Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s Teaching. 

  1. When you are unsettled, anxious, and lacking peace, what is your usual way of responding? In other words, what is your typical reflex to being troubled?   

  1. What is the connection between experiencing the peace of God and actively trusting God? Why do the two go together? 

  1. Read John 14:27. Why is the peace that Jesus gives different from what the world can offer? How can you lean into Him this week and experience His peace, even when circumstances aren’t peaceful?  

  1. What is one action step that you can take in light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today? 


Abide


Sermon Transcript

As you're seated, I said and mean how grateful I am for those that lead us musically in singing, in instrumentation on all of our campus. They are a tremendous blessing that God uses them in such ways to lead us into the presence of God. I'm so thankful for them, and I know you are as well. Now, in a world that had seen two World Wars, and now industrialization that had marked the culture that he was living in, and then the advancement of technology that, at the time, seemed extraordinarily fast. A British poet named W. H. Auden ended up writing a book length poem that was quite famous, and it was called, The Age of Anxiety. Now, granted, he was writing at a time where he had experienced two World Wars and industrialization was happening and technology was moving so very quickly.
That's why he compiled this and called it The Age of Anxiety. The following year after its publication in 1948, it won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. It so captivated the great composer, Leonard Bernstein, who many of you may know, it so captivated him that he ended up composing an entire symphony, symphony number two from Bernstein, that was based around the whole of the book length poem, The Age of Anxiety. Not only do you have this really long work that won a Pulitzer called The Age of Anxiety, now you've got a symphony called The Age of Anxiety. But it wasn't just relegated to that time in place, because maybe in more modern times, recently, the British jazz pop artist named Jamie Cullum ended up releasing a song. The title of the song is The Age of Anxiety. I tell you all of that to say that anxiety has been something that has been marked for us in the world that we live in for quite some time, but there's no question that, even though right now, it feels like we live in an age of anxiety, it feels like ours is on steroids.
Now, social media is not helping that any. When we deal with the anxieties that we deal with in the world that we live in, social media is not helping us at all. In fact, in a recent article in Psychology Today, February of 2020 article Phil Reed, who got his doctorate at The University of York, and also was a researcher at the University of Oxford ended up arguing for, based on his research, that there was a correlation between the higher usage of social media and higher of anxiety and depression. In fact, the study that he did was a longitudinal study. It means that he covered a four year time period, where he was looking at how people, over this four years in terms of their use of social media, did it correlate? In fact, to higher levels of anxiety and depression, and he found that they did. But he didn't just find that. We probably, just sitting back, could have said, I bet this is what he's going to find, right?
This would have been our kind of nonscientific way of looking at this. We would have said, "Hey, before you even start, my hypothesis is the more people are on there, the more anxious and depressed they're going to be." That would have been my hypothesis. He found that to be true, but he also found something even more significant. In his words, he said, "Well, many people who use social media a great deal are anxious, when they're not using social media, they turn to social media to reduce this withdrawal anxiety, and end up with another form of anxiety produced by engaging with their digital platforms." The implications for the mental health of this double anxiety whammy are clear. Did you catch what he said? People that are on social media a lot are people who experience higher levels of anxiety, and those people, when they're not on social media are experiencing anxiety as well in which they try and ameliorate that anxiety by going back to social media and now creating another anxiety so that they now have multiple anxieties working at the same time in their world.
Some of you are going, "Yeah, that's me." It could be. We live in an age of anxiety. Now, social media is not our only problem. We also live in an age where information is so pervasive that we have more information available at our fingertips. In fact, we have more information available on a digital device that we can hold in our hand, more information today in our hand than every generation before us combined had in the entirety of their lifetimes, and we don't know what to do with all of that information. It can be overwhelming, because now we understand things that are happening in real time all over the world, and we, usually, because this is just kind of the angle of the news, they're not just reporting all the great things that are happening all over the world, they're reporting all the things that are catastrophic, and are horrific, and are awful, and we're having to deal with all of that information simultaneously, and it's more often than we can actually bear.
In this information age, we've got so much of it. We could ask this question, are we smarter? Maybe. Are we wiser? I doubt it. Do we feel better? We don't. That's where we're living right now. If that's not enough, if we're saying well, I'm going to pull myself away from social media and maybe try and turn my phone off, and I'm going to try and help myself by turning on the television, that doesn't seem to work either. Because now when we turn on the television, particularly as it relates to cable channels and/or cable news, they have left predominantly left journalism behind and have gone the way of opinion editorials. No, I'm not criticizing whatever. That's just the way that it is, because apparently, that's what the people want. So, they're just going to give the people what the people want.
Now it's just opinion editorials, as opposed to just regular journalism that offers us what's happening in the world, and then we get to make our minds up. No, they actually want to make your mind up for you by leveraging a foil in their story. Somebody has to be on the opposite side. Somebody has to be demonized. Somebody has to be horrific and wrong, and this is happening all over. By the way, if you don't think that fear is a good controlling mechanism and a good manipulating mechanism, you're not paying attention. Because when you start to watch all of the ad buys that will come as a result of a presidential election, trust me when I tell you that fear will be operating under all of those things, because fear-mongering has proven to be able to get votes for people. You are the target for that fear-mongering, and so it creates additional levels of anxiety in our lives.
Would it be fair to say that, when we see all of these things that we are living in a sour time, that can leave our spirits troubled? Now, listen, having a troubled spirit is a part of the human condition. The Bible actually talks about, on multiple occasions, particularly in John's gospel, that Jesus was troubled in spirit or troubled in soul on a number of different occasions. But what I'm trying to remind us of today is that, that's not how Jesus lived all the time. It's part of the human condition. We have stuff that happens, and it can be troubling for all of us, but it doesn't have to be how we live. We live in what feels like a sour world, but the gospel is offering us something sweeter, and that's where Paul was going in Galatians Chapter 5 when he talks about the idea of the fruit, this sweet fruit of the Spirit. In the past few weeks, we've actually championed a couple of those aspects of the singular fruit of the Spirit, and today, I want to look at an additional one.
Here's what Galatians 5:22 says. It says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy," which we've covered recently, and now he's highlighting peace. That the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Now, I do want to remind you, as a way of recapping some of what I've said in previous messages that, what Paul is saying here, when he talks about the fruit of the Spirit is, he's not talking about the fruit of the Galatians, he's not talking about the fruit of me and you. He's talking about the fruit of the Spirit, which means that this is something that is specific to the life of God, and what the Spirit of God is doing is sharing with us the very life of God, and an aspect of that life along with love and joy is peace. This is inherent in the life of God.
Now, when we read that word, peace, that the fruit of the spirit is peace, the Greek word there is where we get our English word serene. The Greek word Eirene is the actual Greek word, but it's where we base our English word serene on that word. What we're talking about when we say that is we're talking about the idea of oneness, or harmony, or tranquility, or being at rest at. That's kind of the idea behind this word. This word, peace, is characteristic of the life of God. Now, we know that when we read our Bibles. In fact, we know that when we look even in the Old Testament. Now, before we get to seeing that in the old Testament, I want to remind you of something that, in theology, we call progressive revelation. Now, progressive revelation is simply this.
It means that, what God has done from the beginning, particularly as we look back into time in the Old Testament, is that God was revealing himself progressively through the course of time, and He was doing that such that He didn't reveal Himself completely and fully at one point in time, but was revealing Himself in stages to his people. Oftentimes, they would then write down how God has revealed Himself through what he shown them, and they would usually phrase it like the Lord is ... and then fill in the gap, as to how God revealed Himself. In this process of progressive revelation in the Old Testament, as God is showing people different aspects of His character and who He is, and they're learning them, we get to the period of time that's before the time that Israel actually has a King, and it's called the time of the judges.
