High School Takeover

How We Can Have More Of The Love, Joy, and Peace Of God In Our Lives.

Charles Homer
Dec 26, 2020    39m
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Do you struggle with anxiety and depression? So many of us do, including the young, but this uplifting message of hope can help us learn how to have more of the love, joy, and peace of God in our lives. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

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

Charles Homer: 00:01 What's up Venture? My name is Charles Homer. Back on March 1st, I hopped on staff here at Venture Christian Church, working with our high school students. And it has been such a unique and challenging year, but overall in high school ministry and middle school ministry, we've been able to do amazing things and really see God move in special ways, even during this pandemic. And it's just been such an amazing time getting to know the students here, and being a part of this amazing church, doing special ministry here in the South Bay.

Charles Homer: 00:36 This week, we're focusing on the youth in our church. And Tim came to me and said, Hey, Charles, would you mind handling the teaching portion of our time together? And I said, absolutely, it would be my joy to, is there anything you want me to talk about Tim? Tim said, Charles, just talk about whatever you think our youth need. At that point, I really felt like I was a kid in a candy store, being able to choose one thing that I wanted to buy. Like one thing, there's so many things that I want to speak about to our youth, to our church, but for pretty soon, narrowed it down to Philippians chapter 4. Philippians chapter 4 is actually the first message that I spoke here at Venture when everything was closing down, I remember grabbing my phone, walking into a quiet place and recording a short message on Philippians chapter 4, essentially. It was just, hey guys, don't worry. Even as the world is closing down around us, let's not stress.

Charles Homer: 01:30 We'll dive into the passage in a little bit, but before we do want to give us a little bit of context to why I think this passage is important. As we look at Philippians chapter 4, the primary topics that Paul's going to cover are peace and joy. And maybe as you think about peace and joy in the context of 2020, you and I will both agree that this is a topic that we need to talk about. From my perspective, though, as the high school pastor, specifically working with 14 to 18 year old’s, this idea of stress, of worry, of anxiety, of depression, and how to counter that with peace and joy are really topics that we need to get God's perspective on.

Charles Homer: 02:17 A New York Times article back in 2017, was talking about the rising epidemic of anxiety in the youth of America. Here's what they said, "Anxiety has overtaken depression as the most common reason college students are seeking counseling services at school. In its annual survey of students, the American College Health Association found a significant increase in anxiety." Back in 2011, it was 50% of students that noted that they had experienced overwhelming anxiety in the previous year, fast forward five years to 2016, and it shot up to 62%. Another interesting study comes from UCLA, UCLA from all the way back in 1985 has been asking incoming freshmen, just a series of questions to help to get to know them better. One of the questions that they asked from 1985 all the way to today is, in the previous year, have you felt overwhelmed by all that you've had to do? Back in 1985, 18% of students said, yep, that's me. By 2010, the number had increased to 29%. The year before this article was written in 2016, that number had skyrocketed to 42%. Just a significant rise in our young people experiencing just an anxiety that they don't know what to do with.

Charles Homer: 03:45 And then we come into 2020, and with all of the chaos that's been going on, one study by the JAMA Research Institute found that because of COVID the U S had more than a threefold increase with prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms here in America. And so, man, it's just like a bad situation has gotten worse. And honestly, from the pastoral perspective, these students who are struggling with anxieties, they have names, they have stories. I remember getting the call from Bethany. Bethany said, hey, my little sister just got in a significant argument with dad, and she was threatening all sorts of things to the family, and now she's sitting in an ambulance outside because she has been deemed to be at risk to herself or to others. And walking through with that family, through the days that she had to be hospitalized and under psychiatric care, because she was just unable to deal with the overwhelming anxiety that's going on in her life.

Charles Homer: 04:53 And not just as a youth society, but really for all of our nation, there is a need for us to deal with this pandemic of anxiety, right? In his book The Failure of Nerve, Edwin Friedman writes that even though our society is taking leaps and bounds and progress in many areas, economically, technologically, that we are seeing our society come to a lot of good things now. That in many areas, and specifically our emotional health, there's a regression, that anxiety, and depression, and dissatisfaction, are equally on the rise. And what Friedman notes is that the cure for that, is the need for leaders in the family, in the church, in society, in business place, to be filled with a non-anxious presence. And I just love that phrase, a non-anxious presence, especially for our leaders.

Charles Homer: 05:56 It's a problem we see in youth, in our society, but really it's a personal problem as well. As I take this, time during this time of the year, to reflect back on what's happened throughout this year, man, there's some days that God's really been working in my life, and I've experienced his peace and his joy. But at the same time, there's been days that I've been stressed out, just anxious, just short with my family, kind of just burdened on with insecurities that have come with my life. But as I compare the good days to the bad days, there's a genuine longing in my soul, God gives me more of your peace, give me your more of your joy. And it's that peace and joy, which makes this passage in Philippians, just so important for us
today. There's a power that comes from what Paul is teaching, and it just resonates deeply with my soul.

Charles Homer: 07:00 Let's check it out together, Philippians chapter 4, we'll start in verse 4. Paul says this, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." That's so good, isn't it? Parents, you should bribe your kids to memorize this passage. Kids, I bet if you said mom and dad pay me five bucks and I will memorize this word perfect, I bet they'd be able to do that for you. There's the challenge for you.

Charles Homer: 07:54 Before we hop into the message, let's pray together. God, you promise us to keep us in perfect peace, if our minds are stayed on you. And so, God, we graciously pray, we pray that you would graciously give us your peace and your joy. As we finished up our celebration of Christmas, Lord, we remind ourselves that you are the Prince of Peace. We remind ourselves that you bring us peace with God, it's through your work that we can have peace with each other, it's because of you that we can have peace within ourselves. God, bring us your peace. We pray these things in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Charles Homer: 08:43 As we unpack this teaching, I want to break the passage up into two categories. If you're taking notes, you'll see them, if not, don't worry about it, this is going to be super simple. First off this passage gives us four behaviors to adopt. I love the way that Paul writes here. As Paul is writing, in most of the letters that he writes to churches, to individuals, he takes the front half of his letter, and he kind of front loads it with the theological arguments that he's trying to make. And then from there, he takes the second half, and then he just gives all of the practical applications for what he wants Christians to do with that. It's just kind of part of my temperament, part of my personality, I love the practical applications that Paul gives. And in that, as we are here in Philippians chapter 4, Paul's kind of into the rapid fire applications that he's going to give us. Paul saying, hey, if you want to have a life of peace and joy, here are the behaviors that you need to adopt.

Charles Homer: 09:50 The first thing that Paul tells us to do is rejoice. "Rejoice in the Lord always", he says in verse 4, And then he repeats it, "I'll say it again, rejoice." When it's 7:00 AM and you're locked in your house for one more day, rejoice. When you're up all night with a baby who refuses to sleep, Paul's message to you is, rejoice. When you've broken up with a girl of your dreams, and you just think I can't go on any longer, Paul's command is, rejoice. I love how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message translation of the Bible. "Celebrate God all day. I mean, revel in him!" Even though Paul here is giving this rapid fire advice for life, this idea of joy and rejoicing is not disconnected from the major themes that he has in his letter.

Charles Homer: 10:48 Over 16 times in Philippians, Paul repeats this idea of joy and rejoicing. In chapter 1 verse 4, he's rejoicing as he writes to the Philippian church. At the end of the letter, he's rejoicing because of the gift that he's received from them. In chapter 3 verse 1, he's already told them before, hey, rejoice in the Lord. And here's what I want us to notice, as we look at Paul's command to rejoice. Paul is not sitting on a beach with a drink in his hand saying, hey guys, everything's going to be fine. From the beginning of Paul's journey as a Christian, Paul has had difficulty stacked on difficulty. Initially, he was rejected by the Christians in Antioch, say, no, you were the one who was persecuting us. From there, from the Jewish leaders, and then eventually the Roman government as well, Paul has just suffered persecution after persecution. Here's the list that he gives, he says, even though I've had far greater labors, far more imprisonments, countless beatings, often near death. He says, "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea." And Paul is just kind of saying like, hey, my life has not been easy, so don't take this command and neglect it as somebody who doesn't know.

