Praying for the Laborer and the Lost

Sharing Your Faith Doesn't Have To Be Awkward - Learn How

Ross Sawyers
Apr 14, 2024    50m
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Do you feel apprehensive or ill-equipped when it comes to sharing your faith with friends, family, or others in your life? Many Christians struggle with knowing how to naturally transition conversations to spiritual matters and share the good news of Jesus. In this powerful message, you'll gain biblical insights and practical tips for overcoming the awkwardness around sharing your faith. Learn how to pray boldly, identify open doors, and confidently yet graciously guide others toward an encounter with Christ. Unlock your role in God's great mission! Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:00] What I'd like to do is continue, by praying, for what's going on in Israel at the moment. A friend of ours, or someone who's close to the church, they keep up pretty closely with what's going on. And, this is a prayer, from a friend in the army, that they were asking us to pray. So I just want to pray, this prayer, today, Almighty God, on high, omnipotent King, look down from your sanctified abode and bless the valiant soldiers of the American and Israeli military forces who risked their lives to protect the welfare of all your creation. Benevolent God, be their shelter and fortress and do not allow them to falter. May harmony dwell in their ranks. Victory in their battalions. Fill their hearts with faith and courage to thwart the evil schemes of our enemies, and to abolish every rule of evil. Protect them on land, in the air, and in the sea, and destroy their adversaries. Guide them in peace, lead them toward peace, and return them speedily to their families, alive and unharmed. As it is written, God will shield you from all evil; he will guard your soul. God will safeguard your departure and arrival from now and forevermore. Grant us true peace and fulfillment of the prophecy that nations shall not lift up sword against another nation, nor shall they learn war anymore. Let all the inhabitants of the world know that dominion is yours, and your name inspires all upon all that you've created. May this be your will, and let us say, Amen. God, I thank you for this prayer. And I pray, God, that all across the Middle East today, in addition to this, that the hearts of men, and women, of teenagers, boys, and girls would turn from being darkened and blinded by the evil one, and instead, God, that the beauty and truth and goodness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would flow in the hearts of those in that region of the world. I pray, God, for those who know you, that love you, that are working laboriously in that area for your name's sake, that you'd continue to empower them and strengthen them and embolden them, as they bring good news in the midst of a lot of hard. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:37] We're taking a little mini-series here that we started a week ago, and just thinking about how we can best be about evangelism and sharing our faith. And we started the year talking about worship. and then we spent, verse by verse in Titus. and then Easter, and now a three-week run in thinking about those who don't know Jesus, and how we can be a part of them coming to know Christ. I recognize this is an uncomfortable topic, for probably the better portion of people. as far as evangelism and sharing our faith with others that don't know Jesus. And I hope today we can put a little bit of a dent, in the awkwardness maybe that you feel, or the hesitancy that you feel, and we're going to think about how we pray today, for laborers, and for the lost, for those who are to be communicating the Gospel as well as those who are lost and haven't received the Gospel. One of the things that I'm passionate about in sharing our faith is that I listen for what I hear among our church, and I also listen for what I don't hear. And what I don't hear is very much active among our church body, people talking to other people about Jesus with the hope that that lost person will trust Jesus. Now, it may be happening everywhere, and somehow it just doesn't make its way back to me, and that's awesome. But I just think this is one of the more challenging pieces of our faith. and yet it's actually not an option in our faith.