Tag Archives: worship

The Glory of Knowing God

Peninsula Community Church 

The Glory of Knowing God

August 27, 2017

Philippians 3:8-11 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Last week we closed the message with the concept that the best way to overcome the influence of the thief’s schemes is for us to know God. Today, I would like to go back to that thought. In so doing, we will review the words of Paul in Philippians 3:8-11. Paul reminds us that his greatest aspiration in life was to know God.

Can you imagine the Apostle Paul asking for such a request? Here is a man by all accounts that was a master servant (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1). The one thing we know about Paul is that he was deliberate about serving Christ’s purposes. He had dedicated his life to the service of Christ. From several perspectives, Paul was the last person anyone would think might have such aspirations. After all, Paul is the one who had been to the third heaven (2  Corinthians 12:2-4). Paul had been taught by some of the finest scholars of his day (Acts 22:3). His heritage was indisputable and his pedigree was nothing to scoff at. It was this same Paul who had a personal encounter with Christ that radically changed his life (Acts 9:9). And yet, Paul wanted to know Him more.

As we review this passage, we find there are three key things expressed. First, Paul begins by stating that he counted everything as loss when compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. Paul is expressing that all of the earthly praiseworthy accolades cannot compare to a personal knowledge of Christ. He is saying that if the accolades and pedigree he possessed were to be put on one scale and his desire to know Christ were put on the other, his desire to know Christ would always outweigh whatever accolades and successes he might have had. Paul is saying here that his resume and his pedigree do not define him.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. God uses our education, our connections, and family to accomplish the work of the kingdom but those things must never cast a shadow over knowing Christ personally. You see God always looks at the heart of man. Remember David? He was anointed king by Samuel. David’s father was looking to his sons who had the credentials, the size, and the looks, but they were not qualified in the eyes of God. What God was looking for is someone who had a relationship with Him. You see David knew God! He had learned to trust God in all of his ways. In the end, David was chosen for his heart and not his outward resume.

With that said, Paul identifies two ways in which he wanted to know Christ. First, Paul wanted to know Jesus through His resurrection. What an awesome view of life. When we view life through the resurrection power of Christ, we determine there is nothing beyond His ability to accomplish. When we know Him in His resurrection power, we know His power and we know His ability. Think about it. Jesus was dead. He was not half dead or three quarters dead like in the movie Princess Bride. He was dead. As one who interacts with EMS personnel, the most challenging task today is to revive someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest. In the EMS world, you have about 4-6 minutes to provide medical care before the person begins to lose brain function. After 8 minutes death is most likely. Jesus was dead for three days. From Friday night to Sunday Morning he lay in a grave. He took no breath for three days, but on the third day He rose.

Paul wanted to know this resurrection power of Christ. For Paul and for us the resurrection power of Christ reminds us that there is nothing impossible with God. If a dead Savior can be risen in victory, whatever we face can be turned around for His glory. The enemy thought he had Christ. He thought he had won, but can you imagine the sounds coming from the little hill side in Jerusalem when the stone was rolled away. Jesus rose to give us power over sin and death. That is how Paul wanted to know Christ. Paul wanted to know His power.

Listen to the words of Paul in Romans 8:9-11 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Paul wanted to know the resurrection power because he recognized that power brings life. So, do you know His resurrection power?

Secondly, Paul stated that he wanted to know Christ in His suffering. To be honest, this is where one I struggle. I don’t want to know Him through His suffering. I have enough of my own and that is too painful. The problem is that much of our theology today would avoid such a discussion. To listen to much of the theology being espoused today you might think we were to never have a bad day. We are never to have any problems and if we do, it is because somehow we are a failure and sinful. Contrary to this, nothing could be further from the truth. So what was Paul saying. Through suffering Jesus demonstrated humility, extended love, gave grace, and spoke with words of wisdom. That is the kind of man Paul wanted to be. He wanted to model for the world an attitude of Jesus.

Paul also knew another perspective of knowing Jesus’ suffering. Paul knew that in our difficult times we grow more and we experience the faith of God more than at other times in our life. It is in times of struggle that we get to know Him and His saving grace. It is in times of struggle that we either turn to Christ or we push Him away. If we are honest, it is in our struggles that we find the grace of God. It is in our struggles that we find faith in God. It is in our struggles that we find a future in God. By knowing Christ in both His resurrection and suffering we come to know the totality of who He is and who He is begins to define who we are.

