Tag Archives: faith

What Action Will You Take

Peninsula Community Church

What Action Will You Take 

June 25, 2017

Luke 5:17-20 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

This is an amazing story when you think about it. As usual wherever Jesus traveled there was a crowd of people. In this case the crowd had grown so large there was no room to get close to Him. It was in this context that the paralyzed man came to Jesus. He needed a miracle. He was ready to receive but he could not get close enough to get His blessing.

Before we look at some specifics let us take a quick look at the characters in the story. First, we have the crowd who was pressing in so they could be close to Jesus. They were so focused on their needs that they did not see this man and his needs. Their own interests blinded them to the needs of this man. Then we have the friends of the man. They were concerned about their friend who had been sick for such a long time. It is possible that he had lost hope and was at the end. Because of their friendship, they were willing to do whatever it would take to see him healed. Then we have the man who in some ways has a passive role in this story. We do not know why he was paralyzed. We do not know how long he was paralyzed. We just know he had a problem and he needed to get to Jesus. The power of God was moving in Jesus to heal. That is why this man needed Jesus.

Because of the crowd, this small group of men could not get close to Jesus. As a result, they had to make one of three choices. The first choice was that they could give up and go home. After all the crowd was too big. After all there was no way for them to get close enough to Jesus. They could have given up but nothing would have changed. He would remain paralyzed. He would continue to depend on his friends to help him get around for the rest of his life.

How many times do we face problems in life and we find ourselves giving up? Whether we realize it or not it is always easier to give up than it is to move forward and get things accomplished. It is easier to do nothing but doing nothing changes nothing. By giving up there is no healing and no future. There are a number of reasons to give up so easily.  For one, we tend to settle for less than God’s best. Sometimes we settle even for the good rather than His best. Secondly, too many times we are not willing to put in the hard work. We get overwhelmed and rather than pressing in we give up and give into the pressures of life. Thirdly, we can be so distracted by the issues around us that do not even realize that Jesus wants to touch us. Being distracted causes us to go after perceived solutions in a hope that hoping we will find an answer but never do.

The second choice we can make is to hang up. It is so easy to get hung up on what we do not have. We can get hung up on the belief that nothing will ever change or be any different than it is right now. When we get hung up on the problem or situation a couple of things happen. For one, we can become critical and judgmental. We are critical because we see everyone else getting blessed but we are not. We are critical because we think we deserve better but we are not willing to make the changes necessary for permanent change.

Newt Gingrich on Fox News made a valuable statement a few weeks ago. He stated that it is much easier to criticize than to actually do anything. We can get hung up on criticizing the issues and complaining about what is not changing but we never engage in a way to bring real change. Criticism is easy, but change is much harder. For me, I have found this to be so true. I can criticize people, plans, circumstances, and issues around me but fail to step up to the plate to bring any real solutions to the table. I must ask myself, “Am I a part of the problem or am I a part of the solution.” Your answer will determine your outlook.

When we get hung up we can begin to focus on the problem so much that we lose hope and faith. We see the problems but do not see anyway out. The result is that we make mountains out of mole hills when God wants to make our mole hills and for that matter our mountains fall into the sea. I remember in the story of Nehemiah that the Israelites become discouraged because they saw all of the rubble. They were so focused on the obstacles that they missed opportunities to respond to God. They became frozen with fear and anxiety.

While we might chose to give up or hang up we can also choose to stand up and move forward. Notice that in this passage the paralytic man and his four friends chose not to give up or to get hung up. They chose to stand up and make a difference. They saw the problems. They saw the crowd. They saw the obstacles but that did not stop them. The desire to see their friend healed far outweighed the obstacles and the problems. Their faith in Jesus moved them to action. They pushed through all of the obstacles to find another way.

Remember the old adage, when a door is closed a window is opened. The door here was closed but a roof opened. They took their friend upon the roof. They tore the roof open. They let him down into the crowd. Strange idea but that is what they did. They were not willing to settle or give up. They did not run away. They chose not to stand around and criticize but they chose to take action.

They needed faith to do what they were about to do. You see change comes by our faith being put into action. Jesus saw their actions and He responded to the man’s need. The Scripture says that Jesus saw their faith. Here is the principle of Biblical faith. We act God responds. We act and God will meet us in the process. Listen to the words of Jesus! “Man your sins be forgiven.”

This may seem to be a strange statement. The man needed healing not forgiveness. Or at least that is what he thought. The reality is that Jesus often gives us what we need and not just what we want. This man needed healing but he also needed forgiveness. Sometimes God knows that the best way to heal the body is to heal the heart. When Jesus touches us He can and will touch the whole man and not just part. Jesus heals and saves. He delivers us from the physical bondage of illness and sickness and He can deliver us from the power of sin. Sometimes, He does both at the same time. That is certainly what Jesus did here.

So the question is how does this apply to us. The fact is we are all confronted with impossible issues. Most of the issues we face are bigger than us and seem to be more powerful than we are. But when we are confronted with such things we can make a choice about what we will do. Will we give up? Will we get hung up? Or, will we stand up and press in to do the impossible by faith.

I suggest and encourage you to stand up and do the impossible. One of the things that has baffled me about this passage is how did Jesus see their faith. Certainly they pressed through the crowd. Certainly they had broken through the roof. Certainly they did not settle for the status quo. Certainly they took action but I think they did one more thing. When they lowered the paralyzed man through the roof, I believe they let go of the ropes. That was faith in action. They did all they could do and now they left the rest to Jesus. I encourage you to do your part and then let go of the ropes and giving your cares and issues to Jesus. Their part was that they sought Jesus. They drew near to Him. He saw their faith and He answered the man’s need.

The story is told of a mountain climber who set off all by himself to conquer a mountain he had always wanted to conquer. This was not a good idea because the protocol was to always climb with a partner. In a moment of arrogance he took off to make the climb. When he had climbed almost to the summit he slipped and began a rapid descent. All of a sudden the rope reached its end and he snapped to a stop. Because darkness had come, he lost all track of where he was. It was in that moment that he prayed. From the darkness he heard the voice of God. Cut the rope and let go. He argued and refused to cut the rope. The next morning, the park rangers found him. He had frozen to death. They found him tightly holding onto the rope. It was there he died. If he had obeyed the voice of God, he would have lived, as he died hanging only two feet off the ground.

Perhaps, today Jesus is calling you to let go of the rope and by faith give what every you struggle with over to Jesus. It is time to let go. It is time to stand up and push through the obstacles. Do so and Jesus will meet you where you are.

Let’s pray.

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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Engaging in God’s Purpose

February 26, 2017

Pastor Bob Odom

Engaging in God’s Purpose

Nehemiah 2:1-5 – In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.”

Here is the question for us today. When you face difficulties in your life how do you react or respond? This is a critical question because how we respond or react to the trials and problems we face make a big difference. The fact is we all tend to respond in different ways at different times. Sometimes the events and circumstances we face will determine our response. Sometimes the people we are with will determine how we respond. Sometimes we continue to respond in certain ways based on our past experiences and how we have been conditioned or raised to respond.

We will return to this in a moment but before we do that lets peer into this passage so that we can begin to understand what God will teach us and accomplish through us. In Nehemiah 2, we find that Nehemiah had been a patient man and had waited almost four months before finally presenting his case to the king. We also find that in the meantime that Nehemiah had been faithful to carry out the tasks of being the cupbearer. He did not give up on the tasks he had to accomplish. Although the news he had received was dreadful and painful, he did not allow the news to cause him to curl up in a ball and shut out life. He continued live and press forward.

Finally and in the right moment, when the time was right, and it seemed that God had orchestrated everything in Nehemiah’s life it was time to present himself to the king. Life was more than he could bear and it was time to make a move. He could no longer hide his pain or his disappointment. In the moment that the king recognized there was a problem with Nehemiah, the  king responded to Nehemiah’s pain. In that moment Nehemiah had a decision to make in terms of how he would respond. When we were in the hospital this week Michelle read me a portion of a book she was reading. I thought what she read fit so perfectly with this message. The author of the book noted three ways we tend to respond to the events of our lives. We can endure the trial, we can escape the trial, or we can engage the trial.

Let us look at these for a moment. First of all, we can try to endure our trials but in doing so the tendency is that our trials can begin to master us, thus they begin to control us. The result is that we become hard and bitter. The problem with simply enduring the trial is that the trial or the problem we face tends to take charge and begins to rule our life. Left to its own devices the trial can become bigger than life. The result is that our complete attention can be focused on the trial and nothing else. While this is a natural outcome, we must be faithful to move beyond this.

The second way to to deal with the trials in our life is to attempt to escape the trials. The problem with using the escape mechanism is that when we try to escape the problem we often miss what God is doing and what He wants to achieve in our life. We run from the pain and in so doing we miss God’s blessing but we also postpone the difficulty until a later time in our life.

There is a third way and it is the best way to deal with difficulty. How do we do this? We enlist the difficulty or we engage it. When we enlist or engage our trails they begin to work on our behalf and thus they do not master us. We can overcome them and begin to see the benefits of the trial we face. This is critical as every trial we face serves a purpose in the economy of God. It pushes us closer to God, it can reveal sin in us, and it provides a deeper look into our heart.

Two passages come to mind as we consider these thoughts. The first of these is Deuteronomy 8:2-3. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Notice here that God had orchestrated this plan in order that their hearts would be revealed and the truth of who they are was seen. Notice too that in this passage that the people experiencing the difficulty were not even aware of what God was doing in them. Without going through these difficulties, they would have never achieved the lessons required for them to learn: obedience to God, dependence on God for the provision of God, and the power of the grace of God.

The second passage is Romans 8:28. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Notice this passage does not say everything will be good but rather that everything will work together for a good outcome even if that is in the eternal perspective. Life is not good but God always is. He never fails. That is the exact point being made in this passage. Too many believe that because we are Christians no bad thing will ever happen to us but that is far from the truth. As we embrace the truth and the reality of our life in God, He can use these issues to form and shape us into what He desires.

My experience this past week with being in the hospital is in fact a perfect example of this. During the day on Sunday I began to experience a severe stomach pain. Through the day the pain began to become greater and more intense. At first I tried to endure the pain and do all of the home remedies that I knew without any relief. I could have chosen to endure the pain but the outcome in my life might have been different. It was beginning to control me. I could also have tried to escape and deny the existence of the pain but it would have mastered me and the results may have had a different ending. Instead I choose to engage the pain and drive myself to the hospital where we now know there was much more going on in my body.

Nehemiah decided to engage and face his problems. He took a chance with the king who could have had him banished and worse yet killed him. Nehemiah chose to engage the problem and meet with the king directly. Remember last we week that Nehemiah had prayed and fasted. He had received as much information as he could about what was going on with his homeland. At that moment he could have tried to just endure and continue to pray and fast but not do anything.  That would have been spiritually accepted but while the spiritual and religious steps we take are important there is a time where we need to engage the problem and seek godly results.

We also find that Nehemiah could have tried to to escape the problem and pretend that was just the way things were going to be and therefore there was no hope for change. He could have run from the trial and would have been justified in doing so. He could have passed the buck and suggested it was someone else’s responsibility rather than his responsibility. So which would you prefer? Your trials mastering you, missing out on what God has to teach you, or accepting the trial and then being positioned for growth and strength. I not sure about you but I prefer the later.