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:27] When we sing about God, and we praise him for who he is, and we think about the Holy Spirit of God, he's the one who empowers us to be able to communicate the Gospel to other people. When I think about that and think about what the Scripture says. One, it says that the commands of God are not a burden to us, and so we're actually commanded to share our faith, like it's not optional for the Christian, it's not my job only, it's not our staff's job, it's not our life group leader's job; it's their job, and it's everyone else's job, and it's a privileged job to have, and it's a mission that God has given to all of us. And so I hope, we can step forward in these 2 or 3 weeks, maybe a little bit more bold, a little bit more on point with the way God would have us to go in this regard.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:25] I'm going to challenge you pretty hard today, and I think that's okay, candidly, we need to be challenged. And know that it's out of a love for God and a love for other people, that we that we do this. So if you turn your Bibles to Colossians chapter 4:2-6, we'll be in verses 2 and 3.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:44] Before we do that, I want you to hear from a couple of our global workers that are in, Canada, and are living this out so well. Here's the danger in what I'm doing right here. I'm introducing some of you, and some of you know Scott and Suzanne, but I don't want you to think after you hear them and then hear me this morning, oh, that's for the global workers, that's for those who are called somewhere else and they're doing that, but that's just what they're called to do. No, they're called to a particular thing, and so are you, and so am I, and we just all have different things, different spheres of influence, different circles of people that God has for us. And I just want you to hear from Scott and Suzanne where they are, and what God's doing in regard to what will speak of today. And then I hope that you would consider inviting them to your life group, they're here for another 3 or 4 weeks stateside, and where you can hear more detail of what God's doing among them. And then there are cards out in the lobby, they are giving you ways to pray for them. And that's our focus today is praying for the laborer and the lost. So Scott and Suzanne, feel free to share.

Suzanne Norris: [00:07:00] So we are Scott and Suzanne Norris, and we have four lovely children, Andrew, who's here with us, he's 12, and then Philip, who's 11, Gideon, who's 9, and Juniper, who is 7. And we were sent out as global workers from 121, I think about 12 years ago, around the time Andrew was born and we were sent to Central Asia and we served there for, well, it's a long story, we actually met there, so about 16 years total, but about eight years as a family. And then about three years ago, we had, well, four years ago, we had a medical situation that transitioned us away from Central Asia to Canada.

Suzanne Norris: [00:07:47] And so, E.M. Bounds once said "The story of every great Christian achievement is the story of answered prayer." And these last two and a half years, this has really rung true in our lives. And so we pivoted pretty severely from what we were doing to this new thing, new people group, new country, even though Canada is similar in some ways to the US, it was very different from the country we had been living in. A new language, we were working with a Central Asian diaspora people group, an unreached people group. And yeah, and it was very clear that we were insufficient for that task, but the Lord worked and we're grateful to get to share some of those highlights today.

Scott Norris: [00:08:42] Yeah. We just want to thank you, first of all, I know many of you pray for us. And like Suzanne said, we are insufficient for this task, but we have 350 people praying for us. And as you think about praying for the laborers, praying for the lost in your own lives, you know, get people praying for you. We're going to see God do great things because God can do amazing things, obviously. This past term when we arrived, a new people group and a new situation, we had, we call our people the Purdy people for security reasons, we had like 4 or 6 people coming to a little Purdy fellowship. And when we left, we were able, because of the prayers and the Lord's work, we were able to see about 40, and it's still growing.

Scott Norris: [00:09:29] And what's more personal to us is, and if you're on our prayer updates, you know these people by name and you have been praying for these people, we were able to see four of our close friends baptized just in this term. And I mean, those of you who pray for us, you know them. If I say unto you, if I say God please, or if I say friend, you know who they are because you prayed for them whenever we were sharing with them when they came to faith, we rejoiced through ups and downs, then rejoiced with us in their baptism.