Charles Homer: 12:13 Right now, as Paul is preaching, he's under house arrest, he's not able to have the freedom that he wants. And honestly, as somebody from 2020 who's looking back, and maybe complaining a little bit about the stay at home orders, I think Paul would know a little thing about being locked in one place and not having the freedom that he wants. Paul says, hey, here's my command to you, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Let me say it again, rejoice." If you're taking notes, right next to the word rejoice, could you write down the word smile? One of the ways that I think, that we can rejoice, just in a simple practical way, is with a smile that we give to other people. Mother Teresa says this about a smile, she says, "Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."

Charles Homer: 13:12 Another story that comes from Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln in 1860, when he was choosing his cabinet was recommended a specific person for one of the cabinet roles, and he says, I'm not going to take that guy. When there was pushback, they said, well, why are you not going to put him on your cabinet? Here's what Abraham Lincoln said, Abraham Lincoln said, I don't like his face. They're saying, well, a man is not responsible for his face. And here's what Abraham Lincoln says, any man that's over 40 is responsible for his face. And I just love the authenticity that Abraham Lincoln brings to that moment. He says, hey, if you're over 40, you're responsible for your face. My question for you is, are you smiling? Do you rejoice the way that Paul says rejoice in the Lord always?

Charles Homer: 14:07 The first behavior that Paul wants you to adopt, is to rejoice. The second behavior that Paul recommends, is to be chill, to be chill. In verse number 5, Paul doesn't say, be chill, what he says is, "Let your reasonableness be known to all." That word reasonable there, is a word that's not used very frequently in the New Testament. In other translations, it's translated as gentleness, moderation, considerate. In that context, other people will use that word specifically to refer to God, and the God or the gods dealing with people in gentle forbearance. And so maybe a good translation would be gentle forbearance, let your gentle forbearance be known to all. There's no scholars that made me think be chill is an appropriate translation of what Paul's saying. But when I look at the context, look at how the word is used, I think it fits, and so be chill. When you're driving on the street, or maybe when you're looking for that parking spot, be chill. When you're responding to an email, or you're about to respond to something on Facebook or Instagram, man, be chill. When you're in a tense meeting, and the conflict is beginning to rise, let your reasonableness be known to everyone, be chill. And especially to everyone right now who's locked at home with their families, especially to your families, students, kids, be chill, let your reasonableness be known to everyone. When Paul is talking about rejoicing, it's primarily like an inward thing, right? It's about what I am doing. When Paul says, let your reasonableness be made known to all, it's an external thing, it's a relational thing. He saying, hey, in your relationships, make sure you're characterized by gentleness, by reasonableness, by this gentle forbearance, be chill.

Charles Homer: 16:12 For the last two behaviors we have a negative, and we have a positive, that join together, and we'll go for the negative first. So the third behavior that Paul recommends as you want more peace and joy in your life is, don't worry about anything. And I want us to hear Paul at this moment, don't worry about anything. But Charles, I lost my phone, I have no idea where it's at. Hey, don't worry about anything. I'm going to fail this test, I don't know what's going to happen when my parents find out about this grade. Don't worry about anything. Again, Paul is not speaking out of a place of ease here. Not only does Paul have a story that's just filled with difficulty, and persecution, and just a lot of hard things.

Charles Homer: 17:14 But beyond that, he's also an ambitious person, he is trying to push the gospel through the Roman empire and beyond. It says in in Second Corinthians 11, "And apart from all of these stressors that's going on in his life, there's a daily pressure of my anxiety for all of the churches." And so even Paul, he feels this weight of responsibility that's on his shoulder. And in that he's saying, there's a way to deal with the weights that we carry, the things that we're caring about, without turning them into a negative anxiety. I bet a lot of you guys, as you're hearing me say, don't worry about anything, your push back it's just like, that seems uncaring, uncaring for other people, uncaring for a what's going on. If I don't worry about things, things aren't going to get done. And I think as I look at Paul's life, but more importantly, when I look at Jesus's life, it's not that he's uncaring about people, it's not that he's not passionate about a vision that he wants to see put into reality, it's just that the way that they carry that load is different.