So on a practical level, how do we come to know Christ? First and foremost we get to know Christ by knowing the Word. After all the Word is an active living force according to Hebrews 4:12-13. To know the Word is to know Jesus because the Word and Jesus are one. Through Jesus the Word became flesh (John 1:1,14). So to know Jesus we must get the Word of God in us. We read, meditate, and apply the Word to our hearts so that it begins to form and shape who we will be and how we will act. The purpose of the Word was and is to bring instruction, direction, warning, and hope according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It is the Word that speaks to us in amazing ways. The Word brings death to sin and life to hearts. Additionally, if you read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, you find that Jesus was a mirror of the Father. To know Jesus is to know the Father (John 5:19, 6:38, 8:28, 10:30). What He did was a reflection of the Father’s will. What He said was a reflection of the Father’s heart. Know the Word and you will know Jesus.

Secondly, we pray. Why is prayer important? Prayer is important because it aligns our will with God’s will. In prayer we surrender ourselves, our will, and our ways to God. In prayer, we hear the voice of God as He speaks to our hearts. Greg Laurie stated “Prayer is our connection to heaven and heaven’s connection to us. That is why you should always keep the lines open.” If we take the model prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, we find is a testimony of who the Father is. Through this prayer we find that He is to be hallowed, reverenced, and honored. We also find that Jesus invites us to invite the kingdom of God in our current situation.

Thirdly, we worship God. Too many times we confuse worship as an activity relegated to a one hour time slot on Sunday, but the reality is worship should be a way of life. In worship, as we begin to proclaim the greatness of God, we experience something in our hearts. As we confess to God change happens. The very definition of worship is to ascribe worth to something. What we worship we give value. When we ascribe worth to God, we are drawn into a deeper relationship because we will value that relationship and we will value that person.

Finally, we come to know God by joining our hearts and minds together. That is why the word tells us not to forsake the coming together (Hebrews 10:25). That is why bible studies, Sunday school, and book clubs are so important. In these events we come together and we hear what God is doing. We watch each other grow. We navigate the difficulties of life together. It is not by chance that the Book of Acts reminds new believers to continue to gather together (Acts 2:42). It is in fellowship that we grow but the reality is we grow more than relationally, we grow in our knowledge of God because we understand God more when are in communion with one another.

So the question for us today is, do you what to know Christ more? You can! Read the Word, worship him, pray, and join together and your understanding of God will increase.

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

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Do You Give Jesus for Christmas?

Peninsula Community Church 

What Do You Give Jesus for Christmas? 

December 18, 2016

Matthew 2:9-11 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Our story today picks up where we left off last week. The wise men moved from their encounter with Herod to find the Christ child. We do not know how long the trip was from the visit with Herod to actually encountering the Christ child but we know that it took some time. They were looking for the one sign that would lead them to the Messiah. When they saw the star that was pointing the way to Christ they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Their reaction to the star showed the intensity of their expectation and their desire to see this child. The passage here states that their joy was exceedingly great. Their joy overwhelmed them and they expressed their joy in their worship.

As they entered the stable where the Christ child lay, they presented Him with gifts. Each gift presented showed the value and honor they were giving the Christ child. They presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. For most of us, at a first read this does not mean much but each of these gifts in the economy of the day had great value. The gift of gold was given to the Christ child as a way to honor Him as the King of this world. They recognized what many did not see in their day. He was the king of the world and they chose to honor Him as such. The second gift they brought was the gift of frankincense. Frankincense was given to Him in recognition of his position as the high priest. Frankincense was used by the priest when he went into the temple to present the people before God. It was in essence one of the symbols and tools for worship. They gave Him myrrh because myrrh was used as an embalming oil. They recognized that He was to die for the world. Their gift was a prophetic statement of what was to come. The wise men had a vision for this child more than the scholars or the religious leaders of their day. They gave gifts that spoke to His royalty as King, His priesthood as the intercessor for the people, and the one who would die for our sins.

When we give gifts, especially here at the Christmas season, we try to give gifts based on who the person is and how much we love them and know about them. But what do you do when you have to buy a gift for the person who has everything and can buy what they want when they want it? As I was preparing for this message, I was thinking about this Christmas season and what gift could I give to Christ. This was a difficult thought process because certainly Christ has everything He needs and what He does not have He could create as He has the power to do so. After some thought, I realized the answer was already given to us. The greatest gift we can give to Christ is ourselves. 

The greatest gift we can give to God is to say, “Lord, I give You my life. I give You my talents. I give You my abilities. I give You my dreams. I give You my future. I give You my weaknesses. I offer myself, all of myself, to You.” Our posture should be one of outstretched hands and open palms to give Him our life and all that we are. Any other approach communicates that we are approaching God with clinched fists or clinched teeth which speaks of resistance and rejection.