Scott Norris: [00:10:01] And then, thank you for praying for us throughout all the years. We have said many times that we don't even know if we would still be on the field if it wasn't for 121. Because you have supported us through some dark times in Central Asia, you've supported us through a really challenging medical transition, that we don't even have anymore, praise of God, God has taken care of that. As I thought about this, I thought of this story of praying for the laborers, praying for the lost. When we were in Central Asia, we used to drive to three different cities to do church planting work. And as we drove, we would pray for these little villages. And as we prayed for the villages, all the villages were the same, they didn't have water, outhouses, or donkey carts, but they all had a shiny mosque and a large Islamic graveyard. And it just broke our hearts because we just wondered if anyone had ever told them about Jesus, had anyone ever gone? And so we would pray, we pray for the Lord to send people to them. We prayed for the Lord to open a door for us to go to them. And right as we left Central Asia, we had one of the elders of our church come, our church that we had helped start, started going to plant a church in that village. And they said, Scott, you have to hear this, there are Christians already there, we found three Christians in this village. And I said, how we've never been there, and God didn't need us to go there. God answered our prayers as we were getting ready to go there to prepare the soil. And one lady had had a dream of a man in white, and he told her to go find the green book, and it would tell you the way, and the Green Book was the Bible. She was in a relative's house in a different city, and she saw a green book on it, said, Holy Book. That was what the Bible says in her language, it says Holy Book. She got it and took it back to the village and read it, and gave her life to follow Jesus. And she told two other people about it, and they had been reading it, and they had followed Jesus, and there were three believers already there because of your prayers and ours. And so thank you for praying. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for praying for our people. God is at work. And we're just really grateful to you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:17] Thank you. Scott. I love reading their newsletter. And again, the cards that are out in the lobby, you can get in on their newsletter, and you can be praying for them, and for what God's doing. And it's fun to watch, just actively, the way God is working in different parts of the world.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:42] So in Colossians chapter 4, verses 2 and 3, is where I want us to settle in, and tether ourselves a bit. And then I have homework for you today, and I want all of you, and here's my challenging piece today, I want all of you to write, there are note cards right in front of you, or if you run out of note cards, there are connection cards, and you can turn around and make that a note card, and if you're out of those, there's Spanish connection cards, so there are cards galore sitting around you, or if you take notes on your phone. And if you're wondering, can I see if you're taking notes or not, I can, I can see all over the room. So for healthy accountability, I'm watching to see if you're going to engage with what we're talking about. And I think there's something for everybody to write, as we think about, and I would actually say today, and this is probably a little iffy, but we're talking about ways to love God and love other people. And one of the ways we can really love God and love people today is to intensely lock into the scripture of what we're speaking of and then to go do something with it when we leave. That is actually loving God, and loving people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:03] A couple of things for definition. So I've just called this praying for the laborer and the lost. And I realized a few years ago, looking in Scripture, and this is anecdotal for me, I didn't count, so I don't know for sure, but it almost seems there's more scripture to pray for the laborer than there is for the lost. Again, I've not counted, I may be totally off, but I was praying less for the laborer, and I was praying more for the lost. Now I pray often for the laborer, I think as much as I pray for the lost. What do I mean by laborer? In the Scripture, I think that's a good time to talk about those who are actively out there trying to share their faith with somebody else. So when I talk about the laborer today, I'm talking about laboring for the sake of the Gospel. The Gospel means good news, and I'm out there laboring in the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of someone else to be able to hear the message of Jesus. Evangelism, by definition, is simply telling someone else about Jesus, it's shouting it out, it's heralding that news. It's just telling the Good News, that's what evangelism is. So we are about telling the Good News, and we're laboring to do it, but it's a privileged labor that we're a part of. So when I talk about laborers, that's what I'm speaking of. When I talk about the lost, I'm talking about people who have yet to believe in Jesus. And so that's a way to think about terms.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:38] So let's anchor ourselves in Colossians 4:2-3, and then practically think about what do we do with this. Verse 2, devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. Do we have that verse on here? We don't, okay, perfect. So the word devote...We found it, awesome. So let's circle devote. And again, I want to encourage you to do this in your Bibles. And there may be another way you have to do it; this is a way. But the word devote, is a word that means to be steadfast, it means to continue in, to be persistent, to be watchful, and grammatically, it's an imperative, which means it's a command. So this isn't like, hey, if you're a Christian, maybe occasionally if you want to, pray. This is, devote yourselves, it's something you do. You devote yourself to prayer, and you do it with an alert mind and a thankful heart. So "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart."

