Tag Archives: trusting God

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 Antidote for Fear – Trust

Peninsula Community Church 

March 31, 2019 

Philippians 4:4-6 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Perfect Storm

Several years ago I was fishing with a friend of mine that owned a party boat out of Long Island. Captain Carl had called me the night before because he was taking the boat on an ocean trip, a trip he only took once or twice a year. The trip would consist of fishing the wrecks out in the Atlantic Ocean. As we left the docks that day, the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was hot but being on the boat we had a wind that was blowing that kept us cool, plus I was able to ride in the wheel house where there was air conditioning.

After a great day of fishing, (I had caught 20 -30 black fish and sea bass) Carl called for me to come to the wheel house. As I climbed the stairs to meet up with Carl, I could hear excessive chatter on the boat’s two-way radio. What Carl began to explain is that a storm had been brewing over the ocean and was moving up the coast at a far greater speed than anyone had imagined. The result was that we had to stop fishing and begin the race back to the dock.

As we neared the inlet into the sound, the waves were already 5 to 6 feet high which meant that the waves within the narrow inlet were more than 10 feet high. The inlet on a good day was a difficult one to navigate. We now had to shoot the gap with gale force winds and waves that were beginning to crash over the sides of the boat. I have to tell I was a bit frightened actually a lot frightened. All Carl would say to me is “please pray.”

In the midst of the storm, I watched as this seasoned captain navigated through the treacherous inlet. After we made it through, he revealed his secret to me. He had invested in very expensive radar and GPS equipment for just such a time as this. He did not take his eyes off of the equipment as he was navigating through the inlet. As a result, we safely made it through the storm.

As I later reflected on the day, I thought about the storms we face in our lives. Sometimes it seems that they last forever and others seem to come and go. Others blow in unexpectedly and leave just as quickly. As Christians, it is critical that we keep our eyes fixed on the One that can and will help navigate us through the storms of life.

The writer of Proverbs recognized this need when he wrote the passage that most of us can quote from memory. He said “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-9 (ESV)

Too many times, I tend to lean upon “my” abilities and on “my” experience to get me through life’s issues but when I do this I often crash against the rocks. However, when I stay focused on God and trust Him to lead me, He directs my steps even when I don’t understand what is going on. My challenge to you today is to stay focused on God and allow Him to direct your steps. You may not know where He is leading or what He is doing in the moment but stay focused and keep leaning and you will be amazed at what God does. He has a plan and He will see it fulfilled because He is God.

Things to consider:

Are you facing storms in your life right now? If so, what are you focusing on to get you through the storm? Is it God and His Word or is there something else?

Why do you think it is so hard to trust God when the storms of life blow in?

Can you share a time when you had a storm blow in and how you dealt with that storm?

What scripture passage do you hold onto when you are faced with a storm?

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