Nehemiah had no idea of what would transpire in the days to come but because he accepted his trial and did not try to run from it, God used him and positioned him to accomplish His will. Nehemiah could have been “spiritual” and stayed in his room to pray and fast but he engaged. After he prayed and fasted he realized that he needed to do his part and that is just what he did and that is what we must do. We need to engage and get in the game so that we achieve God’s highest will for our lives.

So what did Nehemiah do? First of all, he did not try to hide his problem. He was honest about his situation. He did not overvalue the problem but he certainly did not underestimate the problem either. Notice that Nehemiah was willing to share his concerns directly with the king. This is critical because he took his need to the one earthly person that could do something about the problem. He did not talk with a lot people. He did not mumble and grumble. He did not use negative  self talk to get himself discouraged. Sometimes we can engage with everyone but the one person that can help us resolve the issues of life. As a result of the relationship Nehemiah had with the king, he engaged the king and thus the king realized there was a problem. Even then Nehemiah had a decision to make. How much would he share? How honest would he be?

This leads us to the second thing that Nehemiah did. Nehemiah dealt with his fear. Fear is a natural outcome when we face trials and difficulties in our life. Fear is a God given emotion that can be taken to the extreme and cause us to shut down, run, or hide. Fear can paralyze us.   But fear can also cause us to get a head of God and we can sometimes even circumvent what God is doing in us as a result. Nehemiah however faced his fears. Let me ask you two questions as we close this morning. First, what are you afraid of? And secondly, what could you accomplish if you did not have that fear any more? God never intended for fear to control us or cause us to be bound by the unknown. Nehemiah was gripped with fear but he did not allow fear to control him. He pressed through his fear and spoke truth to the king and as we know by history and the word that Nehemiah cam through in a big way and had compassion.

As we close would you take a moment focus your attention on the video we will play in second. So much of our failure comes in the form of fear. But that was never God’s intention. But we know who stands with us. He is God and He is always by our side. He overcomes our fear and the closer we get to him the more fear will subside. This video is Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.

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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By Faith: God Provides

Peninsula Community Church 

By Faith: God Provides

October 30, 2016

Hebrews 11:17-20 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

As we continue our journey through the Hall of Fame of Faith we will turn our attention back to Abraham and a story that seems to be filled with major contradictions. We will look at these in a moment. While it is true there appears to be a series of contradictions, we also see that this is a story of faith and trust like no other.

In our earlier discussions, you may remember that Abraham had been called out of his homeland to go to a new place that God would reveal to him only as he was obedient to God. In other words God would let him know when he arrived at the destination (Genesis 12). In the story, we find that Abraham obeyed by faith and he found the place God wanted him to abide. In the process, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. He would be progenitor of what was to come. As we continue the story, we find that he and Sarah tried to take things into their own hands and he had a son with Hagar. This never worked out the way he thought and he had to move Hagar and Ishmael to the desert.

Here is what I love about the story of Abraham. He was a man of faith but he was not a perfect man. He had his foibles and his failures. Throughout his life he passed many of life’s tests and yet he failed so many others. We might be critical of Abraham but before we become too critical of him if we are honest we do the same thing. We pass some of the tests of life with flying colors while we fail at some of the others. In fact, at times I can be amazed at what tests I pass and which ones I fail. In the story before us today, we see a major test that Abraham was given and how he passed it with flying colors.

As I noted before, this story is filled with several contradictions. In a recent message by Pastor Tony Evans, he noted five contradictions in this story. First, he noted that theologically God had made a promise to Abraham but now Abraham was being asked to kill the promise that was given to him. For Abraham this was a major contradiction. Secondly, from a Biblical standpoint God had condemned murder in Genesis 9:5-6. Now God is asking Abraham to do the very thing that is condemned by God. On one hand God is calling for Abraham’s obedience and yet on the other hand he is being asked to break God’s command. Emotionally, Abraham faced a huge contradiction. He loved his son, his only son, but he wanted to please God and honor God with his whole life. Abraham was having to make a choice about giving up what he loved and his obedience to God. Can you imagine the turmoil that evidenced in Abraham’s heart.

Relationally, we see the contradiction of his love for Sarah and the struggle he would have in explaining all of this to her. Perhaps that is why he arose early in the morning. By leaving early he would not have to confront her with his mission. And then finally, we see a spiritual contradiction. Do you see it? He is being asked to sacrifice his son and yet at the same time he was being called to worship God. This story begs the question of how can we be obedient to God, and yet worship Him with a broken heart. These were the issues Abraham was being confronted with and yet he passed the test.

Think about this for a moment, God the creator of the heavens and the earth, the one who gave Abraham the promise of a son now has him positioned to take his son’s life. What turmoil and what pain he must of felt. All at once he was experiencing love, pain, confusion and so much more but instead of rejecting God we see a man who had faith that God would provide. How do I know that? Let’s look at three key passages that express the heart of Abraham.

First of all, Abraham tells his servants to stay below and that he and Isaac would go up the mountain to make a sacrifice to God. Once the sacrifice was complete they would return. Notice he did not say I will be back but instead he made the proclamation that “we will be back.” Here are his exact words. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (Genesis 22:5). There was a confident faith expressed here. He knew that God would fulfill His promise. He trusted God and he knew that God would provide even against all odds.

It is noteworthy that Abraham prepared for the sacrifice. He prepared the wood. He brought the rope. He brought everything he needed for the sacrifice and yet there was an assurance in his heart that God would provide an appropriate sacrifice. That is why he could proclaim that we are going up the mountain. I am going to be obedient to God and we will come down the mountain together.

There is a second reason that I believe that he had a great faith in God’s ability to fulfill His word and keep His promise. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews had to say. He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back (Hebrews 11:19). By faith, Abraham knew that even if the worst case scenario was to happen and he followed through with the offering of his son upon the altar, he knew that God had the power to raise him up again. He had a confidence in almighty God that He would keep His word and His promise to make him a father of many nations.

This vaguely sounds like the echo of Job’s heart when he faced the loss of everything that mattered in his life. Do you recall what Job proclaimed in Job 13:15? Here are Job’s words. Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. Listen to the faith of Job. Though God were to take everything from him, even his life, he vowed to serve God and to keep Him first in his life. He was saying that no matter what happens he would trust God and would hope in His promise.

As I think about this I am not so sure that I would have had such confidence in God. I think I would have been the one who would have been trying to find another way to help God out. After all, this could not be God’s will. Certainly, God must not know what He is talking about. I wonder if we are honest with ourselves, how many times do we react to the commands and promises of God that way. Through His written word and those strong impressions of the heart we know the voice of God, but we try to help God out because He certainly cannot know or mean what He is saying. I am so grateful that God does not put us to that kind of test everyday. I am so glad that God is patient with us when we do not believe Him or have faith in Him.

Abraham had an incredible faith. He obeyed. In his obedience he passed this major exam. The exam was a measure of his heart and the capacity of his heart to trust God to provide an appropriate sacrifice. One of things that helped Abraham pass the test is that he was more in love with God than he was the promise of God. That is the real test. The big question for us today is will we be more in love with God or more in love with what God does for us? It is so easy for us to slide into this kind of mentality. After all God gives and does so much for us that we could easily take Him for granted. We can easily become more in love with what He does than who He is.

And then thirdly, we have the words of Jesus in John 8:56. This is an amazing statement by Jesus but it helps us understand Abraham’s heart and mindset. Jesus said this. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” Do you get what this passage is saying? Abraham with confidence looked across the generations and through the years to see the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan. God’s plan all along was to provide a Savior that would redeem the world and would redeem mankind. Abraham knew in his heart that he had a role to play in that process.

Through the eyes of faith Abraham looked over the horizon of history yet to be written to see the coming Messiah. He focused on the coming Christ. Here is the beauty of this. In essence, it was this forward thinking of faith that kept Abraham focused on Christ and keep him in an obedient stance before God. In many ways the story of Abraham and Isaac resembled the story of Christ. Jesus was the only son of God who was sacrificed upon the cross for our sins. It was Jesus who became the substitute for our sin. It is also amazing that this story took place on Mount Moriah which was only a few yards from Golgotha where Christ died.

Think about it if you will. Later in the book of Hebrews, the writer admonishes us with these words in Hebrews 12:1-2. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Notice that the challenge here is for us to stay focused on Christ. The difference for us is that we have the historical record upon which we can base our faith but Abraham based his faith on the unknown and yet to be.

So let me ask you today? How is your faith? When difficulty comes into your life, what do you focus on? Where do you put your faith and confidence? Isaiah had a revelation of this truth in Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Do you hear it? He gives peace to those who focus on God. Abraham had that peace. He had that confidence. His focus was on the future hope of the coming Messiah.

So what does all of this mean for us today? It means that we too can have a confidence in the risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We can focus on Him knowing that He will provide all we need to survive the tests of our lives. We can have a confidence that even if God takes the promise from us that He will cause it to rise again in greater and more powerful ways. So I do not know what you are facing. I do not know what you need faith for today. But I know this God will provide a means to get through the difficulty and He will provide a means where we will survive the test. He is Jehovah Jireh, the God that provides. If we trust Him, He will provide a sacrifice. He will provide the answers we need. We focus, He answers!

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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By Faith: Obedience To the Calling

Peninsula Community Church

By Faith: Obedience To the Calling

October 9, 2016

Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Today, we continue our journey through the Hall of Fame of Faith. So far, we have examined the story of Cain and Abel, Enoch, and last week we looked at the life of Noah. Today, we look at the story of Abraham and God’s calling and promise to him. As we examine the lives of those who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame of Faith, we find that the one key denominator in all of these stories is a unswerving faith in God. Each of these success stories is based on the individual’s faith and trust in almighty God.

The story of Abraham is no different. In the text we just read, as well as the account in Genesis 12, we find that Abraham was called to pick up stakes and move to a place he knew nothing about. We find that Abraham obeyed God because of His faith. Abraham was called by God to move outside of his comfort zone and what was familiar to him. For us personally, there are times where God will challenge us and shake us so that we are moved into a new perspective, a new way of thinking, and a new calling or service to God.

As I think of this story the question that comes to mind is “How many of us love to play it safe?” Too often we choose to live in a place of comfort and contentment. We put stakes into the ground and huddle around that which is comfortable and that which is familiar rather than stepping outside of our comfort zone. Abraham was definitely called to move outside his comfort zone in order to accomplish God’s will and purpose. He was called to move to a place he did not know and to a people he was not familiar with. In fact, I would argue today that Abraham could not fulfill God’s promise where he was, he had to move. He had to go to where he could be best used for the Kingdom of God.

For us today we must recognize that God moves us out of our comfort zone for several reasons. For one, sometimes, we need to be shaken out of our comfort zones because we have become so comfortable with our current status that we don’t do anything to better ourselves or those around us. Sometimes, we need to be moved out of our comfort zone because God cannot use us as much as he can when we live in that place. God does this because He has a better plan for our life. And finally, God has to shake us from our comfort zone because in our comfort zone we can become self-centered and inwardly focused. The result is that too often we become ineffective in our service to God.

Listen to Abrahams’s story in Genesis 12:1-5. Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.

Listen to the process involved with the call of Abram. God called him to leave the country of his kindred, the place of his heritage, and he was to leave his family and he was go to the land that God would show him. Think about this. We all have an infinity toward our families but what would you do if God called you to pack your bags, leave home, and go where he wanted you to go but you would not know where you were going until you got there? Would you go?

God calls Abraham to leave everything that is a part of his identity. He was called to give up his cultural identity, his family identity, and his inheritance. In a sense, this reminds us of the words of Paul in the book of Philippians and his desire to give up things for God. Paul said this But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 (Philippians 3:7-11).

