Tag Archives: Faithfulness

God is Faithful: He Sustains Us

God is Faithful: He Sustains Us

March 2, 2020

1 Corinthians 1:4-9I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is a powerful verse that has been sustaining and keeping us. We are grateful for the grace of God and all that is doing for us and that He is doing through us. While we are waiting for the revealing of God’s will and purposes in our life, we will trust God to sustain us because He is totally and completely faithful. 

With that said, it has been a few weeks since I have posted any thing but I wanted to update everyone on what is happening in our life. For some of my regular readers, that may not know, I resigned as pastor from Peninsula Community Church back in July of last year. At the end of September we transitioned out of the church and moved to Glen Allen, VA to be closer to our kids and grandkids. 

In this season of transition, we have tried to be obedient to the call of God and His direction for our life. We have been reminded that there are times when we do not always understand what God is doing but we must be obedient and faithful to obey His word and His calling. While we did not understand the transition, we needed to take this step so we could fulfill the calling of our next step and for the future of the church in Delaware as they sought for the next pastor. 

Since leaving Delaware, Michelle and I both have picked up jobs and are working full time. We are blessed and know that God is taking care of us in such amazing ways. I have been working for Life Care Medical Transports and Michelle has been working for Kroger. We are so glad for God’s provision in this regard. Next month we move from our daughter’s house to our own place in Glen Allen.

My current jobMy job at Life Care provides an interesting opportunity to interact with the EMS world from a different perspective. We transport patients from hospital to hospital, hospital to nursing home/rehab or to their personal residences. We also assist with those who are not ambulatory with doctors appointments and dialysis appointments. And finally, we do airport transports to meet medical flights coming into and out of Charlottesville or Richmond, VA. 

DissertationI am working on finishing my dissertation. I have sent the last chapter to my editor and hopefully he will have that completed within the next couple of days. Once that is completed I can send the last three chapters of my dissertation to the dissertation committee chair who can then approve these chapters. Once that is completed I can then send the entire document to the committee for approval which will be followed by the oral argument. Once all that is approved, I will officially have completed my PhD and will graduate. This has been a long journey, but the end is near. 

Chaplain Certification In addition to finishing my dissertation, I am pursuing a certification for chaplaincy. I have been blessed to have served in several great organizations in the past as a chaplain. During those times I served because the organizations knew me and invited me into the process. Since I am new to this area and do have the same relationships, I now have to complete the certification process. This requires taking up to four classes which includes a commitment of 400 hours for each class. Each class includes 100 hours of class time and 300 hours of onsite work at a local hospital, nursing home, or other certified facility. To begin the certification process I have to complete at least two CPEs.

Workplace Chaplaincy – One of the jobs I have been pursing is workplace or corporate chaplaincy. This is an interesting facet of chaplaincy as companies hire chaplains to be available to minister to their employees and their families. At this time, there are no openings in the Richmond area but I am pursuing this opportunity any way so when there might be an opening I will be ready to pursue it. My prayer is that something will open up soon.

New Church Home – Michelle and I have found a wonderful church. Finding this church was a work of God. In the 1980s I pastored a church in Bohemia, NY. One of the key families in the church had two daughters that grew up and later moved to the Richmond area. About seven years ago Michelle was on an airplane coming back from a conference in Puerto Rico. She had been delayed in Charlotte, NC, and once she boarded the plane, she heard someone call her name. It was one of the daughters from 30 years earlier. The two of them have kept in touch since then and when we moved to Richmond we asked what church she attended. She stated she attended Hill City RVA. We met her at church the next Sunday and the rest is history as they say. 

