Tag Archives: Grace

The Power of Our Testimony

Peninsula Community Church 

The Power of Our Testimony 

December 31, 2017 

Revelation 12:10-11 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Today, we have heard from three of our members who have shared their testimonies about God’s grace and His intervention in their life. Thank you so much for sharing. As we consider these testimonies, I want to challenge us all to consider sharing more of your testimony. With that in mind let me remind you that a testimony is a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law. It is also the evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something. And it is a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. In Psalms 22:22 David penned offers this insight. I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

By sharing our testimonies, we are in fact giving evidence and bearing witness to what God has done and is doing in us. We are honoring God’s name and His work in our life. The fact is, every person has a testimony. We have all been touched by the power of Christ in some way. Sometimes because we do not have a glowing testimony of a life delivered from drugs or alcohol, we can be deceived into thinking that we do not have anything to share. But, the reality is we all have a story. At a minimum, we have all been kept by the power of Christ and His grace. He has provided us with protection and He has supplied our needs. He has brought healing to our bodies and salvation to our souls. We all have a testimony.

So why is it necessary to share our testimony. I would suggest it is necessary because of the following reasons. First, sharing our testimony builds our faith. When we share our testimony, we have an opportunity to build our personal faith. Sometimes we need to hear our own words proclaiming the goodness of God so that our heart responds to those words. We are not talking about a self-centered, self-motivated testimony but one that is focused on Jesus, the one who has aided us in our victory. If we are honest, we cannot share our testimony without acknowledging God in the process.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were encouraged and challenged over and over to share the work that God had done. They were to retell the stories of God’s grace. They were to remind each other of what God had done. In so doing, their faith was built and their hope transcended their circumstances to see God in the midst of their daily life.

Secondly, sharing our testimony encourages others. Over and over the Scripture challenges us to encourage one another, especially as the days get darker. One way to do that is share what God is doing in you and through you. How has He blessed you? How has He met your need? Where has He led you? Where have you engaged with sharing the gospel. Where has He motivated you to change, so that you are more in alignment with His will and His purposes. What sin or wrong have you had to overcome that has lead you to a new found faith and hope.

It is also noteworthy that one of the benefits of sharing our testimony is that it binds us together in a stronger way. When we hear another’s story, we realize that we are not too far removed from them. We realize that we have a hope. We can then acknowledge that our issue or problem is not so big or so beyond the touch of God. So, rather than being distanced and isolated through our testimony we move closer together and we are encouraged.

Thirdly, sharing our testimony honors God. Giving our testimony, honors God in that it turns the focus away from ourselves to God. A simple definition of a testimony is it is simply honoring the Lord by bearing witness to others about His work in your own life. Paul in Romans 1:16 understood how important it was For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 2 Timothy 1:12 But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.

In the final analysis, our testimony puts flesh and blood on the Gospel. One of the things that people want to know today is does this thing called Christianity work? One of the complaints in the early church was that they had a form of godliness but no real power (2 Timothy 3:5).They were doing all of the religious stuff, but they were not witnessing much of the power of the Gospel. The problem is that too often people have witnessed the negative outcomes of legalism and pride, but have not experienced the spiritual freedom that comes from knowing Christ. They have seen the coldness that can comes from those who proclaim that God is a loving God, but they have not experienced the abundant life that flows from God. They have wondered if God is real, but too often those in the church are presenting a false, plastic God that seems powerless and weak.

The world wants truth and we are the truth to those who do not know Him. The one giving testimony is obeying the Lord by “telling his greatness in the midst of the congregation.” So, let us shout it from the roof top and let the world know that God is working, He is powerful and He is trustworthy.

So what will you share? What is your story?

Listen to the words of the great hymn Blessed Assurance. Fannie Crosby had been blinded at an early age from a medical mistake. Through her blindness, she saw more than anyone else could. She penned so many of our hymns today. Her story could have been one of defeat but instead she turned to victory. Her faith was built, people were encouraged, and God was honored. Listen to the words:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine

O what a foretaste of glory divine

Heir of salvation, purchase of God

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Perfect submission, all is at rest

I in my Savior am happy and blessed

Watching and waiting, looking above

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my Savior all the day long

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my Savior all the day long

 

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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Second Chances

Peninsula Community Church 

Second Chances

November 12, 2017

Jeremiah 18:5-8 Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at the potter and the clay. In our study, thus far, we found that God has a purpose and He has a plan for each of us. The question today, however, is what happens when that plan goes awry. What if we fail? What if we fall short? What if we blow it big time? What if we become unfocused and fall into sin or into a failure that feels insurmountable. The reality is, if we are honest, I am sure that we would all have to admit we have been in need of a second chance. We have needed a do over.

I believe this passage shows us, there are two ways to approach God. I also believe how we interpret this passage will be determined by our view of God. If we view God as a mean, angry God, then we will focus on the destruction God planned. If we view God as a loving, forgiving God, then we will focus on His forgiveness and His power to give a second chance. For me, I choose the later and I choose to see God as the God of the second chance.

Through this passage, we come to a conclusion that, sometimes, God allows difficulties to come in order to move us toward His purpose and His plan. These difficulties can overwhelm us and can cause great pain. The truth is, these difficulties come most often because we failed to follow God’s plan, His will, and His way. We also see that these things are never meant to destroy us, but to direct us back to Him. That is where our view of God makes a difference in our approach to God.

When we view God as a loving and forgiving God, we will know that when we see failure and hopelessness, God sees new beginnings. We see mistakes and failures that throw us off track and derail our dreams, but God sees fresh starts. We see the mess we have made, but God sees an opportunity to renew and rebuild us. The enemy’s lie has been and continues to be that we are unforgivable and that we are too far gone to receive God’s grace and love. The enemy’s lie is that we will be forever in the place of despair, because that is just the way it is.

As I was preparing for this message, I thought about the game of golf. In golf, there is what is called a mulligan. A mulligan is a chance for a do over. For those who are golfers, you know how it works. You hit a bad shot and you have the right to hit another ball. The goal is to make your second shot much better than your first shot. It is a second chance. It is a do over. Just like golf, God offers us a mulligan in life. He overs us a do over. He offers us a chance to get it right and do a better job by His grace.

As we think about this subject, we find that Scripture is filled with those who experienced second chances. Let’s take a moment to look at a couple of these. First, we have King David who was a murderer, a liar, and an adulterer (2 Samuel 11). David the called of God. David the one who had it all, failed big time. He took Bathsheba and through an ungodly relationship, she became pregnant. To make matters worse, he tried to hide the sin by having her husband come home and give him some time with his wife, so he would think it was his child. When that did not work, he arranged to position her husband on the front lines where he was sure to be killed. Then the “kind and gracious king” could take her as his wife, thereby hiding his indiscretion.

As we read the story, we find that his sin grew deeper and began to effect more and more people. That is the problem of sin. It grows deeper and it has a larger reach than we might ever imagine. But, here is the amazing thing, although his sin seemed to be too great, he was able to experience the grace of the God and was given a second chance. How do we know this? We find that God sent Nathan to speak into David’s life to bring change (2 Samuel 12:1-15). God used Nathan. David came to his senses when he realized the magnitude of his sin.

Here, David was at a crossroads. He could receive the message of grace or he could reject God. I often wonder about David! What was his mental state? Had he reached a point where he felt he had made it into the clear and that he was successful in his ruse and cover up. Too often, we think we have done a good job of hiding our sin only to find it is exposed later, and sometimes it is exposed when we least expect it. For David, I wonder if he was dealing with the weight of what he had done. I wonder if he felt the weight of his sin. Regardless, what we do know is that David confessed, repented, and was given a second chance (Psalms 51).

The second illustration is Jonah who walked in disobedience. Remember Jonah. He was called to the people of Ninevah, but rather than obeying, he ran to Joppa (Jonah 1:1-3). Now to be honest, his reason for running was justified in one sense. Ninevah was one of the major cities in the kingdom of Assyria. The people of Assyria and the city Ninevah were horrific people. They were brutal people. They would skin people alive. They would cut their enemies up in pieces and then send them to their families and cities with notes warning that this would be their fate, if they messed with them. They would cut the heads of the opposing kings off and parade them around their victory celebrations.

In Jonah’s rebellion, he boarded a ship and headed to Joppa. He ran from God, but God sent a storm. The men on board, who were not believers, began to call to their gods, as the storm was more fierce than any storm they had faced. The decision was made to throw Jonah overboard when they recognized his disobedience had caused the problem (Jonah 1:4-16). Then God brought a whale along to swallow Jonah (Jonah 1:17). Three days he was in the whale’s belly. For three days, Jonah had an opportunity to think about his future and his destiny. On the third day, the whale had gotten tired of Jonah and he was vomited upon the shore (Jonah 2:10). Jonah then ran to Niniveh, preached the word of the Lord, and the whole city came to know God (Jonah 3:4-5). He was given a second chance.

And then we have Peter, who was filled with fear. How many times have we fallen short or failed to accomplish God’s will because we are filled with fear? Peter was overcome by the fear of the people in Jerusalem. He was worried about his future and he was worried about how the judgement against Christ would impact him. Although he failed and was motivated by fear, he was given a second chance. Jesus went to him specifically after the resurrection and called Peter to feed his sheep (John 24:15-19). We see the fulfillment of that throughout the Books of Acts.

So, how should we respond to the second chances of our lives? First, we must repent. To repent means that there is a change of action that leads to a change of heart. We must remember there is a big difference between repentance and confession. Confession is important, but it is not the end all. Confession puts things on the table, but does not bring healing. We live in a nation of confessors, but not so many repenters. Repenters not only confess their sin, but they work toward change. When God honors you with a second chance, by His grace, we need to take advantage of that and change, so that the recurring sin or issue does not continue to happen. Billy Graham noted that we cannot know the God of the second chance unless we recognize the wrong we have done or the sin we have committed. We also need to be aware that God’s grace is not a get out of jail free card. We must never cheapen God’s grace by continuing to recklessly commit acts that diminish who we are in Christ and wound ourselves or others.

Second, we change what we can change. Too often, we are trying to change things that are beyond our power to change. We expend a lot of energy trying to change that which is outside our ability and scope to change. We try to change people and we try to change their actions, but this can be a frustrating adventure. We cannot change others, but we can certainly change ourselves. In the end, it requires personal responsibility to change what is wrong in ourselves.

Third, sometimes we need encouragement and help along the way to recognize that God is at work and He is giving us a second chance. We can miss what God is doing in us and through us. Paul reminds us to help restore those who have been caught in a sin (Galatians 6:1). Perhaps you need a Nathan. Perhaps you need a boat load of unbelievers to set the record straight. Perhaps you need a personal encounter with Christ to motivate you to change. However it comes, we must change. Know this as well, while we cannot change others, we can be a resource for encouragement and hope as others navigate the results and the stigma of sin they face.

In all of this, I am reminded of Lamentations 3:21-23 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. His second chances come by way of His mercy which is a response of His faithfulness. Listen to Jeremiah, he calls this to remembrance and it brings him hope. There is hope in God no matter what I do or fail to do. His mercy is always there. It reminds us that no matter what I might have done yesterday, I have a fresh start today, because His mercies are new and His faithfulness is great. He is a God of the second chance. So today, where do you need a second chance? Is it a sin you have committed? Is it a broken relationship? Is it a failure that you have experienced? Is it a mistake? God knows and is already sending you His mercy, if you receive it.

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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Brokenness to Wholeness

Peninsula Community Church

Brokenness to Wholeness

October 29, 2017

Jeremiah 18:1-6 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Today, we will continue to look at the subject of the potter and the clay. We will focus on a couple of lessons we learn from this story. To appreciate these lessons, we must recognize that we are the clay. This is confirmed by Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. There is no doubt that we are the clay and He, the Father, is our potter. Whether we realize it or not, we are the works of His hands. Even from the beginning of time, He has been forming us and shaping us.

Remember the story of Genesis, the beginning of all things. In Genesis 2:7 the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Someone has stated that we are nothing more than dirt and water mixed together. He formed us and shaped us into the distinct person we are today. We are set apart from all other parts of the creation because God breathed His breath into mankind. It is that breath of life that sustains us. It is God who continues to shape us into what we are becoming.

Robert Morris, of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, stated that the word “formed” carries the idea of being molded by squeezing into shape. When God formed man, He squeezed him. Man was formed out of the dirt. He molded and shaped our physical body. Today, He continues to mold and shape us, but He works more with our character and personality. For that reason there are times we can feel like we are being squeezed. Does it feel that way to you?

One of the themes evident in this passage is that God uses the pain of brokenness to grow us and develop us into what He desires. The presupposition is that in brokenness, we actually grow, if we allow God to work is us. So, if you will bear with me, I would like to make some observations regarding this discussion. I must admit that the basis of this comes from a message from Robert Morris. I am using his skeleton but adding my thoughts to the skeleton.

First of all, clay can only be molded by water. During the time of this writing, water was the primary source to keep the clay wet. From Scripture, we understand that water represents the Word of God. When Jesus stood before the woman at the well, He stated that if she knew the gift that stood before her, she would never thirst again. He was referring to the water of salvation and the fact that He was that water (John 4). He, being the Word, is what we need to be molded and shaped by God.

We must also recognize that it is the water of the Word that is the only thing that can mold us into a vessel of honor. Without the water of the Word, we will dry out and begin to crack and fall apart. We must also realize that while we are saved by God immediately, the process of being molded takes time. In fact, it is a lifetime of molding. Note in our passage that when the clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand he put it back on the wheel again and reworked the vessel into something even more usable. Truthfully, we are always in the process of being molded and shaped by a loving potter who knows the outcome and purpose for which we are being formed.

The second observation is that the clay has to be separated before being molded. To produce a usable vessel, the potter cannot leave any junk in the clay. If there is something left in the clay, it will cause problems later in the process. It could be small rocks, sand, or tiny limbs. If these things are not removed, they can cause huge issues down the road.

You see, God must pull everything out of us that does not look like the vessel He is forming. He is also taking everything out that will cause weakness later. He knows if He does not remove the junk then we will not be as useful as we could be. Without removing the junk in our life, we are susceptible to failure and breakdowns later. Within us are anger, pride, jealousy, insecurity, fear, and so on. Pride is one of the biggest issues, because we must admit we need Him. If you allow pride to remain in your life, you will fall.

The third observation is the vessel that is formed comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. We have different influences, talents, desires, and experiences. We must stop judging other pots and comparing ourselves to other pots. It is pride for a pot that is not finished to talk about another pot. We must know that we are not the potter and, as such, we do not know the purpose or plan the potter has for the other pots around us. We must trust that the potter knows what he is doing. We judge others on so many levels. We judge people on their race. We judge people on their social and financial status. We judge people on how they look or do not look. We must not arbitrarily judge others, as we do not know what God is doing in them. Besides that, we have enough to worry about in our own pot to worry about what they are doing.

The fourth observation is that clay has no input to its outcome. Listen to this interesting passage in Isaiah 29:16. You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?” Sometimes, we try to exchange roles with the potter. We attempt to tell the potter what we want Him to do. In Isaiah 46:9, we find people often try to argue with God. In this passage we do not see the clay speaking to the potter. It never says “What are you doing?” Or, “I know a better way!” Some of us need to stop telling God what is best for us. We need to stop telling God what is best for the pots around us. Sometimes we do not like the pots around us, so we ask the potter to take a little off here, squeeze a little more here, and do a little more there. But we must remember that the Potter is in control of every pot. We must yield to Him. So, stop resisting and saying you know a better way.

The fifth observation is that the clay must go through the fire. The clay in its natural state is soft and the clay gets real muddy when the water is added. To resolve this, the clay must be cured and perfected through fire. For us, this happens through the difficulty of life. When we go through a fire, we are not to be surprised. If you put gold in a fire, the impurities come to the top. When the impurities come to the top, the refiner scoops out the impurities so that the gold is continually purified. So, how do you respond to trials? How you respond may define the impurities of your heart. When the impurities are revealed, we must allow God to remove these impurities so that we are made stronger. After this is complete, then God turns up the heat a bit more. We go from the wheel to the fire, back to the wheel, and then to fire.

The sixth observation is that the clay has a breaking point if it stays in the fire. If it gets away from the water too long it will dry out and be negatively impacted. The problem is that in the trials of life we can resist God, but if we are without of the word we dry up. If we are out of His presence, we dry up. We dry up physically. We dry up emotionally. We dry up mentally. If the common things of life are irritating us, then we might be dried up. We need to add the water of His word to our hearts.

In the final analysis, God is control and He has a plan for you. He is working in you, even if you do not see it. He is molding something new and fresh out of your life. God works in us and sometimes it is through brokenness that we grow the most. It is through brokenness that we become more pliable and more available for God to deposit His grace and His power in us. Sometimes, there are some impurities in our life and through brokenness God delivers us from those things. We experience what appears to be a crushing blow and we feel the pain of the moment. But, God uses the pain and when we accept His grace and we surrender to His way, He produces in us an enlarged capacity to understand God’s will and purpose in us.

In 2 Timothy 2:20-21 Paul states Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. There are honorable vessels and there are dishonorable vessels but even the must dishonorable vessels can be redeemed and positioned for honorable usage. The enemy loves to deceive us into thinking that whatever state we are in now and whatever we have done is what defines us, and nothing will ever change, but we are always being shaped and molded into something better than what we are in the present. In the end, His goal is for us to be like Him, being a reservoir for His presence.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Power of Blessing

Peninsula Community Church 

The Power of Blessing

September 10, 2017

Numbers 6:22-26 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

I love this passage. It reminds me that we are blessed by our Heavenly Father. Today, we are here to pray a prayer of blessing for our children, their teachers, and those who impact their life. Before we do that, it behooves us to understand how blessed we are through God’s grace. The truth is, we can only bless others when we recognize how blessed we are as people of God.

In this passage, we understand just a bit about that blessing. Time does not allow us to give the time to this that it truly requires. So our focus will be on this passage as it shows us the blessing of God to Israel and subsequently to us as His people. What we find here is that Moses was commanded by God to have Aaron speak a blessing over the people. Culturally and historically these words were not just spoken but were lived out and manifested in their lives. In Moses’ day, a word of blessing was worth so much more than we can imagine. It was in fact worth more than land or money in many cases. These were not empty words but were also prophetic words. So let us take a moment and look at the words spoken by Aaron as directed by Moses through the inspiration of God.

First, Aaron was to proclaim “The Lord bless you and keep you.” As we have noted already, we are a blessed people. We have been given so much that we would be unwise to ignore or fail to acknowledge that truth. Here is a fact that you can take to the bank. God, wants to bless you. He wants to give you good and gracious gifts, and in fact, He already has given great gifts (James 1:17, 2 Peter 1:3-4). The problem, too often, is that we squander the gifts we have been given. It is sad that we have squandered so many of the blessings that God has bestowed upon us.

One reason for this is that we have pushed God out of the picture and have tried to live life on our own. But the fact is He, God, is the source of our blessings. He is the originator, the giver, and the keeper of our blessing. The word, to bless. literally means “to kneel in order to serve.” We see this manifested in Jesus when on the night of the last supper, He took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5). The blessing of God is in fact the goodness of God in action, by which a supply of His grace pours down to us from His good favor (Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Ephesians 1:7, 2:8). Just think of the fact that He sent His son to give us eternal life (John 3:16). The result of His blessing is that we are preserved, protected, and kept for His purposes.

Secondly, Aaron proclaims “the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.” In the first part of the blessing we find that He will bless us and will keep us. It is here that we see the manifestation of the favor and grace of God. We are blessed because we get to experience the grace of God. We are blessed to know that through forgiveness and His gift of grace that we do not always get what we deserve. What a blessing?

Listen to the words of Moses and his personal encounter with God. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7). He is a gracious God. He is a patient God. We are blessed by His grace.

Thirdly, Aaron proclaims “the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” The end result of God’s blessing is that it brings peace. Peace is that inner strength that comes in the midst of a storm. Peace is that settledness that comes as a result of a trust in one who is able to keep us, show us His grace, and empower us with peace. Through the blessing of God we get to experience His protection, His grace, and His peace. Wow! But as His people, we are not to just receive these blessings, we are to share this hope and life with others. We are truly blessed, but we are called to share this blessing with others. The great Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

With that in mind let me give you a couple of ways that we can bless others today. John Trent and the late Gary Smalley have studied this idea of blessing and have produced five common means by which we can bless others. Let me share these with you. First, the blessing requires appropriate meaningful touch. In the Old Testament, before a word was spoken, there was the laying on of hands. There was a hug or other meaningful touch. We say meaningful because some are raised today as I was. The only touch received is one that is done in anger. It is a slap, a push, or an act of abuse, and is certainly not an encouraging touch. Meaningful touch is powerful in that it conveys in non-verbal ways that we love and affirm others. Meaningful touch in fact prepares others for our words.

Research affirms the many benefits of touch. Several studies conducted indicate the improvements in sleep and digestion among infants who are massaged regularly. Healthy touch releases endorphins such as the bonding hormone oxytocin and can calm the aggressive behavior of adolescents. Holding hands or giving and receiving hugs on a regular basis can lower blood pressure and calm a racing heartbeat. “Touch is without a doubt one of the most, if not the most powerful means of communication we have available to us as human beings” says James Smith, professional Christian counselor. “We may speak, express ourselves through words, tone and the volume of our voice, or body language, however nothing comes close to touch.”

Second, we have the spoken message or word. Words are important and what we communicate through our words is critical. Biblically, through the spoken word a child was not left to “fill in the blanks.” They did not have to wonder whether they were valuable to a parent or grandparent. The goal of the spoken word has always been to place unconditional love and acceptance into the heart of a child or loved one. By the way, it is never too late to do this for our children, no matter how old they are.

You see, life and death are in our words. we can build up or we can destroy in a matter of minutes (Deuteronomy 30:14-19; Proverbs 15:4, 18:21). There is power and death in our tongue. We can give life or death through our words. So, choose your words wisely. How many stories have you heard of people who have given up and have lived with brokenness because of the words spoken into their lives? It is not by chance that the Bible tells us that Jesus became the Word (John 1:1, 14). He is the living embodiment of the Word that was spoken and revealed to us. He attached value to His word by making it personal.

Third, we attach high value to others. The word “blessing,” itself, carries the idea that the person you are blessing is of incredible worth and value, even if they are an imperfect person. In short, you are helping others get the picture that you see things in their life that make them special, useful, and of great value. By our words and our actions we are adding value to the people we encounter.

There is so much in society that beats us down. There is so much that seeks to destroy our value. Our personal value is being threatened by a media that sets a standard of what one’s value should look like. Too often today our value is based on our Facebook posts, Twitter accounts, Snap Chat, and other media outlets. Our value is weakened through comparison and trying to achieve what others think we should be. If we do not give value, our children, our families, and our friends will get their value somewhere and it may not be the value we admire, necessarily.

Fourth, we show that each child or person has a special future. With our touch, with our words that attach high value, come a response in a child or loved one’s heart that can be nothing short of transformational. The light that is illuminated in their heart and mind about how God has made them, can do more than we think to help them to live out a God-honoring future. That is why Jeremiah’s words have so much meaning as he reminds us of the future we have. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Fifth and finally, we establish a genuine commitment. Blessing a child in particular does not mean we never discipline or point out areas growth needed. But children “know at an incredibly deep level if they have their parents blessing. They will do almost anything to get that blessing and attention even if it is negative. But, they will know if that parent, grandparent, or other loved one really sees high value in them, even in the tough times. Genuine commitment is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person that says as long as I have breath, I will be there to seek to build these five elements of the blessing into your life and life-story.

So how are you doing? Are you blessed? Are you being a blessing?

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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Inside Out and Right Side Up

Peninsula Community Church

Inside Out and Right Side Up

August 13, 2017

Luke 11:37-41 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.  And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 

I began my formal ministry in 1979. Immediately following Bible College, I moved to New York where I began to minister in a number of different ways to a number of different communities. One of the things I remember about my earlier days of ministry is that there were times where I learned more about what not to do in ministry than what to do from those who were around me. Now granted, those that surrounded me were not evil people, they just lived out of the distortions in their life. It was these distortions that directly impacted the way they did ministry. After a couple of years of ministry, I realized that some of those to whom I was connected loved themselves more than they loved God. They loved the notoriety of being a pastor more than they did the glory of God. They tended to use people for their gain, but did little to personally assist in the growth of individuals.

As I read this passage, I began to identify with what Jesus was confronting here. It is noteworthy that throughout Jesus’ ministry, He showed such grace and mercy to the sinner and the struggling believer. He did, however, reserve His harshest criticism for the Pharisees and the spiritual leaders of His day. At one point, Jesus described them as tombs that were painted white on the outside but were empty on the inside (Matthew 23:27). The idea presented by Jesus is that outwardly they appeared to have it all together, but inwardly they were empty. Because of the emptiness experienced by the Pharisees, they tended to focus more of their attention on their outward appearance than on their inward depth. Spiritually they were wide but not deep. Today, we will look at the attitudes exhibited by the Pharisees and then make an application of this truth.

First of all, we find that the Pharisees were empty on the inside so they flexed their spiritual muscle on the outside. Listen to Jesus’ words here. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it (Luke 11:44). And then in Luke 11:46 Jesus had this to say. “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers (Luke 11:46). Here is the bulk of the problem for the Pharisees. They burdened people with rules, laws, and requirements that they themselves were unable to obey or follow. I have often said that when our hearts are not right with God it is easier to make a law than it is to allow God to transform our hearts. Jesus is and has always been more about the transformation of the heart than He is about obeying man’s religious rules. The Pharisees missed this as they thought they could legislate morality but from my experience you cannot legislate morality. And for that matter you cannot legislate immorality. Legislation does not make right wrong nor does it make the wrong right. For Jesus, it was more about relationship than it was the law. Now unless you misunderstand, there are biblical, godly principles that we are called to obey but when applied correctly they are not burdensome but in reality they are very freeing and they move us to a place of growth and depth.

Jesus had the Pharisee’s number. He uncovered the fact that they not only forced others to obey these mandates but they did little to help others to obey. Those to whom Jesus referred to as lawyers, loved to weigh people down with laws and regulations. They were well educated, well trained people but they loved to place great burdens on others. The problem is that they imposed laws on others but were not willing to lift a finger to help carry the burden they forced on others. This is juxtaposed to Jesus’ desire for us to help each other, encourage each other, and push each other to do our best.

These actions were a result of their emptiness and dryness inside. Their emphasis was on the outward man and not the inward. As you know, I love football. To me there are two types of players. There are the ones who are puffed up and brag about how great they are and then there are the guys who go out on the field and prove they have the ability they say they do. That brings us to our second point.

The second characteristic related here is that instead of grace they functioned from a perspective of legalism and idolatry to the rules.But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Luke 11:42). They thought the rules applied to everyone else but not themselves. They felt they were above the law. They expected everyone else to tow the line. They expected everyone else to follow the rules. And yet, they bent the rules when it favored them. It could be said they worshipped the rules of God more than they worshipped the God of the rules. When this occurs, it creates a disconnect between what is true and what is false.

Notice here that they were good at giving gifts. They were dutiful and followed through with outward spiritual disciplines but they missed what was important. They attended church. They sang in the choir. They even taught a class but they missed the mark by failing to exhibit justice and love. These can be summed up in one word, grace. They lacked grace. They were well educated on the rules but missed the mark of loving others and showing others the amazing grace they had been given. Outwardly, they were obedient and rigidly held to the rules of the day, but inwardly they were empty and lacked spiritual depth. Here is a truth for us. Following the rules is great but to do so without grace and love leaves us cold and indifferent.

The third characteristic is that the Pharisees were all about control which was centered in a spirit of pride. They wanted the best seats in the house. They wanted to be recognized in the town. They would enter a room with great fanfare and pomp and circumstance. You knew they were in the room because they made sure you knew they were there. Once again listen to Jesus’ words. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces (Luke 11:43). The Pharisees were the type that would arrive late and would make a fuss coming into the building so that you would know they were there. They were the type that would continually remind you how important they were. Again this action was a means for them to cover up the emptiness within them.

The fourth characteristic of the pharisee, and this for me is the saddest one of all, is that they stripped people of the joy of knowing God. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering (Luke 11:52). Because they burdened people with the law, they failed to minister with grace, and they exhibited a spirit of pride that stripped people of the joy of knowing God. The fact is they gave what they had, a lifeless, empty lifestyle. They stood in the way of others knowing the truth by virtue of their attitudes and actions toward others. Rather than seeking a knowledge of God by way of a personal relationship, they rejected that for an attitude of performance and outward visibility.

As we close this today, I am keenly aware that there two ways we can apply this passage to our life. First of all, we can look at this study and do an evaluation and then come to the conclusion that we often act as the Pharisees did. We want others to tow the line but we give ourselves grace and compromise on the very rules we set in place. We judge and condemn others while crying out for grace in our life. We are good at knowing the rules and we make sure that everyone else follows them when we fall short in accomplishing that ourselves. One way to illustrate this how do you respond when someone asks you about your Christian walk. Do you list your good deeds or do you list the good deeds of a heavenly father that loves us more than we will ever know or understand this side of heaven? Are we more concerned about following the rules, or receiving God’s grace which actually assists us in obeying the rules? Are you more concerned about how others follow the rules or do we come along side of others to help them grow in the knowledge of God.

The second way we can make application of this passage is to recognize that we often live under Pharisaical influences. We are subjected to the judgment and criticalness of one who knows the rules and expects everyone else to obey while they themselves fail to do so. They hold us to a different accounting than they are willing to hold themselves. The result is that we can become discouraged and weakened in our spiritual state. We are hindered by the words of others. But the truth is we don’t have to be. We can recognize that God’s grace is there for us and we do not have to be subjected to the emptiness of others. The fact is we must show the grace of God of those who show so little grace to us.

Here is the deal there is grace at the foot of the cross. There is grace to overcome the Pharisaical attitudes we express. There is grace to overcome the power exerted over us to obey the rules at the cost of a depth in Christ. In Matthew West’s song “Grace Wins Every Time” reminds that grace wins in every situation. We receive grace and we give grace.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Surprise of Christmas

Peninsula Community Church

The Surprise of Christmas

December 4, 2016

Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. 

I do not know about you but I love Christmas and the mystic about the holiday. There are presents under the tree that have been carefully chosen and wrapped to maximize the surprise as the gift is opened. I am sure, like me, there have been times when you opened a gift thinking that it would be one thing only to find it was something totally different. What a surprise when you open the one gift that you have been longing for and you have no clue about the gift.

The story before us today is a story of surprise. In the story there is an event that takes a young woman in Nazareth totally by surprise. Mary, this young virgin teen, was engaged to Joseph. She was going about her daily tasks and was living life as she always had. She was preparing for her wedding day and helping around her home, just as she would have any other day. When she arose that morning she never would have guessed that she would receive a message that would shake her world and change her for the rest of her life.

Before we look at some of the specific details of the story, let me review some of the background to the story. Mary and Joseph had been engaged which was the first step in the marriage ritual for the Jewish people. There was a commitment to stay pure in terms of their sexuality. There was a commitment to begin to plan and put their household in order for their wedding day. In essence, according to Jewish law being engaged or betrothed meant they were already married but there was a process they had to follow in order to consummate the marriage on their wedding night. According to Scripture both Joseph and Mary had been faithful to their vows.

Mary was a young girl in the town of Nazareth. There was nothing special about Mary that would have given any indication that she would have been chosen by God for this amazing task. I don’t know why but God often chooses to use some of the most unknown and unrecognizable people to bring about His will. She lived in Nazareth a small town with no notoriety. Nazareth was not the kind of town that people expected to have a miracle take place. In John 1:45-46 Nathanael asked the probing question “Can anything good come out of Nazareth.” There was not much respect for the small town of Nazareth.

Can you imagine the moment this event occurred? She was minding her own business and suddenly an angel was greeting her. Gabriel met her with an amazing greeting that was about to rock her world. Speak of a surprise! How surprised do you think Mary was? The angel’s message was simply “You are favored and the Lord is with you.” The Greek word kecharitomene is an amazing word. It is made up of three parts. The root of the word is the word “grace.” We know that grace is the unmerited favor of God that is supernaturally endowed upon us. The suffix of the word is mene which indicates that Mary is the one being acted upon. Mary was not the one who brought herself into this state of grace but it was an action of God. The prefix ke indicates that the action has been completed in the past with its results continuing in full effect in the present. In other words, the work of grace has already been given and had been worked out on her behalf.

She was the recipient of great grace. In other words, she was having this encounter not because she somehow deserved it or had somehow merited the visitation. She was having this interaction for only one reason. She had been chosen by God. God saw her not as a young virgin girl but as a chosen vessel He could use to bring about His will. She was not perfect, but as we know from Scripture no one is righteous in themselves (Romans 3:11) because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). She was no exception as she was chosen not because of her works but because of the work of God.

As you might imagine she was troubled by the announcement of the angel. It is noteworthy that she was not troubled by the angel or fearful of the angel but her fear and trouble was in the announcement itself. How would you have reacted to such news? She was to be the mother of Jesus. She was chosen to be the vessel through which Jesus, the Messiah, would be born and would change the world. Spiritually, God desires to do that through us today. He has chosen us as a vessel through which He can be manifested and His name can be known. He came to live in us so we would be like Him and the world would experience Him through us. We have His favor!

The angel responded to her fear by saying to her “Do not be afraid.” That is an amazing statement when you think about it. Here is Mary being approached an angel and Mary’s response was “How can this be?” In essence, what she was saying in the modern language is “Are you kidding me? Are you serious?”  The reality is that Mary was awestruck by the calling she was given. What was she going to do? She was perplexed by the news which speaks of her humility and honesty. Then again, it’s not every day that one gets a cold call from a divine messenger.

We do get this from time to time. It can be a moment in a sermon or in a conversation. It can be during a quiet walk in the woods or in prayer that God taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey you. Yes, you the favored one!” It forces us to question ”Me? Favored? By God? You must have mistaken me for someone else.” No matter how many times or in what form we hear, “yes it is you and you are the favored one,” we have the hardest time believing we are the ones being addressed. For some, it is because their relationship with God is grounded in fear. For others, it is because their faith is overshadowed by the problems of life and the largeness of the calling.

Mary had so many questions and concerns. After all she was a virgin and how could she become pregnant without breaking her marriage vows? What would Joseph think? What would Joseph do? It was in his power to legally divorce her. If this happened, the community could reject her and in fact they could stone her if they chose. But once again, Gabriel responds with an amazing statement. He stated that the Holy Spirit will come upon her.

Here is what Gabriel is saying. While you are fearful and concerned, the Holy Spirit will come and fill you. Yes this is an amazing task for you to accomplish. It is an amazing calling but the Holy Spirit will be there to guide you and help you all along the way. When you falter He will be there to assist you and help you. The angel states that the Lord will be with her and that the Holy Spirit will come upon her. The angel is saying He is there and she is covered. She will be protected. When you think about this we see the Trinity at work. Jesus will be in her. The Holy spirit will be upon her, and God will be along side of her. How amazing and wonderful is that.

As Mary is pondering the question of how can this be, the angel makes another amazing statement. “Nothing will be impossible.” Then he announces that her aunt Elizabeth is pregnant. She had been deemed too old to have children but with God nothing is impossible. What Gabriel was saying is, if God can take a worn out, old, barren woman who is past her prime and give her a child, a miracle can be done in you as well. There is nothing too hard for God. If God can touch Elizabeth, then He can surely pregnant a young healthy virgin. In this story there are two great miracles: the birth of Jesus and the birth of John the Baptist.

In the final part of this verse we find Mary’s response and what an awesome response it is. She says: “Let it be according to your word.” She relents and accepts God’s calling and purpose for her life. What she his saying is God I don’t understand it and I don’t know how to put all of this in perspective but I trust you and I receive your word and your calling. I accept your grace and power to see me through this.

Notice the connection between the call of Mary and the presence of God in this story. We are reminded that His name would be called Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). From the beginning of His life He is with us. The entirety of the Godhead is available to us for guidance, protection, and being guarded. When God calls you He does not make a mistake. He knows you and He knows where you live. He does not come and go; He is is with us always.

So what do we do with this story? We make it our own. We see that God can do the impossible in us. Are you expecting? Do you know that God can surprise us and call us to a miraculous walk with Him? The grace of God is seeking you today to let you know that He is in you, upon you and along side of you to reveal Himself to you. It may in the mundane that He comes but He is there.

Know this, you are highly favored because you have been called by God. He chose you because He had a plan and He knows you. His grace comes to us not because we are worthy but because of God. In every circumstance and stage of life, His grace comes. The enemy of our soul would rather you think that you are a failure and that there is not hope. But that is a lie. The enemy wants us to believe that there is no hope, that we have failed, and we are not worthy but that is not God’s calling or purpose for us.

Here is a second idea that we need to know about the grace of God. He knows where we are and He knows us, knows our problems, and He knows the depth of the pain and heartache you are experiencing. He knows your fears. He knows your doubts. He wants to come to you today and give you His grace. He wants to touch your heart. In the video we watched early in the service it is so easy to neglect and walk right by the gift of grace that God has given us. But don’t do that today. Open your heart to God’s grace. Mary did!

If you need or want the grace of God today I ask that you open your heart and do what Mary did. Her final reply was “Let it be according to your Word!” Whatever you need to do today “Lord I am asking you to do that. Give me grace to endure. Give me grace to speak truth in love.” His grace is a great grace and it is all we need 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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Door of Opportunity

Peninsula Community Church

Door of Opportunity

July 3, 2016

Colossians 4:1-6 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Over the last few weeks we have looked at three different doors found in Scripture. We have examined the door of hope, the door of faith, and the door of invitation. Each of these doors teach us something about the grandeur of God’s grace and His love for His people. By examining the door of hope we found that our sorrows, our disappointments, and our troubles can all be turned into a door of hope. We also found that God uses our difficult experiences and the victory that comes from Christ as a means to reach others with a message of hope and comfort. Secondly, we looked at the door of faith and found that true faith is based on truth and reality and is not a rejection of either. And then last week we looked at the door of invitation and that Christ is at the door of our heart seeking an entrance way into our hearts because He wants to live with us and not just visit.

Today, I would like to look at a third door and that is the door of opportunity. As we look over the landscape of our current society and the condition of our world, we could be discouraged and we could sense that things are hopeless. If that is your reaction to where our society has fallen, your feelings might be justified because when we look at our world we find that sin and immorality is running amok. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Look at the issues that confront us today: Isis, mass shootings, extreme liberalism, financial crisis, broken homes, an ever growing drug culture, the destruction of the moral fiber of our nation, the acceptance of all kinds of sexual perversion, and so on. As we deal with these issues, we need to know that the problem is not guns. The problem is not gay and lesbians. The problem is not drugs. We have lost our moral footing and it seems we are on a slippery slope headed to destruction.

But, while things may seem bleak and hopeless let me remind you that the Valley of Achor; the valley of sorrow, disappointment, and trouble can be turned into a door of hope. God wants to transform us and He wants to use us to transform our society. The fact of the matter is that God is providing ample opportunity for us to share the message of grace and hope to a world that is hurting, fearful, and discouraged. There is also a door of faith that allows us to step into the unknown and the dark places of our lives. We are also reminded that Christ is standing at the door of our heart and is seeking access into our inner most being. Do we have a long way to go? Yes! But there is hope!

Why do I believe there is hope? First of all we find that Jesus is the Word made flesh. A couple of weeks ago Clayton and I had a conversation about how the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us. While this is a passage that can be easily quoted, it is harder to grasp the concept in its fullest sense. The Word, the King, the God of all creation became flesh and dwelt among us. He did not come to dwell outside of our lives as some disconnected energy or force but He came to dwell in us. Here is the point. As believers we know that the Word became flesh and therefore we know that He lives in us and has the power to bring change. And because Christ is in us we become Christ in the flesh to those we encounter. In other words, Christ is wrapped up in our personalities. He is manifested through our lives. The Word became flesh, He dwelled among and now He lives in us so that we can touch the world.

Just a couple of days ago my sister-in-law made bacon wrapped corn on the grilled. She wrapped the corn with bacon and then replaced the husk and then grilled it. When we ate the corn we found that the corn had the flavor of bacon. We carry with us the flavor of Christ with us wherever we go. We exude His odor and flavor as we live out life.

The second Scripture reminds us that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). Notice that it is He who is lifted up. It is not our church. It is not our doctrine. It is not our personality. Jesus said that if He were lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself. So here is the question? Where do you see Christ being lifted up in your life? Where is He being manifested as the Lord of your life? Where is He living through you? If these things are evident in you God will provide a door of opportunity for you to share love with others. He will draw people to you because He is being lifted up. By lifting up Christ you will find that Jesus will draw all men to Himself. Remember what Jesus said. He stated that we are the light of the world and that light can not be hidden (Matthew 5:14). We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We can effect society for good or bad. Paul also reminded us that we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are His representatives in this world. We have been called to go into all of the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15-18). Note that we do not make ourselves salt, or light, or ambassadors. We are already salt and light, and we are ambassadors because of Christ living is us.

Imagine if we grasped these two primary doctrinal ideas. If He has come into the world and has invaded our hearts and our lives and if He is lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself. What else could we ask for. Our job is made easier as it takes the pressure off of us. We manifest His presence in our life and we lift Him up and He does the rest.

How is this accomplished? I would submit to you that Paul gives us an outline of how this is done. First, it begins and ends with prayer. Paul prayed that God would open a door of opportunity to share Christ with others. His prayer was for himself but it was others focused in that He wanted be an effective minister of the Gospel. Let me ask you a question. How often do you ask God to open a door of opportunity to share your faith with others? How often do you ask God to lead you to those who need God? I can tell you from personal experience that if you seek God and ask God to open doors, He will.

Let me share with you a personal illustration on how this works. It is not some story of grandeur but it is one that illustrates the power of prayer. Almost every morning I pray that God would open a door of opportunity for me to share my faith with others. I did that on Wednesday morning. When I woke up I found that the sump pump in the basement had a leak. I examined the problem and went up to Ace to get the part. I quickly grabbed the part that I thought I needed and made my way to the cashier. In doing so, I passed one of the employees that I knew. I greeted him but his answer was less than a joyous one. He seemed to be discouraged. He was with a customer so I could not talk with him. When I arrived home, I found that I had picked up the wrong part and had to go back to Ace to return it. When I went to the cashier I found that the cashier was none other than the person I had encountered easier and sensed that something was up. So I asked him again, “how are you?” I noted that he did not sound very good before. He turned to me and thanked me for asking and noted that his wife had a lump on her neck that has raised some concern because she has battled cancer before. I told him that we would be praying for him and asked if there was anything I could do for him. I noted that we believed in the power of prayer and the fact that God is able to do an amazing work. I also noted that we would mention his request to our congregation. He thanked me and stated that he felt better already. You see I lifted Christ and invited Christ to do His work in this young man.

Secondly, we need to walk in wisdom toward those that are outsiders. The point here is that we must meet people where they are and we must focus on answering the questions they are asking. Too often we try to answer questions that people are not asking. We have done a disservice to God and His kingdom by showing a lack of wisdom toward those who do not know Christ. We must also understand that those we encounter are not the enemy to be destroyed or hated but they are a creation of God who needs Christ. You see, sometimes, we expect others to live as believers when they have not accepted Christ. And then, we also try and slam the Bible down their throats rather than building relationships.

Thirdly, we make the best use of our time by watching for opportunities to share the love of Christ. Paul is saying is that we should not waste the opportunities that are presented to us. I love one of the themes of the VBS. The kids participating in VBS are encouraged to look for ways they see God blessing. I would encourage you to watch for God opportunities to share Christ with others and then step through those doors as they are opened to you. If you are sensitive to the work of God in your life, He will open doors. When we are faithful to obedience in this regard, He is faithful to open doors.

Fourth, let your speech be gracious. Notice two things here. Our speech is to be seasoned with salt. Salt is a preservative but it also adds to the taste of food. But too much salt turns one off. If we read Scripture we know that we do not need to become salt, we are already salt. I had a friend that when he would sit to eat, he would automatically reach for the salt and add it to his food. He would never check the saltiness of the food he would simply add the salt and then he would readily admit that he had added too much. Why do we need to have the right seasoning? It is so that we know how to answer those with whom we encounter.

In the final analysis, if we ask God for open doors, He will do so. When that happens we must go through the doors with grace, wisdom and through obedience. And then we will find that God will do a great work in and through us.

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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