Why We Can't Stop Talking About Jesus

Why Do We Need To Be Talking About Jesus With Others

Ross Sawyers
Feb 27, 2022    55m
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Do you struggle to share who Jesus is with those you encounter in life? This message teaches us that while we may face opposition, we still need to be talking about Jesus with others. It explains that once we discover that Jesus is the one worth living for, we'll find we can't stop talking about Him. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:05] What an incredible morning of worship and exalting Jesus's name. And we've been talking for a while now about our Vision 2025 and different aspects of that, and one of those was establishing a partnership in Africa, which over the last couple of years have been able to establish two, and today we want you to be able to hear about one of those partnerships that we have. That's one of our core values at 121, is partnering in ministry, and we're trying to just find the people that are doing things well, advancing God's glory, and advancing the kingdom, how can we just be a small part of what God's doing through different ministries and organizations across the world?

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:47] And grateful today that we've been able to partner with Edify. Anthony and Amy Brewster introduced us to Edify a while back, and we've since partnered with a specific part of Edify, and today we get to hear from the leader of the one that we're partnering with. So Anthony, if you and Godfrey will come? And just incredibly grateful for them, and I look forward to what God has through them for us today. And then we'll unpack Acts 4 when we're through listening to what God's doing here.

Anthony Brewster: [00:01:25] Thanks, Ross. Good morning, again. If you drove into church this morning from Coppell, or Fort Worth, or felt like you had a long drive, at least you didn't have to come all the way from Uganda, right? So this is Godfry Lugoloobi, one of my good friends from Uganda, and he's going to share with us about Edify and what Edify is doing in Uganda. So before Godfrey speaks, I just want to give a quick overview of kind of what Edify is and how they operate. Edify is a nonprofit here in the U.S., as Ross mentioned, a ministry partner of 121. They work in 12 countries, 12 countries all around the world, developing nations with a really specific focus, which is on serving Christ-centered, low fee, independent schools, private schools, in developing countries. And so if that sounds real specific, it is, but there's been kind of a phenomenon worldwide over the last 20 years of private schools that are springing up as businesses to help educate kids, especially in poverty-stricken areas around the world, as a response to kind of some failed structural government school systems around the world. And if you think, man, how many of these could there be in Uganda, there are fifty thousand of these schools, and so Edify is trying to support those schools in several different ways, which I'm sure Godfrey will talk about. So Godfrey, first of all, welcome here. And would you just tell us kind of your story of growing up, and how you came to faith, and your own educational story and the impact that's had in your life?

Godfry Lugoloobi: [00:03:09] Thank you very much, Mr. A., thank you very much Pastor Ross for having me, and thank you for the great worship this morning. I also want to thank you on behalf of my country for your generosity over the generations. Thank you very much. My name is Godfrey, the second one is Lugoloobi, it's a little more botanical, but you need to practice a little bit. So I grew up in Uganda, and I am one of 24 brothers and sisters. So in such a large family, my dad had three wives and a couple of concubines. But I've told myself, I'm going to have only one, I am not having three. So my mom was a Muslim, and my dad was a non-practicing Catholic, but my mom was a grade three dropout, but she somehow figured out that if she worked very hard and took maybe one or two of her kids to school, probably life will turn out different. So I was lucky, she worked very hard, did all kinds of jobs, and I was able to go to school. At some point she couldn't afford school anymore, so she referred me to another school that was willing to offer me a scholarship.

Godfry Lugoloobi: [00:04:23] So in my grade eight, I met a teacher called Christian who was very vigilant in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to many of us in school. And I decided that I needed to give my life to Jesus, so I walked to our office and said, Madam Christian, you've been talking to me about Jesus. She said, uh ha, are you now ready? I said, yes, I am ready. So I knelt down, she prayed for me, and I started my journey of salvation. Now that's transformed my life, and when I finished grade 10, I was lucky again, blessed, I joined the Cornerstone Leadership Academy, where I was challenged on loving Jesus even much more, like real leadership. How do I become proactive, not to blame circumstances, my background? How do I think of a vision for myself, for my family, for my country? How do I think win-win, looking at resources as being enough, these were things that were challenging given my background? So many families could easily blame my parents, resources were usually not enough, so it really changed my life. And I kept going back to my village preaching the Gospel to my mom, and my mom came to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you. So that shifted the change from just myself, to now the rest of my brothers and sisters.