We are getting connected and love the pastor and the people at the church. The church has an incredible vision to reach Richmond for Christ by supporting organizations in the city that are impacting the city in positive ways. They do not want to reinvent the wheel where people are already being successful in what they are  doing. They also have a mentality of generosity. For example, in November they encouraged people to consider donating one day’s salary to the church. They received nearly $150,000 which 100% of the funds were used to support local projects and programs in the city. They gave it all way. I also love the church because they encourage the people to be curious about their faith and to ask questions about the church and their faith. They consider no question out of bounds and do not judge anyone for asking questions. Through this process of discovery in being free ask their questions, people are finding Christ and are being encouraged to grow in their faith.  

Lessons – Through this process I have once again been assured of God’s faithfulness and His love for Michelle and I. Below are just a few of the reminders of God’s Grace and the lessons learned over the last few months.

  • God never fails nor forgets us. If I am to be honest, and I am, there have been times over the last few months where I have felt alone and forgotten. I have at times felt a bit like Joseph who found himself in the pit and in prison. I felt the pain of loneliness and confusion about what the future would bring us. When we left Delaware we left many friends and relationships so dear to us. Here in Virginia it has taken some time to build new relationships. While I experienced the sense of loneliness like Joseph, I have also found God in my place of loneliness. The fact is God does no forget us. He does not forsake us. This also meant I had to be intentional about making new friends and building new relationships to counter my loneliness. 
  • I do not have to lead a church to be a pastor. I have questioned God if my season of ministry is over but the calling that God put on my heart more than 40 years ago has been renewed in me again and again. I have been reminded that I do not have to be a pastor to be in ministry. There is a new fire burning in me to consider alternative ways to minister to the people around us and in the communities we touch with our lives. I have found that I am a minister of the gospel not because I am a pastor because I am a passionate follower of Christ.
  • My identity is not in what I do but who I am in Christ. For the first few weeks here I struggled with identity. After all I had been a pastor, a fireman, a chaplain, and more in my previous commitment. But I have been reminded that my identity is not in what I do but in whom I serve. I will never cease to have a pastor’s heart but my identity is not in being a pastor. It is in serving the One who called me and instilled in me a vision for ministry more than 40 years ago. That does not have to be a church, but the field of ministry is wherever God might lead. It could be a church. It could be as a hospital chaplain, marketplace Chaplian, or something I have not considered. 
  • If I trust God and not man, I will not be disappointed. Through the last few months I have had some commitments made and many if not most of those commitments have been broken. But, in this I realized that I was trusting man more than I was trusting God. I was trusting people to come through for me, but I needed to trust God for His provision. When all things are considered, man can disappoint but God does not.
  • Comparing myself to others does not benefit me spiritually or emotionally. This one is a hard one for me. When I arrived here I began to see other pastors I knew who were being successful in major ways in their ministries. Their churches were growing and expanding. They were being sent on sabbaticals to be refreshed and to write. They were being asked to speak at conferences. One pastor was posting pictures of their new building they were erecting. Through comparison I in essence was operating with a spirit of jealousy and envy. I was jealous that I was not experiencing those things. I was becoming envious of other’s successes. But I was reminded that walking in a spirit of comparison which led to jealously and envy did not benefit me or my growth. Thanks be to God, I was able to confess that sin and see that God has washed (and still washing) my heart and spirit.
  • I have been in the wilderness but in the wilderness I am reminded that God is my provider. He provides the meat, the bread, and the water we need. And, He provides it when we need it. We learn that God will lead us with a cloud by day and fire by night. We learn that He does not give us the entire plan all at once even though we wish He would. We learn that our resources will go farther than we ever thought. It is in the wilderness that we learn to trust God so that when we come to the place of promise, we know how to trust Him in the good times. In the wilderness, I have been stripped but I have been fed and restored beyond measure.

So many have asked us how we are doing. So let me tell you. We are trusting God. We are leaning hard on Him for His provision. We are leaning hard on Him for our future. We are leaning hard on His guidance as to what He ultimately wants for us to do and to accomplish. We do not know what the future will bring, but we know the One who leads our future and that is all we need. Is it easy? Not always, but it forces us to bow our hearts, our will, and our plans to the living God. 