Now, the time of the judges is a time where everybody was doing what was right in their own eyes. It was an awful time. It was an awful time for Israel, because Israel was being persecuted by the Midians and by the Amorites. You've got a lot of this going on, and there's a young man named Gideon, who's just minding his business, working on the threshing floor, doing what he does. Gideon is not a superstar by any means. In fact, Gideon is the lowest in the rung of his entire family, and his family is from the weakest tribe in all of Israel. That'll tell you where Gideon's at. All of a sudden, an angel, the Lord shows up, and when I say angel of the Lord, I'm not emphasizing angel, I'm emphasizing Lord, because it was actually God that showed up.
You learn that when you begin to read the text of scripture. I think it's a Christophany. What a Christophany is, is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Pre-incarnated simply means, before Jesus put flesh on in Bethlehem, Jesus actually showed up sometimes in the Old Testament. You don't have to look any farther than walking into the fire was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There was a fourth man in the furnace, and this was a picture of Jesus who was there. A pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. But Gideon thinks he's just talking to an angel at this point. He doesn't really know exactly what's going on. He gets addressed this way, "Mighty warrior," and Gideon's like, "I'm sorry, what? Are you talking to me because I'm lowest in my whole family and I'm from the weakest tribe in Israel, and you've just called me mighty warrior, that is hilarious. 
Then here's what happens. Then God actually says to him, "I want you, I'm going to commission you to lead my people, Israel, into victory." Gideon's like, "What? I need to make sure that this is you. I'm going to go get an offering and I'm going to bring it back in just a second." He's like, "Okay, I'll wait." This is my translation. He comes back, and then, all of a sudden, he realizes, Oh man, this isn't just an angel, I'm in the presence of God. Notice what God reveals when this happens. It says, "When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, "Alas, sovereign Lord. I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face." He thought he was going to die. But the Lord said to him, "Peace, do not be afraid. You're not going to die."
Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it, The Lord is Peace. What he said there was specifically, Yahweh, Shalom. Jehovah, Shalom. God is peace. The covenant God of Israel, Yahweh, is peace. You see, this is what we see revealed in the progressive revelation of the character and nature of God in the Old Testament, so much so that, in the New Testament, it is no problem for the writers of the New Testament to actually refer to the Lord who is peace as the God of peace. In fact, Paul does it in 1st Thessalonians, and the writer of Hebrews does the same thing. Here's what Paul says in 1st Thessalonians 5, "May God, Himself, the God of peace sanctify you through and through." Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says. "Now, may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead, our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep. May He equip you with everything good for doing his will." He goes on to say some other wonderful things.
He's referring to the God of peace. Now, I want to make sure that you understand something, and it's this, that just because God is a God of peace, it doesn't mean He's not doing anything. To be at peace doesn't mean that you have to be inactive, to be at peace doesn't mean that you have to be passive, because God is still active in all that He does. In fact, what Paul was saying is this, God of peace is going to do blank. This God of peace will do blank. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under his feet. These are the kinds of words that the God of peace is described him. Now, when we understand God for who God is, when we understand God's attributes, we'll begin to understand that God is peace, in and of himself. Now, I don't want you to miss this, and I hope that you'll stay with me here, and I hope that you'll engage with me in your minds and in your hearts, even if your faces haven't yet alerted me to that.
I'm hoping that you'll understand that what we do when we come together is we study who God is. You see, this is theology. When we talk about God, we're talking about the study of God, and why that's important is because we need to rightly know who God is to rightly understand who we are. We need to rightly know who God is to understand what we are building the foundation of our very faith on. When we understand the attributes of God, we begin to understand why God is peace. Let me pause here for a second and help you to understand that so that we're on the same page. God is omniscient. What that means is this, is that God knows everything about everything from all time, for all time, at the same time. Don't ask me to say it again.
God is omniscient. Every piece of information ever available in all of the cosmos, from eternity past to eternity future is His eternal now. He has access to all of it. At the same time. God is omniscient. God is also omnipotent. That means that God has all power, and God is also sovereign, which means that there is nothing in the cosmos, no decision that anyone can make that will ultimately thwart His divine plan for how everything ultimately is going to transpire in the consummation of Jesus' return and the institution of new creation, nothing in the cosmos can thwart that, because God is sovereign. Listen to this. God is omniscient, God is omnipotent, and God is sovereign. So, it's no wonder that nothing frightens God. God is anxious about nothing, because of who He is. Are you with me here?
It's because of who He is. Now, that's what makes perfect sense to us, when we understand the attributes of God, we understand how easy it is to say God, or the Lord, is peace, because it's the nature of who He is. Now, this is why it's so encouraging for us, because when Paul says to us that the fruit of the Spirit is peace, it should be really encouraging to us to know that God is not frightened by anything, and nothing causes God anxiety. Because what Paul says, when he says the fruit of the Spirit is peace, is he says, the Spirit of God is going to share with you the very life of God. The life of God, by the way, that's not frightened by anything, and that is anxious for nothing. Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit being cultivated in your heart, that the very life of the Spirit in you is that God wants to share this with you.
This is what Paul's talking about. Now, Jesus helps us to see the nature of God's peace in whole, because the nature of God's peace is Trinitarian in nature. In other words, when the Bible says, "The Lord is peace," it is encompassing upon the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In fact, we see it when Jesus is talking to his disciples in John Chapter 14. I want you to notice all the persons of the Trinity represented here. It says, "But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my," Jesus, "name." Did you see it? Spirit, Father, Son. "This spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." Then notice the connection, "Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives, do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
So, we've got this Trinitarian picture of the peace of God. We have the father, who is sending the Spirit by the authority and in the name of the son. This is what we see when we look at peace. What that tells us is this, is that it is the father who is the source of peace, the son who is the model and giver of peace, and the spirit who is the agent of peace. God in the wholeness of His Trinitarian personhood is peace. But the peace that Jesus talks about is different in quality than what the world gives, because what Jesus said is, "My peace I give to you, not as the world gives." Not as the world gives. Huh, well, that makes us ask a question, right? What kind of peace does the world give? What is characteristic of the peace that the world offers? I would sum it up maybe in one word. Detach.
That's the counsel that we get. By the way, it's not always wrong, but that's the counsel singularly that the world is going to offer for helping us figure out what does peace look like. Detach. Let me see if I can maybe explain this a little bit better, or illustrate it maybe to some degree. You're stressed at work. Some of you are going tell me about it. You can just put a period right there in the sentence. Stressed at work. What is it that the world, or those who maybe aren't followers of Jesus, or maybe even some that are followers of Jesus, what is it that they're going to offer to you to deal with the stress at work? Take a vacation. Vacate, detach. By the way, I'm perfectly fine with vacations. I also want to take them, not a hit on vacations. Don't anybody walk out of here saying, "Jerry hates vacations." I don't, but that's the singular offering that the world is going to be able to give you, detach.
Stressed at work, detach. People causing you anxiety, cut them out of your life. That's the way the world operates. Now, hear me. We need vacations. Really, holidays are better than vacations, because holiday means holy days, that you would involve God in, as opposed to just vacating, which is like a vacuum. We need vacations. Sometimes there are times where people we need to steer clear of, toxic kinds of scenarios. I get all of that. But I can tell you this, that detaching alone does not solve the anxiety issue. Listen carefully, everybody here knows what I'm about to tell them is true. If you've lived long enough, you have gone on vacations and come back way more stressed than when you left, and more broke. That's part of where your stress came from. You're like, "We spent way too much on that vacation."
They're going to turn our power off. It's that. You've tried to get away from anxiety by detachment, and you've created more. We all know that that has happened in our lives before. What I'm saying to you is not ... I'm not saying throw away detachment. I'm saying detachment is not the singular answer for solving issues related to anxiety. In fact, what would it be? The opposite, pressing in. Pressing in specifically to God. You see, that's why when we read what Paul has to say, that the fruit of the Spirit is peace, what we're reminded of is that we're only going to be able to eat of that fruit when we are in the presence of God, such that the Spirit of God can share the life of God with us. We cannot just attach. We've actually got to press in. The question is this, how do we grow peace then in our lives?
How do we grow peace in our lives? That's a question that we all need to answer because we live in an age of anxiety. How do we grow it? Well, I started out in this message talking very theologically, and now I'm going to talk real practically, real biblically, because we need to understand how we can grow peace in our own lives. Jot this down if you are a note taker, or unless you have a photographic memory, which you don't. Here it is. We grow the peace of God when we learn to actively trust God. I'm going to fill this out in just a second. We grow the peace of God when we learn to actively trust God. Now, after you've jotted that down, or photographed it in your mind, I want to show you how we can grow the peace of God as we trust God. Here's really the first way that we can do that. We grow peace as we trust God by resting in Him.
A lot of us don't really have a good understanding, or even a good theology of rest, and we have to learn to be able to rest in God. Listen to what the Psalmist said in Psalm 127, "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guard stand watch in vain. In vain, you rise early and stay up late toiling for food to eat, for He grants sleep to those He loves." There's another translation, by the way, of this last phrase. It's kind of an interesting construction in Hebrew, but it can also be rendered, and some of you will see this in the footnotes of your Bible, that it will say something along the line of, that He works, or God still works while you sleep. That's also the construction. By the way, I think that's a really good reading, because the writer of this particular Psalm is Solomon, and Solomon knows a thing or two, if you've read his life story about God working while you're sleeping.
Just read about Solomon and you'll figure that out. What we're reminded is that we can, listen, we can rest in God. As opposed to toiling as if everything depends upon us, we can actually work to the glory of God and we can rest in him knowing that God never sleeps and never slumbers, and God can be at work on our behalf, even when we're not toiling. Another one of the Psalmist statements that I love is in Psalm 4, and it says this. In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." When I was at the University of Georgia, I had just come to faith in Christ at the age of 19. I went back to campus and all of the guys that were still there, even my roommates were still living in the same way that I used to be living, and they didn't actually know what had happened in my life. This was before we texted one another and told everybody everything and posted our whole lives on the internet.
When I got back, it was interesting that they were finding out, oh man, he's turned into a God guy. What is going on? It was interesting, because I'm dealing with roommates who didn't realize this had happened in my life and they're kind of trying to figure this all out, but they're still doing their thing, and I'm trying to live for Jesus. So, sometimes there'd be a whole bunch of people downstairs in our apartment, and there's a big party going on and playing lots of music, and I would be upstairs with my little tape recorder thing, my little radio where I put my cassette tape in there and listen to really poorly produced Christian music that was at least telling me some things about Jesus that I was having trouble drowning out from what I was hearing downstairs, and then I would go to bed and everything is still raging around me.
What I did is I took a little piece of paper. My dad, at one point in his career, worked for Coca-Cola company. I had just some little pieces of paper that he had from the desk of Jerry Gillis. He's Jerry Gillis first before me, so I'm like a bad copy of my dad. I'm like the 2.0, the worst version, but it's just it says, from the desk of Jerry Gillis, Coca-Cola, whatever. I just ripped it off. I was reading in Psalm 4:8, and I just wrote down, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, oh, Lord, make me to dwell in safety." Do you know where I put it? On the ceiling right above my bed. Every night that I would go to sleep, and on many of those nights, when everything was raging around me and underneath me, I would look up to the ceiling right above my bed, and I would say, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, oh, Lord, make me to dwell in safety." This is what it looks like to rest in the God of peace.
