Our Unchangeable God

Learn How To Anchor Yourself To Our Unchanging God

Ross Sawyers
Feb 12, 2023    56m
How can I feel stable in the changing chaos around me? You start by anchoring yourself to our unchanging God. The Scriptures teach us that He's the same in who he is, his ways, and his purposes. God never changes, and He has given us a way back to Him and the anchor for our soul, Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:00] He is the one that's faithful, and he's the one we want to turn to as we continue our day. We're all familiar with what happened in Turkey and Syria this week, and I'd like to pray, but I'd like to borrow a prayer that someone sent from another church in Alabama, and it's a lament for Turkey and Syria. I don't know that we lament well, so I don't even know sometimes we know what that means to do the Psalms, many of the Psalms are laments over hard things that have happened. And so I just wanted to pray this prayer that someone else wrote for Turkey and for Syria. So if you would join me in it, and then and then we'll move ahead.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:59] Oh, Lord, how our woes increase, the toppled buildings, the mangled wires, the dust clouds rising, the foundations buckling, the people wailing. It's too much, Oh Lord, it's too much. How can your heart take it all in? The sounds like arrows piercing within, the booms of pipes bursting, the crackling of electric lines failing, the chatter of Earth colliding, the dings of trapped messages unheeded, the cries of the fleeing, the wailing of the mourners. It's too much, oh Lord, it's too much. We know you hear, Oh Lord. Then the silence, Oh Lord, it haunts as weary rescuers wait, as fainting cries beneath, as whispering prayers rise, as trembling lips gather around crowded fires. How will you answer, Oh Lord? An ear, Oh Lord, and it is done, an ear, oh Lord, incline it anew. The shaking, Lord, when will it end? Stay the unnerving force. Stay the unsettled depths. How will it cease until you bring peace? The foundations you created settle at your command. Given the word, Oh Lord, one word is all, peace, and this shaking will cease. Shelter, oh Lord, there is nowhere to run. Stay, Oh Lord when all hope gives way, still our refuge trembling hearts. You, oh Lord, bring light to this dark The shaking, the quaking, all seems gone; your Kingdom unshakable, let it come, your will be done. Father, just thank you for those who can get inside the hearts and the shoes of the hurting and thank you for letting us pray with them today. And God, I pray that as we have these things brought to mind, that you'd lead our hearts to pray even briefly for those that are mourning the loss of family, and friends. For those who are tired in the rescue efforts, would you give them stamina and endurance? And Father, I pray for everyone that this would be a time when people lean into you, not away from you. And God, that you would meet them in a way that only you can in the depths of what their sorrow is, what their questions are, and where their hope is. And I pray these things in Jesus' name, Amen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:53] We've been thinking these last few weeks about the idea of lenses and that we see, we see reality through particular lenses. And we've just kind of been walking together, and I believe an easy way for us to think about this is there are really two lenses by which we see reality. One is a God-centered biblical lens, and we see reality through that lens. And then we would believe that that is reality, that there are not alternate or multiple realities from which we choose, but there's one reality by which God has made himself known, and that is through the Scriptures themselves, and that's the lens through which we see reality. There is another lens, though, through which we can even switch back and forth sometimes in our own lives if we are followers of Jesus, but that other lens is the lens of humans. It's a human lens, and it always has with it self-effort. The God lens is loaded with grace, the human lens is a lens loaded with self-effort. And if you think about it, we've shown this graphic multiple times, and then if you think about when you go to the eye doctor and you have your chin in there and you know, they've cleansed it so that the 40 other chins that have been in that day, it's not a big deal. And you're looking through, and they're doing this with the different lenses, that's how the human lens, it's a good picture of that. Because if we're looking through a human lens, there are a whole variety of things that we see through, when we see through that lens, and we'll continue to speak of what some of those things are. The God lens is one God-centered biblical lens through which we look. The human lens, there are all these different ways that that takes shape in the way that we see things, in the way we see reality.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:34] I read a book a while back called Gentle and Lowly. Many of you have read that book as well. Some people have concerns about it, and maybe there are some I'm not quite sure on that, I found it to be a helpful book. But somebody sent me a quote from it that I think is helpful for us as we launch into what we're doing today. It says, "Maybe we think of God and Christ in terms of truth, not beauty." So maybe we just think of God, and we think of the Scriptures only in truth. But the whole reason that we care about sound doctrine, and that doctrine is sound teaching, is for the sake of preserving God's beauty. Just as the whole reason we care about effective focal lenses on a camera is to capture with precision the beauty we photograph. We want to be able to see with a camera, a clear lens so that we can capture the beauty of something and be able to preserve that beauty. It's showing the truth, if we take the picture of creation, for example, of something out there. We're seeing the reality of it, and it's not just the truth of