Tag Archives: faith

We Dance To A Different Tune

Peninsula Community Church 

August 25, 2019 

Daniel 3:15-18 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

I have entitled this message “We dance to a different tune.” It is noteworthy that the idiom “dance to a different tune” means to change one’s behavior, manner, and attitude. This is a big deal because when we follow Christ passionately we will find that our behavior and attitude changes to match His desire for us. To dance to a different tune means that we align ourselves to His purposes and His goals. Tony Evans has stated “In order to transform what you do, you must first transform how you think.” Therefore, we could say that we need to dance to the tune of right thinking which produces right action. 

For the Hebrew Children they were passionate about following their God and they danced to a different tune. However, this came at a price, but they were willing to pay the price and dance the dance. Because of their relationship with God they had their thinking in the right place and their actions followed. Because their thinking was in the right place, the three Hebrew Children served the Lord and they were obedient to what they had been called to do. 

They did so because they knew something key to their success, we all worship something or someone. It all depends on what we choose. They chose to worship God and put the Kingdom of God first not just in their speech but in their actions. Bob Dylan the great poet and the confused religious guru understood this when he wrote the following lyrics. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes. Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. This is a powerful truth. We all come to an intersection in our life where we must choose who or what we will worship. We will worship God or we will worship man, worship things, success or any other number of things that will seek to take the place of God.

But how did they get to this place in time. You see, because Israel had sinned and disobeyed God’s will, God allowed Jerusalem to fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon. Many were taken from Israel as captives to serve Babylon. Among those taken to Babylon were young Israelites who were of noble birth and from royal families. They were to be trained in the ways of Babylon. Four of those taken to Israel were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Once in Babylon, their faith was tested and they passed the faith test with flying colors. While they did learn the culture, there was one area of their life they would not change and that was their relationship with God. When asked to worship a graven image and a false god they chose to worship God and Him alone. They were not willing to change their allegiance to God. We must note that as a church and as passionate followers of Christ we are to engage the culture in which we live, but we must never compromise our faith in Christ. We must not change our dance partner as tempting as it might be to do so.  

Daniel had his lion’s den moment and now the three Hebrew Children were about to encounter their fiery furnace. It did not matter what they encountered, the fate of the Hebrew Children was sealed in favor of serving God no matter what. It is important to understand this was a decision that had been made long before this moment in time. For that reason, this was not a difficult decision. They chose to go against the tide and they refused to bow their knee to the god’s of Babylon. 

Too often we encounter difficulty and then we want to engage the disciplines that protect us, but that can come too late. We can be sucked into sinful ways if we do not engage with the disciplines of Christ. Conversely, we must be engaged in the disciplines of Christ long before we encounter difficulty. We must be people of prayer, of worship, and must have a commitment to Christ before we face difficulty. In so doing, we will be conditioned for whatever we encounter. Think about it. Before war our armed forces prepare and drill. Firefighters drill and run through scenarios during training sessions. Football teams practice and prepare for the season and for every opponent they face. They consider different scenarios they will face and how they must answer those situations. By engaging in prayer, worship, and the study of God’s word our spiritual man is conditioned for whatever scenario to be faced in this world. 

Because of their commitment to Christ and their ongoing focus on worship and prayer the question of compromise was never a thought in their decision making process. You see this as being critical since compromise begins when we do not know where we stand and we try to fake our way through the process. For many, when asked to bow could have led to compromise, but the Hebrews did not. They could have bowed in the physical as an outward show but they did not. It might have been easier, but it would have started a slide toward compromise. Those who have fallen from grace too often have been captivated by sin. They do so most often through a series of smaller steps of compromise. In general, compromise has never happened in an instant. But the Children of Israel did not compromise. They knew their God and they knew their purpose in the Kingdom of God. They refused to compromise and settle for less than God’s best. 

Second, our worship of God cannot be deterred by the fear of outside influences. Their desire to serve and worship God was greater than their fear of the king. Their desire to serve and worship was greater than their own self-exaltation. How often are we deterred from obedience to God because we are filled with fear and anxiety of what people think or a desire to make a name for ourselves? How many times do we fail to trust the outcome to God? 

Third, the Children of Israel had a confidence that God wanted to keep them and preserve them. This is seen through their response of being thrown into the furnace. They experienced a so what moment. They may have had questions but that did not deter them from obedience. What if we are burned up? What if we are just burnt and we find that we are disabled for the rest of our life? Here is a big one. What if God doesn’t show up? These were real questions, but because they had lived in the reality of God’s presence they knew God would rescue them. Corrie Ten Boom was quoted as saying. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

And now, here is the crux of the matter. Four, they experienced God’s presence in worship long before they experienced God’s presence in the fiery furnace. They danced to the music of worship and the reality of God’s presence. This holy dance of worship kept them from compromise and kept them from falling for the oldest scheme of the devil, give a little which requires a little more which leads to more and more compromise. While we see the power of the three Hebrew Children also notice the response of the king. He was filled with fear. He was angry. He was surprised at the power of God. He depended on himself. Nebuchadnezzar was dancing to a different tune. He was dancing to the tune of pride and self exaltation. 

Let’s look at the end of the story. God came through, end of story. Because the three Hebrew children refused to compromise, God showed up. Because they had committed themselves to worship and trust in God, God came through. Their world was rocked. God showed up and the men did not even smell like smoke. This is surprising for a couple of reasons. First, because of Nebuchadnezzar’s anger he had the furnace heated up seven times more than normal. Second, the men who tossed them into the furnace were destroyed instantly (Daniel 3:22). And thirdly, they were bound in their tunics, their hats, their other garments (Daniel 2:21). This alone would have caused them to be consumed by the fire, but they were fully protected by God. 

