Raw Emotions in Painful Experiences

Learning To Go To God When You Are Dealing With Pain.

Ross Sawyers
Oct 4, 2020    55m
Where should you turn when you experience painful emotions? This message of encouragement shares how Jeremiah dealt with his raw and painful emotions, and teaches us that when we are dealing with pain, God is always here with us and for us. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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.

Ross Sawyers: 00:06 I love that we have these opportunities to worship together. All over the world, this is not necessarily the case, and it's a gift we want to always be grateful for when we can freely gather to worship.

Ross Sawyers: 00:19 One phrase that I think, or one combination of words that perhaps we haven't thought about much until the last few months is, are these two words, cancel culture. All of a sudden we started seeing things happen and hearing this phrase of cancel culture. And one person commented recently that cancel culture has really always been a thing, it's not a new something. It's just something that perhaps is given more of a label, and more clarity, in these past several months. And this is what this person said, all cultures cancel, the question is for what? Why is it that certain things get canceled out in a culture? It's the kinds of things that people want to hear, the things they don't want to hear. There's a particular language we're supposed to use, and particular things we're not supposed to say. And sometimes people ask me how they can pray for me, and what I've not asked. And I'd just say today, if you pray for me, one of the things you can pray is that I won't say something stupid. I live in fear that I'm going to say something the wrong way, or use the wrong phrase, and then I become fodder for everyone out there, whoever the two people are that pay attention to me. But I'm prone to saying things, if I get off what I've planned, it gets me in trouble. Ideally, if you are going to get canceled out for something, what we would like to get canceled out for is something that's worthwhile, something that means something.

Ross Sawyers: 02:12 Jeremiah is the prophet where we've been hanging out in these few weeks, and in chapter 20 of Jeremiah, if you want to turn your Bibles to Jeremiah 20, what we'll find is they're trying to cancel him out. They're trying to cancel out the message that he has for the people of God. We'll be in Jeremiah 20 in just a few minutes.

Ross Sawyers: 02:35 I want to give a real clear picture of where we are and what we're doing. I think this is a crucial point of the semester for everyone to be involved, whether you're new or just getting started here or you've been here for a while, and whether you're online or whether you're in person, we've been thinking about the underground church. Just to give clarity, the underground church is happening in parts of the world that are hostile to Christianity, and they're not able to gather like we are. And they gather in places that are in secret, and trying to hide from the government, from those who are spying on them simply because they're following and worshiping Jesus. So when we talk about the underground church, that's what we're talking about. It's happening in China, Iran right now, it's exploding in a really cool way in Iran, the church is, North Korea, places like that. They are literally meeting in secret so they won't be found out and imprisoned or other things happen to them. Other places across the world are simply hostile to the faith. And so when we think about persecuted Christians, there's people being persecuted all over the country, and all over the world, multiple countries that are following after Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 04:00 And the reason we're doing this is that these are our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you're a Christian, God is gathering up people to be a family, every tribe, tongue people, nation, and that's our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. We're localized here where we gather, and we're part of something far bigger than us, and it matters that we're involved with family all over the world. We can learn from those who are being persecuted. One, we can learn how to pray for them, as we hear different stories about them and become aware. Two, we can learn how to thrive in a culture that is increasingly hostile towards Christians. And it seems to me, that's amping up in our country, not slowing down. And we can learn from people all over the world in some of the harshest places, how we can best thrive with joy, and with life in the midst of times where there's persecution.

