The Path To A Refreshed Life

In A World Full Of Stress It Is Crucial To Turn To God For Spiritual Refreshment

Ross Sawyers
Feb 13, 2022    54m
Have you found yourself struggling with stress? In our fast-paced world, it is easy to get exhausted; that is why it is crucial to turn to God for spiritual refreshment. When we believe in what Christ did for us, and we repent and return to Him, then refreshment may come. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

More From This Message

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:08] A couple of years ago, we established a vision that God has for us for the next few years, Vision 2025, and the core idea of it is to establish worship where there is none. And any time you use a phrase to give words for a vision, usually there has to be some explanation to follow it. The reality is, every person is a worshiper, every person across the world today worships something. The word means to give worth to, ascribe worth to, and it's something we'll give ourselves to, we'll give our lives to it, and we either give our lives to ourselves, we give our lives to an occupation, we give our lives to money, we give our lives to God, we give our lives to something. So when we're talking about establishing worship where there is none, we're actually talking about establishing the worship of Jesus, where there is none. And that the darkness would be pushed back and that the light would press in, and that where there was no worship of Jesus before that, there would be now.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:09] Part of that vision is to do church plants, to start churches where there are none, and to be a part of what God is doing with that kind of work across the nation and across the nations. One of our core values is to partner in ministry, and we found over the years that we can do best when we partner with others that know what they're doing in particular realms and ministries.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:33] In Vision 2025, during 2020, we began a partnership with Seven Mile Church on Cape Cod, so during the pandemic, the plant started. We're partnering with them, and they're doing fantastic, they're off to a great start on Cape Cod.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:51] Also in 2020, we partnered with six church planters in Burkina Faso, a country in Africa. And if you've been tracking the news lately, there are a number of things that are going on in the news, but one of them is that Boko Haram, a Muslim terrorist group, has executed a military coup in Burkina Faso, which puts our church planters and Christians and even more danger in that country.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:20] If you're ever wondering when we talk about Christians who are persecuted, what is that? What does that look like? Well, it's for real, and we're partnered with it right now with people who are facing the threat, they literally are facing threats against their own lives because they are followers of Jesus, and I love their boldness and courage in their words. We're partnering with six planters in Burkina Faso.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:45] And then, in 2021, we established a partnership with Randel Bishop, who is planting a church in South Dallas. And today I want you to be introduced to him, to have an idea of who he is and what his heartbeat and vision is for this plant in South Dallas.

Randel Bishop: [00:03:05] My name is Randle Bishop, is was born here in Dallas, Texas, raised in the city of Lewisville, Texas. My mom was from the city, my mom was from Arlington Park, Texas, a little neighborhood here in Dallas. And so when I was born, we moved to Lewisville, which is where my dad was from. And so living in Lewisville, it was kind of like being torn from your place of being, so to speak, so all of my cousins, all of the rest of my family lived here in Dallas and Arlington Park and the Oak Cliff area.

Randel Bishop: [00:03:31] My life before Christ was one that started off as a beautiful narrative, right? I mean, I was obviously the newborn baby to a newlywed couple, but my father was addicted to heroin and due to that addiction, he passed away from an overdose. And so what started out as a beautiful narrative, kind of ended early on in brokenness. My mom did an outstanding job of trying to raise me on her own, because I was a young man without a father trying to find his way as a man, and she was trying to give me all that she could but couldn't fulfill the role of a father. Early on, you know, I would ask my mom questions like what happened to the dinosaurs? You know, who are Adam and Eve? Like asking these kinds of questions? Because early on, we were always in church, but I was an inquisitive kind of young guy, you know, I was always asking questions.

Randel Bishop: [00:04:24] My mom was the greatest influence, I believe, just shortly after my father passed, she had me memorize a verse of scripture from First Peter 5:7, I still remember it to this day. And I can remember her saying, hey, open that Bible right there, it was a big old Bible, open that Bible right there. And I opened it up to the passage that she showed me to look at.

Randel Bishop's Mom: [00:04:46] Don't forget the scripture first Peter, five and seven six casting all your tears upon him before he turned for you.

Randel Bishop: [00:04:55] So, casting my cares upon the Lord, because he cares for me, has always been a kind of anchor verse for my life. And coming to Christ, she was the greatest influence. And then also, I would just say pastors that were in and out of my life, there was another man by the name of Bishop W.C. Green, who was basically a surrogate grandfather, if you will, who came into my life via some other relationships that my family had, and he was a pastor. And when I came to Christ, he was one of the first people that I remembered was a strong believer, and I would always call him and ask questions.

Randel Bishop: [00:05:35] So when I came to Christ, it was the summer of 2004. I remember being in my room that I was in at the time, and I had my Bible in one hand, and I had a blunt and the other hand, and I was just smoking weed. And I remember trying to figure my life out, and I was like, God, like, I need to hear from you. And as clear as day, as I'm smoking and reading my Bible at the same time, the Spirit of God begins to convict me and say, I will not have you read my word like that. And all those things that I had learned from my mom, from Papa Green, and from others, it just begin to weigh on me. And I was convicted, and I was convicted, and I knew that I was in danger of experiencing God's judgment. After becoming a believer, I wanted to just be trained to rightly handle God's word, learn what I needed to learn about ministry, and preparing to be a pastor.

Randel Bishop: [00:06:27] And while I was at Moody, they call it the Moody Bridal Institute, so I found my wife there. We got married in 2009, we have a large family, five kiddos, and we also have a heart for ministry. And so coming out of Moody, and also attending Southern Seminary, we always realized that we wanted to get back to ministry. And so when I learned about the Trinity, I was like man, this is a big God who loves his people, and his redemptive work in the world has different facets and different aspects to it, that the father is good, so he sends the Son into the world. And the Son is faithful and obedient to the will of the Father and dies in the place of sinners. And in that, the Spirit is willing to aid and give him so freely to accomplish the enabling and empowering work that the son set out to do through believers.

Randel Bishop: [00:07:23] And so when I was like, man, I'm going to start a church, like, I'm going to call it Trinity. Ironically, moving back to Dallas, you see that there is a river that runs through our city called the Trinity, so that was not something that I was trying to do. But it's like a good comparison, like the Trinity in the Bible, is full of life, He gives life. Even the Bible talks about. From this God, there's a river that flows from his throne that provides nourishment for the nations. And this God, who is the Trinity, calls us out to be his people through the Gospel, and so that's why you have the church. So that's why I've decided to call it Trinity Gospel Church, to pick up on those themes, those big parts and components of my own life, whereby I hope to help people understand something of what it means to be a Christian and to be a part of the family of God.

Randel Bishop: [00:08:17] I never set out as a little kid having lost my father, growing up in a single-parent home, running the streets, getting suspended from a historically black college, to going to Bible college, like in all of that, I never thought that I would be a pastor. But God was super gracious through that whole span of life, and when I came back to Dallas, I found that everything that I experienced early on, the brokenness and the loss of my father, the influences of church leaders, the influence of family members like my mom and others, and my story fits the context where we want to do ministry. That people can resonate with what we're trying to accomplish, people can see that the gospel of Jesus Christ has something specifically tailored for their experience, and that Jesus is not somebody who doesn't sympathize with our weaknesses, but he meets us wherever we are. Whether you grew up in an apartment, whether you grew up in a house, whether you grew up without parents, whether you grew up with one parent, like God is faithful to meet us where we are. To bring us into his story, so that we can experience what it truly means to be a family, and what it means to be a part of His church.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:44] I had lunch with Randel. Yeah, go ahead. I had lunch with Randel a few weeks ago, just really excited about the opportunity that our church has to partner with him, and there will be opportunities for us along the way to be a part of what's going on in that part of what God is doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:03] If you turn your Bibles to Acts chapter 3, we'll be in verses 11 through 26. And in these couple of months, we're hanging out in Acts 3, 4, and 5, as we continue to make our way through God's establishing of the early church. And at this point in Acts chapter 3, there have already been thousands of people that have responded to the message of Christ and now they're followers of Jesus. The church is being established; a number of things are happening.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:30] And in the first ten verses of Acts 3, we saw a week ago, that Peter and John come to the temple and there was a lame man from birth that had been placed outside the temple, and people passed by him every day, he was begging. And then Peter brings healing to him, and after never having walked before, all of a sudden, this man and people had seen him over the years, now he's walking, and the place just kind of goes crazy as he praises God for it, and then people are filled with wonder and amazement.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:07] Now, one thing that we know, and we look at healings that took place in the Book of Acts, in the early church, we also see it with Jesus, that when someone was healed, the purpose, certainly part of the purpose, is a person being healed. It seems like the greater purpose, though, is that God is glorified, and it opens up an opportunity for the Gospel to go out. And that's what we see Peter doing here, not only does this man all of a sudden who couldn't walk, now he can walk, now Peter seizes the moment. And I think that's a good thing for us to learn as we look at what Peter did, he saw the moment, he saw what God was doing, and he took advantage of the moment to lay out the why and the how. How did this just occur and why did it just occur? And he makes it very clear in what is his second sermon so far in the Book of Acts of how it happened, and why it happened.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:08] I'd like for us to think about it, in sort of this big idea today, of the path to a refreshed life. When we look at 11 through 26, we'll see a pathway to how to live a refreshed life. Now I think we live in a day where so many are absolutely exhausted, we're worn out by everything that's going on around us. The pandemic has worn us out. The incessant negative news has worn us out. And if we think that sometime soon that's going to end, then there's a war that may break out soon, and then there's inflation that may hit higher, and then there's something else. It's not going away, all the things around us, and so can we live a refreshed life with this deluge of negativity and exhaustion that is piled on to us? And I actually believe that in Act three, eleven to twenty-six, we see a pathway so that we can be refreshed. In the midst of anything that's going on, as followers of Jesus, we can live in continual refreshment, and we can be a refreshment to people around us. I'd like to think about that with two words, the word resurrection and the word repentance. I don't believe this is a typical pathway that people look for to be refreshed, and yet it is the path that God has unfolded for the very thing that we're after.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:36] Let's begin in verse 11, it's a transitional kind of verse into the next part of what Peter does. And he says, "While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement." That is a pretty cool picture of what's happened, and I think this is naturally what would happen, if somebody helps us when we're in a dire situation, our natural inclination would be to cling to them, to stay with them, to do something to express our gratitude to them, and it seems that's what's happening here. Now the temple is a massive structure with a number of courtyards, and it seems what happened is after this man was healed, then Peter and John, and then that man with him clinging to them, went a good distance to a place where now Peter would begin to talk about what happened and how it happened and why it happened. They were clinging to him, that that man was.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:40] And then I love what else was happening here, because the people who saw it, they ran together to see what else was going to happen. They ran together. And I like seeing that in scripture when God describes what happens, when there's really good news that something happens, and people run to that, they are just desperate for good news. And the good news here is this man could walk, I wonder what else these guys are going to do, and so they run to him. It's like Luke 2, when Jesus was born, and the angels appeared to the shepherds and the shepherds were told that the Savior had been born. They didn't just stand there and ponder that for a while and think, what are you talking about? They hurried to get to the newborn Savior, they they ran to him. And in the same way here, we see that the people are running to see what's happening, and they're full of amazement.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:39] Now, I think we can learn from our culture how to be amazed at things. Now I'm beginning to wonder, who are the real sports fans at 121? I'm wondering who? Thank you, we've got one hand, I see your hand in the back. Yesterday, the Waste Management Classic Golf Tournament was being played. So if you're a golf fan, you'll love this. If you're not, I'm going to try to explain it. But when you think about golf, what do you think about? One thing I think about over the years is that you think about etiquette, and you think about quiet and calm, and everybody's quiet while somebody takes their shot so you don't mess up their shot. And then the crowds, when a shot is made, that's good, there's usually a polite clap about it, that's golf in the past.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:36] There's a new generation coming through, and there's a new way to make it more exciting. This isn't at every golf tournament, it's at the Waste Management Classic in Arizona, hole number 16, par three, it is surrounded by stands loaded with fans. It's like a U-shaped surrounding the greens, it's going this way and that way, and it's surrounding the green, almost the hole. You've got all these people, I don't know how many thousands are in the stands, there were a lot. And it looked to me like most every one of them had a beer in their hand, I think they either had it in a cup or they had it in a can, but they had beer in their hand. And Sam Ryder has never had a hole in one in competition, PGA competition, but yesterday, on the 16th hole, he couldn't have asked for a better day to hit a hole in one. And the whole place just erupted, you can see them watching it. You YouTube this today, it'd be worth it. And they're just they are watching, and the ball hits, and then it rolls to the left, right into the cup. And as soon as it does, everybody hands up, beer flies, it goes everywhere, they, on purpose, throw it at each other. I mean, they can't stand it, they're so amazed by the shot that they just witnessed. And then somebody got the idea of throwing the beer cans out onto the green. Who does that at a golf course? It's just beer cans and cups flying everywhere, it was littered with beer cans and cups, and the volunteers came out there with their black bags and started picking up the beer cans and cups, amidst this raucous crowd?

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:21] Man, if they can get that fired up about a hole in one, can we not learn how to be that fired up when we see Jesus do something in somebody's life? Could we not have that same kind of, and just learn from how our culture celebrates a golf hole in one, and let's just get our beer cans out and start throwing them at each other, I just can't imagine a better time. But we can learn, and does it stir our hearts when we see Jesus do things like he did here? In taking a man who couldn't walk from the time he was born, and now today could. They were stunned, they were amazed.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:09] Now, "When Peter saw this..." In verse 12, "...He replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?" And he asked a good question, they're amazed at Peter and John, they're not seeing past them to God, the God who did this miracle, they're amazed at these men. And we live in a celebrity culture, not unlike then, they would have looked at these men and they would have put them on the pedestal for something that they did.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:42] Lionel Messi, today, is one of the best soccer players, football players, ever, three hundred and six million Instagram followers. We love celebrities, we love following celebrities, we love exalting celebrities. And they're doing this here, all of a sudden because this man could walk, the crowds are going crazy, and it looks like they're pouring their praise on these two men. But I love what Peter does, he knows better, he knows his own heart, he knows who did this, and it wasn't him. And he resets their gaze, he turns their attention to the one who's worthy of praise.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:31] It reminds me of Psalm 27:4, I was reading the other day and the psalmist said, "I have asked one thing from the LORD, It is what I desire, to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the LORD and seeking Him in His temple." Oh, that's my prayer, my gaze can go so many ways. But I ask God, we help my gays be set on you, on your beauty. And that's exactly what Peter is doing, he's trying to get them to set their gaze on the one who has the power to bring the healing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:15] And now he starts to describe who the one is that brought the healing about. Verse 13, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus." We see Peter, in these few verses, he really highlights the character of Jesus. And the thing he starts off with immediately, is that Jesus is the Suffering Servant. In Isaiah 52, the end of it, and Isaiah 53, we see the Messiah described as the Suffering Servant. There are other passages in the Old Testament that project Jesus as the Suffering Servant. And Peter starts out by talking about how God has glorified His servant, Jesus, He glorified Him. "The one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him." God glorified his servant, Jesus. And then he says to them, and he's not really condemning them, he's giving them responsibility for what they did.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:38] Now, we live in a culture that would prefer to push off responsibility onto someone else. We would rather be the ones who are, well, we don't like responsibility, and so we push it. And Peter is saying, Look, you need to own what you did, just own it and take responsibility for it. So he says, "The one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate." In Luke 22:13-25, Jesus is standing before Pilate, there's a crowd that's in a frenzy in front of Pilate. Three times, Pilate says, I find no guilt in this man. And yet what often happens to leaders when there's a frenzied crowd, they don't hold to what they know is right, and they capitulate to the crowd, that's what Pilate did. Three times, I can't find any guilt in this man, then he hands him over anyway. That is a gutless leader, it's a people-pleasing leader.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:53] And he says this is what you did, but verse 14, "But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you." Suffering Servant, He's the Holy One, and he's the Righteous One, this is the descriptor of Jesus. The word holy means, perfectly pure. He's righteous, he's upright in who he is, it's a perfect righteousness. He's the Suffering Servant who's both holy and righteous, he says, but you asked for a murderer to be granted to you. Isn't it ironic that what they asked is for Barabbas, who was a murderer, to be released and instead for Jesus to be murdered in verse 15, "But you put to death the Prince of life."? So another descriptor of Jesus, Peter is heavy on describing who Jesus is, he's the Prince of life. He's the one that brings life, and you put him to death.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:07] "The one whom God raised from the dead..." Verse 15, "A fact to which we are witnesses." You put him to death, God raised him from the dead. The path to a refreshed life is a resurrected life, Jesus bore the sins of the world, he took on the wrath of God on Himself, so we wouldn't have to. He took the judgment of God, so we could escape the judgment of God, all this for the glory of God. God raised him from the dead, he resurrected, so we're witnesses to this, we saw it. Paul would later write and say that if Christ has not been raised then you're still in your sins and your faith is worthless. He would say if our hope is in Christ in this world only, we're most to be pitied, it's contingent on the resurrection, and a refreshed life is contingent on what we believe about the resurrection of Christ. So he's the Resurrected One.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:16] Look at everything that Peter says about him, he's the Suffering Servant. He's the Holy One, the Righteous One, the Prince of life, the Resurrected One, he just talks about who Jesus is, and he's weaving in the very character of Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:30] Verse 16, He actually answers after talking about the death and resurrection of Christ, now he answers the question he asked in verse 12. Why are you gazing at us? Why are you looking at us as if we're the ones that have the power? And he answers it in verse 16, “On the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all." So he answers the question, how did this happen? It happened on the basis of faith in the name of Jesus, faith matters. Jesus praised the faith of a centurion, who believed that Jesus himself could heal his sick servant.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:26] Now, what we're not told here, clearly, is whose faith? Was it the man's faith? Was it Peter's faith? We do know it's a faith enabled by Christ himself, it's through him that this faith has come. Faith does matter, and its faith in the name of Jesus, not faith in an abstract name, not faith in an idea, faith in the name of Jesus and in the power of Jesus. Does that mean if I pray for someone, for their healing, or if I'm praying for my own healing and I'm not healed, does that mean I lacked faith? It could, it doesn't mean that you did, or that I did. Our faith is in Christ himself, and we trust the way he answers because he'll do what will bring glory to his own name. There are times he chooses to heal someone outright, there are other times he chooses not to heal someone and to bring glory to his name, by the way that he gives endurance and perseverance to move through it. And then God brings ultimate healing to those who are his own children when we pass from this life to the next, and we're in perfect health in the perfect presence of Christ. On the basis of faith, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this man was healed. And God still does that today, and God still glorifies his name through it, and he glorifies his name through the giving of perseverance and through the bringing home of his children. It's not ultimately about our healing, it's about God's glory. And Peter takes advantage of the moment to say, you just saw this, here's living evidence of a resurrected Jesus. Let me tell you how this happened, faith in the name of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:22] But he doesn't just say how, he tells them why, because there's a benefit for them also. This man has been refreshed, now let's see how he refreshes the others. The second word I would say, and it's a pathway to refreshment that I'm not sure that most of us consider is the way that my spirit gets refreshed or the way my life gets refreshed, and that comes through repentance. The refreshment that we're talking about today, a refreshed life, comes when we believe what Christ did, and in the resurrection of Christ, and then when we come to a place of repentance before him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:09] Before I get to that piece, I want to make a note about the way Peter did his two sermons in Acts 2 and Acts 3. There are a number of things that are the same, and a number of things different. One of the things it's the same is that he started his sermon by correcting a false impression. Sometimes we're afraid to talk about what is not right that someone says, we're afraid to come off as judgmental, or afraid to come off as condemning. And we shouldn't come off as fault finding, we should come off as gracious when we point that false impression out that someone believes. But what Peter does, he's drawn a contrast between what they're believing that's not true, and then taking them to that which is true.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:59] So in Acts chapter 2, the very first thing he says is, they thought everybody was drunk. And Peter said let me make sure and correct that, they're not drunk, that's the power of the Holy Spirit in them that you're seeing, and then he went on to tell them about Jesus. In this case, he says, not our power, but let me tell you who the one is that has the power.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:25] If you're in a conversation today talking about Jesus with someone, it could go something like this. I've listened to you, and I have an idea of what you believe. And if I hear that it's something different than believing in what Christ did for you in His death and resurrection, and that that's where your hope is, is in his salvation of you, not anything you can do. If I hear you say, you know, I actually believe that if I do enough good things that when all things are wrapped up, then God will be good with me. What I would say to someone is, if I understood you right, what you're holding on to for your salvation, what you believe will happen in the end, is that if you're good in this life, then you're going to be good with God. Can I just show you something else to consider from God's word? And then, I want to show them that it's in a faith in Christ and Christ alone that salvation comes, not any work that you or I could do.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:35] Or in our culture, what we run into again and again is the idea that we're inherently good people. Well, if I hear someone say that, what I would say back to them is, I hear what you're saying, but God actually says something different. He says we're inherently sinful and bad, and we're never going to need a Savior as long as we believe we're inherently good. The reason we need a Savior is because we're inherently awful. I want to correct that which is false, and show them what's true, and do that graciously with our words, as if they're seasoned by salt.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:26] So in repentance, this is what Peter says in verse 17, he says, "Now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also." He's actually going a little soft on them here compared to what he did in Acts 2, he said, I know that you acted in ignorance, and that would have been a connection for them in the Old Testament law. In Numbers 15:27-31 it says, that if a sin is committed unintentionally, then an atonement and an offering can happen, and forgiveness can be secured. However, it also says that if you're defiant in your sin, you know that it's sin, then you'll be cut off because you despise the word of the Lord, and your guilt will stay on you. So they knew the law, and when he says you're ignorant, he's actually giving them a sense of, it's an unintentional sin, they're still responsible for it but there's hope for them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:23] "The things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled." So he goes on to say, then, that God has fulfilled what he said about the Suffering Servant. And now he says, this has been spoken by the prophets and it's been fulfilled in Christ. God's sovereignty is at work here, and God's providence is at work here. God is absolutely in control, that's his sovereignty, and his providence is taking that which is both good and bad, and under his sovereign control, he's bringing about his plans, his purposes. So even though they did this in ignorance, Jesus said the same thing on the cross, he said, Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing. Even though that's the case, God used it to bring about his glory and his good.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:27] Now, here's where I want to challenge our hearts a little bit here, in verse 19. We've been talking about getting outside of our comfort zone, and I think verse 19 is an outside of our comfort zone moment for most everyone. What I love about 121 and our church, I believe we are a church of people that love God, that love people, that worship God, that are seeking God, that are radically generous, humble servants willing to do the menial tasks, on mission for God for what he has for us, abiding in him, prayerful, share scripture with others. I believe a good number of us will actually talk about Jesus up to verse 18, but I think a large number of us get outside of our comfort zone at verse 19, both personally, and if we're speaking to someone else about their way into a relationship with Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:35] So, would we be willing to examine our hearts today and say, God, I'm willing to go outside my comfort zone, I'm going to do what Peter did and I'm going to take them to the place of repentance? In Act 2, it was pretty easy, and I've rarely had it happen with me this way. In Act 2, Peter lays the whole thing out, and then they said, what do we do? I long for days like that, where somebody just looks at me goes, what do I do? I mean, I've loved the moments I've had like that. Most of them are not that way, most of them are laying it out, and it's going to verse 19, like Peter did here, saying, hey, in light of what I just shared with you about Jesus, therefore repent and return.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:21] I'm making an appeal to you to repent and return. The word repent means to have a complete change of mind, that I'm no longer going to go in the path that I'm moving in, but instead, I've changed my mind, I'm no longer going to follow myself, I'm going to follow God. I'm actually going to take Jesus's words seriously in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." I'm not going to exalt myself. I'm going to deny myself, and instead, I'm going to follow Jesus who can actually free myself. I'm turning from one way, I'm turning to another, from something to something. And when I repent, something happens, and this is that pathway to refreshment that I think everyone longs for, and here's the path for it. When I repent and return, my sins are wiped away.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:22] Now, if you had the privilege of growing up in a youth group, or youth camps, or retreat weekends at least five or 10 times, some youth pastor got up, including me and I did it, you're about to hear it again. And they wrote all your sins on the board, just to kind of give a picture of what's happening here, your sins will be wiped away. Your pride, maybe that's a sin you wrestle with. Selfish ambition, maybe that's one. Self-glory, I'm more interested in my glory than I am in God's glory. Approval, I would really rather have your approval than God's approval. Envy, coveting, I'm discontent, I want what you have, it eats away at me. Bitterness, refusal to forgive. Self-pity. i was reading a devotional the other day, it was really interesting, Alastair Begg, he said the three silent killers in our lives are bitterness, resentment, and self-pity, when we linger in those, it'll eat us up. Lust, any kind of sexual immorality. Harshness in tone. That is a pretty ugly board, I liked it better when I said Suffering Servant, Holy Righteous Prince of life. But this just gets started, can you imagine if you, just for a minute, just thought about just all your thoughts this morning?

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:20] And one of the things that concerns me about verse 19, is I don't really hear people repent very often. Not that I'm a priest, and you have to come to me to do it, but that's not the language that I hear. And there's a one time coming into faith in Christ where I repent and come to him, but then there's ongoing repentance. And I'm afraid what happens, and why we're so exhausted and unrefreshed, we have just a load of sin that continues to pile up, and we've not come before God to confess and repent of it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:56] So what I would do with this first note, do I know Christ or not if I come initially and had this happen? And what he says is it gets wiped away, so when I come to Christ, then this whole thing...Somebody understood my golf illustration a minute ago. That's what it's like, and the only thing that's left is what Christ did. So he's exalted, there's nothing I can do, it's everything he did. So I boast in the cross and Christ crucified, that's all I boast in, he wipes the slate clean. They would have understood this when they thought about that idea of wiping away, their ink, they wrote on papyrus, and when they would write on papyrus, their ink didn't have the same kind of acid that modern ink has, it didn't bite into the paper, it didn't become part of it like our ink does, and they could simply take a wet sponge, and wipe off the ink, and make it clear again. So when they read this, that's what they understood is their sins would just be wiped away. It sounds like it's too good to be true, but it's not, through Christ this is what happens.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:18] Psalm 32 says, "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!" If you keep silent, the psalmist said, you'll waste away, and your body groans. Oh, the refreshment comes through the forgiveness and the wiping away of our sin. So, "In order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." So I've talked about a pathway to refreshment, this is the pathway to it, it's believing what Christ did, and knowing that when I repent and return, then times of refreshing may come. This is an already not yet idea, when I come to Christ like this, then I'm forgiven and I'm cleansed, and yet there's an ongoing battle with sin and ongoing repentance.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:02] But one day, in verses 20 and 21, "That He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." He's saying that times of refreshment will come when all things are restored in the new heavens and the new Earth, he's looking ahead to that. So there's an initial refreshment, there's a way I can live that way, but it's going to be permanent when all things are made new, and all things are restored in the end.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:34] I've talked to you the last several weeks, about 121 Outdoors, and just a vision of having groups of seven or eight to twelve people going out and doing the thing that you love in the outdoors, with the hope that God would encounter us, and that there'd be meaningful conversation. And a week ago, I had that opportunity, our first trip, and we went skiing. And this week Elvis took a group fly fishing, so those are our initial two trips to see what God would do. And where we went skiing, the day that we went on the slopes, the second day it was negative two degrees, but it was absolutely beautiful. And when I went down the slope, this word refreshment means it's a time of refreshing, like a cool breeze. And there's nothing like a cool breeze going down a mountain at negative two, but it was refreshing because the sun was shining, the sky was blue, no wind, that's the way to do minus two. But I took this picture because I thought it really captured, for me, just an awe of what God does.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:40] Now, I love the Aspens, and this fall, I was able to see the Aspens turn in the fall foliage. And now, I was able to see the Aspens dormant in, and they actually are pretty beautiful, even dormant. But I love this picture because of the white in the snow, the scripture tells us that's what it's like when Christ covers our sin, that there were as pure as white as snow with Christ covering. When I see the shadow of the trees come down, it reminds me of the cross and the tree that Jesus hung on, and we're under the cross and our skin is covered with the substance of what he did on that cross. And when we receive it, the Son radiates in us, Jesus radiates in our lives. And I just think that's such a beautiful picture, and it's so refreshing to think about what God does. And then somebody told me, I didn't look it up, but somebody told me that the way the Aspens work, their root system is all interconnected, they're all woven together. And what a beautiful picture of community, when Christ roots us into himself by faith and then he roots you in and he roots you in and he roots you in, and then together in community, we're being woven together. That's where unity comes, the scripture says, is at the foot of the cross in Christ. And it's refreshing to be with the people of God, and be rooted and connected, with the Son radiating in and through us. Oh, the times of refreshing would come, the pathway to that is believing what Christ did, crucified and resurrected? It's repenting to receive it, in an ongoing way, to be refreshed by that forgiveness that he's offered.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:29] Psalm 16:11 says, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." The pleasure and joy we're looking for is in Christ and Christ alone. Jim Dennison, in his article on February 1st, cited a survey that said, "In 1972 more people were very happy, and less people were not very happy." In 2021, a survey by the same way, it's flipped, now, people are not very happy, more so than they are very happy. I would suggest it's because we're trying to be happy in the wrong spot, and that we can have a joy and a happiness that is greater than any obstacle, greater than any circumstance, greater than any situation we find ourselves in, and that joy is found in Christ and Christ alone, and we need to be reminded of that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:31] In the remainder of this chapter, Peter talks about the prophets, Moses, Samuel. He ends up talking about, in this whole section, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, the prophets, and how they all get us to Jesus. It's one continuous story, and we need to be reminded of that story again and again and again because we forget, we forget we're refreshment comes. So for those who are believers today, enjoy being reminded of what it is that Christ has done. For those who are not, this could be a day that everything changes for you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:19] I love that Randall Bishop is taking this message to South Dallas, the people of South Dallas need to hear this message. So there might be refreshment in their lives. But the people of South Dallas don't need it any more than we do, it's the same message for us today, and for Cape Cod, and Burkina Faso, and Seattle, and wherever it might be today, this is the good news.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:59] One of the things that I've wanted to do each week, we've been doing for a while, is praying the scripture. If anybody may be newer with us, and so what I'm trying to do is teach us to integrate God's word in prayer. I think our tendency is to think of the two separately, we pray, and read God's word. There is power when we wrap people up in God's word itself in prayer. A couple of weeks ago, I suggested what if adult children called an adult parent and prayed scripture over them, and I had a couple of people send back to me, they said just had one of the richest times in prayer with their parent praying scripture over them. I've challenged men to pray over their wives, families to pray over your children, children over their parents, friends together as you gather, but praying scripture.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:53] And so I just want to continue to do that, and for God to just hopefully continue to teach us how to do that. So I'm going to pray today for Allen and Melissa Nichols. They're worshiping online with us, and I'm going to pray Acts 3 over them. And so if you would, let's bow our heads together, and then I'm going to ask you to choose at least maybe a verse or two out of this, and you pray the same thing for someone else, and so let's do this.

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:24] Father, thank you for your goodness towards us today. And God, thank you for the strength of your word. And I'm grateful, God, for Allen, Melissa, and for their daughter Isabel. And thank you, Father, for I just know how much they love you and are following you, so thank you for that today. And Lord, I pray that they would be like the people that ran to see and to be amazed at what you did, whenever they see you do something, God, that Allen and Melissa will just be full of amazement and that things would never grow old to them, but their hearts would leap when they see you do something in somebody's life. And Father, I pray that their gaze would continue to be on you and not on other people, not celebrity teachers, pastors, sports figures, political figures, business figures, but, God, that they would continue to have their gaze set on you and that their prayer would be the same as the psalmist, that the one thing they would ask of you, is that they would be able to gaze on your beauty in the temple. Father, I pray they would glorify your servant, Jesus, and I thank you that they've not disowned you or denied you, but instead, God, they've recognized, Alan, Melissa, and Isabel have, the You're the Holy and Righteous One today, and God, that they have surrendered to the one who's the Prince of life, and that you'd breathe life into their family, and I pray day in and day out that you would do that. That they continue to walk in the power of the resurrection in the same way that you raised Jesus from the dead, that you've raised their hearts from being dead to being alive in Christ. And Father, I pray on the basis of faith in your name that they would go out in power. And God, that you'd give them faith when they lack faith and Father, they do the things you have for them. Thank you, Lord, that they're not acting in ignorance, but thanks for the opportunity they have to talk with people who perhaps are. And God, I pray, just as they've repented and returned to you, their sins have been wiped away, they've been cleansed by Christ's work on the cross, refreshment has come into their own lives, God, that that would just spill over to the people around them. And that they might offer that same hope and make that same appeal for people to repent and to come to you. Thank you, Father, for the continuous story through the prophets, and I pray they'll be continually reminded of what you've done from the beginning, all the way until now, and what you'll do until the consummation of the ages. And so thank you God for them, and I pray that they would just know, even today, the refreshment of their souls in Jesus. I pray that in Christ's name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:15] Let's continue silently in however God would prompt you to pray, or whatever he might be stirring in your heart, just allow God to do that work.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
Read More

Next in this Series

View all in this series
121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051