Everyone were surprised at the outcome. Everyone was changed because God showed up. As we worship God alone, we are positioned for God’s work to be accomplished through us and to experience the surprises of God. Rather than tell the story listen to Daniel’s word as he describes this event in Daniel 3:24-28. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Their faith and their obedience changed them but it changed the world they encountered. Nebuchadnezzar in the end danced to a different tune because he witnessed the miracle of God in real time. So are you ready to worship? Are you ready no matter what comes? Are you ready to change the world as they see God at wok in you? 

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

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Moses’ Mom: A Story of Faith and Courage

Peninsula Community Church

May 12, 2019

Exodus 2:1-4 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.

What is the most courageous thing that you have ever done? Perhaps it was to climb a mountain. Maybe it was scuba diving. The sky is the limit as to what you might consider courageous. The interesting thing is that one person’s courageous might be another’s normal. For some it is to do something outside the limits of who you are as a person. Perhaps the most courageous thing you have done was to be a mom to your children or your adopted children. The story before us today is just such a story of courage and faith. 

The story of Moses’ mother is a compelling story of a mother’s love, her trust in God, and her faith in the story that God was writing for her and for her son. She trusted and loved God in the midst of some very difficult situations. To understand this struggle we must see that she lived in a time where Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, had made an edict that all boys born to Hebrew families would be killed. His motivation for murder was out of the fear, that the children of Israel were growing so fast, that if Egypt were to go to war Israel would fight with their enemies.

Under these circumstances we find that Moses was born to two loving parents who knew God and served God graciously and magnificently. Little did they know that this little boy would be a great leader. But the odds were against him. With that said let me make a few observations about this story that will help us when the world seems to be against us as well. While this is a mother’s day message, this applies to everyone who is a passionate follower of Christ. God is for you and will give you the courage you need to face whatever is thrown your way.  

First of all, Moses’ mom was specifically chosen for the task of raising Moses. God purposely placed Moses into her hands. He saw something in her that qualified her for the task. He saw her faith and her trust in God. It is noteworthy that she did not know the story that God was writing. She did not know that he was to be the leader of Israel. She did not know that he would be the deliverer of her people. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that he would be the one that God was going to use in such powerful ways. Think about it. Israel had prayed for 400 years for a deliverer. In this “kairos” moment, Moses was born and he was born to be the answer to Israel’s prayer. 

This morning I want you to know something very special. You have been chosen as the mother of your children. God saw something in you that qualified you for this great task. You may not always feel it nor will you always believe it, but it is true. In fact, you may not always be as successful as you would like, but you have been called to nurture, protect, and disciple those who have been given to you. You are called to be a mother and your children have been chosen by God to be your children.

Secondly, Moses’ mom chose life. She was definitely pro-life. She could have chosen to allow the societal norms and pressures of her day to dictate what she did with Moses. She could have allowed him to be killed at the hand of Pharaoh. This would have been the easy thing to do, but she chose life. Rather than follow the law of man, she followed the law of God. She knew that He would protect them. She knew that He had a plan. Some here, against great odds, have chosen life and that is honorable. For some, the events leading up to the birth of your child may not have been the best, but you chose life and that is commendable and it is to be honored. 

Let me make a side note here. I am aware that some have made the decision to abort a child and you have struggled with that decision but God wants you to know there is grace and forgiveness at the cross. There is hope for you and it begins by forgiving yourself, as God has forgiven you. Too often, we allow the guilt of past decisions to rule our lives in the present. That is not God’s plan for you today. 

Thirdly, in this story her name is omitted. It is interesting that God chose not to reveal her name here. Sometimes we feel that we have lost our identity, but God never forgets us because He calls us by name. Let me ask you “Do you ever feel that you are not recognized for what you do as a mom?” “Do you ever feel that you are just a shadow in your home?” “Do you feel under appreciated?” “Do you feel that you have lost your identity as a person?” 

I do not know if this ever happened to you, but as my kids got older I was no longer Bob Odom, but I was Kate and Joshua’s dad. I lost my identity. But let me remind you that though you feel that you have lost your identity, God knows you and God knows your name. The fact is she had a name and it was Jochebed. The name Jochebed means “Jehovah is glorious.” She lived up to her name as she was trusted Jehovah no matter what the circumstances of life might bring or what the leaders of Egypt required. She trusted in God because He was God.

Fourthly, Moses’ mom had a courageous faith. Even under difficult odds she walked in faith. She trusted God. After all the edict to have the new born males killed had been pronounced before she became pregnant with Moses. When Moses was born, rather than have him killed, she hid him until he was over three months old. Can you imagine the fear and the stress she experienced every day? I am sure that she would worry everyday that the door of her home would be opened and in would walk the Egyptian police to arrest her and to kill her son. Even in her fear, she still trusted God. Her faith in God was stronger than the fear of the edict that had been made.

Finally, she put her faith into action. This is most vividly seen in the steps that she took. After hiding Moses for three months, she took a basket and placed insulation around it so it would be protected from the water and from the effects of the river. She placed Moses into the basket and then she walked to the Nile were she placed the basket in the bulrushes. I am sure that she had tears flowing down her face as she pushed the little ark into the water. 

This was an amazing step of faith in that the river itself was a source of death. There were crocodiles and other animals in or near the water that could easily destroy him. Even today National Geographic reports that 200 plus people are killed every year in the Nile by crocodiles alone. Not only did she worry about the crocodiles but this was also a place where the women of Egypt would come to bathe. This in itself was a threat to Moses because if the wrong person came to the water’s edge Moses could have been killed. 

It is noteworthy that the word used here for the basket is in essence the same word used for Noah’s ark. It was a place of safety and protection. When she pushed the ark into the water, I believe that her faith was revealed more in what she did not do than in what she did. Notice something in this story. When she approached the water she placed the basket into the water and pushed it into the river. As I have read this story one thing stands out to me. No where in the story do we find that she tied a rope to the basket. She released the ark with her son inside into the water but more so into the hands of God. 