Ross Sawyers: 05:11 We're also implementing into our culture at 121, what we're calling the eight ways. And in the world, in the persecuted church, all over the world they're doing certain things to disciple and lead their people when they're following Christ. And we took what they're doing, and we changed it up a little bit, that we felt like fit our culture. And that's what we're doing in our life groups right now, and we've invited everybody as much as we know how. By now, you're probably thinking, will you quit talking about that every week? And I probably won't, because it's just so critical to me for where we're headed. I don't see this as just something we're doing this semester while we're talking about the underground church, we are intending to embed this in the fabric of who we are at 121. And why would we do that? One of the things we're trying to do is make sure that we understand that what Jesus was about, is making disciples. And not only was He about making disciples, once we're a disciple and a disciple is a learner or a follower. And once we become a learner, a follower of Jesus, then he intends for us to make disciples of other people. That's every Christian, that's not simply some Christians, it's every Christian. And this is a way that we can help everyone best be able to become a follower of Jesus, and then also to lead other people as well. This would be for people who are not believers, it would be a great way to lead someone in this, so see what it means to be a follower of Christ. It would be a great opportunity for new believers, so they can really get embedded in the core things of our faith. And it's great for mature Christians because it embeds in us what those core trees are, and we turn around and teach others, and we really don't know what we know until we try to teach it someone else, and that's what we're attempting to do. We don't want our life groups to be seen where the leader is just a facilitator or a guide, but to understand that any small group we've been entrusted with are people that Christ died for, and that we have the opportunity to lead and become more like Jesus, more in the character of Christ, more in the ways of Christ, more than the purposes of Christ. And if you don't lead a group like that, you can lead someone one-on-one that way, or one on two that way, or your family that way. And that's what we're attempting to do.

Ross Sawyers: 08:04 For those who have started, I'm gonna say this it'll make sense to no one else, it'll make sense to you. Some have asked the question, why did we start with the eight ways, the first one being, make disciples. Well in your work worlds, this is a hunch that I have. I'm not in your work world, so I don't know that, but I think this is true. When someone is training you or teaching you, this is where you're headed, they'll begin with the end in mind. They'll say to you, this is where we're headed, this is why we're doing this training. So that was the idea, the end in mind is to make disciples who are making disciples. And we want you to know that upfront, that's what we're doing, and now we have a path that we're following to do it. There'd be a number of ways to do this, this would be a way to do it. And one of the most crucial pieces of this is to practice, in the group, with someone outside of the group, and then to come back and talk about it in the group. That's what we've been talking about these few weeks.

Ross Sawyers: 09:14 Now, interestingly, and I'm sure I probably shouldn't do this, but I just want to be honest. If I'm anything with our church, I'm honest. And I've been really surprised by a number of people who've basically canceled us out with this idea. And that's a bummer actually, because we believe this is where God is leading us as a church, and we want to all go together. I live in this utopian world that somehow, if this is where God is leading us, that we all do it. I just want to encourage you if you've canceled us out on this idea, saying, you know what. I'm not doing that. I just want to ask you to reconsider, and to rethink, and to get in on what we believe God is doing among us. Let me tell you where it's going great, and it's going great in most places. And it takes a little while for it to start sinking in what we're doing, there's aha moments.

Ross Sawyers: 10:12 But one group of ladies in our church, their life group. I want to give you a picture of what's happened in their group, they've really taken this and said, all right, we're in. And as far as who they're going to lead, so they're being led by their leader, and then they're turning around and leading other people. And one of them asked their coworker, who grew up in a Catholic church, but now is asking questions and seeking. And I asked that coworker, would you let me practice this with you, and lead this with you? And they're doing it together, so it's someone and their coworker. Another one, and these are adults, so she's an adult daughter. She asked her mom, if she could do this with her, and so now you have an adult daughter who is walking through a discipling path with her mother. And then another one has two friends she's walking with, one's of another faith, and one believes there's a higher power, but she's willing to walk through this to see what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And still another asked a sibling if they would do it, and the sibling laughed at her, but then the next day actually came back. And while I didn't agree to do the eight ways, he did ask her to pray. He's in law enforcement, he said, would you pray for safety for me? And then her dad who sees what God is doing in her through the life groups she's in, through the church. He got baptized or is being baptized this morning at another church, he's inspired by what he's seeing happening in his daughter's life. And then another one in that group asked her boyfriend if she could do this with him, and so she's going through it with her boyfriend. How cool is that? It's not only a group of people that are being led in something, they're being led, they're practicing, then they're going out and they're leading other people. That's how things multiply, when multiple people are getting after it.

