Made to be Both Useful and Beautiful

Where Is God During These Hard Times In Our Nation?

Ross Sawyers
Sep 27, 2020    1hr 2m
Where is God during these hard times and struggle in our nation? As we will see in Jeremiah 18, God is the perfect and sovereign hand of a potter, using both firm and gentle pressure through our trials to mold us in His image and serve His will. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers (00:00:09):
Been fantastic morning worship, both services. And my prayer every week, is it on a Sunday that for God that it would be such a cool thing to hear different bodies of people all over the metroplex and all over the U.S., world just the praise being lifted to Him. And I can't imagine what that's like in Heaven and I love that we get to be a small part of offering that to Him. He is worth it every bit. Yesterday at the Mall at Washington DC, there were two happenings. One was led by Franklin Graham and it was a prayer march from noon to two Eastern Time. And it was a march. They went from the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial to the Washington Monument to the White House and National Archives and the African-American Museum.

Ross Sawyers (00:01:10)
I might have mixed the order slightly there but about 50,000 people they estimated gathered on the Mall to make that prayer march. And it was really just cool to see people praying. They'd asked that no political signs be brought, that it just be time to pray. And they did that. And one of the coolest sights was watching people that were in the march just peel off in groups of maybe five or six, some larger and to have a more intense time of prayer among themselves in the midst of that march. And who knows what God will do in answer to the prayers crying out for yesterday? And really the theme across that prayer march and then Jonathan Cahn led an event called Return that was on the Mall at DC as well.

Ross Sawyers (00:02:04):
And it was a really powerful, we just turned it on and just you sensed God's power and Spirit among them, the things that He shared. But really is calling our nation to a place of repentance and return back to God. And apart from people turning back towards God, it looks somewhat dire if we're just candid about it. And most would say that today with the path that our nation has run. Anne Graham Lotz who's the 72-year-old daughter of Billy Graham this week in an article I read, she participated yesterday in Jonathan Cahn's rally and she was interviewed and I drew some excerpts from her interview that I think are pertinent to where we are in Jeremiah 18 today. And this is what she said. She said, "This is a time and an urgent call to repentance."

Ross Sawyers (00:03:06):
And I think anyone that is worth their salt spiritually today would say there is no political party that's going to rescue us. There is no Supreme Court appointee that's going to rescue us. Don't get me wrong. These things matter that are happening. But that is not where our rescue will come. It is only going to be when the hearts of men and women and teenagers and boys and girls are turned towards God Himself. The problem is in the human heart. That's where the problem lies. And until the human heart is changed, things won't change and will continue as Jeremiah describes down the byways rather than on the highways that God has for us. But Anne Graham Lotz said it's an urgent call to repentance. And she said that America has a small window of opportunity to return to God. If not, severe judgment is coming. In her estimation in what she sees, this is a very small window left of return to God. She said the U.S. Has repeatedly shaken its fist at God's face. And in Romans 1, what we find is that when we shake our fist at God, God will remove Himself and when He removes himself, what is removed is the protection of God and the wisdom of God. The world she described as a dangerous place. We desperately need God. She asked her mother one time, her mom was a Godly woman and she said, "Why is it that our nation has not experienced revival when Daddy has preached so many revival meetings all across the land?"

Ross Sawyers (00:04:53):
And her mom said to her, "It's because we're not desperate enough." We're not desperate enough. When we think about our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world in the underground church and being persecuted and we see videos of them or pictures of them praying, we see a people so fervent in prayer for hours upon hours seeking God. They are desperate for God. God is the only thing they have. He's the only hope they have. They're desperate for Him and you see a zeal and a fervency in prayer, in seeking after God, a boldness in sharing faith no matter the cost in cultures where they're being persecuted and they're desperate for God. We're not desperate enough.

Ross Sawyers (00:05:45):
She went on to say that we are now in a free fall in America. And if this doesn't make us desperate for revival and cause us to beg for His mercy, then I'm not sure anything else will. There's hope but that hope is in repentance and a return to the Lord. 2,700 years ago when Jeremiah was writing, it's as if he was in the same setting that we find ourselves in in 2020. In Jeremiah 18, if you have your Bibles, it'd be a great place to hang out if you want to go there on your Bible app or we'll have the Scripture on the screen as well. We want to continue learning from Jeremiah who withstood decades of persecution for the message and the person that he was in God. And the message that God has for us today out of Jeremiah 18 is this: that we have been made to be both useful and beautiful. And I think that's such a pertinent message for our day when people so often feel useless, not sure what their purpose is and certainly by the standards of a culture, do not feel very beautiful today because we're looking for beauty from something other than God Himself.

Ross Sawyers (00:07:34):
In this passage of Scripture, we see a symbolic act, another symbolic act. We saw one a week ago in Jeremiah 13. If you weren't able to see that, I encourage you to listen to that or at least read that passage of Scripture and see what God did there. But a symbolic act he gives us in chapter 18 and then it's also in chapter 19 of a potter and the clay. And we want to think about that beauty and usefulness that God has for each of us and for us as a whole today. In verses 1 through 4, I'd like to think about that and hang it on this idea of the perfect and sovereign hand of the potter. This is symbolic of the potter and the clay. The potter is representative of God in this picture.

Ross Sawyers (00:08:23):
And we see the perfect and sovereign hand of God. That word sovereign means control, that God is the one who's in control and that He's perfect. He's perfectly in control. Let's see how that unfolds in these first four verses. The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying this was God's word to Jeremiah that he was delivering. He wasn't having to come up with something on his own. He was saying exactly what God was giving him. And this is what God said to him. "Arise and go down to the potter's house. And there, I will announce my words to you." So I want you to go down to the potter's house and I'm going to have something to say to you once you get to the potter's house. I'll have a message for you that's really clear but I want you to see it. And as you see it, then it will be abundantly clear. So go to the potter's house.

Ross Sawyers (00:09:17):
Sometimes people are looking for different things to read. And if you have an interest in studying Jeremiah a little bit more, a book by Eugene Peterson and Eugene Peterson is the one who wrote the message. It's a translation of the Bible. It's a paraphrase of the Bible. It can be helpful. And Eugene Peterson wrote a book called Run With The Horses and it's excerpts from different parts of Jeremiah. And as I was reading the part he had about chapter 18, about Jeremiah, I saw something about pottery that I had not thought about before and the significance of it. And here's how Peterson described it. He said prior to pottery being invented, imagine the way people functioned and tribes would wander, following the herds, and it was a simple existence of day-to-day survival.

Ross Sawyers (00:10:21):
And once that herd ran out, then they would have to go find another herd of animals. If there was drought or famine, they didn't stay put and endure it. They would have to go to the next place where they could survive day-to-day. And then came the invention of pottery and with the invention of pottery, now they had the ability to store things and to carry things which they previously did not have. They could actually have civilizations established because now things can be stored for a longer period of time. Water could be carried from a source to wherever the village was. Cooking could be done in the pots that were made. And merchandise would be transported. Imagine life today if there was no container store. What would you do? Imagine your kitchen minus any kind of dish, bowl, pot, pan where you could cook, store, keep. Imagine existence without any of that. And that's what it was like prior to pottery being invented.

Ross Sawyers (00:11:55):
But Peterson goes on to explain that pottery wasn't simply to be useful. It was also an art and it was beautiful. Beautiful in its shapes. Beautiful in the painting was done on it. So the pottery was both beautiful and useful. Both useful and beautiful. Not one without the other. And Jeremiah was headed to the potter's house to see a picture of what God would do and he described how the potter worked with the pottery. Then I went down in verse 3 to the potter's house. And we note with Jeremiah that he was compliant, he was obedient. Whatever it was God asked him to do or told him to do, he did it. He obeyed. That's the kind of thing that we're talking about this Fall with these eight ways we've been describing and thinking about how can we practically and from Scripture follow Jesus' commands of loving God and loving each other. And it's an obedience-based idea and that is what God has called us to do. To be obedient. Then I went down to the potter's house. There he was. He was making something on the wheel. Now he's watching and he enters into the house and the potter is at work on the wheel. But the vessel in verse 4 that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter. So the potter was at work. He was working the wheel and and that's a complexity in and of itself. And he's working the wheel and he's working the clay. The clay is spoiled. So what does he do? He remade it into another vessel. He remakes the spoiled clay into something that the potter is pleased with. Something the potter's pleased with. This week, we visited a local pottery shop to see if we could get an idea of what this was like for real. So I'd like you to see the experience that I had this week.

Ross Sawyers (00:14:21):
We've been taking a run at Jeremiah in these weeks and one of the things that we see Jeremiah do is to teach and make points that God wants him to make with different symbolic acts. And he takes us this time to a potter's house and shows us the shaping of the clay. And then actually the spoiling of the clay to give them a picture of what's happening. And we thought it would be cool if we could be in a local place, in Grapevine, Sunshine Glaze and learn and see what it's like for a potter to mold and shape the clay. Susan is going to take a shot trying to teach me and in my non-artistic ability, I'm sure this will be quite the event that we're about to experience. But I think this is going to give us such a beautiful picture of what God was saying to the people of God through Jeremiah.

Susan (00:15:11):
Okay. So the first thing we're going to do, this is where we're going to throw it down. But remember this has to be damp and right now it's completely dry. So this is where you're just barely going to touch it with your finger. And just kind of rub it around. And then let me test it because there's like a fine line here.

Ross Sawyers (00:15:31):
I'm off to a great start.

Susan (00:15:34):
All right. So throw it as hard as you can. I was going to stay in the middle but you threw before before I could get there. So just, yeah, use the palm of your hand and just slide it up. There you go. Okay. So then just kind of pat it all the way around. Okay. [inaudible] really good. I don't even think we need to create the seal. I think [inaudible]. Oh, yeah, that's perfect.

Ross Sawyers (00:16:01):
Perfect. Did y'all hear that? I want everybody to hear that was perfect even though I missed the [inaudible].

Susan (00:16:08):
It's okay. All right. So we're going to wet our hands, both hands. You always want to make sure your hands are wet so that they are gliding across your clay. So go ahead and get your clay wet as well. Make sure your hands will glide across. Yep. There you go. All right. So remember elbows down and you're actually leaning over. You want to be over your clay. There you go. This part of your hand is going to be pushing this way. This hand is going to push towards that hand. Your flat thumbs are going to push down. We're trying to bring this clay into the center of the wheel. Okay? I'm gonna just add some water and I'm going to turn it on. So elbows down all the way. You may hear me say that a lot.

Ross Sawyers (00:16:53):
Oh, you weren't kidding.

Susan (00:16:55):
Push harder with this hand right here. Press a tiny bit harder with your left hand. All right. Oh, it's looking better.

Ross Sawyers (00:17:08):
You can see it?

Susan (00:17:09):
I can see how much your hands are moving. It tells me how much the clay is in the center. Okay. Go ahead and slowly move your hands off your clay. Not bad.

Ross Sawyers (00:17:27):
You're a good teacher.

Susan (00:17:29):
That's pretty good. Okay. So the top is pretty centered. The bottom, not as much but that's okay. So the next step, this is where your hands are on the side. Not pushing anymore. These two hands are always going to be touching. Regardless of how your hands turn, your hands will always be touching. So you're going to go all the way down until you think that you're maybe about half an inch from the wheel head. Yep. That's good. Okay. All right. Next step is to open it up. So this is where your left hand stays and then this hand turns. So this hand goes on the inside. This hand goes on the outside. Don't push. Come over here on the side. Okay. Don't push with this one. This is just a guide. You're going to push with this but only one finger and then come up. Slowly come up. But one of those elbows has to be down because right now, yeah, there you go. Otherwise nothing's stable. But the two hands have to be touching. Otherwise that's what's happens.

Ross Sawyers (00:18:33):
We just ran into a problem.

Susan (00:18:36):
Okay. So there, I was just going to say, do that. Put your hands on the outside and see if you can bring it back in.

Ross Sawyers (00:18:46):
Things were going so good.

Susan (00:18:49):
Sometimes that happens the first time.

Ross Sawyers (00:18:52):
Last week we talked about pride. And I was doing perfect until this morning. This isn't going to be recoverable, is it?

Susan (00:19:05):
No. Yes, it is because anytime this happens, I always say embrace it and we're going to call it a work of art.

Ross Sawyers (00:19:14):

Susan (00:19:15):
I could touch it and manipulate it a little bit but it's not, I'm not going to be able to fix it completely at this point because what happened was it just got too thin right here. So here's what you can do. Left, now remember you're opposite me, right? So your left hand is the one that's going to be on the outside and your right hand will be doing this. This is going to hold it. That when you can kind of barely squeeze it as it turns around and see if you can, just see what you can do with it.

Ross Sawyers (00:19:52):

Susan (00:19:56):
From bad to worse.

Ross Sawyers (00:19:59):
This is my piece.

Susan (00:20:04):
It's a work of art.

Ross Sawyers (00:20:05):
That works today. It is a work of art.

Susan (00:20:08):
It's a work of art. We can call it a sculpture instead of a bowl. The inside part is okay. So from the outside, just bring it in just ever so slightly, just a tiny bit. And then we'll be almost at the point of stopping because we don't want to overwork it. Now an experienced potter if this happened to them because it does happen even to, you know, ones that have been doing it for years, mistakes happen, would come in and cut that part off. Sometimes it works well and other times not. And so at this point, I feel like we should just embrace the fact [inaudible].