Do you here the echo of the call of Abraham in these words? To make Paul’s words even more significant, we must look at the preceding verses to see that Paul had just given the church at Philippi his resume. He listed his degrees. He detailed his family heritage and his family genealogy because that was what made a man in that day important and it gave him status in the land. But in the end, Paul stated that he counted all of that loss. He counted that as rubbish or garbage when compared to what he was to gain through a personal relationship with Christ. You see Paul weighed out the fact that he wanted a personal relationship with Christ more than he wanted to be known by his degrees or his heritage. Through Paul, a new standard was being set. It was a standard that measured our importance not by our social status but by a personal dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ.

As we look at this lesson this morning let me make a couple of observations. First, it is noteworthy that we do not have much of a response from Abraham.  All we know is that God called and Abraham obeyed. There is no discussion on Abraham’s part. He does not argue with God. He simply obeyed the call of God. The question for us is how many times do we argue with God about something He is calling us to do? We debate. We argue. We think of every excuse we can come up with as to why we should not do the thing or things that God has called us to. Sometimes the arguments are based in genuine issues but we if we are not careful we can argue obedience away. I would also note that God does not generally call us to give up everything necessarily but He may call us to step outside of what we are familiar with.

The second lesson here is that true obedience to God is an expression of faith in God. It has been said and I wholeheartedly agree that our faith is expressed in our obedience. We are saved by faith and not works but it is our faith that drives us toward obedience to God’s word and to His calling upon our life. So in essence, our obedience to God is in fact our faith being expressed. While our works do not save us they do demonstrate our trust and confidence in God.

James had it so right when he made the following statements in James 1:22-25. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Abraham was promised a great blessing if he responded in faith to the call of God. Abraham did his part and God did His. You see for us today the greatest act of obedience we can have is our obedience to the Word of God. We read, we listen, and we obey. In James 2:14-24 James stated the following. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Here is what James is saying. Put your money where your mouth is. Abraham was truly saved by faith but his works testified to the fact that he had faith to trust God with his life. In our story today, we see the faith of Abraham expressed. He responds to the call of God to go. Why, because he had faith. What is amazing is that Abraham did not have the whole story at his disposal and yet he was fully and completely obedient to God.

As we look at the life of faith we must underhand that the call of God does not come without obstacles and issues. God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. This was all great except that both Sara and Abraham were past their prime as it related to having children. Abraham was 75 years old. But their faith was focused not in their age but in a God who was big enough to do what He said He would do. They had a confidence in God that nothing was impossible with God. Even if he was too old, God could work in miraculous ways to fulfill His promise and His word. He was to become the father of many nations and God would fulfill His promises whatever it take.

So what does all of this mean for us today? When God calls us we can step out in faith and believe that He will fulfill His will in us. Sometimes the unknown can and will scare us. But if our faith in God is bigger than our fear of the unknown we will survive and will be sustained in great and powerful ways. Our job is to be obedient and God will do the rest. Sometimes it means that we observe a need in the church and we become the vessel and channel through which God provides and uses us to touch others. Perhaps it is serving in a ministry that we do not feel comfortable with but we see a need. We hear the call and we obey by serving Him. Are you listening because God is calling and He is speaking today.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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By Faith: Doing the Impossible

Peninsula Community Church

By Faith: Doing the Impossible

October 2, 2016 

Hebrews 11:7By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Today, we will continue our journey through the hall of fame of faith. So far, we have seen that the one common denominator throughout this chapter is faith. Each person included in this chapter had an undeniable level of faith that was focused on a unshakable trust in God. Their faith positioned them to be able to trust God regardless of the circumstances of their life or the influences around them. Today’s story is no different.

In the passage before us we find that Noah had faith. It was Noah’s faith that moved him and provided him the basis of his commitment to accomplish the tasks he was given. We find that Noah was warned about the events that were to come and in reverent fear Noah responded to God’s call. Through faith he set out to do the impossible against incredible odds and massive resistance.

As we look at the story of Noah, we find it is a story of contrasts. The world around Noah had turned against God and was going about their daily lives but they made one major mistake. They had left God out of the equation. To understand the contrasts between Noah and the world we must go back in time to Genesis 6 to see what the Bible has to say about the condition of the world at that time. Listen to the words Moses penned about the condition of that generation. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth (Genesis 6:5, 11-12). The world in Noah’s day was a sad commentary of man being left to his own devices. They were living life without God. They were going through the motions without a moral compass to guide them.

In this passage we see that the Lord did not just base his judgment of the people on their actions but He saw their heart and He saw that their hearts were continually evil. As we look at this passage we are reminded that God judges the heart of man. He does not just judge the outward expression of man as much as He looks to see the motivation of one’s heart. It is noteworthy that mankind was not just evil but they were continually evil. The communication here is that they made it a habit to do evil and they were so caught up their evil ways that they knew no other way to exist.

The sad part of this story is that because of the sinfulness of the day God’s heart broke. The Scripture tells us that the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” (Genesis 6:6-7). 

It is hard to believe that God would be so upset with His creation that He would seek to destroy them and yet that is just what the Bible tells us. He was so upset that He actually regretted that He had created mankind. It is hard to beige that this is the same creation that He created in Genesis 1-3 and He called it good. But now His heart was broken. The actions of man had grieved the heart of God. The broken heart of God was not a reaction from a heart of evil on God’s part but one of love because what they were doing was not His plan. It was not His desire. But yet it was the reality of the day and He needed to do something to save mankind.

You see we can also grieve the heart of God when we refuse to obey God’s will. But we must understand that the attitude exhibited by those in Noah’s day was more than just bad decisions. They had become darkened in their minds and their heart. Their entire motivation was evil and they were focused on wrong doing. They had no desire to serve God or obey His commands. That is the sadness of this story.

In Matthew 24:36-39 we find these words from the Lord Himself in addressing when the Son of Man which is Christ would return to earth to take His children home. The attitude of the world was not much different. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. The story of Noah has become the measuring stick of the future promise of Christ’s return. It is my belief that we are living in just such a time today. People have turned from God and are trusting in their themselves and not God.

As we move back to the Genesis account we find that while the world was falling apart. God was looking for a man that would be different. In Genesis we see that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord… Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. He was spiritually impressive. As we read this text we find that Noah’s life exemplified the life that God could use for His kingdom. What Noah did not know is that he was about to be chosen for a task that by many, including Noah himself, would think was impossible. We will look at that in a moment but for now let us look at what qualified Noah for the task he was about to be called to. In the text, we find three distinct qualities that placed Noah in a position to be used for the mission God was calling Him to. These distinct qualities set Noah apart.

First, Noah was righteous man. His life exhibited the righteousness of God. It is noteworthy that he lived righteously even though the world around him did not do so. While the world’s heart was filled with sin and continuous evil, Noah chose to live differently. He chose to live righteously. His heart was pure and he sought to honor God the best he could. In Hebrews 11 we find that he was a man of righteousness in the here and now but he also was given the promise of an eternal righteousness that was yet to come.

The second quality associated with Noah’s life is that he lived a blameless life. This did not mean that Noah was a perfect man. But he lived in a way that few could find any fault in his life. It is my guess that Noah made mistakes and had issues but the thing that set him apart is that he was willing to deal with his issues in a way that no one could accuse him of sin or wrong.

The third quality possessed by Noah is that he walked with God. If you remember our study from last week we find that Enoch was a model for Noah’s life. It is interesting to note that while Enoch was taken, Noah was left on earth to be used by God to bring about God’s purposes and God’s will for the world. God had a different plan for each of these Godly men. It is for that reason that we must never come to the place where we become jealous about how God uses us. I wonder how many times Noah wished God would do to him what He did to Enoch and just take him. But Noah needed to follow through with the plans that had been given to him. He was chosen for a specific mission.

Because of the qualities exhibited by Noah he was able to stand against the norms of the day. Because of these qualities God was going to use Noah to preach repentance to the world in which he lived. You see even in the judgment that was to come God’s grace was evident. He sent Noah to preach a message of hope. You see it was never God’s desire to destroy the world. His intent was to see the world repent and change their ways but as we read the entire story of Noah’s life we find that man did not repent. In fact, they rejected the call of Noah to repent. They in fact rejected God. So once again we can not blame God for the destruction of the world. It was a choice they made to reject God’s calling.

In this story God called Noah to do something that seemed impossible. God called Noah to Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. God wanted Noah to build an ark to preserve the life of God’s creation. That was no small undertaking. There are three things that seemed to make this an impossible task. First of all he was to build a boat that would measure 450 feet in length, 45 feet high and 75 feet wide by hand. Plus it would take anywhere from 75 years to 120 years to build and stock the ark with food. Can you imagine if you were called to build such a thing by hand or do something that was based solely on the call of God. There is no doubt that the people of the land mocked and ridiculed him big time.

Secondly this seems to be an impossible task because there had been no significant rain on the earth since the earth had been created. From the time of creation to this moment in time the earth was covered with a canopy that provided a tropical environment where the condensation and dew was enough to water the land.

A third problem is that no one believed in Noah’s mission or his message. They did not believe that God was going to destroy the earth. Why would He? They were having too much fun. They would never believe Noah’s call to repentance. Noah had an impossible task but he would stand up for God as he was a man who was full of faith and he knew that God would be with him and would guide him. Why? By faith Noah built the ark. He did the impossible for God.

Noah did it and so can we. So how does this apply to us today? God is calling us to stand strong when the world around us is falling apart. The world is a mess but God is still in control. As with Noah we are called to preach a message of hope but we must understand that we are not responsible for what people do with the message we share. We continue to share and preach a message of hope regardless of how people respond. We do this by faith and by our trust in God who is able to do above and beyond what we think or ask Him to do.

And finally, we never know what we will be called to do that seems impossible. It might be a health issue. It might be life without a loved one. It could be a major change in our life. Whatever the issues, we have the promise that God will be with us and that He will keep us no matter what happens. Are you ready? Let’s do it.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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What is Faith?

Peninsula Community Church

What is Faith? 

September 8, 2016

Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has been called the hall of fame of faith. It has gained this title because of the focus it gives to those who have given themselves to God regardless of the issues they may have faced in life. When you visit a hall of fame there are those who are enshrined there because they have contributed to a certain field of study, a field of science, or they were successful in a particular sport or profession. In the case before us today, we find those enshrined here because of their faithfulness and their trust in the one true God.

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit this chapter has been included in the Biblical text to remind us that we can also make it through until the end even when we face great odds and problems beyond our control. Last week, we noted that we have people watching our lives. We have those in our daily lives that we encounter and who see us every day. We also have a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in death. It is this great cloud of witnesses that the writer of Hebrews is talking about. This is the hall of fame of faith. They are watching us and they are cheering us on in our exploits and our accomplishments for God. They are cheering us on when we fall short and we need special encouragement. How does this occur? It happens because we are challenged by their testimonies and their persistence to follow God whatever the cost.

I propose to you today that the thing that set them apart was their faith in Christ. The faith they possessed sustained and kept them through many different difficulties, adventures, and at time the unknown. You see none of these men were supermen in themselves. Each of them had faults and failures that could have negatively impacted them as a person and as one who was called by God. They were regular human beings who lived regular lives but each one was called with a supernatural calling for a supernatural task. You see they were ordinary men used for the extraordinary by an extraordinary God. The emphasis was on God and not them themselves. Their role was to exhibit faith and obedience to the call of God in their lives. They took the admonishment of Paul in Romans 1:16-17 seriously. “The righteous shall live by faith.”

