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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Kingdom View

Allen Jackson - A Kingdom View

Allen Jackson - A Kingdom View

It's good to be with you again. Our topic today is "Tenacious Faith". You know, I've spent my life in church, and for the most part I think our attitude towards church is, "It's a polite place, it's a place where you come and you speak in muted tones and you don't show a great deal of emotion and you certainly wouldn't laugh out loud". And I appreciate the respect we have tried to cultivate for the Lord and for a place where we worship but the reality is faith in a living God is not a quiet, timid thing.

It's gonna take tenacity and perseverance, we're going to have to be overcomers, it's gonna take a greater sense of determination than we've ever known before to come through the place where we are now. God's changing, he's shaking the world, and he's inviting us to know him in a new way. I pray that you're born again and I'm grateful that you have that beginning in the kingdom of God, but let's move beyond the theater of worship and begin to get to know the Lord in a personal way, a transforming way, so that we can flourish in the days that are ahead of us. God's moving, and I want to say yes to him. Grab your Bible and a notepad, most of all, open your heart to the Lord. Enjoy the lesson.

We've been working on a little series called "Tenacious Faith," and in this session, I'd like to talk about "A Kingdom Perspective" uniquely. But fundamentally, I'm of the opinion that we need a more tenacious faith. But I spent my life in the church world and the reality is we have learned the theater of church: we know the appropriate clothing and we know about the right times to arrive, and we know when to sit and stand and the words that we would use, and we understand the things we can tell the church and the things that we probably wouldn't. And we have all those imaginations in place and we've inserted our preferences around style and taste. That's not evil, but in the theater of church, we can miss the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

And one of the lessons of this season is that it isn't the theater, we can be outdoors or indoors, we can meet whenever or however or wherever or with whomever, but we want to gather with the people of God because we need his presence in our midst. We've been too passive. We've watched expression after expression of evil and we've responded rather casually, I'm weary with that. I learned long ago in athletics as a young person that I had to meet the energy level of the adversary, my opponent. If I didn't, I surrendered the field. And our triumph, our victory doesn't come from our strength, but we are engaged, it isn't apart from us, and we've been too passive. "Well, God, if you want to do something, do something". No, he's called us, that's why he gave you an earth suit, and me one.

So I think we need a different response. Covid-19 arrived almost two years ago now from Wuhan, China. It came rather unexpectedly, and I think we would all acknowledge there have been an abundance of missteps and more than an abundance of finger-pointing and complaining, but enough already, it isn't helpful. Being angry at somebody because they didn't respond in the way you wanted them to, whomever it is you're angry at, at what point are you going to forgive? Enough already. Here's the reality, business is not as usual, it just isn't. We can talk about supply chains or inflation or just enormous national debt, we can talk about a lot of things but business is not as usual. And normal is going to be what we will make it, not something that we use to know. It really is, normal has very little to do with what our habits were two years ago, normal has everything to do with what you're crafting right now, very important.

I'll take it a step further, if you're living in the world, how many of you've given your heart to the things of this present world order? That's where your great ambitions are, that's where your great hopes and dreams are for yourself or your children or your grandchildren. I would encourage you, I think you need to have the courage to say, "I wanna be ungodly". It's time to get off the fence, I would encourage you not to waste your time pretending 'cause we don't fool God and fooling Pastor's not hard. On the other hand, if you want to honor the Lord with your life, find a bold, God-honoring response this year. Let's not just play out the string, let's not just go through the motions, another year of the drama. Let's ask God to move in our midst in the most remarkable ways even if it means we were to reorient our time or our attitudes or our energies or to present ourselves, "I here I am, let's go". Me too, me too.

1 Timothy chapter 4, in verse 15, says, "Take pains with all these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to" all. I have some friends that are really good at being absorbed in things, I can get pretty good at that from time to time. I want to be absorbed in the things of God, they matter to me, I don't wanna just check the, you know; sinner's prayer, check, baptism, check, read my Bible, check, go to church when it's pretty convenient, check. No, I don't want to do that 'cause I don't want to stand before the King with a checklist. Paul said, "I bear in my body the marks of the Gospel". I'm not asking you to be a martyr or to suffer physical persecution, but I'm inviting you out of the theater of worship into the reality, those muddy fields of serving God. You ready?

Let's take just a moment and talk a little bit about this present world order 'cause I think there's some confusion around it. God created the world and everything that's in it, and when he was done with it he said, "It's very good". So God is not opposed to our world. In fact, Jesus is gonna rule and reign here, we're not going to spend eternity with him someplace else, he's coming here to rule and reign. Isn't that good to know? There'll be no more crying or pain or tears or death, for all of those things will have passed away, it says in Revelation. Whoo, sign me up. Between here and there, we got some road to travel and all of those things will be found along that road.

It's okay, the Lord will take us through. But the New Testament talks, when it talks about the world it doesn't talk about God's creation, it talks about this present world order, the system that's in place. And it's evil, it's temporary, it isn't permanent, and the New Testament describes it in contrast to the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, which is eternal, and the temporal, temporary present world order. And the council we're given is short and to not fall in love with this present world; not the values, not the standards, not the objectives, the ways that they identify winning and losing, they're different in the kingdom of God.

Now, we have to learn that, it's not intuitive, and the messaging that comes at us predominantly comes at us from this present world order. It tells us what's valuable and who's valuable and why, and we try to comply. And the invitations of the Spirit of God is to yield ourselves to his instruction, a different set of parameters. And it describes a conflict that pulls within every one of us, preachers, pastors, new Christians, old Christians. That battle persists in us, it doesn't go away, it will not yield. We find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane facing the suffering that's immediately in front of him, saying, "Father, I'd really rather not do this, it's gonna be uncomfortable". You think? They're going to torture you to death. "I'd really rather not do this".

How many times have I said, "You know, I don't really want to do this"? But I also hope you're still struggling with yielding your will to God and saying, "Lord, I don't really want to do that". I hope you're not saying, "Well, I'm saved, I'm born again, my name's written in the Lamb's book of life, there's really not a lot left for me to lay down". Who told you that? When Jesus was in Gethsemane, he wasn't struggling with gross moral failure, God's will in front of him was unpleasant and he thought, "I don't know". I know that feeling. I got the right group? Matthew chapter 5, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness," this is Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, "For theirs is the kingdom of heaven".

How do you know, what's one of the marks of those that belong to the kingdom of heaven? They're persecuted because of righteousness, not because they steal and lie and cheat, persecuted because of right standing with God. Because you choose to stand with God in the public square, there will be some pushback, it's gonna grow, it's gonna get worse. Now, I believe God's affirmation in your life, God's intervention in your life will become more bold, but I believe that there's a polarization taking place, and intensification along both sides of that discussion. And it's important to know there's a blessing pronounced if you suffer because you choose to stand with God. Why would you forfeit that?

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". The assumption that's made is persecution will come because of right standing with God. Again, not because you're a scoundrel, that's on your head. The promise is that there's a fortunate, it's a fortunate circumstance to be persecuted because of righteousness. Now, we could talk about that in a lot more detail than I want to take the time with, but the nature of a conflict is influenced by your assignment and your position; whether you're on the front line or you're the rear guard, whether you're a part of the the first wave or you're supporting wave.

We have different assignments and different positions, so don't evaluate what you're asked to do by what somebody else is asked to do, it's a mistake, understand your assignment. if you'll be willing to do your job, if you'll be faithful in small things God will give you an upgrade. Most of us don't want to hear about the upgrade system, we want to start at the front of the parade. And I have had enough birthdays to observe that people that insist on running to the front of the parade and imagine they caused it are pretty short-term participants. And I would strongly encourage you to be faithful in the task God puts in front of you, whether anybody notices or not, I assure you he will bring his blessings to you.

I want to do the rest of the story. We started in Matthew with the Sermon on the Mount. I'm talking to you about a different attitude towards faith, a tenacious faith, not a passive faith, not a routine of faith, not a default position of faith but an intentional, purposeful, focused objective of being faithful. Faith and faithfulness are two sides of the same coin, same word. To be a person of faith is to be a faithful person; you can't be a person of faith and not be a faithful person, it's impossible. So you wanna know how to be a person of great faith, be a person of tremendous faithfulness.

But in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, there's a parallel passage in Luke chapter 6, which I'm not gonna take the time to read, but I wanna read this little expanded portion for you because Jesus is talking to us. And it's a segment that's often used to try to convince us that Jesus was a pacifist, that he kinda withdrew from challenging the ungodly ideas of his day and he just went along to get along, and that they crucified him but it was some sort of supernatural something, it wasn't because he was him.

Matthew 5, "You've heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Don't resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if someone forces you to go one, mile go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You've heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy!' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect".

I bet you've heard some portion of that, oftentimes quoted to you by someone who doesn't even pretend to be a Christ follower, trying to convince you that you shouldn't object, that you shouldn't hold up the truth of God's Word, that you're being judgmental or critical or harsh; "And Jesus said," and then they quote you their favorite two sentences. Well, Jesus said not to resist an evil person, but I would remind you that Jesus routinely cast out unclean or evil spirits, I would remind you that Jesus was tortured to death on a Roman cross so that through his redemptive death he could cancels Satan's claims against you. It wasn't an arbitrary act of violence, Jesus frequently criticized the religious and political leaders of his day, in public, oftentimes to their faces. His disciples would take him aside after some public encounter and say, "Did you know you offended them"?