Ross Sawyers (00:20:45):
I can embrace that.

Susan (00:20:45):
Okay. I think we're good.

Ross Sawyers (00:20:55):
Thank you.

Susan (00:20:55):
You're welcome.

Ross Sawyers (00:21:01):
Susan was a far more skilled potter. She modeled it for me first. So I watched her. She did a beautiful job. It made me think just if you had someone like her that was skilled at what she did or you had me who had no clue, who would you want shaping you? And if we thought about God as the potter today and thought about all the other options and things that shape us, who would you rather have shape you today? God who is the perfect and sovereign? Or the rest of our culture and the multiple things that we follow that we allow to shape us? I learned some things from her that gave me a pretty cool picture of God and thinking about the potter. And one of the things that she said is that you have to be firm with the, with the clay. And when that wheel started up, I can't imagine if I had to do the wheel. So for somebody that doesn't know what they're doing, she was working the wheel for me. So the potter would be working the wheel with a pedal, making sure it's going the right speed, doing the water. I mean she helped me with most everything and I still couldn't get it to be right. It reminded me of yoga where it's your, it's your practice and it's your intention. What's your intention? Well, my intention was not a decorative piece. It was a bowl. But my intention changed. So, the firm part, when it first took off on me on that wheel, I couldn't believe how hard I had to press my hand into it for it to shape. And that's exactly what God does as the potter.

Ross Sawyers (00:22:44):
He has to press in on us and there's times, and you saw where it was gentle and you just kinda are gentle with the shaping of it. And other times it was more firm and you're putting more pressure on it. And God's that way with us. God is not one who tempts us to do evil by the way. He'll never be one who tempts us to that end. There will be trials that'll be in our life and I think as someone framed it, a lot of times when you think about our trials is the pressure that God is putting on us to shape and to mold us. But it's a firm pressure. And I can't explain why for some people it seems like God uses a much firmer pressure and the trials seemed to be more difficult and much harder. And for other people, it seems like it's not quite like that. They might disagree. Who knows? And I don't, we'll ever really know why it is that God allows certain trials in our lives that He's putting pressure on us to shape us. But His end game is to shape us and mold us to be like Him. And we can trust the perfect and sovereign hand of the potter even with our own eyes, it doesn't seem to make sense what it is we're going through.

Ross Sawyers (00:24:19):
Tim Tebow was doing an interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN several days ago and college football is off and running. And in case you missed the best game yesterday, A&M won 17 to 12 against Vanderbilt. And if you thought there were better games and I'm not sure why you would think that but I just wanted to make sure and get an Aggie gig in there. And so Tim Tebow's being interviewed about the college football season. And the question Stephen A. Smith asked him, he said do you think, it was some version of this, do you think that this season is really valid because of so many, so few games being played compared to other seasons. And I love what Tim Tebow said. One, I love how true he is in his faith in Jesus Christ and the way that's reflected through all he does. This is what he said. He goes, yes, it's valid. He said these are 18 to 22 year old young men and college football is an opportunity for these young men to be shaped and molded into more mature men and have character and that comes through adversity. And that's what you get in football. You get adversity. And in the scenario that we're in right now with COVID and all the different things that people are working through, it's incredibly adverse times and we'll get to see which players can best handle the adversity and emerge well out of this season.

Ross Sawyers (00:26:03):
And I think that's a great picture of the potter and the clay. There's adversity. What will we do with the adversity? In a broken world, we'll face it again and again and again. There will be trials and as somebody said, you're either entering a trial, you're in a trial, you're coming out of a trial and there's probably multiple of those things going on at once. So how will we respond to that is the question. Will we allow the potter to mold and shape us and press in on us so that we look more and more like Him or will we resist the potter's hand? These first four verses are about the sovereignty of God. In a day where everybody's vying for their rights, God is the sovereign and He has the rights and He has the authority and it's mixed with a love and he is shaping a people for Himself, shaping us individually and then collectively. We tend to think just individually. God thinks as a whole. What do we find out about the clay in these first four verses? That oftentimes, the clay is defective. It's not pliable. The clay is the problem, not the potter. But the potter can do something beautiful with that which is spoiled, marred, defective, depraved.

