Embolden Even More So In Our Faith

Acts Chapter Five Models How To Be Emboldened By Faith To Share The Gospel

Ross Sawyers
Apr 3, 2022    1hr 6m
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Have you ever hesitated to share the Gospel with others? This message of courage taught from Acts chapter five models how to be emboldened by faith to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:05] We've been thinking about what it means to have a bold faith, as we've made our run through Acts chapters 3, 4, and 5. We're coming to the close of chapter 5, and I want us to think today about how we can be emboldened, even more so in our faith.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:20] And one thing I try to do is to share stories of things that we're involved in, both locally, and then where we are across the globe and across the US, and God has enabled us to be a part of a number of things going on. But the thing I'd like to share to begin this morning is about a guy in our church, his name is Dan Ulrich, he has been a long-time part of 121. He's a faithful follower of Christ. He works for a corporation that has about 70,000 employees, and a few weeks ago, he sent an email thread to a few of us to pray for him and for a conversation that he was about to have with someone in H.R. And in that thread of emails, he described what had taken place over a long period of months, some concerns that he had expressed, and he was continually passed on to different people until finally, he was able to have a conversation. And his concern was around a sexual harassment course that they were required to take in their corporation, and then in regard to an unconscious bias course that they were about to be required to take. And the concern for him was how the sexual harassment course had been portrayed, and the way the examples were given of sexual harassment in the workplace were three examples of Christians, and how they were harassing non-Christians who had different sexual beliefs than they had. And his concern was that it seemed there was an agenda in the training itself, biased against Christians. And he expressed that concern, I thought he did it very thoughtfully, it was well said, and then I thought it was bold to put it in writing and send it to the appropriate people in H.R. This is a man who just needs to work a few more years to be able to retire, so this is a risky spot for him to be in. He explained in his email, and then later in his conversation with the one he was able to speak with, that the group he works with was a diverse group, that his team has one gay person, one Chinese person, one woman, and one Indian, he said, we all like each other and we work well together, and we achieve the objectives of what the company is asking us to achieve. And his concern, after knowing how the sexual harassment course was offered, and in the unconscious bias course, now he's being told that he's a bigot and he just doesn't know it, is the way that it was coming across. And his question was, if this is supposed to be promoting unity, it seems to be promoting the very opposite of what you're trying to achieve. And he also indicated and asked, would you please show me how watching something that is overtly biased towards me and all Christians, is supposed to help me not show bias? I appreciate the boldness and the courage out of his Christian convictions to speak to something that he sees as unjust in his workplace. He had a conversation, he'd asked several of us to pray, and he had a conversation with the person in H.R., and the result of that was that she invited him to be a part of the developing of the curriculum in the future so that he could give feedback in what was being delivered to the rest of those in the company. Now, I can't guarantee that result for everyone, but what I can do is applaud someone that's willing to have that kind of conviction and be willing to risk his job to speak about it. And then I love how, in this case, the way God chose to honor him, is by giving him a place at the table to talk about these things in the future.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:06] Now, why do I share that? I share that because a number of you are in situations just like that, and there are things that you're being asked to watch, there are things you're asked to do that sometimes might be fairly done, sometimes not fairly done, I have no idea, it would be case-by-case and corporation by corporation, this is what it was in his particular scenario. And I just want to cheer you on in this day and time, just like the Finland government official that has just been through chastisement because she tweeted a Bible verse, a physician and mother of five, and she basically said, look, if we don't speak out now, then we're going to be in a boatload of hurt later, and the window is going to get narrower and narrower where we're able to speak about our Christian convictions. And so I'm just encouraged by people who are willing to risk, and who are possibly suffering consequences because of the way that they take their stand.