Charles Homer: 18:25 Recently I've been doing a lot of yard work, and one of my favorite things is moving things back and forth with a wheelbarrow, I know I shouldn't enjoy doing this, but I do. And there's an art to wheelbarrowing, if that's a word, the way that you load a wheelbarrow is really important. When you're loading a wheelbarrow, whatever it is that you're shoveling in there, it's really important that you get the load really on the front end of the wheelbarrow. Because if you get that load on the back end of the wheelbarrow, and you go to pick it up, it's you that's carrying all of that weight. But on the flip side, if you take that load, that weight, and you load it all up into the front of the wheelbarrow, man, all of that weight just rests on the wheel. And you can pick it up, and you can still move as much as you want it to move, without you having to do all of the work yourself. I think that's a good illustration of what Paul is trying to get us to understand here, he's not saying don't care about things, it's just like, hey, don't carry that weight yourself, man, put that on to God.

Charles Homer: 19:31 Which leads us to the fourth practice, the fourth behavior that Paul wants us to adopt, pray and be thankful for everything. Going with the wheelbarrow illustration, Peter says it this way, casting all your cares upon him, speaking of God, because God cares for you. What Paul says in Philippians, is mirrored in First Thessalonians. In First Thessalonians, he says, "Rejoice always." That reminder to be joyful. And then he says, "Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances." Both in Philippians and in Thessalonians, when Paul talks about prayer, he always includes thanksgiving. A couple of weeks ago, Tim included the Harvard study that talked about the power of thankfulness. And really it's almost impossible to listen to any leadership material, whether it's a podcast, or reading leadership magazines or books, without hearing about the positive benefits of being thankful.

Charles Homer: 20:38 Once study that I read recently came from the Greater Good Institute in Berkeley, the Greater Good Institute in Berkeley talked about the benefit of writing gratitude letters, honestly, even if you didn't send them. The study involved the college students who were coming to the counseling center to receive help, and they took one group and said, hey, you, in addition to your counseling, write thank you letters to people expressing gratitude, along with the things that you're learning about in your counseling sessions. And one group, they said, hey, you just get the counseling. And when they were checked back on in four weeks, and then in 12 weeks, the group that had that gratitude exercise of expressing their thankfulness, had measurable benefits in their mental wellbeing for expressing that thankfulness. I think that's why Paul says, hey, instead of worrying about anything, pray and be thankful about everything. One of my favorite preachers is Andy Stanley. And as he's preaching on this passage, he just has a simple line, I mean, just pray until the peace comes. I think that's what Paul is teaching us here, hey, don't worry about anything, instead, pray and be thankful about everything.

Charles Homer: 21:59 The four behaviors that Paul tells us to adopt. One we're to rejoice in everything, and then we're to just be chill. Beyond that, man, we're not to worry about anything, instead we are to pray and be thankful about everything, those four behaviors. But here's the deal, when I am most in need of peace and joy in my life, that's when those four behaviors are the absolute hardest to practice. When I'm going through a hard time, and it just seems like I'm emotionally drained. Telling myself, hey, why don't you rejoice? Why don't you be chill? Don't worry about anything, just pray and be thankful instead. It's in those moments it almost seems impossible.

Charles Homer: 22:45 I actually tried this little exercise a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I hopped into a car, we were just going to Home Depot to get out of the house away from the kids for a little bit. My wife tossed me the keys and said, hey Charles, why don't you drive? I just feel anxious, I feel like I I'm just not feeling good today. So I grabbed the keys, we get in the car, chatting a little bit about what she's feeling, how things are going. And I was preparing for this message, and so I said, hey honey, you know what the solution is, right? You're not feeling good, so what you need, and honestly, I just quoted scripture at her, "You need to rejoice in the Lord always. Let me say that again, rejoice. Just let your reasonableness be known to everybody." You know, me and the kids, just be reasonable with us. You know what? Don't worry about anything, Kristen, but just pray about everything and be thankful. If you're married, if you're dating, if you have somebody in your life that gives you advice and you tell them that you're stressed, and they come out with that list of, hey, here's what you need to do in order to get over it. I'm pretty sure you know what the result was. It's just a look from the side of her eye, saying like, are you kidding me right now? Like this isn't helpful.

