TRANSCRIPT | Sun, Sept 13, 2020 | Where is God in All of This?

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

... with you, whether we feel like that we're far from you or whether we feel like that God were in an intimate relationship with you, just move in our life and provoke us into that next step. Let it be done, in Jesus name. The church said ...

 

Congregation:

Amen.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

... amen. Right now, it's raining outside. That's obvious. But you're also moving at 1,000 miles per hour. Do you feel it? The Earth is revolving, creating night and day at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour. At the same time, the Earth is orbiting around the sun, 67,000 miles per hour. Do you feel it? You are spinning right now at 1,000 miles an hour. Do you feel it? You're moving at a speed of forward progression at 67,000 miles an hour. Do you feel it? Isn't it amazing how that you can be moving at that kind of speed and not feel it? Doesn't it make you wonder what else in your life might be moving at a really fast speed and you just don't feel it? You don't recognize it. You're not aware of it.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

They say, as NASA attempts to discover what's going on in the universe and they keep finding more and more galaxies. I actually think that that is a credit to what Paul said about God, that he is exceedingly great. That God's so big and so bad he just has to keep making more and more room for himself. But for our solar system and our planet, we are located in the Milky Way. The Milky Way is an incredibly expansive place, but that galaxy in and of itself is also moving. And at the center of our galaxy is something that is known as a black hole. Astronomers, NASA, they don't know how to describe it. They don't know how to fully even make sense of it.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

They just know that there's this big black hole that everything is moving around, and that black hole, it eats whatever comes into it, even light, stars, et cetera. They get close to that black hole, it just eats everything. And our galaxy is spinning around that supposedly at like 200 and every 250 million years, it makes a revolution despite the speeds that it is moving at. I just began to wonder and contemplate if maybe the way in which even the universe is pieced together and the galaxies are observed if that is not a type and a shadow of what can so easily happen to a nation, a culture, a marriage, a person. Of like how easily it is for us to just be moving at high rates of speed and orbiting, revolving around things that really at the end of the day are nothing more than a black hole.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Your life. My life. I wonder what's at the center of it. They say, if somebody is going to try to write a biography about someone, then they are going to ask for at least two or three things. And if the person is not willing to give up those two or three things, then the biographer will walk away and say, "I can't tell your story effectively." One of the first things that they'll ask for is the financial records of the person because they believe that if they can see the financial records, it will reveal what is at the center of that person's life. How they spend money tells them a lot about that person. It tells them what is important in that person's life. It tells them how that person chooses to invest their finances and thereby, what is at the center of their money.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Also, a biographer will ask for the schedule or the calendar of the person, because that helps them to know how the person spends their time. What is at the center of their time? How do they invest their time? Another thing they will ask for is a list of relationships. It's then from those relationships that they begin to explore communication. They'll begin to evaluate, maybe even historically, love letters or letters that have been shared via mail and correspondence. Today, they would want to see email records. They might even want to see text message records. They would want to have some ability to interview people that folks were in a relationship with so that they could find out what is the center of the conversation. What does this person spend their time talking about?

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

If they can get to the bottom of how a person spends their money, they know how they center their finances. If they can get to the bottom of how a person spends their time, they can find out what is at the center of their scheduling process. If they can find out what a person talks about, how their conversations typically gravitate, and how the conversations typically wind up at a certain place, they can tell you what is at the center of that person's life. I wonder if we were to see your financial records, my financial records if somebody could get their hands on our schedule if they began to do an interview of where our conversations wind up, what would be at the center of that? Because here's the thing, if God is not at the top of each of those lists, or at least one of those lists, it is very possible that something is off-center in our life.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

It's possible that we are orbiting, revolving around something that has us off-center when it comes to our eternity. It's incredibly possible too that it's happening at high rates of speed and we don't even feel it. We don't even recognize it. Because here's the thing, every single one of us, every single home, is revolving around something. There's something pulling on us. There's something that we're orbiting around. That's like right at the center of our home, our life, our family. For some people, it might be sports. If so, your priority is winning. You spend your life, "We got to get to this practice. We got to get to that workout. We got to make sure we're at this tournament. We got to make sure that we're positioned at that game, because we're going to win." Life is focused, centered on sports, winning.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Some homes revolve around education. I'd say that's a lot more common lately than it has been in the past. Anybody else in homeschool mode lately? I came in from a long day of meetings the other day. My daughter had procrastinated a little bit. She'd put some things off to the last minute, and she's wanting to know about compound sentences and what a predicate is and compound noun and verb. Finally, I looked at her and I said, "I don't know, Google it."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

There are homes that literally revolve around education. It's all about getting a good grade. It's all about getting tutoring. It's all about advancing in the academic arena. It's all about trying to get scholarships. It's all about trying to get into the right university. It's all about trying to get acknowledged in the right career path. The priority is good grades.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

There are other homes that, they orbit around money. And so, everything is prioritized around work. And so, there are extensive hours that are put in. There's not a lot of time at home. There's this emphasis on hard work, got to get it done, got to work harder, got to make more money. We got to ... I just wonder if all of our lives are revolving around something if all of the lives are orbiting around something or someone, what is it that our lives are centered on? If you could really get to the bottom and you could get honest answers from us, what is it that is at the center of our lives?