Nobody illustrates that better than Jesus. You probably remember this story. Jesus was out on a boat with people, by the way, some of which were professional people on boats. They knew their way around these things, and a storm came up. You know the story. It's in Mark Chapter 4 and elsewhere. It says, "A furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion." That's just awesome. There's a humongous storm, and Jesus is lights out in the boat. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown? Now, keep in mind, some of these people were professional boat people. They fished for a living. They lived on the water. Now the fisher people, the boat people are waking up the carpenter to try and fix this scenario.
"Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" Jesus got up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet or peace, be still. Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him." It's a remarkable story. Isn't it? Jesus is asleep, and where we would say Jesus is asleep on a boat, I would suggest Jesus was asleep in his father's arms. Jesus understood what peace looked like. You know what it looked like for Jesus? Even though there was a storm raging all around him, there was not a storm in Him. Do you know that when we access the life of God, the same can be true of us? That there can be a storm all around us, but there doesn't have to be a storm inside of us, because the fruit of the Spirit is peace.
We have to learn to rest in Him. This is a part of what it looks like, that we grow peace as we trust Him by resting in Him. But a couple of other quick ones here. We also grow peace as we trust God by ruling like Him. What am I saying when I say that? Well, I'm saying what Paul said, and here's what Paul said in Colossians Chapter 3, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Now, if we were looking at a modern picture of what that word rule is, we could use the picture of an empire.
By the way, I like using pictures of empires because I'm a baseball guy. But you use a picture of an empire who calls fair and foul based upon, in this case, the peace of Christ. You can actually, listen to this, you can make decisions, live your lives based upon getting in the presence of God and allowing the Spirit of God to share the life of God's peace with you, such that you can look at the decisions you make based upon that and call fair or foul. This is inconsistent with the life of God and His peace. This is consistent with the life of God and His peace. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. By the way, that will affect the way that you are able to then allow the peace of Christ to rule in your relationships as well. But there's a third idea, that if we grow peace, we will trust God by reflecting on Him. Reflecting on Him.
I contend that, in Western Christianity, we don't do enough reflection on who God is. We do not. We're too scattered, we're too busy, we're too encumbered by every other thing that we don't take time to reflect on him. Do you know what the product of that is? Anxiety. Listen to what Isaiah said. "You, God, will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, Himself, is the rock eternal." Some translations say that, "You will keep in perfect peace, the mind that is stayed or fixed upon you." When we get into the presence of God and we begin to reflect on who God is, as God has revealed Himself in his word, what it does is it brings to our hearts a sense of the life of God. Remember, God being omniscient and omnipotent and sovereign, God is fearing nothing, and God is anxious for nothing.
When we begin to understand that our lives are subsumed in the person and work of God through Jesus Christ, we begin to be people who are experiencing the peace of God by the Holy Spirit, because we reflect on Him. But there's a last idea here that I want to give you, and is that we grow peace as we trust God by requesting of Him. What am I saying there when I say requesting of Him? Well, I'm actually using, again, Paul's words. You guys you know me well enough by now. My points come from the word. I'm telling you what God has said. This is not just life lessons with Jerry. This is an uncle Jerry spills the hits. This is, what does God say? Listen to what the apostle Paul says in Philippians Chapter 4, "Do not be anxious about ..." say this with me, "anything. Say it again. Do not be anxious about ...
Anything. When you translate that word in the Greek language, it means anything. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ, Jesus." How powerful a statement is that from the Apostle Paul, when he's teaching us that we can grow peace as we trust God by laying our hearts out before God, and God has said, I will give you a peace that transcends all understanding that will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ, Jesus, who Himself is peace. Do you know what this means for us? Please write this down. Here's what this means for us. God provides a peace beyond our understanding, but within our reach. God provides a peace that's beyond our understanding, but it's within our reach.
