How To Tell Our Personal Christian Story

The Book Of Acts Teaches You How To Share Your Christian Story

Ross Sawyers
Jul 23, 2023    50m
Have you ever wanted to share your story of salvation, but fear kept you from doing it? It is hard to know how to share your Christian story, but there is help; the latter part of the Book of Acts provides an excellent example of how to do this. 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: [00:00:00] We are grateful for Haley; she serves on our church staff. And a while back we had our staff and others in the church, if they were willing, to write out and then verbally tell their story, their spiritual story, and then put it out on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, wherever it is that they had accounts and just let the story go and see what God does with it. And I just love the work that God has done in Haley's life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:27] I want us to think today about how to tell our own personal Christian story. If you'll turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter 26, I want to anchor us in verses 1 through 29 of Acts 26, and we see a model of someone communicating their own story and the transformation that's happened in them in Christ. And I want to look at that as a model for us to think about telling our own personal Christian story. And if it's okay, what I'd like to do today is to think of you as a life group that I'm leading and model a way that I would lead a life group, just to give an idea of what that could look like. And we would always have the Scripture at the very center of it, and then we want to see what God wants to do with us in obedience to it at the end of it. And then how are we going to hold each other accountable to do that which God is inviting us into from His Word? And so if you'll just allow me to do that, then I'm trusting that every person in the room will take the challenge that I have at the end.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:47] It doesn't matter if you're mature as you can be in your faith or you're trying to figure out your faith, or you're kind of like, I'm in it, but I'm new. It doesn't matter where you are in this journey, we all have a story, we're somewhere in this continuum of a story, and I just want to see if you'll be game to take a challenge at the end to which I'll hold us accountable a week from now to that challenge, and I trust you'll be game. I hope the same for those who are online. And I love it when I sometimes know specifically who's online, and I know this morning Pablo is with us with Cindy, and I just wanted to greet them as a representative greeting to everyone else that's online this morning, so we love we have multiple avenues that we can meet this morning.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:36] We've been talking in the Book of Acts about being on the move, in this last part of Acts, and the Apostle Paul is the primary person that we're hanging out with. He's been going city to city in Greece and in Turkey and multiple places, and he's going to places that have never heard about Jesus before, and he's proclaiming Christ crucified, Christ resurrected. He's doing that in synagogues. He's doing it in the marketplace. He's doing it in schools. He's doing it house to house. It doesn't matter where he is, he's bringing that message of Jesus. And when he brings it and people respond to it, he's coming back around to those same cities and strengthening them in their faith. It's a beautiful model of us in the way we're to live our Christian life, in speaking it people come to Jesus, and then we help them to grow strong in that new relationship with Jesus. We see that again and again in the way that Paul rolls. He's on the move, and we're praying that God will have us on the move as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:39] A quick summary of chapters 21 through 25, Paul is in the latter stages of his life, he has been told that if he goes to Jerusalem, he'll be bound up, and harm will come to him. And he just says, look, I'm in this for Jesus, that's what he said in Philippians, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." For Paul, it was an advantage to live because he could talk about Jesus. And for Paul, it was an advantage to die because he would be with Jesus. It didn't matter to him, either way, was good because everything centered in his story is about Jesus, and he's full on in bringing that message. So he says, you know what? I'm fine heading to Jerusalem, and if I lose my life there, I'm willing to die for the name of Jesus. So I'm in on it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:29] He goes in those chapters, and he gets an opportunity to tell his story more than once. He does it before a crowd, a mob, that had come against him outside the temple in Jerusalem. He does it with the leaders of the Jewish Council, and then he has the opportunity with a governor, his name is Felix, who was governing Caesarea, which is a city on the Mediterranean Sea. Felix is out, Festus comes in and replaces him as governor, and Paul mixes it up with him. And then comes King Agrippa, and now Paul has the opportunity with King Agrippa to make his defense and share his story. Agrippa is a fine moral man, he's married to his sister, Bernice, and it's this man to whom Paul will make his defense.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:19] So let's think about how we tell our story. And again, you might have done this before, or you might not have done this before. But regardless, this is for everyone today, because something has changed in your story since the last time we would have talked about you writing your story. If you are increasing your love for God, and growing in your relationship with Jesus, your story is a dynamic story in Christ. It's not a stagnant story where I just keep going back to the same thing and telling my 15 to 20-year-old story, it's a dynamic, ongoing movement of the Holy Spirit of God within us and our story is constantly changing, although Christ is the solid rock and anchor at the center of the story, he never changes. So let's think about that for a few minutes, and see if God will prompt our hearts to take the challenge He has for us today.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:22] And the first thing I would say in verses 1 through 3, is if we're going to tell our personal Christian story, we want to invite somebody in to hear it. And that's exactly what happens here with Agrippa, "He said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense: 2“In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today." Now, I think this is a great way, if you'll just roll with me, and I know there are a number of reasons why you're thinking I'm never going to share my story, so I'm tapping out right now. But I'm saying if you happen to, and you would be game too, I think gratitude is a fantastic way to start. And Paul says to Agrippa, Thank you, I'm fortunate to be able to share my story with you. And if I'm asking somebody, can I share my story with them? I'm a question asker, I ask if people are going to listen, and I just want to say thank you that you would take the time. And I've written my story for you today, in the same model that we're walking through in Acts. When you came in the door, if you took that piece of paper, then I just want to say thank you for even taking it and not winding it up yet, and then thank you if you'll read it. So what I wanted to do is lay out for you a personal model of what we see as a biblical model of how to tell our story. Verse 3, "Especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently." I think that's a great second thing to consider, I also beg you to patiently listen to me tell my story of what God has done. Would you please listen? And thank you for doing that. So here Paul is before King Agrippa, and he's asking him, begging him to patiently listen to his story, and then he'll proceed with his story.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:33] I want to say a couple of things here before I move into how we would tell our story. I think it's important if we're going to talk about Jesus with someone that we understand the other person's story and that we understand their background. Paul understood who he was talking to when he would talk to him in the synagogues, he knew they understood the Old Testament Scriptures, and so he talked from the Scriptures of how they pointed to Jesus. When he was in Greece, they had no background in the Scriptures, so he didn't come from the Scriptures. He took what culturally they understood, and he bridged that to then talk about Jesus, so they could understand some picture from their culture. It would be like me talking to someone that I know they understand college football, and so I want to give analogies from college football that help them understand the Christian faith, and so I can bridge that, rather than starting in Deuteronomy with them. It's a far better way to help them understand and see it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:35] So I want to hear the other person's story, then I know what to say. Let me give 2 or 3 examples before you get offended by the first one. I'll go to a second one, and that'll finish off everybody else. Okay? If I'm talking to someone who was a Catholic in their background, there are certain things I have in my mind. About a third, I'm ballparking, I've never done an official poll, but I think about a third of 121 has a Catholic background. And this is the common story I hear, I'm not saying it's everybody's story, I'm simply saying it's the common story. And because it's the common story, it's how I think when I talk to someone with a Catholic background. We're going to have in common a belief in God, Christ crucified, Christ risen. We're going to have in common grace, we're going to use that word, but we're going to have two different ideas of what grace means. And I need to understand that so when I'm talking, I know we're talking about two different things. And the majority of people I know, including those in my own family background of Catholicism, most will say they never understood you could have a personal relationship with Jesus. I understood the ideas and believed it, but I didn't know there could be a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. Okay.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:07] Now what I know a Catholic will understand about grace, is that grace means that there are seven sacraments that I can keep, and if I do those seven sacraments, then that's God's grace in giving me a shot at being able to be okay with him, but that's actually seven works. When I talk about grace and the way I understand from Scripture, grace is that God has given me a break, and I'm not getting what I deserve. And Jesus took punishment for me on the cross being killed and crucified, and God raised him from the dead, and when I believe that, then I have salvation in him. That's two different definitions of grace, and I really need to understand that when I'm talking with someone with a Catholic background.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:02] Now, lest you're offended. When I'm talking with someone with a Baptist background, here's what I have in my mind. If you grew up Baptist, there's an excellent shot that at eight years old you prayed a prayer and received Jesus and got baptized, and there's also a good shot that nothing ever changed in your life. And you've lived life believing all the way into your adult years because you prayed a small little prayer when you were eight years old and nothing ever changed, that heaven is your destiny. Now we can talk about that later, but I just want you to know today that's concerning to me, because when I read the Scripture, when someone comes to know Jesus, everything changes. Now, I'm not suggesting today we become perfect, there are a lot of foul-ups that occur in our life after we come to know Jesus, so you can know Jesus and still mess some things up. But somehow, an increasing change in love for God has to be occurring in there, it's the only way I know how to read the Scriptures when I look at Jesus. So if I'm talking to someone with that background, I'm kind of checking around and figuring out, okay, was that really genuine or not? I don't know if it was or not, you're the only one who knows that, but I'm at least going to challenge it if there's been no change in your life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:37] Okay, Baptists, and Catholics, can be equally mad today. And then if there is someone that has no background at all, it's a whole different conversation of how we talk about Christ. Now, Paul understood who he was talking to, and in this case, that he's talking to a man who is a Jew, although immoral, and he works for the Romans, but he at least understands, and Paul knows he understands, the things he's about to speak of. All right, so we want to invite people in to listen, but we want to hear first, so we actually can say the things that will be helpful when we tell our own story.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:21] So let's describe our life before knowing Jesus. Verse 4, “So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem." When Paul starts to describe his story, he doesn't give as much detail here as he does in Philippians 3, and there he describes what his life was like before knowing Jesus. And he says "I was circumcised on the eighth day, I was in the nation of Israel, I was of the tribe of Benjamin, I was a Hebrew of Hebrews. I was a Pharisee, one of the leaders of the of the Jews; and I persecuted Jesus and I considered myself blameless in the law." Now, I don't know about you, but when we talk about self-righteous, I don't know how much more self-righteous we can become than to believe that we're blameless in the keeping of everything that's written in here. Yet, that's how Paul saw himself. So his life before knowing Jesus, a religious person, a strict religious person.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:16] Now he goes on in verse five and says, since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. 6“And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; 7the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. 8“Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? What's he saying in sum there? I'm on trial today for the very fulfillment of the Scriptures that you know. This dead man who was raised from the grave, is the very hope that we've night and day been waiting for. And then Paul thinks it's incredible that he's on trial for this.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:23] Now, I don't know if you're mixing it up out there in your faith or not, but when I am, I can't remember the last time when I got tangled up with somebody over the resurrection of Jesus. Can you? Where they just looked at you and said, you know, the whole resurrection of Jesus, Jesus raising from the dead thing, that really bugs me. Like that's a problem. And I go racing for my books to figure out, okay, how do I talk to them about the resurrection? I can't remember the last time that's been a conversation. I don't think people are hung up today on the resurrection of Jesus. I think they're hung up today on the teachings of the resurrected Jesus. And the greater concern is not was Jesus raised from the dead, but the greater concern is why can you Christians not understand that my feelings have me thinking this way, and God wouldn't give me these feelings if he wasn't aligned with them. That's where I get tangled up with people, is in the morality of Jesus. Which is interesting because it's not morals that save us, it's only God's grace and what he did on the cross, but yet he has called us to live a particular way, and everyone's out of sorts on the way He's called us to live. So I'm not hung up on the resurrection. I think in everybody's day they're tangled up with something, the resurrection was a big deal in that day, and it's a big deal today. I'm just saying, and I don't know about you, but that just doesn't seem to be where people's heads are today with, I can't buy it that Jesus was raised from the dead, that doesn't seem to bother them, what bothers them is the teachings of Jesus. That for the most part, over the years, everybody loved the teachings of Jesus, but they weren't so hip on the crucifixion and the resurrection. It is kind of crazy how all this flows.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:32] But life before Jesus, how would you describe yours? If you were writing in here as a religious person that missed having a relationship with Jesus. An irreligious person, you really had no interest, you just kind of lived a wild, immoral life, how would you describe life before Jesus? Now, I will say this, and I think, again, here's my opportunity to get tangled up with you a little bit depending on your background. People will say, I've believed in God my whole life. Okay, I'm not saying you don't. But I'm saying somewhere in there by the way that I understand Jesus, somewhere in there, there's a place where I have to recognize that I'm sinful and separated from God. And I'm believing that Jesus is the way to not be separated, and it's through repentance and faith, that I come to that relationship. So it might be that you believed God your whole life, but there's never been a personal turning point of conversion to him. Now, I'm not saying you have to remember the day, the hour, and the minute that that happened either. I'm just saying somewhere from Scripture that has to occur, I can't just have been born into my way of believing in God my whole life. Again, we can have a conversation about that if that's your story, but somewhere along the way, it just seems from Scripture there's repentance and faith. So what is your story? How would you describe it? Now, for some people, your story might be stuck right there, and that's okay today because part of this just reveals where we are in our story and what God's doing, and it helps us to be honest with ourselves if this is where I am.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:33] For those who have encountered God, there's a next piece to the story, and it's to describe how you came into a relationship with Jesus. So if this is what it was like before, how did I come into that relationship? And Paul describes his here in verse 12, “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me." And we read in other accounts of this, that Paul was blinded by that bright light, “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15“And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." God is encountering, his name was Saul at the time, but his name later changes to Paul. He's encountering him and he's just asking, why are you persecuting me? Why are you against me? And why are you kicking against the goads?