Ross Sawyers: 12:08 We'd like to offer this if you're not in a life group, Eric Estes, he leads our whole community staff, is going to lead a group of people, anybody that will be interested in learning these eight ways. And so there's still a chance, I think we're going to put it on the screen. If you would like to do that, if you'll just text and tell us, Hey, that's what I'd like to do. Or just let us know somehow, and I think there's still a great opportunity for the rest of this semester, if you are willing to jump in. So that's an opportunity just to get with people, this is what we're going to do, and then we hope then from there that you'd move out to different life groups from there.

Ross Sawyers: 12:48 Now you're wondering to yourself, what does that have to do with Jeremiah 20? Well, it has a lot to do with it, leading people in following Jesus and following hard after God can be really hard. It can be hard on pastors, it can be hard on ministers, on a staff. It can be hard on life group leaders who are leading small group of people. It can be hard on people who believe God has led them to lead somebody One-On-One to be a follower of Jesus. It can be hard in multiple aspects of leading people. And Jeremiah is one of God's prophets, and he found himself in incredibly difficult and painful situations. And the beauty of what we see with Jeremiah, is he doesn't keep that to himself? Sometimes we get the idea, and we don't usually see, or oftentimes see the raw emotions of people that are walking through painful experiences. And sometimes people will not express those, sometimes they don't get express to God. Because we've been taught that it's not okay to be angry with God, or that it's not okay to express a hurt towards God, it's not okay to express sadness or despair to God. Some people have lived in a realm where they've been told that that's not what they can do. But in Jeremiah 20, we see this full range of emotion running through the prophet.

Ross Sawyers: 14:38 Some have referred to Jeremiah as the weeping prophet I think, and as someone else said, I think that's really unfair because I don't know how tough a man has to be to preach for 40 years and have the majority of most everybody not liking what you have to say and still doing it. And yet we also get to see the emotions of the prophet, and I think that's helpful for us in a day where we experienced such a wide range of emotions and what we can learn from Jeremiah. Now, I'm going to be thinking in context of a man who is being faithful to God, and he's being persecuted and humiliated because of that faithfulness. I would say today, it's fair principally to think about other situations that might be painful experiences, and the same kind of emotions that flow in those experiences. And my hope is you'll be encouraged from the scriptures about our emotions, and I've just kind of themed this, raw emotions and painful experiences. And that it's okay, and I actually believe the God finds it refreshing when his people come to him with their raw and real emotions in painful times.

Ross Sawyers: 16:12 So we start with humiliation in chapter 20 verses 1 through 6, and this is in context of Jeremiah 18, 19 and 20 could be thought of together, these three chapters. One of them we talked about last week, we talked about chapter 18, the potter. And God is likened to the potter who is shaping the clay, the clay spoiled, it's a rebellious kind of clay and he reshapes it, he's remolding it. In chapter 19, Jeremiah goes and buys an earthenware pot, and he takes several leaders with him outside the city, and he makes a point. Now, last week, I showed you the video of me at a potter's house in grapevine, and it was a pathetic performance on my part with the potter. But she was very gracious, so it was a picture of a gracious potter. And she saved me, she spared me, and I left sitting up here, a little cup, it's all the clay that was left after I'd ruined the majority of it, and I had that right here. I was leaving last Sunday and I walked around there and it fell out of my hand, and this is what happened. So it was already a bad job, and then Christ spared me from ever having to look at it again, that could be the positive spin of looking at that. But this, in Jeremiah 19, is what he did, he took a pot and in front of all these leaders, he took it and he threw it on the ground, busted it. And what he said was, judgment is coming, and there won't be any turning back now, this pot won't be repaired.

Ross Sawyers: 18:04 In Amos, one of the prophets, he said to the people in the eighth century, the lion has roared. When he said the line is roared, what he meant was judgment is coming and it's not changing now. Do you know what happens when the lion roars? It freezes its prey, it's over with the moment the lion roars, even before he attacks the prey, because he's done. Jeremiah is saying judgment is coming, you've been stubborn, you've refused, you've rebelled, it's too late. He delivers that sobering message, and this is the response of the religious leaders to him, "When Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things..." So he heard him, he heard that message of what he had done. "Pashhur had Jeremiah..." And Pashhur was a priest, he was a religious leader. And he would have been responsible for the temple, to make sure everything was right in the temple, he also would have handled the troublemakers. So now he's handling Jeremiah, how did he do it? "He had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate, which was by the house of the LORD." He had Jeremiah was, he was beaten and then he had him put in the stocks. The stocks would be any kind of device, and a number of us have seen pictures, whatever of these devices. And somehow, you know, his arms would have been here, he'd been in a slumped or cramped position, his body distorted, and then looking out. And he would have been this way for several hours when he was put in the stocks.

