Tag Archives: God’s 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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The Blessing of Memories 

Peninsula Community Church

The Blessing of Memories 

September 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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