Is It Possible to have Real and Deep Peace?

How Can Being A Christian Bring Real And Deep Peace?

Ross Sawyers
Dec 13, 2020    1hr 4m
We all desire to have a deep and unshakable peace. But how can being a Christian bring real and deep peace? Through Christ and understanding who He truly is and what He did for us, we can find an everlasting and abiding peace that gives us the fullness of life. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Unknown (00:00:06):
One thing we've tried to emphasize over the last several months is God's heart for the nation. And when we read the God's Word, we see that God's heart is for not just one nation but for all the nations of the world, all people groups of the world. And we've been teaching and sharing about different persecuted peoples, people in an underground church. And this Christmas season, as we think about advent, we wanted to be able to introduce you for those who are newer to some of our global workers that have gone out from 121 and that we're a part of what they're doing in different regions of the world. And today our focus is on Central Asia. Elvis Gallegos, our mission pastor and he's going to lead in this interview to just give a picture of what's happening in another part of the world.

Elvis Gallegos (00:01:00):
Good morning, everyone. It's great weather, right? Yeah. Got to love it. Today we do have the gift of pleasure to hear from one of our global workers and to really give us an overview on a little bit about him and his family and the work that they're doing and where they're serving. And they've also been a part of just really the series that we've been walking through in underground church. So why don't you go ahead and start us off and just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you.

Unknown (00:01:30):
Yeah. It's good to be here with you today. Me and my family have been serving in central Asia for, I've been there for 15 years. And I met my wife there and we came back and got married here. And we were part of 121 from about 2009. And then we went back to central Asia as a family in 2012. And so, and you all have supported and prayed for us for many years. And so we're glad to be here. We have four kids. Forgot to mention them. They're wonderful. And we're glad to be here with you today to get to share so you can hear about all the Lord's doing.

Elvis Gallegos (00:02:10):
Little bit of central Asia. Muslim country population. Believers.

Unknown (00:02:16):
Yeah, sure. Forgot to share about that. Yeah. It's a majority Islamic country where we live. About 0.2% of the population are followers of Jesus. So that works out to be about two in every thousand people know Jesus. So really unreached place. Yeah, the population of the city we live in, it's about a million people and the size of the area where we focus on is the size of Texas.

Elvis Gallegos (00:02:45):
You guys have really been a part of just this underground church and the series of the persecuted Christians, believers around the world. What can you share with us as far as like what persecution looks like in central Asia?

Unknown (00:02:58):
Well, it starts really in the family. The place where we live, they're Islamic people. But they consider their heritage to really be Islamic. And so what that means is for a central Asian to become a follower of Jesus, they think of Jesus as the Russian God. And so it's like they have become Russian. And so they really are a traitor to their people. And so their family will cut them off. And when the family is everything, that's really losing everything. If you're a student, you've just lost all your money for school. If you don't have government grants, you don't have a place to live. You don't have, you can't study. You get your jobs through family connections and families will often purposely try to prevent you from getting jobs because you have betrayed their people. So you lose opportunities for work. You lose opportunities to study. What is neat though is that the church really becomes the family for the for believers. And everyone wraps around those who have just received Christ. People live with each other. I've had many guys just live with me over the years. Didn't have any place to go. They just come and crash with me until they can get on their feet

Elvis Gallegos (00:04:19):
And outside of persecution there within the home, how would you see it played out in the government or persecution against the church?

Unknown (00:04:28):
In 15 years, we've seen it really just ramp up and ramp up and ramp up. And now is probably the most challenging time it's ever been. Right now it's illegal to even have any kind of spiritual conversation outside of a registered church building. And those are really hard to even get registered church buildings that are accepted by the government. And so the way they monitor those conversations is they have a religious like tattletale hotline where anyone can call and say this is what's happening. You need to take care of the situation. There was a pastor in our city several years ago that a young lady who had become a believer. And her aunt called the religious hotline and said, my niece has been brainwashed and she was given this juice at this building. And they are drugging her because she would never have betrayed her people. And the pastor, it was the communion juice, and the pastor was arrested. He was older and he was in jail for many years. And he recently got out. But the damage to his health has been significant because the conditions in prison have been hard. So there's been even a viral video. Even if you're registered, it doesn't really matter. There was a viral video years ago of a registered church showing documents. We are registered. We should be able to meet. And the police just hauling them off into police vans and taking them away. So it can be pretty difficult and challenging.

Elvis Gallegos (00:06:08):
Lots of stories. I know we've spent a few days just talking about lots been going on. And some of those are difficult to hear, but then you also hear a lot of encouraging things that are happening. I know that you guys have been particularly involved over the last few years in a church and a lot of great fruits come out of that. You want to share some of those?

Unknown (00:06:27):
These are the stories I like to share. I have a lot of just miracle stories. If you or your life groups want to hear them, I don't have enough time this morning to share them. There are a lot of them. God is doing amazing things. Just like in Acts when there's persecution, it's like gas on the fire and the Lord is doing so many neat things. The church that, when we moved to the city we live in, there really weren't any churches there. There were a couple. And so we obviously felt like we, you know, we need to start a church and it started just in a living room with a couple of local believers. And I can just praise the Lord today that in the last couple of years, that church has baptized like almost 200 people and the Lord is just working. And so we praise God. And I thank you. Y'all have partnered. You've prayed for us. You have supported us. You've loved us. You've encouraged us. All these years, God's answering your prayers. And so we are like your arm. You know, we are your arm out there. And so thank you for all you've done. I'm just hoping to encourage you. The Lord is answering. The Lord is answering your prayers. God's doing amazing things.

Elvis Gallegos (00:07:43):
Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Let's talk a little bit about the Christmas traditions. Are there anything in central Asia looks like? I'm assuming it's a little different than it is here, right?

Unknown (00:07:55):
It's somewhat similar, but it's very different. You know, a lot of the believers who are Christians now, they became believers through global workers sharing with them. And so they've taken some of our traditions. They have little trees and they give gifts like we do and they have feasts with family which the family is the church. Their feasts are very different. They're not turkey and pecan pies. Put a goat's head down there, eating the brain, a little slab horse sausage. And, you know, it's different. But they have their own, they have a Christmas song that they, a Christmas hymn that a local believer wrote that they sing together when they're together. And these people are, you know, they don't have anyone but themselves. And they're the only people in the country really that have peace because they don't have to worry about do their works, their good works outweigh their bad. You know, they have peace with God. They can celebrate the coming of Jesus because God has reconciled them to Himself. It's a joyous, really, really joyous time.

Elvis Gallegos (00:09:07):
So, and also, one year it was 80 below zero. So no complaining about the weather here, especially today. Okay. So as we wrap up, I just want to hear a little bit about what's next for you and your family? I know that there's some new opportunities that God's opening up. And do you want to share those with us?

Unknown (00:09:26):
Yeah. Many of you know, you have supported us a long time. One of our children has a really rare brain condition. And so we came back here in May and so many of y'all, so thank you. So many of you gave couches and provided a house and gave a kitchen table and just, you know, made it possible for us to return. There was no housing. We didn't have anywhere to go. We needed to get our son help. And you all made it possible for us to be here and for him to get the help he needed. And praise God, he's doing great. He got to see some specialists here that we didn't have access to anywhere, and he's doing really well. But yeah, amen. They don't sell his medicine where we live and there aren't very good doctors.

Unknown (00:10:14):
And so we had been told we can't continue to serve in that country anymore after 15 years. So that was really a shock to us and it was difficult. But the Lord said, you know, this was my plan. Your son is great because I have provided for him. I wanted to use this to move you where I wanted you to be next. And so He's opened the door for us to continue serving where my son can get the medical care he needs, and among central Asian people still, but we'll be serving in Canada in the next year. And so we're grateful.

Elvis Gallegos (00:10:51):
Yeah. And if you want to be more a part of what's going on or maybe an A team of just supporting a lot of our global workers. We also got some great prayer books out with great information. Please reach out to us here at the mission team. And so thank you so much for being here with us. Thanks, guys.

Ross Sawyers (00:11:10):
Thank you. Elvis mentioned the A teams real quickly. And if you have an interest in serving in a global way, one of the ways that you can do that is to be a part of one of these A teams. And that team rallies around, supports, prays for and cares for our different global workers across the world. If you'd like to be a part of this team, you can be a part of that team and a number of others if that's an interest for you. If you turn your Bibles to Colossians 1: 15 through 20, we're thinking about this advent season the word advent means to come. And we think about advent, we think about the coming of Christ the first time when He was born and lived life, was crucified, resurrected, appeared, ascended.

