Tag Archives: communion

The Blessing of Memories 

Peninsula Community Church

The Blessing of Memories 

September 17, 2017

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

This morning I want to look at the subject of memories. The fact is we all have them. Some memories are good and there are some memories we wish we could forget. There are memories that are buried and these memories seem to come racing from the depths of our mind when something similar happens in our life. It could be a good memory that brings us joy or a bad memory that causes our heart to ache. Either way we have been created with the power of remembering.

This week was the anniversary of 9/11. There is no doubt that if I were to ask you where you were and what you were doing on Tuesday Morning, September 11, 2001 you would be able bring to your memory the exact spot your were, and what you were doing, with great detail. This tragedy and assault against our nation was one of those events that will be forever etched in our memory. For Michelle and I, 9/11 was personal in the fact that we were living on Long Island. We had family living in the city, at that time. We had several friends and members of our church who worked in and around the World Trade Centers. We also had several fire fighters and police officers in our church that responded to the call for help. For days, we were glued to the tv and our phones getting updates and communicating with those at ground zero. We will never forget that season of our life. You see the thing about memories is that they are forever etched upon the pages of our history.

The Bible is not silent on this topic of memories. In fact, on several occasions God called His people to set up memorials so they would remember their past and thus remember His goodness and protection over them. I will mention a couple of the these.

One such memorial was erected in Ebenezer. Listen to the words of 1 Samuel 7:10-13. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The purpose of the memorial in Ebenezer was to help the Israelites remember the goodness and the help of God in their lives. This memorial was to serve as a tangible reminder to the Israelites of God’s protection and power. Every time the Israelites would gaze upon the stone, they would be reminded of the goodness of God and the protection of God.

Another memorial set up by the Israelites was when they crossed over the Jordan River into the promised land (Joshua 4). Joshua instructed them to take twelve stones from the land of captivity and place them in the river. From the river, they were to take twelve stones and place them in the Promised Land. Why? Joshua instructs the people that when their children ask what these stones mean, they were to remind them of the victory, protection, and gifts of God during their days in the wilderness. They were to tell the story of how God brought them into the Promised Land.

We all have memorials established in our lives. It might be a specific date. It might be a specific event. Regardless of the memorial it serves to remind us of what God has done for us and in us. In one of my older Bibles, I have entered dates of specific events in my life. These dates and events serve to remind me of the goodness and graciousness of God in my life. As we review the purpose of memorials, we find there are four primary purposes for memorials.

First, memorials serve to remind us of the blessings of God. For those at the Jordan River, it was a reminder that God had kept them and protected them through forty years of aimless wandering. God’s protection was so strong that the shoes and clothes they wore did not wear out. Think about that. They were in the desert for forty years. They walked through the desert across rocks and stones and yet their clothes did not wear out. By way of this memorial, they were reminded of the goodness, greatness, and provision of God.

Secondly, memorials move us to personal renewal. We remember what God has done and we are moved to honor God with our lives and all that we are. We are moved emotionally which moves us to affect change in ourselves. There are times in my life that I need encouragement and God reminds me of the times when He has been faithful, and He has been present in my life. In being reminded of the past victories in Christ, I am motivated to keep the faith and to grow deeper in Christ.

Third, memorials remind us of a time where our old defeats have been rolled away. Memorials serve as a way to remind us that our past defeats do not have to impact our present life.  These memories remind us of the victories won and the ground that has been taken from the enemy of our soul. When the twelve stones, taken from the Jordan river, were placed in the promised land, they became a reminder that the defeats of the past did not have to be the reality of the present. The past was behind them and while it shaped them it did not have to define them.

Think about the children of Israel in the wilderness. They failed big time. They failed to trust God. They mumbled and they complained. They rejected God. They worshipped idols. And yet God brought them to the Promised Land. Yes, we were defeated! Yes, we were sinners! Yes, we had failed big time, but not any more! Now we can live free, and we can be whole as a passionate follower of Christ.

A fourth purpose of memorials is to keep our focus on a better day and a time yet to come. You see, He is not just a God of the past and the present, He is also a God of the future. For that reason, we can commit our past, present, and future to Him. When you read the story of Israel living in the promised land you find that things changed when they crossed the Jordan River. They were given the land but they had to fight for it. They had to focus their attention on God. They were no longer provided manna from heaven. Their faith was maturing and their trust level in God was at an all time high. They were looking to the future of living in the Promised Land. They stopped looking back and began to look forward.

