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We Do Not Have to Battle Alone

Peninsula Community Church 

We Do Not Have to Battle Alone

July 22, 2018

Exodus 17:8-14 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Throughout the Bible, we find stories of battles fought. It is noteworthy that every battle described in Scripture was different in its scope, different in how it was fought, and different in how God intervened each time. The bottom line is that each time a battle was fought and won, those in the battle had to commit to God, follow His will and His way, and trust Him no matter what they were asked to do. Many times, God had to clear the way of their fears, their hesitations, and their concerns in order to focus them totally and completely on His ability to fight for them. In so doing, each battle was won in amazing fashion and certainly not in what we would consider the usual ways. Each of these events were in reality a test to see how much those in the battle would surrender themselves to God and to His ways. 

As we review these battles, we find the battles that ensued were not a fair fight. The army confronting Israel was always bigger, more powerful, and better equipped than the armies of Israel. In a human sense, there was no way they could win. There was no way they could overcome the odds against them. In a human sense, they were already dead and were already defeated, before the battle even began. The truth, however, was that the God who was fighting for them was always greater than any enemy that could ever confront Israel and for that matter confront us. That is why John could unequivocally state in 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. 

Do you grasp that this morning? The God we serve, the God who has redeemed us, the God that is living in the depths of our hearts, has and continues to overcome every enemy we encounter. Here is the question I need to answer and so do you. “How different would I live if I truly grasped the concept that God has the power to overcome every situation in my life?” Would I live in fear and faithlessness, or would I live a humbly fearless life fully confident of God’s power and ability to fight every battle I encounter. Sadly, too often, we do not live with that expectancy.

To help us address this question, over the next couple of weeks, we will look at some of the Biblical battles found in Scripture so as to learn how they were won. We will also consider the lessons we can learn that will help us fight the battles we face with greater clarity, wisdom, patience, and grace. By grasping these lessons, we can have a greater understanding of the God we serve and who is on our side. Remember what Paul said in Romans 8. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Notice this, we are not conquerors in ourselves or our ability, but in Christ, the one who gave His life so we could live in the abundance of all He has done. 

As I was preparing for this, I was wondering, how often do we live in less than the full power of God? I think that too often we try to live off of the crumbs and the morsels rather than pulling up to the table to live within that which has been prepared for us. Some years ago, a man had saved all of his money to travel to America. This happened before the invention of airplanes. He purchased his ticket and the day came to board the ship and head to America. 

Each evening he would retire to his room where he would eat the canned fish and crackers that he brought with him for the trip. Towards the end of the trip, he was on one of the decks and he met the captain of the ship. The captain introduced himself, and after some discussion the captain stated that he had missed him at dinner each night. The man seemed confused and explained that he could not afford the meals and that that he had brought his own food. The captain shook his head in disappointment and said you must have misunderstood. You see your ticket includes the meals each day. The sad part of this is the man was not living from the fullness of what was already provided for him. How many times do we do this? Sometimes we face battles only to be reminded that we have an abundance of blessing from God.

Today, we will briefly look at the battle fought by Israel against the Amalekites in Moses’ day. In this story, we find that Israel encounters the Amalekites at Rephidim. They were about to go to war. It did not matter what they did, they were going to have to face this enemy. So based on the news that war was unavoidable, what does Moses do? He commands Joshua to choose men and go and fight with Amalek. What did Moses do personally? He went up on the mountain with his staff or rod, as well as with Aaron and Hur. From there, he watched the battle below, but he was not inactive. Notice that as long as he kept his arms lifted with the rod in his hands, Israel was winning the battle, but as soon as his arms were lowered, they began to lose. As the day progressed, Moses became tired. He was weary. He needed help. Aaron and Hur stepped up and became the support he needed in that moment. 

This speaks to us that we do not have to be martyrs when it comes to the battles we face in life. We need to allow people to come around us to hold us up when the battle is overwhelming us.  We need to remove the mask of self-sufficiency and admit we need help. You see the enemy loves to get us to do a couple of things when we are tired and battle weary. First, we have a tendency to give up and concede the battle. The problem is that the enemy realizes that if he fights hard enough we will concede, so, he learns not to give up his fight. He will continue to fight us with all that he has because he knows we will eventually give up. But we do not have succumb to this, but rather we can stand and when we have done all to stand, we can stand in the armor that God has given us. 

Secondly, we often engage in battles that are not ours. Here we see the battle was Joshua’s to win. Joshua was the warrior and Moses was the intercessor. Joshua was the one who was to fight the battle, but Moses was to pray and to support Joshua and the warriors. This can be the hardest position to be in. There is a battle but it is not our battle. There is an illness. There is a personal issue. There is problem. And there is nothing we can do but pray. But prayer is the most powerful tool in our arsenal.

Thirdly, we may not give up, but we begin to isolate and hide. In isolation, we are a target for the enemy to attack us and minimize the work of God in us. Sometimes isolation is good for a time of reflection and prayer, but too often we can become so isolated that we do not let anyone in to help us. We reject the help of others and try to fight all alone.

So what do you do? It is at this moment that we have a choice to make. Will we isolate, or will we engage with others who can assist us? One of the greatest problems we face is the pride and fear of going it alone in life. It is prideful to say we do not need anyone to help us. Fear also moves us to fight alone because in fear we do not trust others. We believe we are tough, independent, and capable of handling things on our own. Conversely, we need to take off the mask of self-sufficiency, pride, and fear to acknowledge that we need help.

I am reminded of the story of one of the greatest preachers in history, Charles Spurgeon. Many of you do not know him, but his sermons today continue to be referenced by modern pastors. He pastored one of the largest churches in London, England for years. People were coming to Christ and the church was growing every year. He was a successful pastor in every sense. While on the outside his ministry seemed to be effective, inside he had a battle raging. You see, he dealt with a heavy depression. You see, he was being criticized for his ministry. Even though the church was growing, he often felt ineffective and felt that he was failure. At 22 he was preaching and a prankster started yelling fire. Chaos ensued and that night seven people died because they were trampled to death and 28 others were severely injured that night. His wife proclaimed that she thought he would never preach again. 

With all of this, he knew he could not fight this battle by himself. So, he asked a group of intercessors to meet in the room just below the platform where he would be speaking. Their job was to pray for him as he was ministering the gospel. They were in essence lifting his hands in battle. They were supporting him. The result was he was able to preach with even greater victorious power.

So this morning, are you isolating yourself when you really need help? Do you feel trapped because you are engaged in what seems to be a losing battle? Does it feel the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Do you feel overwhelmed? You see as powerful as Moses was, he needed help. He needed people to come into his life. Rather than isolate, we need to invest in others who will share hope and will encourage us. Do not be afraid to let others in. The fact is fear is a liar. Because of fear and anxiety, we isolate and we disconnect. Moses gives us the example however that we need help. We need people to engage with us as we fight the battles we face. Will you?

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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James – Don’t Be Restless

Peninsula Community Church

June 30, 2013

James – Don’t be Restless

James 5:7-11 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

As we look at this text today, let me ask you a question. What causes you to be anxious? What causes you to toss and turn at night? For some, what causes you to bite your nails? For others, what causes you to eat to try to calm your nerves? For still others, what causes you to drink alcohol in excess or even greater still to turn drugs to calm your emotions?

How many like to wait? I have found that I do everything fast. I eat fast. I shower and get dressed fast. I play sports fast. The problem with doing everything fast is that it does not allow much rest. I am always in high gear. The problem is that I seldom sit and rest as I am always in motion. I am learning to sit and rest.

The point is we all experience times of anxiety. It is a part of who we are. As with other emotions, we have been created with the emotion of anxiety. It is a normal reaction to stressors in our lives. If, however anxiety becomes excessive or we never move beyond looking at the problems of life then we need to look deeper into what is causing the anxiety. It is the symptom, not the problem. We must understand that anxiety is a part of our makeup. It serves the  purpose of warning us when something is not right. It is like the warning system on our car that says there is a problem.  The warning light is not the problem it only points to a problem. So it is with anxiety, it is only a mechanism that points us to a problem.

James gives us a command here. He says to “Be patient, until The Lord comes.” The word he uses here for “patient” actually can be translated “long-tempered.” The words endure and patience mean to remain under. These words speak of “endurance” through difficult times and under great stress. One commentary translated the word this way. Patience means to “stay put and stand fast when you’d feel like running away.” Some scholars believe that long suffering refers to “patience” when dealing with people, while “endurance” refers to patience when dealing with conditions or situations.

The first illustration he uses is one of the farmer. The farmer is patient about the fruit of his labors. The farmer takes the necessary steps to prepare his soil, choose the seed, plant at the right time, fertilize with the correct fertilizer and then he waits. When the farmer has done all he can do, he waits. There is nothing he can do to expedite the growth of the seed other than what he has already done. When we have done all that we know to do, we wait patiently upon The Lord. We do not know the outcome but we are patient. I do not know any farmer that plants and then stands in the field to be sure the seed grows. He has a trust in the seed, in the fertilizer and the outcome that is up to the natural processes of plant growth.

Farming in essence is an act of faith. You plant and you wait. Why does the farmer wait so long? The fruit is precious and it is of great value to the farmer. As believers, God is calling us to faithfulness. We do what we know to do and then leave the rest to God, without any measure of anxiousness. The outcome of our lives is that we mature and the fruit of the spirit is cultivated in our hearts. As with the farmer, we don’t always see results right away but below the surface things are happening. There is a germination that is taking place and then suddenly up sprouts a shoot of life. It is a testimony to the process of waiting.

It is important to note that the farmer is not idle while he is waiting for the harvest. He is preparing his equipment. He is getting the storage bins ready. The result of being anxious and restless is that we fail to do what we need to do to get ready for the harvest in our lives.

We can do all of those things and yet still have to wait.

Look at these passages with me. Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 

Psalm 37:5-6 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 37:4 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off. 

Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 

It is interesting to note that the opposite of patient is anxiety, fear and nervousness. God has never called us to be anxious.  

Philippians 4:5-7 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What do we do while we wait?

  1. We do what we know to do based on the knowledge that has been revealed to us in the moment.
  2. We obey God’s commands to the best of our ability.
  3. We correct the areas in our lives that need correcting.
  4. We stay in the word which is an anchor for our souls.
  5. We focus on Christ knowing that he will lead us to where we need to be.

What are anxious about today?

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Christmas is “Good News”

Christmas is “Good News.”

Luke 2:10-13 – And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Jesus came into the world to bring good news to all mankind. The good news banishes fear and gives everlasting peace by way of Salvation and not a part from it.

This word for Good News was EUONGELION. When the men of the village were off in battle the warriors would often send messengers back home to share news with the village. Most often the news was “good news” as they had a desire to keep the morale and the hopes of the people alive and fresh. In many cases the messenger would bring news that victory had been won over their enemies or the messenger would proclaim the death of an opponent.

Some historians say that the Jews would greet each other with the phrase “Have you heard any EUONGALION?” You see they longed for a Messiah, one who would save them. In them was this longing to see the coming Messiah.

That is why the words that the angel Gabriel brought to the shepherds that day was so important. Gabriel came as a messenger to proclaim the Good News that victory had been won and that peace was coming to the world. Victory would be won and peace would come through the birth of the baby Jesus would be their Messiah.

While the God News brings so much into the life of the believer please note two important results of the Good News:

  • It banishes fear – fear not
  • It gives everlasting peace – peace on earth among those with whom he is pleased.

God has created us in such a way that fear is a wake-up call. It arouses awareness of danger; it puts us on high alert. Yet it can also do just the opposite, overwhelming us and diminishing our alertness. Neuroscience links fear to the amygdala in the lower, primitive brain. This small structure scouts for trouble and in detecting it, sounds an alarm and jerks multiple neural cords. As it reacts quickly to the threat, it ignores fine distinctions and uses generalizations. Its strength is rapid processing, and its weakness is lack of precision. With extreme fear, noradrenaline flushes through the body, initially producing intense vigilance, but then flooding the brain and riveting attention on the object of fear. Now the fearful person can hardly shift attention elsewhere. Tunnel vision occurs. Fear takes over, overwhelming the imaginative capacities and advanced reasoning. The fearful one becomes locked into the present and loses the ability to envision something other than what is now threatening. Reality is pruned to the senses, to the synapses mediating fear, to the paralyzing moment.

But Christ comes as the Good News to banish fear. The angels said fear not. How often are we gripped with fear and other such emotions that tend to deter us from living out life as we ought to?

Fear has been a part of mankind’s psychic seen the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. But in reality nothing has changed today! People are still caught in the grip of their fears, and this is even true during the Christmas Season, a time that should be joyous, happy and totally Christ-centered. We fear not having enough money, of not meeting everyone’s expectations; we worry over meals, over who will be there and who will not. We just seem to fear everything.

But Jesus came to banish fear, e.g. that unhealthy fear that binds us and prevents us from enjoying life.

Three times in the Christmas story Jesus spoke the words, “Fear not.”

  • Mary – Luke 1:30 – Do not be afraid – This spoke to the fear of God’s providence and what He is working out in us. Mary could have been afraid of what people would think of her and she could have been afraid of rejection which often occurred in that time when one conceived a baby out of wedlock.
  • Joseph – Matthew 1:20 – Do not fear to take Mary as your wife – This spoke to the fear of immediate obedience. Joseph was called on by God to accept this assignment of being the father of Jesus. While he had every right to leave Mary and refuse to marry her, He did the right thing.
  • The shepherds – Do not fear God’s presentation and call – These men were the outcasts of the land. The shepherds performed the lowest of duties and responsibilities. God came to the lowest so that there is a recognition that all can come to Christ.

The Good News gives everlasting peacepeace on earth among those with whom he is pleased. This is a peace that cannot be manufacturer but it must be received as a gift from God. This peace is not an absence of problems or difficulties but it is the recognition that God is present regardless of the problem.

Illustration of Peace – Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered. The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner. The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace? A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.  A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil. 

This painting won as it illustrates the fact that peace is not the absence of turmoil but the recognition that God is there.

The scriptures themselves echo this message when in Isaiah 26:3 states that you (God) keeps him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. This peace is beyond human understanding, as we keep our minds stayed on Jesus and our eyes fixed on Him. Such peace is in a heart that is trouble free and unafraid regardless how difficult the trials and circumstances of life may be.

The fact is no matter the trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger you face, by the power of His Spirit living in you, you can continue to abide in His peace. You can face death, persecutions, the darts of Satan, present difficulties, and future uncertainties confident of His abiding presence and sustaining grace.

Philippians 4:5B-7 The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Are you afraid today? Do you lack peace? Pray and ask God to touch your life and bring you to a place where you can trust Him, for it is in trusting God that we minimize fear and dread in our life.

Visit pccministry.org for the complete audio of this message.

 

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