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

There's a passage of text in the book of Exodus, it's Exodus 25:8. It shows up in a moment where God's people are transitioning from being in slavery to moving into a promised land experience. They're in a time of transition. They're in the process of developing a nature, excuse me, a nation, and establishing a culture. Here's what it says, Exodus 25:8, "And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell in their midst." The Hebrew of that word midst, some would say also means among. Even some theologians, you can take it deeper, and basically implied that what God desired was to be at the center. So here's what God is saying, a nation is being established. A culture is being developed. He's saying, "As you are moving transitionally from one place to the next place, I want to be right in the center of that." In fact, God told them to not even build him a stationary home. He said, "Just put me in a tent because where you go, I go and where I go, you go."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

We're going to do this thing together. I want to be right in the center of it as the culture is being established. Another place that the text implies that God really likes to be in the middle, God really likes to be in the center is Matthew 18:20. Jesus gave us this promise. He said, "If two or three would gather together in my name, there I will be in the midst. There I will be among them. There I will be in the center of their relationship." God says he must be in the center. He wants to be in the middle so much. If he can just find two or three people talking about him, he'll start manifesting his presence right then, right there. "Just if I can get two or three people that are just talk about me, just make me the center of their conversation. I'll be right there in the middle of that relationship."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You imagine what that would do to your home. Imagine what that would do to your marriage. Can you imagine what that would do to your parenting? As you're developing your children and you're teaching them about the ability to exercise the name of Jesus and mean it authentically and exercise it from the bottom of your heart that Jesus could be in the center? There's another passage that shows us really how much, maybe more than any other passage in the scripture, how much Jesus wants to be in the center. It's John 19: 18. It says, "And they crucified him. And with him, there were two others crucified. There was one on either side, Jesus was between them." Jesus was in the middle of them. Jesus was in the center.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

In this moment, it shows us Jesus at the center of human response. That on one side, a thief is rejecting Jesus in his last hours. But on the other side, a thief is receiving Jesus in his last hours. I would share with you that 3trees Church actually gets its name from this verse. Three trees. Three crosses. On a hillside 2,000 years ago. One person chose to reject Jesus and the other person chose to receive Jesus, but both of them had to respond. As a church, we've done everything that we can to try to provoke a positive response to Jesus throughout south-central Kentucky and beyond because everyone needs Jesus. That's why you hear us talking about, it's all about Jesus and it will always be about Jesus. Why? Because everyone needs Jesus.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Jesus, even in his death, he shows up in the center to imply that he wants to be at the center of humanity. And that he's making himself available in that capacity and the joker who was willing to receive it, he said, "Me and you, we're going to hang out in paradise later today, brother." There's more though. In fact, I really, really like this one. Jesus has resurrected from the dead and the disciples are not sure that they fully believe it yet. They know that their lives are on the line, so they're actually hiding in a private place because they're afraid that maybe these Pharisees and Romans soldiers are going to try to kill them as well. Here's what it says in John 20:19, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, and Jesus came and stood among them," came and stood in the middle of them, came and stood in the center of the room, "and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'"

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

What it shows us is that, if we will allow Jesus to be at the center of our life, to allow Jesus to be at the center of our room, he brings something with him and it's a thing that is most desirable. It is a thing called peace. Do you know that in a survey of people all across the globe, as they were asked, "What do you desire most in your relationship," the overwhelming response was peace? When people were communicating what it was that they desired most in the world and in the nation, over and over and over again, they repetitively said, "Peace." What Jesus shows us is that, if you will let him in the center of your situation, he has the ability to speak to whatever's going on and say, "Peace," to your heart, "Peace," to your situation, "Peace," to your issue.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Here's the deal. There was all kinds of hell breaking loose outside those four walls. They were so scared that they went inside the room, locked the door, and said, "Whatever's out there, don't let it in here." Inside, they are with fear. They are coming apart at the seams as a result of the challenge they're dealing with, the chaos they're dealing with, the confusion they're dealing with. Then Jesus stepped in the room and said, "There's no reason for this fear. There's no reason for this concern. I say, “peace be with you." I just wonder, right now, like right now, do you have peace in your finances? Because if you don't, it's highly likely that Jesus is not at the center. Because money in the bank is not associated with peace.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

But the presence of God is. Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is the presence of God. When you allow Jesus to be the center of your finances, one of the things you can begin to look at it in regard to priority. Like, what is the center of my finances? Go through that credit card statement. Go through that checking account. Go through the receipts in your wallet for a few minutes and just take a look and just say, "Wait for a second, have I in any way, shape or fashion really been intentional about making Jesus the center of my finances?"