Too often we hold back from God just in case. We hold back from God because the last time we fully trusted someone they wounded us, the betrayed us, and they failed to live up to their promises. So we approach God the same way. We approach Him with fear and the apprehension that He will fail us, let us down, and in the end we will be left wounded and destroyed. But I can assure you that God will never fail you or let you down.

Paul in Romans 12:1-2 perhaps defines the giving of one’s self as a gift to God better than anyone else. Paul states I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

What is the gift Paul is referring to here? It is the gift of ourselves as a living sacrifice. Our gift to God is a resistance to being conformed to this world but rather a focus on being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Rather than settling for the status quo, we begin to adjust our lives in order to follow the ways of God. Each day we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The result is that our way of thinking, the way we act, the way we perform our duties in life begin to be transformed so that we are much more like God in what we do. Can you imagine what life would be like if we truly committed ourselves to God and refused to be conformed to the world’s image of ourselves?

Let me sum this up by saying the best gift we could give God is to live the life He has designed for us to live. It means that we walk in forgiveness and healing so that we are free to be all that He desires. I know what you are thinking because I have thought it myself. It is too hard and it is impossible for me, there is just too much to overcome. But when we give ourselves to Him, He will begin the work of healing and restoration in us. That is His plan and it is has been His plan from the beginning of time. But how do we do this?

First of all the passage before us says that we should offer ourselves to God because of His mercy. Paul presents God’s mercy as the strongest argument for giving ourselves to God. When we fully recognize all that God has done for us the only response worthy of Him is to give Him our whole being, our whole mind, soul, and spirit. We were all sinners and sin had deadly consequences but while we were yet sinners He died for us. His mercy moved Him to give Himself so that we would be forgiven of our sins in total: those we committed, those we are committing, and those we have yet to commit. It was His mercy that saved us, redeemed us, and began a process of restoration. It was His mercy that will sustain us.

Secondly, we must offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. What an oxymoron. We are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. Most sacrifices of the Old Testament were slaughtered before they were sacrificed. Paul, however, is calling for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices not as dead lifeless ones. The expression of a living sacrifice is used as the backdrop to the Old Testament sacrificial system where an animal would be sacrificed for the forgiveness of one’s sin. You see in the Old Testament man offered an animal but in the New Testament man was to offer himself. We are to be the sacrifice God receives. Because we are living sacrifices, we are to be a living sacrifice wherever we go. This means at the office, at school, in our homes, and wherever we go we should live as as a sacrifice to God.

Thirdly we must offer ourselves to God through transformation and renewal. We best demonstrate our commitment to God by refusing to conform to the world by being transformed through renewed minds. When we give ourselves to God it is reflected in how we live. Worshipping people are changed people and that is reflected in their walk, their talk, and their personality. When we give ourselves to God we live as transformed people who live Christ-centered lives and not self-centered lives.

Finally, we offer ourselves to God all of the time. Living implies life. Offering ourselves cannot be contained in a one-hour service on Sunday. A living sacrifice implies a sacrifice that is alive and continuous in action. It moves from one activity on Sunday to all of our activities: each relationship, each task, each opportunity, each problem, each success, and each failure. Even the most common of deeds become an act of worship. Real worship is the offering of our everyday life to God.

In the final analysis, the best gift we can give to the one who has it all is ourselves. It is a choice we make but that is what He desires and that is what best reflects our love for Him. Today, as we gather around the Lord’s Table we are reminded that He loved us enough that He gave Himself completely to save us and redeem us from our sin.

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

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ephesians – What are You Drinking?

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – What are You Being Filled With?

March 15, 2015

Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Paul in this verse defines two outcomes that are a result of how we live and what we live life for. In this passage, Paul defines one style of living that provokes responses and brings outcomes that diminish the individual while the second style of living provokes responses and brings outcomes that builds the individual.

The first style is defined by Paul as being drunk with wine which leads to debauchery. To understand what this means, we need to understand the term debauchery. It is a term we don’t use today. At least I don’t hear it. However, the term “debauchery” was a common one in Paul’s day and is defined as “excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.” It represents the one who is living a lifestyle where they have lost all control and have cast off all legal and moral constraint. When indulging in this lifestyle, there is a tendency to lose control of one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities. Have you ever noticed that one who is drunk says and does things they would not do under normal circumstances? Too often one in a drunken stupor does things that they regret later (lampshade on the head, reckless driving, crude language, and disgusting acts).

This idea of drunkenness was one of the critical issues of Paul’s day. It was not uncommon for people to get drunk and then have unrestrained orgies as a result of their drunkenness. It was also common for those who participated in such things to do so in a spiritual context. They believed that they were somehow connecting spiritually to those with whom they were involved. In essence, in Paul’s day there was a reliance on drunkenness and false spiritual concepts. As a side note, we must clarify that this particular verse is not a prohibition on drinking wine but on the excesses that lead to drunkenness and recurring immorality.

While this may characterize the unbeliever, this is not so for the passionate follower of Christ. This style of living was not an acceptable in Paul’s day and it certainly is not acceptable today. Why is this? It is because we are to be ruled by a different authority and a different power. The problem with being drunk is that the individual succumbs to the control of a different power.

To contrast these two lifestyles, Paul turns his attention to the lifestyle of one who is being filled with the Spirit. Paul states Do not get drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit. Basically Paul is saying don’t live an uncontrolled life but live submitted to the One who controls us in a most positive way. To fully understand what Paul is communicating here, we must have some understanding of the Greek language in Paul’s day. In the Greek language different verb tenses more clearly define the words used. For example, if the tense of the verb was past tense then the action occurred in the past and would not occur again. If the verb was in the present tense there was an ongoing action occurring. The action may have initially occurred sometime in the past but it was to continue in the present. It stands to reason then that the future tense was an action that would happen in the future.

In understanding the present tense verb in the phrase “be filled” we know that Paul is not only commanding us to be filled with the spirit but to be continually filled with the Spirit. We must recognize that this is not a one time event but it is an ongoing process. While there is certainly an initial filling of the Spirit, at the time of the new birth, we must recognize that we must continue to stir up and be renewed in the spirit that is in us.

In contrast to being drunk with wine, we are to continually be filled with the Spirit which means we are being controlled by the Spirit that results in a different outcome. Being filled with the Spirit is living every moment as if you’re standing in the presence of Jesus Christ. The problem that exists is that we can begin live in such a way that we are not even aware that the Spirit has been leaking from us. The story of Samson highlights this problem. Now granted, I know this is an Old Testament story prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit but the basics of the story are the same. Samson did not lose his power overnight even though the final event had been the cutting of his hair. You see he had been leaking the spirit of God from his life slowly. But then he woke up one morning and he had been changed. Miles McPherson the pastor at the San Diego Rock Church stated “The Holy Spirit is a person. He has a mind and He lives in you. Stay filled with the Holy Spirit, because the devil will trick you into thinking that being drained (of the Holy Spirit) is normal.” Therefore do not be drained but be filled. And as we are filled, we overflow into others lives, naturally.

Paul now moves to defining a set of characteristics that speak to the kind of life exemplified by one being filled with the Spirit. The first of these characteristic is that they worship together. We do this by addressing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. This does not mean that we live life as an operetta or as a musical but rather we live out the words of these songs in our life and our actions. Our lives become a song of praise to the Lord. You see this is why we worship together as believers. We come together to proclaim the glory of God. Why? It is because God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). There is no greater way to praise God than singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together with His people. Listen to the Psalmist who said Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name (Psalm 30:4). Fifty-eight times in Psalms the word sing is used of praise to God. Thus the one who is Spirit filled will join the body of Christ in joyful and exuberant worship of God’s mighty acts.

The second characteristic of being filled with the spirit is that they have worship in our hearts. Paul states that we are to sing and make music in your heart. While it is important to worship God outwardly, it is just as important to have worship in our heart. You see outwardly we can do a good job of faking it but it is hard to fake what is in the heart. By making music in our hearts, we rejoice in all that God is doing. A heart filled with music exudes joyfulness and praise. For those who walk in joy have the sound of music in their hearts. Have you ever met that person who always has a tune on their lips or you hear them whistling a melody where ever they go no matter what is happening in their life? Making music in your heart signifies that the Holy Spirit has a hold on you and that He is an integral part of your life.

The third characteristic of being filled with the Spirit is that they live a grateful life. The greatest testimony of being filled with the spirit of God is a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. This passage suggests that we can praise God and give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. You see a grumbling spirit is not compatible with the Holy Spirit. The strongest negative characteristic of the Children of Israel, in their journey through the wilderness, was that of a grumbling spirit but a Spirit filled believer is not a grumbler. They are filled with thanksgiving and praise. You see a grumbler complains about their leaders, the music, the food, the church, the people in the church, their neighbors, and their jobs. Most often the one who grumbles is not trusting God or the Spirit within them.

The fourth characteristic is that they submit to one another. To submit to one another is to honor and respect one another. Submission brings liberty and not bondage. It means to willingly place oneself under another as under the Lord. Too often this word submit has been used by some to mean that the one submitting is a door mat and must give in no matter what. To force someone to submit is not submission at all. That is bondage. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul defines submission as Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The comparison to be noted here is that there are times where one who claims to be filled with the spirit becomes aggressive, brash, and self-assertive but that does not illustrate the power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. The Holy Spirit is a humble spirit and those who are filled with the Spirit will be guided in meekness and gentleness. This is critical because it not only exemplifies a life of being filled with the Spirit, it also exemplifies the life of Christ. Thus the idea of submission means that we treat each other with respect and love. You see to truly submit to one another is be aware that we can learn from one another and understand that each person has something to offer the relationship. To submit means we recognize one another’s gifting and abilities.

As we close, let us be reminded that we are to be continually filled with the Spirit. Throughout our walk there are things that will cause the Holy Spirit to leak from us. The issues of life, the busyness of work, the craziness of family, and the nature of everyday life cause us to be weakened. The question therefore is “How do we continue to be filled?” We continue to be filled by living in the Word and by maintaining a life of prayer. We continue to be filled by filling our hearts with worship. We continue to be filled when we give what we have in the Spirit away so that we recognize the need to continue to be filled so that we have more to give away. It is worth it because we will have a song in our heart, we will live a grateful life, and we will understand how to submit to one another. That is what it means to be a passionate follower of Christ.

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

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Worship – How Do You Present Yourself?

Peninsula Community Church

Worship – How Do You Present Yourself?

September 29, 2013

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

As we look at this study so far, what have we learned? We have learned that worship means to ascribe worth to something or someone. It means that we tend to worship what we value and what we worship will control us. We have also learned from last week’s message that all of life is worship and all worship is about life. We cannot and must not separate the sacred from the secular. There is no dichotomy here, or least we need to attempt to avoid one.

Paul has instructed us that real worship is defined as a presentation of our bodies as “living sacrifices.”As living sacrifices, our worship is not restricted to a specific location or place. As living sacrifices, we realize that true worship is a matter of the heart. As living sacrifices, we seek to honor God with our lives. To be living sacrifices is a lifestyle. It is a way of living. To be living sacrifices means that our actions, our language or speech, and our responses to life and to life’s circumstances conform to God’s word and his ways. Since worship is what we are, we cannot put on and take off worship as we would a garment. True worship is a lifestyle of living for God. Our desire to honor God must impact everything we do: our jobs, our personal life, our interactions with others, our thoughts, our will, and our emotions.

As living sacrifices, we exemplify Christ to those around us and to those we come in contact with. To say this in the vernacular “Do we walk the talk in everything we do?” Do we live as passionate followers of Christ? Do we consider everything we do as an act of worship? Is it a way of life for us? When worship becomes a way of life, everything we do will be shaped and viewed through the perspective that everything is a function of worship and an act of honoring God. Look at what the Bible says about this. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17). Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strengths that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11).

We mentioned this briefly last week, but I want to remind us that we are empowered to live as living sacrifices because of the work already achieved for us by the work of the cross. We can present our bodies as living sacrifices because of God’s mercy. Because of His mercy, we have the power, the freedom, and the motivation to do so. The question that bears being asked here is “What mercies is Paul talking about?” Let’s review this. Paul uses the term “therefore” here. This was a common term in Paul’s writings. When the term is used, it means that we must consider what comes before the “therefore.” What precedes the “therefore” is critical and must be considered to fully understand what follows the “therefore.” Someone has said that when we see the word “therefore” we must ask what is “therefore” there for.

What is presented prior to Romans 12 is critical to our understanding of how to present ourselves as living sacrifices. I see several truths at play. First, let us consider that if we reject the truth or attempt to create our own truth, our hearts can become hardened and calloused. We begin to worship the creation and fail to worship the creator, as Paul warned in Romans 1-2. It is this false worship and change of focus that leads us to futile thinking and missed opportunities of living life to the fullest.

One of the observations I have made about today’s world is that how people present themselves is critical to their self esteem and and how they want others to view them. The problem here is that this act is often based on a presentation of what we want people to think of us rather than who we really are. Someone has said that this is the difference between one’s personality and one’s character. One’s personality is presented as to how we want people to view us while character is who we really are. Two weeks ago, we discovered that true worship is focused on the truth and is based on honesty. What does this mean for us? It means we do not try to present ourselves as something we are not. We have an honest appraisal of who we are and what we are about.