Charles Homer: 23:53 And for so many of us, just having the behaviors of here's, what you're supposed to do, it isn't helpful. And here's why I think that there's a disconnect. When we just have the behaviors that we're supposed to adopt, without an underlying foundation, without the greater context, man, those behaviors, they just become a burden. It's like I have to do these things in order to practice, in order to be able to experience peace and joy, I can't do that right now. That's why I'm so glad that in this passage, even though Paul is saying like, hey, here's the advice that you need, he doesn't just give us the behaviors to adopt. He also says, hey guys, here's the truths that you need to believe, and it's in these three truths that I'm asking you to believe, that really lay the foundation and provide the ability for us to do this, joyfully, naturally. When we understand the broader context, when we have this firm foundation of the truths that Paul is teaching, along with these behaviors, man, our obedience becomes natural, becomes joyful, it's just what makes sense. So here's the three truths that Paul is teaching us in this passage.

Charles Homer: 25:15 One, God's good and he's in control. I think that's why Paul says, hey, rejoice, not in your circumstances, not in your abilities, not in your toughness, not in your ability to do the things that you want to do, not in your control. Paul says, hey, rejoice in the Lord always. When we think about the idea of being in the Lord, there's so many things that we're able to naturally rejoice over. In God, all of his promises are yes and amen. In God, there are new mercies for us every morning. In Psalm 145, it tells us, "The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies over all his works. In First Chronicles, it says, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." Man, when we want to be able to practice these behaviors, what we have to first do is believe these truths, and just lay that solid foundation. God, I know that you're good, and that you're in control, and that you have this in your hand. This didn't catch you by surprise, you're going to be able to work all things for the good. God you've got this, you're good and in control.

Charles Homer: 26:46 Second thing that Paul teaches are the truths that we need to believe, is that God is near. Verse number 5, Paul says, "Let reasonableness be known to all." And then he adds this in here, "The Lord is near." As Paul is talking about the Lord is near, he's again giving us that truth to believe, that idea that, hey, God's not asking you to do this from a distant place, he's right here with you. Celtic Spirituality coined the term, a thin place. A thin place, is a place where you are able to, more easily than in other places, sense the divine. To be able to break through that barrier, that often seems like it's between earth and heaven, and enter into God's space. And it's almost like Paul was saying, right here, right now, this is the thin place, God is near, he's at hand.

Charles Homer: 27:48 And really there's two aspects of God being near that I want us to focus on. One, his Holy Spirit is within you. When Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Galatians, he says, Hey, the Spirit that's within you, man it's going to bear fruit, and that fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, that God is near. He is within you, and he is supernaturally going to bring you the peace that you so desperately need. In Psalm 145, it says, "The Lord is near to all who call upon him." Man, God's right here, it's not just that God is near, in the sense that he's within us. But it says that the Lord is at hand. That phrase there, the Lord is at hand, specifically talks about the second coming of Jesus.

Charles Homer: 28:42 One of the things that Jesus was so clear about as he taught, was that he is coming back again. In John 14, he says to his disciples, Hey, "Don't let your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house, there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself. That where I am there, you may be also." And we are just reminding ourselves, man, the Lord is at hand, he's coming back Even so, come Lord Jesus. We don't have to go through this life wondering, man, am I going to be able to have the strength to sustain this? Am I going to be able to fix this problem on my own? Man, his Spirit's within you, he will sustain you, his coming is imminent. He will be able to right all of the wrongs, the Lord is at hand, God is near.

Charles Homer: 29:43 The third truth that I want to remind us of is, that God has peace to get you through. And again, I think that this is the main thrust of the passage. Paul says, "Don't worry about anything, but in all things by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." And then here's the word that I love, and, as we're faithful to push away worry on one side, and to embrace a life of just praying about everything, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." God will do this.

Charles Homer: 30:34 As God makes these bold promises. On one hand, he says things like my peace will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. But then the experience that we have is significantly different from that, right? My question is, what do you put in that gap? We have God's promises on one hand, and our experience on the other hand, what do you put when God's promises and our experiences don't match up? Do you put doubt there? Like, God, I don't know if you're really going to give me peace. I don't know if you're going to come through for me. My heart doesn't feel very guarded, my mind doesn't feel protected in Christ Jesus. I don't know if I believe you. Do you put doubt in that space? Would it be possible for us to put faith in that place? Where it's God, my experience, what I'm going through right now, it doesn't really feel like the peace that passes all understanding, but I am going to hope, I'm going to trust. I am going to believe that you can do what you promise, that you can give me a peace that passes all understanding.

