead. What it means is that we must come to a greater understanding of what fatherhood means in light of the Gospel and all that God has done for us. That is the point of this message. 

So with that in mind, I want to speak to you about what it means to be a real man. The world today is trying to get us to measure up to their idea of manhood and fatherhood which is a wimpy, feminized manhood. God wants us to be real men, with real strength. The real measure we need to take is God’s plan is for our life and not what societal norms dictate. Why is this? It is because societal norms change from day-to-day, but God’s word never changes and it always provides the foundation we need to live life to the fullest. I suggest to you there are four questions that need to be considered when dealing with the subject of being a real man.

The first question we must consider is who am I? This speaks specifically to our identity. This question must be answered because if it is not settled in our mind we will be forever trying to find answers in unhealthy ways. The result is that we will work a lifetime to measure up to all of the wrong things. We will seek to live up to the identity placed on us by some one else, rather than our God given destiny.

John Piper stated that “Christian selfhood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does to us and the relationship He creates with us and the destiny He appoints for us. God made us who we are so we could make known who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known his identity.”

The truth is, if we are honest, we will acknowledge that we often feel insecure about who we are. It seems that those who hide it best, often deal with the pain and difficulty of insecurity the most. As we investigate Scripture, we find that our insecurity is really an invitation from God to escape the danger of false beliefs, about who we are, so we can find true peace in who He is.

Scripture tells us that in Christ we become a new creation at salvation. In being a new creation, we do not lose ourselves but in fact in Christ, we actually find ourselves. It is only in Him that we find our true self, as we are His creation and we are His workmanship. In Him, our joy becomes His joy. His love becomes our love. His peace becomes our peace. His strength becomes our strength. Then and only then can we begin to understand our identity. 

Too often, we try to find our identity in our jobs. We search for our identity in what we do and perhaps in how well we keep all of the rules. We search for our identity in how much money we have. We search for our identity in our success. Now there is no problem with any of these things in themselves, but too often we seek our identity in these things apart from Christ. That never ends well when we do that. So who are you today? Have you found your identity in Christ or do you continue to try and find your identity in everything apart from Christ and His will for you. 

The second question is whose am I? Who do you belong to? Who are you connected to? As a believer we belong to God. We are His. Too often, we struggle with the knowledge of who we are accountable to. The man who knows he is a creation of Almighty God and the redeemed of a loving Savior is likely to live a different kind of life from one who does not. We belong to God. We are His! Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 7:22-23 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. Here is the truth, we belong to Christ. He has purchased us and He has bought us with a price that could never be matched. We belong to Him!

The third question is What am I here for? To live full lives we need to know what our role or purpose is in life? Why has God put us here on earth? Is the purpose just to find ourself, express ourself, fulfill ourself, or is each person here for a higher, nobler purpose? We must be reminded that your job, your heritage, your wealth or lack thereof does not fully define you. Your purpose in Christ does define you and make you who you are. 

You see, once you recognize who you are and whose you are, you can then begin to effectively understand what you are here for. In the Westminster Catechism the question is posed, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Man’s chief purpose on earth is to glorify God. We glorify God in our family, on our jobs, in our hobbies, and in all that we do. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that … whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. And then Paul in Colossians 3:17 states that whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

What am I here for? It is to give God glory. So it does not matter what you do for a living. It does not matter your heritage. It does not matter what your heritage is. It does not matter your social or financial standing is. What matters is do you glorify God in all of these things. 

And finally, we must answer the question where am I going? Someone has said that the destination is not as important as the journey. While this is true we must succeed in life by knowing where we are going. If we do not know our destination we will tend to drift and we will ramble through life without a purpose or a plan. That can be boring, dissatisfying, and confusing.

To fully understand this principle we need only to look at the life of beleaguered Job. I love his testimony. In the midst of his excoriating pain and suffering, in the darkness of his soul’s depression, his faith was still intact. He called out, For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27).

Why did Job survive the difficulties that he experienced? He did so because he had an eternal perspective on his life. He knew who he was. He knew who he belonged to. He knew his purpose in life and he knew his destiny. He knew that this life was not the end. There was more to come. That encouraged and motivated Job to overcome every issue he faced. We too will overcome every problem that we encounter when we set that problem against the template of eternity. 

So how are you doing with these four questions? Who are you? Whose are you? What is your purpose? Where are going? When we answer these questions effectively, we no longer try to measure up against society’s norm or what others think we should be. We will be the man, and for that matter, the woman God has called you to be. My prayer is make it so Lord!