Godfry Lugoloobi: [00:05:45] And I'm so glad to say that again, at some point, I was moved to Rwanda, and I remember this was all in Uganda. So I was moved to Rwanda because it was the culture of Cornerstone to bring back a big Brother, a big sister, to act as a mentor to the new class. So at that time, Cornerstone was starting a new class, so I moved to Rwanda. That is where I was given a teaching job, I taught while going to school there, and I was able to pay for my brothers and sisters that are younger to all be able to get a good Christian education. In my family, I'm sad that they can be here, but on my mother's side, they're probably 48 aunties and uncles that I have on that side alone, so I just can't keep up with my cousins because there are so many, but none of them has ever gone to school and finished grade 10. So when I got my education, all my young brothers and sisters, I have 2 of them at university, the others are all getting a good education and their life is going to turn out much better. So this is what a good Christ-centered education can do to communities, that it can change not just individuals, but really, families and communities, and I'm talking about hundreds or even thousands of homesteads. When I was growing up, there was nobody to look up to because no one has made it in life, but the inspiration that just a single child makes it through can bring to the family or the village can be incredibly great, and I thank you very much for being part of that journey. Thank you.

Anthony Brewster: [00:07:27] What a cool story of the power of the Gospel and the power of education, right? So just how you became a Christian and came back home, talked to your Muslim mom about it, and then the effect that's had on the rest of your family. And then being number 15 in the birth order, nobody in front of him went to school past grade eight, and all of the siblings below going and get an education. So that's, in essence, actually the story of what Edify does, they try and get kids that are young in these private, low fee Christian schools to get their mind on Christ and then further their education all the way through. So Godfrey, can you tell a little bit about what Edify does, and how the partnership with 121 is working in Uganda?

Godfry Lugoloobi: [00:08:07] Thank you very much. So Edify supports these, we call them early renewals, people who start schools and their desire is to bring good knowledge like A. B. has said, but also bring the Gospel of Jesus. And I think that schools provide such an opportunity for evangelizing and teaching the Gospel. So we challenge and equip the teachers to be disciples of these children. So some of these schools are trying to figure out how do I integrate the Bible into the curriculum? How do I teach the children about physics, and science, and math, but help them to see Jesus through science or any of those subjects? Some of these schools are trying to figure out How do I run my school as a business? How do I keep my books of accounts properly? How do I meet government regulations so I can stay in the business for the long term? And some of them, how do I integrate technology so that I teach these children employable skills, if they drop out at 12th grade, they can probably do something with their life. Or if they continue to university, they have the skills necessary for them to succeed technology-wise. And for some schools, it's how do I build an extra classroom? How do I buy a school bus? How do I make my school more attractive? So to those schools, Edify provides some affordable loan capital to try and improve their schools in a way that they want. And when I talk about loans here, in our country, the interest rates can range from 50 percent to about 100 hundred percent, and most of these schools that we support, the banks do not trust them, the banks don't want to lend to them. So there's such so many schools, fifty thousand of them, that have approximately 10 million to 12 million children that we could reach. So Edify, to come alongside these schools and support them, is such an incredible opportunity. I'm really, really privileged to be able to do this.

Anthony Brewster: [00:10:05] Thanks, Godfrey. So one of the cool things about Edify's model, the loan capital that he talks about, so the average loan size that Edify makes is eight or nine thousand dollars, so that's the size you're working with. But the interest that Edify charges, is kind of submarket interest that allows the person that receives the loan, usually the school owner, to be able to pay that loan back in about three years. The interest pays for the program to operate, the principal gets recycled back into the country to another loan. And so, Edify has been working about 12 years now worldwide, they've deployed almost $13 million in loans worldwide, and those loans have made thirty-nine million dollars’ worth of loans. So it's a nonprofit who's actually like tripled their money in the world, with the impact of the loan program to keep working. So, tell us a little bit about how that's happening in Uganda. What are the numbers like? Uganda's really pretty new, three years in, how's it going?

Godfry Lugoloobi: [00:11:01] Yeah, thank you. So we launched in Uganda in 2019, March, April. The first six months, we were able to partner with six hundred and eighty schools, eighteen months later, we're able to partner with one thousand six hundred schools. October 1, last year, we're partnering with three thousand three hundred and thirty-one schools, and before I came here, we are partnering with five thousand one hundred and sixty-six schools. Now, that's approximately 1.2 million children, I desire that we can reach 10 million children in Uganda alone. And hey, who knows, some of these children are going to turn out as great businesspeople, they'll be leaders in government, they will lead their families, and they'll have a better life for Jesus. So this motivates me a lot.