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By Faith: Is Anything Too Hard for God?

Peninsula Community Church

By Faith: Is Anything Too Hard for God?

October 16, 2016

Hebrews 11:11-12By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

Today, we continue our walk through the Hall of Fame of Faith. It is an amazing walk as we have  already discovered that each person inducted into the Hall of Fame of Faith had one thing in common. They had faith in an unmovable, unshakable, and faithful God. Though God was faithful, we must understand that those inducted were not perfect people as they had their foibles and their failures. They were tested beyond measure and they failed many times. But they were always able to adjust and refocus on what was right and good. They were able to refocus on God and His faithfulness.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is no different. The story of Sarah which have in front of us today proposes a question that must be answered in the heart of every believer. Is there really anything that is too hard for God? How many times are we confronted with issues that seem too big, too costly, too expansive for anything good to come from them? If we were honest, how many times do we face issues that we believe that not even God can resolve or fix? How many people are in our life seem to live or act in a way that diminishes any hope for change or redemption? We are all confronted with events, circumstances, and people which can cause us to question the power of God to do the impossible. We can begin to believe that there is no hope as we see the physical evidence of that which is impossible or too hard. But in our study today we will find that even under the greatest of odds, God is able to do the impossible.

In Genesis 18:9-15 we have the rest of the story of Sarah. The Lord had visited with Sarah and Abraham and the Lord said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

When we consider the story of Sarah and Abraham we see that the odds were against them. It had been 15 years since God had promised them that Abraham would be the father of many nations. They were now in their 90’s and their bodies were beginning to show the signs of aging. I am sure that were becoming wrinkled by the force of the sun beating down on them. They grew tired more easily. They faced aches and pains that had not been there in their earlier years. We have a glimpse into their health in Hebrews 11 when the author states that “Abraham was as good as dead.”  This was the man that God had deposited the promise and it was through this man that God would fulfill His purpose. He was almost dead but God was not finished with him.

One of the things I have learned through my years of ministry and life is that sometimes the promise has to die so God can resurrect it the way He desires. If you have read the entire story of Abraham and Sarah you will remember that they had lost hope in the fulfillment of the promise. They took things into their own hands. They tried to help God out. Sarah had given Abraham her handmaiden, Hagar, to have a child. While in those days that was considered a loving gesture, it was never God’s will. It was never the plan that God had for them.

We find that Abraham had sexual relations with Hagar and out of that relationship Ishmael was born. While Ismael was Abraham’s son it was through Isaac that God was going to bless and fulfill His promise. The turmoil in the home became so great that Abraham had to send Ismael and Hagar to the desert to live. The choices made at that time started a ripple effect that would impact the world for centuries to come and in fact is effecting us even today. You may not know this but Muslims preach that they are descendants of Ishmael while Christians and Jews alike believe they are the descendants of Isaac.

What began as a play for power,  a heart of jealously, and a grab for authority has continued through the years. It reminds us that our choices in life have consequences. Our choices effect those around us. One decision by Abraham has effected almost every generation from that day until now. The conflict in the Middle East and the terroristic plots of our day have all been seeded by Abraham’s decision to try another way to fulfill God’s plan. His decision led to hatred between Ishmael and Isaac which reached across the centuries.

As we read this story, we find that although Abraham had been given Ishmael, he knew that Ismael was not the son of promise. God had given Abraham a dream but that dream seemed to be delayed and seemed to be just a pizza dream at best. But here is the truth we must hear today. Sometimes the dream has to die before God can bring it to pass. Abraham and Sarah tried to do it their way and now God gives them a chance to do it His way. He says I will do the impossible to show my grandeur and my love for you. One of the great missionaries to China, Hudson Taylor made the following observation. God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply. And that is so true.

Secondly, we must be aware that God’s delay is not a sign that God has forgotten us. In living life, there are things we have prayed for and promises we believe God has given us. We can grow weary in waiting for those things to happen and we can begin to lose heart. But know, or at least be aware that God’s delay is not a sign that He has forgotten us. He is still there and He is still working. The problem for us is that we want immediate action and an immediate response to our need and desire. In Psalm 46:10 we are reminded that no matter what comes our way or what storm may blow, we must be still and know that God is still God. He never leaves us and He never fails us.

Thirdly, God wants us to be honest with our emotions and how we feel. As we read this story, we find Sarah does something pretty amazing. Sarah laughed and scoffed at the prospect of having a child. Her seemingly lack of faith was merited in the fact that the odds were against them. Both Abraham and Sarah were old. They were advanced in years and they were tired and weary. It is noteworthy that the Scripture says that “the way of a woman had ceased to be with Sarah.” There was no way for her to have children. She needed a miracle and that is just what they received. With that said there is a point that needs to be made here. Some may criticize Sarah for laughing at the prospect that she would give birth to a child. We might even be insulted that she would dare do that but her response was an honest response to an impossible dream.

The fact is, too often we attempt to hide our emotions. We try to distance ourselves from the pain in our life. We try to even hide our emotions and disappointments from God. Somehow we think that God will be upset if we are real with Him. But here is a secret that needs to be revealed. God already knows your emotional state. He knows your heart and He knows what you are feeling. For that reason it is ok to express your emotions. It is ok to be real with God. I believe that it is important to communicate our emotions because we get to hear the words and feel the release of the pain through our words.

Sometimes, we have to go through a negative season of doubt and fear so that we can grasp the value of trusting God and believe that He will do what He said He would do. I am amazed in this story that although Sarah doubted and laughed we do not see any condemnation or judgement being passed onto her. And yet how often do we live with guilt, worry, and fear because we have expressed an emotion that we spoke from our heart. I love what the angel of the Lord spoke. He simply said I know your heart and by the way I will see you in a year. I will see you at the birth of your child. He spoke with confidence and she was filled with promise, hope, and life. Even though Sarah tried to hide her emotions, the Lord looked right through her to see the reality of her heart. And today, He is looking through the facade of our life to see the emotions of our heart.

Fourth, we need to know that God keeps His word. The angel of the Lord spoke to Sarah and said to her. At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son. He is saying, “you will have a son.” You may not accept that. You may think that it is an impossibility but trust me it will happen. God keeps His Word.

Here is an interesting note about this story. We know that although the promise seemed impossible; Abraham and Sarah did their part. They had sexual intercourse. They had a sexual  encounter at least once. By their faith, they moved beyond what they saw in the natural to believe God for the spiritual. They did their part and God did the rest. God touched her body and the seed of man joined the egg of woman and their son was born as promised. How amazing is that? God promised and He fulfilled His promise against the most amazing odds.

We began by asking the question, “Is there anything too hard for God?” We have looked at the issues with Sarah and have seen what God did for her. So the answer for us today is that there is nothing too hard for God. Nothing at all.

In the New Testament we find a similar story surrounding Elizabeth a relative of Mary. We find that she is pregnant even though she too was considered to be too old and she was barren which meant she could not have any children. This is the proclamation made in Luke 1:38. “for nothing will be impossible with God.” How much is impossible? Nothing at all is impossible with God. By the way John the Baptist was born to her just after this proclamation.

No one is ever too old. No one is ever too barren. We tend to measure God’s ability by what we see but God works the impossible and does what only He can do. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus reminds us that we don’t need big faith we just need faith. In fact, He compares the amount of faith that is needed to a grain of mustard seed. It is a small seed but that small seed has great potential. What Jesus is referring to here is that it is not the size of our faith that counts it is what we do with our faith that matters. Are we discouraged by the size of the need or the mountain in front of us? Whatever level of faith we have we can trust God. We can trust Him for answers to prayer. We can trust Him to do the impossible. That is God’s will. After all it is God we focus on on and not the mountain.

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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