What mercies have we received? Paul continues to lay out the argument that we are saved, justified, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Spirit because of Christ’s mercy. Because we recognize the work of Christ, we can feel secure and trust that presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is the way to go. Why? Because Paul dealt with the issues of security in Christ as he stated nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39). Because of these actions, on the part of God on our behalf, we can live as spiritual worshippers and as living sacrifices. What keeps us focused is the mercies of God, and the ongoing reminder of what has been bestowed upon us and given to us by God.

While the work done for us is by way of the mercies of God, a second point must be made. Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices is a choice. Paul tells us that we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices. We can’t blame someone else or excuse ourselves from taking this step or action. The fact is once we understand and comprehend the mercies of God, we will find that the choice to be a living sacrifice is much easier and is not cumbersome at all. In fact, understanding the mercies of God will assist us in making right decisions as worshippers of God. It is noteworthy that God provides the means but we must make the choice to be living sacrifices. This means we must avail ourselves of the mercies of God described in Romans 1-11.

The Greek word for “present” literally means “to place beside.” In this case, we are to place our actions and who we are next to and along side God’s word and his truth to determine wether or not we are living as living sacrifices. It is interesting to note that the Greek verb used here specifically “to present” carries the idea of presenting but keep on presenting. It is an ongoing process.

Let me explain it this way. If we were building a house, we would, or at least we should, look at the plans that have been drawn up by a qualified architect. Because he is qualified two things are at play. One, we can trust him and we must trust that if we follow his plans we will be successful in erecting a quality home. In other words, we must place the work we are doing along side the plans drawn up by the architect to be sure that what we are building is according to the plans we have been given. To do otherwise invites chaos and major complications.

Look at the following verses in Romans. As we read them, look at the idea of “presenting” ones self in these passages.  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18).

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:13).

Will you place yourself along side of righteousness or unrighteousness as your guide? This is critical because as we have already stated, what we present ourselves to we will become. If we present ourselves to living out righteousness in our lives then we will be righteous. If we give ourselves as slaves to sin then we will become slaves to sin, but if we give ourselves to righteousness we become righteousness.

Because the act of presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is an ongoing act, to present our bodies as living sacrifices, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The point to be made here is that presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is not a passive act but is both active and it is also proactive. It is active in that it requires an ongoing process of commitment and the presentation of ourselves to God. It is proactive in that we renew our minds with a goal of transformation even when we don’t feel like it or sense the purpose for doing so. We don’t wait until an issue arises; we are always in the process of renewal and transformation.

You see true worship requires a commitment of the head and the heart. It is the introduction of truth into the mind which finds its way into the heart that brings about a transformation of worldview and concepts about living life as a passionate follower of Christ. This must be an active response. This word transformation is an interesting word. It is the Greek word “metamorpha.” It means to change. It is the same word we get the word “metamorphous” from. Metamorphous means a change of form. Like the caterpillar that is changed into a butterfly we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

How does this occur. It is by way of the truth that comes from God’s word. We need the truth that sets us free. It is also truth that leads us to faith. Truth alone in the sense of intellectual prowess falls short of God’s purpose and His plan for our lives. The key for truth to be effective is that it must find root in our hearts so that the truth received is applied in order to bring transformation to who we are and how we act.

Let me illustrate this in this way. When you get angry what is the first reaction you have. Is it to curse? Is it to throw things? Is it to scream? Is it to clam up? In this case, how you respond has been a result of the conditioning of you heart, your emotions, and your will. If you have presented yourselves as living sacrifices and your heart has been transformed, then your actions and reactions will be different than a person who has not been transformed. How we respond will be an act of worship and a living as living sacrifices.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Christmas Is Worship

Christmas is Worship

 Text: Matthew 2:1-11

 The Christmas season is about worship and adoration to the “King of the Jews” who came to bring salvation and hope to all mankind.

 It is amazing how society has made this season about buying and giving gifts when in reality it is about worship and adoration to the King of Kings who came to earth as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

In the passage we read this morning we see five great truths about Christmas as a season of worship.

Who were the Magi? They were wise men who were astronomers and philosophers. God used their love of the stars to draw them to the place where Christ lay.

1. Jesus is the Messiah, the King of Jews, and should be honored that way. In V2 the wise men ask this profound question – Where is He who was born the King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and we have come to worship Him.

This question is profound because they are asking Herod this question. It had been Herod who had proclaimed himself as the king of the Jews for almost 40 years. But no one could call Herod Messiah, the long awaited God-anointed ruler who would overcome all rule and bring an end to history and establish the kingdom of God and never die or lose His reign. 

The fact is no one can take the place of Messiah God who is King of all the earth. And Christ is no ordinary man, teacher or prophet, He is the Son of the Living God who came to turn the world upside down – not as a warrior but in the innocence of a baby. You see this was important because in Jesus he was not just a king but He was the Messiah.