Ross Sawyers: 19:56 So they beat him, and they put him in the stocks at the upper Benjamin Gate, that was a prominent location in Jerusalem. So it wasn't like they beat him and then put him aside somewhere where nobody could see, they humiliated him, and they put him right there in a place where all kinds of people would come by. And based on what we see in the rest of this chapter, they weren't coming by saying, man, way to stand for your faith, Jeremiah, good job. Way to hang in there with everybody, thank you for standing firm with us and for us. No, they would have been coming by taunting him, laughing at him, mocking him, making fun of him, humiliating him. It would be like if one of us went in the middle of South Lake town square on a busy Saturday, and then we were just publicly chastised for something that we stood for in our faith. Or maybe today, the stocks are more like a social media platform. That if someone chooses to graciously, and note my words graciously, make stands for Christ in social media, that becomes a public stomping ground on your belief and mine. Jesus was no stranger to this either. In Luke 22:63-65, he was taken into custody, he was mocked, he was beaten, he was blindfolded, and he was falsely accused. And that just began what would happen to him? Humiliation, with Jesus it was a mob, it was mob justice. With Jeremiah was the priest, and then it was the mob coming around him. On our streets today, we have that same kind of mob justice being advocated. It's not right decades ago, it's not right today. This is the kind of humiliation that Jeremiah was experiencing.

Ross Sawyers: 22:33 Several years ago, in 2004, we went on a vision trip to India to see how we could get involved in partner on mission with different ministries in India. And you know, it was '04, and I've not forgotten this since. I asked one of the guys that we were going to partner in ministry with, I said, what is the persecution like in India? I said, does it happened often, or? He said, laughingly, he said to me, that's just part of it. If you trust and follow Jesus, you will be persecuted, that's just part of the deal. He said, all of our church planters, they've been beaten, they've been persecuted, they've been made fun of, that's just what happens. This was in '04, now it's much worse in India, it's gotten worse than the last few years, the persecution of Christians. But humiliated, simply because they're following Jesus.
Ross Sawyers: 23:32 Now, I don't know about you, but the next day in verse 3, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, if I'd been in those things for a day or 24 hours, whatever the timeframe was I'm not sure I would have done what Jeremiah does, he comes out firing at Pashhur. If a man had just put me in the stocks and then I was released, I think I would want to get out of there and get a little break. But that's not what Jeremiah did, he said, “Pashhur is not the name the LORD has called you, but rather Magor-missabib." Which means terror on every side. He said, this is what you are Pashhur, you're a terror on every side. And he said, “For thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am going to make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and while your eyes look on, they will fall by the sword of their enemies. So I will give over all Judah to the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will carry them away as exiles to Babylon and will slay them with the sword." You're a terror on every side, and you're going to see your country fall, and that happens in 586, 587 BC, right in that timeframe. "I will also give over all the wealth of this city, all its produce and all its costly things; even all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give over to the hand of their enemies, and they will plunder them, take them away and bring them to Babylon." You, your friends, the city, your treasures, everything you've got, everything will be handed over your enemies. "And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into captivity; and you will enter Babylon, and there you will die and there you will be buried." And that would have been a humiliation for a Hebrew, to be buried in an unclean land. "You and all your friends to whom you've falsely prophesied."

Ross Sawyers: 25:25 I don't know what to say about Jeremiah, courageous guy. To look the man in the face, that just puts you in the stocks, and tell him you're a terror on every side, and this is what's about to happen to you, and he talks about his false prophesying. Now, if you'll note, Jesus, whenever he encountered false teaching, he didn't have any use for that. Now a woman caught in adultery, grace filled his eyes in love for her, to be free. But a false teacher, no, you hypocrite, you whitewashed tomb. You looked him in the eye, he had no use for it. Why? Cause a little leaven leavens, the whole lump of dough. You add false teaching in, and it starts to pervade all the truths, you don't let any of that in.