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:10] Now, I share that one, to encourage you in stories today, but it also links nicely to chapter 5 verses 17 through 32. And that's where I'd like for us to hang out and anchor ourselves in God's Word into God himself today, in the one who actually gives us a boldness and a courage to live out the faith that God has called us to live. We've also been challenging over these last three months or so, of how to get outside of our comfort zone, how to get in the uncomfortable so that we have no choice but to lean on the Spirit of God. We can easily do things in our own power, we can do things in our own strength, whatever those strengths are. But I believe that God has not called us to lean into our own flesh, our own abilities, he's called us into something that's far more adventurous, far more greater, and that is to lean on his Spirit and to get in on things that we're not capable of ourselves, that the only way we'll get through it is through the Spirit of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:14] Now we're all at different places when I say that. In a couple of weeks, it's Easter weekend, and we have seven different opportunities where we can invite someone to join us. And I just wonder if in these next couple of weeks if outside of several people's comfort zone would simply be inviting someone else to come and to be at Easter services together? So could I just ask you, okay, what would be outside for you, your comfort zone, and if that is, even if it's not, will you do that? Will you invite somebody and say, you know what, I'll meet you at the front door or at the coffee bar at such and such time, whichever service time you pick, and we're going to meet there and then I'm going to sit with you, and I'll be with you the whole time that we're here until we go? Would you be willing? Would you go by and pick somebody up? You know what, I'll come by and get you, so from start to finish, I'll have you with me. Somebody that doesn't know Christ, somebody that's struggling in their faith right now, somebody that's unchurched, they're not in a church right now. People oftentimes will respond to an invitation at Easter and at Christmas, and you never know what will happen when they get underneath God's word. That might be something that's outside our comfort zone that I encourage you toward.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:36] Well, in verses 17-32, I want us to think about how to be emboldened, even more so in our faith. This is my observation, that the more we step out in faith, the bolder we become. The more we step out into things that are uncomfortable, the more those become comfortable. And once that becomes comfortable, then God has another step for us. I think he keeps moving us in the uncomfortable, because it's in that uncomfortable that our faith increases, our love for him grows, and our boldness increases, and that happens despite opposition.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:08] Verse 17, "But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy." So the high priest, he's the one in charge, he's the religious guy that's in charge. He has all these people with him, and it's the sect of the Sadducees, these are the religious leaders in the day. They had a system that they ran, they had power, they had influence, they had control over the people, and they're finding themselves now with that power being threatened. They're finding themselves now, with their system being disrupted, and their system is being disrupted by a group of rabble-rousers from Galilee, kind of country bumpkins, they show up in town and here they are, and they're proclaiming this message about Jesus Christ and the whole city is turning upside down. And it is a threat to the power structure of the Sadducees, it's a threat to their religious and ritual system, and they were desirous they were filled with jealousy. These leaders wanted everyone's approval, and they were losing that approval, they were losing the praise of the people if it was even there in the first place.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:36] Now, jealousy and envy are an interesting thing, just for timeline’s sake, where we are in Acts, it's really just about a couple of months after Jesus had been crucified and risen. And if we go back to Matthew 27 verse 18, just prior to that, Pilate has Jesus in front of him and the people are wanting Jesus crucified. And Pilate comes up with this idea, hey, I'm just going to present these two guys, Jesus and Barabbas, and I'll let the people choose. Barabbas is a murderer, Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, he said, surely, they'll make the right choice here. And so he puts them before them, because he knew in verse 18, that because of envy, they had handed him over. So the same reason that Jesus was handed over was because of envy, is the same reason now that the Sadducees, the leaders, are upset over the followers of Jesus, it's the same problem.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:44] Now something fills up all of us, in this particular case, jealousy filled up the Sadducees. All of us are filled with something. Now I believe that in our sin nature, that each of us have different bents towards certain sins. There's a sin for me that might not be as much of a struggle for you, and I think runs across the board, there may be multiple ones. But jealousy is a sin that was eating them up, and it's one that can eat us up as well. What is that thing? What are those things that fill us up? If this was being written that this is how it would be written about us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:35] In verse 18, "They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail." Their jealousy took them to such a spot that they needed to get these guys off the streets, quit teaching, and we're going to put them in jail. Now, Peter and John, they've already been to jail once in Acts, we've already seen them, because they preached the message of Christ, that they headed to jail. The other apostles now seem to be joining them this time, this will be their first time in because of their faith in Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:07] Now we know from Scripture that we can expect opposition. Paul wrote Timothy and he said, hey, indeed, all those who are godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. He didn't say there's an option here, that something might happen, he says you will be persecuted if you're a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus prepared his followers again and again that they would be persecuted, and there would be opposition that would come against them, and yet we find again and again that God's people respond with more boldness.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:41] I receive a, it comes every week or every other week, issues of Voice of the Martyrs, and it's descriptors of people all over the world that are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus. The most recent issue is about Bibles, the precious, costly gift that a Bible is. And the one who wrote this particular article has smuggled Bibles into countries where it's illegal for 25 years now, and he's raising the question, why is it that some governments and some groups of people have made the Bible illegal? If the Bible is just a myth, if it's just a legend, if it's just a fairy tale, then it shouldn't be any harm, then why do people go to such means to eliminate it? Why is it he says that in North Korea, why is the North Korean government afraid for people to have Bibles? Well, he answers his own question, he said, because the government knows that their lies will be exposed if people have truth in their hands. Why is it that Iran's secret police, he says, fiercely try to eliminate Bibles? Because they know that God's word is a weapon, and it unleashes truth and light on darkness and lies, and it exposes it for what it is. When he gets Bibles to people, he asks them, will you take the New Testament, will you take the Gospels and read that against your holy book? See God's word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and if it's read, really read, and ingested rather than just heard, or rather than just clips here, or I'll pick up my ideas there, rather it's read, there's power in God's word. This guy knows it, he's willing to be oppressed because he knows that oppressive ideologies are weaker than God's word, God's word prevails. So there's that opposition that comes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:11] Well, what happened with these guys when they were thrown in jail? "During the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20“Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” So during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the gate to the prison. I know some people struggle with the supernatural, and this could be a place where we might have questions, and I hope this would be a safe place for you to ask. But God is a God of the supernatural, and he works through an angel to release his followers in this particular case.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:43] Now, Lisa and I just returned about a week and a half ago from the Middle East and Central Asia. And on our way back, I was looking at different movies to watch, and I watched Escape from Pretoria, and it was a great movie. It was about two guys, that in 1979, it's based on a true story, it's probably 10% true. 90% not, I don't know. But I verified it on Google, so that certainly tells me what's true about it, so I've got all my sources, right. But in 1979, these two guys, they were standing up against apartheid, and as a consequence, they were thrown into a political prison. These guys were determined to not stay in prison, and over a long period of time, they were able to make keys that worked through ten different doors to escape the prison. And they escaped and went into asylum until 1991, when they were granted a pardon and able to return. Sometimes people are in prison and they're very creative in the way they figure how to get out. And then there are times that God does the supernatural for his people, and this is one of those, and Angel of the Lord came and took them out of the prison.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:03] We see this in the Old Testament Book of Daniel as well. Daniel was a man of integrity; he was a man of character. He is one of the top-ranked officials in the Babylonian government, even though he wasn't Babylonian. And there was an envy and a jealousy of him, and there was a desire to get him removed. And because of his character and his integrity, there was no way they could figure out how to get him out, and so they concocted a scheme, the people that were close to the king, and they signed an edict that said anybody that makes a petition or a prayer to someone other than the king, will be cast into the lion's den. And so they were able to persuade the king, he signed this, and Daniel had some rhythm, some habits in his life. He prayed three times a day, giving thanks to God, and he could be seen doing that and these guys knew that. And as soon as this edict was signed, they went and told the king, hey, Daniel's disobeying you, he's seeking his God out rather than you. The king knew at that point he was stuck, he had no choice, and so he had to come through with what he said in his edict, and he cast Daniel into the lion's den. Now, he was confident that Daniel's God would rescue him. He fasted all night long, the king did, because Daniel was in that lion's den. The next morning he ran as fast as he could to find out if was Daniel alive, and he was, an angel had come and shut the mouths of the lions, God got the praise for that. And then the king had the men in their families thrown into the lion's den, there wasn't an angel to protect them, they were crushed.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:58] See, God is a God of the supernatural, he doesn't operate in the same realm we operate. He sent his angel to come and release them from prison, but he didn't just release them so they could go back to Galilee, get back in their fishing boats and go about life, he had something for them. And God does that, he takes us from something to something, he releases us from here to get us there. He has something for us, something next for us, and he released them. And in verse 20, "They were to go speak to the people in the temple. The whole message of this Life."