what this is, we're seeing the beauty of it. So when we're thinking about these things that we're speaking of, in terms of the lenses, we're looking through. God of the Scriptures, and he is good, he's true, and he's beautiful. It's not just truth, it's truth and it's good and it's beautiful and it's truth. We really are people who long for beauty, and God is the one who is that beauty. He makes himself known in creation, he makes himself known in his word, and he makes himself known in his son, Jesus Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:42] In the last few weeks, we've talked about the Bible, and so why do we trust it? Why does it matter? And we've spent time in the scriptures on it, we've looked at outside evidence for why we can trust it. And now we're thinking about the attributes of God, and attributes are just the character of God. We're establishing and trying to build a framework for us to have meaningful conversations with people, and to have a depth of understanding ourselves. And it's important that we understand the character of someone because that tells us why they do something. What we do flows out of who we are, so when we're having conversations, oftentimes we isolate on a topic and it just looks like we're against something, or we're for something, and we're not putting it in the whole of God's story and of who God is. And when we understand His character, then that gives us a wider way to talk about particular things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:40] There are several reasons that we're doing this series. I want to reiterate those quickly. For those who know Jesus and your following Jesus, this strengthens and reinforces our faith. Oftentimes that's what worldview and apologetics kind of studies do, they help us anchor into our own faith that is so often being called into question, it helps anchor us in. It's also helpful because the writer of Hebrews in chapter 2, verse 1 says, that what we're prone to, is drifting away from that which is true. And so there's a warning for us, and I think the way our culture is shaping us today, it's easy to drift just a little bit at a time. It's not like Satan brings in this giant lie and it's just like, bam, the whole thing is wrong. No, it's a slight little mistruth, and it just kind of gets me this way, and then there is another one and another one. And we just somehow, we look up and we think, how did I get away? It was a slow drift. And so this is a way to anchor us back if we're drifting. And then I think it's really helpful for people that are skeptical. You just kind of wonder what is the deal with all of this? And I hope there are all kinds of skeptical people here, and we can just come from the Scripture and see what God says about this is why we believe what we do and who we are and the lens through which we see life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:24] In our life groups, one of our primary hopes is it will open us up to a new level of community, and that we can learn how to share what we really believe, how we really see something, and that we can learn to have meaningful dialogs around things on which we disagree. If we can do that in the safety of our community, and I can actually say in there, you know, what I hear them talk about Jesus is the only way to salvation, I don't know that I really believe that. I know I'm supposed to believe that because that's what everybody tells me I am, but could we just honestly in a group, say, you know what, I've got my Hindu friend and my Muslim friend and my atheist friend, and I'm just not sure about this one-way thing. If we can't have the safety and courage to say those kinds of things in our life group setting, then we can't sharpen it and help each other see from Scripture why we believe the things that we do. That's just an example, we can just run the gamut. But we just want to help stir in our groups that there is lively, robust dialog around things of which we may or may not believe and that we can go to the Scriptures for our answer, not our emotions, our feelings, or our experiences first and foremost, the God's Word is first and foremost.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:58] And then in the craziness of our culture, I would just have to believe as a parent and his grandparents, today, more than ever, we need help in navigating our kids in what they're facing and the untruth that comes at them constantly, it's a barrage. And if we're not having in our homes with our kids the kind of conversations that help our kids stabilize in God himself and the Scriptures, it's a horrific thought to me to think of just leaving our kids out there on their own to figure this out. Someone is shaping them, and they will be glad to do it, it is the job of parents and family to shape the hearts and minds of our kids according to who God is and who the Scriptures are. Someone's doing the shaping, we believe, the most freeing place, and it's an irony, isn't it? We anchor ourselves to God, an anchor actually keeps you from moving, but the paradox is when we anchor ourselves to God, that's actually where freedom comes, and that's when we are unafraid to live boldly in a culture that is all kinds of crazy and chaotic.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:25] Well, I want us to think today about the attribute of God that he is an unchanging God. When we look all around us, things are in the midst of constant change. Humans are constantly changing, thought processes are changing, it's, we believe, the science, but then if the science doesn't fit the cultural narrative, then it's not about the science, it's about the cultural narrative. I mean it'd keep our head on a swivel, just trying to keep up. Well, today, is it the science that's the authority, or is it the way I feel about ths particular issue, is that what's authority today? It just keeps us in a spin and on our heels, and you're kind of like, oh my, how can I stabilize in the changing chaos around us? Well, our stability is in a God who's unchanging, this is who he is, he's an unchanging God. By definition, we would say he's the same in who he is, his ways, and his purposes. Included in that are his promises, God does not change who he is in his character, his ways, or his purposes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:32] This morning we have an 8 a.m. service that we do, and as I walked through this today in the 8 a.m., do you ever do something you're thinking? I don't think this is making sense the way I did this, and it was not making sense in my head as I was talking. It made sense when I wrote it on Friday, finishing up the week, but it did not make sense to me when I was doing it at 8:00. And so I thought, I'm going to give it a shot and kind of change it up. So here's the deal, I have no idea, I think I came out fine at the 9:15, I don't know how we'll come out here. But know this, at the end of the message, God is unchanging, God is unchanging, and the Scripture is true. So we won't mess up on the Scripture or the attribute of God that is unchanging, the rest of it may make no sense. But you know today, when you leave, that God is unchanging and the implications of that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:33] So we've been talking about God's story and trying to give a picture from the big picture of God's story. And if we can talk about things again from a big picture versus just a small picture, then I think it makes things make sense when we talk about them, because this is how we see reality, the way God has designed it. And we've talked about this funnel, and this is a great way to ask questions about the most substantive things in life. And shouldn't we be able to, I think this is a great set of questions to ask people that we know, people in our family, it's good for us to work through how we would answer these questions. And I think the stranger, it's fine to do it with a stranger. I find that to be a little awkward when I do it, but awkward is okay with me. If you don't like awkward, you have people that you're close to and just see. Shouldn't it be okay that the people that are our family and our friends, we would understand some of the most substantive things about another person, and how they think and what they believe? And this just gives us an idea as we work through these, is someone looking through a biblical God-centered lens or are they looking through a human self-effort kind of lens? And then maybe they'd be interested in seeing, well, why do we see through this lens?

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:11] So let's work through the unchanging nature of God through God's story, and I want to contrast that with the changing nature of humanity, and we're either changing for the good or for the bad, but we're always changing, we are God is unchanging in who he is. So we start in the center, God is the center of the story in the lens. In Psalm 102, the psalmist is a bit in despair in this Psalm, he's been afflicted by different things. He's kind of looking around and saying, why is it going good over here for some people, and it's not going so well for me. And then he comes to the end of the Psalm, and in talking about God, he says, "He's weakened my strength in the way." Verse 23, "He's shortened my days." So the concern is I have an idea of what a full life is, and the psalmist is saying, it looks like I'm going to get shortened on what is is a full life. You are kind of cutting me off at midstream here, by the way things are going. "I say, “O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, your years are throughout all generations." So will you let me live out my days? And you, God, you're throughout all generations, like you will outlast them. "Of old You founded the Earth", verse 25, "And the heavens are the work of Your hands." Now, so often we're reading through Scripture, they're referring back and taking us into creation. And so in talking about God as the then unchanging God, he's saying, “Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26“Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them, and they will be changed." All of creation is going to wear out, he says, just like clothing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:24] Now, what all of us are wearing today, at some point, it's going to wear out. Now, one of my favorite shirts is from the college I went to, and someone got it for me in the mid-nineties, I've had that thing for almost 25 years, they made good quality t-shirts back in the nineties. But there is going to be a day, I know, that it's going to disappear. Because my wife is going to think, yeah, I think it's time to be done with that shirt. You know how that works in your home, sometimes things are just like, you know, that's had its time, so let's let it go. That's the way the psalmist is describing this, just like our clothes are going to wear out, creation is going to wear out. But what does he say about God, even of all of creation, in the way it's going to change? "But you, God..." in verse 27, "...are the same, and Your years will not come to an end." God is the only one who is unchanging and the same, everything else changes, it changes for good, it changes for bad, but it changes, and God does not change, he's the same.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:36] In Deuteronomy chapter 32, verse 4, Moses is writing a song, and in his song, he's writing, and he gets to verse four and this is what he says about God. He said, “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He." So the psalmist is saying, here God is, he's the same, and he's going to outlast every generation. Moses says God, who is the same, is the rock, he's the one on which we can stand because of who he is, and his ways are perfect. So we don't have to be concerned that He's unchanging and there is something amiss, he's unchanging and He's perfect in His ways. Every character of who God is, is perfect in who He is, He is the rock.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:31] The alternative to this is that God is not the center. So this is a God lens world where God is the center, but the alternative is that humans are the center. And so you just kind of X God out, put ourselves here, and everything revolves around us. So there is a clear contrast, God is unchanging, and humans are changing in who they are, constantly changing, that's our contrast.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:09] In God's story, we moved to the first chapter of his story, and that's creation. And in creation, we have people talking about it all throughout the scriptures, and Paul describes in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." So Paul's writing and he says, hey, the God of creation, his eternal attributes, his invisible power, all of who he is, those have been stable and unchanging since creation. What God created in Genesis 1, Paul writes in Romans 1, and it's just as stable today. We can look at it, and what do we see when we see it in creation? It's a beautiful morning, it was when I came in this morning and the sun rose, and I realized it did more than rise, but that's just for our conversation. And we know that, and we look out there and we see a God who is beautiful in what he made, who's intelligent in what he made, who's rational in the way that it works, who's orderly? We see all kinds of things about who God is, and that is unchanging in who He is, in his nature, he is beautiful and he's good and he's true.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:38] In creation, humans got off to a really good start. "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created us.". It's in a place of perfection with the unchanging God that He created all that we see in the world. He created humanity in his image, He created a work rest rhythm, and He created marriage, all in the context of creation, all perfect. God is unchanging, His design does not change, and His design has been the same for all eternity. When we talk about a why, and when people are changing up the design of God, God is unchanging in his character and He has set a design in place for his own glory and for the good of every person, this is actually the place of freedom inside of God's creative design.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:58] So a great start for humanity in the first part of God's story, but then things go a little bit south, and we get into the second part of God's story. And rather than a connection to the perfect harmony of God, by the way, that answers the origin question. When we talk about the origin, what do we believe about origins? This is what we believe that God is the one who created, this is his design, he's the Creator and he's the one that sustains and puts into play his design. The fall answers the question of the problem. What's the problem in the world? Well, the problem is what happened at the fall. And when we talk about the fall, we're talking about when sin entered into the world.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:44] In Malachi chapter 3, verse 3, it's the last Old Testament prophet, the last book of the Old Testament. In Malachi 3:6, we read this earlier, “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." So he doesn't change who he is. But what's the context for Malachi? We're actually seeing a result of the fall because now as sin entered into the world, every person inherits a sinful nature, and the result of that is the judgment of God. In Malachi, he's referring to his own people, the people of God. And he says, what happened here? Why are you treating me with disrespect? Why are you treating me with disdain? Why are you bringing your offerings, and you're bringing me your worst? Sure you're showing up, but you're bringing me your worst. How is that worthy of the God of the universe? So by the time we get to chapter 3, he is saying, judgment's coming, and it's going to be swift, and it is going to be over, "the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD." It's after that verse, he says, I do not change. So God doesn't change in what he's going to do with sin, and he will bring judgment on it. But God also is unchanging in his faithfulness and his mercy. So there is a way to escape that judgment that's happened here at the fall. And it's interesting, at least what he says in Malachi, because they said, well, how do we turn back? And it's crazy, he says, do you know what, you've been robbing me of tithes and offerings, get that right, and that's a step towards turning back. As a result of the fall, then our purpose in life is about us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:28] Now, one of the things I've loved in this series is that different people have communicated with me different thoughts and different ideas than what you're hearing from me. And someone this week sent me two graphics and said, hey, I think this would be helpful, and I think he's right. So this purpose question, over here, if a person is still walking in the brokenness of the fall and hasn't encountered Christ yet, the purpose for this person is themselves. When you look at that, all that, everything, life is about me. So after the fall, it's about me. In Genesis 11, they started doing that, the people said, hey, you know what? We need to make a name for ourselves, so we're going to build a tower that will reach toward the heavens, toward God. That's kind of the essence of sin, isn't it? I want to make a name for me, and not a name for God. And so the arrow's, every arrow is pointing at me, everything's about me. And so we see the purpose for the person who's walking in this side of redemption is it is about them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:41] I was reading Jim Denison's article this week, and he quoted a survey that said, in America today, 81% of people would say that we are inherently good, 81% believe we're inherently good. That runs totally against what God says. We are inherently bad. Nobody loves to hear that, but I actually think when we look at the reality that's how it plays out, we're inherently bad. We've inherited a sinful nature, and we act on that sin, and yet we live in a country now that says 81% of people say we are inherently good. And if that's what we believe, then we will dig inside of ourselves and just live out what we believe is our reality because we are good from the inside out. That's also the deception of a fallen humanity.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:01] What are the consequences then of a changing people who are living out a purpose that is in opposition to God because it's about themselves? We're being shaped by something, so we're going to be shaped in a certain way. In Galatians chapter 5 is a descriptor of how we live it out if we're living over here, it's an ugly list. "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." That's the reality of living out our own purposes. That list sort of feels like today, and it feels like 50 years ago, and 500 years ago, and it feels like Isaiah in the time before Christ. Because at the core, when we're looking through that lens, this is how it plays out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:39] Good news. We move from this piece of the story to this piece of the story, and God, who is unchanging, has made a way for us through the cross for redemption. So there are there is a way for us to come into a relationship with this unchanging God, and people who change that are living by a sinful flesh for the worst, we're changing that direction, there is the opportunity now for humans to change, but it's through the work that God does in bringing about that change. In Hebrews chapter 6, verses 17 through 20, "In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19This hope we have as an anchor of the soul." And what he says here is, here are two unchangeable things. And one of the things I love that's happening right now in our church, I received an email at 12:54 a.m. this morning from one of our life group leaders that were studying this passage, getting ready to think about this particular topic with their life group. And he said, I didn't understand what the two unchangeable things were, and so I started digging. And Arthur Pink, he's written some great stuff on the attributes of God, said it this way, and this would be accurate, but I just love that it's stirring people to dig and study themselves in the word. What are those two unchangeable things? God's promise and his oath. He didn't have to make an oath, but there are two things I'm doing here, my promises are unchanging, and I'm making an oath that you know that. And it's impossible for God to lie, in his unchanging character, he's unchanging in his promises, his purposes, and who he is, so we can believe him. And he's laid out a way for us to get back to himself, and the anchor for the soul is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. There is a confidence that we can have that this is the way because who God is, is an unchanging God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:31] Now I contrast that with my Muslim friends, and this is what they would say, this is how they would say it. That Allah is a capricious god, capricious meaning, he's subject to change his mind. There are five things you do in Islam to be able to earn your way to heaven, pray five times a day, almsgiving, Mecca, Ramadan, I keep forgetting the fifth. Someone shout it out, feel free, but know there is a fifth. What is it? Somebody translate, I can't hear it. I understand it's hard to yell out in a service. Profession, there is no God but Allah. God. Thank you, that was good, we took it from the back, it's like the phone game, and we got it here, thank you. Thanks, Ron, that was awesome. Yeah, so those five, you can do all those, die, stand before Allah, and he can change his mind. That's not a stable way to live, and that's different. So when we talk about how all these things are the same, they're not the same. And again, I'm saying, that's what a Muslim would tell you in a conversation with them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:18] And that's different than a God who is unchanging in his character, who's laid out a design for us to be able to get back right with him, and that design is through Jesus Christ and Christ crucified, do you believe that? And by grace, God reaches down and brings salvation to those who believe what He did on the cross. At that point, then there is the possibility for change for the good. What happens in Second Corinthians 5:17 is that every person that believes Jesus is no longer walking in the old, but now they've become a new creation. And in that new creation, then we become more and more like Jesus. But for persons that prefer to live for themselves, Jeremiah 6:16 I think describes well that particular person, and they are saying, "Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ I was listening to a podcast the other day that Alisa Childers was having with two Old Testament professors. And what she was doing was she took multiple TikTok’s of social media influencers that were debunking the Bible and talking about why it's ridiculous to believe it and so forth. And they're very convincing, by the way, and they say things that you've heard, and take it out of context and it's not really true. These Old Testament professors, they just kind of did this, and they didn't know what they were going to hear. She'd play it, and then they'd respond to it. But one of the things they said was, they said we think this is the first time in history, that there is no respect for the old in history. That if it's not new and young, it's not true. And in Jeremiah, he said they listen to the ancient path, and they said, yeah, we're not walking in that. That's the mantra of people today living in their own purposes, they're hearing this message of the ancient path and the old is no good anymore. We don't want to listen to older people. We don't want to listen to older wisdom.