For the Jewish people the promise of a Messiah, redeemer, was what they longed for. The story is told that the Jewish people of that day would greet each other with the words “have you heard any good news?” They longed for their Messiah who would redeem the world and rescue them form the bondage and turmoil they faced.

The Magi recognized the fulfillment of prophecy and they had come to worship him. The Magi recognized what Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:17 recognized that Jesus should be worshipped as King when Timothy stated that to the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

2. Jesus is to be worshipped by all of the nations and not just the Jews as represented by the Magi coming to worship Him.

Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Jesus did not come to save a select few but he came that the whole world might be saved. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.

It is God’s desire to today that all mankind turn to Him and worship Him. This is regardless of their background and ethnicity. With this thought in mind it behooves us to understand that we too must take Christ to all of the world. We must deal with our innate biases that steer our thoughts and efforts away from loving the world.

3. God will do whatever it takes to make His Son known and worshipped. This is the heart of God.

 V2 – For we saw His star when it rose and we have come to worship Him.

 It is not clear how the wise men saw the star or how God used the star to draw them to the place where Jesus lay. In fact, we must be careful and not over think this as we will miss the truth that they were led by a star to the place where Jesus lay.

 There is often a time that God does things beyond our ability to comprehend them but that does not diminish what He has done. It simply means that rather than trying to figure it out we accept the truth and learn the greater lessons from these stories:

  • The Star
  • The parting of the Red Sea

4. Jesus is troubling to those who do not want to worship Him and brings out opposition to those who do.

 V3 – When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem was with Him.

 When we share Christ, we must be aware that there will be those who will not worship Him. I don’t understand that but that does not change the reality that some will refuse to give Him honor.

Even worse there will be those who not only fail to worship Him but they will come in opposition to what Christ stands for. We see this in our society today when people who refuse to worship Christ do not stop at that point but they go into a total opposition mode.

Isn’t it interesting that we can talk about God and we can talk about spiritual things but we can not talk about Jesus.

5. Worshipping Jesus means joyfully ascribing authority and dignity to Christ with sacrificial gifts.

 V11 – … and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts.

 We come into worship to give him gifts:

  • We give him our voices in song and words
  • We give him our thoughts as we recognize that worship is not a Sunday Morning event but a lifestyle that never ends.
  • We give of our time, talent and tithe to Christ. We offer what we have to honor God and to ascribe authority to Him.

 We do not give our gifts grudgingly or with suspicion but we do so because we are ascribing worth to Christ when we recognize that all we have belongs to Him anyway.

 Conclusion:

 This is the season of giving, food and relationships. It is this time that we honor God with all that we have and that we are so that our whole lives are a worship to Him. So, our worship and who we are can not be separated.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Principles and Core Values that Dictates How I Do Ministry

Relevant preaching based in Biblical truth – In our current society situational ethics and a decreased regard for moral absolutes seem to be the norm, but in reality people truly are searching for truth. They are searching for relevant, authentic people who will lovingly care for them and motivate them toward the unchanging truth of the gospel. Thus, people need the unchanging truth of the gospel presented in a way that meets them where they are and in a language they can understand. To effectively present the gospel, all means available to the church must be used. These would include drama, dance, the arts, multimedia and sound biblical messages. This is critical as the inerrancy of Scriptures becomes the authority that detects the way we live and act within community. (Colossians 1:28, Acts 17…)

Worship – Worship is a lifestyle and not something that is just “done” on Sunday morning. The reality is that too often there is a disconnect between the person’s persona on Sunday and the rest of the week. God has called us to a lifestyle of worship so that all we do glorifies God and honors his name. When the church does gather for the “worship service” the entire service should be spiritually alive and vibrant but biblically based in order to reach those who are attending and point them to God almighty. (John 4:24, Romans 12:1)

Outreach & Mission – The church should be “on mission” rather than simply “doing missions.” The difference is in the mindset of the church. A church on mission recognizes that every individual is a missionary to their zip code. Therefore, they must reach their community, those on the job, students in their school and those with whom they connect. When the church does missions, it sends people on short-term trips, to foreign fields and it sends money to mission’s organizations but they fail to engage the culture around them with spiritual truth. This does not negate the sending of money or people to the mission field there is simply a greater recognition that we are all missionaries who are on mission. With that in mind, we must seek to develop the necessary strategies to reach our communities for Christ. As Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Alpharetta, GA has said “If we are going to reach people no one else is reaching we need to do things that no one else is doing.” These strategies may change from one location to the next but the underlying value is that we have a heart for people who do not know Christ and a compassion and passion to see them transformed by Christ. (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20)