Ross Sawyers: 26:27 Paul did the same, he didn't have any use for false teaching. He actually wrote to Timothy and said in chapter 4, verses 3 and 4 of Second Timothy, "That there'll be a day when people won't endure sound doctrine, where they'll want their ears tickled, they'll accumulate teachers for their own desires. They'll turn their ears from truth to myths." That was happening in Jeremiah's day, it was happening in Jesus's day, and it's happening in our day, where churches more and more by the day are crumbling and faltering to the truth, and instead adopting the way of the culture with the hope that they'll survive. And people will go to those churches because they want their ears tickled, and while they'll call Christ a myth, they're the ones that are turning to the myth away from the truth. Sound doctrine, truth loaded with grace. Could I just encourage you today? Bible studies that you do, to be really careful about what Bible studies you choose, that people are writing, that you do your research on who's writing those studies. There's studies out right now, popular studies on the issues of the day, that are cloaked with scripture and they're teaching false teaching. If you're not sure how to discern that, ask someone until you figure out, is this reliable teaching? Is this good for me to study or not study? That's a concern I have today for Christians, with so much on the market, there are so many things that are off and they take off like wildfire behind popular kinds of people.

Ross Sawyers: 28:24 Well, we move out of here and we see Jeremiah being humiliated, and then we see this flow of emotion start to go, and the first thing we see is mad. And I want to note, when we go through this part that he's expressing his emotions to God, he's not going to 45 other people and expressing those emotions and what he thinks about God and what he thinks about is going on, he goes to God to express them. He's coming to God, and God has really big shoulders and he can handle it, he can handle it. And he brings it to him, and he brings his anger, he's mad. In verse 7, "O LORD, You have deceived me and I was deceived." Can you imagine? I mean, have you ever just said that to God? You know what, God, you deceived me, that word means seduced or lured. God you've lured me into something, and now this is what I'm catching for it. So he's not happy about it, he's accusing God of seducing or luring him, enticing him into something that's done nothing but create problems. "You've overcome me and prevailed." You've overpowered me, you've made me do this. You've enticed me, now you've overpowered me. He's honest, and he says, look, "I have become a laughingstock all day long." You called me in my mother's womb, now I'm a laughingstock. I don't walk down the street and people respect me, people value me, people look at me and say, wow, that is a real man of God right there. No, they laugh at mem they taunt me, they make fun of me. I'm a laughing stock, humiliated, not happy about it. "Everyone mocks me." Not just a few people, everyone mocks me. That's what it feels like to him, everyone mocks me, and he's hurt, he's confused, and he's expressing that to God.

Ross Sawyers: 30:27 Verse 8, "For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the LORD has resulted in reproach and derision all day long." When I talk about God, when I talk about his word, Jeremiah says, when I talk about these things, all it's getting me is reproach. All it is doing is getting people to not like me, it's getting people to not like what I have to say. I'm bringing this message of judgment and destruction, and if people would repent, they could be brought out of it. But nobody's repenting, they're not buying what I'm bringing. But listen to the tension, look at what goes on in him, just the tension within him. On one hand, God, you've deceived me, you've brought me into this. But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it." There's a tension within him, and in that tension is such that he can't do anything, but say what God has given him. He can't do anything, but share that message. It's harder not to speak than it is to speak. It's that tension we feel, if you're ever in those moments, thinking, I know I should say something about Jesus right here. And then I'm thinking, well, no, I don't think it's going to go so well. So then I choose not to say, there's this tension in there. And then the hope would be that we'd be like Jeremiah, that'd be such a fire in our hearts that can't be shut up in our bones.

Ross Sawyers: 32:09 The songs we sang earlier, that one of them we sang for the first time today here, it's called Rattle. And man, if we catch what it's saying, they said they can make dead men walk again. You catch what he's saying there, and you're thinking, well, I haven't seen a dead man walk again. Oh yeah, you have, you're looking at them right now. You're looking at dead men and women in this room that are walking again. What do you mean? C S Lewis said this, "Jesus didn't come to die on the cross, and then God raised him from the dead, to make bad people nice people. What we know God did, is he came to make dead people in their hearts, alive people, that's what he came to do. And that's the miracle in the room today, any person whose heart is dead in sin and made alive in Christ, it's a miracle, it's only something God can do. And once we experienced that, there's something within us that can't shut up. There's something within us that's willing to be humiliated, there's something within us that's willing to say the thing, even when we think it's not going to go well.

Ross Sawyers: 33:31 In verse 10, "For I have heard the whispering of many, “Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!” All my trusted friends, watching for my fall, say: “Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him.”. Now here's Jeremiah who said to Pashhur, your name is terror on every side. And yet, Jeremiah is experiencing terror on every side. There's whispers about him, his friends are turning on him. In China today, Christianity is being suppressed and stifled, it has for decades. And there was a period there where it lightened up, and now it's tightened again on them. People that aren't Christians are encouraged, and actually paid, to report, quote, illegal religious activities, that would be gathering up like this. And oftentimes gatherings like this are broken up by police who come in and confiscate everything. They'll arrest the pastor, his wife, they're taking photos and videos of people gathering together. They have facial recognition technology, you know like where we get our temperature checked in places, camera surveillance is everywhere. There's terror on every side for the Chinese Christian, they don't know who is watching them, they know somebody is. I wonder if they feel like Jeremiah sometimes.

Ross Sawyers: 35:39 I'm reading a book called God's smuggler, by Brother Andrew, is the one who wrote it. That's later, he started going by brother Andrew. But on page 146 of the book, he actually would deliver Bibles and encourage churches behind the iron curtain. Depending on where you are in your history, for the communist countries they were said to have an iron curtain, and the thought was that you couldn't get behind it. So someone that was not from East Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia, you couldn't get into the country. It's like an iron curtain, you couldn't get through. But some people were able to get through, and Brother Andrew was one of those. And he was in East Germany, and a German Christian said to him under persecution, a man looks at his faith to see if it's worth fighting for, and this is a scrutiny Christianity can always withstand. Under persecution, he said, this is a man behind the iron curtain being persecuted for his faith. But this is where you find it's worth fighting for, when it comes under persecution, and Christianity can withstand this scrutiny, it has for centuries. So as hostility amps up in the coming months and years towards Christians, it's a chance to see if we believe Christ is worth fighting for, is it worth being loyal to him or not? Jeremiah will emerge out of this, and God is worth it to him. He expresses anger, raw emotion to God. Keep in mind, when we think about anger or emotions, our emotions have been affected by sin, just like every other part of this. Sometimes there's a righteous anger, probably for most of us, it's not a righteous anger, it's a sinful anger. We bring it to God, we let him take it. let him walk us through it.

Ross Sawyers: 37:44 Now look what Jeremiah does, it's crazy. He's mad at God, he's saying all these things to him, and then he shifts emotionally. Now he's glad, in verse 11, he says, "But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, with an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten." The Lord is with me like a dread champion. He knows that God is the champion, he knows that. He knows that the Lord is his defender. He knows that the Lord is his protector. He knows that he's his provider. He knows he's worth it. And he shifted gears here, he's glad the Lord is with me like a dread champion. I would say today that if you know Jesus Christ, that what we know is the one who is the champion, he's the one that a defeated sin, he's defeated death, he's defeated Satan. He's the Victor, we've already won.

Ross Sawyers: 38:43 It's like the University of Alabama. I was reflecting on them yesterday. And if you watch Alabama football, they believe they're the champion, it is a different kind of athlete on that team, and they walk on the field differently, they play differently, than most anybody else in the country. Those young men believe, before they ever step on that field, that they've won that game. There's not a doubt in their mind. And you know what? The University of Alabama is mostly five star recruits, and then four star recruits, that's the top athletes in the country. And do you know what's the beauty of being in God's family and on his side, he takes a bunch of one star recruits that nobody wants, and he makes them champions. So that we're victors in him, and we overcome in him. And when we step on the field, we've already won because Jesus won, we have our victory in him. "Yet, O LORD of hosts," Verse 12, You who test the righteous, who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; for to You I have set forth my cause." He said, just look at my heart, God, I want you to see my heart. And then I want you to take vengeance, my prayer is vengeance on them. my prayer is vengeance on those who are coming at me.

Ross Sawyers: 40:24 And we find in Romans 12, "Vengeance is not for us to take, God will do that. He will either rescue people out of darkness, bring them into light, or he'll bring vengeance, it will happen." But we trust God with that. Jeremiah is trusting God with it. And then he says, "Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord." This is a man who was mad at God, just a few verses earlier, now he singing to the Lord, praise the Lord, now he's breaking into a song. "For He has delivered the soul of the needy one from the hand of evildoers." It's like Colossians 3:16, when we were told to sing with thankfulness in our hearts to God. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." And that's what's happened, there's something in him that now he's moved to a gladness and a praise to him.

Ross Sawyers: 41:22 Open Doors is ministry we've referenced that works with the persecuted and underground church, all over the world. And one of their videos, I was hoping we could watch it today, we have the link to it. So if you have a, if you want to take a picture of it if you want the link, you're welcome to do so. Or go to open doors, and you can find it. But in a village in India a tribal chief trusted Jesus, and then his family did the same, and shortly thereafter, all of them were killed because of their faith. This was not too long ago. And the guy who telling the story then sings a song and the video, he sings it in Hindi. I have decided, I've decided to follow Jesus, though none go with me, no turning back. I still will follow, resolved to follow Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 42:22 Why would someone give up their life and their family for Jesus? Well, in Colossians chapter 2 verse 13, it says, "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him." I talked about it a few minutes ago, we were dead and he made us alive, having forgiven us all our transgressions. We're made alive when we're forgiven, and we're freed up. And how did that happen? Well, there was a cancel culture going on at the cross, "Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." On the cross, Jesus canceled out our sin. He canceled out Satan and his power. He canceled out death one day, we'll all be alive in heaven, those in Christ. It's a faith in what Jesus did, that sin as is canceled. That would cause our hearts to be glad, and our love for Jesus to increase and deepen.

Ross Sawyers: 43:43 Remarkably, Jeremiah goes from being glad to being sad in verses 14 through 18, and sad probably doesn't really capture it real well. We see a man in despair, a man who's depressed. And I just want to say this, I don't know if it's the best way for me to frame it, it's a way I know how to frame it. Sometimes I wonder how I can be so glad in one minute, and how I can get down so quick. And sometimes I think I'm going crazy, I just think, well, how does this happen? But we see that multiple times in the scripture where there's real high moments that happen for people and there's a gladness in them, and the next thing you know, you see them in despair. And look, I understand that in these last several months between the pandemic, between the stock market, something you track, and the wildfires in the West and the Northwest, and hurricanes on the coast, and craziness, and elections, I mean pick any one of those, and it's enough to run you the whole gamut of emotions that we've just talked about.

Ross Sawyers: 45:13 And there's personal things for each of you, and for me. I just want to encourage you from the scriptures that a man who was absolutely faithful to God, ran the whole gamut of emotions that you and I run. But Jeremiah knew where to take them, and it took him right to God. What did he say? "Cursed be the day when I was born; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me!" This is a bleak change for what Jeremiah is saying, what most of us would celebrate and say is a day of celebration, when there's a child born, Jeremiah is looking back and he's saying, cursed be that day when I was born. It's almost, as someone said, it's almost shocking the kinds of things that Jeremiah is saying, but it lets us get in his mind a little bit. And he said, "Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, “A baby boy has been born to you!” And made him very happy." Now Jeremiah had enough respect for his parents, because if he would've said curse me, my mom and dad for bringing that news, anything about them, then that would have been a disgrace to them. So even in honoring his parents, he was able to do that as he wrote in his disparity, it says instead, curse the person who brought the good news. Let the messenger be cursed, "And let that man be like the cities which the Lord overthrew without relenting." He's referring to Sodom and Gomorrah, where God had no pity on those cities. Let this man be like that, "And let him hear an outcry in the morning and a shout of alarm at noon; Because he did not kill me before birth, so that my mother would have been my grave, and her womb ever pregnant."

Ross Sawyers: 47:18 Last week, I heard Martin Luther King Jr's daughter, she's a big advocate for Christ and for life. And she said of her framework, she said, "I am advocating for life from the womb to the tomb." And yet what's shocking about this, is Jeremiah is arguing, why couldn't the womb have not been my tomb, so that I wouldn't have to face what I'm facing? "Why did I ever come forth from the womb, verse 18, to look on trouble and sorrow, so that my days have been spent in shame?" I'm glad God gives us an honest look at people.

Ross Sawyers: 48:21 Andrew Brunson was imprisoned in Turkey, not too long ago, just released in the last few months for being a follower of Jesus. And he said, "I didn't always do so well while I was in prison." I listened to someone speaking a few months ago that was in prison for 14 months because their faith in the nineties, a guy from the Czech Republic. And he said, "I didn't do well the first few months at all." Then something changed for him. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing his friends, all his trusted friends, were about to bail out on him, knowing the full weight of humanity's sin, and God's judgment, was about to come on him on the cross. In that moment, in Gethsemane he's sweating so profusely, and so under such pressure that he was sweating blood. And he cried out to God and said, "If possible, take this cup from me." Andrew Brunson, the guy from the Czech Republic, Jeremiah, Jesus, all emerged stronger, honest, and raw, and real before God, stronger, resolved, coming out.

Ross Sawyers: 50:23 I started by saying, I think it's refreshing to God when we come both raw and real in our emotions to him in our painful experiences. And we will swing in these different emotions, some will be more steady, some will swing more. Some I would encourage you, it'd be good to go to a counselor, and there's ways, and there may be some things where you can get some help if it depression or anxiety. We bring them to God first, you see what he wants us to do with them. We pray, and our prayer is we'll emerge stronger. And like our friends in India who were praying James 1:2, "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials." And then we keep our eyes firmly on Jesus in the future. And one day, we'll all be, every person that's believed Jesus, we'll all be gathered together. People of every tribe, tongue and nation in the new heavens and the new earth, and God will finally have canceled out all sin, all evil, all wickedness, all violence, all mourning, all crying, all pain. And we'll be forever in the freedom, and life, and presence, of a glorious and beautiful God who reaches and rescues. We have the most confidence of anybody on this planet today because we have the dread champion, God himself. He's won the victory.

Ross Sawyers: 52:28 Father, thank you for strengthening us in your word today, and it's sobering, and it's encouraging to see those who are most faithful to you, just to see how raw and real their emotions were. So thank you for Jeremiah, thank you for a man who was both tough and tender, and a man who brought his deepest pain to you God, and then thank you today, that we can do the same. And Jesus, thank you for bearing our pain and bearing our sin. And we're thankful today that only you can see it to the degree that it's within us, and therefore you're the best person for us to bring it to. So God, I pray will not be afraid of that, but we'll lean into you.

Ross Sawyers: 53:23 Father, I pray salvation would burst in the hearts of people today that have never experienced that. And Father, I pray those of us that have, that you and your word and who you are, would be like fire in our hearts and it couldn't be shut up in our bones. That you would just ignite a love for you, and a yearning for you, and a boldness for you, that will not shrink back and not waiver regardless of consequences, God, and we thank you for that. Today, will you comfort those who desperately need your grace in your comfort for whatever grief for pains there are, and for whatever reasons. And Father, will you help us all to be sensitive to each other, to know how you want to use each of us to be that help. But God, we're grateful that ultimately you'll be the one to do that.

Ross Sawyers: 54:22 So let's, if we can, be silent before the Lord. I like this space, and I don't know what God is saying to you or not saying to you this morning, but it will be at least a brief time to think about what that is. And then I'd like for us to just sing a song of confession to God, if it's your confession, if it's not then feel free to refrain from singing. If it is, let it be a really excellent way to seal off our time here with the resolve that only God can give in that confession. So we'll give you a little bit of space, and then we'll sing that and be dismissed.

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