This leads me to the final point I would like to make. When we walk in God’s faith and love there is a time where we have to let go and let God control the outcome of our children’s lives. She did not tie a rope to the basket because she trusted God to protect him and keep him safe. Here is the issue, too often as our kids grow we want to hold onto the them and try to control the outcome of their life. But there is a point we have to push the ark into the water and let go. In letting go, we are saying that we trust God fully and completely. This does not mean that we don’t worry. Even Jochebed worried. Jochebed was concerned. We see she had her daughter stand by the river to watch over Moses. But, nonetheless she released Moses into God’s hand. 

We need to know that our children will make mistakes. Too often their mistakes come as they test the boundaries that we have set for them. They test the waters because they want to make the truths they were raised with their truths. Sometimes we will find that our kids will try to do the right thing but they will do it the wrong way. They will fail, but that does not mean that we are failures as parents. That is a lie from the enemy. 

Finally, and most important, God loves your children more than you ever will. This is where trust comes in. We must surrender our children to the God who loves them more than we ever could. That is what Jochebed did. She trusted God. She loved God and she loved Moses. But she had resigned in her heart that God loved Moses more than she ever could. That is why she could push the ark into the water and let go. That is faith. That is courage.

How about you this morning? Do you have enough faith to let go? Do you have enough trust in God to give your children to God? It is not easy but it is right. We can still pray for them. We can still intercede on their behalf but we must let go. 

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

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Mysterious Encounter!

Peninsula Community Church 

April 24, 2019 

Luke 24:13-21 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.

I love to watch movies. One of my favorite genres is the mystery/thriller genre. These movies weave a tale of adventure but there are always twists and turns throughout the movie. As these movies continue to draw on the emotions of the viewer, it is sometimes hard to understand how it will end. At other times it is hard to keep up with all of the plot changes. I am a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock and M. Night Shyamalan. These movies leave you in suspense and wondering what the outcome will be. I remember the movie called “Signs.” Throughout the movie there was this mysterious something out there but before the movie is over we find that it is a creature from outer space. The twist is that we find that the aliens are allergic to water. It was quite a twist. 

If you were a follower of Jesus in His day I believe that you would have seen the times as being mysterious and that there many plot twists. The followers of Christ were in chaos. Just as they thought they had a handle on the ending of the story, it changed. Before, during, and after the cruxifixction and resurrection of Jesus there seemed to be times of great mystery and surprise for the disciples. The plot twists of the life of Jesus kept everyone in suspense and questioning what was next. But this was not a movie. It was real life. The sad part was that the disciples had already been given the outcome to the story and yet the disciples missed it. But, as always, this was an opportunity for God to teach us lessons that will impact us for an eternity. 

It is noteworthy that Jesus had several encounters with the disciples as well as many others around Jerusalem before His ascension to Heaven. Today, we will look at just one of these encounters. In the passage we find that two men headed to Emmaus, a town about seven miles outside of Jerusalem. We do not know for sure but it has been suggested that they were leaving town. They had their fill of the drama and the excitement that had occurred in the city of Jerusalem over the last several days. They were getting out of town. They were leaving. 

While our initial reaction to this is to judge them and criticize their response to the activities of the past week, we must be reminded that we have also experienced things in our life that have impacted us to the point where we have wanted to leave. We have wanted to skip town. We have wanted to hide our heads and hope that when we lifted them up that whatever the problem is, it would be gone. When we are confronted with things in our life that are beyond our control, we want to run. We want to get out of town. We want to quit our job. We want to get a divorce. We want change and we want it fast, because the burden of our heart is too hard to handle. 

Too often, when we cannot align our beliefs with what is actually happening, we want to run and hide. The reality that exists is that there are times where what we believe and the reality of our life do not match or align itself with what we know to be the truth. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance. This is where our belief system is challenged. It is here that our faith is tested big time. This occurs when we believe that God will provide our every need, but we find that we are deep in financial debt. We believe that God is a healer and takes care of those who belong to Him, and yet we have been diagnosed with a life threatening disease. We believe that the relationship we are in will last forever. We hold to the promises we made with that person only to find that they did not hold up their part of the commitment. We believe that God will take care of us and then someone in our life is taken from us prematurely and we become angry with God. We do not understand why He would allow such a tragedy to happen, and happen to us no less. In times like this, our faith is tested. What we hold to as truth can be challenged. The result is that we begin to ask questions and sort through the results of life. 

I had a friend who was into the “name it and claim it” theology. His theological premise was that you could ask God for anything and God would have to listen to you, if you prayed the right prayer, at the right time, was righteousness enough, and had no sin. He had a very close friend who became very ill and eventually died. That event led him to a conflict in his belief structure and to a crisis of faith. He struggled to understand his friend’s death. He struggled to consolidate his beliefs with the facts. After sometime in prayer, he came to a powerful conclusion.

Robert Morris who is a pastor in Dallas Texas had his faith tested when his daughter was struggling with some major health issues. They were struggling with her illness and did not see an end in sight. Though the situation continued to get worse, He came to a powerful conclusion, the same conclusion my friend reached. Pastor Morris summarized his conclusion this way. “I believe God will, I believe God can, but even if He doesn’t I still believe God.” We pray with all of the faith we can muster. We trust God for healing and if He does not we will still trust Him. We will not give up hope and we will not lose our faith. Pastor Morris continued by saying that we should “pursue Him more than you pursue the healing and know that no matter what happens Christ will be magnified in your body whether by life or death.”

These men had lost sight of the promise that Jesus would be with them. These men who were walking on the road had seen their faith tested big time. So, let me ask you where is your faith being tested? Is there something in your life that seems to be overwhelming you right now? Is it financial? Is it relational? Is it spiritual? Is it emotional or mental? I can tell you that no matter what it is, He is with you and that if we will pursue Him more than an answer to prayer, we will see the miraculous take place.

As these men are taking their journey, notice what Jesus does. He mysteriously shows up and visits with them. The amazing thing is that they do not even know that it was Him. As Jesus encounters them, we find that He asks them what they are talking about. They are astounded at the fact that He would not know what is going on in the city. “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” They are in disbelief that He would not know what is going on. And yet, they are totally oblivious to who is standing in front of them. 

I am so glad when Jesus mysteriously shows up in every day life. Jesus met them where they were. He also meets us where we are. I love the sudden moments of the Scripture. Things are happening and we need an answer from God. In that moment, He shows up suddenly and mysteriously. We do not need to hide our hurts from Him. We do not need to ignore what we are feeling. We do not have to hide the fact that we are being tested and that our faith is weakened by the events or issues we are confronting. I love the fact that He shows up in the mundane and in the miraculous. He shows up when we least expect it to do what we can only imagine and more. 

They respond from the depths of their heart and in honesty. Listen to their own words. And they said to him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.

Do you hear their heart? We had hoped! We wanted Him to deliver Israel. We wanted Him to save us. But, He did not do what we thought He would do. In essence, they were feeling like He had let them down. They acknowledged that the women had reported the resurrection but it seems that they still did not believe it, or at least they could not understand it. It is amazing that even when we have evidence that God is working, we can miss it. Then Jesus begins to share the scripture and the prophecies regarding His life. 

As they enter the village of Emmaus, Jesus acts as if He is headed on down the road but they convince Him to stay. So He did. At the meal that night He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and shared it with them. In that moment, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. And then He vanished. He was gone. Their hearts burned within them. They had an encounter with Jesus that would change them forever. They knew something was different in this encounter. They were so caught up in their moment, their pain, and their sadness that they almost missed Him. He was right there and they did not recognize Him. He was with them and they missed it. Let me tell you He is with you today. Do not miss Him. Do not skirt through life without acknowledging the presence of God in you today. 

They felt their hearts burn in them. Jesus will encounter you throughout your life and your heart will testify to the fact that He is present. Do not miss those moments. It might be because someone is sharing the gospel. It might be that we have encountered a God moment. It could be just a moment when you are weak, despondent, and sad. In that moment there is a sense in your heart and you know He is there. You know that He is present. When that happens acknowledge it. Give Him praise for that experience. Recognize also that even when we do not feel Him He is there. He has never left you nor has He forsaken you. This reminds me of the following poem:

Footprints in the Sand Poem

One night I dreamed a dream.

As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,

especially at the very lowest and saddest times,

there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.

“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,

You’d walk with me all the way.

But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,

there was only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you

Never, ever, during your trials and testings.

When you saw only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you.”

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

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Antidote for Fear – Trust

Peninsula Community Church 

March 31, 2019 

Philippians 4:4-6 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 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.

I wanted to take some time this morning to look at the power of fear. I am sure that we have all experienced overwhelming fear and anxiety at some point in our life. We may have experienced it for different reasons and in different ways, but we have all experienced it at some point. As a child I walked in fear because my step father would come home in a drunken stupor. He was angry at the world and he tended to take that anger out on myself and my mother. I remember that so many times I would cower in my room hoping that he would just leave me alone. Because of my situation at home, I would make up stories about my home life at school and walked in fear that someone would find out the truth. So as a child, I had fear at home and I had a fear that I would be found out and proven not to be the person I said I was. 

In my adult years, there are still times where I am driven by fear and anxiety. Paying bills, medical reports, issues that arise in my daily life, and looking into the future can drive me to fear rather than faith. In fact, as I have grown in the Lord most often my fear is a direct result of not trusting God and of not fully understanding His love for me. Conversely, my fear is diminished when I see God for who He is and I trust Him without wavering. 

In Scripture one of the most popular phrases and word choices is the phrase “Do not fear.” It does not appear 365 times as some have suggested, but it is a critically important phrase that needs our attention. The reasoning this is critical is that Jesus knew that when we walk in fear, we allow circumstances, events, and/or thoughts to control us. That was never the plan of God. He wanted to help us overcome fear and live a fearless life in Him. Jesus did not want us to be controlled or manipulated by fear, because He recognized that fear holds us back. It will get the best of us. Fear paralyzes us. Fear feeds our doubt. Fear kills the plans of God within us. You see what we fear will control us. It will bind us and it will cause us to do things that we never intended to do. To be honest, sometimes these fears are very real and based in the problems around us. Sometimes our fears are perceived and not based in reality. We are overcome with fear without any reason or basis for that fear.

Now while fear is a powerful force to be reckoned with, we need to consider the antidote to fear. As a noun an antidote is something that counteracts or neutralizes an unpleasant feeling or situation.  As a verb an antidote means to counteract or cancel. I propose that there are two antidotes to fear. The first is to trust God. When we trust God fear is counteracted and fear is cancelled. The second antidote is we must walk in His love. We do not deserve His love nor do we work for it. It is a precious gift given to us to cancel and counteract the fear that is in us. For today we will focus primarily on trust.

I love the stories of the disciples in the New Testament. Their stories show us their failures and shortcomings. They also show us how Christ accepted the disciples and loved them in spite of what they had done. When it comes to fear, we have one of those stories in Matthew 8:23-27 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Notice something in this story. Jesus was with them and yet they still faced anxiety and fear. They were with Jesus. He was in the boat with them. He was right there, and yet they succumbed to the fear of the storm. The problem was that they were more focused on the storm than they were on Jesus. They allowed the storm to control their emotions rather than the One who was in their presence.

Here is the reality for us. When we focus on the storm and the issues in our life more than we do Jesus, we will succumb to fear and anxiety. Notice Jesus’ response when they woke Him up. “Why are you afraid?” In other words, do you not trust me? Do you not know that we are headed to the other side and we will make it. When Jesus is with us and we succumb to fear most often we have failed to trust God to work everything out for His will and purpose in our life. A lack of trust brings fear and anxiety to the forefront of our life. Being in His presence was not enough, they had to acknowledge that Jesus was their protector. They had to trust Him. 

I love the words of Jeremiah 17:5-9. Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

How powerful is that? Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength. I would suggest that when we put more faith in anything rather than God fear and anxiety is created. I would also suggest that whatever we fear, we give power to it to control us and manipulate us. Jeremiah goes on to tell us that the man who trusts the Lord will be like a tree planted by the water. Notice the wording here, the one who trusts in the Lord is not immune from problems, but when the heat comes and there is a drought, they will not fear. 

In other words, when one trusts God, they do not have to fear when problems come. God will make a way. He will protect and guard them. Notice too that the one who trusts in the Lord will not be anxious in the year of drought. When we feel we lack the daily things we need: money, health, less conflict, less car problems, and so on, we do not have to be anxious. God has it and God is in control. 

Now back to our story. Jesus was right there with them and yet they were filled with fear and anxiety. They trusted the storm more than they trusted Jesus. They allowed the storm to dictate how they would respond to the problem. Now before we judge too harshly, we tend to do the same thing. When problems come and trials hit us we tend to allow those things to control us. The question for us is do we trust Jesus with everything in our life or do we get anxious when the storms blow in? Do we allow the storms to overtake us to the point that we miss Jesus, when He is right there with us all along? The disciples were right there with Jesus and yet they missed Him. They should have trusted Him, but instead they became fearful. 

But how do we overcome fear? How do we break the power of fear and take the antidote of trust? How do we learn to trust Him more? To overcome fear we must trust His character. We must trust His control. We must trust His care for us. We must realize that God does not fail us. Yes, we will encounter difficulty, but we must remember that God has our best interest in mind. Trusting God is simply believing that He loves you and knowing He is good, He has the power to help you, and He wants to help you.

One way to build trust is to look back to see where God has helped us before. By being reminded of past victories, we are more apt to remember that God is in control and that He is guiding our paths. I love the times in the Old testament where the children of Israel rehearsed and gave testimony to the things that God had done for them. They were reminded of His grace and His mercy. Remembering what He had done increased their faith and encouraged them to continue moving forward. 

To overcome fear we must not trust ourselves. To trust ourselves is a dangerous move because as we found in Jeremiah we will not withstand the drought that will come into our life. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are reminded what this trust means. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

To overcome fear we must be students of God’s Word. As we read God’s word we are encouraged to trust God. Allow His word to penetrate your heart. Memorize His word so that when you feel fear you can counter that fear through the power of His word. 

To overcome fear we must be people of prayer. As we pray, trust is built as we give God our problems each and every day. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7). Prayer brings us to that place of humility and allows us to cast all of our anxiety. As a camel rolls the burdens off of his back so we too should roll the burdens we have onto Jesus, because He cares for us. 

So we can trust God and that trust will alleviate most of the fear we experience. It does not make it easy but it makes it possible. 

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

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Dressed for Battle

Peninsula Community Church 

Dressed for Battle

October 28, 2018 

Ephesians 6:10-13  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

In today’s world many professions have a dress code of sorts. Football players wear uniforms. These uniforms identity the team, the player’s number, and their name, usually. The uniform in essence serves to identity who they are, whose team they are on, and it provides a level of protection or security. A fire fighter wears turnout gear which includes a helmet, a jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and ID badge. These items are worn to identify who they are and for protection. A police office wears a uniform with a badge, a bulletin proof vest, a radio, and cameras. These items serve to identify who they are and the vest, camera, and radio serves to protect them. The same is true in regards to the spiritual armor Paul calls us to wear. By wearing the armor, we are identified by our Lord and people know what team we are on. By wearing the armor we are protected from the enemy’s schemes. To be effective we must wear it. It cannot stay in the closet.

It is noteworthy that in our passage, Paul instructs us to put on the whole armor of God. As I was preparing for this, I was struck by the fact that he exhorted us to put on the whole armor, the complete armor, all of the armor. The insinuation is that we are not to go into battle half dressed. Doing so makes us vulnerable and gives room for the enemy to attack the areas not covered by the armor. Without the whole armor of God we are in fact set up for defeat because the enemy is very aware of our weaknesses when we are not fully dressed. Our enemy is the master of distraction. He is the master of deception and falsehood. He is the master of distortion and he seems to know right where to attack because he knows the spots that are uncovered. 

We are to put on the complete armor therefore we cannot pick and choose which part we will wear. We must put on the complete armor. Why is this? It is because we are less than effective when we pick and choose what pieces to wear. Paul exhorts us to stand in God’s strength and we do that best when we put on the whole armor of God. In doing so, we stand and do not give room to the enemy. We stand strong so he does not advance against us or the kingdom of God. As believers, we are to stand because God is the One who wins our battles.

In preparing for this, I was thinking about what Paul exhorted us to do. It was critical enough that he said it twice. I had an amazing thought in this regard. If this armor protects us from the schemes of the enemy, then we need the complete whole armor to fight against and counter those schemes. We cannot go into battle half dressed. For example, it is possible that we can put on the helmet of salvation but fail to put on the belt of truth. We are saved, or at least we believe we are, but our actions and thoughts are not founded in truth, because we do not have the belt of truth securely fastened. The result is that we become tormented by falsehoods, lies, and half truths presented to us. We begin to believe the lies and live as if the lies are true. The result is that we believe we need to work harder, strive more, and be more perfect. We can believe that we are never good enough or righteous enough for God. The result is that we are never satisfied with our relationship with Christ, with others, or our circumstances. We feel defeated because we have not settled the truth in our minds that we are believers who are saved by faith and through His grace.

Without the belt of truth, we will have a distorted view of God and of ourselves. From the beginning of time, the enemy has been at work to distort the truth and cause mankind to believe the lie about who God is and what He requires. It is for that reason, so many think that God is angry with them, and that they have done too much for God to redeem them or set them free. The helmet of Salvation along with the belt of truth leads to correct thinking. 

It is also possible that we can have the helmet of salvation on but fail to strap on the gospel of peace. When this occurs, we tend to look to other sources rather than the gospel of Christ to bring us peace. In the end, this causes confusion about our identity and whose we are. In our world today there are so many voices that are speaking into our life. Media continues to tell us we are not good enough unless we drive a certain car. We are not beautiful unless we wear a certain makeup or drink a certain drink. We are not attractive unless we wear a certain aftershave or dress in a certain way. If we could only win the Mega Ball or the Power Ball drawing! These voices tend to give us a false identity. They cause us to strive to be something that God never created us to be. 

When pastoring in New York, I had a lady call me to ask my advice about a very important subject but I had to chuckle because she prefaced the question with “I have talked to my psychiatrist, my psychologist, my counselor, my medical doctor, and my other pastor, and I was wondering what you thought.” One of her major issues was the confusion she had because too many people were speaking into her life and were giving her conflicting opinions. She was not looking for truth, she was looking for the answer she wanted to hear.

There are a lot of great people in the world with a lot of worldly wisdom and wise sayings. But, we need more than witty sayings, and worldly wisdom, we need the power of God at work in our life. We need the power of the gospel to guide and direct our steps. We need the wisdom of God to be at work in us. That wisdom only comes from the gospel of Christ. When our feet do not have the gospel strapped on we will be misdirected and misguided. That is why David stated so clearly that God’s word was a light unto his path. It was the source of his decision making and it was the source of his hope (Psalm 119:105). Without the Gospel of peace, we can roam aimlessly through life and never realize that we have been called to a greater purpose. That calling is to influence those around us. We are called to go where God leads and do what God calls us to do. 

We can have on the helmet of salvation but fail to secure the breastplate of righteousness. Without the breastplate of righteousness we can believe that we have to work to be good enough. We try to live by the rules without grace. We try to tow the line without the power of God. We fail to remember that we are righteous by His righteousness. It is only through His shed blood on Calvary that we are righteous. It is imputed to us and not earned. That is truth.

We can have the helmet of salvation but forget to wear the sword of the Spirit. The sword is one of two offensive weapons we have. Without the sword of the spirit we are often more reactive than active. We are often misguided in our focus in terms of our enemy and who that is. Without the sword of the spirit we try to fight battles in a way that God never intended. We try to fight battles that have already been fought and won by our Lord. We become weary and tired because we are fighting with weapons God never intended for us to use. When we surrender to the Spirit, we will have His power to assist us and guide us. 

We can also have on the helmet of salvation but not hold the shield of faith to extinguish the fiery darts that the enemy flings at us. Without the shield of faith we are susceptible to the darts and painful parts of life. Sometimes faith is all we have to make it through. We do not see the future very clearly, but faith keeps us going. We do not know how we will endure, but by faith we keep moving forward. After all faith is the assurance of things hoped for and confidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). The fiery darts seek to cloud our vision, but by faith we see through the darkness to the light of day. 

Finally, we can have the helmet of salvation but miss out on the greatest offensive weapon we have and that is prayer. Without prayer we easily become discouraged and distraught. Prayer is the greatest weapon we have in our arsenal. Prayer is our connection with command central. It is our connection with God alone. It is the source of power. 

As a soldier, you would never go to war without proper training, weapons, and protective gear. The Bible is our training guide. Our life experiences and our spiritual walk become our boot camp. The temptations, trials, and attacks we face are all a part of the warfare. As a Christian engaged in spiritual conflicts, you must never leave home without the armor of God! And let me tell you it is much better than American Express. 

As we close, I came across this prayer in regard to the armor of God. Let me share it with you. Equip me, Lord with the belt of truth. May your truth rule in my heart and be in my mind and on my lips today. Equip me Lord with the breastplate of righteousness. Apart from You there is no righteousness, but through Jesus I have been “born again” and made righteous in Your sight. May I live as a righteous person. Equip me Lord with feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. May I reflect the Gospel in my words and actions, that through me, with my every encounter, others may be drawn one step closer to You. Equip me Lord with the shield of faith. May I take You at Your word concerning promises about the present and future—promises of everlasting love, abundant life, and so much more. Equip me Lord with the helmet of salvation. Remind me that nothing can separate me from Your love and that I’ve  been saved by grace. In Your grace, help me to say “no” to all ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life (Titus 2:12,13). Equip me Lord with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. May Your Holy Spirit reign in my life and bring to my mind just the right Bible verses to be in my heart and on my lips. May I be “filled with the Spirit” and ready with Scripture as You were, Jesus, when the devil tempted You. And, finally, keep me in an attitude of prayer. Remind me to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” Cause me to be alert and always praying for the saints; to be joyful and to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

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

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Control is an Illusion

Peninsula Community Church

Control is an Illusion

July 15, 2018 

Mark 4:35-41 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Last week we looked at Jehoshaphat and how God protects us and keeps us. The focus of our study this morning will be on what happens when we do everything right, and God does not hold up to His part of the bargain? What do you do when it feels that God has let us down? Or at least we think He does! What do you do when things are out of our control? In other words, what do you do when you lose control of a situation, event, or person?

This issue of control is seen in the story before us today. Three of the four gospels have some version of this story that impacts the disciples. Let us look at this story and then make a few comments. After a day of ministry, we find that Jesus tells the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake. Jesus joins them and off they go. On their journey, they encountered a storm! Imagine this picture with me. Jesus commanded them to get in the boat and go to the other side. He is right there with them. He commanded, they obeyed.

Jesus was with them, and yet they encountered a fierce storm. It should be noted that this was not a normal storm. We find the disciples were greatly afraid. To understand their fear, we must remember that most of the disciples were fishermen and they had been out on this same lake many times before. They had encountered all kinds of storms in the past, but this storm was a different storm altogether. It effected them to the core of their being. We find the storm was so massive and powerful that water was overflowing into the boat. This could result in the boat sinking and them losing their lives. They were afraid. How many times have you faced a storm that rushed in and overpowered you? It was so powerful that you risked death or you felt like you would drown.