Discipleship & Spiritual Growth – Within the church, we must be in the business of “equipping the saints” for the work of ministry. It is impossible for a single pastor to adequately minister to every one in the body effectively. Therefore, the church must “equip the saints” so that the body is ministering to each other. One of the successes of the early NT church was in its ability to minister to one another. Therefore, it is critical that the body of Christ have mechanisms in place to connect people to Christ, to one another, to the ministry, and to mission. This is best accomplished through small groups or home groups. Through home groups people are connected in authentic relationships and they can find their place within the context of the local church. Here they receive assistance in their journey toward becoming passionate and fully devoted followers of Christ. And, out the home group they serve together to reach their community for Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-14, Acts 2:41-47)

Simplicity in Ministry – One problem that faces many churches today is busyness and calendars that are jammed with activity. It is my belief that simplicity of ministry is critical. The church must establish its vision and then anything that fits outside that vision must be eliminated. This means sometimes the good must be eliminated so that the best can be raised up. The problem is that too often the church has “sacred cows” that are not easily sacrificed for the overall health of the body. Our process of connecting people to the church must be simple enough that everyone in the body understands and knows what is required of them and how they can become fully connected to Christ, to others, to their specific ministry and to mission.

Multi-generational – While the target group in a church might vary it is critical that we bridge the gaps between the generations. The best way to accomplish this is to have the various generational groups serve one another in ways that spur one another to growth

Youth and children – We must be more effective in reaching this and future generations for Christ by providing ministry that is relational, authentic and relative to where our youth and children are in the culture. If the statistics are correct and there is no reason to believe they are not, only 4% of this generation of youth has a commitment to Christ. This percentage has declined over the last decade and if it continues in this downward trend then we could face the elimination of the church as we know in just a couple of decades. Therefore, the church must create environments that are conducive to seeing youth and children developing vital relationships. This also means that a significant amount of the budget must be used to develop this ministry.

Cross-cultural Ministry – As our nation has become more ethnically diverse, we as the church have tended to remain segregated but the church must look for ways to become more ethnically diverse. This can not be forced nor can it be simply a program or goal to attain but must be a part of the DNA of the church because they have a passion to reach all men for Christ regardless of race, culture or life experiences.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Core Values that Drive My Life

On November 7th we officially arrived in Delaware and began our ministry at Peninsula Community Church. This has been an adventure. It has been one which has seen God’s hand at work and His grace in action in so many ways. We are so excited to be here and to serve as the senior pastor of PCC. It is my belief that if we are faithful to God’s calling and obedient to His will that we will see His glory revealed in and through PCC.

In this blog today and over the next couple of weeks I want to share with you my philosophy of ministry. I will begin with what I consider the core values of my life. The goal of this is for you to get to know me better as we serve God and reach the communities of the DELMAR peninsula together.

Core Values that Drive My Life

Centrality and authority of the Word of God – The Scriptures are the unchanging authority that guides and directs all I do. My desire is to rightly divide the Word of truth, apply that truth to my life and then allow it to become alive in my heart by living out that truth in all that I do as a passionate follower of Christ.

Prayer – All that is done in my life and ministry must be birthed and launched in prayer. Without prayer I am powerless to live a life devoted to Christ and I will also be out of fellowship with the living God.

Worship – Living a lifestyle of worship is as just as important to me as the actual act of worship. My goal is to be the same person during the week that I am on Sundays or in a church setting. As John 4:24 states my desire is to worship God “in spirit and in truth.”

Team Work/Partnership – The work of the ministry must be a team effort. Therefore, I am called to be an equipper of the saints so that the work of the ministry can be accomplished. The result will be that the body will become a place of unity. In unity, we become a dwelling place for the presence of God. I live by the motto that says build great people and you will build a great ministry. It is always people first.

Right Priorities – In all of life we must set proper priorities so that we are not entrapped by the cares of life. For me, it is God first, followed by family and then ministry. My fear is that I will be guilty of winning others but lose my family in the process.

Man on Mission – I prefer to be “on mission” rather than just doing missions or ministry. I recognize that I am called to reach those in my community and within my sphere of influence. I am called to be God’s ambassador and therefore will faithfully represent Him by developing loving relationships and by reaching out to others who are unchurched/unsaved and need the hope of Christ.

Transformation of Character – I recognize that I am on a journey of growth and transformation. The goal is to be like Christ. I can never stop growing or else I will die spiritually. I also realize that I have not arrived at full maturity yet but am growing and being renewed day by day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized