A Day Like No Other

Examining The Coming Of The Holy Spirit At Pentacost

Ross Sawyers
Nov 7, 2021    56m
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In Acts chapter 2, we find the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This message digs into this day like no other so we can begin to understand what a gift we, as believers of Jesus, have with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:42] About a year ago, we had Bob Fu, who currently leads an organization called China Aid, as one of our guest speakers during our series on the Underground Church. And we spent months in the Prophet Jeremiah anchoring ourselves there in the scripture and then thinking about how people all over the world, followers of Jesus Christ, are persecuted, and so many gather underground in ways where they can't be detected by the government that's trying to persecute them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:15] Bob Fu's book, God's Double Agent, just came out a few months ago and I just recently finished that book, it's fascinating to see the details of Bob's story. I would encourage you if you're newer 121, I really see the fall, a year ago, that series The Underground Church is somewhat foundational to where God is taking us, and the kinds of things that he is unfolded for us so that we can be as much like Christ as possible

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:50] In Bob's book, he describes his growing up in a peasant area in China, their family had nothing, both his parents were ill and had a number of struggles with the physical illness. He was able to secure a spot in a university where he could study, and the hope was that he'd be able to get a good job in the Communist Party when he left the university and be able to provide for his family, for the rest of his family While he was in college, he was an activist in China for Democracy, and he was a participant in the Tiananmen Square. What happened there in the late '80s, 1989, and Bob was harassed for his participation in that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:41] And then during his university years, he encountered Christ became a follower of Jesus. And for Bob, he immediately started telling people about Christ, against the government's wishes, and knowing that that could bring a kind of persecution on him, he just naturally did that, he couldn't help it when he trusted Jesus. He didn't know a lot, he knew Christ, and he knew what he had done to change his life, and that's what he shared. And there are a number of people that started coming to Christ through his proclaiming of Jesus to them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:17] And then he was a part of the underground church in Chin, and a part of an exploding underground church that took place, he was a part of that. When he graduated from the university, he and his wife, Heidi, they married. He'd met her in college, both following Jesus now, and they were committed to continue to lead people to Jesus and to also be a part of that underground church. What they quickly discovered, though, is that there was very little training for the pastors and those who are leading these small churches. And Bob set up, in Beijing, in a place they rented, a tech center, that's how they had to disguise what their training center was going to be for pastors. And they had to secure something that looked like they knew technology, and so they found an old computer, set that up in the middle of this room, and that was their tech center.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:15] And then they began their training of pastors, about 30, I believe, came the first time for a three-month period. For those three months, they couldn't leave that building for fear of being detected, there couldn't be movement. And Bob's wife, Heidi, would go get food and take care of anything that needed to be done outside those walls. They had different people come in to train, and one pastor was leading their training, they realized that a number of these leaders of these small churches in China had never been baptized. And they realized, OK, we've got two apartments that we have access to here, and so the men go to one apartment, the ladies go to another apartment, and one by one those who had not been baptized, they go into the bathroom in that apartment and under the shower, they baptized those leaders in the underground church, and then they went out from there and they continued their training.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:09] And as it was happening, Bob Fu said he felt this strong wind coming through the room, and he looked around and the windows were closed. And he started remembering in Scripture how God uses the wind, and he thought about the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, and a noise like the sound of a violent rushing wind came through the upper room. And he was reminded of that, and as they felt that wind coming through, they began to fervently pray and to cry out to God. And they began to speak in other languages, he said it was just incredible what God was doing in those moments, and then when it was done, they had an unusual courage and boldness in the gospel.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:58] Bob Fu would later be arrested, he and his wife served two months in a Chinese prison, they were released, were harassed relentlessly, and then God gave them a remarkable escape from China. They now reside in Midland, Texas, where he leads China Aid, and has been helping for the last 20 years people like him in China to get rescued and work through the Underground Railroad to get out of the country and the persecution that they face.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:35] Today across the country is the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians, for our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. We're a family, if you know Jesus today. God has made us part of a family, brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. And we want to join today, we'll have time at the end of our service to pray more specifically for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world,

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:07] But also want to share with you where I believe God is taking us more and more, that we would actually amp up who we are as a church body, and in our own walk with the Lord and our families, our devotion to God in prayer. When we come back in 2022, which I realize we're a couple of months from now in that, but I just wanted to share it with you, our focus in that first month is going to be as intense a prayer focus as we've ever had here. We're going to be asking all our life groups when they gather to pray more of the time than anything else that they do in their life group time. I've asked our staff that at any meetings that they hold, that more time is spent praying than is spent detailing and talking about how to pull off that next thing we need to be working on. We're going to have different prayer and praise nights together, and we're still seeing how else God will lead us in those times to pray and to seek him out as we launch into that year.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:06] And today we're going to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and I'm grateful that God's given us that privilege and that we can join in that. I believe today that that is one of our greatest hopes is to seek God more diligently than we ever before have in prayer for him to affect the change that he can only do in the hearts of humanity.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:32] If you turn your Bibles to Act chapter 2, we'll be in verses 1 through 13, and I want us to think about a day like no other. We've been working our way through Acts, and when we think about days like no other, there are sometimes days that we would look back on in our lives that when we think about that day, it put us on a trajectory like no other day did. There, certainly, you could argue that no day is the same, that's absolutely true, but there are those days that they're just more significant than another day. When we find ourselves moving into Acts chapter 2, if we go back a little bit, just about 50 days or so, there was a day on a Friday that was like no other. It was a day where Jesus Christ laid his life down for us so that our lives in our trajectory would be changed forever through what he did and dying for us, and taking our sins on himself, and God's wrath on himself, rather than us having to absorb that. That was a day like no other. But there was another day like no other, it was just the third day after that, and it was on a Sunday, and God raised Jesus from the dead, that was a day like no other, there's a resurrection in a life. And now we're 50 days later, and we're about to see another day like no other. And when you take these three days and combine them, it makes for a possibility for you and I to have a day like no other so that our lives trajectories will be changed forever.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:03] And when we get into Acts, there's been this 40-day period where Jesus has been hanging out with the disciples, and he made appearances to at least five hundred others, they saw him. And he's telling his disciples in Acts chapter 1, that he's about to leave them, but they're to wait for the promise and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes, they'll receive power. Right now, in this moment, in Acts 1, they don't have power. And that's often how we function today, we function minus the power of the Holy Spirit. We try to do the things that God has invited us into in our own power, and it never works, only in the power of the Holy Spirit. And they're told to wait, and then they'll be witnesses, not just where they are, but to the remotest parts of the Earth, because God's a global God, and they'll be powerful in that witness because the Holy Spirit will have come on them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:05] And then they watch Jesus ascend, what a moment that must have been. And then they head down to Jerusalem, one hundred and twenty of them, they gather in an upper room, and they do what Jesus said, they wait and they pray with a singular minded devotion to God. While they're praying, they're interrupted with the thought from God, that there needs to be a leadership gap filled. Judas had betrayed Jesus, there were 12, now 11, they seek God out on who's to fill that leadership gap. It's filled, and now we find ourselves in Acts chapter 2.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:48] I want us to think about a day like no other, and there's a couple of two or three key thoughts in here that don't want us to consider. We'll spend the bulk of our time in the first four verses, and then we'll spend a little a bit of a quicker time in verses 5 through 13.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:05] When I think about the first idea here, if I think about a day like no other and why this was one of those, I think about this as a powerful and stunning awakening. So when we think about 1 through 4, there is just a stunning and powerful awakening. And I believe today that we desperately in our country need a powerful and stunning awakening of our hearts, Satan has lulled us to sleep, he's put us in a stupor, we no longer think rationally as a whole, and things have just gone completely out of whack. And the only way back is our hearts to be awakened, and I believe there will have to be a stunning and powerful awakening for it to happen. This is happening all across the world, by the way, and it's happening in a number of pockets in our own country today. We just don't see it or hear it, but there is stunning and powerful awakenings going on all over, God is on the move and he's at work.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:04] This is how it began in terms of the church being established, and the power to be about what God wants us to be about. Verse 1, "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place." Again, so it's one hundred and twenty, there in the upper room, it's a mixture of men and women, they're praying, it's the day of Pentecost. There are three major festivals on the Jewish calendar, Passover was in mid-April, Pentecost in early June, Tabernacles in early fall. Passover commemorated when God delivered the people from Egyptian slavery and brought them out as his people into freedom. Jesus, in the Last Supper, commemorates. that exodus, but he infuses a different meaning moving forward, and it'll no longer be about the deliverance from slavery to Egypt, it'll be about the deliverance of our human heart from being enslaved to sin. And we celebrate his broken body, shed blood, that brings about that deliverance, that's Passover,

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:18] 50 days after the first Sunday of Passover is the day of Pentecost, the day of Pentecost was a time to celebrate the wheat harvest, it was the harvesting. This was also called the First Fruits Festival, and they would give back to God the first fruits of the wheat harvest at Pentecost. Penta 50th, Pentecost, 50 days after that last Sunday of Passover, it's on this day that we find us ourselves here. The Third Festival, Tabernacle, is in the fall also commemorates the final harvesting for the year, and that is their final celebration feast of the year from a major celebration. They have several, but these are the major ones. So these are the festivals, so it was on Pentecost.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:09] It was during Passover weekend that Jesus was crucified and risen, it's during Pentecost that the promised Holy Spirit will come. And this is how it happens in verse 2, "Suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting." So there's this sudden moment, they've been in there 10 days now, waiting, praying, wondering, when the promise is going to be fulfilled. And then suddenly there comes from heaven, this is from heaven, it's God sent and there's a noise. There's not a violent rushing wind coming through like I described in Bob Fu'S experience, it's a noise like a violent rushing wind. It's a terrific blast or it's a roar, it's something incredibly loud that comes through in that room with that one hundred and twenty, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting and praying. This is the first of three supernatural phenomena that will occur at this moment.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:08] I'm not sure what it would have sounded like, but maybe, just maybe this is a possibility of what it might have sounded like. Noise like a wind, I don't know about you, but I love the wind. The other day it was really windy, and I just love being in it, I love walking in it, I love the power in it, I love actually seeing the branches down out of the trees, just seeing how it kind of shakes out the dead and kind of brings life and revives and it is refreshing. I'm like a dog, I can hang in my head out the window and let the wind hit my head. I just, I love the wind.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:15] The other day, somebody sent me an article about windmills, and how do those huge windmills work was the title of the article, and they're talking about wind energy and wind farms, and we look, and we see the windmills with the two or three massive blades on them. And they're very purposeful, right, where they have these windmill farms, they need to be in places that are prone to the wind so that they can have the power. And they began to describe it in detail, that the purpose of these is to convert wind power to usable energy, you combine that with a generator, and then a wind turbine can produce electricity for a nearby town. And then later in the article, it says quote, it appears that wind power has a strong future.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:05] Well, I want you to know that God knew that a long time ago, and that he had wind power as a strong future way before windmills ever came into play. In that power would come through his Holy Spirit, and he would take his Spirit and invade our lives, and there would be a power that would convert to an energy that we take, and there's an electricity then that goes into the city when we bring the gospel to that place. That's what the Holy Spirit does, he takes what's in us and he empowers us, and he brings us to a place where we can bring and be a witness to the people around us of Jesus Christ. It's a Holy Spirit who does that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:50] In Ezekiel chapter 37, we're told of a vision that he has. And God takes Ezekiel the prophet, and he places him in the middle of a valley, it's a valley of dry bones. Think your neighborhood on Halloween, it's like neighborhoods of dry bones in everybody's front yard. He puts his Ezekiel there, and he says, Ezekiel, do you think I can breathe life into these bones? Ezekiel says, only you know, Lord. This is coming at a time for the people of Israel where they're in exile and they feel hopeless, and God says this is what I'm about to do, I'm going to take these bones and I'm going to put sinew and reconnect them, and then I'm going to cover them with flesh. And once I cover them with flesh, then I'm going to cover them with skin, and once I cover them with skin, then I'm going to breathe life into them. And Ezekiel started to hear a noise, it was the noise of dry bones that were starting to be connected, and God doing exactly what he just said he was going to do. And Ezekiel saw the sinew start to pull together those bones, and then he saw the flesh start to be placed on those bones, and then he saw the skin placed over the flesh. And then God said to Ezekiel, I want you to prophesy that, that the breath of God then will give life to these because this was just a dead lifeless body. It's exactly what we are, by the way, God didn't come to take nice people and make them nicer, he didn't come to take bad people and make them good, he came to take people who were dead and make them alive. That's what Jesus came to do, and this prophecy speaks to it, and God breathed into those bodies. And the Scripture says that what arose out of that valley was an exceedingly strong army because they had the life of God breathed in them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:11] That's what God does, when the wind of his Spirit comes, he breathes life into us, he breathes joy into us, he breathes peace into us, in Christ, and they're experiencing the power of the Spirit. Now, prior to this time, the Spirit of God only came on certain individuals at certain times, it wasn't available to everybody, the Holy Spirit came at different times and different events on different people and then left again, but now here's the promise that Jesus gave that the Spirit was going to come and breathe life and give power to those who believe Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:52] But this wasn't the only symbol, there was a second symbol in verse 3, "And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them." A minute ago, you saw a painting of those in the upper room, and you saw these flames of fire coming down. And what they saw were something that appeared like, it seemed like, it was tongues of fire, and it was on each individual person, signifying that the Holy Spirit of God is now available to every person that believes Jesus. Fire is a symbol of God, it's a symbol of the presence and the purity of who he is, our God is a consuming fire. When Moses, in Exodus chapter 3, was out in the wilderness, he saw a bush burning, but it wasn't consumed. And that's who God is, he's a God of the consuming fire. And he's there, and he and God tells him, step back, this is holy ground. That fire is symbolic of the presence of God and the wind of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:58] And when the Holy Spirit comes on a person now, here's what we know, post Acts chapter 2, that the Spirit of God indwells those who believe Jesus, that that's the baptism of the Spirit, we're immersed in the Holy Spirit of God. And not only are we baptized in the Spirit, but now we're indwelt by the Spirit ongoing. And not only that, but the Scripture says we're sealed by the Spirit, he's not leaving again. Once we’re baptized and indwelt by the Spirit, we're sealed so that we're sealed by him, that joy is sealed in us, that peace is sealed in us, that life is sealed in us, that breath is sealed in us, that wind is sealed in us, by the Holy Spirit of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:45] That's what's happening here in Acts chapter 2 verse 4, still, yet there was another supernatural phenomena, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. All of us are controlled by something. We may be controlled by the prince of the power of the air who is working all his deception through the social media world. We might be controlled just by the world itself that's chasing us and trying to conform us to its ways. We may be shaped by Satan himself, who is deceived, attacked, and lied, and got us to buy into those lies. Or if you know, Christ, we're being shaped by the Holy Spirit of God, shaped into life, shaped into people who are life-giving, they were filled with the Spirit, they were controlled by the Holy Spirit. We're all controlled by something, what is that controls each of us? The Holy Spirit is controlling them, and an effect of that, in this moment, this is a non-repeatable event, is they began to speak with other languages.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:02] Now there's another part of the Scripture where we'll talk about speaking in tongues, in a language that's unintelligible, that's not what this is. This is speaking in a totally different language, and what they were doing, they started to speak in different languages as if they were fluent in those languages, there's a supernatural ability to do so because it's the Spirit who is giving them utterance. This wasn't something they were doing on their own, it was something the Spirit was doing,

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:30] I don't know Spanish very well; I'm trying to learn it. I've gotten in a lull in the last few months, I started and then I need to get back. But I practice almost every day when I come in the office with Arturo, who was helping lead our worship earlier, and I know two things, I know if I get here before noon, it's buenos dias, I know if I get here at 12:01, it's buenos tardes, and then I'm in trouble after that. But what would happen, it would be like I just break loose in Spanish one day and I come into the office, and all of a sudden, I'm having a full-on conversation with him in Spanish. And they would know that I'm babble, I couldn't have learned it that fast, that they would know that there was something supernatural going on. And that's exactly what's happening here, God is doing this work in them. And I love how someone said as a quote, "It's the pressure of his presence that's causing an eruption of joy in this upper room." That's what's happening, filled with this, this is a day like no other. This is a, yes, to Jesus' promise at the Holy Spirit is coming.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:38] This week I was talking to John Sager, and I've had him here multiple times to help lead us and our staff, and he leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Mississippi, Southaven, Mississippi, and surrounding towns. It's just near Memphis. And I'm in this text group with him, several of us, and he sends us ways to pray for them and things that are going on that God's doing. And on Wednesday, we get a text that says twenty-two kids trusted Jesus this afternoon at one of the schools at FCA. The next morning, we get a text, and it says eight kids trusted Christ this morning at a middle school where we were. I called him the afternoon, I said, hey John, I said, where's our afternoon text, like people are getting saved morning and afternoon. He goes, well, actually, I went and added, thirty-one kids were saved at the FCA at this high school across town. I said, what are you all doing? I mean, is this the focus, what's happening that this many kids at the schools are trusting Jesus? He said, no, he said, this is our regular meetings that this is happening this week.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:46] He starts telling us, and I said, well, tell me about that one where the twenty-two kids got to saved. And he said, well, this summer a guy talked to me and he said, I've kind of been in a lot of sin, God's broken me of it, I've repented, and he's a teacher at the school. He said I feel like God's wanting me to work with students at school with FCA, John said, OK, we'll invite you to our training meetings. So they had a training meeting with people to potentially lead, this guy's not a coach, he's a teacher. And they're in the room, they're doing the training, and somebody says, is there anybody that God's kind of prompting to lead? And this guy says, I think I'm supposed to lead. And most of us don't want to step up and lead, we love it when somebody else says I'll lead, that means I don't have to lead, so everybody was great with this guy being a leader, and so he started preparing for their first FCA meeting this week. And and as he was preparing, he asked all the coaches, is there any way that you can have all your kids, all the athletes, guys and girls, in fourth block so that we can do this FCA meeting? And there's one hundred and ten hundred, one hundred and twenty kids, that came in that fourth block to this meeting, this was Wednesday.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:54] This guy that's leading it calls John on Tuesday night and says, what am I supposed to do at the meeting? John said, share the gospel with them. And they do it using these four emojis, I did it a few weeks ago, and they just laid it out very basic to them. God loves you, but your sin separates you from him. Jesus died for you so that you could be connected to him. God raised him from the dead. Do you believe this? It was pretty simple, and twenty-two kids believed it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:38] The guy, that night, calls John and tells him about it and says, hey, what do I do now? Well, John's been using the eight ways that our church put together several months ago, of ways to help disciple someone when they come to know Jesus, and so he sent that to him, he said, you need to get adults who will jump in there one on one with these kids and start walking with them in their newfound faith.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:00] So that's kind of where we are, if God prompts you to pray, pray. But what happened on that day on Wednesday, what happened on Thursday, that's a day like no other. That's where the cross and the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit converge those three days to make that one day a day like no other for those students. I was 16 years old and had a day like that, it changed the trajectory of my life. What about you? What's that day like no other where God just intersected your life and you said yes to him? That's what's happening here, it's a day like no other.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:37] And then I wonder, once we know Jesus, I was just thinking about the Spirit coming, and the sound of the Spirit was so loud, is God's Spirit, for those who know Jesus today, is God's Spirit so alive in you that people hear the sound of him when you're coming? That when they're around you, they can't help but hear the sound of God. Are we walking in such close proximity to the Holy Spirit, who indwells us, that when someone is around you and around me, that they feel the presence and the purity of God? When they're around us, just like these languages were so clear, do people hear the clarity of our words about Jesus? I believe that as we abide deeply in him, that people will be swept up into the love of Christ around us, they'll be swept into the joy, they'll be swept into the peace that Christ offers, they'll be swept in the forgiveness that he offers, the grace that he pours. As we abide in him, that his presence is so thick, that people can't help with all their senses to know it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:06] Perspectives the other night, it's a global mission course, I've mentioned it often. And the lady said somewhere during the night it stuck with me, it wasn't the main point of the night, it just stuck with me...She said, who wants to listen to someone that's not sure of their faith? We want to hear people that are confident. You know, some of my favorite people to talk about the gospel with are Muslims. Do you know why? Because most that I talked to, they're sure of their faith, and I'm sure of mine, and it makes for a really healthy conversation because we're both confident about what we believe about God. My prayer is that God will change their hearts, I'm sure they're praying to Allah that somehow, he'll grab mine. I'm good with that because I know the power of God can change the hearts of men and women no matter where they are.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:01] So we want to go in the sound, and the presence, and the purity, and the clarity, of the gospel. And then we want to go in the same way that God did, that we go with an international vibe. God is about global, he's about the nations, he has an international vibe to who he is. Verses 5 and following, "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven." There was representation of people from every nation under heaven. Think about Dallas Fort Worth today, I don't know what the number is, but we've got to be awfully close to having almost people from every nation in the world that are in Dallas Fort Worth.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:46] That's always happened in Jerusalem on that day, there were people from every nation under the heavens that were there, representatives that were there. "And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language." They couldn't figure it out, they were bewildered, these were teachers and travelers and merchants and government workers, and they were hearing all of this in their own language. "They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?" "Verse 8, "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?" They're speaking fluently In a language they didn't normally speak in, and someone else that knew that language was hearing it from these Galleons.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:39] Now, why did they ask it this way? The Galileans were more in the top half of Israel, they had an accent, it was a guttural kind of accent. It's why when we read about Peter denying Jesus, they knew he was Galilean and by his accent. They were country in Galilee, they were not educated, they weren't thought of very highly, it didn't seem like they were the brightest bunch because they didn't talk quite like the elite. So they're asking how are these over here speaking fluently in languages, there's no way they knew these languages.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:20] I don't know about you, but I find television quite disturbing, I find movies the same. It's hard to find things we can watch; we find some things. But sometimes Lisa and I will just revert back to the old ones, and so we watch a lot of Andy Griffith, and it is purifying compared to the rest of what seems to be out there today. In a recent episode, Andy Griffith is in his office in the jail, and Barney Fife is there, his assistant. And Barney is playing his harmonica and he's trying to sing, he's getting ready to try out in the city of Mayberry to be the representative for Mayberry in these elitist kinds of towns getting represented by those who have great talent, so Mayberry would have one person in that kind of talent gig that they would do. Well, Barney's practicing, he's absolutely awful, and he can't carry a tune, I mean, it sounds like me when I'm listening to it, I think, man, that's what I must sound like. And he's kind of practicing, and Andy's just like thinking, oh no. Well, then Rafe Davis comes in the door, and Rafe is in his overalls, he doesn't look so fit. He comes in, he's country as country can be, he's not talking all that intelligibly. And he's listening to Barney, and he goes, no, Barn, this is how it goes, and he just has this beautiful voice, this uneducated guy from the country just starts singing. And Andy's listening, he's thinking, oh, wow. He said, Rafe, you ought to go down there and try out. And Barney's looking at him like, what are you doing, Andy?

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:14] So they go do the try out, guess who wins? Rafe? Well, then the mayor finds out, and the mayor comes into Andy, and he says, Andy, what are you doing? We can't do that, we can't have Rafe represent us. You know, the people who will be at this, that won't work. He doesn't even have a suit to wear, and he doesn't fit the crowd he's going to. And Andy's telling him, he says, look, he won. And so Andy does this thing that he always does, he figures out a clever way for Rafe to end up being the one who plays, it's fantastic. All the city folk that are more the elite, they love him and the way that he sings in his overalls, he just has this beautiful voice.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:59] That's what this reminds me of, here's these elite people, they're looking and they're saying there's no way these country bumpkins over here can be talking fluently like this, what's going on here? It's supernatural what God is doing in this moment of time. It's the same way today that secularists and humanists look at Christians today, it's like we're foolish, it's like we're not capable of anything intelligent, that our ideas are being ridiculous. It's the same idea, and they'd be stunned when we actually have something intelligent to say in the conversation that goes on in our culture. But this is what God does in Psalm 19:7, it says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." God's word, God himself, makes the wise simple, there's power in who he is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:03] Well, then he describes the different countries that are represented in verse 9, “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia." That first section there, that represents modern-day Iraq and modern-day Iran. I got introduced to a ministry not too long ago called Iran Alive, and interestingly, in an earlier service, there's a guy who actually writes for them that I didn't know. And this is a ministry where, in Iran, which, by the way, in Iran today, it's one of the fastest-growing movements of Christianity in anywhere in the country. They meet very seldom, they say they estimate about five percent or less are actually involved in the underground church, because if they even come close to getting caught, they'll be tortured, imprisoned, and potentially killed. And then in this Iran Alive, they send out updates, the way they're getting the gospel into Iran is through satellite television. Now there are great uses for media today, this is one of them, the way into some of these countries is through the television set, through media, because everybody has it. They can get it in that way, and people are coming to Christ by droves in the country.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:17] Well, he told a story this week of something that's going on, a couple is married, named Ali and Dario. In 2015, through satellite TV, they heard the message of Christ, they became followers of Jesus, filled with his Spirit. And they started sharing the gospel, and they ended up having to flee their country and they fled to Turkey. Now Turkey is not all that safe either, so recently, they were discovered, and they were going to be deported back to Iran, and they knew being deported back to Iran meant that they would be put in prison. When they were at the airport about to be sent away, Dario just got really sick, she started thinking about what was about to happen, and they had to call medical personnel and they missed their flight. Then she was OK. was then sent to the police station, and instead of being imprisoned in Iran, they were placed in a prison in Turkey. They were separated, their Bibles were removed from them, mostly in a dungeon for the first couple of months. They describe it, they said it was dark, but nothing removes the true light of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:33] At the third month, they were given their Bibles back, and then they stayed a total of eight months in prison. Towards the end of Ali's this time, he was placed in a cell with 15 ISIS terrorists. Over the small amount of time he had, he talked to them about Jesus, and all 15 of them trusted Jesus. Yes, you should clap. They were waiting to get out of prison to go on a suicide mission in Syria, in Iraq, to kill as many people as they could, intercepted by the gospel. And that's why I say, again and again, the solution for our nation and for the world, it's not the government, it's not the university system, it's not Big Tech, it's not big business, it's the gospel. Imagine when hearts are changed, how leadership is changed, how decisions are changed, people are alive today that would not have been otherwise, because 15 ISIS terrorists had a heart change and now, they're followers of Jesus, that changed everything. Everything changes when Jesus comes in, life changes, everything changes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:58] And so in these nations, that's an example today of what's going on in nations today. The rest that are described here are, Turkey, from Cappadocia to Pamphylia, that describes modern-day Turkey. Egypt to Cyrene, that's North Africa. And then they talk about Rome, and then going across the Mediterranean, all regions of the world, in Jerusalem, in their language. And what are they hearing in verse 11? "The mighty deeds of God." That's what they're hearing in their own language, by the way, this is a beautiful case for why we want to be a part of Bibles being translated in the heart language of every people group in the world, so they can hear the mighty deeds of God in their heart language, it's different when you hear it in your own language.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:46] And then finally, in verses 12 and 13, there are predictable reactions. Instead of being excited about what's going on here, and note what's happening, that in Genesis 10 and 11, the nations are established. In Chapter 11, they're scattered in the languages because they were trying to be about their own name, God scatters them, and God is reversing that right here. They may not understand the language, but you understand the Spirit of God who is universal in who he is and who he's reaching. But here's their reaction, "And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” And we love it, if you're online, if you're here, that you're just asking, what does this mean? You are kind of perplexed, you are trying to figure it out. That totally makes sense, it's a safe spot to be able to figure that out. And so were they, some are figuring out, well, I don't really get this.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:43] But then the other side is, "Others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” It's 9:00 a.m. in the morning, they're drunk. And candidly, that's what people think about us today as Christians, they think we're intoxicated, we don't know, we don't have a clue, what we're talking about, and in that, we're dangerous. That would be similar to here, it isn't new, our environments today, the response is. But what a privilege we have today to know Jesus and have the Spirit of God within us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:21] I've invited a couple of friends to join me, I told you at the outset we would pray at the end of our time for our brothers and sisters that are being persecuted. And Arnaldo Soto is going to join me, he's going to pray in Spanish. We're not translating, we just want to pray in that hard language on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And then Hilda, she and her husband just moved here a couple of months ago from Kenya, and she's going to lead us in Swahili. And then I'm going to lead us in uneducated Galilean after that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:58] We're going to kneel here. You all can come on up. We're going to kneel, and I want to invite you to do the same. When we pray, if we can, I think it's good when we can humble ourselves before God and kneel before him. So if that's something you would be comfortable with, I'm going to invite you to come and just kneel before God up here with us. If you're not comfortable with that, it's OK. And we're just going to do what they did in that upper room and devote ourselves to prayer on behalf of those who are suffering and being persecuted all over the world today. So any who would like to join us, we would love for you to do so.

Arnaldo Soto: [00:49:26] (Prays in Spanish.) And we pray this in your beautiful name, Jesus. Amen.

Hilda: [00:49:39] (Prays in Swahili.)

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:01] Father, thank you so much for your kindness towards us this morning and thank you for the richness of the prayers being offered up. And what a cool thought today, when David shared earlier, that all across the world in thousands of languages, your name is being worshipped, and honored, and glorified, and prayed to, and preached in, and your word is being read, and the power of your Spirit is flowing, so thank you for letting us be just a small part of what you're doing all across the globe.

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:32] Today, Father, I thank you that you've gathered us up to be a part of a global family, every tribe, every tongue, every nation, and thank you for letting us be a part of that family today. And then, God, I thank you for our brothers and sisters in Christ, the ones who are in prison today, and in dark dungeons, and are not sure what the next torture looks like, or what the next kind of suffering looks like. And today, Father, I pray that as you have in the past, and you are today, that you continue to strengthen them and enliven them with a joy and a peace, and open wide the doors for them to be able to share the gospel. And thank you for the ways that you continue to do that, and for people coming to Christ. Thank you, Father, for the lives of people being totally changed, their whole trajectory from being death givers to life-givers, and, Father, we thank you for that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:27] God, I pray for those who are suffering and being persecuted in our own country, whether it's in their jobs, or in their neighborhoods, wherever it might be. I pray, God, that we might be encouraged by people all over the world that are enduring the same, and that we'd be strengthened in your scriptures and, Father, that we do not shrink back or waver, that we'd be bold and courageous, and it would be with a joy, and a peace, and a hope, God. So thank you for the way you're sustaining and strengthening people all over our own country today.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:57] I pray that same thing locally for people, that we'd stand firm in the true grace that we have in Jesus Christ, and we thank you for that. Thank you, Father, for giving us days like no other on the cross, the Resurrection, and in your Spirit. And Father, thank you for that converging in our lives so that at the receiving of Jesus, that our lives are changed forever, and that we have a whole different reason to live and purpose and meaning in life for the sake of your name, your glory, and not our own name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:29] So increasingly, God, I pray that our love for you would grow, that our understanding of your grace and knowledge of who you are would, and that would cause us, God, to be more and more about your glory. I pray that in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:45] If we could, let's continue our prayer in quiet. And if there are specific ways God would have you to pray for the persecuted church, or for whatever he puts on you to do so. Or, if you're just kind of wondering what this is all about, just kind of ask God today, what does this mean? And in our hope would be we could walk on with you in that. But let's just have some stillness and see what God wants to do in that space.



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