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:53] Lisa and I have gone to a couple of musicals in the last few months. Someone in our church, their granddaughter was in a musical, and teenagers and children do it, and it kind of captured our attention after we did it. And then Jordan talked about how he goes to musicals also, so we're just like a musical-going staff. But Lisa and I went to another one, and as I watched those children and students, I see devotion among them. They're devoted to memorizing the lines of their character. Those who are really good actors and actresses are devoted to understanding the emotions and what that character is all about, and that kind of comes through. They're devoted to learning the blocking, so they know where they're supposed to be and when they're supposed to be there. And they're devoted to learning the songs so that they can sing. And for the life of me, I would never be coordinated enough to be able to sing a song and do the acting and the moving and the dancing and all the things that they do. They are devoted to their craft, and the rest of us get to enjoy it as a result of their devotion.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:01] That's what I'm talking about with prayer, it's a craft. We're devoting ourselves to something, and we're going to get in there and learn how to do it. And I've started in one spot, and when someone gets their script in theater, at first, they don't know it and then they learn it. And the more they go, and the more they work at it, the better and better they get at what their part is. So we're devoting ourselves to prayer. So we're committed to learning how to pray, and to be about what he's telling us to devote ourselves to. Prayer is simply communication; it's talking and listening to God. And what a privilege, that as Christians, that God is allowing us to be in dialog with him where we can bring things to him and talk with him, and then we also listen to him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:52] Now, he says to be alert, in First Thessalonians, Paul tells the church there that they're to, "Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Rejoice, pray without ceasing, that's all the time. And it's so it is to pray with an alert mind, so be alert as you pray, which means it's all the time happening. So there's that carved-out time when we're alone with God and we pray, but it's as we're going, whether I'm at work, at play, or wherever I am, I'm always alert in prayer. And rolling in the background of my mind as I pray, is thankfulness. It's like the credits rolling over and over and over again, it's always in the backdrop, in the forefront, gratitude. And when we're grateful, we tend to be more content. And when we're grateful and content, we get the focus off of ourselves and we can actually be about others. To devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it, with an attitude of thanksgiving. Have an alert mind and a thankful heart. This is a New Living Translation; I'm mixing two translations with the New American Standard. So we pray, we devote ourselves to prayer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:14] Now what are we praying for? There are a number of things to pray, but in this particular part of the scripture, we're praying this, in verse 3, Pray for us too, that God will give us many opportunities." So pray for us, "To speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That's why I'm here in chains." So what are we praying? Paul, who wrote this letter to the Colossians, is asking that they'll pray for him, and that God will give him many opportunities; the New American Standard talks about open doors. So what we're praying is for laborers to have open doors. Paul is one of the boldest men I know that spoke about Jesus, and here he is asking the church to pray for him. He's the laborer bringing the Gospel, and he's asking for them to pray for him and to open doors for him, for God's Word to go out to the lost.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:25] You say, well, gosh, if you knew the circumstances I was in right now, this just didn't really where I am at the moment. I've got so much going on, I've got this health issue, I've got this happening, I got this, I mean, my schedule is just out of control. But Paul was in prison when he wrote this, and I think it's fine that we would pray, he would love it if people were praying for him that he would be able to get out of prison, but that wasn't his focus. His focus is this is where I am, and while I'm here in this circumstance, God, will you open doors for the word to go out about Jesus? So no matter where you are or where I am, no matter what your circumstances are or where my circumstances are, God puts us in particular places so that the word can go out. God has given you a particular income so that you might be in a particular neighborhood, and God has you in that neighborhood for a reason. And it's not just so you can live there, it's so that there can be wide open doors with your neighbors. And God has put you in a particular occupation so that there might be wide open doors for Jesus to be spoken. And there might be a season when you're in a hospital or you're facing something you would rather not be facing, you never asked for it. But God has you there in that moment, not just for that, but for open doors for the Gospel. That's what we see with Paul, constant, wherever he is, God open doors so that the Gospel can go out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:13] You'll hear me tell stories about the gym all the time. The reason that I'm at the gym and where I am where I get the best opportunities to tell stories, I'm usually laying on my back in the sauna, or I'm sitting in a hot tub, and I'm doing that because I had back surgery when I was 31 years old, and I've got other parts of my body that don't work. I'm trying to keep moving, that's my goal. But what happened over time, by being in position and doing that, God has opened up all kinds of doors for the Gospel. Where does God have you for the sake of doors to be open so that the lost might come to know Christ?