But the question for us today is to understand why their faith was so important to them. Their faith was critical because it was the sustaining factor in their life. You see to have faith is to have complete trust or confidence in someone or something. As believers, our faith is in the one powerful amazing loving God we serve. You see it is not so much about faith itself as it is the person in or object of our faith. In fact, it is my belief that we can have more faith in faith than we do the one in which our faith is based. We become so concerned about the nuances of faith that we tend to focus on the act of believing itself so much that we forget that our faith is based in and focused on Christ and all that He has done. To understand faith the writer of Hebrews has attempted to clarify the role and purpose of faith in our life.

He begins by focusing us on what faith is. He says, faith is the substance of things hoped for. In other words, our complete trust and confidence in Christ becomes the foundational truth and basis of all that is to come. Faith is both forward looking but it is based in the evidence of what has been done in the past. There is a trust that is built and a security that is fashioned from a truth that the one in whom we place our trust and faith will guide us and keep us. He will not forsake us. Therefore, I can trust Him and have faith for the future.

We must recognize that faith is not about feeling good about ourselves nor is it an ideal that is subjected to our emotions and our erratic ways of thinking. It is based in truth. The fact is Christ died, He rose, and He is sitting at the right hand of the Father. He has promised us that He will be with us and we can take that to the bank. This is the problem with faith too often, however. We can teach faith as if it is some arbitrary concept floating in the heavens. Real faith authentic faith  is based on the reality and the truth that God is alive and that He is in control. Without Him there is no faith for the future. This is the value of trusting Christ.

It is for that reason that Paul made this incredible statement in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Secondly, faith is the evidence of things not seen. How is faith the evidence of things not seen? It is in the relationship of knowing God and His ability to be faithful himself that causes us to trust in what we do not see and what we have been promised. This evidence moves me to do my part and then trust God for the rest. I trust Him, so I honor Him with my time and my faith. Rick Warren has noted the 80/20 rule of faith. If we do the 80% of what is clear he will show us the 20% that is unclear. The problem too often is that we focus on the 20% . We therefore become overly concerned with the 20% and we neglect the 80% we know.

We all have dreams and hopes. We want to see these things fulfilled and come to pass. My dream and vision is that this church will grow and become an influential part of this community. As we look round the room we see many empty seats and people who are missing. What Rick Warren is saying is that I can focus on what I do not see happening to the degree that I am stymied and frozen to do nothing when God is actually doing so much around us. Our faith is not based in what we might see but what we envision as each of us do our part to fulfill the 80% and then let God take care of the 20%.

That is why the writer of Hebrews states that without faith it is impossible to please God. The reality for us today is that we need to understand that our faith only resonates in us when we know God. In knowing God, we know His will and His purposes. Because we trust Him, we can be obedient to Him and thus we can please Him. Do you catch the concept here? To please God we need faith. To have faith we need to know God. Our faith, therefore, is built when we know Him and His ways. So therefore it behoves us to know God.

True faith is more than just a belief in something. It is to know something. Now you might ask how can you say that when we are asked to believe by faith that God created the heavens and the earth. We can do this because we trust God. We know that His word is truth because we have seen it in action. We know that nature itself shows us how all of creation was formed by someone greater than ourselves (Romans 1:19-20). Because the truth of God has been borne out in my life and yours then I can proceed to trust God with the things that I don’t see, feel, touch, or taste. Because of the truth of God is acknowledged, I can then go into the unknown with great faith and hope.

So this begs the question? How is faith built? Faith is built on the word of God (Romans 10:8-11). It is built on our testimonies (Revelations 12:11). It is built on what we have seen God do in us and through us. He has, He is and He will continue to deliver us (1 Corinthians  1:10). It is based on what we know to be true about God. Sometimes we can make faith mystical but it really isn’t at all. It is founded in something and that something is Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.

Even in saving faith or the act of faith that leads us to Christ there is still a foundational principle of truth about God. Paul made this statement in Romans 10:8-11. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. We hear the Word which is truth. The Word by way of the Holy Spirit acts upon our life to receive the truth it presents. The Holy Spirit brings us to the place of understanding and then we acknowledge God and His work in us. That becomes the process of salvation and it is the process of faith. Notice the great salvation passage in Romans. Believe in your hearty and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you shall be saved.

So what is faith? To summarize, faith is trust, assurance and confidence in God and in the work of Jesus Christ. Living faith is not just believing that God exists. It is demonstrated by one’s service and obedience to God. God will increase our faith if we fervently ask Him for it and seek to draw closer to Him in prayer and the reading of His Word.

That is why we gather today around the communion table. The Lord’s Table serves to remind us of what Christ did for us. It reminds us of what Christ is doing in us now. But it is also a promise of what is to come. It is what we pin our faith to. It is the hope of a greater day. That is where we focus our faith and where we place our hope. He did and we can. He is and we can be. He is to come and we will be with Him.

As we prepare our hearts would you listen to this song by Jeremy Camp about our faith. I would ask those who will be serving today to come forward at this time. As you receive the elements would you hold them until everyone has been served and then we will take them together after we pray.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Living Faithful in a Messed Up World

Peninsula Community Church

Living Faithful in a Messed Up World

July 17, 2016 

Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Good morning! I would like to begin this message with a question. How many find that in light of the news and problems in our country, our community, and the personal issues you might face that there are times where you struggle to keep the faith and to live victoriously. As we listen to the news it seems that all we hear is negative. We struggle to know who to believe and who we can trust. We are also faced with so much corruption in government and around us that it baffles the mind. And then we get news that a loved has died and or they have received a serious medical diagnosis. Then flashed across the screen is the killing of more than 80 people celebrating the French Independence. The result is that we walk in fear, doubt, and insecurity rather than in faith.