In 1980 I had boarded a plane that was headed from Atlanta to La Guardia airport. I was in God’s will as I was traveling around the US for the ministry that I was leading. It was a normal day but after we took off the weather turned nasty. I had flown many times before and was on other planes when other storms had hit but this flight was different. The plane we were on began to be tossed. We continually felt the storm causing the plane to rise, fall, and shake. I can tell you there was some fear that arose and I was not feeling very safe. I had never worried about crashing before but that thought crossed my mind many times during this flight. I was so excited when we finally landed at LGA. I literally got on the ground and kissed it. 

In this story, we find the disciples had been obedient to Jesus’ command. They had gotten into the boat and had begun to travel to the other side of the lake. What they did not anticipate was the storm that was to blow in. You see they could control the boat. They could control their actions, but they could not control the storm, nor could they control the outcome of the storm.

Even though the disciples were right where they were suppose to be, they encountered a great storm. They were in this situation because they were in obedience to Jesus’ command. One of the great lies propagated by the enemy is that if we encounter a storm, there must be something wrong with us. The enemy of our soul loves to take the storms and issues of life that are beyond our control, and use them to demoralize us and make us feel that we have failed or we are in some state of error. There are times when the storms we face are a result of our actions or our decisions. We face storms because of our failures and because of the sin in our life, but in this case they were right where God wanted them to be. 

For the disciples, notice here they were powerless to control the storm nor could they control Jesus. It is noteworthy that even the best of us can be overwhelmed by the storms of life. We can be a old salt as a Christian so to speak. We can navigate almost anything but then there is that thing, that one event or series of events that rock our world and unsettles us to the core. Lack of control can result in fear which is a powerful emotion. All of us deal with such things at some moment in time. There is the fear of loss. There is the fear of the unknown. There is the fear of pain. There is the fear of death. There is the fear of a hostile world. The result of fear is that we can either be motivated to act in positive ways or it can paralyze us.

Because of the entrapments of the enemy, we are all prone to wander from God’s plan and purpose for our lives. I love the old hymn Come Thou Fount of Blessing. There is a line or two in there that speaks to this. The writer states Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. The point here is that we often try to control that which we cannot control and that is tiring and wearisome. It is fruitless.

We are most often effected by what we cannot control. When we feel we have lost control our world gets turned upside down. The fact is we all love to control things to some degree or another. We all love to have things in order and we love to control our destiny. The problem is when our plans do not always work out, we can get bent out of shape and feel distraught.  

Where was Jesus in all of this? He was asleep on the stern of the boat on a cushion. He was not effected by the storm but the disciples were. They panicked and they called to Jesus. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Notice, they felt that Jesus is not responding to their needs. The disciples who were seasoned fishermen and were acquainted with storms and problems on the lake panicked. For them, everything was out of control. They could not control the storm and they could not control Jesus. 

I wonder if they thought, Jesus, we did our part but you are not living up to your part. We got in this boat because you told us to. If we are honest, we probably all face a moment where we feel that Jesus has failed us. We question whether Jesus is actually with us and whether He is in control. Sometimes, when the pressures of life are overwhelming and seem to overpower us, we can believe God has failed us. We can feel that God is not doing His part. We too can proclaim and at times scream in our hearts, “Oh God where are you?” 

Listen to the words of the disciples. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” There is so much in this statement. Do you not care? Are you just going to sleep through all of this? Do you not see what is going on here? It is at this point in our walk with Christ that our faith is tested. Do you ever feel that way? 

Notice what Jesus does after this. Scripture says And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Notice that in a moment Jesus spoke to the wind and there was calm. The storm that moments before was overflowing into the boat, was now calm. The storm that once seemed as if it was going to sink the boat, was now carrying them across the lake to the other side, which was their destination to begin with. While Jesus may seem distant, He is there all of the time. He is on the journey with us. He is near to us. He has not left us nor has He forgotten us. 

Jesus addresses their faith and their fear. Rather than trust Him, they had moved in fear. You see faith and fear are opposed to one another. Faith is opposed to fear and fear counteracts our faith. Fear causes us to be out of focus. For the disciples, they had seen the miracles of God, they had received the teachings of Christ, but these things had not impacted their faith. We can go to church every Sunday. We can go to conferences. We can read books. The question, however, is “Have we grown in our faith?” What we do must cause us to develop a greater faith in Christ. 

In this story, I am amazed at the response of the disciples, once the storm is calmed. You would think they would have been overjoyed but instead they are afraid. But this is a different kind of fear. Their fear of the storm turned to an awe inspiring fear because of what Jesus just did. He spoke and the winds ceased and the storm was abated. And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

They were amazed and they walked in the awe of the miracle God had provided. Their fear turned from worry to being overwhelmed with the power of Jesus to control the storm. Their loss of control turned to victory, and their confidence in Jesus to control every problem we experience. So let me ask you? Where is Jesus? Do you feel He has left you? The truth is He has not left us. He is in the boat. He is at peace. He is in control. We can rest in that. 

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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Are You Having a Crisis of Faith?

Peninsula Community Church 

Are You Having a Crisis of Faith?

April 8, 2018

Matthew 28:16-20 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This week I have been dealing with this question. After the resurrection what do we do? How do we deal with all that transpired? How do we get past the celebration of the event and move to an ongoing celebration of life? Last week, we celebrated the festivities of Easter, the clothes, and of course all of the food. Last week we had a great service. We focused on the power and the truth of the resurrected Lord. But here is a truth, we do not and we cannot continue to stand at the empty tomb and expect life to change. We must begin to live in the reality of the resurrected Lord. We must move beyond the tomb to live life to the fullest. While this is true, as I was preparing this message, I could not help but focus on the fact that while some worshipped Jesus others doubted. This occurred after His resurrection. It is that doubt that keeps many from moving forward to live a resurrected life.

Our tendency might be to judge or criticize those who doubted. This is so easy to do. In reality, doubt is often a result of difficult circumstances and problems. It is interesting that the word doubt means “to be hung in suspense.” It means that we are at a crossroad of decision making. Decision making can negatively impact us because the results of our decision are unknown or undecided. From a spiritual standpoint, doubt is a place where God seems to be distant or seems to be unaware of what we are going through. It is a place where have more unanswered prayers than ones that have been answered. It is my guess that we have all faced this kind of doubt. We have all encountered issues that seem to have no answers or at least any easy answers. We are faced with trusting God, and the promises of God, because we do not have solid answers and there is no hope found in the circumstances we face. 

For some of the disciples, as well as others, who followed Christ, the events of the last few days and weeks had left them in doubt and struggling with a crisis of faith. They were hung in suspense as to what had happened and what was going to happen. They were hung in the suspense of wanting to have the right answers. They wanted to believe but everything that had transpired for them was a bit more than they could handle. Some of those who doubted agreed with what Christ had done but they struggled with who He was. Others knew who He was, but they struggled with what He had done. Their vision of Christ did not match up to the reality of their heart or the teachings of Christ. What they knew and believed about Jesus had been shaken and now they were struggling to keep everything in perspective, even though He had risen from the dead. You see they were face to face with Jesus, and yet they still had doubts.

We too can face a crisis of faith when the trials we encounter cause us to struggle with prayers that go unanswered. We face the pressure of circumstances that seem to not change or in fact they get worse. This can cause us to be be shaken to the core of our faith. We can even begin to question the validity of our faith. We can begin to question whether or not we have been betrayed by God Himself. We can reason that we are doing our best but He is not doing His part. These unanswered questions nag at our hearts: Is God really who He says He is? Can God do what He says He can do? We have taught others that God is good, loving, and faithful and now we wonder if that is really true.

As we consider one’s crisis of faith, I believe there are some benefits to dealing with a crisis of faith. If we choose to follow God by faith and in obedience to His Word, our crisis of faith will lead us to a deeper understanding of God and who He is. Sometimes we need to choose to follow Him by faith, even when we do not have all the answers much less all of the questions. I love what we find in 1 Kings 18:21. Elijah made this challenging proclamation “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

The first benefit is that a crisis of faith forces us to take a hard look at what we believe. What a benefit that is. In our humanness, we can become comfortable with a belief system that may or may not be correct. For example, my faith in Christ has been tested many times. There have been times where I have needed a divine intervention from God but it did not seem to be happening. It seemed that He was delaying His answer and that He was not concerned. My faith crisis was in believing that God did not really care. I had the feeling that He had forgotten me? I began to question if I was good enough. When God did answer in His time, my view of God as the faithful One was strengthened, and thus what I believed about God was confirmed. 

Secondly, a crisis of faith leads to more authentic convictions. When we experience a crisis of faith the last thing we need to do to is deny it. Instead of denying the issue, lean into your crisis of faith and face your doubts. As a result, authenticity will be a characteristic of your life. Here is the deal, God knows your doubts already, so you might as well be honest with Him about them. Only when you face the truth about your doubts are you able to move forward toward a more authentic faith. If we allow fear to rule and we deny our doubts, our faith will not be as strong as it should be. God honors truthfulness and He already knows what we are thinking. 

Third, a crisis of faith invites you to a stronger and more deeply-rooted faith. By accepting that we are in a crisis of faith, we have the capacity to admit we need God. Can you imagine the children of Israel standing before the Red Sea? Behind them was an army rushing at full speed toward them. Ahead of them was a river that was impossible to cross with a million people or more. Their leader was an old man who has nothing but a stick in his hand. Do you think they had a crisis of faith? These and other stories have been recorded through Scripture to give us hope and help us to navigate life when doubt comes and we struggle with our own crisis of faith.

When the events we face cause us to believe we cannot go on serving God, what do we do? How do we keep the Easter story alive in our heart? I believe this passage gives us some answers. This may be a different look at this passage than we are use to, but here we go. First of all, we worship. Worship is a key component to living in the reality of the resurrected Christ and moving beyond our crisis of faith. The word worship is a great word. This word comes from the old English word “weorthscipe” which means to ascribe or give value to something or someone. As we give value to something or someone, we tend to worship or value that thing or person. When it comes to Christ, He is already worthy but we must value the gift He has given us. We must ascribe worth and value for who He is and what He is about. 

The second solution is to recognize that we have been called to a higher purpose. Notice that Jesus did not distinguish between the disciples who worshipped Him and the ones who doubted. He called them all with the same purpose and calling. No matter who you are as a believer, He is calling you to find a purpose. This gives us a reason to look beyond where we are and allows us to refocus on something greater than ourselves. Perhaps one reason we are facing a crisis of faith is that we have not determined our purpose in Christ’s Kingdom. 

What does He call us to do? Here Jesus issued this command. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Notice a couple of things here. First, we are to go. This speaks of action. We are to go people and not wait for them to come to us. To go means we have an outward focus on evangelism. He called them all to go into the world. Let me make a critical point here. We are all called to share Christ with those we encounter. By going our focus is shifted from our struggle with faith to seeing those who need of Jesus and those who need hope for a better day. 

 

The third way to counter our crisis in faith is to remember, He is with us all of the time. He never leaves us. He is, has been, and always will be with us. That brings us hope and inspiration to face a better day. It encourages us to move in obedience to touch those lives we encounter. 

So how are you today? Are you living with a crisis of faith? Are living with doubt? Maybe today God wants to show you are new purpose and a new reason to focus on Him. Maybe today, He wants you to worship Him regardless of where you are circumstantially. What about it? Are you ready to soar with faith?

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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