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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More Than Conquerors 

Peninsula Community Church

More Than Conquerors 

June 10, 2018 

Romans 8:35, 37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As we look at the words of Paul today, the first realization we have is that life happens. We all face problems, difficulties, and trials. Jesus Himself stated I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Notice what Jesus says. In Him you will have peace, but in the world you will have tribulation. Does this mean that we stick our head in the sand and never interact with the world around us? No, that is not the point at all. What Jesus is encouraging is that when we have a right view of Him, we find our peace in Him. We also find that He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Because our peace is in Him, no matter what comes at us, we will be able to overcome it. To know that He has already overcome the world, should bring us peace.

In our passage, Paul asks somewhat of a rhetorical question which he then answers. He asks “What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He then proceeds to list a number of things that invade our space and causes problems. Each of these have a potential to disrupt life and cause us to believe that God somehow does not love us any more. In our humanity, apart from God, it seems that any of these things could take us out. We find that tribulation is the pressure that comes from outside. Distress is that pressure that comes from within. And then of course, there is persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword! All of these things impact our lives. All of these things want to take us out. 

As Paul lists these possibilities, he emphatically answers the rhetorical question by saying there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Nothing! No thing! No situation! No problem! None of the issues Paul listed is able to separate us from His love. Later in the verse, we find that He goes into even more detail. He says For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To fully understand this, we must understand the love of God. First of all, too often we equate God’s love to human love. When it comes to human love, we have been deceived, forsaken, and forgotten. This world does not always provide us with a good example of love because our view of love is often predicated on our personal experience with love. We tend to place onto God the failures of those who failed us. We place onto God the hurts of those who have hurt us. We place onto God the rejection we have experienced. The result is that we believe that God’s love wavers and ebbs and flows based on how people treat us or what circumstances we face. 

But, God’s love does not ebb and flow. God’s love is eternal and it is everlasting. How do we know this? We know this because He loved us before the foundation of the world, and He already had in motion His plan for redemption. The blessing is that you and I are a part of His plan. When He went to the cross, He had you on His mind. He thought of you when He died. When He took His last breath, He had you on His mind. In fact, if you were the only one on earth He would have died and He would have given Himself, just for you. Why? Because He loved you with an everlasting love and He still loves you with that kind of love.

You see unless we understand God’s love the way it really is, we will never understand that His love never fails and that He never fails us. Moses gives us some insight into the love of God in Exodus 34:6-7. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,  keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Here is the point. We must understand that God loves us and that His love is not contingent upon the issues we face. He loves us and continues to love us no matter what comes. We know the depth of His love because it cost Him everything. He modeled His love by giving us what we did not deserve and it seems sometimes the more undeserving we feel the more He gives. Only as we recognize God’s love for us can we understand there is nothing that can separate us from His love. So, do you know His love?

Paul says that nothing can separate us from His love but he also helps us to see that because of His love we are more than conquerors. Notice that it is through Christ that we are conquerors. The word Paul uses for conqueror is the word “nikao.” You might be familiar with the word Nike. The word nikao is the word where Nike is derived. Specifically, the verb ‘nikao’ means to conquer, to vanquish, or to overcome.

Secondly, the word conqueror is prefaced by the words “more than.” The idea presented in this phrase is that there is an abundant and an overwhelming ability to conquer. Therefore, we are not just a conqueror, we are more than a conqueror. We do not just get by, but we more than exceed. We do not just conquer, we completely overcome. How often do we live in the mentality that we are going to just get by? We do not exceed expectations, but we stay on the margin. When this happens we can be motivated to settle for less than what God has for us. God’s plan for us is that we will be more than a conqueror. Because of His love, His plan is that we live above and beyond and not to just get by. We must be “more than conquerors.”

The problem is that too often we allow the enemy to get a foothold in our life when we live as a victim rather than a victor. In our society, today, there is a pervasive mindset that we are victims. Thus everyone is a victim and since everyone is a victim we are easily offended. We live as a victim which diminishes our ability to overcome and be effective. Thus succumbing to a victim mentality demoralizes and weakens us. It is almost impossible to walk in victory, as we will always find fault and we will blame others for our failures, our lack of joy, and our ability to move forward in the things of God. Once we renounce a victim mentality, we can begin to take responsibility for our sin, our wrong, and our failures. Then and only then can we accept God’s love. Then and only then can we walk in victory. But as long as we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our actions, we will not be able to live victoriously and we will certainly not be able accept His love as He meant it. 

We must also understand that with all of the tactics of the enemy, Satan lacks the power to steal our eternal destiny, and he cannot separate us from the love of God. The problems of life cannot separate us. Nothing we face worries God in the least. If we are His children through faith in His Son, then we have His pledge of love and protection. In John 10:27–29, Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Because of Jesus’s resurrection, all threats against you are tamed. Jesus conquered death, so death and evil are not the end of the story.

To be more than a conqueror means that before you ever get a problem, you already know that whatever problem comes your way, you can overcome it through Jesus Christ. You can live with confidence that God loves you no matter what and He will never leave you nor forsake you. That is a promise! When you have this kind of relationship with Christ, you are not constantly afraid of bad news or of things that may happen that are not in your plan. When the unexpected happens or you are disappointed, you will not be devastated by it.

This is an amazing truth and Paul encapsulates all of this in one verse. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).

Therefore, since we know that God loves us, we do not have to worry about being destroyed or conquered. We are more than conquerors! We do not have to fear what comes our way. We are more than conquerors! We do not have to worry about any external or internal force overcoming us. We are more than conquerors! He loves us and when we follow Him wholeheartedly, we do not have to fear defeat because He loves us and we are more than conquerors.

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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God Is For You

Peninsula Community Church 

God Is For You

June 3, 2018 

Romans 8:31-35 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

In this passage, Paul presents three thought provoking questions. First, he asks if God is for us who can be against us? Secondly, he asks who will bring a charge against God’s elect? His third and final question is even more thought provoking. Who or what can separate us from the love of God? These questions go to the core of our idea or concept of who God is and whether we really believe He is all powerful. These questions and their subsequent answers have a direct correlation to the level of trust we will have in God and how much we will depend on Him to be our source of strength and help. We need to come to terms with these questions because if we cannot answer these questions correctly, we will struggle with the issues of life even more. 

As we review these questions, we should consider some of the lies that are propagated against us. One of the great lies propagated by the enemy is that when bad things happen, we believe that God has somehow stopped loving us or He loves us less. We are trapped into believing that our goodness or lack thereof changes God’s love for us. The lie is that if we are good enough, God will love us, and if we are not good, He will not love us as much. This often comes as a result of our view of love. Too often, we are try to gain people’s love and our success is measured by that level of love. 

Secondly, we can feel that the whole world is against us when we try to stand for the truth. The lie propagated here is that we are alone and have been forsaken. This is a difficult place to be. When we feel that we are up against the world, it is painful and exasperating. This is illustrated by Elisha and his servant. From the servant’s perspective what he saw was a fierce enemy that was about to attack them. The servant felt alone and devastated, but Elisha had a different perspective. He saw beyond the visible to see God at work and there was a whole army surrounding them. 

We are not alone, because God is with us and He is protecting us. Listen to 2 Kings 6:15-17 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. May God open our eyes to see God is for us.

A third lie is that when bad things happen to us, we are devalued by the problems we encounter. Too often our value is determined by how good or bad things are. If things are good and going according to our plan, then we must be good. If things are bad, then we must be bad. That is a wrong mindset and is one that is destructive because we look to others and things apart from God to bring us satisfaction. Even worse, we believe that if things are good, then God is good and if things are bad, then God is bad. We are deceived into thinking that our view of ourselves and of God is measured by the circumstances in our life, rather than the unchanging truth of who God is, and what He has provided for us through His grace. 

It is noteworthy here that the word “if” does not denote doubt, as in can God could do this, but rather it is a conclusion that has been reached by Paul. As the word “if” is used here, it is the recognition of a consequence or an affirmation signifying since. That is, since God is God, He will not forsake us. The argument is this, because God is for us nothing or no one can be against us. There are forces that oppose the believer, but nothing can successfully overthrow us when we are following God with our whole heart. The world may give way, but God will always be there. 

The fact is God has always been for us and we see this communicated in the following verses. Isaiah 54:16-17 Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its purpose. I have also created the ravager to destroy; no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.” 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

There is much that is against us and there is much that aims to take us out. In Romans 8 alone we see some things aimed at us with a goal to take us out. Look at these. There is the condemnation of past of sin which has already been forgiven. The sinful nature is at war with His spirit. We face sufferings. The body is decaying and is filled with pain and weakness. There is much to fight against us. After all, we have an enemy according to 1 Peter 5:8 who wants to take us out. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

While all of this is true, to dispel the lies and fully grasp the truth there is nothing that can come against us, we must know that He is for us. We begin by acknowledging that He is for us. In this chapter there is concrete evidence that He is for us and not against us. Let’s look at the evidence. The first exhibit that we know that God is for us is that He has given us His Son. In one of the most sacrificial acts of the ages, God sent His son to die for every sin that had ever been committed, is being committed, or will ever be committed (verses 3 and 32). 

What more could God do than send His own Son into this world to be our Savior? Surely this is sufficient proof that He is for us as seen in John 3:16. In Romans 8:32, we are told not only that God did not withhold His own Son, but He delivered Him up for us all. He entered the world to become a sacrifice for our sins and to offer Himself upon the cross of Calvary. The result is that God guarantees to give us “all things.” He gives us everything we need to survive and make it through this war zone. God is for us!

The second piece of evidence that proves that God is for us is that He has settled the question of sin. As we saw last week it is sin that is at the root of every problem in life. God is for us because He dealt with not just sin, but the power of sin to control our life. Apart from Him, we were condemned (John 3:18); but no more. He died as our sin-bearer, savior, and substitute for us. We are no longer under condemnation (John 5:24). So then, who can charge us or condemn us? Christ died and He rose to be exalted at the right hand of God the Father, to intercede for us. He has justified us once and for all. He has removed the penalty of condemnation from us forever. God is for us!

The third piece of evidence that proves that God is for us is the fact that He has given us His Spirit. He did not leave us to our own demise. He sent us the necessary support and the helper we need. It is noteworthy that while Romans 7 never mentions the Spirit, we find that in Romans 8 the Spirit is mentioned twenty times. The Spirit has come to live within us. This is true of every child of God. He indwells us to give life (verse 10). His indwelling guarantees our resurrection (verses 11, 23). He is in us to emancipate us (verse 13). He is our constant guide (verse 14). He leads us according to God’s will. He gives us the assurance that we really are the Lord’s (verse 16). He indwells us to be our Helper (verse 26). God is for us!

The fourth piece of evidence that proves God is for us is He has adopted us into His family and has made us joint-heirs with His Son (verses 14-17). Notice the word ‘sonship’ in verse 15 and try to grasp that stupendous thought. God has brought us into His family. He is our Heavenly Father and we can utter those most precious words “Abba, Father.” These words are a child’s first cry of recognition and relationship. He then goes beyond this because verse 17 tells us that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ! God is for us!

The final piece of evidence for us to know that God is for us is that He has guaranteed our future. Romans 8:35-39 makes a triumphant conclusion to this great chapter, and includes the final evidence that God is for us. Nothing in time or eternity, in heaven or on earth, no force of evil, no demon from hell, absolutely nothing will ever separate us from the Lord and from His love for us. God is for us!

So yes, God is for us, but there is one question we must ask: are we for Him? Are you? Are you on the Lord’s side? If so, banish your fears and doubts and be content in the assurance that “since God is for me, who can successfully be against me?” Our view of God will make a difference in our view of life. We can view God as a genie, or we can view him as an ATM but both are faulty views of the Heavenly Father. Remember your view of God will determine your outlook on life.

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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He Cares For You

Peninsula Community Church

He Cares For You

May 27, 2018 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Best is Yet to Come

Peninsula Community Church

The Best is Yet to Come

May 13, 2018 

Romans 8:18-25 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

A number of years ago I did the funeral for a lady in our church. In preparing for the service, the family had requested that at the end of the service I would place a fork in the casket before they closed it. When I asked them why, they stated that their mom loved dessert. When she would clear the table after dinner, she would always say “keep your fork because the best is yet to come.” What she meant was that dessert was on the way and for her that was always the best part of the meal. As we review this passage, we find Paul saying there is much that happens in life, but the best is yet come. 

With that understanding let us consider a couple of important truths. Paul begins Romans 8:18 with the word “consider” which means to make a numerical calculation. It means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to deliberate, and to weigh. The idea is one of careful study or reasoning which results in coming to a specific conclusion. So what is the specific conclusion Paul wants us to consider? It is this. Paul is saying I have weighed out the trials I am experiencing now and I have weighed out the glory that is to be revealed and what I found is that the glory to come far outweighs any problems associated with my present condition. Paul has “mentally and spiritually weighed” the evidence and has come to the conclusion that something better is coming and that brings him hope.