 

As we look at the passage before us we find that Jesus, as He does so often, uses a story or parable to teach a spiritual truth. This time He speaks about a persistent widow who comes to an ungodly and unloving judge to present her case to him. She had been abused and had been treated unjustly by someone in her life. She was not a “happy camper” as life had cast a cruel blow on her. Her problem was that she had an adversary against her. How many of you feel you have an adversary or adversaries in your life? Bad news, health problems, lost trust have assaulted us until we feel helpless and all we can do is cry out for help. We have a tendency to search for help and do anything for help even it is the wrong thing.

In this case the only one she could call on was this judge who was ungodly and did not respect men. When she approached the judge she was persistent in her request for help. As a result, the judge finally gave in and honored her request to give her justice. The purpose of this story is that Jesus is making a comparison between the ungodly and non compassionate judge and a loving, compassionate God. His point was to show us that if an ungodly man can show that much grace and compassion to one that is persistent how much more will God love us and show us compassion. A second lesson being taught is that Jesus is encouraging us to be persistent. Don’t give up so easily. Don’t lose your faith as it is the basis of all we do.

It is noteworthy that at the end of the parable Jesus proposed a critical question. He questions whether or not He will find anyone faithful when He returns. Sadly, faithful people who really trust God and live for Christ day in and day out are hard to find these days. Jesus is questioning is whether or not His children will be found committed and dedicated to the cause of Christ? This is not just a rhetorical question but is one based on His discussion with the disciples in Luke 17. In Luke 17, Jesus details the mindset of the end times generation. Jesus compares the coming of the Lord to the time of Noah’s day. They were eating, drinking, and enjoying life for all of the wrong reasons with all of the wrong motives. They did not care about God and they did not care about the future. They were living hedonistic lives where it did not matter what they did as long as the flesh was being satisfied. There was no faith in God. Just as in the day of Noah, the greatest question of our time, is not conservatism versus liberalism or Democrat versus republican. It is whether men can live without God and that question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Just this week I received word that a pastor I respected was ask to step down from the ministry he led. He had been the founding pastor and had seen the church grow to several thousand. In his farewell address, he noted that he had come to the place in his journey that he had begun to trust alcohol as a source of strength more than he trusted God. He had in essence become an alcoholic. I am not saying that alcohol itself is wrong but it can begin to control one’s life and make one numb to life and faith, if we do not keep it in the proper perspective. Why would Jesus be so concerned about our faith? You see what we put our faith in is what we begin to focus on. What we begin to focus on begins control us. You see this pastor began to trust the alcohol more than he trusted God. Rather than trusting God we begin to trust others, new philosophies, and things to help us.

It is noteworthy that Jesus deals with the proposed question he asked before He ever asks the question. I have been told that a good lawyer will never ask a question he does not already know the answer. Jesus was a master at teaching us. While he asked the question about faithfulness, at the end of the passage He ultimately gives the answer on how to live faithful in the first verse. Jesus begins the passage with this. “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Two things will help us remain faithful. Prayer and keeping one’s heart focused on God.

First, let us realize that to avoid faithlessness we must always pray. We must have a committed prayer life. Just as the woman who was persistent with the ungodly judge and unloving judge we should be persistent with God. This does not mean that God answers prayer just because we bug Him to death but He answers because He loves us and knows what is best for us. This is the very point that Jesus is making. If an ungodly and unloving person can do the right thing how much more can a good gracious God do.

Throughout scripture we are encouraged to pray without ceasing. In Romans 12:12 Paul tells us to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. In Ephesians 6:16-20 he tells us that in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Then again in Colossians 4:2 Paul challenges us to Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. How do we overcome in a faithless world? We do so by continuing to pray. You see by praying we turn our focus on God and His ability to answer our prayers to see us through every situation.

Secondly, Jesus encourages us not to lose heart. I loved Ronald Reagan as president. He was a master at the one liners that spoke volumes. One such line was “Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.” You see the enemy’s desire is to intimidate and cause us to walk in fear. By walking in fear our effectiveness is diminished and our faith is shaken. The idea of losing heart is not a new topic. 2 Corinthians 4:1 says therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 states that we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. To lose heart is to lose faith so to avoid losing faith we should not lose heart. That may sound circular but it is true.

So how do we avoid losing heart. Look at these three things in these passages. My ministry is from God, so I don’t have to be discouraged when I feel fruitless and ineffective. Secondly, even though my physical man is dying, my heart is growing in faith and so I do not have to be discouraged no matter what comes. And finally no matter what I am called to, I am challenged to not grow weary but to stay focused on God’s calling in my life.

As we close, let me suggest a few things we can do to remain faithful. First, find some good news. While it may seem that there is nothing but bad news, that is rarely the case. Look for positive stories to lift your spirits. Sometimes we have to turn off the negative chatter. Let me ask how much time do you spend watching the news or reading negative stories about things going on in our world. Let me be clear here, I am not suggesting that we isolate or stick our head in the sand, I am saying however that we sometimes are discouraged by the overdose of negative news. Instead, I would suggest that we fill ourselves with that which is positive and good.

Second, read the Good News. Our faith is a story of hope even in the midst of dark times. Spend some time reading Bible passages about hope and resurrection. Or read through one of the gospels to be reminded of how Jesus brings hope in our struggles. The Bible is replete with stories of the impossible. These stories are great faith builders.

Third, give thanks for what you have. In the midst of difficult times, there are still things for which we can be thankful. Take a few minutes to consider all the wonderful ways God has blessed you. No matter what is going on in your life there is much to be grateful for and celebrate.

Fourth, serve someone. While we may not be able to do much about world issues like disease or terrorism, there are problems in your community where you can be part of a solution. Find places in your community to serve people in need. Seek and you will find. You will find those who need help and you can be the difference.

Fifth, don’t forget that God is still in control. He is still the king and He is still Lord. Regardless of what is going on around us He is still in control.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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