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:38] Now, imagine being these guys, they already had been there. they've already been thrown in prison. This is the second time for Peter and John of doing this, so they know when they go back to the temple that this same thing's probably going to happen again. But they just seem emboldened in Acts chapter 4, after all this had happened to them the first time, they prayed, and then they were bolder. They didn't shrink back, they didn't waver, and they were to take the whole message of Life. John would write in his gospel, in chapter 1 verse 4, that "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.", Jesus. And John was already preaching that, he's told to speak the whole message of Life. Jesus, who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." He gave a definitive way to himself; he is the Life of which they were to speak. And this was to be explained from the whole of Scripture, the whole message of Life, Genesis to Revelation, the whole thing is Life, so give them the whole message. Jesus, after he was resurrected, was walking along a road and he was headed to Emmaus, and he ends up with these two guys and they start having a conversation. It says, Jesus, starting with Moses, explained the Scriptures and how the Scriptures pointed them, it's the whole message of Life that we offer and give to people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:15] Now they head to the temple in verse 21, and it's about daybreak, people are coming and bringing their sacrifices, and they began to teach. So they're teaching at the temple, that's one scene that's happening here, there's another scene that unfolds now. The Sanhedrin and these religious leaders, they're ready to see these guys and interrogate them again. So, "Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. 22But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, 23saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this." Now the religious leaders, their systems are getting disrupted all over the place. They thought two months earlier, that the tomb was secure, that Jesus was in. Yet somehow, God raised Jesus from the dead. Now they thought the jail was secure, but somehow these guys that they threw in jail are back at the temple teaching again. I think for these guys, it has to be, how does this keep happening? It's just kind of one of those moments, the power that they believe they were wielding, not so much.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:10] "The captain went along with the officers..." In verse 26, "...and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned)." They're afraid of the people, this seems to be a common idea. Pilate, when Jesus was before him, knew Jesus was innocent, but he was afraid of the people. The Bible calls this fear of man, the approval of others, and that's a big issue for these leaders. So Pilate was afraid, so he hands Jesus over to be crucified. Now, something different is happening, there are thousands of people coming to Jesus, miracles are happening, healings are happening. Now the people who the Sadducees had stirred against Jesus, now these same people are stirred against them because they're following the message of these disciples, it's flipped. Now they're afraid of the people that they had incited a couple of months later, for themselves, their own purposes. Crowds flip easily, kind of like, what's the flavor of the day? And a crowd will go for it. Now. It would be easy for me, and it might be easy for you, to just think about these, and their jealousy, and their fear of man issues. But do you know what, I talked earlier about our bents in sin, and those are two for me that plague me? So I don't look at these guys and think, I can't even imagine how that happened because I know in my sin I'm bent those same ways. All of us, including them, are in desperate need of being rescued out of our sin and into Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:27] Well, out of obedience to God, these guys continue on in verse 27, we see their boldness, "When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” The second time before the Sanhedrin, and they're saying, look, we gave you strict orders, you're not supposed to be teaching His name. Now, look what you've done, you've filled Jerusalem with this teaching, you've filled the city with the teaching of Jesus. In verse 17, these leaders are filled with jealousy, in verse 28, the disciples had filled Jerusalem with the teaching of Jesus. We're all filled with something, what are you filled with and what am I filled with?