Anthony Brewster: [00:11:58] A couple of ways that 121 can continue to support your work in Uganda. Just talk about prayer, visitation, what can we do to be involved?

Godfry Lugoloobi: [00:12:06] Yeah. I think firstly, you are all welcome to Uganda, it would be a pleasure to host you. Secondly, let's continue to pray for the children that have just returned. You probably know Uganda had one of the longest lockdowns, two years schools were not operating, so some of these children tried all kinds of things, small businesses, and some of them had moved on. So trying to call back the children's minds, that they would be focused, and be able to study and focus their lives on Jesus. Secondly, there is so much need in Uganda, some big opportunity of how many schools and children we could disciple and give a good Christ-centered education and memory. I really appreciate your prayers around that. Thank you very much.

Anthony Brewster: [00:12:57] Good. Man, what a privilege to have Godfrey here, and I hope you can find some time after the service to be able to visit with him, get to know him better. If you have questions about Edify, Amy and I and our kids have been all around the world with Edify, and it's been a big blessing in our life to get to know Godfrey and others. I think there are four 121 families going to Uganda this summer, and so, yeah, I'd love to talk about that in the future too, anytime. Godfrey, we love you, buddy. Thanks a lot for the work you're doing there. Thank you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:31] Hey, Anthony, is there any availability, if anybody wanted to go this summer with your group, is already full up? Or do we need to think a year from now? I just wanted to put you on the spot, he's an attorney, he's used to this. An attorney who's a Christian, it's a rare breed. I always get the last word, I love that. I love what they're doing, so many of the ministries we partner with are about education for children, and what we know across the world is that when there's trafficking and challenges that go on, abuse of children, so often it's tied to poverty and a lack of education. So if there's an opportunity for a child to get an education, and better than that, to have a Christ-centered education, their mind is being shaped by Christ, and they're being prepared in a way that they can actually flourish in the world.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:24] If you want to be a part of it, someone asked earlier, what can we give towards it? Just know that when you give to 121, that at least some part of what you give goes towards Edify, so that's one way that it happens. Another way you could do is to go to Edify's website, and you can give directly to Edify if you have any interest in doing it that way. And then they're serious about the invitation, it's a great opportunity for families to do mission together. So if you have that kind of interest, they'll be in the hallway in between services, so I'd encourage you to seek that out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:01] Acts chapter 4 verses 13 to 22, is where I want us to hang out for just a few minutes, and I want us to move off of what we've just heard and go with this idea this morning of why we can't stop talking about Jesus, and anchor that inside of Acts 4 verses 13 through 22. If when you hear that, that ought to motivate and stir our hearts just in hearing what we just heard to talk about Jesus and what he's doing in different parts of the world, and then we want to anchor that into this idea in Acts four.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:37] If you've not been with us, we've been working our way through the Book of Acts. We spent the last part of 2021 in Acts 1 and 2, we're just taking our time moving through it, and now we're hanging out in Acts chapter 3 through Chapter 5. The Spirit of God has come, the church has been established, and thousands are believing the message, the good news of Jesus, their lives are being transformed and changed.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:04] When we entered into Chapter 3, chapters 3 and 4 are actually one story, and we've broken it into about five parts. And what we've seen so far in this story is Peter and John, two disciples of Jesus, now empowered by the Spirit of God, they heal a lame man, and then that causes Peter to break into his second sermon. And when someone gets healed in the Scripture, oftentimes what we see is the reason behind it is an opportunity to talk about the Gospel or the good news of who Christ is. Peter breaks into that sermon, he explained to us by faith that this man has been healed.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:46] And then in the middle of his sermon, I can't even believe this would happen, in the middle of this, the religious leaders were getting upset at what they were hearing him say, especially about the resurrection, and they interrupt him in chapter 4. And they're not very happy with what's being said or done, and they throw Peter and John in jail, and now they've brought them back the next day before the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the day, there have been seventy-one of these religious leaders that they were standing before. And we wrapped up in verse 12 last week, thinking about Jesus is the only name under heaven that's been given by which salvation comes, there's not another name, it's the name of Jesus, the name that we've sung so boldly and so beautifully this morning is the name that saves, it's why we sing that name. And because of his salvation and who he is, we can't stop talking about him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:43] And I've found in my own life, personally, that the most substantive conversations that happen, in Colossians 2, it says, "The substance belongs to Christ." When there's substance to our conversations, the most substantive ones are going to be when Jesus is the center of those conversations. So let's unpack this a little bit, why we can't stop talking about Jesus, there are four things that I'd identify. We'll hang out in two of them primarily, and then in two particular verses, although we'll read through all of them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:16] And the first thing I would say is the reason we can't stop talking about Jesus is because He's a life changer. And any time someone's life is changed, it's difficult to not talk about what brought about that change. When change happens, we talk about it. And if Jesus has changed our lives, then we start talking. In verse 13, "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." They made an observation here, they had Peter and John before their little court, they heard them speak, and the observation is this, that these men were confident, they were bold would be another way to say that, there was no shrinking back, there was no wavering, but that was the observation they made, that these men were bold and confident. Now, we've been talking for a bit about getting outside of our comfort zone, now think about just 50 days earlier, Peter denied Jesus, and here 50 days later, it's observed that he's confident and bold about Jesus. It was an incredible transformation that's happened, and it can't be denied, by the way, that they're observing what Peter and John are doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:46] Now, I would say that 50 days earlier, this will be outside of his comfort zone, of Peter's comfort zone. And we've just been asking as a church, can we pray and ask God, what would it take for us to get outside of our comfort zone? Sometimes we can get way too comfortable, and we do the things, even things that are good things in the church, but we're comfortable in them and we can do them in our own strength and our own power. When we get outside of our comfort zone, we have no choice but to lean on the Holy Spirit of God within us. And we just want to ask God, is there something that he would have us to do that would take us outside of our comfort zone?