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:00] Next week, we'll talk more about ways to get into a conversation and what to say in that conversation. But last week, Robby Lashua, who led us, did you catch the one thing he talked about that he says to get a conversation going? Now, this could be awkward, it's not usually how we talk, but I thought it was fantastic. Do you remember what he said? Whenever there's an issue brought up, he says the reason I believe this is because of a dead man that was raised from the grave, and he said it. There's one way to get into a conversation; that will be a conversation starter or a conversation ender. You'll know if the Holy Spirit of God is working in that moment once you put that out there.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:58] That's a way to figure out, is God working? Is the Spirit of God working? But the prayer here, so together, let's pray for the laborer and the lost, that's what we see in verses 2 and 3. Now, I want to give you specific ways to do this. So I want to think about laborer verses to pray, and these are the kinds of things I'd like you to write today. So you're thinking, well, I don't really know what to pray for the laborer, for the person that wants to share the Gospel or is sharing the Gospel. Here are six verses that if you just pray these verses verbatim, this would be ways to pray for the laborer. Okay? So John, chapter 4, verses 23 and 24, by the way, you can write it on the card, I don't have it in my Bible this time, but sometimes when I find an area like this in Colossians 4:2-3, I might write the six verses somewhere on that page so that I have them there as well. So your choice, if you like keeping up with notes or if you want it in your Bible. So in John 4, verses 23 and 24, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." So I'm praying that first and foremost, that those who know Jesus are laborers who are worshipers in spirit and truth. And then I'm praying that we'll have the same desire as our Father to seek people to be worshipers of God. That's ultimately what evangelism is about. Sure we get the opportunity to be rescued from hell and brought to heaven, that's true, and ultimately what God is seeking is true worshipers. So any time we talk about Jesus to somebody, and they come to know Jesus, they become then a worshiper of Jesus. That's what the Father seeks, so that's what I'm praying for laborers.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:04] In Matthew chapter 28, verses 19 and 20, this is known as the Great Commission. It says, "Go therefore..." In verse 18, it says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." So make, go, and make disciples. That means this is for every person that's a Christian, is to go and make disciples. And to make a disciple is to lead somebody to know Jesus. And once they know Jesus and are a disciple of Jesus, then they've become a worshiper of his. So we're praying that we would be makers of disciples.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:47] In Luke chapter 19, verse 10, This is the story of Zacchaeus. You might be familiar with the story, you know, and you got the cute little song, and the wee little man, and he goes up in a tree and he's looking for Jesus. It's not the point of the story. Jesus, in the midst of the story, says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” This is why Jesus came, he came, he has come to seek and to save the lost. He's not afraid to look at a man who's lost, which means he doesn't know Jesus, that's what he means by that, and to tell him he's lost, this is why Jesus came. So he's a seeker of those of us who are praying for laborers, that we would be seekers of those who are lost. That they might be saved, become disciples, and therefore worshipers of God. See the flow? This is what we pray for people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:47] Then in Matthew 9:36-38, "Seeing the people, (this is Jesus) "He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." So we're praying that his laborers that when we see people, that our hearts are broken over the distress and dispiritedness of them. Verse 37, "Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:31] Do you remember Covid? We came out of Covid, and you'd go to a restaurant around here, and sometimes half the restaurant was shut down. Why? Because there weren't enough workers. There were plenty of jobs available in the restaurants, but there weren't enough workers, so they were limited in what they could actually do. That's what Jesus is saying. There are all kinds...I was at a ministry meeting the other day with a group called Groundwire, and stats show us today that 70% of Gen Z. That's 13 to 26-year-olds, they are curious and want to know about Jesus. Do you know where the problem is? There are not enough people to talk to them about Jesus. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore our prayer..." In verse 38, it says beseech, beseech is a fancy word for pray, “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” So we're asking God to send people out to work for him to bring the message of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:58] And in Romans 10:1, "Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. So we're praying that our heart's desire would be for the salvation of others. Do you know what Paul goes on to say after he says that? He said I would give up my salvation for the sake of my countrymen to come to know Jesus. Our hearts, are they so burdened for the people in our own nation, that we give up our own salvation for them to know Jesus? So we're praying that that would be our heart's desire, and if not, that, God would give us that desire.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:40] And then Romans chapter 1, verse 16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." We're praying that laborers will not be ashamed of the Gospel, will not be ashamed of it. And we at least have to ask the question, if I'm not actively seeking those who are lost to communicate Christ to them, then am I ashamed of Jesus? If I'm not willing to talk about Jesus in my workspace, if I'm not willing to talk about him on the sidelines, if I'm not willing to talk about him in the theater, if I'm not willing to talk about him in my neighborhood, then I at least have to ask the question, am I ashamed of him? And then we'd want to be really careful of our answer because Jesus said in Matthew chapter 10, if you confess me before men, then I'll confess you before my father. But if you don't confess me before men, I won't confess you before my Father. That's Jesus's words. Six verses that we pray.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:00] Let me pray this as a way to model for you how to pray. Vince, I'm going to use your name, okay? So I'm going to pray for Vince. He's good with this, by the way, so the rest of you don't have to panic, I'm not going to call you out. This is how I would pray for Vince as a laborer. So let's pray, and I'm just praying through those scriptures. Father, I thank you for Vince, I thank you that he's a true worshiper of yours in spirit and truth. And I pray, God, for Vince that he'll be an active seeker of people that don't know you, to be true worshipers of you in spirit and truth and God. Will you give him the boldness and desire to make disciples of people, as Jesus did, to seek and to save the lost so that they might be a disciple who is a worshiper? And God, I pray for Vince that he would be an active laborer in a plentiful harvest. And God, that you use him to encourage other people to be active laborers in the harvest as well. And God, I thank you that his desire is for others to know you. And I pray, God, for those who say they do know you, but that's not their desire, I pray it would be their desire, God, for the salvation of others. And then, God, I pray for Vince that he would not be ashamed of the Gospel, because it's the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Amen. We can all do this. All you have to do is just read the scriptures that I just gave you and insert names in there and that's powerful. We can't go wrong praying God's Word for people. We pray for the laborer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:42] All right, who are the laborers? Are you ready? Here's your next exercise. This one, I learned earlier, I was unfair in the way I went at it. So I want you to draw concentric circles, you know how you chunk a rock in the water, and then kind of get concentric circles out of that. That's what I want to do, to think about people who are in your life and in my life. But there are seven of them, so be careful how big you draw it on your paper, I frustrated some people earlier when I got to the seventh one.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:12] So in the first one, self. Just write the word self. And I got this from a book called Concentric Circle of Concerns by Oscar Thompson. So self. In the second circle, it is family, so write the word family. You are doing a great job out there, at the minimum, you're looking down good. Okay, then after family, relatives. Fourth circle, friends. Fifth circle, I'm actually going to end up in trouble, neighbors, and coworkers. Sixth circle, acquaintances. Made it, seventh circle, person X. Now you'll hear me tell stories a lot about person X. That's the person you're sitting on the airplane with, you meet them once and you'll probably never see them again. Acquaintances, that can be like the person that cuts your hair, or you go to the same gas station, you might run into someone there. And then I think the rest makes sense as to who they are.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:04] You'll hear me talk again about person X quite a bit. I would say to you, that you've probably got 4-500 people that you know before you ever get to a person X, that God has put in your sphere of influence. And so this is what I want to cheer you on today this week for homework. Okay, this is your assignment. Take each category, each circle, and write out everybody you know in that circle. I do this on Evernote on my computer, and I've got categories, and I write out all the different people in those categories. But write out self, write it out, put your name in there. And then put family, and with your family, that your immediate family. And then your relatives, that's when it can start to get long, depending on what your relatives are, who are, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, wherever they live all over the country. And if someone asked me earlier in the first service, they said, what if we don't like them? Put them in there, this is a whole idea. Then your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers. Can you see where you'd end up with quite a few people that God has given you in your sphere of influence? Okay.