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:45] Now, I don't know what your background is, I had to look up what goads means. My understanding and no one's corrected me this morning, so I must at least be in the hunt, it's two sticks on either side of an oxen used to guide the oxen. Now, if the auction chooses to not go with the guidance, then the sticks will point and hit them, and it'll hurt. So if they resist it, then they're going to get hurt. Jesus is saying, it's hard for you to kick against the goads, with your stubborn resistance you're hurting yourself and everybody else. Sometimes, depending on who you are, we need to hear that were being stubborn. And why are you stubbornly resisting Jesus? Why are you kicking against the g,oads?

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:54] Now, for those of us in a more contemporary setting, here's a better descriptor for us. The majority in here have probably rented a car before at an airport, and hopefully, you returned it. When you return it, you go across this metal grate, I don't know the name of it, but it has really sharp teeth on it, and if you go across it to turn in the car, things go well. If for some odd reason, you decide to back up, that's two flat tires, it's not going to go well. That's what happens when you stubbornly resist, that's when the oxen, they're resisting and then they're getting hurt. Is anybody today stubbornly resisting Jesus? It's the same question he's asking Saul.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:52] Well, Jesus doesn't linger there with him, he says, "Get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you." Verse 18 is a great summary of the Gospel, of the Good News, "To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God." Now, from Scripture, what we know is you and I today are in one of two dominions. Another word for dominion would be kingdom, and we're in one of two kingdoms. We're either in a dark kingdom, or we're in the kingdom of light. There are two options, and there's not an in-between. And he goes on to describe that Satan is the leader of the dark kingdom and Christ is the leader of the Kingdom of Light. We're in one of the two. And Paul is in a moment where the scriptures tell us in an earlier place that he's repenting, his sins are being washed away and he's getting baptized, and now he's getting his purpose and mission in life and he's about to go for it. And the mission is to let people know and to help open their eyes to see they're in the dark in Satan's kingdom, but there's a way out of that. There's a way into the light in the Kingdom of God through Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:28] And he goes on to say, "When you receive it, you receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance in Christ." Forgiveness, and then sanctification in him, inheritance in him, these are the riches of Christ that we receive. I love that there's not a lot of detail here, and Jesus is kind of getting on to him for all that he's done to persecute him. It's kind of like, hey, we're done with that, get up and let's get on with it. And on this day, there is a shift in mission and in purpose, everything changed on this day for him. It's no longer about the way he thought about himself as a religious person, now he's in a full-on relationship with Jesus. His eyes have been opened, and now he spends his time helping others do the same. What has that been for you? How would you describe God encountering you, and the message of Jesus becoming so clear that in faith you received what Jesus did for you? And that was it, hard Stop. And it's at that moment, that I become his child and I've shifted, I'm no longer in the dark. When I receive Jesus, I'm in the light. Are you in the light? And how would you describe it to someone of how God brought you into the light?

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:19] We have heard multiple stories this morning, baptisms, and baptism is not what brought salvation and rescue to any of those people today. It's a previous receiving of what Jesus did, and the baptism is an out showing symbolically of what went on inwardly. It's like a wedding ring, inwardly my wife and I made vows to one another, we didn't need the rings. But it would be odd if I wasn't wearing the wedding ring. Why would I not have something that shows that I've made that inward vow to my wife? To not be baptized, it would be odd, it's a disobedience to a command. But it's what shows outwardly for people, here's initially the way of what God has done in my life. All right.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:17] How would you describe your story? Maybe you're still working through it, and maybe today will be that day for you, and maybe you've had that moment in time. Now, once we come to Jesus, something changes, everything changes. So the third piece in telling our story would be to describe our life since knowing Jesus. So once we come and we know Him, then what happens? Well, this is what happened with Paul, verse 19, “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision." So this happened to Paul, he didn't resist it, instead, he believed it. And now he kept declaring both to those of Damascus, that's where he was, and then also at Jerusalem, and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:04] Here was a man who was chasing down, killing, and helping eliminate those who were following Jesus, and then all of a sudden he's the one that's going around saying, hey, I got this all wrong, and I've repented, and now I'm going to give you the message of repentance, and the way that you come to Jesus is to repent, and in faith, now you're God's child. But if you've truly repented, there will be deeds that bear the fruit of that repentance. You'll start looking like Jesus in character, in purpose, in every way. And there's no way for this not to happen if Christ is in us because it's Christ who's doing the shaping and the work. He's the one that shapes our character. He's the one that gives us the mind of Christ. He's the one that leads us. Everything changes if you know Jesus, there's not a way for that to not happen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:20] Now we have remaining sin that we battle, we have Satan that continues to battle us, so we can get knocked down and we can stay down a long time, and sometimes it takes a while for people to bounce back and so forth. But overall, has there been a change? Are you less angry than you were a few years ago? Are you a little more content and less envious than you were last year? I called Dallas Willard, he's helped me quite a bit in thinking about how our relationship with God changes, and he uses the language of increasing. So if you increased in your love for God in the last several months, I'm not asking you if you nailed your quiet time and checked off the boxes every day to read the scripture, and you haven't missed a quiet time in 58 days. I'm not asking that question. Do you love God more today than you did a year ago?

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:32] Some of Christian's favorite activities are to blast other Christians. I've got a different question. We're described as the bride of Christ; nobody bashes somebody else's bride. Is your love for the bride of Christ increasing despite all the messes, all the shenanigans, all the garbage that goes on? Are we still increasing in our love for the bride of Christ? What about lost people who are blinded and can't see Jesus? Do we spend our time being mad at them as we see what's being streamed, or are our hearts broken for them that they might know Christ and that something would change from within? Is our love for the lost increasing? And the more intimate and close that I grow to Christ, the more grievous my sin is. Are you increasing in your grieving over sin today when you lose those battles?

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:49] Those are good questions of what's going on with change. Am I in on the purposes of God? Am I in on the mission of God in addition to the character? What about my motives, have they changed so that my motives really are more and more for God's glory? I don't know about you, but for years I battled in my mind, I battle in my mind all the time, candidly, it's a train wreck in here. But when I think about God's glory, and am I really today, is this really about God's glory, what I'm doing today, or do I want you to tell me good job when you walk out by me by the coffee bar? You know what's going on inside of me, and I have to really wrestle with that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:28] A few years ago, I was listening to something, and they said, you know, our motives are going to be judged in the end. And that finished it for me, that it's God's grace because I don't know that I've had a pure motive my whole life, there's some mixture all the time. What I'm hoping is that maybe it's 40% God's glory today and 60% myself and that I'm moving more towards that it's more and more motivated that it's God's glory. I don't know about your motives, and God's the only one that can do that change in my heart, I beg him to change that in me. And I also know that what God started, he'll finish, this is a lifelong journey and we're a mess a lot of times along in that journey. But is there a change in the midst of the mess? How would you write this piece of your story?

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:26] Now, I'll just say that the last thing here, I'm going to sum it up in verses 24 through 29, that when we tell our stories, we want to engage with people as they respond to our relationship with Jesus. Festus looks at Paul and says, you've lost your mind, you've gone mad. He knows he's an intelligent guy, he knows he's a bright guy, and he says you've lost your mind. I think that's why Paul writes to the Corinthians and says, "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." And Paul says, no, no, no, I haven't lost my mind, but what's weighing on you is the sober truth that I've just expressed. Will we just let the truth sit, and there's a weight that goes with the truth of who Jesus is and who we are?

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:26] And then Paul does something with Agrippa that I think, I'm trying to be as upbeat as I can, but also challenging, but I think this is where we wimp out as Christians. This is not an encouragement, and is an encouragement. Paul actually says to Agrippa, "Do you believe the prophets?" Do you believe what they say? Because I'm bringing you that message. Paul doesn't just let it sit, he makes Agrippa, with a question, have to deal with what he just said. Are we willing to talk to people about Jesus? And I'm going to ask you today, when I speak of Jesus this way have you ever received Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior? And I do that privately, but if I just throw it out there and leave, there's a piece that missed. That doesn't mean God won't work through that, we just want to ask, where are you in the story today?

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:48] Here's my challenge, all right, are you ready? I want everybody in the room, and I'm going to believe it, that you're going to do it, every person. And you might be thinking right now, You're not thinking I'm the exemption, but you're thinking I'm the exemption. And I'm not thinking you're the exemption today, there's not one person, and I see every one of you, I don't see one person that's exempt from what I'm asking. And what I want to ask you to do is to write your story this week.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:28] Some of you may listen to Dave Ramsey and his financial things, they're pretty good, I haven't listened to him in a long time, but I assume they still are. But years ago, when I would hear him, this is what he would do. Someone would call into his radio show, and they would have a financial problem, and they would ask him about their problem and he'd say, this is what you do and he didn't ever seem to be shy about having an answer. And he would say, this is what you do, and then he said, I'm going to count to three and we're going to hang up the phone, and when we do, you go do what I just told you to do. Why did he do that? He knew if they didn't do it immediately, they weren't going to do it. I'm somewhat confident, and I'm going to give you a week, I'm somewhat confident that if you don't do it this week, you won't do it. Now that's not believing the best, it's not First Corinthians 13, so I apologize for that, I'm just kind of going off what real life has been like for me. But I do know, and I'm going to believe this week, that you'll do it. And I've given you an example from Scripture, from a video, and in writing of my own story, and your story's not my story, so I don't expect you to write my story. I just wanted to give you an example. The problem with examples is we think we have to do it like the example, exactly, but if you don't give an example, then we're not quite sure sometimes what to do so I took a shot at it. Okay?

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:08] First assignment, I want you to write your story. You're in my life group, we're all really close, and we're going to do it this week, we're going to cheer each other on. All right? Now, sometimes we won't do this, I wanted to say this out loud, sometimes we don't want to write our story or share our story because we're ashamed of our current sin battles. And that's fair, I get in the same boat, I'll clam up when I'm really battling something, and I'm ashamed and I think I'm a fraud. But the Gospel is bigger than my problem, that the power is in the Gospel, the power is not in my story. I'm just getting to share the power of what God has done in transforming my life, but the message is the message of Jesus crucified and risen. And so, guys, to cheer you on this week in whatever you're battling, or you think you're not worthy, you and I are not worthy, we're worthy in Christ today, that's where we're worthy, so we can go for it because we're safe and worthy in Him. Write it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:26] The second thing is I want you to send it to somebody. So it's not just a writing exercise, it's a sending. Who is somebody that God has put on you in your sphere of influence, you have family, you have friends, you work with people, you sit in the stands with people, there are all kinds of things you do, you have a neighborhood of people. Is God prompting anything in you, anybody in you, that you could write your story and then send it? Now, there are a number of ways to tell our story, we can do a video and we can put it out there, some of you will do that. I encourage you this week, to get it on Facebook, get on Instagram, get on TikTok, get it on, I don't know what Threads does, but whatever in the world it is, get it on that out there while it's new before it goes away. Just find a way to get it out there, and run it, and see what God does with it. That's what Haley did, that story went everywhere. Or you could write it, or do it digitally, and whenever God brings to mind somebody, you can email your story and then they have it. I think that's sometimes better than verbally telling it because they can go back and look at it some more, whereas verbally you'll probably forget half of what was just said, so write it out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:48] Now, when I was in college, I played with a group called Athletes in Action, and they used sports as a way to have a platform to talk about Jesus. Baseball was what I played, and we went to Europe, played for several weeks, and we played baseball, which was kind of a new idea in Europe at the time. This was like going back to the 1920s, and we would beat the tar out of everybody we played, and that gave us a great platform to share the Gospel. And so at the end of the games, we would share our stories and talk about Jesus, and they would listen because they wanted to learn baseball, but they respected us and so they wanted to hear our story as well. Now we had to write our story, and then they graded us. So I would cheer you on this week, get somebody else to read your story as if they're a non-Christian and grade you on it. Because what I realized is I'd gotten so in the church lingo, I was telling my story in a way that made no sense to a person who wasn't in the church world. So can you even tell your own story in a way that somebody actually understands the words you're saying? Okay, not everybody understands what accepted Christ means, and we can break all of it down, and we all say them at different times as Christians, so I encourage you to have people sharpen you on it. So we write it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:17] And then the third thing is to pray about who you're going to send it to, and then for accountability, I've got two things for us. This is how I would do a life group. My email address is on the website, I'm one of the most accessible people I know, and I'm praying that I'll get over 1000 emails this week from you telling me that you wrote your story and where you sent it. Okay? Everybody has access to me. And then next week, I'm going to tell you how many people emailed me, this is real accountability. We generally think about accountability as did you look at pornography this week? No. Did you just lie to me? Maybe. No. And then we call that accountability. Accountability is way more than sexual accountability, accountability is day in, day out, in our following of Jesus. And as we're in the word, and he's calling us to be obedient that we're doing it. And it's okay if we mess it up, that's good accountability. Well, why did you not do it? Let's talk about that. And one of the reasons we wouldn't do this is because we don't treasure Jesus enough to do it. See, until March 27th, I was a family of five, and now we're a family of six, and we have no problem talking about the sixth edition to our family, we love that little guy, and we'll talk about him. We'll talk about what we treasure and love. Sometimes this is simply a treasuring and loving Jesus issue. Okay?

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:10] And then the last accountability will be I'm going to ask us here, and I hope it doesn't become low attendance Sunday next week, but I'm going to come back here and say, how did we do? All right, I'm not going to call anybody individually, I haven't figured out how I'll do it yet, but we'll figure it out. All right, is everybody game? Oh, that's more than the four I had in the first service, that's awesome.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:36] Let me pray with you. Father, thank you for today, and I'm so grateful to be in a church where we can challenge each other and love each other well. And God, we thank you for your love for us and your goodness towards us, God. And I pray that day in and day out that you would just cause us in our own hearts to love and treasure Jesus with all our being, and that we just be honest about where we are today. And I pray, God, that even in writing pen to paper or typing our story, that you'll work in our hearts and even just show us where we are in your story and help us not be afraid of that. And then, God, I pray you'll prompt so many people to share their story somewhere. And God, I pray we'd have thousands upon thousands of stories going out this week of the message of Jesus and the transforming work in our lives. And God, we look forward to talking about it, and praising you for it, and thanking you for it, and hearing what you do with it. And I pray in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:43] If we could just be quiet before the Lord, and can you just start asking him, where will I make the time this week to do this? And who am I going to send it to and share it with? And just see if he starts to prompt people in you already, and that there just being excitement about the opportunity as we move through the week.

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