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:26] One of the things I've mentioned we're doing as a staff, is we're substitute teaching, 14 of us, are substitute teaching. And we just saw there was in need in the community, and so, OK, that's a way we can step in and meet a need. And as we're doing that, that is outside a lot of our comfort zones. I asked the staff the other day, I shot in a text thread, and I said, hey, what are you doing outside your comfort zone? And several shared, and then Jermaine, our student pastor, he texted me off to the side and he said, do you know what, he said this pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but really, I've actually found my sweet spot. See, Jermaine's never at this building, this building is not our parish, our parish is outside of this building. For Jermaine, the parish is the schools. He's being utilized in fellowship at Christian athlete's meetings, he's being utilized with the basketball team for Grapevine High School, he's substitute teaching, he's out there on the campuses and that's a sweet spot. And I think that's what happens if we'll be willing to get outside of our comfort zone, we might actually find our sweet spot, and then it'll take something else to get us outside of that comfort zone at some point.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:42] But have you gotten too comfortable? And I think Peter's actually found his sweet spot, he's outside of his comfort zone, but now he's empowered by the spirit. And here he is, first preaching to people at the temple, and now before the religious leaders, and they're observing a confidence in him. Now on our website, we just really redesigned our website, and there's a statement that we've emboldened that I've been saying for 20 something years since we started the church, it's everybody lives for something, everybody lives for something or someone. And the question is, who are we living for? And we actually believe that Jesus Christ is the one who's worth living for, and once we discover who's worth living for, we can't stop talking about him. Peter has discovered who he's living for, and he can't quit talking about him, and they're observing this, this confidence in this boldness.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:46] Now sometimes we shift into being timid. Now I want you to know today being timid and fearful, that's not of God, we can know that when we're timid and fearful, we're not walking in the Spirit of God. Timothy was one of Paul's disciples, he loved Timothy, he invested deeply in him. And in Paul's last letter that he would write to Timothy, he wrote in chapter 1 verse 7, "God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." When we walk in power, when we walk in love, and we walk with discipline or sound judgment, we're walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we're walking timidly or fearfully, we're not walking in the power of God, so sometimes we need to be encouraged. Paul was encouraging him, look, this is not the spirit that God has given you, God is giving you a spirit of power and love. Are we leaning into that spirit?

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:43] "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men." They knew that these were men who did not have a formal theological education, they hadn't gone to a Bible college, they hadn't gone off to seminary and got a master's degree, they haven't done their Ph.D., they haven't done the rabbinical schools of the day. They knew that about them, these were not educated men in the sense that these religious leaders were. And they were untrained, they weren't professionals, this wasn't their job, this wasn't their vocation. These were fishermen, that's what they did, this was not their job. Now, this is an encouragement to all of us, God has not left spreading the name of Jesus to the professionals or to those who were educated. Now, is it wrong to be educated and trained? No, did you hear Godfrey say that they are doing leadership training for their teachers so that they can give the best Christ-centered education possible to the students? So, yes, if we can get the education and get the training, absolutely.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:52] But in Psalm 19 verse 7, the Scripture says, that God makes the simple wise. We don't have to have the formal training to be wise in the Scriptures. They had made the observation about Peter, that he was handling the Old Testament scriptures deftly. They said the same thing about Jesus in John chapter 7 verse 15, so both Jesus and Peter, they looked, and they were astonished, saying, how has this man become learned, he's never been educated? They couldn't figure it out. Now, here's something I want to say about education, people can have Bible training, seminary, all kinds of conferences and education, and still miss Jesus. People can have no conferences, no Bible college, no seminary, no training, and miss Jesus. People can be educated, trained, have all the training in the world and have a deep intimacy with Jesus. People can have no training, and be the simplest of persons, and can be the wisest in the kingdom because they know Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:02] But they understood this about these guys, and they were trying to figure out how this was working because they had no education, but they were amazed, it says. This is interesting, even when there's opposition, that sometimes people who are opposed to something, they're still amazed at it. They look at it and they say, I don't know what to do with this, but I'm amazed at what's happened here. And I think the key to their amazement is in that last phrase, "They began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.". This is the distinctive of these two men, they had been with Jesus, they were with him and that marked them. That changes everything when we've been with Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:50] One of the ways that I pray for students, and for those who are going off to college, I think this is core to what will happen to them when they head off to our college campuses. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." If you walk with wise, you'll be wise. If we walk with fools, and the fool is the one who says there is no God, or who acts as if there is no God, we tend to look like who we hang around. And the more we hang around Jesus, the more we look like Jesus. The more we immerse ourselves in his word, the more his word flows through us, and like Peter, we will deftly handle God's word. The more we hang out with Jesus, the more our character will look like him. And if I take that proverb and ask the question, who's the wisest person of all? It's Jesus. And when I hang out with Jesus, the wisdom of God starts to pour through me and through you. Oh, they were distinctly marked by being with him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:03] There was a phrase in Jewish culture at the time called lech acharai, lech acharai. And this phrase was used to call a disciple, and lech acharai means come follow me, be in the same way with, be on the same road with. And for the young Jewish men in their learning, so we're talking about with Edify the education of children, in the Jewish culture, there were three phases of learning for a young Jewish male. The Bet Sefer was the house of reading, in those early elementary ages, they would learn the alphabet and memorize the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. For most, at that point, then they would go on and they would learn the trade of their father and continue that trade. Some, however, excelled so much in the house of reading that they would move on to the second level of education, the Bet Talmud, this was the house of learning. It's here that they would learn the Mishnah, which was a collection of laws. Most, after that second level of training, would then move on to their trade, but they would have a deeper education. There was a third level of learning, and it's the Bet Midrash, and that's the house of interpretation. And if a young man had done well in those first two levels of learning, then he had to muster the courage to find a disciple, someone that would disciple him. And what he longed to hear when he would seek out and ask a rabbi to be his disciple in his house of study, what he longed to hear was lech acharai, come, follow me. When that young man would start to follow that disciple, it was said that he would become covered in the dust of his feet. That he clung so closely to that rabbi, that he'd be covered in the dust of his feet. And notice what Jesus did with Peter, Peter didn't go to him and ask if he would be his rabbi, his discipler, Jesus said to him, come, follow me. Have you heard Jesus say to you, come, follow me? Have you believed what he did for you on the cross, and the power of the resurrection? And do you hear his invitation to come, follow me? If you've heard him say that to you, are you covered in the dust of Jesus's feet?

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:35] I was telling my wife what we were doing here today with Godfrey, and a couple of years ago we were at the Edify 10-year anniversary, and she remembered she went to one of his sessions, and he just radiates with Christ. She says that the dust of Jesus is on him, when you hear him and when you're with him, she remembered that. We remember people that have the dust of Jesus on them. With him, are we so clinging and hanging with Jesus that the dust of his feet is all over us. Peter and John, they were with him for three years, we only have just a glimpse of what Jesus did in the Scriptures, and it's inexhaustible for a lifetime. For three years, they were with him, they heard him teach. For three years, they were with him, they listened to him pray. For three years, they were with him, they watched him interact with all kinds of people. For three years, they were with him, and they sat at tables with people that they couldn't believe they were sitting at tables with, the most unlikely of people. They were rebuked by Jesus, they were loved by Jesus, they were brought in by Jesus, they were taught by him in intimate circles as well as in large gatherings at the synagogue, they were with him, and that marked them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:03] John would later write in First John 2:6, the one who abides in him, who says he abides in him is, "the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." So if we say that we know him, then we're with him. And when we're with him, then we walk in the same manner as he walked. And that's not by self-effort or trying harder, it's by hanging out with Jesus. And do you notice that when you have a friend that you hang out with a lot, or there's a series that you watch, and all of a sudden you start saying phrases from that series that you were watching on Netflix, or you start picking up mannerisms of that friend that you spend a lot of time with, or you start looking like your husband or your wife, and you say things or do things and you're wondering, I never said that before, it's because you're with them and it just starts to happen. So when we're with Jesus, that's what happens, Jesus comes out, his words come out, his character comes out, all of who he is starts to come out, this is what it means when we talk about abiding in Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:08] For three years, they were with him, and they heard his teaching. If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. It's an invitation for us, today, to come and to follow. And in Matthew 4:19, it was an invitation to follow him, and then to make others followers of him as well. The invitation doesn't stop with follow me, it is follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men. Follow me, and I'm going to make you a disciple-maker. Follow me, and I'm going to be so all over you, my dust is going to so cover you that you're not going to be able to help but lead others to me, a life changer. I haven't been able to stop talking about Jesus since I was 16 years old, I'm 57, for 41 years, I haven't been able to stop, I haven't got tired of it, it hasn't exhausted me, I only grow more in intimacy with him and more in love with him and more desirous to see everybody else know him. What about you? Come, lech acharai, Jesus says, follow me, follow me. He's a life changer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:40] Verse 14, "And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply.'. They realized they couldn't say anything, they saw this man, he was healed, he'd been 40 years old, he'd been lame all his life, and they see him stand, they can't say anything. So the second thing I would say, and you heard the Scriptures earlier in 15 through 17, I'll summarize. But this is what I would say, we cannot stop speaking about Jesus because we can't deny his miraculous work. They conferred, they went into their council, and they conferred and said, we can't deny it, there's a miracle here. This man couldn't walk, now he can, we can't deny that, but then they still try to stop him. They so, no, we've got to go out and tell them they can't spread this anymore. Why? Because they were fearful. Peter and John are motivated by the love of Christ, the Sanhedrin, they're motivated by the love of their wealth, and they're afraid that's going to be robbed from them if things get out of control. They are in fear, they're fearful of losing their influence, they're fearful of losing their power, they're fearful of losing control, they're self-righteous and prideful. They saw the miracles, they knew the tomb was empty, they still sought to stop it. The greatest miracle today, if we didn't see any other miracle in our lives, is the empty tomb. And if you know Jesus today, you've experienced the greatest miracle you'll ever experience, it can't be denied. That only Jesus can take a dead heart that's not beating, and make it a live heart in him, that's what he does. He's not coming to make bad people nice people, as C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, he's coming to make dead people alive people, and that's a miracle every time it happens because we cannot produce it. We're dependent on God to reach down and change the human heart, and nothing is impossible with God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:53] The third thing I would say, of why we can't stop speaking about Jesus, is it's way more compelling to obey him than it is to obey anything else. We're all obeying something today, and it is way more compelling, there's way more joy, there's way more life, when we are obeying Jesus. In verse 18, "When they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." They didn't have any, they didn't really have any charges they could bring against them, so they just come out and just give them a little bit of a threat and warn them, hey, y'all, stop talking about Jesus. But Peter and John answered, remember they're the ones that are confident, they had been with Jesus..."And Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:33] Now in Romans 13, we're told that we're to be obedient to the government, and that's absolutely right. We're told to be obedient to the government, to the point where we're asked to be disobedient to God. And at the point we're asked to be disobedient to God, we defer to God's authority, not the government's authority, it's God's that we are accountable to. So as much as we can, the government's responsibility in Romans 13, is to restrain evil. But to the point we're asked to not speak about the name of Jesus, it says you be the judge, because we can't stop talking about him, and we're not going to stop talking about him. Whatever you need to do to us, it's OK, but we're not going to stop talking about Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:40] John 14:21 says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” Oh, the one that loves God is the one that will keep his commandments, and his commandments are not a burden, it's a joy to keep them. In Matthew 28, we're told to make disciples of all the nations, and then Jesus ends that by saying he'd be with us. In Acts 1:8, he does that by giving us his Holy Spirit. Are you around people, or are you one of those people, that you can't stop talking about Jesus?