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Is there peace in your home right now? Because if there's not, it is highly likely that somehow Jesus is not at the center. It's very possible that right now things are moving really fast and things are revolving to the point you feel like you're spinning like a top and you're just moving at high rates of speed. But I want you to look at the center for just a second. What's all of it revolving around? What are you orbiting around right now? What is the gravitational pull on your life? What is it when you get up in the morning that you just feel this gravitational pull?

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You're going to bed at night, but you can't really sleep because you just feel this gravitational pull. That even right now, you tried to engage in worship. You couldn't because there was some kind of a pull. You're trying to listen to me, but you're just struggling a little bit because there's some kind of a gravitational pull. Something pulling on you. Pulling your mind away. Pulling your heart away. What is it that is at the center of your personal universe? Because any place that you look and you do not sense peace, feel peace, experience peace, it is highly likely that Jesus is not at the center of that situation.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Because they showed up in an area where they were about to be killed. They were about to be imprisoned. They were about to be persecuted, and Jesus says, "As long as I'm in the of this room, boys, we'll have peace. Peace be with you." Just for a minute, when you look at your life, is there peace in your energy right now? Or do you feel absolutely fatigued and worn out and like, "I don't know how much more I could take"?

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Is it possible that your schedule's off-center? Have you prioritized worship experiences? Whether it's in an auditorium, it's online, it's in a watch party. It's in a small group. It's in a time of prayer. It's in a time of Bible study. If you feel like peace is missing, look at that place with an honest, open, transparent evaluation and let the Holy Spirit help you to examine like, is this thing off center right now? Sometimes, we don't like the response. I can't tell you how many times in my own personal family that we have had to bring everything to the table and sit down for a minute and begin to evaluate like, "Why is there so much chaos in our lives, in this one particular area?" Without fail, every single time, if we're honest as a family, we come to the conclusion, "Wait a second. Somehow, this thing isn't centered on Jesus right now."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Over and over again. It's something that just requires constant evaluation. My son, man, the kid loves sports. Like loves it. The other day at 5:30 in the morning, the kid was up putting in 500 to 1,000 shots. He woke up the entire neighborhood, the ball bouncing and the rim riling like, "Kid, you can't do that at 5:30 in the morning. Everybody's going to hate us." But when I'm talking to him about sports, I constantly [inaudible 00:19:52] him down like, "Dawson, why do you want to be great?" "I want to win, dad." "Well, bless God. Hallelujah. Me too. I ain't much on a participation trophy. Let's win."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

But why do we want to win? I've learned when you're great at a sport, it makes it a little easier to lead a locker room. Makes it a little easier to lead a hallway. Gives you a little more influence in place that maybe you wouldn't have it. Like, "Hey, wait for a second, Dawson. If we're going to be great at this thing, then let's be great at this thing so that we can show other people how they can put Jesus at the center of their life and have peace in places they would not have had it otherwise."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

My daughter is crazy about entrepreneurial endeavors. I mean, she will drive you semi-crazy. We have to make her go to bed. Like, "Natalie, stop trying to sell something for a minute. Go to bed." She would sell everything in our house if we did not keep a close eye on her. True story. Sit the kid down. Like, "Natalie, listen to me a minute. Why do you want to be rich? Do you want a nice car? Do you want a nice house? Why do you want all these followers on Instagram? Why do you want these?"

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Because if you want to be rich for any other reason than to be a blessing to others and to the purpose of God in the Earth, you're missing it. If there's some part of your life that wants influence so you can feel better about yourself, then we're missing it. We got to get focused in on, wait a second. If we're going to have this influence, it is so that we can exemplify a Jesus-centered life and model what it looks like when things orbit around him. I'm telling you, hell can be breaking loose and there will still be peace.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I've watched it happen over and over again. I've walked into hospital rooms and saw somebody die, take their last breath, and grieving sweep over that room, and tears, and chaos of confusion of, "Why me? Why here? Why now?" Then all of a sudden the name of Jesus begin to be recognized and begin to be acknowledged and peace sweep through that place in a way that it literally passes total and complete understanding.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I've seen it happen in homes, where somebody finds out that they've been betrayed and their heart has been ripped out because of the sin of adultery that's coming to their house. And they just feel like how I even want to live. I feel like I've been so betrayed. Then they start singing about the name of Jesus, glorifying the name of Jesus, testifying, "My life is still going to be about Jesus." And some kind of peace come where broken hearts get put back together again. Over and over and over again I've watched people who cannot even afford a refrigerator bill, constant chaos in their finances, just one problem after another, and then they get the revelation of, "If I center this on Jesus, things that once we're dying, begin to live. Things that once were falling apart, begin to flourish."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

There's just power in putting Jesus at the center. I'm telling you, I can't make the point strong enough. If there is a place in your life where you do not have peace, look at that situation and evaluate, is Jesus really at the center? Is he really at the center? I've heard so many people ask this question. I've run into it casually. I've run into it on sidewalks. I've run into it in Walmart. I've run into it on social media. It showed up in my DMs. Over and over again people asking me, "Where do you think God is in all of this?"

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Well, I can tell you where he's at. He's where you put him. One of the most brilliant responses I've ever had, I mean, I've ever heard, about how God involves himself in culture came from the daughter of Billy Graham. She was asked, "If God loves America, why are we having all of these school shootings? If God loves America, why that kind of pain? Why that kind of chaos? Why would a loving God allow that?" Her response, we asked him to leave.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

We took the prayer out of schools and we took the 10 commandments off the walls. Don't blame God, if you ask him to leave. There's not a doubt in my mind that they would have been nations that would have been completely excluded from COVID if they'd have kept God at the center.

 

Congregation:

Amen.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I'm not saying persecution doesn't come. I'm not saying it doesn't rain on all. I'm just telling you, things look different when God is at the center. Even if hell is breaking loose and there's this dying and that dying, there's some kind of peace that can come to a nation, a culture, a home, and to you if you'll just push God at the center. Put him at the center, orbit around God. And so, I'm going to invite him to come and just play some music softly, and what I want us to do is, I feel this really strong in my heart and I just think it's so easy to get off-center. And I mean get off-center fast and not even realize that you're out of orbit.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I don't claim to be a scientist. Definitely not somebody who understands the galaxies, but you know sometimes what distinguishes a planet or a star from an asteroid? Is orbit. What distinguishes it from just being something that's going to just end in demise and being something that stays in place is orbit. Orbit that is in alignment with the gravitational pull of the sun. I wonder what would happen if the gravitational pull of the son, S-O-N Jesus, got a hold of us through the help of the Holy Spirit and all of those places where we were about to go out of orbit, all of those places where we about to revolve around the wrong things, that suddenly we just let God have His way in our life. Am I making sense to anybody in this room? Come on, put him at the center, put him at the center. That's fine. Give him praise. Put him at the center. Put him at the center. Put him at the center. Put him at the center.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You want to know where God's at in all this? He's wherever you put him, and it doesn't mean he's not still sovereign. It doesn't mean he's not still in charge. It doesn't mean he's not still going to have the final say. I'm talking about your life and how the effects of your life are unfolding. He's going to sovereignly have his way over it all in the end anyway, but there is so much about our lives that would miss destruction and chaos, and even have peace when that stuff does happen if we would just let Jesus have the center of our lives.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Father, I ask you in the name of Jesus, some of us need to feel a gravitational pull, a Holy Spirit pull, a tug on the inside of us, God, that brings us back into orbit, bring us back into alignment. God, some of us, if we are honest, if we are just totally willing to admit what's going on in our life, there are things that are completely off-center. Things that are in desperate need of realignment. God, we look. Those places are identified right now in our lives because it's the place we don't have peace. We just thank you, God, that you love us enough to show us that. That you love us enough to reveal that to us.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I got to ask you right now, any of us that are far from you, that we've just drifted out of orbit, pull us back in right now, as we surrender ourselves to you, as we invite your grace, as we thank you for the blood of Jesus that pays the price for us to have order. And God even shows us that, when we get to heaven, even heaven is centered upon you. That over and over again, God, there around the throne and everybody's just gathered around you, Jesus, right there at the center in heaven.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And then Lord, you even tell us in Revelation 21 that the thing you desire the most is that you would be able to dwell with men to be in the center of men. That's why you've made heaven, and yet you've told us that we can pray that heaven would be made manifest in Earth. So God, let heaven come down and the presence of Jesus be right in the center of our marriage, right in the center of our attempts to parent, right in the center of our finances, right in the center, God, of our businesses. God, in the center of our culture, our community, our nation. God, right in the center. We thank you, Lord. We thank you, Lord. We thank you, Lord.

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