This morning there is one last memorial we must consider. It is the cross. As we review the story of the cross, we pause to remember what God has done in and through us. Think about it for a moment. Because of the gift of Christ upon the cross, there is no sin beyond the power of God to forgive. There is no mistake that cannot be corrected at the foot of the cross. As we look back, we see the protection and guidance of God in our life. We also understand that at the cross we find an opportunity for renewal and a fresh start. It is here at the foot of the cross that we can bring our failures, our insecurities, and dreams and lay them at the altar.

We also see the cross as a time to roll away old defeats. When we remember the cross, we are reminder that what I use be does not define who I am now. Yes I was a sinner, but now I am saved by His grace. I was a drug addict or alcoholic, but now I am clean and sober. I was rejected and confused, but now I am accepted in Christ. I was filled with fear, but now I am trusting in Christ the solid rock. I was looking for love in all of the wrong places, but now I know I am loved by Him.

And finally, as we remember the cross, we are reminded that no matter what is happening in our life things are not over yet. There is a better day to come. There is more to life than what we are experiencing right now. We are growing in grace. We are growing in knowledge. We are saved, but one day we will experience ultimate salvation when we pass from this life to the next. We receive healing now, but one day we will be healed completely and totally. We receive precious blessings now, but one day that blessing will be ours forever.

So, today, we gather around the Lord’s table to celebrate the greatest memorial of all time. We have been set free and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The cross stands as memorial of this event, and today we take the elements of communion to remind us of all that has been done on our behalf.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Glory of Knowing God

Peninsula Community Church 

The Glory of Knowing God

August 27, 2017

Philippians 3:8-11 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Last week we closed the message with the concept that the best way to overcome the influence of the thief’s schemes is for us to know God. Today, I would like to go back to that thought. In so doing, we will review the words of Paul in Philippians 3:8-11. Paul reminds us that his greatest aspiration in life was to know God.

Can you imagine the Apostle Paul asking for such a request? Here is a man by all accounts that was a master servant (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1). The one thing we know about Paul is that he was deliberate about serving Christ’s purposes. He had dedicated his life to the service of Christ. From several perspectives, Paul was the last person anyone would think might have such aspirations. After all, Paul is the one who had been to the third heaven (2  Corinthians 12:2-4). Paul had been taught by some of the finest scholars of his day (Acts 22:3). His heritage was indisputable and his pedigree was nothing to scoff at. It was this same Paul who had a personal encounter with Christ that radically changed his life (Acts 9:9). And yet, Paul wanted to know Him more.

As we review this passage, we find there are three key things expressed. First, Paul begins by stating that he counted everything as loss when compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. Paul is expressing that all of the earthly praiseworthy accolades cannot compare to a personal knowledge of Christ. He is saying that if the accolades and pedigree he possessed were to be put on one scale and his desire to know Christ were put on the other, his desire to know Christ would always outweigh whatever accolades and successes he might have had. Paul is saying here that his resume and his pedigree do not define him.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. God uses our education, our connections, and family to accomplish the work of the kingdom but those things must never cast a shadow over knowing Christ personally. You see God always looks at the heart of man. Remember David? He was anointed king by Samuel. David’s father was looking to his sons who had the credentials, the size, and the looks, but they were not qualified in the eyes of God. What God was looking for is someone who had a relationship with Him. You see David knew God! He had learned to trust God in all of his ways. In the end, David was chosen for his heart and not his outward resume.

With that said, Paul identifies two ways in which he wanted to know Christ. First, Paul wanted to know Jesus through His resurrection. What an awesome view of life. When we view life through the resurrection power of Christ, we determine there is nothing beyond His ability to accomplish. When we know Him in His resurrection power, we know His power and we know His ability. Think about it. Jesus was dead. He was not half dead or three quarters dead like in the movie Princess Bride. He was dead. As one who interacts with EMS personnel, the most challenging task today is to revive someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest. In the EMS world, you have about 4-6 minutes to provide medical care before the person begins to lose brain function. After 8 minutes death is most likely. Jesus was dead for three days. From Friday night to Sunday Morning he lay in a grave. He took no breath for three days, but on the third day He rose.

Paul wanted to know this resurrection power of Christ. For Paul and for us the resurrection power of Christ reminds us that there is nothing impossible with God. If a dead Savior can be risen in victory, whatever we face can be turned around for His glory. The enemy thought he had Christ. He thought he had won, but can you imagine the sounds coming from the little hill side in Jerusalem when the stone was rolled away. Jesus rose to give us power over sin and death. That is how Paul wanted to know Christ. Paul wanted to know His power.

Listen to the words of Paul in Romans 8:9-11 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Paul wanted to know the resurrection power because he recognized that power brings life. So, do you know His resurrection power?

Secondly, Paul stated that he wanted to know Christ in His suffering. To be honest, this is where one I struggle. I don’t want to know Him through His suffering. I have enough of my own and that is too painful. The problem is that much of our theology today would avoid such a discussion. To listen to much of the theology being espoused today you might think we were to never have a bad day. We are never to have any problems and if we do, it is because somehow we are a failure and sinful. Contrary to this, nothing could be further from the truth. So what was Paul saying. Through suffering Jesus demonstrated humility, extended love, gave grace, and spoke with words of wisdom. That is the kind of man Paul wanted to be. He wanted to model for the world an attitude of Jesus.

Paul also knew another perspective of knowing Jesus’ suffering. Paul knew that in our difficult times we grow more and we experience the faith of God more than at other times in our life. It is in times of struggle that we get to know Him and His saving grace. It is in times of struggle that we either turn to Christ or we push Him away. If we are honest, it is in our struggles that we find the grace of God. It is in our struggles that we find faith in God. It is in our struggles that we find a future in God. By knowing Christ in both His resurrection and suffering we come to know the totality of who He is and who He is begins to define who we are.

So on a practical level, how do we come to know Christ? First and foremost we get to know Christ by knowing the Word. After all the Word is an active living force according to Hebrews 4:12-13. To know the Word is to know Jesus because the Word and Jesus are one. Through Jesus the Word became flesh (John 1:1,14). So to know Jesus we must get the Word of God in us. We read, meditate, and apply the Word to our hearts so that it begins to form and shape who we will be and how we will act. The purpose of the Word was and is to bring instruction, direction, warning, and hope according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It is the Word that speaks to us in amazing ways. The Word brings death to sin and life to hearts. Additionally, if you read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, you find that Jesus was a mirror of the Father. To know Jesus is to know the Father (John 5:19, 6:38, 8:28, 10:30). What He did was a reflection of the Father’s will. What He said was a reflection of the Father’s heart. Know the Word and you will know Jesus.

Secondly, we pray. Why is prayer important? Prayer is important because it aligns our will with God’s will. In prayer we surrender ourselves, our will, and our ways to God. In prayer, we hear the voice of God as He speaks to our hearts. Greg Laurie stated “Prayer is our connection to heaven and heaven’s connection to us. That is why you should always keep the lines open.” If we take the model prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, we find is a testimony of who the Father is. Through this prayer we find that He is to be hallowed, reverenced, and honored. We also find that Jesus invites us to invite the kingdom of God in our current situation.

Thirdly, we worship God. Too many times we confuse worship as an activity relegated to a one hour time slot on Sunday, but the reality is worship should be a way of life. In worship, as we begin to proclaim the greatness of God, we experience something in our hearts. As we confess to God change happens. The very definition of worship is to ascribe worth to something. What we worship we give value. When we ascribe worth to God, we are drawn into a deeper relationship because we will value that relationship and we will value that person.

Finally, we come to know God by joining our hearts and minds together. That is why the word tells us not to forsake the coming together (Hebrews 10:25). That is why bible studies, Sunday school, and book clubs are so important. In these events we come together and we hear what God is doing. We watch each other grow. We navigate the difficulties of life together. It is not by chance that the Book of Acts reminds new believers to continue to gather together (Acts 2:42). It is in fellowship that we grow but the reality is we grow more than relationally, we grow in our knowledge of God because we understand God more when are in communion with one another.

So the question for us today is, do you what to know Christ more? You can! Read the Word, worship him, pray, and join together and your understanding of God will increase.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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