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:21] I was with somebody at lunch this week, and I was trying to get him to share his story with some other guys and he almost didn't want to tell his story. He said I'm just so captivated by Christ, that that's what I want to talk about. And I just want to see lost people that don't know Jesus come to Jesus. I can't stop because I'm captivated by him. And I love that, when we're captivated by someone, we can't stop talking about them. So in some ways, it becomes a captive question, doesn't it? What is it that has my heart captive? And the answer to that question will answer what I truly love. I'm captivated by Jesus; I can't stop talking about Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:15] Kate Hughes is someone that I lean on and study, and he told this story about Peter Cartwright. He was a pastor in Illinois back in the 1800s, a circuit-riding preacher. One morning, he was told that President Andrew Jackson would be attending his services. Now, apparently, Peter Cartwright was a bit of a wild card and said things that were concerning to his deacons. And so the Deacons, who are the leaders in the church for them, said to Peter Cartwright, hey, President Jackson is going to be here, and you need to be guarded in what you say. So this is what he said when he stood to preach, "I understand President Jackson is here. I've been requested to guard my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he does not repent." The audience was stunned, and afterwards, President Jackson said to Cartwright, sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world." You see, the world can appreciate somebody that stands for something. Someone, even if they don't see it the same, we're captivated by Jesus. It doesn't matter what title someone has when we speak the name of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:54] I see that in 121er's all the time, I've just been writing my journal last two or three months, I feel like God had just given me a front row seat to life change again and again and again. I've just watched people's demeanor change in front of me, it's God's work, watching him just move in so many different ways. What a gift to see when God gets hold of someone.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:22] And what a gift when we see someone that can inspire and motivate us, like Kieran Watson. In Iraq, she was killed in the early 2000s by an unknown assailant, and this is a letter that she wrote before her death. She said, You should only be opening this in the event of death." And she's writing this to her two pastors back in the states. "When God calls, there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasn't called to a place; I was called to him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected. His glory, my reward...There's no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving him. I love you too and my church family in his care. Salaam, Karen." A single woman in a difficult country, she can't stop speaking about Jesus. It's to him, that her devotion lies. See, people will only keep us interested for so long, Jesus will keep us interested for the long haul.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:48] The last thing that we see here is that it glorifies God, that's why we can't stop speaking about Jesus, because when we speak about Jesus, God is glorified and that's the reason for which we live, is to glorify God. "When they had threatened them further, they let them go on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened in verse 21.". They recognized it, they weren't glorifying Peter and John, they were glorifying God, they recognized God is the one who did this. And this was a man who was more than 40 years old, and so they just recognize only God could pull this off, so it glorifies God. We can't stop speaking because it glorifies him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:30] When we think about this today, and we think about the heaviness of what's going on in the last few days with Ukraine and Russia. I've been encouraged by people that are more on the ground, ministries, what's happening with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine who are living this today while being invaded and attacked. There are many that cannot stop speaking about Jesus, He's their hope today. In a Gospel Coalition article written on February 24th, the man wrote this, he said, To Stay and Serve: Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine. His name is Vasyl Ostryi, part of Irpin Bible Church, about a thousand people, and when they recognized what was happening with Russia, when that started to take shape, they began to build up on food, on medicine, and on fuel, so that if Russia invaded, they would be able to be a help to people and serve people. The man writing the story has a family of six, raising four daughters, 16 and younger, can you imagine choosing to stay with your four daughters? They packed backpacks, he said, and in the past, their younger children knew that when they pack their backpacks, it was time for a vacation. He had to explain to them this was not a vacation, they just needed to be prepared if they had to flee at a moment's notice. He said this, "If the church is not relevant in a time of crisis, it won't be relevant in a time of peace." I think he's right. If we're not relevant in crisis times, we will not be relevant in peacetime. He'd already observed, in 2014, under an authoritarian regime that several churches went silent. He also observed that several churches capitulated to the regime, but there were those who stood their ground in Christ. And when that regime was finally toppled, who has the influence today? The ones who stood for Christ, not the ones who went silent, or the ones who capitulated and agreed with the regime. I love the courage and boldness.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:57] Arnaldo is sitting right here, he's right now in the reserves on the border, and God is just opening unbelievable opportunities for him. It's a challenge, it's difficult, obviously, for his family. but I just love hearing the reports of what God is doing. But he sent us a text of a missionary friend from Mexico that's in Ukraine, and that particular man, a plane from Mexico was sent to get him out. And he said, no, I'm not going. He said, I'm watching God move here and I'm not leaving now. Who will have the influence in the days ahead? This man will, because he can't stop talking about Jesus, and he loves Jesus so much, he can't do anything but run into the crisis and serve and bring hope in it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:52] I received an email yesterday from our friends at Young Life in the Czech Republic, and they had just received, just almost eerie when I read it, he said we just received our first trainload of 1500 refugees, and we're looking at how we can help take care of the refugees. Young Life with a slightly different mission now, but that's what people who can't stop talking about and living for Jesus do.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:28] Ray Diaz, Orphan Outreach, who we partner with, they're working with children that are on the streets in Eastern Europe. And it's so good to God has given us ministry partners that we can effectively work with, in these times of crisis. So I'd encourage you today, if you would like, you could go to Orphan Outreach, to their website, and it says Eastern European assistance. So if you were prompted and want it to be a part of helping, you can know that Orphan Outreach, that is just one credible ministry that we would encourage, just if God puts that on you. And then Young Life, we'll try and put this out on the website or on social media somewhere, but I think we'll be able to help Young Life, our partners there as well, as they start to help with the refugee. So if that's something that God would have you to be a part of.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:24] But in light of what we've talked about today, I want us to pray. And a friend of ours sent Lisa and I Psalm 46, to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine. So I'd like to pray that today for them, and maybe it'll be an encouraging chapter of scripture for you to pray as well. And then, I want to pray Acts 4 as well over Godfrey and in the ministry Edify, just as we've been doing in the past few weeks in learning to pray the scripture for others.