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:35] I was at the gym this morning, and the time I go on a Sunday morning, it's not very crowded. That same time, by the way, on a Monday through Friday is really crowded, but on Sunday it's not, it's pretty empty. And I just think that I'm odd, I think if you pass by somebody, you should, like, greet them, it just seems weird to not. So some of you are thinking, no, that's not weird, that's how we roll. But I think it's odd, so I say hi to people. It's not like I ask him, do you know Jesus with the first question, and scare them off or something, it's I'll just say something. Well, twice this morning I got totally ignored, I was probably this close and got ignored. Do you know why they ignored me? There were two white things in their ears. I said, how are you doing? Blank face, nothing. So, I swallow that pride and keep moving, twice, because of the white things in their ears. And it makes me wonder what is filling their mind. I don't know, they might have been listening to some great sermons this morning, about how you love people and greet them well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:03] When I'm substitute teaching, and I see the white things in our kid's ears, I just wonder what's filling their minds all day long. What's filling your mind? Are you listening to things that line up with the teachings of Jesus, things that are excellent, good, worthy, those kinds of things? Or are we listening to those things that fill our minds with the ways of the world, the ways of our culture, that are anti-God? Or are we filling our minds with the lies, the deceptions, and the attacks of Satan? What is it that we're filling our minds with? So many people live in such despair because they are constantly living under the lies of Satan, making you stay in your past, and condemning you again and again and again. It might not be jealousy, it might not be the teachings of Jesus, what is it that fills our minds?

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:21] You see, the reason that the disciples were doing what they were doing, is because their minds were first filled with the teachings of Jesus, and that's just what was coming out of them, so now they're filling the city of Jerusalem with the teachings of Jesus. And we want to make room for the things of Jesus in our minds and hearts so that that's what flows out of our minds and hearts. Yesterday I was with a friend that I hadn't been with in a while, and he has a college-aged daughter, and we were just talking about our kids and catching up on our kids, and we're talking about his daughter. And he said one thing about her, she loves to lead worship, she loves music, she loves Jesus, and she's never had any social media apps or accounts. Can you imagine a college student today that has never filled her mind with the things that are out there in the social media world? And I've heard her lead worship, there is a purity to her because of what she's allowed her mind to be filled with. It's filled with the teachings of Jesus, and that's what comes out of her. If we want to ask ourselves, what are we filling our minds with? Just listen to what we say, because that which we're filled with will start to flow out. And if it's Jesus that we're hanging with, it's Jesus that'll start to come out. You see, they were being accused of filling Jerusalem with the teaching of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:55] In Vision 2025, one of the things we're praying, for is that God's name would be worshiped and the worship of him would be established in every neighborhood. And that's all we're doing, we're asking this, this is what we're asking, that God would cause life groups to rise up in every neighborhood, existing life groups where they already are, in such a way that the teaching of Jesus is filling up every neighborhood. My prayer is that with so many parents here that you have your kids in so many sports and they're excelling at those sports and you're spending hours upon hours at games and practices, that on the sidelines that you'd be filling the side lines up with the teachings of Jesus. That you would be, if you're doing something with the arts, your kids are, you're filling it up with the teaching of Jesus. That in our workplace, that while we're focused on our work, that we so have spent time with Jesus, that when there's the opportunity, that flows out of us in right and respectful ways. In our schools, the same, that we're filled with the teachings of Jesus, that's actually where the whole message of Life comes and flows.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:00] Now, the thing we have to be careful of is blame-shifting. Look what happens in verse 28, they're telling them that you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood on us. Now, if we go back to Matthew when Jesus was about to be crucified, do you know what they were saying? "Let His blood be on us and on our children." We're willing for it to be on us and the generations that follow us. Two months later, things don't seem to be in their favor, it's a new marketing scheme, we need to brand this differently, you're trying to make it look like we're the ones that killed him. Well, that's exactly what they're doing, because it's the truth. See Jesus, both voluntarily laid his life down, and then somehow in Acts we see that they crucified him. We don't want to blame shift; we want to be obedient to God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:15] In verse 29, "But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men." They so loved God, that that's who they were going to follow, no matter the consequences. It's Daniel's friends, in the Old Testament, Meshack, Shadrach, and Abednego, they're about to be cast into a fiery furnace for not bowing down to some big idol that was built. And they look at the king, imagine this kind of courage, they look at the king. Which, by the way, we call courage and bravery today a lot of things it's not. This is courage and bravery. To stand before the king and say, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve you or bow down to your golden image." I'm not bowing down, what God will do with it I don't know, I know he can deliver, I don't always know his purposes. Whether he delivers or he doesn't deliver, he's going to be glorified in my life because he's the only one I'm going to bow in worship to. We must obey God rather than men.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:46] And then he lays out the gospel, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross." In Deuteronomy 21 verses 22 and 23, the Scripture says that it was a curse to be hung on a cross. So Jesus was hung on a cross, he took the curse that's on us and He took it on himself. “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” So we can be filled with jealousy, we can be filled with the teachings of Jesus, and if we respond to the teaching of Jesus in faith, then we'll be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, and we're filled with a whole different power and a whole different life, our character begins to be transformed, our ways, our thinking is transformed by Christ himself.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:50] Now he talked about, I want to go back to verse 20 and just give a reminder picture of the whole message of Life that's offered here that they were told to explain. And I want to give a picture as a reminder for some who have, this is what we've taught in our eight ways, which is a pathway that can be a help in our following of Jesus. And this this is a way to think about God's story from Genesis to Revelation, I've showed it multiple times, I'll continue to, because the more we can have this, the more we can communicate when we're filled with it, then we can overflow and lead somebody else with it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:32] And when we think about God's story, there's a center part to the story, and God is the center of that story. Now, this weekend, Lisa, now we're looking for a movie to watch, we were just going to kind hang out, and we like, one of Lisa's preferences would be comedies that are clean, and we've watched those two, where we're trying to figure out where we go from there. So we couldn't find a comedy again, I think we could have spent more time looking for a movie than the actual movie we watched. She also likes mysteries, and so we went, and we looked at mysteries, and I Googled what are the top 20 mystery movies of all time? And I found the top one, Citizen Kane. Oh, nice. I haven't got that reaction all day. Most of us probably haven't heard of Citizen Kane, 1941 is when it was made, and we watched, I believe, the original Citizen Kane. Now, Citizen Kane was so exciting, that probably 30 to 40 minutes in we were dozing, and it had been described as the greatest mystery movie of all time. And I thought, okay, this is putting us to sleep, and you get 48 hours, I paid for this thing. So we watched part of it Friday, on Saturday, last night, Lisa said, we need to finish that movie. I said, why do we need to finish it? She said, because one, we didn't know the end of the mystery yet, and two, she said, because if people ask us about Citizen Kane, we want to be able to tell them that we've watched it and how the mystery is unfolded. I said we're 57, no one's ever asked us about Citizen Kane, so I find it hard to believe that we're going to get asked about it. So we watched it, I recommend the second half of it, far more than the first. Why do I tell you that when I'm talking about God? Because the core of that movie is that Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane, was about himself. Everything Charles Foster Kane was about was himself, that drove his whole life. We might not be Citizen Kane, but we might tend that way. The whole message of Life is not found in ourselves, it's founding God, God himself.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:27] And God is the one around which this whole story revolves, and God is the one that writes the story. And in the first chapter of the story, we can call that creation, it's an incredible story. He breathed life into creation, he's the one that makes the shape of everything, and then he populates everything that he had shaped and formed. He created male and female in his image, in the image of God, he created them. He blessed them, and he multiplied them and told them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. He gave a rhythm, a work-rest rhythm of six days of work and one day of rest. He then created marriage, all in this first part of his story of creation, and that is where life is life-giving and flourishing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:15] But there's a problem in God's story, because, in chapter two of the story, there's a separation and a gap that comes about because of Satan himself. Jesus said this about Satan, he said the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And the enemy has come to destroy, and so there's a brokenness now between humanity and God. Previously, everything was in perfect harmony, perfect life, life-giving, life flourishing. now it's broken. This is why there's pride. This is why there's selfishness. This is why there's sexual immorality. This is why there's confusion and chaos today. It's why there's so much brokenness in our world today, because of the fall, that's chapter 2 of the story.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:59] The good news is there's a third chapter in God's story, and it's a redemption chapter, and here we have the opportunity to move out of chapter two and into chapter three. It's 30 through 32 that he writes right here that Jesus was hung on a cross, and it's there that he bore our sin and shame and guilt, it's there that he bore our condemnation all on the cross, it's there that he bore the wrath of God so we wouldn't have to bear the wrath of God. It's in this part of the story that life can happen again, that we can be restored into life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:37] And the way the Bible talks about it, the way into this life, the way God writes us into this part of this story is through repentance. It's a turning away from being Citizen Kane, and it's a turning towards God himself, that he's the only hope, he's the only way to salvation, he's the way to life. Now, I want to correct a way that I've been talking about this for the last couple of years, I've talked about that this is the way into God's story as if we're not in God's story until we've received Christ. The reality is, that every one of us online and in this room, we are already in God's story, we're all in his story. The question is, are we in chapter two of the story, or are we in chapter three of the story? All of us are in one of these chapters of God's story, and we're so grateful that in his grace we can be rescued out of this chapter and into Christ in this chapter. Now, with Christ in us, we have the Spirit of God, and we have the power to actually do what it is that God has asked us to do. We have the power to fight the enemy and the brokenness and the sin and all that's in this world, because we have Christ in us, in His Spirit. And God is doing a work, once we enter chapter three, where He's shaping us into him, into his character, his ways, for His glory, wrapped in his grace.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:26] And then one day we're moving towards the end of the story, and there'll be this total reconnection where there's no more sin, there's no more fight, there's no more death, there's none of that, it's the new creation, the new heavens, and the new earth, and this is where we spend all eternity in that new heavens and new earth. Now, for a number of us, we think that eternal life is after we die. We are already eternal beings, eternity doesn't start after death, right now, we're either in eternal life or eternal death. I think most people still across the world today would agree that there's an end, and in the end, there's a heaven and there's a hell, and whatever happens in this part of life determines where we land in eternity, Jesus said, to know him is to have eternal life, apart from him is to be living an eternal death. This is the whole message of Life, do you find yourself in chapter 3 or chapter 2 of the story. Do you find yourself as Citizen Kane, all about self, or a citizen of the King, you're all about him? That's the whole message of Life, that's good news.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:09] We have global workers all over the world that we're partnered with, that are filling their cities with the teachings of Jesus. This summer, we have an opportunity to be a refreshment and a rest to them. And Dustin Sanders and Lindsey Ormond are going to come and share with you the opportunity that we have so that we can all be a part of it. At 121.

Lindsey Ormond: [00:46:38] Good morning. I'm Lindsey.

Dustin Ormond: [00:46:40] I'm Dustin.

Lindsey Ormond: [00:46:41] And we serve together in missions work here at 121, and that's actually one of my family's favorites, or my favorite, I guess it's my family's too, that we love at 121, is how involved we are in global missions’ work and that we all have the opportunity to participate. And as we know, over the last couple of years going through COVID, it's been challenging, to say the least, it's created unique problems and challenging situations. And being a global worker, those problems are exacerbated beyond our imagination here in North America. And so God started stirring on my heart, on Dustin's, and the leadership at 121 and several others, actually, what would it be like to put on a retreat for the global workers so that they have an opportunity to be refreshed where they can have their cup filled? And we're excited because God has actually made that dream a reality, and each of us in this room, 121 as a whole church, is actually going to be putting on a retreat in Europe for all of the global workers this summer. And it's an incredible opportunity to fly everyone from all over the world to be together, to worship, and we just wanted to share in that with you.

Dustin Ormond: [00:47:50] My family and I had the opportunity to be global workers in Southeast Asia for a few years, and I very much remember that one of the things that we truly missed the most was worshiping at 121. We missed hearing a word from Scripture in person every week from Ross, we missed hearing the music that we were familiar with and knew, we missed those relationships and connections of people that knew us really before we were even on the field, and we missed all that being in English, we missed having that in our heart language. We have the opportunity to take 121 to our global workers this summer, and we are very excited, our heart behind it is that they would be refreshed, and then they would be recharged to go back out to the places that the Lord has called them, doing the work that the Lord has called them to do. They are just like you and I; they need to be refreshed to be effective in their service.

Dustin Ormond: [00:48:50] Now, as you can imagine, putting on an event like this is not without its challenges, there are a lot of logistics that are involved in something like this, and there is a high financial investment that goes into bringing workers from all over the world and their families to one location, housing everybody in one location, including the team that's going to be serving them, and doing it all with excellence, which of course, is one of our core values here at 121. And so our desire is that our entire body would be a part of this effort, and so Lindsey would share just some ways they can do that.

Lindsey Ormond: [00:49:33] It requires everybody, to be quite honest. I mean, if you think about the logistics just of flying 50 plus people all to one location from all over the world, that's insane, and then you manage everything else and everyone's needs. But we really do want to provide it with excellence, and that includes programming for them, and God has just provided abundantly and it's such an honor to be part of it. And we each share in that, and so tangible ways that we can all play a part is, number one, in prayer. And that's probably the biggest need, quite honestly, is for everyone to be in prayer over the global workers and over our church as we put this on for them. Number two is financially, our prayer today is to raise 30,000 today, and it sounds like a big number to some and a small number to others, to be honest. And it requires all of us collaborating together on how we can do that as a church body, and to be able to go back and tell the workers, guess what happened, guess what God did this morning, would be such an incredible honor, and so we want to partner with you and that. And at the 8:00, people were just opening their wallets and contributing, it was just a beautiful experience.

Lindsey Ormond: [00:50:36] And then another way is by using your gifts and your talents, I think a lot of times people don't consider that, but if you enjoy sewing, quilting, painting, would you consider making something and then selling it? Or what if you enjoy baking, could you have a bake sale, and then dedicate those proceeds, raise awareness while you're doing it about the work that God's doing around the world. If you're a businessperson, could you raffle off an hour of your services, and again through that raise awareness in our communities. As your life group, could you have a garage sale, and at the garage sale, donate those proceeds? The goal is, is obviously to raise money, but more so it's to be able to share in it together as one unified body of believers here at 121, and for the global workers to truly feel loved not just by a team of people, not just by the leadership, but by an entire church community and how powerful that would be. And so we're excited, we have a team of people that are going to be in the lobby, we would love to connect with you on joining the prayer team, we will take your money gladly, and then we will also love to hear different creative ways that you and your family would like to serve. Oh, that was one other thing, families, if you have littles, pick up the pennies and the dimes that you see in the parking lot, and then pray over a global worker when you pick those up, and then have the kids donate that, every penny counts, right. And we're just excited to share in that joy with you as a unified body. Thank you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:05] I'm so grateful for what God let's just be a part of, and just all of the message of Christ the whole life going out, you know, so thank you for being a global body as well as local in the US. Let's be quiet before the Lord for this moment, and just give an opportunity for reflection and just thinking on anything that God is saying today that we'd want to be obedient to when we leave here. And then we want to respond to the Lord today in our worship, in our song, praise to him. And so I invite you to, with a whole heart to reflect that back to God in our praise in just a moment.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:47] Father, thank you for the day, and we're grateful for our time to worship, we're grateful, Father, for your word. And Lord, I pray where our hearts are filled with jealousy or envy or fear of man or whatever the sins might be, I pray, God, that there would be less room for that, and instead, God, we'd be filled with the grace and the mercy and the goodness of Jesus. I pray that your teachings, your character, your thought, and your words would stay so full in our hearts and minds that there's no room for anything else. I pray God would be filled with the power of your Spirit, and God that we not shrink back or waver. Thank you for all the examples today of our global workers, of Dan, of the guy who's getting Bibles into hard places, and just the scriptural examples we have to draw encouragement from. I pray we would be encouraged today to walk in that kind of bold faith. And I pray these things in Jesus' name.



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051
817.488.1213