Ross Sawyers (00:12:05):
And then there's a promise of a second coming. During this advent season, we think not only of the first time that Christ came, the impact of that coming, but we think about and anticipate the second coming of Jesus as well. Not commonly what we probably think through at Christmas. Yet that would be what we think about when we think of the advent season. We've spoken already in the last couple of weeks about hope and about joy. Our focus, you've gathered already today is peace. Next week, we'll think about love. And then we'll wrap it on Christmas Eve with Christ as the center of it all. The beauty when we think about advent season is that hope, joy, peace, and love really is what every person desires. It doesn't matter what culture someone's a part of, what part of the world they're in, if you're sitting right here, if you're online, we all desire and yearn to have that kind of hope that there is a confident expectation of things to come.

Ross Sawyers (00:13:07):
We yearn for a joy, a gladness of heart. We yearn for a peace within us. And we yearn for the kind of love that God describes in the Scriptures. And so when we think about the world, the globe, we think about here, all of us in humanity are yearning for these things, whether it's Christians in the persecuted church, those who are persecuted and are underground or we're sitting right here in America. For all of us we look for these things. A question I want to ask as we think about this passage of Scripture is, is it possible to have deep and real peace? And I'm not talking about theoretically. I'm not talking about grabbing up a theme during advent and say, okay, well, today's peace. So let's talk about peace. And yet when we leave here, there'll be no more peace than when we entered these doors.

Ross Sawyers (00:14:13):
I'm talking about the kind of peace that tomorrow, when you awaken, there is a depth and a true and real peace in the core of who you are regardless of any circumstances that are going on. And that's a peace that really just reigns inside of our hearts as we move through our day-to-day. So the question would be is that kind of peace actually possible? And I want us to anchor into this part of God's Word. Sometimes we don't know why the names of books of the Bible are what they are. And the reason that this book of the Bible is called Colossians is there's a city called Colossae. And Paul is writing a letter to the Christians that are at Colossae. Thus the name Colossians. So this is a letter that's being written to the Colossian Christians. In the letter, in the first part of the chapter, just to give context, he gives and writes a prayer for the people, the followers of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers (00:15:18):
And one of the things that he is praying for them is that they'll walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects. I've been reading a book. I'm about two-thirds of the way through by Chuck Colson. He was of Watergate fame in the early 70s. And then God did a phenomenal work in his life. For four decades, he just brought incredible ministry to bear on prisons and on multiple systems in our culture, in our world. But Colson was talking about the way we read our Bible. And it was just like, almost like a side comment he was making. And he said, we read our Bible wrong most of us. Most of the time we read the Bible and we're looking to say, what does this have for me? What am I going to get out of this today? When the reality of, this is God's story and we read it to see how we can please God more, how we can love God more, how we can enjoy God more.

Ross Sawyers (00:16:25):
And Paul writes that in his prayer. He said, I'm praying for you that you'll walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and that you'll please Him in all respects. The greatest joy in our own hearts comes when we're walking in a way that pleases God. We want to come to the Scripture this morning, looking at how we can please God. And that our love for Him will be greater in these next few minutes and our desire to glorify Him will be even more because of what we see in this part of God's Word. I want us to think about this in a way that is phrase by phrase. There is so much depth and richness to these verses. And as a norm, we would put a verse on the screen, leave that verse, you'd read it while we talk about it. And what I'd like to do today, I'm not going to put the verse on the screen. I'm just going to put a phrase of that verse one at a time just so we can catch the vastness of this. It is the supremacy and the bigness and the majesty and the glory of who Christ is and it's in that supremacy of Christ that we can actually find peace in really practical ways. So let's look at it, just phrase by phrase. Verse 15 begins by saying He is the image of the invisible God. And this is speaking of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers (00:17:49):
The image of the visible God. God is invisible to us. John 4:24 says, God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. When we worship today, we don't physically see God. We see evidences of God. We see clues about God. We see the fingerprints of God. We see the creation of God. We see all that God's reveal. We don't see God himself. God is spirit, he's invisible. And when we worship, we worship in spirit and truth. We're connecting with Him in our spirits. God is spirit. He is the invisible God. And Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is the exact representation of Him, Hebrews 1:3 says. In John 1:1, John says in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. When he's speaking of the word, he's speaking of Jesus, that Jesus is God. Jesus is God.

Ross Sawyers (00:19:02):
He's fully human. He's fully God. He is the image of the invisible God. The perfect image of God. In John 14, Jesus is having a conversation with some of His disciples. And as He's talking with them, they're saying we haven't, we haven't ever seen God the Father. We've never seen Him. And Jesus says, if you've seen me, you've seen the Father. If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. He is the image of the invisible God. In Genesis 1:27, it says that you and I were created in the image of God, male and female. He created us in God's image. Because we have a sin nature, we are not in, we do not perfectly the image of God. Only Jesus is the perfect image of God. And notice what He says in Genesis 1:27. He created us. He made us in the image of God.

Ross Sawyers (00:20:16):
What is Paul saying about Jesus right here? That He is the image of the invisible God. This is who He is. He is God. He is the image of the invisible God. And He's the first born of all creation. Not only He's the image of the invisible God. He is the firstborn of all creation. Now why the word firstborn here? In the original language of this word, the word firstborn can be used in a metaphorical sense of rank. And what Paul is saying is that Jesus is the image of the invisible God and He is over all of creation. He is the one that is to be exalted above and rule over the creation. Everything that's made, He is higher and He's above everything. He's the image of the invisible God. And He's the firstborn of all creation. He is above it.

Ross Sawyers (00:21:19):
He's above the creation. Verse 16, for by Him, all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things have been created through Him and for Him. So when I put the phrase on the screen, I want you to see that creation has come by Him, through Him and for Him. All things were created. Jesus is not one with creation. He's not a part of these chairs. He's not a part of a tree outside. He's not, as some philosophies and religions would say, He's not in that way one with creation. He is the one that created it. He's above it. He's beyond it. He rules over it.

Ross Sawyers (00:22:16):
All of God's creative work took place with reference to Jesus Christ. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created the heavens and the earth through and by Jesus and for Him. Everything for Him. Everything that we see that's visible and everything that's invisible. That which can be seen under a microscope, the most powerful microscopes, that which we can see with a greatest lenses possible into the sky and then that which we cannot see, invisible, He created it. That in the spiritual realm, He created the thrones and rulers and dominions and authorities. That's the spiritual realm. It's created by Him and through Him. It's for Him. When we wonder what things are for there for Jesus, everything is for Him. It ends on Him. Everything was made for Him. It's made by Him. It's made for Him. Last week, Lisa and I had the opportunity to get away for a few days. And we tried to make that a thing we're doing every December.

Ross Sawyers (00:23:46):
The first week, we take a few days and we try to get our heads around where we are on Christmas shopping and whatever we need to do there. And then we try to get away for three or four days. And we went to a cabin in Watson, Oklahoma that someone had recommended to us a few years ago. At the same time, we'd been isolated, COVID friendly. You just can't beat it. And it was beautiful weather. It rained before we arrived so the wood was wet which made campfires a little hard. But each night was just beautiful. And when we think about God's creation, I get mesmerized by clear skies and the stars. And I think it must be because I don't see them very often in our context. But we were out by a campfire and surrounded by pine trees. And yet where we were, there was a hole up through the trees and you just see the vast blackness of the sky and then the blanketing of the stars of which God has named every one of the stars that He's hung. And Lisa said as we looked through a pine tree, you could just see the stars all through the pine trees, said it looks like God has put ornaments on the pine trees.

Ross Sawyers (00:25:03):
Just beautiful. And then later I went out on the back and the cabin we were in, it overlooked a, it was on a ridge. It overlooked a river and the moon was out. It was about two-thirds bright and the beam of the moon's just coming across the river. And that with the crisp, cool air, the stars above, all for Jesus. Made through Him, by Him, for Him. Just quiet moments of praise. The second night I went out to look, there was a cloud cover and it was below me and it covered the river. And I was disappointed because I just love the picture of the moon and the beam of light come across down the river. I stayed there long enough and God moves the clouds for me. See, it's the theater of God's glory as John Calvin called it and His creation. It's what He made. It's through Jesus. It's for Him. Everything is for Him. Verse 17. He is before all things. Now, not only is He God Himself, the image of God, not only is He the one who ranks over all of creation, not only is He the one that it was created by and through and for, He's actually before all things.

Ross Sawyers (00:26:50):
He's pre-existed, Jesus is. He's before the creation ever was. He's eternal. He's before all things. And not only is He before all things, all things hold together in Him. He is the one that holds things together. He's the sustainer. He's the one that prevents chaos. But whenever we hear things and we think like the planet is about to fall apart, I find great comfort in verse 17 of Colossians 1, that in Him, all things hold together. Jesus has this all held together. There's not anything that occurs that is outside of the sovereign and controlling hand of God. He is before all things and in Him, all things hold together. We think about this aspect of who Jesus is, when we talk about a birth this season of the year, this is who was born. It's the creator of the world and the sustainer of it. Culturally, one of the phrases that seems to have been etched into us in these last several months is that the science settles it. I'm all for science, but science is a terrible god. And that's what our culture is trying to make science. It's the ultimate. It's God. The science settles it.

Ross Sawyers (00:28:53):
It's a terrible god because it's not God for one. And two, the question I keep pondering whenever I'm told the science says it, it's the science that settles it because the science settles it, that the challenge I have is which scientists in which aspect of science am I supposed to believe that's actually settled it? Because in the scientific community, I don't necessarily see a broad agreement on things. So which science do I ultimately put my ultimate trust in? Terrible god. But an incredible tool. See, science steps outside of its realm when it tries to answer the question who and why. That's not what it's designed to do. The first three verses, and by the way, this is an early Christian hymn, verses 15 through 20. These first three questions answer the question who and why. God Himself through Jesus Christ is the creator. Science cannot answer that question. It violates its own discipline to try to answer that question. And why we're here? Why we exist on this planet? Science cannot answer that question. That is not the design of that discipline.

Ross Sawyers (00:30:35):
But God answers that for us. And the answer to that why is everything has been made for Jesus, for Him to be exalted, Him to be glorified, Him to be honored. Now I recognize that's foolishness to a number of people. It's actually a beautiful answer to the who and the why question. And it enables me to have a deep respect for science Because every time science discovers something, finds something, explores something, leads us into something, my awe of God increases multiple fold because it's stunning to me that God would do such detail and that it would take century after century of human mind to continue to unfold what God did in the spoken Word. These aren't competitors. We don't have to let the culture make us compete against each other, between God and science. They complement one another for God's glory, God's honor.

Ross Sawyers (00:31:51):
There is a richness here that when we internalize it, there really can be a peace that comes when we think about there's a God who has created and who sustains and holds everything together. And yet this is not the deepest peace. If I ask the question, is it possible to have this real and true peace, these first three verses actually don't settle for me. See, we hear all the time people saying that they believe in God. Well, an intellectual belief in God is not enough to give us the internal kind of peace that we yearn for. See, in James 2:19, he says, you believe that God has won. The demons also believe that and they shudder. So we can believe that God is who He is and what He's done. The demons believe that also. What does that say that the demonic forces actually believe there's a God when many human beings deny it?

Ross Sawyers (00:33:18):
There has to be something beyond just a God who's created for Jesus. And we find that in the next few verses. Not only is Christ supreme over the universe I've described. He then enters that which He created. Now, He's not one with it. He's above it. And now He'll enter it in full humanity as fully God. And that is a mystery. And as I read somebody to say it this week, I thought it was really good. He said, we need to quit apologizing for the supernatural in our churches and trying to make it appeal to everybody that it's this rational, enlightenment age reason behind everything. And there is reason behind God. God is a rational and orderly God. But I tell you what, if we chunk the supernatural, there is no God. What's the point?

Ross Sawyers (00:34:18):
So we're not going to apologize that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. And I don't even have to fully understand that. I'm not God. And I don't expect to fully understand God. If I did, He's no longer God. So in a way only God could design, He enters into the world that He created. Verse 18, He's the head of the body, the church. The church is not a building. The church is the people who know Jesus Christ. That's who the church is. That's why people can be in prison and not have a church building and the believers have their church because they're the church. And in the underground church, they can gather in a home, that's their church because they're the people, the people of God. And this is a common metaphor for the church, the body. And Paul says here that Christ is the head. The head is what thinks, gives direction and is the life for a person. And when He describes church, Jesus Christ is the head of the church. You and I are the body of the church.

Ross Sawyers (00:35:44):
He's the head. We're the body. 1 Corinthians 12:27. Now you're Christ's body and individually members of it. We're Christ's body. We're individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:18. But now God has placed the members, each one of them in the body just as He desired. So all over the world, it's a global church. God has a heart for the nations, for all peoples. And we're a part of this larger body of people in the area in which we live and then all over the world. That's beginning from the beginning of the Scripture to the end. God is a global God. And He's woven us together with different giftings and yet with one purpose, to glorify and magnify His own name. God has not designed us to be in some shrunken up, shriveled everything is about me world. He's designed us to be a part of the body of Christ. It's global. And we're part of something that's far bigger than ourselves. One small piece. And Jesus Christ is the head who gives direction to the body of His church. He's entered into our world. And not only is He the head of the body, the church, He's the beginning, He's the founder, He's the leader. And He's the leader of what? He's the firstborn from the dead. He's the first one. Jesus Christ in the flesh, crucified and risen, never to die again. Firstborn from the dead. He's the first one. He's the beginning. He's the leader. He's the pioneer. He's truly resurrected.

Ross Sawyers (00:37:28):
And it's in that resurrection that we find the confidence that what He did on the cross, that He conquered the sin, death, guilt, shame. And then God raised Him from the dead. It gives us confidence He can take our dead hearts in sin and raise us up to be alive in Jesus Christ. Now, the resurrection's a big deal. Some people have said that you could look at the Christian life, and I think this was, people would probably say this more before things got a little more hostile towards Christians in our country. But you can just look at a Christian's life and say, it's worth a bet to believe that Jesus is who He said He was. Like I'll end up with decent morals if I follow Jesus. If I get my kids in Sunday school, then I can make sure they get some good morals growing up. So at worst, it's a good thing that can. So if I'm wrong, I die and I realized I missed it. This is all hoax. The cross, the resurrection, the whole deal is just a mess. But it's worth the bet because you lead a decent, good life. Paul who writes Colossians writes 1 Corinthians and I don't think he sees it that way.

Ross Sawyers (00:38:53):
In 1 Corinthians 15, he says that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. He goes on to say in that chapter, that if there's not the resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain. What I'm doing right now, it's useless if Christ hasn't been raised. And if my preaching is vain, your faith is vain. It's empty. There's nothing to it if there's no resurrection. Then he goes on and he re-emphasizes that. And he said, if no one has been raised from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised from the dead. And if Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith, my faith is worthless and you're still in your sins. And those who have fallen asleep before us in Christ, they've also perished. There is no hope if there's no resurrection. And then he concludes this little section not by saying, you know what though? It's worth the gamble. Just give it a shot just in case this is right. No, you know what he says? If we've hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. If there's no resurrection, then we're the most pitied people on the planet.

Ross Sawyers (00:40:45):
But we can be confident today that the one who is the image of the invisible God, through whom everything was created and for whom it was created, the one who entered into our world, who's the head of the church, gave His life so that we could be the church, He is the firstborn from the dead, He is the resurrection and the life so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. He is first place. Everything is about Him. It sums up in Him. In verse 19, it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him. So it was the Father's pleasure for the fullness of God, that the essence, the nature, every attribute of God, the fullness of God to dwell in Jesus. It was His pleasure to do it. When we read in the Old Testament, the tabernacle, God had his people build it. His presence was there. He dwelled there. When Jesus comes, we're told that He tabernacled among us. He pitched His tent among us. God's full presence in Christ. Every person that in faith trusts Jesus for their salvation, Christ in them dwells in them through His Holy Spirit.

Ross Sawyers (00:42:12):
The fullness of God. We all desire the full life. Pleasure, satisfaction, joy. That's in us. That's part of being in the divine image of God. And God has given us the place to find it. It says in Psalm 16:11, you make known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand, there are pleasures forever. Everything is in Christ and the fullness of God dwells in Christ. And then He gives us the way in verse 20 of how to experience Christ for real and how to have the peace of which we desire. Through Him, things are reconciled. Through Him, to reconcile all things to Himself. Now, to reconcile something, we have to assume there's a disruption in our relationship and that it's not reconciled, that people are not friends. And we know, I think everyone would agree, that in marriages, where there's a disruption in that relationship, whether a light one or a heavy one, there is not peace between the two people.

Ross Sawyers (00:43:37):
We know that between parents and children, if there's a disruption in the relationship, it's not peaceful. There's no peace. In the same way, we are not reconciled to God to start. We are all in a ruptured relationship with God. The Scripture actually says, we're enemies of God. That's how we're described. And reconciled means to make friends again and only through Jesus Christ, the mediator, we actually need somebody to mediate for us, and through what He did on the cross, we actually have that possibility then to be reconciled to God. Now that word reconciled has a political background to it. It was used for diplomatic relationships. Paul takes that word and transforms it. He flips it and uses it differently. As a norm, when there's not reconciled relationships, it's the person who offends the other person that ought to and should initiate reconciling their relationship.

Ross Sawyers (00:44:56):
But God does it the other way. We've offended Him. We've sinned against Him. We've rebelled against Him. We've opposed Him. God is the initiator of the reconciling. The God who has made everything comes into our world and actually initiates the reconciling even though we're the offenders. That's grace. And anytime a human does that, that's grace. Where the person that's offended actually goes and tries to make it right with the one who did the offending. And then in 2 Corinthians 5:18 and 19, we're actually entrusted with a ministry of reconciling. Once we've been reconciled to God, our sins are no longer counted against us in Christ. And now we get the privilege of being ambassadors for Christ so that others might experience that same reconciling that we did. It's a get-to and a privilege. And through this reconciling, comes peace, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Through Him, I say whether things on earth or things in heaven. But this peace comes through the blood of Jesus' cross. That's where this peace comes. In Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His own love toward us. And that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Again, it's God taking the initiative. Everything is about God. And He exchanges our unrighteous, disobedient lives for His perfect righteousness and His obedient life.

Ross Sawyers (00:46:47):
People seek peace in a number of ways. Sometimes they seek peace through drugs, whether illegal or prescription. Let's go smoke a little weed. Let's chill out a little bit. Get some peace for a few minutes. That's one way. Sometimes we seek peace when our political leader that we believe is the right person is in the right spot, whether it's locally, statewide, nationally. In Jesus's time, that's what was happening. And our history books may remember the PAX Romana. It's the Romans, the Roman government trying to establish peace. And they believed that the Roman emperor would establish peace for everyone. The problem is that established oppression and slavery and everything but peace. There were some who experienced an external peace because of the particular emperors at any given time, but it was not a real lasting kind of peace. So there a number of ways that we seek peace externally. Sometimes we're people pleasers and we just try to keep everything at peace. That's a lot of work by the way.

Ross Sawyers (00:48:44):
So is it possible to have a real and deep and lasting peace? And the answer's yes, it is. It's not in any of these other things. You can get it temporarily. I'm not going to argue that you can't find it temporarily, that you can get it externally in some ways. You can feel it internally too. But ultimately, in a lasting way, in ongoing way, the kind of peace God talks about is the Hebrew word Shalom. It's a total well-being of the person and that peace does not depend on our circumstances. This peace does not depend on relationally what's going on in our world. This is a peace that outlasts, extends and is beyond any of that kind of peace that's temporary. It's found only in Jesus. One of the prophecies, hundreds of years before Christ came was Isaiah 9:6. It says, for a child will be born to us. A son will be given to us. And the government will rest on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The peace is a person. Jesus Christ, born in a manger.

Ross Sawyers (00:50:23):
The one that the angels came to the shepherds in Luke 2 and said, glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace among men with whom He's pleased. It's the one that Paul wrote about after the crucifixion and resurrection and Jesus' ascension in Romans 5:1. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ by faith. We believe what Jesus did, and we have peace. There's really two responses to that idea and to the person of Jesus. And Paul writes it in 1 Corinthians 1:8 when he says, for the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But to us who are being saved, it's the power of God. Most people will think we're foolish. But to us, it's the power of God. And it's the power of God that then gives us a real and deep peace in Jesus Christ. I want to talk about one practicality that once we know the Prince of Peace of how this can play out. Anxiety. And we've spoken of it often over the last several months.

Ross Sawyers (00:52:11):
But I know that's where so many of us are. And you know what? I can't imagine what it's like to be a mom today with young kids and trying to figure out all the things you're trying to figure out. That's just one kind of person's shoes I don't know how to get inside of. I was reading about a guy that struggled with anxiety. And by the way, the mind is a battleground, isn't it? When Lisa and I were going to the cabin a week ago, I almost didn't want to go by the time I got there because I was trying to decompress. In my mind, I was anxious, I felt guilty about things, everything in my past gets thrown up in my face. And I think what did I do here? And I do that. And I'm thinking, why do I want to be in a quiet place where my brain is just a battleground for negativity and anxiety? But I've found again and again that when I get extended solitude time, whether it's Lisa and I together or on my own, it's almost like I have to go through that. And Lisa said, you know, that's right, isn't it? Because Satan doesn't want us to have peace and quiet space. So it makes sense that it would become attack ground.

Ross Sawyers (00:53:36):
But what do we do when it's there? And this guy was writing, he said, I've been anxious kind of all my life. I've kind of battled anxiety. If it's not about is my retirement account enough and am I going to outlive my spouse? And I said, I know that's a selfish thought, but it's a thought that crosses my mind. And just a number of things anxious about. But he said it was a game changer for me a while back when I was reading in Luke 12 where Jesus is telling them not to be worried. And he said, you know, I read that and I read that Jesus said not to be worried. And then I get depressed because I worry so much. And Jesus says, I'm not supposed to worry. And then I feel guilty that I'm depressed. You know, just kind of work this whole cycle of what am I supposed to do? But he says, reading this, Jesus is talking about how don't worry, keep your eyes on the Kingdom, keep your eyes on Jesus. And just like the birds of the air, they don't have any problems. They're just whistling along. No big deal. So God will take care of you just like He will those birds.

Ross Sawyers (00:54:42):
We don't always feel like that. But he said, I got to the end of that section and I figured out the tone Jesus was saying it. He said, little flock, don't be afraid. Little flock. He wasn't being a harsh Father about it. He was getting in there with him. I know you're anxious about a lot of things. I know that. But this is a tender Father. And he went on to describe, he said, I thought about my own kids. And when there'd be rain storms like this morning and my kids young, they'd be scared. And they’d come running down the hall and into our bedroom and jump into our bed. And we didn't say, oh, don't worry about it. Go back to bed. No, come on. Mommy and Dad are with you. We're okay. We got you. There's a really safe place for us to take our anxiety.

Ross Sawyers (00:56:00):
And then he talks about Paul in Philippians. And Paul was writing to a church that he loved. And it was a letter about joy. But in chapter 4, he says, be anxious for nothing. And everything though by prayer and let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God will guard your hearts and surround you. Paul wasn't being harsh. He's just saying to the people he loved and valued, hey, look, there's a place for you to take your anxiety and He'll give you His peace. And actually, if you read verse 8, that's 4, 6, and 7. If you read verse 8, he gives them the antidote to it. So whatever you do, think on the things that are true and right and lovely, good, excellent. Think on these things. Re-shift your thinking onto something excellent. I know that's not the easiest thing to do. But the more and more we lean into Christ Himself, the more and more He'll help us to lean into those excellent thinkings that start to counter the anxious thinking and press it out. And that's really, the better counter is not okay, I got to quit being anxious, stop worrying. What do I do when you tell me that? I worry more. It's like telling a kid, soccer player, don't shoot it at the goalie. Don't shoot it at the goalie. That's what everybody's yelling. Every parent's yelling, don't shoot it at the goalie. What's the kid do nine times out of 10? Right to the goalie. What if you said, shoot it to the far post? Then once he'll shoot it to the goalie. The other nine times he might miss, but it's not because he shot at the goalie.

Ross Sawyers (00:57:53):
So it's the redirecting of the way we think. And that takes time. But we have a Father has given us peace, who wants us to walk in that peace, continue to lean in Him? Is it possible? Yes. Earlier we had our central Asian friend, you heard from him and they asked him if he would share a song that is in the language of the people he worked with. We're a global people. And he'll describe to you how this song came about. But I want us to think about that. Then I want to come back and just have a brief space to consider the things that we've spoken of. But when we're in the advent season, the coming of Christ and this song, I think is just so appropriate to the season that we're in

Unknown (00:59:10):
This song was written by a central Asian believer and they sing it every year at this time to celebrate Jesus's birth. The words are very simple. It's come, come to us, Emmanuel. God with us. Emmanuel. We are waiting for you, Emmanuel. God with us. Emmanuel. Then just rejoice, rejoice. God has come to us. [singing in foreign language] Thank you.

Ross Sawyers (01:00:50):
Father, thank you this morning for, thank you for that. Father, thank you for just the richness of your Word. And when we think about excellent things to think on, I can't think of any more excellent than Emmanuel, God with us and that you came. And Father, I thank you that in this descriptor of you, Jesus, you are the image of the invisible God, that you rank above all creation, that it's been made through you and for you and by you and that everything holds together and you're the sustainer of it. Thank you for that confidence, God. And thank you for entering our world and through what you did in your perfect life and the sacrifice on the cross, the power of the resurrection, conquering sin, death, and Satan, and all the chains of those things, God. I pray and thank you that there's the possibility of reconciling and having total peace and knowing that in that, that you have first place in everything.

Ross Sawyers (01:01:54):
And so we want to praise you for who you are and your kindness in coming towards us and drawing us into a relationship with you, God. I pray in these moments that anything that you might be working in countering, that we might walk out of here in knowing ways, that in your grace, not to earn anything, but in your grace, that we might please you more and love you more deeply and desire to glorify you just a little bit more than when we first entered. And I pray that in Jesus' name. For our time to reflect, I've written a few questions that'll be on the screen. If this'll be helpful for you to consider whether you're online with your family or friends or life group or by yourself or in here, we just really want to consider the things that God's saying to us and maybe this will be a help. And if not, don't even worry about them. But let it just be a quiet space before the Lord.

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