Ross Sawyers (00:28:00):
And even though the people of God were rebelling against God, there was still the possibility for them to be reshaped and remolded. So we see the perfect and sovereign hand of the potter in verses 5 through 10. We see the graciousness of the potter. He's gracious in what he does. And the word of the Lord came to me saying can I not, oh, House of Israel deal with you as this potter does? Declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, oh, House of Israel. This is what you're like. You're in my hand. This is a whole House of Israel, all of Israel. Not just individuals but all of Israel as the people of God. And the question is like the clay in the potter's hands, so you are in my hand. But can I not deal with you as this potter does?

Ross Sawyers (00:28:54):
He's given that descriptor. In Romans chapter 9, Paul is using an analogy like this and the people are questioning. And it's in Romans 9:20 and 21, it says on the contrary, who are you, old man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder why did you make me this way, will it? Verse 21, or does not the potter have a right over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? It's a rich theological three chapters in Romans 9, 10 and 11. One moment. Verse 7 said I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down or to destroy it. In chapter 1 of Jeremiah verse 10, God was explaining to Jeremiah what His purpose, the way he would be useful, the way he would be most beautiful and he would be a voice declaring to the nation and other nations that there would be a time where many of them would be uprooted, pulled down and destroyed. In reference to Judah, the Southern half of Israel right now, that's what he's describing. But here's the graciousness of God, the potter in verse 8. If that nation against which I've spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I plan to bring on it. What does God say? This is the graciousness of God. They are in full on rebellion against God and He's about to bring judgment on them. But He says if they repent, if they'll turn from following worthless, other gods, if they'll return from the stubbornness of their own heart, then God says I will relent.

Ross Sawyers (00:31:00):
That's absolutely consistent with the character of God, the grace of God. Jonah was headed to Nineveh. He didn't want to go because he knew that if he went, the people there would actually repent. God was about to bring judgment on them but they repented and consistent with His character, He didn't bring that judgment. The word relent has with it the idea of a sigh. It's like for God, it's a sigh of relief that the people would repent, turn back. Then He can restrain His hand of judgment on them. It's like a parent today who has a child that rebels, who's stubborn, refusing God. And just the relief in that parent when that child turns back to God. That was the other way. In verse 9, or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it. He also says that in chapter 1:10, that there'd be a time to build up and to plant. But if it does evil in my sight by not obeying my voice, then I will think better of the good with which I'd promise to bless it. He'd promise favor on them. He'd promised blessing on them. However, if they choose to go against God, then He'll refrain from that good which He was going to give them. Oh, God is a gracious God.

Ross Sawyers (00:32:56):
Say in Chronicles 7:14 was a verse used more than once yesterday on the Mall in DC. If my people will humble themselves and pray, seek my face, then I'll hear from heaven and I'll heal their land and I'll restore them. God is looking for a people that will humble themselves before Him and seek His face. Seek His ways. Unfortunately, in verses 11 and 12, we see the stubbornness of the clay. Here we have the perfect and sovereign hand of the potter and we have the graciousness of the potter and yet we have the unfortunate stubbornness of the clay. Verse 11, so now then speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, this is what, Jeremiah, this is what you're going to say to them now. Thus says the Lord, behold, I'm fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you.

Ross Sawyers (00:34:03):
Can you imagine being that messenger to a people who already are not interested in what you have to say? Hey, I'm coming to tell you that God is fashioning calamity against you. By the way, that word fashioning, they would have understood exactly what he was saying. It's the same word that was used in Jeremiah 1:5 when God said He formed Jeremiah in the womb. He fashioned him, created him wonderfully in the womb. It's the same word used of the potter that we're describing right now who re-molds and fashions the clay. But he's using that word to say not only does God do that in creative work, He will also do it in fashioning and bringing calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh, turn back each of you from his evil way and reform your ways and your deeds. God's given them a chance and God is doing things with them that are symbolic acts. He's doing anything to try to get their attention. Things are not okay. The economy's fine but things are not all right. you're doing well. The poor are being exploited. Things aren't going well. But here's a chance. The potter takes that spoiled clay, that rebellious clay and he'll remake it into something useful and beautiful and new.

Ross Sawyers (00:35:46):
But they will say in verse 12, it's hopeless. That word hopeless could be the word useless. Now these are the people of God telling God through Jeremiah no, it's useless what you're saying for we're going to follow our own plans. And each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart. What Anne Graham Lotz say we're doing today? Shaking our fist in God's face. That's what they were doing 2,700 years ago. They're saying yeah, I know, we're not going your way. We're going to follow our own plans. And we're going to follow the stubbornness of our own evil hearts. That's what we're going to do. We don't care, God, that this is what you say. We don't care that this is where favor comes or where blessing comes. That's not where we're headed. We're following our plans. We don't need you. We'll remove you out of anything that is a thought about you. We're not interested in your morality. We believe we can set our own identity out of our own morality. We'll come up with our own way in the stubbornness of our own evil hearts. We're going to do any and everything that is actually opposed to you, God, because we don't like the way you have it.

Ross Sawyers (00:37:19):
That's what they were saying. Saying yeah, no, we're not, we're not going to walk in that. Just in sum, the remainder of this chapter in verses 13 through 23, God says it's like a, it's incredulous to him. He can't believe people would do this. No nation exchanges their god for another god. And that's exactly what Israel is doing. Saying yeah, no, not interested in your way. Our way. Matter of fact, our way is we're going to follow these idols and guides that other cultures have created and made out of trees. That's what we're going to follow. All of us are being molded, shaped and reshaped by something. Many of you have probably watched by now, I haven't seen it, I've heard enough people talk about it where I almost think I've seen it, it's called Social Dilemma on Netflix, a documentary about social media. My understanding is the creators of it and the ones who were instrumental in it are talking about what they do to get us addicted to it and to shape the way we think and the way that we do life. It's frightening when the creators of something are talking about the addictive nature of something and they're guarding their own kids against it and they themselves are addicted to what they set up.

Ross Sawyers (00:39:27):
Something is shaping us. What are we allowing to shape our character, our purposes, our ways? Are we allowing a culture at large that is in opposition to God to do so? Or are we allowing God to do so? We're pliable before Him. On Friday morning, that's when I, as a norm write the final draft of my sermon for the weekend. And I received an email and I thought wow, God, thank you for this timing. And it's a study that's been done. And in the study, it says that 61% of American Millennials consider themselves Christian. 61%. I think Millennials are maybe 23-ish to 36 or so. Something like that. Ballpark. So 61% say they're Christian. Only 2% hold to a biblical worldview. 61% say I'm a Christian. 2% hold to a biblical worldview. Now my question was as soon as I read that how are you defining a biblical worldview?

Ross Sawyers (00:41:06):
And they graciously shared it in the article. This is what a biblical worldview is in the minds of the ones who were doing this particular survey. A biblical worldview by definition is to believe the absolute moral truths and that such truth is defined by the Bible. There are absolute moral truths. Everything is not relative. That's the prevailing view in our culture, that things are relative. And I know you understand the irony of that statement, that everything is relative. That's an absolute statement. Absolute moral truth, believing that and that truth is defined by the Bible, not by ourselves. Six views. This is a biblical worldview. And what they're saying is only 2% of the 61% say they believe these six things.

Ross Sawyers (00:42:01):
Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. God is all powerful and all knowing, the creator of the universe and still rules today. That's what Jeremiah 18. That's what God, that's what Jeremiah is trying to say. Salvation is a gift from God. It's not earned. These are really basic tenants of our faith. And when we think about salvation, that would be that Jesus Christ died on a cross, took on our sin, God raised Him from the dead on the third day. It's a belief and a trust in the work Christ did, not anything we can do. The fourth, Satan is real. Satan is real. To me, we only have to look at the delusion and lack of common sense that has pervaded our nation to know that Satan is real. He has deluded a nation. Satan is real. Christians have a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with others. They're saying that a biblical worldview holds that a person who knows Christ actually shares Christ with other people. And then the sixth thing, the Bible is accurate in all its teachings.

Ross Sawyers (00:43:21):
Now I have no idea of the Millennials who said they're Christians, which of these things they don't adhere to. Maybe two of those, one of those, six of those, five or six of those. I don't know. But those are basic pieces of our faith. Now, lest we get all down on the Millennials, 75 years and older, the percentage that actually hold to a biblical worldview as defined by these six things in this study, 9%. 9% at 75 and older. This is a generation we probably tend to think I bet they grew up going to church. They've got that whole deal down. 9%. baby boomers, 56 to 74, the same 9%, holding steady, doing really well. Not really. That was facetious. If you don't know my of humor, that was sarcasm.

Ross Sawyers (00:44:38):
And then Gen X, 37 to 55, 5% hold to a biblical worldview. Let's say the percentage on these at 1% or 2%, the percentage for error. I don't know who they interviewed. I don't know any of that. But this is frightening to me. And I just want you to know today, if we're not having real dialogues with people about these kinds of questions and issues, we really don't know what someone else thinks. I would just say that we should assume nothing. Assume nothing about what you think somebody really believes. And hopefully, we could increasingly be a people that can have real conversations about these things and then we can go to the Scripture and talk about how we might answer and be a help to someone who doesn't believe it. One of the ways we've been doing this, I mentioned earlier the eight ways and all this is is a way to disciple in the very basic truths of our faith.

Ross Sawyers (00:45:54):
And this is what we're asking. this is where it's different. And I just have tried to come up with different ways to share how this is different than anything we've done before. And I didn't say it graciously in the first service so I'm trying to think how to be more gracious. There's eight ways and if somehow you manage to do this in eight weeks in your life group, that was not the intention of what we're doing. It's not how can we bowl through these eight things that are familiar to you and say well, I'm glad they had me review that. Now, did you hear Chad during baptism, he explained baptism. We want everybody to be able to understand things in such way that you could turn around and teach and lead someone else. And the question that we're thinking about in our life group is that you're gathering and you're learning and then you're taking time in your group and practicing.

Ross Sawyers (00:46:52):
So somebody can actually watch and see how it goes and you can learn what did you really get out of what you just heard? And we don't actually know until we turn around and try to explain it to somebody else. And then during the week, would you take time during the week and practice with someone during the week and let them give you feedback? And then come back that following week in your life group and talk about how all that went. Takes a little while to start thinking like that because our tendency is to do studies and we just move from week to week whether we fully understood and it became a part of, active part of our life or not.

Ross Sawyers (00:47:34):
And again, I haven't figured out the most gracious way to say this so I'll just ask your forgiveness. But if I was 50, 60, 70, or 80 years old, I wouldn't be cashing it in right now thinking that all the people around me actually understand the things of our faith. I would actually be more frightened as people come closer to death and that happens with each passing day and that happens younger as well. But I would be more concerned the older people get that we don't just look at this person and forget the whole life that was just lived and act like God just looks at this last final a year or two or three and we're not cognizant of what do they really believe.

Ross Sawyers (00:48:15)
And if only 9% of people who say they're Christians of 75 or really 56 and older, that ought to be a wake up call for me to learn whatever I can learn so I can have real conversations with people and see where people really are. I don't know if that's the best way to encourage. That's my best shot at it today. Somebody asked this question a while back and it's an interesting question. We've been praying that people be laborers. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few so pray. And the question is, is there a difference between a laborer and a disciple of Jesus?

Ross Sawyers (00:49:01):
And at first I was talking to him, we were wrestling it through. And he said my hunch is Jesus intended those would be the same. But where we are culturally today, we talk about a disciple, a learner, a follower, and then a laborer is somebody different that actually takes what they're learning and turns around and shares it with somebody else. My hunch is Jesus intended us from what he said in Matthew 28, that we're all to be laborers. And we're doing everything we can to teach you so that you can be a confident laborer. But that laboring will start in prayer. And that prayer will come out of a love for God. So we're praying that we have a love for God so we're motivated by that love and then motivated head to our knees and then motivated to learn so I can confidently talk about with someone else. Anne Graham Lotz gave us a good warning. "There's a small window of opportunity." I don't even know what that means. I want to be faithful in the day that God gives us today. See what he does. But how can we avoid judgment from God? First, by receiving the grace and mercy He offers through Christ.

Ross Sawyers (00:50:28):
And when we receive that, we become His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. And He is about molding and conforming us to Jesus. And the more our character looks like Jesus, the more beautiful we become. Are you ever just around people and you just see in them, there's just something so different? The other day, my wife and I were with somebody else. And then she just said about that person, she said something like this. It's just like her heart just comes out of her for who she is in Christ. It's just a beauty in Christ. Useful and beautiful. In Saint Corinthians 4:7, we're told that we are like jars of clay, like earthen vessels and that we have a treasure in us. So when we kind of wrap this back around thinking about the potter and clay, God has made us just like pottery. And when we receive Jesus, that's the treasure that's in the jar of clay in the pot. So we're a bunch of fragile pots strengthened by Christ in us and not a pot designed just to store a treasure and be put off in a storage area somewhere. Christ in us, a treasure in this earthen vessel to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible. Useful and beautiful. Only God can bring us out of the mirery clay and make our feet to stand upon the rock.

Ross Sawyers (00:52:44):
I want us to join and extend from what happened yesterday in Washington, DC and to pray. And I would invite you. I know we need to be sensitive to distance and so forth but if you'd like to come to the front and stay distanced or step out to the side and kneel or where you are, if your knees are really fine tuned on the concrete. But I just want us to pray and that we might be yielded and molded by God Himself and not by any other shaping force in our world. I realized watching myself in that video and I'm not really good at this anyway, is relaxing and I was pretty tensed up. But the best way for God to mold us is to just relax and be pliable. Quit trying so hard. Quit resisting. Just say Lord, I'm yours. Take this lump of clay, this spoiled, defective lump of clay and make me useful and make me beautiful, a beautiful piece of art in your hand. Father, will you do that with us?

Ross Sawyers (00:54:20):
Will you humble us? Will you break us of pride and of putting other things above you? Will you kill our selfishness and control and coveting and jealousy, fear of man, anxiety, lust? Father, will you kill all those things that kill us? God, will you help us to remove from our lives and show us those things that we're allowing to shape us whether intentionally or unintentionally? And instead, God that we would place ourselves before you and allow you to mold and shape us, to press out all the defects and the the marred part that's all sin induced? And instead will you continue to mold and shape us into the perfect beauty of Christ that your patience and your love, your generosity and your tenderness, your kindness, your gentleness, your goodness, God, that you yourself would flow through our lives, God? And Father, I pray today that if we're finding our identity, our worth in something besides you, I pray today there just be a reset in you and that we just see how you view us.

Ross Sawyers (00:56:24):
And I know God has ever reflected on this the last few days. I just can't even imagine where I would be today if you hadn't intercepted my life at 16 years old. I know I would be everything this culture is and more. A disaster. Will you help me to have compassion and mercy on once you were diluted and deceived and chasing after that which is empty? God, will you draw them to yourself? Will you help them be sick of their own sin and let them look up and see your gracious and tender eyes looking at them?

Ross Sawyers (00:57:11):
God, draw them in and draw us near. Thank you. Father, I pray where so many of us know you, if there's any rebellion right now, any stubbornness, any following of our own ways and resisting yours, God, will you today reshape that and turn our hearts to yourself, God? Father, across our nation, I pray. Will you do that in our land? Will you cause people in our media and people on our college campuses that are leading and people in government, God, will you cause more and more to have a bended knee before you and a broken heart in your sight? God, I pray instead they'd be filled with the goodness and the love of God and Father, that they would lead people in your ways, not in ways that are counter to you. Father, I pray where there's violence and chaos all over our country, I pray that there would be a calming hand placed on that violence.

Ross Sawyers (00:58:17):
And Father, I pray that things would be done across our land that we recognize that no political party pulled that off, no one organization pulled that off, but God, only you pulled that off through the changing of the human heart. And I pray God, that that would happen and that there would be an unusual calm and peace across our land that only you can bring. Father, I pray all glory would be to you, all honor would be to you and where we tend to grab that for ourselves, that we would die to that. And Father, that our hearts would be filled with gratitude as our eyes are pointed to you and our knees are bent before you and our hearts are filled with you. God, will you do that in us at 121 and collectively shape and mold us into your image? Do that firmly and put pressure on us where we need that pressure and gently where we need it gentle and steady and slow and however it is that you do, God, patiently? And God, I love that your word says that we can be confident that what you began, you'll finish and you'll complete. So we thank you for that. Father today, we're yours and I pray that you'd hear our prayer, oh God. And that you'd extend our prayer in Jesus' name. Let's be quiet and just yourselves, if you'd like to offer something to God yourself, let this time be a space to do so.

Ross Sawyers (01:00:31):
Thank you all for joining.

Ross Sawyers (01:00:35):
It's been a fantastic day in God's presence and I hope that as we leave here, we continue in that presence and continue in His way. Can I invite you this afternoon at two o'clock, if you missed out on our account, the costs experience or immersive experience in underground church is just fantastic a few weeks ago and we have an opportunity to do that again this afternoon. So if you'd like to come back at two o'clock, we'd love for you to be a part of what's going on in that regard. And then you hear me say it often and I say it with a sincere heart, everyone has been so generous in these months and 121 has been that way as a whole anyway. And it's just thank you for continuing to be generous in these days.

Ross Sawyers (01:01:20):
And it's enabled us to continue doing things with our vision 2025 and and to continue in the things God has for us. And what we're doing right now at 121. So we appreciate that. Those opportunities to give or as you go out, there's a way to do that live online which I think is what most people are doing now. And then we have an opportunity if you want to go to the website or you can text as well. So that's a new, a new way. So just kind of rolling with the days and the times, right? But thank you for that generosity. And we do that out of Christ's generosity towards us. All right. I hope you have a great afternoon and you're free to go. Can you be conscious of the distance with people and the mask? And thank you for being faithful serving people that way. All right. Take care.

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