Charles Homer: 31:46 For those of us who want to experience God's peace and his joy, for those of us who want to take these trues that we've gone through this weekend, that God is good, God is in control, that God is near, that God has peace in order to get us through, and we want those to rest in the deep places in our life. What do we do? How do we actually work this out? I'm so thankful for church history, where there have been saints who've gone on before us who have given us an example of how to live out these truths, how to lay that firm foundation for us to stand on. So that we can practice the behaviors that Paul encourages us to do, to rejoice, to be chill, to not worry about anything, but to pray and be thankful for everything.

Charles Homer: 32:38 One example that I wanted to of talk about in depth, is the example of Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a 17th century monk in France who, from conversations and letters that he wrote, we have this small little book called The Practice of the Presence of God. And Lawrence was somebody who embodied this non-anxious presence that we've been talking about, who embodied God's peace and his joy, who just believed the truths that we talked about tonight. Brother Lawrence was born with the name, Nicholas Herman. Lawrence was converted at age 18 by simply observing a tree in winter, he was taken by the fact that the leaves were all gone on this tree, but come spring, he was confident that the tree would flower, would bring forth its leaves. And he said that moment gave him a high view of God, and that was enough to push him into the kingdom. Man, just an amazing story of somebody coming to Jesus.

Charles Homer: 33:40 Lawrence became a monk, and made it his primary aim to constantly focus on the presence of God. Let me read you an extended quote, he says, "I make it my business only to persevere in his Holy presence. Wherein, I keep myself by simple attention and a general fond regard, which I may call an actual presence of God. Or to speak better, a habitual, silent, secret conversation with God. Which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others. I mean, that's amazing. He says, I'm just going to simply focus on the presence of God. And what that meant for Lawrence, was that he was continually just conversing with God. That throughout the day, he was always maintaining a focus and a conversation, lifting up his attention to God and saying, God, I'm here with you in this moment, practicing the presence of God.

Charles Homer: 34:47 For Lawrence, this practice of the presence of God was simple enough for anyone to do. He characterizes himself as easily distracted, a lowly uneducated man, who was a great awkward fellow who broke everything. I love that this is how he describes himself, because it's like, hey, maybe there's a place in the presence of God for someone like me too. But here's what he says, he says, "This practice requires neither time, nor talents, nor training, at any moment, in the midst of any occupation, under any circumstance, the soul that wants to, can practice the presence and come to the knowledge of God." The results of brother Lawrence being in constant conversation with God, and practicing the presence, had a profound effect on his life, he was always filled with God peace and God's joy. Here's what he says, he says, "For him, the time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great a tranquility as if upon my knees at the blessed sacrament." Brother Lawrence's job there in the monastery was to cook, and so he was in the kitchen. And I just love the practicableness of what he says, he said, it didn't matter if he was on his knees at the sacrament, that he felt the presence of God there for sure, or in the busyness of his kitchen. Even if he is bending down to pick up a straw off the ground, he would say somewhere else, that in all of these actions, he was aware of the presence of God. So much so, that inward and outward joy, and joyous raptures, would have to be suppressed so that he didn't give it away to other people.

Charles Homer: 36:49 Here's what he says, there's not in the world, a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it, who practice it, and experience it. For brother Lawrence, the peace of God was available at any moment, at any time, regardless of what was going on in the world around him, because he was constantly in communication with God. He had taken those truths that Paul laid out in Philippians chapter 4, that God's good, and he's in control, that God's here right now, regardless of what you're doing, and that God has peace in order to get you through, and they just ran through the flow of his life. My question for you is, don't you want that? I know that as I look for her to next year, what I want my life to be characterized as, is as a person who is filled with the peace and joy of God. And honestly, I don't know of any way to do that, besides just resting in the presence of God. In John chapter 15, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." I think Brothers Lawrence's example was just one of abiding. Paul would say in Colossians chapter 3, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." My prayer for you this year, is that there would be the peace of God that reigns in your heart, and together as one body, we can be thankful for all that he's done for us.

Charles Homer: 38:48 Let's pray. God, thank you that you give us peace. And then as we rest in you, you come and you abide with us, and you give fruit into our lives, the fruit of love, the fruit of joy, the fruit of peace. Even so, come Lord Jesus, give us more of yourself. We pray these things in your name. Amen.



Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032
408.997.4600