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:54] We don't want to listen to history. We don't want to look back and see there is actually value in those things. The person who receives Jesus, though, is changed, and then our purpose is changed, our purpose now is God, God's our purpose. In Romans 8:29, we're told that what goes along with that purpose is now we're being conformed to the image of Christ. So the reason for which we live is to bring glory and honor to God through Christ, and then the more we go in life, will more and more be conformed to the image of Jesus. Do we look like the character of Christ? Now, again, we've mentioned again and again we're all shaped by something. The question is, what shapes us? And the more we follow Christ, the more we look like Jesus and the more we have the character of Him and the more we'll be inside His purposes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:01] Now, how does God shape and form us in those purposes? One way he does it is through trials. One way that he shapes us is through the trials that are in our life, he takes those, and in his sovereignty, and under his control, he uses those things that are hard to shape us into the character of Jesus. My hunch is most of us don't like the trials we go through. I was talking to a high school buddy the other day that showed up here, I didn't see him in 40 years, and he showed up to church here. And then we did lunch the other day, and he was describing just kind of what's going on in the last 40 years. We had a lot to catch up on. And a lot of different hardships in his family. And this is what he said. He goes, I would wish it on no one, I don't know that I would ever choose it, but when I look back on it, I wouldn't want it any other way. Because it's this very thing that has drawn us into Christ, and it's the way our life has actually had meaning, is through Christ in us, in the way he's shaped us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:25] Now, not everybody sees it that way, and I know there is a degree of trial that you're thinking, yeah, you wouldn't be saying that if you knew the one I was in. I just know that God is unchanging in his character, and he takes the hardest and most difficult of things, and he redeems and works that for his good, often in ways we may or may not see. But in all of it, he's drawing and shaping us into himself, which is his purpose to bring glory to his name. How does he bring glory out of 21,000 known deaths right now in Turkey and Syria, due to a 7.8 on the Richter scale earthquake? I just throw my hands up and say, I don't know, and I know he will, and we'll see amazing things that will come through what God does in it, as hard as it is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:25] So we've talked about the purposes of God. And then one thing I want to make sure we deal with fairly today, because if you read your Bible, you know, there are places where it says God changes his mind. So when we think about the purposes of God, inside of those purposes being conformed to him is spending time with him, and prayer is a way that we spend time with God. We talked about the question from God's sovereignty last week of why we pray if God's sovereign, it's all going to work out according to his plan anyway. But God in his sovereignty has designed it in such a way that our prayers actually matter and actually move his heart.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:14] In Exodus 32, Moses comes off the mountain, and the people had taken some of their jewelry and they threw it into the fire and unbelievably, a molten calf came out. It's just crazy how that happens, you just throw your stuff in, and I don't know how that happened. And then how we started worshiping, I don't know, but this just kind of happened. And then God is furious, and he tells Moses, he says, look, I'll get out of the way, I'm about to destroy my people. These are those stories that make us uncomfortable, and Moses pleads in prayer on behalf of the people. And really, just for God's own name to say, hey, if you do this, then it's going to kind of not look good on your name in bringing them out, and then this is what you do to them. And it says there that God, he, changes his mind, he relents, he listens to Moses's prayer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:16] So is God actually a changing God, and we just wasted our time talking about it him being unchanging? No, we look at the whole of God's word, and we know that God is unchanging. So what does it mean when we read those few instances that he changed his mind, or he relented from something he was going to do? Nothing has changed, by the way, in those instances in his character, his purposes, his promises, or his ways, he's responding in who he is. And as Arthur Pink said, I think it's a great way to say it, that God oftentimes will use language with us because of our limited capacity, he'll use language that we can understand, so we can at least get some idea of who he is. So is God genuinely repenting? Is he genuinely changing his mind? No, God is unchanging in who He is, He's faithful in who He is. He knows what's going to happen. He knows how this is going to play out. So what is happening here? He's demonstrating to us, and this is one great way to look at it, his mercy. I mean, have you ever had somebody that had legit something against you, and they could wipe you out if they wanted to? And then mercifully, they chose not to. In this case, God had every right to bring his judgment on the people who now were worshiping something else, but in his mercy, He spared them. That would be a great conversation in your life group to go to the word to wrestle that through, that God is unchanging.