All we need to do is to get into his presence and pour our hearts out to Him, and He has said, this is what He will do. This is the way the Spirit of God wants to share the life of God with us. The fruit of the Spirit is peace. Now, what I'd like for you to do for a moment is to sit with that idea, that God provides a peace beyond our understanding, but within our reach. I want, for a moment, for our wonderful musicians and singers to sing something over us, and we sit in the peace of God. I just want you to sit in the peace of God, because I have something yet still to tell you that I don't want you to miss, but we'll do that as soon as they sing this over us. So, stay right where you are and let the peace of God wash over you.
It's a beautiful, beautiful thing to be able to just sit in the peace of God, to just be able to be saturated with his presence. I read a story really, quite recently. I don't know how long ago it happened, but it was these new sailors that were going out for a journey in a submarine. They were going to do a training exercise, and their commanding officer who was landside said, "You guys are going down today and you'll be down there through the night and then you'll come up tomorrow." They did, they got in their submarine and they descended to whatever depths those were, and they were down there for the entirety of the night, and then they emerged the next day, and they got out of their vessel, and they came landside and were able to talk to the commanding officer. The commanding officer said, "Well, boys, I'm glad to see you. How did you fare in last night's storm?"
They looked at each other and then they looked at the commanding officer and they said, "What storm?" He said, "I thought that may be the case. You actually made your way deep enough that you experienced something called the cushion of the sea, where the storm that is raging above doesn't affect what's happening deep below. That is what we're looking for today. When the storms come too often, we just try to detach. What we need to do is dive deep. We dive deep into the presence of God. Far too often, what we're asking of God is a peace that is external or a peace that is on the top of the water. We want COVID to end, we want businesses to reopen, we want to return fully to work, we want our children to be educated like they were. We want the political division to stop. By the way, I want all of those things too. 
It's not wrong for us to pray in those directions, but listen, that's not the peace God promised. The peace He promised is Himself. That's what He promised, that even though storms may rage around us, there doesn't have to be a storm in us. That, when we find ourselves in the presence of God, His peace is beyond understanding, but it is within our reach. So, how are you actively trusting God so that you can grow peace in your world? Are you doing that? Because what's happened, maybe in this time of anxiety, is that we've given ourselves over to so many things that actually poison our soul, as opposed to what brings peace to our soul. Some of us have put aside time with God because we're too itchy to get on and find out the latest meme, to find the latest blow up of the other political side that we can find, instead of getting into the presence of God and allowing his presence to bring us a peace when everything around us is going in a different direction.
May I say this to you, you may be watching from wherever online, or at any of our campuses. If you've never yet put your faith and trust in Jesus, I want to remind you of something, you will never experience the peace of God until you come to a place of peace with God, and only God can do that. That's why Jesus came to satisfy the justice of God so that he could be both just and justifier. The sinless son of God came to take upon himself, your sin, my sin, our depravity, and it's poured out upon Jesus so that a Holy God can judge it on Him instead of on us. Jesus did this willingly. Do you know why? So that you and I could have peace with God, and that we could be reconciled to Him, that we could experience His love and His life. This is what he desires for us. So, if you've never come to that place, when we dismiss in just a moment, if you're in any of our campus locations, your campus pastor is going to tell you where you can connect.
If you're watching us online, you'll have an online host that'll be telling you how you can connect, so that we can help you in following up on what that means. Father, I pray now in the name of Jesus, that you would write your peace over our hearts and our minds, because you, yourself, Lord, are peace. May we press into you instead of detaching, and may we press in, in such a way that we experience a peace that's beyond our understanding, but within our reach, and we trust you to do that in our hearts now, in Jesus' name, amen.


More From This Series

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Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Sep 13, 2020

Joy

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Sep 20, 2020
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Peace

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Sep 27, 2020

Forbearance

Pastor Jonathan Drake Part 4 - Oct 4, 2020

Kindness

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 5 - Oct 11, 2020

Kingdom Come 2020

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