Also view us on FACEBOOK:

View us on FACEBOOK:

Sunday, 29 July 2018


Rev. Brent Russett
By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor in the Ottawa area for the last 28 years
PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - 

Sunday, July 29th, 2018:

Peace in the Middle of Change
            Good morning Welcome to good news in the morning. I am so glad that you have tuned into the program today. My name is Brent Russett. I have been a pastor at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa for 28 years. I celebrated my last Sunday there at the end of June. It has been a privilege to be part of  such a wonderful church.

            This morning will be my last time on Good News in the Morning as well. I have been a part of this ministry since 2012. It has been a real honour to show how God’s word that was written a long time ago, connects with our world right now.

            This program is kept on the air by many faithful donors. I want to thank this morning’s program sponsor Bruce Newman. Bruce would like to give a shout out to Jericho Road Christian Ministries as a local registered charity, for their outstanding service to the community.” Jericho road is a great ministry in our area that works to see people’s lives changed. Thanks Bruce and thanks Jericho Road.

            While I am stepping back from the microphone, Good News in the Morning will continue – and it is a ministry worth supporting.

            So, this is my last sermon on Good News in the Morning.---- I through of trying to say something profound. Then I thought, yea Brent, good luck with that. I am wise enough to know that trying to be profound is a recipe for syrupy sentimentality.

            It thought of the great good bye sermon that Paul preached to the Ephesian elders in the book of Acts. He reviewed the ministry – and it is a rousing farewell speech. Now it was even more poignant because Paul thinks he is going to die, and he tells the people from Ephesus that he will never see them again. But at the end of that speech everyone ends up crying. A farewell sermon like that on the radio would just be weird.  

            So Then I settled on this thought, why not say something helpful: Something helpful for you and also something helpful for me. This morning I want to talk about change.

            Life is about change. It seems like the only constant in life is change. Life is going to change for me, although I this point in time, I have no idea what shape that change is going take. Life is going to change for you. We live in a world where change is inevitable.

            Some people embrace change. Some people hate change. Some people avoid change, but change comes to us all whether or not we are ready for it.  We – you and I- are headed into change.

            The thing about change is that it is not all that predictable. Some change is for the better. Some change is for the worse. The reality is, often times you don’t know how things are going to turn out, until you are way into the change.

            And here is the thing about the unknown. – It causes tension. It causes stress. It causes anxiety. For some people it will cause excitement and exhilaration – and that is cool – but even in that excitement we know there is risk. So this morning I want to talk about Peace in the middle of change.
            I want to take you to my favourite passage of scripture when it comes to seasons of change.

Philippians 4:4–7 (NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

            Now before I walk you through these verses, let me just remind you about the Word of God. How you approach it will determine what you take from it. Some people read the bible like they would read the Ontario Driver’s Manual. They see in it, step by step instructions on how to live.

            Now if you approach the bible as an operating manual for life, it will really effect how you approach these particular verses. Here is what you will get.

The subject is peace. We are going into change and I need peace. So verse 6 says, Do not be anxious about anything. Instruction #1. - I'm going to stop worrying. I’m not sure how you do that, but maybe if I follow the rest of the instructions it will help.

 What's next. in everything by prayer, - Instruction #2.  I guess I had better pray. Dear God I need to stop worrying and start praying and I know that prayer is talking to you. So here I am praying. Lord help us in the change. Ok. I met that condition.

            What's next. Instruction #3. It says by prayer and petition. And I know the KJV uses the word supplication, which means to humbly beg. Dear God I beg you to answer  my prayer. Lord help the change to go well.

            Instruction #4 - The next part of the verse says, with thanksgiving. God I praise you for your character and for who you are.

Ok - I have met all the conditions. I have completed the list of instructions. If this were a car I would be driving by now. So, I should be cruising through life.  Here is the promise: The peace of God which transcends all understanding should be mine.

            You know, as a set of instructions on life, those aren’t bad. But I don’t know about you, but I have never found formulas really helpful in my Christian walk. God is not a vending machine where we plug in the right actions and out pops the fulfilled promise.

            God is not a puzzle to be solved. I think we miss so much if we approach the bible as an ‘operator’s manual’.
            One of the things that we know about God is that he is first and foremost a relational God. Before the world began, before anything that is, was made, God himself lived in the community of the Trinity. There is on-going awesome relationship between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are full of love, and purpose and life. The bible tells us that there is this ongoing communication between the members of the trinity.

            God is first and foremost relational. Then he created humans. And God has shown over and over again that He wants to walk in relationship with us. The whole point of Christ’s death on the cross, is that we were estranged from God, but God wanted to make a way where we can have a personal relationship with him. God wants to walk in relationship with us. God is a relational God.

            He invites you into relationship with him. The reality is that we are estranged from God. Our relationship with him was broken because of sin. Sin does all kinds of bad things to us, the worst of which is that it kills us. We are spiritually dead, God is fully alive. God wants a relationship with us, but He is Spirit and he can’t have a relationship with something that is dead.

            So, what he did is make a way by Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin to be dealt with, but not only that for us to raised to life again. When we come to God and say Lord I know that I have sinned and that I am spiritually dead, but your promise is that if I would give my life to you, if I would receive you into my life and ask you to forgive me of my sin that you would. Not only that, you would make me spiritually alive. Lord so that is what I do ask, Lord I give my life to you, come into my life, forgive me of my sin, I am going to follow you. If you do that trusting that God will do what he said he would do – you are made spiritually alive.

            Now back to our passage, What if, instead of a drivers operating manual, we approached the bible like letters from our awesome God and Father, with whom we were estranged, but have now been reconciled to. He has made us alive, but we are kind of like spiritual newborns. We don’t really know how to live, but we are learning to trust him. We are learning to count on him. These letters are about learning to live in relationship with him.

            What would happen if we approached this passage from a relational point of view.

Philippians 4:4 (NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

            All way through the book of Philippians Paul has been urging the church to rejoice in the Lord. The word rejoice, is the word that is often translated Joy. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy. – same word. It has this idea of deep wellbeing.

            It says have this deep sense of well-being in the Lord. Take joy in the Lord. Paul is urging us to revel in our relationship with God. He urging us to celebrate what the Lord has done for us. We have this great sense of well-being knowing who we are and whose we are. We have been forgiven. We have been brought into a relationship with God. We have been adopted into his family. Be glad about that, take pleasure in that. Rejoice in the Lord.

            Celebrate your relationship with Jesus. I use to see this verse as primarily talking about worship. Lord I thank you for my salvation. Lord I thank you for who you are. There certainly is an element of that. But reveling in the Lord, is more than just word – it kind has this wow factor.

            It is like, I can’t believe how gracious and merciful God is when I blow it. When I have sinned. It is incredible that he wants to involve me in his plans and purpose for this world. It is incredible that he takes the time to work with me to restore his image in me. He has made me alive. He invites me to walk with Him -

            The Bible says, I am in Christ and Christ is in God. Therefore, I have been invited right into the heart of the trinity. My spirit is surrounded by who God is and goodness is swirling all around me. There is this profound relationship that goes beyond our understanding with the God of the universe.

            Again, rejoicing in the Lord is about reveling in whose you are and who you are in Him. I would say this. Often times this is easy to do when you first come to know Jesus because everything is so new. Everything is a fresh revelation.

            After we have been walking with Jesus for a while, we kind of just take for granted that we are part of the family. And we will go through phases where the worship songs aren’t expressing our heart any more. We lose the wonder of our salvation.

            I have been there. But the issue is not that we have learned everything there is to learn, and seen everything there is to see – the issue is that we have failed to explore the fulness of the salvation that is ours.

            I am stilled wowed by what God has done after 50 years of following him. But in those dry times, don’t get proud and think you know it all or have seen it all- Your heart just isn’t soft enough, or big enough to see further into the riches of your salvation. But if you keep on pushing into it, it will come. Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again rejoice.

MUSIC – May the Peace of God – Stuart Townsend. 3:18

Philippians 4:5 (NIV)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

            Let your gentleness be evident to all. This is kind of one of those side notes. Paul is just about to tell us what it takes to walk in peace. A few verses earlier he says this to two women in the church.

Philippians 4:2 (NIV)
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.

            There is some drama going on between these two women. And sometimes in the middle of circumstances where things are changing some of us have propensity towards drama. Paul says, if you want peace, let you gentleness be evident to all. Here is my interpretation of that. As much as it lies within your power, don’t be part of the drama. I could rift on this for a while, but I don’t have time.

            The verse goes onto say, “The Lord is near.”  If you are going to understand these verses as relational, then you are going to have to understand this The Lord is near.

            I know there are times in your life where it feels like God is far away. I know that here are in life, where I seems like God is distant. But here is the truth – despite how it feels, despite how it seems, the Lord is near. Will you trust God’s word instead of your feelings.

            If you can trust God’s word in this, despite what you feel, or the circumstances going on in your life – it will make a powerful difference in your life. The Lord is near.

            Theologically, you know that God is near, because he is everywhere present. Scripturally, you know that God is near. Jesus said, just before he left this world, “Lo I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” Experientially, you sometime sense that God is so close and other times not so much. But trust the word of God. – The Lord is near.

            If the Lord is near, and God is a relational God you have what it takes to meet the challenges of the day.

            Here is what we need to know. In the changes that come – the Lord is near. In the questions that will inevitably arise, the Lord is near. In working through complicated issues that will inevitably present themselves, the Lord is near.

            It is out of that relationship, it is out of the fact that God is near, that Paul writes these next words.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

            You see if approach scripture as a rule based operating manual, then you hear the command -don’t be anxious – and you think well that is nice – as if my anxiety is a choice. So you think, I am going to try not to worry about it – but if you are worried you are worried.

            But if this is really about relationship, then Paul is saying, the all-powerful God of the universe is near – so instead of anxiety – push into your relationship about everything that is going on around you.

            Pray about every situation – the Lord is near. You are walking through life together with God. --God I’m concerned about this. Lord I’m worried about that. Lord I see this change coming, and I don’t know what shape the future will take.  If there is an ongoing conversation between you and God,  - if you are praying about everything, you start to get that God has got your life and the circumstances of your life in His hands.

            It says prayer and petition. Petition is really asking God for what you want. Prayer is like, God I don’t really know what to do in this situation. Lord would you help me. Would you do something here.

            Petition is more like specifically asking for what you want. Lord I would like you to do this…. I would like you to provide someone who could help me spiritually.--- Lord in the middle of these changes, I would love to see our church be healthy so that we can reach more people for you. Lord in the middle of these changes, would you show up time after time as we meet for worship so that there will be no doubt that you are at work. Petition is asking humbly for what you want.

            Now that does not mean that God is going to give you everything you ask for. But I will tell you this, he really wants to give you as much good as you can handle. If he says no, to your specific request now, it is only because he has bigger and better yes in your future.

            Paul goes, on  Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

            With thanksgiving. If it is about relationship – then you can’t treat God as vending machine. Give me, Give me, give me. It is about relationship.

            Remember who you are, and what God has done in your life – give thanks. Remember whose you are – you have been adopted into the family of God. You have been loved by God. Remember whose you are and give thanks. Remember what God has done in your past and give thanks. Think about what you have to be thankful for right now.

            If you do this, if you focus on the relationship, if you pray about the stuff that is going on around you, if you tell God what you want him to do – well, God is near. And here is what will happen

Philippians 4:7 (NIV)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

            This is God’s promise to you. His peace that goes beyond what will make sense to you – will guard your heart and minds.

            This maybe the most Canadian verse in the bible. The idea behind guard your heart is the peace of God will goaltend you heart. Imagine peace as a fully equipped hockey goaltender. When life shoots difficult questions, or too much activity, or stress about the future. The peace of God guards your heart.

            The peace of God doesn’t stop the complexities of life from happening, it just guards your heart and your mind. It doesn’t stop difficult situations from arising. It just guards your heart and your mind.

            And here is the thing, to navigate change well, to face the future well, you most important asset is a good heart and a clear mind. It is when our hearts get twisted up with stress and our minds get fogged over with overwhelming situations – that we don’t live well in the middle of change.

            But people, the lord is near. You are in relationship to him. Talk to him. Pray to him. Ask him for what you want. Celebrate what he has done. Why, because God is big enough to handle our futures. God is big enough to handle our problems. God is big enough to handle our issues. And when we learn that – the peace of God protects our hearts and our minds. 


Lord, I want to thank you for your peace, that comes to us wherever we’re at. Lord, help us to pray about everything and to remember that you are near. Thank you, Lord, for your closeness.
Lord, we pray these things in your name. Amen.

            And thank you for listening to Good News in the morning.  And thanks again Bruce Newman and your salute to Jericho Road ministries for sponsoring today’s ministry. This program is on the air by the grace of God and donations of many faithful people.

            My name is Brent Russett, and it has been a privilege to bring you Good News in the morning.

By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor in the Ottawa area for 28-years: 
PODCAST LINK to the CFRA broadcast: