Limitless Amounts of Mercy

We Serve A God That Has Unlimited Mercy For His People.

Ross Sawyers
Mar 7, 2021    58m
Have you ever done something and felt that God would never forgive you? Remember, you serve a God who has unlimited mercy for you. By learning about the Ark of the Covenant, we see that he has always found ways to be with us and show his mercy. He even sent his son as a sacrifice for our sins, and He now dwells within us as the Holy Spirit Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: 00:07 Lord, thank you for these moments together, and I just love the privilege it is to worship you. Father, we praise you this morning, that you're a Holy God, and amazingly you mix your holiness with your mercy towards us, and so we're incredibly grateful on this day. Father, I pray for those who haven't experienced and recognized your holiness, and even what that means. And for those who haven't received the depths of your mercy, today, God, I pray that they will be overwhelmed with that. Father, I pray that our eyes would be fixed firmly on you, and on the cross, and the power of the resurrection. And then Father, thank you for just the bigness of your word, and the vastness of the unfolding story of your holiness and your mercy towards us. You know, we're grateful today, and ask that you would help us have ears to hear, and hearts to understand, what you're saying. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: 01:25 I'd like for us, if you were here at the outset, you heard Jermaine, if you did not, then you, you missed out. And we're going to take a slight pause in our series on Real Conversations In Truth And Love, and we'll return there next week. But I wanted to lock in to what our students have done this weekend, over 180 students, I believe, were a part. So it was a powerful time, and just hearing the kinds of things that God was doing. And I don't know how you think about things like that, but when we have camps, or we have weekend kinds of events, it gives God just a little bit more room to work, where we just kind of put pause on everything else. We're usually moving, and we have a little bit of time here and a little bit of time there. And when we can just pause for some length of time, it seems like God does just really cool things in the hearts of people. And we want to pray that God will seal the work that he's done in our students over the course of the weekend, and again, I want to lock in to what they're doing.

Ross Sawyers: 02:36 Hopefully you walked in the main entrance today, if you did not, when you leave, I would encourage you to do so. If you're worshiping with us online, let me just give a descriptor here in a few minutes and it will give you the same idea of what we are able to visually see as we walked into our building. It gives a picture of what happened with our students, and this is in part why I didn't want to miss this moment, because you have the visual of what you saw coming in, I want to link it to the scripture and then move us towards Jesus, who is the substance of everything that you see out there points towards.

Ross Sawyers: 03:18 If you'd turn your Bibles to Exodus chapter 25, we'll find ourselves in verses 10 through 22, and that will be a launching point for us. Prior to arriving at Exodus 25 we see in Genesis that God is a God who creates, he's a God who creates everything perfectly. Quickly, we see the sin of humanity entered into the world in Genesis chapter 3. And I want us to note this idea that will flow all the way through what we're doing today, God is a God who is merciful and moves towards us. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, God didn't head the other direction and say, you're on your own. He came to them in the garden, met them, and in his grace and mercy gave them a way forward. God is always initiating, always pursuing, he is the one that is moving towards us. And imagine initiating sin into the world, could it get much worse than that? And God moved towards them, not away from them. In our worst sin, God moves towards, not away.

Ross Sawyers: 04:44 Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs of faith, all men who sin deeply against God in the midst of their faith, and God continued to move toward them. God established his own people when he rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and when he brought them out, he established a law for them. Not a law that would bind them up, but a law that if kept, would set them free, and yet they were unable. God didn't move away from them in their inability to keep what it meant to be his people, he moved toward them and established a system of sacrifice and worship so that they could be near presence and experience him.

Ross Sawyers: 05:45 That's where we pick up, in Exodus chapter 25, and the tabernacle is being described. And when we look at
the tabernacle as it's described, we see incredible detail in Exodus, it's almost a third of the Book of Exodus describing the detail of the tabernacle and the sacrificial system. And what we see in here, and I'll come back to this towards the end, that we actually see a shadow here of the substance that's to come. This is a picture of what's coming, it's a beautiful picture when we look back. And when we look at this throughout this part of the scripture and move to the New Testament, I want us to make sure that we dispel one idea that is prominent in our culture, and that oftentimes is prominent in the minds of Christians, that God, somehow, in the Old Testament, we see as a God of wrath, and in the New Testament, we see he's a God of love. And our culture has done a fascinating job of redefining what love is, so it's this sappy kind of something that whatever it is you want it to be. It is.

Ross Sawyers: 06:56 But I submit today that God is a Holy God all the way through. He's a God of wrath all the way through. And our Puritan friends from the earlier centuries said it was a divine reluctance to pour his wrath, and yet we see in scripture, again, again, an infinite mercy that he wants to pour out. His judgment is precise they wrote, his mercy is limitless, it abounds, he's pouring it out. And today I hope you'll catch that all through the scripture God is a Holy God and he's limitless in his mercy, it's a beautiful mix, when we think about who God is.

Ross Sawyers: 07:48 When he rescued Israel, he set them up as 12 tribes. And when he established the tabernacle, the way they would camp around the tabernacle, it was the center of their camp. So that all 12 tribes had a specific place, and they were centered around the tabernacle. And we moved further inside the center of the center, and we find where God himself and his presence would dwell among the people. It would become the meeting place for Moses and God, and then later for a high priest only once a year coming into that very center of where he is.

Ross Sawyers: 08:28 The Tabernacle, if you were able to walk through this morning in the main hallway, what you saw was the furniture in the outer court. And then you saw what was then called the Holy place, or the most Holy place. What you didn't see, was what was behind the curtain that's not there, and the Holy of Holy's. I want to take us reverently into the Holy of Holy's. And interestingly in the descriptor of the tabernacle, the description starts with the most sacred piece of furniture, and it works its way out in the descriptor. We start with the centerpiece and move out in the description, so Exodus 25 begins it.

Ross Sawyers: 09:24 For those who are more instruction minded, you love to think detail and precision and building, you'll love this piece of Exodus. If your mind is not wired like that, you're wondering couldn't you have just told me they built this tabernacle, here was the furniture, let's move on. But there's a reason that God is so precise in the detail of what he allows us to see, God is a precise God, and we want to see him in the precision of how he did what he did. In Exodus 25, we begin in verse 10 with a descriptor. Before we do that, let me show you a picture of the Ark of the Covenant, this is what we're going to read, I'll come back to this picture a couple of times. I know some of you can roll with me here, some of you are thinking, yeah, that was 40 years ago, I miss that movie set. But you remember Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones, he's going after it. Yeah, I see the head nod, it's like me and everybody that as old and older than me that are nodding, and we enjoyed it. We watched it multiple times and we were the early binge watchers, by the way, this generation didn't come up with binge-watching and we figured it out early. And here is the Ark of the Covenant, and actually in Indiana Jones, they did a pretty good job. Now, this isn't the one in Indiana Jones, I wasn't willing to put Harrison Ford up here today, that felt like it would violate some of the reverence. It's not a statement about Harrison Ford, I wouldn't have put it with anybody up here.

Ross Sawyers: 10:59 But in the Ark of the covenant, this gives you a picture of what we're going to read. In verse 10, “They shall construct an ark of acacia wood." And it was a kind of wood that would withstand the heat in the desert. And so this was a wood, other than that, we don't really know why that choice of wood, except it would withstand the heat of where they were. It was, "Two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high." A cubit is about 18 inches in length, and the descriptor here is of an Ark that is basically a box. The word Ark, this is not the word Ark that's used for Noah's Ark. This Ark of the covenant, this word for Ark means box, it means box. It's a rectangular box, it's about four feet long, about two feet wide, it's a box, it's made of acacia wood. “You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it." So pure gold is covering this, inside and out, the wood will be totally covered by gold. Verse 12, “You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it." These rings were crucial for carrying the Ark, it was to be mobile, they were about to wander for a long time. And what we learn in the scripture about the holiness of God, is you don't mess with it, or you die. And the Ark was not to be touched, thus, the rings. And then the poles in verse 13, “You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold."

Ross Sawyers: 12:58 The same materials, by the way, do you know where these materials came from? They have just been rescued from slavery in Egypt, where would they get these materials? From the Egyptians. God does use secular things and turns around and makes it for his glory. He would build the very Holy of Holies out of secular materials that were probably gained from the slavery that was being done with the Egyptians. God is a redeeming God, verse 13, “You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. “You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them." And so that's how you'll carry it, "“The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it." Now, other pieces of the furniture had rings by which they would be carrying it, the ark is the only one where the ring stayed permanently. Again, it wasn't to be touched, this would help ensure they not touch it. Once the rings and the poles were set, they weren't to be removed, they're permanent.

Ross Sawyers: 14:16 Verse 16, “You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you." Okay, what goes in the ark, this is a box about a four foot by a little over two foot box, what goes in the art? The testimony, what's the testimony? It's, we'll learn a little bit later, it is the law, the 10 commandments, the two tablets that God gave Moses, this would go in this box. We read in Hebrews, and learn a little bit later in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, there are two other things that ended up in the box, in the ark. One is a gold jar of manna. Manna is what god provided the Israelites during their 40 years of wilderness wandering, he met their needs and sustained life for them through this bread-like substance called manna. Also Aaron's rod was in the box.

Ross Sawyers: 15:15 Now Aaron, and the tribe of Levi, they were established as the priesthood of the 12 tribes. In Numbers, we find a rebellion, that's odd that in humanity there would ever be a rebellion, but we find one. Korah, and some of his people, looked at it and said, we don't like that Aaron is the high priest, we're not in on that. And God precedes, amidst of a lot of other detail, to swallow up Korah and those who rebelled in the earth, and consume them with fire. God is a Holy God, the Hebrew writer describes him as a consuming fire, he does not tolerate sin. And in Numbers 17, someone from each of the 12 tribes of Israel brought their rod, placed it in a tent. And God told them that whichever one blossomed, that is the one that's the high priest, the priestly tribe. So Aaron's rod blossomed with almond blossoms, and that rod was placed in the ark of the covenant to represent the priesthood.

Ross Sawyers: 16:44 The manna, the priesthood, the law, all core and crucial to who the people of God were. Verse 17 through 22, “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide." We have the box, we have the rings, we have the poles, we have the feet on the box, which by the way, a little bit earlier, when we talked about it's four feet, that's so that the chest, this box, would not touch the ground, that this is representing where the very presence of God would be. And he describes here the mercy seat, and the word mercy seat, it's a lid. So on this box is a lid, and he calls it the mercy seat, it's the word for propitiation, I'll come back to that word in a bit. And its dimensions are such, the mercy seat, that it's made of pure gold, it's two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide, it's the exact dimensions of the rectangular box. The lid fits perfectly over what the box contains the law, the priesthood, and the manna. It's a perfect fit, it's a perfect covering.

Ross Sawyers: 18:10 Verse 18, “You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. “Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. “The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you." If we can put the picture of the ark back on the screen, we've walked through it. That's a good depiction of the cherubim, their wings over the lid, which is the mercy seat that covers the box. So it's the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat's the lid, the presence of God would dwell above the cherubim. And we're told in the scriptures that this is his footstool, and then two cherubim are bowing in humility before the presence of God over the mercy seat. The lid that covers the law, the law which people are unable to keep. We find cherubim described in Genesis chapter 3. We started by saying, God moves towards. And when Adam and Eve sinned and were removed from the garden, that was for their own good. And God' stationed cherubim at the East end of the garden to protect the way, so that no one could get to the tree of life. The cherubim, when we read about them, that part of God's angelic army are the ones who protect the holiness and majesty of God. Can you imagine having that role in all eternity, to be the messenger who is the protector of the majesty of God in the garden, and now on the ark of the covenant over the mercy seat, the cherubim protecting the holiness majesty of God.

Ross Sawyers: 20:52 God is establishing among his people worship for himself at the center. That's our vision at 121, that we too can be a part of, a small part, of what God is doing to establish worship where there is none. God is establishing that here, verse 22, "There I will meet with you.", he says. If you're familiar at all with the Old Testament, and if you're not, then here's something that when you read it, it'll connect for you. The tabernacle, what's been described, it's also called the tent of meeting. So multiple times we'll read about the tent of meeting, as well as the tabernacle, same thing, this was the place Moses was to meet God in this place. Only Moses would meet him here, and we'll see later that the high priest would also do that once a year. There all meet with you, God says. God is moving towards, moving towards. “There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel." This is where I'll meet you, this is where I'll speak to you. We find later, I think it's an Exodus 33, that Moses is described as the friend of God, and here he is meeting with God.

Ross Sawyers: 22:17 In Psalm 99:1 it says, "The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!" Let the earth shake and tremble at the presence of a Holy God. Now why the mercy seat? There's the detail, so for all the construction people, we've got it. Here's the precision and the detail that's described, what is the purpose of the mercy seat? It's the meeting place with God. And then once a year, called the day of atonement, and there would be a day that the high priest would be able to enter into the Holy of Holies. Not this part out here, come through the part out here, and then come through the veil into the Holy of Holies. You'll hear that described today, when you hear about Yom Kippur that's the day of atonement. So when we hear about that Jewish holiday, this is what the reference is to. It's found in detail in Leviticus chapter 16, in our, through the Bible reading plans, as a norm, we usually can hammer through Genesis, we can gut it through Exodus, and we probably don't usually make it to Leviticus 16, it gets to be a little rough trying to understand all of the sacrifices and so forth. So you might not have ever gotten to Leviticus 16, good place to start by the way, you can start there and then move forward. But there's a description given of what happens, and the word propitiation, which is the word for mercy seat, means to satisfy the wrath of God with a payment. So something has to satisfy the wrath of God.

Ross Sawyers: 24:21 Our staff right now is going through a book called God Himself by Tony Evans, it's a excellent book on the attributes or character qualities of God. Part of what he describes in there, when we think about that God's holiness means to be set apart or pure, and that is an attribute of God that affects every other attribute. So when we think about love, we think about a Holy love, meaning it's a perfect love. When we think about God's mercy, we think about a Holy mercy, it's a perfect mercy. When we think about the grace of God, we think about a Holy grace, because it's perfect and pure from God himself. God is a Holy God, and wrath is his necessary reaction to the evil and sin of humanity. His wrath is not an outburst, when we think of wrath, we think about the way we do wrath. And usually the way we do wrath, it's not pretty, and it's driven by a strong emotion of anger that is probably not controlled when we think of wrath. When we think about God's wrath, it is a necessary and controlled reaction to the unholiness, rebellion, and sin, of humanity, and that wrath has to be satisfied somehow some way. And God established a way moving towards us, so that that wrath could be satisfied, it's his necessary work.

Ross Sawyers: 26:00 And as I described the mercy seat, not only is a descriptor of turning away the wrath of God, it's a descriptor of a lid, the word atonement, covering our inability to keep the law. So it's a covering over sin, and it's a satisfying of the demands of God's wrath, and this is the way God does it. And the high priest at the time, Aaron, he would have to sacrifice a bull and then go into the Holy of Holies through this four inch thick curtain and put blood all over that mercy seat. Seven times he was to touch it, seven represents a perfect number. It's a lid that's perfect in its dimension, and it's seven times the blood, the sacrifice of that bull. And he's simply making that sacrifice for himself in his own household, just so he won't get killed being in the presence of God. Prior to even going in there, he went in with incense, and that incense would go up so that he even couldn't see the full presence of God or he would die. And then he chose two goats, one would be a sacrifice for the impurities and sins of the people, the other would be where we get our word for scapegoat. And that first goat would be sacrificed and killed, and he would go in and do the same thing in the Holy of Holies and put the blood on the mercy seat so that God's wrath would be satisfied in regard to the sins of the people, and that their sins will be covered over. And If God received that, then he would come out and take the second goat, put both hands on the head of the goat and transfer the sins of the people onto that goat. Then someone was waiting and the goat would be sent off, and the person that was waiting would make sure that goat was out into a solitary place. And if you've been to Israel, there's plenty of solitary opportunities, it's beautiful and it's vast. And as the people watch that goat go away, it was a symbol of all their sins for that year being transferred onto that animal and taken away. God's wrath satisfied, sin covered, and then it's gone away, sent away. That happened once a year.

Ross Sawyers: 29:01 Do you know what often happens, we have symbols like that and we do different things with them. And they took the ark of the covenant, and when they went in Joshua chapter 6, and they'd been in the wilderness for 40 years, and now God was about to give them the promised land. He told them, he gave him some interesting instructions, this is what I want you to do. I want you to go into Jericho, and the army will be in front, and then in the middle there'll be the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant with the poles, and then behind them will be a rear guard of military as well. And for six days, I just you to walk around the city once a day, and on the 7th day, I want you to walk around it seven times. And on the seventh time, I want the priest to blow a trumpet, blow trumpets, and then everyone to shout and the walls will come down. And it did, God gets the glory, that didn't happen in anybody's normal battle plan room. But his presence was among them as he started to establish a land for them.

Ross Sawyers: 30:14 But then it became like a good luck charm, we've got other enemies, let's just make sure we get the ark, let's take it with us and we're sure to win. There's not a dependence on God, and it gets taken from them we learn in Samuel. The Philistines take the ark, and they put it in front of their God, Dagon. It's really a humorous story quite candidly, they come in the next day and the Dagon had fallen, so they picked up their God. Note to self, if you have to pick up your God to help it, that's a problem. They set them back up, and the next day he's down again, this time his head fell off, palm of his hands fell off, and they said, this isn't working so well for us, we're getting rid of this good luck charm. Remember the instructions, the poles and the rings are to carry it, there's a reason the poles are there.

Ross Sawyers: 31:34 King David, years later, they're bringing the ark back to Jerusalem, they're celebrating, they're excited, but they put it on a cart that was led by oxen. And the oxen were upset, at one point, the cart started tilt. And Uzzah, remember, I always say there's names in the Bible that you just wish that you never would be them, because you're in all perpetuity in the scripture for something you did that was not good. He did what we would all do, and we think, okay, that's a natural reaction, he reached over to steady the ark. Do you know what, he died right then. It's Holy, you don't touch it, they disobeyed the instructions of even how to carry it. You wouldn't have had this problem if you'd of carried it how I told you to carry it. God's purity and holiness are not to be messed with.

Ross Sawyers: 32:41 Well, I started by telling you, this whole part is a shadow of the substance to come. Jesus Christ, himself, is that substance. In Hebrews, we spent about a year and Hebrews not too long ago, and we often see these ties between the tabernacle [inaudible] and Jesus. But in John chapter 1 verse 14, it says, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." The Word became flesh, Jesus became flesh, Jesus became a human and dwelt among us. That word dwelt is the word for tabernacle. There's no longer a need for a physical tabernacle, where a priest goes in on behalf of the people to get into the presence of God. Jesus now is among us, he tabernacled among us, he is the tabernacle, he is everything we've just described. That was a shadow, he's the substance of what was to come, every aspect of the tabernacle points to Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 33:57 When we read the Bible, by the way, in the Old Testament, everything points us to Jesus. The gospels are about Jesus. And everything after the gospels points back to Jesus. Everything takes us to Jesus, it's all about Jesus, he's the center of everything. Well, when we think about the tabernacle, we think about the presence of the show bread. Jesus said, I'm the bread of life, that's him. We look at the golden lampstand, Jesus said, I'm the light of the world. When we see the incense that's flowing up in front of the vail, Jesus is that fragrant aroma to God. The veil itself we're told in Hebrews, represents the torn flesh of Jesus. Inside the ark, the law, Jesus, the only one to perfectly fulfill the law. For us, the law shows us and exposes that we're incapable and we need some help. The perfect high priest is Jesus. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah in the line of David, he's a King.

Ross Sawyers: 35:24 If Jesus is the perfect high priest and the sacrifice, why did Jesus not come through the line of Levi, the priestly tribe? There's an imperfect and sinful priesthood, we're told in Hebrews that Jesus came from the line of Melchizedek. Melchizedek, priest and king, Jesus priest and King. He's the mediator now, we don't need a human being to be a mediator for us, Jesus Christ is our mediator. He's our access to God himself, and he's our King, he rules. He's the perfect priest, the perfect King. And in First John chapter 4 verse 10, that word propitiation, satisfying the demands of God's wrath. Verse 10, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us." God moves towards us, not that we loved God, God loved us, "And he sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins." He sent Jesus to be the one who would satisfy the very wrath of God, so that you and I can be spared of having to pay the price for our sin. Why does it happen with blood? In Hebrews chapter 9 verse 22, "Without shedding of blood it is impossible to be forgiven." Blood represents life, life is sacrificed and taken, so that we might have life. The priests once a year, and then daily sacrifices for the people. Jesus Christ, once and for all, our sin offering. There's no need for the sacrificial system anymore, Jesus is the perfect sacrifice.

Ross Sawyers: 37:41 In Matthew chapter 27 verse 51, Jesus has died on the cross, on the cross he bore our sins, and then God raises him from the dead in Matthew 27:51, "Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split." Can you imagine what it was like on that afternoon, when Jesus was bearing the sins of the world, he was absorbing the wrath of God on his body, he was atoning for and covering our sin. And while all that was going on, in Matthew 27 we're told, in the temple now, so we've moved from the tabernacle to the temple, this massive four-inch thick curtain that is ornately decorated with scarlet, blue, and purple, all that represent Christ, and the cherubim are engraved and embroidered onto curtain, and from top to bottom it's torn. A human being cannot tear a four-inch curtain up or down, and God tore it. Because Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ himself, it is his torn flesh that gets us access to God, where he also is the mercy seat, the propitiation for our sin. And then in John chapter 20 verse 12, these ladies show up on Sunday morning to his tomb, he's not there. But what do they see? Verse 12. "She saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying." Grab the picture of the arc, two angels on either end. Is it possible that there were two angels in the tomb with Jesus stationed on either side of him, one at his head and one of his feet, protecting the perfect purity and majesty of the sacrifice of his Son who would soon be raised?

Ross Sawyers: 40:21 And for every person, it is possible for us to experience the limitless amounts of mercy that God has, this is holiness mixed with mercy. It's perfect purity mixed with God moving towards us, God taking care of the sin for us, God taking care of the wrath for us, the only thing that's left for us to do is to believe it. In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul writes in verse 4, that God is rich in mercy. Prior to that he says we're dead in sin, but our hearts are made alive in Jesus Christ. We're not limping along and need a little help, we're not laid up in bed and need a lot of help, we're described as having dead hearts, we are dead. And the only way to life is Jesus Christ taking a dead heart and raising it again, just like God took his own Son, crucified him on that cross, and raised him from the dead. And in the same way, we can be raised from death to life through the holiness and the mercy of God.

Ross Sawyers: 41:43 I'm probably one of the worst at knocking all the negatives about social media. And I want you to know there are really redeemable qualities on social media, our students in just a few minutes, you saw the white chairs when you drove up probably, it's about to be a mass gathering of worship out there at 11 o'clock, I can't wait. But among those students is one young man that is using Tik Tok as a way to get this message of Jesus Christ out, and I want you just to see one little Tik Tok clip, and most of us are probably not on Tik Tok, so people send this stuff to me. But if you're on it, fantastic, you should follow this young man, this is an 8h grader in our student ministry at 121.

Trevor: 42:31 [Inaudible] See, loving God is an awesome thing, he's an ultimate loving Father. But see, we could have other friends right now that can love God as much as us. But so many of us are too scared to spread the gospel, too many of us are just too scared to be bold about our faith, because we care so much about what the world thinks of us. But see, you never know what your friends are going through, you never know what hardships or difficulties, whatever they're going through. And right now they could be looking for someone, they could be looking for something, this is when you can bring up God to them, this is when you can help them find out about God. I bet there's a lot of people at your school right now that know who he is, or don't even know who he is and they might end up someday in hell. See, if that doesn't make you sad enough, then what does, what does motivate you to go spread the gospel? See, it says that hell is a place that you don't even want your worst enemy going to. I know for sure, I don't want my best friend to go down there, right? So that's what I'm telling you guys, you've got to start being bold about your faith and spreading it to everyone that you know.

Ross Sawyers: 43:35 You can follow Trevor's Faith if you want to be encouraged, there's more where that came from. But that young man understands it, and not afraid to talk about the wrath of God, did you hear that? There's an end game for everybody, it's heaven or hell, it's the new heavens and the new earth or it's eternal hell. We have a culture that today, I said this at a funeral on Thursday, the culture has gone absolutely nuts. The truth will change multiple times all day today, but we don't have to get in that nonsense, we have a truth, and a grace, and a mercy, and a love, that brings a life to people that are looking for it. Did you hear Trevor, the 8h grader, understanding that everybody, they need something, or they're looking for something. Every person is, he's right, and we have what they're looking for. Jesus didn't go silent on us, he moved towards us because he loved us, and knew what we needed. We don't go silent on people in this day, afraid we're going to get canceled out, we move forward in grace and love like we've been describing these weeks. But we move towards, not away, like this young man let's follow him. Paul said that, he said, imitate me. Follow people who are following Jesus, follow that. And the reason you see life in that young man's blue eyes, is because the Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in his life.

Ross Sawyers: 45:28 I know a ghost, do you? That's where our students have been hanging out all weekend long, on the Holy Spirit of God. And when a person by faith believes what Jesus did for them, the Holy ghost, the Holy Spirit of God, takes up residence within us. Think about what we've just done here, one priest, one time a year, could go into the Holy of Holies into the presence of God. Now Jesus comes and dwells among us, he takes care of everything, he is the mercy seat, he's the torn veil. And now with Christ in us, he brings his Holy Spirit into our lives. That is stunning, that the very holiness of God would take up residence in the brutal sinfulness of us. And the way he does that, did you catch the perfection of the lid over the box? I don't care how deep, how many, how bad your sin is, God has matchless grace to go and match every sin and more. It's a perfect grace that covers the worst of the worst inside of us, and he moves towards that. And there's a book I'm reading that says, it almost looks like he moves more towards the worst of our sin, than he does when it looks like we have things really going well.

Ross Sawyers: 47:06 The Holiness of God takes up residence within us. Paul writes it, he says, no longer is Jesus the one tabernacling among us, because Jesus is now raised from the dead, he's ascended to heaven, he sends his spirit. And in First Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16, he says, "Do you not know that you're a temple of God, and that your body, the spirit of God dwells in you." First Corinthians 6:19-20, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?" Can you hear that this morning? That whether you're online worshiping with us, or you're in the flex room with us, or you're here, that if you know Jesus Christ, your body, your body right now...This isn't like some ethereal, heady, intellectual something. Right now, if you know Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in your life. And when the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in your life, then you have the power to do that. Whenever we say, I can't do that, I mean, he's 8h grade. I mean, golly, they're still growing. He doesn't really even understand yet, wait until he gets an adult and it gets really complicated. Have you gotten in the middle school world lately, that's a complicated world, I kind of like where I am, quite candidly, and I think it's really complicated. But just think this week in the headlines alone, what a middle schooler has to deal with. You and I didn't have to do that.

Ross Sawyers: 48:48 The Holy Spirit of God takes up residence, and we're overcomers, he's our power, he's the one that produces love in us. We can't try harder to love, we yield to the spirit of God, he produces the love of Jesus through us. Joy comes through the spirit, who produces that through the love in us. He's the one that produces that, we can't do it, we can't try harder to be patient today, that's an aspect of love that the Holy Spirit produces. We can't be kinder today, less jealous today, not prideful today, we can't be less rude today, not angry today, hold more bitterness today, we're incapable of doing any of that, right? What we're capable of is leaning into the Holy Spirit of God who's in us, and him producing forgiveness through us is only he can do, and producing politeness through us as only he can do, and producing contentment through us as only he can do, and humility through us as only he can do. He's the one that convicts us of our sin, so that we actually ever confess one to God. He's the one that teaches us anything we've learned today, the spirit of God is our teacher today, he's everything inside of us. Do you know that ghost, our students do, and I know a number of us do as well.

Ross Sawyers: 50:14 But it doesn't end there, in Revelation 21:22, we'll no longer be the place where the spirit of dwells in the new heavens and the new earth. Because the Lamb, and God himself, are the temple in the new heavens and the new earth, and it'll be lit with their glory. And we'll be in the presence of God the almighty and the Lamb for all eternity. That's really good news today, by the way. And God's mercy is such, that not one of us has to miss that on this day.

Ross Sawyers: 51:01 Father, thank you for just the overwhelming thought of your holiness within us. And Jesus, thank you for making it possible for us to have access to you. Thank you for all the shadows and pictures, that point us to Jesus, it's stunning to look at what runs from Genesis all the way through Revelation. And God, I pray that in the days that we have, whatever that number is, that we would live in the love and the power of the Holy Spirit who's within us. I pray, God today, that no one would miss out on knowing you. And that those who know you would not miss out on the life that's in. And if we know you today, God, that we would not grieve the Holy Spirit by living life the way we try to live it. But instead that we live in the life and peace of the Spirit of God, I pray that in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: 52:13 Let's be quiet before the Lord. I don't have any reflection questions today, I just wanted us to sit in God's presence. And if you're at home, let me encourage you to do the same and not leave this moment, but just give God a moment in quiet to speak personally to your own heart.

Ross Sawyers: 53:51 Amen, Thank you all so much for worshiping with us today, it's just such a pleasure and a treat to be able to worship God together.

Ross Sawyers: 54:01 This is a hard right from what we've just been speaking of, but we just want to make you aware, that we're aware of Governor Abbott's executive order this week lifting the statewide mask mandate and the occupancy restraints on March 10th, and then I know Tarrant County has done some things already as well. Tonight we meet with our elders, that's the leadership team of 121, and we've proposed beginning to what we'll do moving forward. We'll have that conversation tonight, I would ask that you pray for us, and that will make the decisions that are best for this body of people. And if you are on social media and you track along with 121, we'll let you know this week what our changes will be. You can go to our website, it'll be there, and then it can be a great time to sign up for our email update. We send an update every week to our church, and it'll be there as well. So this might be a good time for you to go and sign up for that, and then it'd keeps you up routinely on what's going on at 121.

Ross Sawyers: 55:22 And if I could just make a couple of comments about this a few weeks ago, we talked about unity and how important it is to rise above all the disagreements and disparaging comments that are made. And I would say this about the masks, I've personally have come to the conclusion that at this stage of the game, almost a year later, there is not one thing that I or anyone else is going to do to change your mind about the way you think about this. It doesn't matter what scientists we choose from to fix and make it work the way we're thinking. It doesn't matter which mandates, which not mandates, my hunch is, it is firmly grounded in your mind what is the right way to handle this? So you can imagine what it's like on our part, because we know that I'm not even going to tell which end is which end. But we know there's this end, we know there's this end, and we know there is a spectrum in between those two far ends. And I think we have the whole spectrum all the way across. And so what I would ask is just for all of us to have a humility towards one another, respect towards someone else's position, even if we disagree with that position. And whatever that would mean for you, whether it's things you choose to post, conversations, you choose to engage.

Ross Sawyers: 57:09 And this is probably unfair, but it's the way I process and think. And so sometimes it's good for me to get off what I write, and just say what I think. And then a lot of times that's bad actually, but I still think if we spent as much time this week thinking about all the lost people that have not heard the gospel, and getting riled up about how many of us don't share it with anybody, that that would be far more productive time, then thinking about the mask issue. Because I think the mask issue is settled in everyone's mind, but everyone's heart is not settled. And our hearts get settled in Jesus, and I would hope we could just think about Jesus, and how we get that message, regardless of our position on the masks. So thank you for that, and I think that's a healthy way for us to proceed.

Ross Sawyers: 58:18 All right, I'm not going to be able to make my way out of here ahead of you, I'm just going to stay right here. If you're newer here today and would like to visit, and I do have my mask by the way, that I will be putting on. So I'll be right here, and I would love to meet you. And the rest of your dismissed, and the opportunities to give are the ones that you're aware of. All right, thanks and have a great afternoon.

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