You know, there's two things that happen that are really, to me, highly comical in the Gospels, you're reading them right now. It's when they would come, the scribes and the Pharisees would come to try to trap Jesus in some logic puzzle, trying to trap the Creator. And then on the other side of that is the disciples, bless their hearts, "Did you know you offended them when you called them a brood of snakes in whitewashed tombs and children of hell? Did you know you offended them"? Yes, he had a clue, he really did. It's kinda funny to read. Jesus challenged the Sabbath rules, he said, "You've got religious rules that you say you have taken from the books of Moses but you're not honoring God, you're honoring yourselves and you're wicked," and they wanna kill him.

It wasn't that he just didn't get another invitation to speak in that synagogue, they wanted to kill him. He would challenge their kosher rules, "It's not what goes into your mouth that makes you holy," their whole lives were defined by what they ate or didn't eat. So they'd say, He's challenging the Scripture, and they're the most powerful, influential people in the nation, and he's calling them out in public. And the disciples would come to him and say, you know, "I don't understand," he says, "Are you really that slow? Do you think that what's on your sandwich will cost you the kingdom of God"? And they're going, "Oh, well, yeah". I can just see him shaking his head, "And these are the ones I recruited".

Jesus's words and his message are what led to his suffering. So we have to understand that passage in the context of his behavior, because clearly Jesus resisted evil. He's inviting us towards, I think, a different awareness, it isn't that we're not supposed to stand up to evil, I think he's asking us to understand that the root of the evil is not the people, because he came to redeem people. He redeemed a Pharisee, he went and recruited a Pharisee to be the greatest evangelist that the non-Jewish world ever knew. In Romans chapter 12, in verse 21, we're given an assignment. It says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good".

I think sometimes we miss it, our objective is not just to resist evil, but to do good, that's what Jesus was talking about. Radical stuff, doing good in an evil world. So if we're gonna talk about "Tenacious Faith," yes, there's a component of resisting evil, but there's a far greater component of engaging in the things of the kingdom of God, living out that behavior. Ephesians 6, describes the spiritual conflict, you're familiar with the verses I suspect, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes," not against people, but against the schemes of evil. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood," it's not against persons with bodies, "But against the rulers, and authorities, and the powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms".

We're called to engage in a spiritual conflict; this present world order is ruled by evil and we're gonna be light in the midst of the darkness. "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you'll be able to stand your ground". We've lost sight of this, we quit standing, we just started blessing evil. The book of Revelation calls us to be overcomers, I think we've become world-class overlookers, there's a huge difference. "Well, I just choose to overlook that," that wasn't the assignment. How do you overcome evil? with good, we have to match the expression of the goodness of the kingdom of God with the assertiveness of evil, more determined that his kingdom be proclaimed than the kingdom of darkness. Compromise is corrosive, it will just destroy your foundations and mine.

1 Corinthians 5, verse 1, "It is actually reported," he's writing to a church again, he said, "It's actually reported," so there's a sense of surprising this, it's almost wonder, but he said, I can't believe it, "It's is actually reported that there's sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that doesn't even occur among the pagans". He said you're out-paganing the pagans. "A man has his father's wife. And you're proud! Shouldn't you rather been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this"? We've compromised in too many ways, we have to submit to God's will. James says it so well in chapter 4, "Submit yourself... to God. Resist the devil, and he'll flee from you".

You can't expect the devil to flee from you if you haven't submitted yourself to God. You can rebuke and renounce, you can shout all you want to and you can make your blood of Jesus confession, if you haven't submitted to God's will, you're stuck. If God's will doesn't matter to you, he has a legal claim to you, we have to submit to the will of God. "Come near to God, he'll come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners," he's not writing to the unbelievers, "Wash your hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, he will lift you up". And I took the passage from Matthew that I read to you and the parallel passage in Luke chapter 6, it's Luke 6:27-36, if you wanna read it later, little extra credit. But there were seven statements that are made between those two passages; some statements are shared in common, there's a couple of statements that are made uniquely, one in Matthew and another in Luke.

But I gave you a compilation about a kingdom perspective that Jesus was inviting us to, it's the good we do that overcomes evil. He said, "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, don't stop him from taking your tunic. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. Give to the one who asks, don't turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. And if anyone takes what belongs to you, don't demand it back. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. Do to others as you would have them do to you," it's the golden rule. We've changed it, now we say the one who has the gold rules. "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you". I would submit to you that is a radical collection of ideas, and to actually try to live those out will demand of us a tenacious faith, that's not easy stuff. You strike me on the cheek, you better duck. I mean, I'll pray for you when I'm finished, but.

Father, I thank you that you've called us out of the dark into the kingdom of your light, that you have washed us and cleansed us and justified us. Forgive us for our attitude of complacency. Father, we've been willing to sit in a space at a specific time and imagine that we were interacting with the creator of all things. Forgive us for our indifference, ignite a passion within us to know a living God that we might yield our days to you beginning with each morning. In Jesus's name, amen. God bless you.

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