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:02] So, Father, this morning, I thank you for the strength from your word, I thank you for the power of the testimony and the ministry that's going on with Edify. Father, thank you for our brothers and sisters in Christ, in Ukraine, and in Europe right now, that are receiving refugees. And God, I just can't wrap my head around being in masses of thousands trying to get my family across a border to safety. I can't wrap my head around being in a subway right now, listening to bombings going on above my head. I can't wrap my head around what it would be like to have a stay in place because we're being invaded by an outside military. And yet, God, I'm so encouraged by the strength of the leadership, it seems to hold firm. And God, I pray just like you did in Second Chronicles 20, would you cause there to be a confusion among the troops? And God, I pray that your name would be spoken and exalted, and then Father that that would turn away what's going on? Help us not shy away from praying the supernatural today, God, you're the one that channels the hearts of kings and you have sovereign purposes in what's going on. We certainly don't understand those, but we trust you, God. And then, Father, for our brothers and sisters in Christ that are boldly and firmly staying, I pray, God, that you'll give them the strength to serve, and God, the strength and boldness to speak your name. And God, I pray many people will turn to their hope in you when there's nothing else, I pray that they would turn towards you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:39] And God, that they'd be able to say in Psalm 46, that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Would you be their help today, their refuge in their strength? And God, I pray they would not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the hearts of the sea. Though, its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake and its swelling pride. There's a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. And Father, I thank you that you've taken up residence through your Spirit in the lives of these believers, and I pray, God, that they would be a river and a stream that make glad the people that come near them. And Father, I thank you that you're in the midst of them and that you'll not be moved. God, that you would help them when the morning dawns. And even though the nation's rage and make an uproar and the kingdoms totter, I pray, God, that your voice would rise in the Earth would melt, that the Lord of armies, that you would be with them. I pray, God, that they would behold the works of the Lord whose wrought desolation in the Earth. And in verse 10, God, I pray in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, that they would cease striving, and be still, and know that you're God today. And Father, I pray that through that, your name would be exalted among the nations and in the earth.

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:59] And then Father, I thank you for Godfrey, and I love that he's such a beautiful picture of Acts 4, and just declaring that there is salvation in no other name except the name of Jesus. And Father, I thank you that in people's observation, they would only be able to see that he's been with you. And I pray, God, he'll continue to be marked by presence with you, and God, that he'll find delight and privilege in that presence. Father, I pray that through him, and through so many in Uganda, through Edify, and through the other places where Edify is, where children are being taught, that we'd raise up just generations tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of children that cannot stop speaking about the name of Jesus And Father, I pray, that is your name goes out, that the world would be transformed, the world would be changed, one heart at a time as people are encountered by your grace, by your power, and by your strength, and by your love. And it's in the powerful name of Jesus that I pray.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:06] Let's be quiet before the Lord, and if He'd have you pray Psalm 46, and for another part of what's going on, or Acts 4, you'd just take some space to do so, and then we'll wrap up here in just a moment.



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