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:18] And then the last piece, so we've got our purpose, solution, Jesus. Our purpose, God's glory, is to be conformed to His image. New heavens and the new earth, this is the final piece, everything will be made right, and everything will be anew. And the Scripture says in Revelation 21. And by the way, a way to think about this story in Genesis 1 and 2, the first book of the Bible, and Revelation 21 and 22, they're in essence, well, Genesis 1 and 2 is God's perfect creation, 21 and 22 of Revelation is restoring of what started in Genesis 1 and 2, that's the story beginning to end. In Revelation 21, this is what he says about the new heavens and the new earth, "Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost." I'm the alpha, I'm the omega.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:21] I'm the beginning, I'm the end, and He's everything in between. "He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.", and this is where we'll hang out. And the Scripture says in First Corinthians 15, that when Jesus comes back, then in the twinkling of an eye, we'll be changed. So we're changed here into new creations, we're changed into the character and purposes of God. And then when Jesus comes back, then we'll be changed completely into that image of which He's forming us in himself so that we reflect the image of God, and we see Him as He is in the new heavens and the new Earth.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:00] But for the person that refuses this, in verse 8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars..." This sounds like Galatians 5:19-21,"...their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” So sadly, if people choose to have purpose in themselves, and refuse Jesus, and walk in this way, then the end and the destiny is a destiny that is apart from God in the lake of fire. That's two different lenses, it's two different ways that we answer the questions. And by the way, that last piece should break our hearts, and part of how we pray is that God will rescue the hearts of those who refuse him. And Jesus said, What you need to be praying is that God will raise up laborers who will actually have the courage to go out and talk about Jesus to those who don't know him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:33] It's funny, I just looked down here and saw something that reminded me of something I want to say real quick on that. We had a great conversation at young adults a couple of weeks ago about the urgency of sharing the Gospel. And we should live with an urgency, and if God will raise up Laborers who will share it? But it was interesting when we were talking at that time because I thought I had an opportunity with a guy to share the Gospel with him. I'd use those questions, and then it'd start up an opportunity for a lunch. I went to the lunch, I had my funnel, I had God's story, and I had a pen because we agreed this is what we're going to talk about. I was so excited and so ready; I love those moments. And we get there, and we start talking, and I'm thinking, this isn't going the way I thought. And so he kind of tells his story, he asks me my story. And he said, by the way, I have to leave in 10 minutes. Fifteen years ago Ross, would have gotten that thing in that last 10 minutes. So there is an urgency, but it was not the right moment. If I were to try to slam that on home, that's when people feel like a project, and you're checking me off. A bet our relationship changes pretty dramatically after that. And then when we left, I said, hey, I said, if you ever want to talk about those questions. He goes, yes, and he said, next time I'm going to leave more time for our lunch. So we'll be looking for another time, and I'm going to trust that God will give us that space and time. So I believe we go alert, eager, and with an urgency and a sensitivity to the Spirit and what he's doing at any given moment, that's out of a love for a person, and a care for them, and that they know that in what we're doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:30] So what do we do with this? God's unchanging, we're changing. The good news is we can be changed to be more like him, that's where freedom comes, that's where our anchoring is, and that's where we can move unafraid in the crazy and the chaos. We love people who are still over here, we love them well, with the hope they'll get exhausted by that and desire Jesus. I find when I get destabilized by relationships, the news cycle, whatever's happening out there in the social media world, the things that constantly change, and laws that change depending on what moral codes are in play at the moment, all of that can be really unsettling. But I really can't recall a time when after I get all unsettled, I call five people, and I talk about it a lot. When I finally just go sit before God, he's the anchor of my soul, unchanging in who he is, that I walk away, stabilized, in peace, with a clear and steadfast mind. But the only place I find that is in my God, he's unchanging in who he is. May that be the way we come to him with a confidence, and a humility, and then we can walk with a grace and a strength.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:19] So Father, thank you for our time. And thank you, Father, for your word, and all throughout of who you are and what your character is, and just honing in today on the unchanging nature of who you are. And God, I pray, as believers, that that would give us an anchoring of freedom, and stability. And Father, I pray for those who are not, those who have drifted, I pray they'll see just your love for them and your care for them and God that they would see that you're the one they're actually looking for that will bring pleasure and joy, peace, hope, and life. And then help us, God, to continue to learn how we can have meaningful conversations with each other between you and us, and then God with those who are outside of our faith in a way that they'd be attracted to you. I pray in Jesus' name.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051