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:26] So what I want you to do then is to write them all out and then go back through and try to identify who are laborers for the Gospel in my spheres of influence. Who actively engages and tries to share their faith with other people, and I want to pray this scripture for them. And then who in here says they're a Christian in my spheres of influence, but they don't actively engage it? Who is that? And then I want to pray that God would stir their heart to be an active laborer for him. Make sense? Get that? All right, you probably wouldn't tell me no anyway. I want to leave that here, and I know I've got other scriptures that were going to come up. Let's just have it on the screen, because I want to leave the circles here, I'm coming back to them. So that's one exercise.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:19] The second category of things we're talking about together praying for the laborers and the lost. Here's scripture to pray for the lost, for those who don't know Jesus. And I'll move through this fairly quickly. Second Corinthians chapter 4, verses 3 and 4. And what Paul is saying there, is that the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving. The reason people don't believe is because Satan is the God of this world, and he's blinded their minds so that they can't see. So I want to pray that their minds would be unblinded, and that instead, they would be able to see the light of Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:01] Second Corinthians chapter 10, verses 3 through 5. There Paul says that our war is not against the flesh, it's not against each other, it's an active battle in the divine and heavenly places. And I'm praying that speculations and any lofty knowledge built up against God would be destroyed. What does that mean? What Satan does is he flings arrows at us. And as one guy said, it's like thoughts with the will behind it, he lands those, and that lie then takes root inside of us, and then a fortress is built up and I start believing that lie. It could be a lie about another religion that's anti-Jesus. It could be all the different lies we see perpetuated today about how to be happy, there are so many ways we end up with lies built up in us. But I'm praying that God will destroy and demolish those fortresses and those lives, and instead that their minds will be taken captive by the thoughts of Christ. and instead that there would be fortresses of truth that are built up in that person, and that those lies get demolished and removed, okay, so we're praying that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:27] The third thing we pray is Jeremiah 17:9, and the Scripture says that the heart is deceived, it's desperately sick. And so we're praying that deceived and sick hearts will be made well. In Mark 1:15, Jesus comes on the scene, and what does he say? Repent and believe, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And so we're praying that lost people will see Jesus who died for them on the cross, God who raised him from the dead. That's good news today, our sin, our shame, judgment against us, the penalty for it, all of it, the condemnation, all is relieved at the cross, and we're praying that people will see that, and then repent and believe. And we don't need to be afraid of the word repent, we need to be careful when people are telling us stories about, so when do you think you trusted Jesus? Well, somewhere back here, you know what, some bad things were going on in my family, and then they got fixed. Well, yes, God does that, but that's not your salvation. Salvation is when somewhere along the line, we realize I am sinful, blinded, deceived, and I need help. And the only thing that will break that deception and that blindness and allow me to see, is Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and I'm repenting of believing anything else, and now I'm believing everything about Jesus, and I'm surrendering and yielding to him. That's when salvation happens. It's not when there was this incident that God did something for you. It's an incident where you realize I am dead in sin and I need help, and God's the only one that can raise me up. We're praying that people repent and believe have genuine salvation. In Colossians 1:13-14, "He would rescue us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." We're praying that God will rescue the lost. That's five verses that you can pray for lost people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:39] The same exercise, once you go through your concentric circles where you have influence and you're looking for those who are laborers to pray for, or for those who are not in You. Pray for them to be a laborer. Now go through, and who is lost in there, and start with yourself, do I really know Jesus or not? That is what I just talked about. Then look at your family, who my family's lost. Who are my relatives that are lost? Do I even know the stories of my family? I just guessing because they went to a Lutheran church when they grew up and so they must be okay. I could use the Baptist church, or Methodist, pick a church, I'm just saying, do we really know the story? And then friends, do I know if they know Jesus like this or not? Do this exercise as you're looking for the laborer and you're looking for the lost.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:44] I want to give a picture as we wrap up. So that's your assignment. Then next week we'll talk about how you would have a conversation with them. If you get a chance, email me, text me, and let me know how this is going, and any questions you have? I'm praying that God will just unleash us, first as prayers for the laborer and the lost, and then we'll just see the fruit of praying and asking him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:14] On Monday, I was determined that I would not tell a story about the eclipse because every pastor in America will be doing that today. But I was so stunned by it, that I really ended up with no choice in my mind, in the picture of what we're talking about today. So it's the perfect alignment, right, of the Earth and the moon, and the sun. How perfectly spherical is the moon to be able to blot out the sun in its entirety, at least from our view, for what, four minutes? And it was stunning when it was dark, and we had several of our staff and we had the solar eclipse glasses. We were on the roof of this building. I'm sure there are safety issues in that regard, but we were there. And John Calvin, theologian, said that when we're looking at creation, we're looking at the theater of God's glory. And it's like being in a theater with 3-D glasses, right? Instead, we were outside in God's theater, and it was solar eclipse glasses by some advertisers that I have no idea if these glasses are good or not, we're probably all going to have eye issues in the days ahead, that's another story. But we're looking and you see it, and then everything goes dark, and then a few minutes later, four minutes later, whatever, it starts to lighten up again. and a rooster crowed over here. It got thrown off a little bit.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:46] But if you can just get in your mind the picture of the moon and when it was just perfectly blocking the sun between us and it, that is the picture of every human heart, it is darkened by sin, and it is covered inside and out. And then the movements happening, right? And so now we see the sun and you see a little bit at a time, and then it's finally removed. And only through the shed blood and broken body of Jesus can that darkness be removed, and now the light of Christ comes into our lives. But just like there were slivers of the sun that we saw, and then half the sun that we saw, and then the rest of the sun that we saw. That's also the journey for the rest of our days once our hearts have been cleansed by Jesus. That will be made more and more like him, and we are fighting off remaining sin and darkness, and that we're getting more and more lit up by Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:54] And then finally, when the end comes and he comes back, then we'll see him just as he is in all his glory and we'll be revealed with him, and we'll be able to see him, and we won't be looking through some stupid glasses at him. We will see him in all his purity, all his holiness, and all his radiance. Why not invite other people to be able to have that same experience?

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:30] Father thank you for our time in your word. And God, I pray that our hearts will just be so ignited for you, that we could do nothing but devote ourselves to prayer. And to have in it and to be alert in it, the gratitude within us, and to pray for people like Paul that doors would open up for the Good News of Jesus to go out. And that when it lands on those who are lost, that their minds would be darkened no more, and instead, God, that they would surrender and repent and believe you. That their lives would be lit up freshly with Jesus. Thank you for not only commanding us to do this, but giving us the privilege to do it, God. And I pray any obstacles in our hearts and minds you would remove. This week, God, will you give us the margin? Would you cause us to be devoted to set the space to write the names of all the people, hundreds of people that you've put in our path? God that we would be the laborers in a harvest, just waiting to hear and have conversations about Jesus. That more and more people would become worshippers. But God ignite our hearts to that end and let this song of worship be one that so resonates in our hearts that we can't help but give back to you a glad response to the worthiness of who you are.



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