Showing items filed under “Ralph Sawyer”
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...May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:2 (ESV)

Nero had a very ambitious and egotistically driven desire to build a monument that would rival and surpass any complex that had been constructed up to that time.  The roughly 300 acres that would be required would include magnificent landscaping as well as a 30-meter statue of himself, the Colossus of Nero.  The problem was he didn’t really have the space he needed to build such a complex...soooo...since he really didn’t like the construction of the ancient city and much of it had become slum-like, he decided to burn a significant part of it to the ground and then he would have the space needed for his Golden House, Domus Aurea.

The fire, that historian's record as having been set by Nero, beginning on the slope of the Avertine, which looked out over the Circus Maximus, quickly spread out of control and burned for well over a week.  It destroyed three of fourteen Roman districts while doing extensive damage to another seven.

He miscalculated the reaction of the people of Rome and found that he needed a scapegoat to blame the fire upon...and the blame fell upon Christians.  The emperor publicly blamed the Christians in the city for the fire.  It enabled him to wield the power of the empire against those Christians and terrible persecution fell upon those who had trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior.  They were burned alive, used as artificial lighting for the gardens and streets of Rome. Some suffered other atrocities in the Colosseum and believers were forced to choose between the emperor and their Savior.  Many died for their faith during this period of persecution.

It was before this time of persecution that the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, inspired Peter, the apostle, to write to those who would indeed have this time of persecution in their future.  They would need encouragement when times were rough; they would need to be able to cope with what they were going to experience in their journey upon the earth.  They would be thirsty for assurance, they would need strengthening, they would need the grace and peace of the Lord, and they would need it in abundance.  Not unlike you and me.  And they would receive the words that they would need to journey another day with a living hope for the future.

Peter writes, by the Holy Spirit, and prays for just what they needed to read and receive.  They could know for certain that the grace (charis) of God...which includes everything that we receive from the Lord, including His mercy, His love, and forgiveness of sin, all of these undeserved blessings of God, are enough, during the difficult journey to bring us the peace that we need, a peace that passes understanding.

 “and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 1:14 (ESV)

The peace (eirēnē) of God means we have assurance and confidence in the love and care of God, no matter the circumstances.  It means that we are well aware, and trust, that God will provide, guide, strengthen, sustain, encourage, deliver, as well as give life, real life during our journey on earth as well as in the future with Him, in heaven, forever.

 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

Peter would need grace and peace in his life as well.  His future would include being thrown into the prison called the Mametine, shrouded in darkness for nine months, suffering torture while chained to a post...and yet...he received the grace and the peace he needed to make the most out of every day of his journey, even leading his jailers to know about and to receive Christ.

Peter needed grace and peace...every day, the recipients of the letter would need grace and peace...every day, and you and I need grace and peace...every day.

You may be in a time of trouble and trial in your life. May God’s grace and peace be multiplied to you...It’s reassuring to remember that God is in control...and good...all the time.

And it’s a good thing to pray for others, those you know, who need the grace and peace of the Lord...and that would include everybody.

Grace and peace come to all who know Christ and trust Him.  He is the only one who can, by His grace, bring genuine peace to the human heart and assurance to the human soul.

Introduce people to Jesus, have a conversation with them about how the Lord brings peace to your life, especially during the tough times. What the devil means for bad, the Lord will use for good.

Nero and his minions could not take away the grace and peace of God from believers. Nero only caused the gospel to advance and to spread across Asia.  In like manner, no one or nothing can take away the grace and peace of God from you when you lean and trust in Him.  Don’t forget! We win!

Final score...Christians 100...Nero, a 0.


Praying for you,

Pray for me,


Bro. Ralph

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with
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"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” - Luke 19:10 (ESV)

It was one of the most amazing scenes I had ever witnessed up to that point in my life.

One of my friends from church had asked me to spend the night at their farm. Being a city boy, I was continuously amazed and mentally stimulated as I learned about and experienced the day to day life of my good friend living on a farm. The chores were...well...different...feeding cattle was amazing, I mean, I knew what it was to feed my half and half mix of Chihuahua and Fox Terrier dog every day, Teddy, but to feed what seemed like hundreds of huge cattle was fascinating.

The whole week end was full of one new and exciting lesson after another. But when lunch time rolled around I was taken to the barn and asked to pick out dinner for the night. That’s right...dinner...and I was looking a group of chickens and they didn’t look anything like Kentucky Fried Chicken...anyway, we made our choice and then it happened...kind of suddenly and without explanation. Jon’s mom took the chicken to a tree stump...she had a little axe in her hand...and without hesitation she quickly and efficiently separated the head from the rest of the chicken. I was shocked and then amazed...and yes, I will admit it, a little scared, maybe a lot scared...because she let go of the chicken and it started running around the yard, without its head. He didn’t run too long or too far really, but run he did. They thought it was all so funny...because I started running too... away from the chicken, even though my head was still attached...proved by the sound barrier breaking screams coming out of my mouth. AMAZING...didn’t see that one coming!

After the entire family clan, who had ventured out for the event without my having noticed, finished their hooting and hollering, and it subsided from seeing my immediate and expected reaction...real funny, I thought. Then they explained that the chicken was dead...everything was okay...he wasn’t going to hurt me...he was dead and he just didn’t know it yet. You know, since that day I’ve learned that if you chop the head off a chicken they can run around for a few seconds because of a neural network in the spinal cord that is pre-programmed to direct the muscles in frequently used movement patterns such as running. The chickens are already dead...they just don’t know it.

That can happen in the life...and death...of a church. Here you have a church in the beginning of its life, started by a group of outward looking outward...meaning, they have the desire to fulfill the Great Commission and seek and save the lost...they have the heart and passion of the Lord for lost people and they are driven to grow and mature and fellowship and become complete in Christ that they might let Christ live through them and when He does that He is always seeking and saving the lost...and boy a church like that, well, is it alive...the people are looking outward...trying to reach as many people as they can with the gospel and then bring them into the fellowship of the church. The Great Commission is emphasized and the church has the heart and passion of the Lord to seek and to save the lost.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" - Matthew 28:19 (ESV)

Then, that local church begins to get a little larger and if they are not careful the church begins to look inward, mostly...and all they really care about when you get down to it, is... themselves...what they are learning...what they are receiving in fellowship...what their buildings and transportation and ministries can do for them and over a period of time the church begins to slide down the slippery slope of death. It becomes a “Me” church because it’s about what’s in it for me and my family. The goal revealed in the Great Commission, and the heart of sacrifice, to seek and save the lost which was demonstrated by Christ on the Cross, become distant, unimportant thoughts and are largely ignored. And that kind of church will eventually die. America’s landscape is becoming littered with empty buildings that use to house the church of the Living God.

After all... the buildings and the teaching and the preaching and the people are gathered together for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission and reaching out to those who have never heard of Christ or trusted Him as their Savior...and then bring them into the family of God where they grow spiritually, to maturity in Christ so that Christ will live through them and get and save the lost.

Unfortunately, in fact, there are many churches that are “dead” and they don’t even know it yet...they’ll be able to run around for a while...they’re used to being engaged in frequent movement patterns and rituals...just like the chicken...but they are on their way out because they turned inward.

Yes, according to Smokey the Bear, it’s true; you can help prevent forest fires, by not lighting a match and throwing it down in the forest. But more importantly, you can help prevent the death of a church...for people are the are the church... and by asking yourself if you are doing everything the Lord wants you to do to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ you can help prevent our death.

Some churches are dead and they don’t even know it. Pray it never happens here.

... they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also"-  Acts 17:6 (ESV)

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with

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