As we read this passage, we find that the word suffer is pluralized which means of course that there is more than one problem. Have you ever noticed that when problems come there is usually not just a singular problem but they seem to come in multiples? The point is that in life we will have sufferings. We will have problems, multiple problems. Our heart will be broken. We will sense the pain of sorrow and difficult issues which seem almost unresolvable. We will be confronted by health issues that blindside us. Our children and other family members will disappoint us and fall short of the potential we believe they have. There will be arguments, fights, and issues will arise that seem impossible to overcome. We will have sufferings.

Secondly, Paul clarifies that he is looking at the sufferings we face in the present time. He calls it “present sufferings.” Paul is saying this is not the suffering of the past. It is not some future suffering we may face. It is what we are going through right now. There have been some that I speak with that share their pain and suffering. When you dig into their story, you find that the problems they are discussing occurred sometime in the past, and yet they share the problem as if it is a current issue. The problem most often is that their past problems have begun to define who they are in the present. You may be divorced, but divorce does not have to define you. You may have had serious sin issues in the past, but that does not have to define you now. Get the point. There are others times that we are perplexed by future issues that may or may not even occur. We spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying over what may never happen. In this regard, I love the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:34. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Jesus understood that we have enough to worry about today, so there is no reason to be concerned about past issues or future problems.

Thirdly, Paul states that whatever we go through now, no matter how great or painful they are, they cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed. That future glory has not been revealed, yet, but it is coming. In other words, be patient and hold on. Just as the mom, who could not wait for dessert, would proclaim the best is yet to come, the glory that is to come also reminds us that the best is yet to come for us. Yes, we have problems, but the best is yet to come. One problem we encounter is that we are impatient. We want things now. We do not want to wait. We want instant healing. We want growth without pain. We want advancement without hard work. We want instant gratification and instant results. We are impatient people.

Paul lets us in on a secret in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. He states, But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. God knows what you are going through this morning, and the best is yet to come.

Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary on Romans that The difference between the present degree of pain we experience and the blessedness to which God has appointed His people is so immensely different that there is no way to compare them. Any comparison we come up with falls short. When you are discouraged by your troubles, know that what is to come for you in Christ will be so much more wonderful than all of your pain. We see this in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. … we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Paul stated that For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Think about this. Paul is saying that hope is always in the unseen. That is why it is hope. Hope that sees the future is not hope at all. For that reason, God gives calls to hope in the glory that is to come, and not in the difficulties we face in this moment of time. In life, we face two great paradoxes: the futility of suffering and the hope of suffering. Paul does not minimize the suffering we face. In fact, Paul knew better than anyone what it meant to suffer for Christ. He knew what it meant to be beaten and be left for dead. He knew what it meant to be sick. He knew what it meant to pray for healing, but healing did not come. He knew what it meant to be betrayed by those close to him. He knew all of this and yet he could express such a hope in a future glory, because His hope was not in the circumstances or the events he faced. He had a “yet to come” perspective. 

In this matter, there are two things to consider in regard to the coming glory of Christ. One is that God’s glory is revealed on the earth, and second His full glory will not be experienced until we go to be with Christ in heaven. Perhaps, it would be helpful to understand the word “glory.” Glory has been defined as the manifestation of God’s presence. Here on earth there are moments when God’s presence is revealed in powerful ways, but His full glory comes when He brings us home with Him and we get to live in His presence for eternity. 

As humans, we experience pain in different ways. This is evident most often in the questions we ask. One of the great questions that is poised by so many of us is “How much more can I bear?” “What else is going to happen to me or them?” “Why is this happening?” “Why is this happening now?” “How am I going to make it through this?” “Why me?” “Why them?” And on and on go the questions. 

When we realize that the best is yet to come, we can endure the difficulties of the present time. The result is that we will have hope and we will be focused on a greater day and a greater opportunity for the presence of God to be manifested. So in the end, this all comes back to where our focus will be. Will we focus on the present problems, or the coming glory of God? Will we focus on the difficulties we face, or the promise that the best is yet to come? 

So where is your focus? Remember Paul started this chapter with the statement that “there is therefore now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” When we are focused on eternity and the coming glory of God, we are less likely to be condemned by the our current circumstances, because our hope is in Christ. So what are you going through? Do you need some dessert? Keep your fork because the best is yet to come. How many are facing some difficult times right now? Who needs some dessert? I have some! 

Let us pray!

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