Saturday, September 24, 2016

Peace Now

23But the Lord said to Gideon, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” 
24So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. - Judges 6:23-24

God does NOT declare peace over your life to keep you safe but that you might become who you were born to be.  Jehovah Shalom (God is Peace), proclaimed by Gideon, came in the middle of a moment where Gideon's life was changed forever.  He was told by a messenger from God that he was not born to hide fearfully in a cave threshing wheat; he was born to be a mighty warrior for God.

It's tempting to be a bad steward with God's Peace.  Selfishly, you keep it only for yourself.  Fearfully, you use it to hide from your enemies rather than confronting them.  Therapeutically, you reduce it to how it makes you feel rather than how it makes you think and act.  True peace is walking out contently and courageously the future victories God has planned for you.

Though your future victories will be full of risk, demanding gnarly faith from you, the God of Peace will be with you.  Gideon discovered that immediately.  God sent him into battle with 32,000 men, but prior to the battle beginning God reduced his army to only 300.  God actually said to Gideon, "You have too many men (Judges 7:2a)." Walking in the peace of God will help you to realize that MORE of GOD and LESS of YOU is the key to victory.  Though ferociously counter - intuitive to humanism, letting God take the fight for you will liberate you, flooding your soul with the peace of God.

God is declaring His peace over your life NOW.  Can you mute the noise of this world long enough to hear Him?  Receive it, and you will be changed forever just like Gideon.  You were born to walk in victory not defeat - to be a warrior not a weakling - to be in peace not fear.  The God of Peace will crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20).  Peace now.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden

Sunday, September 18, 2016

7 Steps of God's Provision

Based on Genesis 22:1-14 (The 7 Steps of God providing for Abraham and Isaac).  Watch the entire sermon on our YouTube Channel - Celebration Church and Outreach Ministry

Step One:  Trust God fully

This is the most important of the 7 steps.  Without this starting point none of the other steps are possible.

Step Two:  Do what you know to be right

Though Abraham was probably in a state of confusion, he proceeded in obedience to the Lord, doing what he knew to be right.  The road that leads to provision is lined with acts of obedience that are void of understanding.

Step Three:  God will never put on you more than you can carry

God gave Abraham and Isaac the strength to carry the wood, fire, and knife up a long, steep path.  He will do the same for you.

Step Four:  Declare God's provision before it arrives

In verse 8 Abraham declares that God will provide.  This is the most difficult of the steps for two reasons.  First, you do not have a testimony yet.  And secondly, the doubters in your life tend to chat the loudest on this step.

Step Five:  God will come on the scene at just the right time

God is never late.  God is never early.  He always arrives at the appointed time connected to His greater purposes for your life.

Step Six:  With God there are NO coincidences

God, not luck, got a ram caught in the thicket.  Along the way to God's provision you will encounter unexplained moments with the One who operates strategically not serendipitously.

Step Seven:   It's time to testify

God's provision is meant to be told not bottled up inside.  Share and encourage someone with your story of God's provision.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden

Saturday, September 17, 2016

7 Pennies

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” - Genesis 22:14

One day on a mountain God turned a frightening moment between a father and son into one of the greatest displays of obedience and provision recorded in Scripture.  As Abraham raised his knife, staring into the whites of Isaac's eyes, an angel of the Lord intervened, and God provided a ram.

Hours earlier Isaac and Abraham had walked the long, steep journey up the mountain.  Scripture records that Isaac was tasked with carrying the wood, and Abraham's hands were full of the fire and knife.  Can you imagine the intensity and stress of that hike?  Isaac, full of confusion as to what was going on, struggles to haul all the wood up the mountain.  Abraham, sweat running down his brow, privately pleads with God to halt this assignment.  On that path Abraham and Isaac embodied the totality of what it means to trust God to provide.

Jehovah Jireh (God Will Provide) is fun to name-drop in a prayer or song but incredibly difficult to live out on a steep, confusing path up a mountain.  God is not always quick to provide, but He is always faithful to provide.  Understanding the difference between quick and faithful is the key to walking out the steps of provision God lays out for us.

In the story of Abraham and Isaac a case can be made for 7 such steps.  Tonight, at Celebration Church & Outreach Ministry, we will highlight those steps identifying each one as a penny.  The third penny, based on Abraham and Isaac's hike up the mountain, is this:  God will never put on you more than you can carry.

At times it feels as though God has overestimated our strength - like He got our calculations confused with someone else's.  We cry out to God:  "I can't carry this! Maybe she can but I can't!"  And yet, a day, week, month passes, and we discover that God's calculations were right all along.

God does not give us a burden to carry for no reason at all.  It's always in alignment with a greater plan of provision that He is unfolding for us.  God is in the business of converting steps towards provision into a grand testimony of provision. We are carrying a burden now to proclaim a story of faithfulness later.  Someone Tomorrow will need to hear about Your Today - that's just how God works.  It's one way He redeems all things in our lives.

Come get 7 pennies tonight at The Big House, and hear about the other steps - 5501 Midlothian Turnpike at 6pm - or watch Live at

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden

Saturday, September 10, 2016

FOR You Not in FRONT of You

Most of God's mightiness is done FOR you not in FRONT of you.  When something is done for you, it is often not seen or known by you.  Have you ever walked into a surprise birthday party that your friends had been scheming for months?  Something had been done for you not in front of you.

When it comes to God we want Him to do everything in front of us.  We want Him to display His mightiness in a way that is fully visible.  We want to be eye witnesses of it. In fact, we often say things like this:  "If only I could see one great miracle of God, then I would really believe."

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is the total opposite of God's normative way of functioning.  Most of His mightiness is done for us, happening unbeknownst to us while we sleep or behind us or near us and at His mysterious timing.  God rarely gets the glory due Him for the bountiful ways He is, thought unknowingly to us, mighty on a daily basis on our behalf.

I sometimes try to imagine what it would be like for God to lift me up to His perspective for just one day.  The mind-blowing experience that would ensue as I witnessed His magical orchestrating of all things peaks my curiousity beyond measure.  I fear that the experience might render me forever incapable of raising from my knees of gratitude for all He does undetectable to the human eye.

I wonder what would happen if we learned to LOVE the special, rare moments that God does in front of us but LIVED in the incalculable, sustaining moments of mightiness done for us?  How might we be changed forever?  My suspicion is that petty complaining would cease; faith would increase; fruits of the spirit would burst forth; strongholds would vanish; peace and contentment would rule our hearts; and the shalom of God would pour forth out of our churches into the streets.

No doubt Satan knows this, and therefore daily seeks to cloud our thinking and judgment like he has been doing since the Garden of Eden.  But Satan can be crushed under our feet.  The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us.  Resist Satan and he will flee.

I am looking forward to that day in Eternity when I will know all that God has done for me.  What about you?  At that time and in light of what He will reveal, our response will be nothing short of an instantaneous posture of continual worship and adoration of His supremacy.

He is El Shaddai - God Almighty and all-sufficient.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden