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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Problem and A Promise - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Problem and A Promise - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Problem and A Promise - Part 1
TOPICS: Problems, God's Promises

It's good to be with you again. We're continuing our study on There Is a God. We're going to look specifically at a problem and a promise, but this notion that there is a God. If you will put that in your heart and let it flourish, it changes everything. When you face a problem, there is a God. When you have a victory, there is a God. There's so many forces that push us away from that, and if we can re-center on the fact that there is a God, it's not me, and that I want to be pleasing to him, it brings a context to every day of my life and every interaction through every one of those days. It is truly a point of freedom. There is a God. And here's the wonderful part: you can know him. He's not remote, or aloof, or withdrawn, or unknowable. There is a God. He loves you and you can know him. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.

We're working through a series under the general title of, There Is a God. That is such an important idea. There is a God and you can know him. You need both of those together. Simply to say there's a God, but he's unknowable, or he can't be discerned, or he's beyond us does not help our condition, but there is a God and you can know him. That's the story of this book. It's the purpose of this book is that we might know God. Not know how to be religious, not to know which denomination to join, not know which day of the week is most important, but that we might know God. There's a Creator of heaven and earth and everything that's in it, and he's knowable.

Keep saying that to yourself in the midst of your challenges, and your problems, and the diagnosis that push on your life, and the difficulties. There is a God. I'm not alone. It's not just about my strength. There is a God. And my circle seems small, but there is a God. I don't know how to solve this, but there is a God and I can know him. He delights in revealing himself to his people. I understand there's like a waterfall of messaging that cascades over us that would try to wash that out of you, but don't let it. There is a God. I'm a little fired up. We want to look specifically at kind of a contrast. There's a problem that we face, but there's a promise that addresses it. And we're gonna spend the balance of our time trying to put that in the context of this larger understanding that there is a God.

The fact that there's a God doesn't mean there aren't problems. Being a Christ follower doesn't take the pain out of your life. It doesn't take the brokenness out of your life. It doesn't deliver you from being susceptible to a broken heart. People you love will step into eternity. They'll step out of time and that's very painful. We live in a world where evil exists and we encounter it. We suffer because of it. That's difficult. Jesus did. He was rejected in place, after place, after place. When he stood before the high priest, they struck him on the face. They slapped him. They spit on him. Our Lord. And he looked at us, with the plainest of language, he said, They're gonna do this to you too. You'll be hated by all people because of me.

If you don't face any angst because of your allegiance to Jesus, you better turn up your allegiance to Jesus. You don't have to try to be obnoxious. Trust me, you're obnoxious enough, and so am I. A problem and a promise. I wanna start in Deuteronomy 28, and your notes start with verse 15, but I thought that was unfair. If you're not familiar with Deuteronomy 28, it's a chapter that is filled with blessings and curses. They're the blessings that were given to Abraham. Now, that's relevant to you and me because in Galatians it says that you and I are heirs to the promise God gave to Abraham. So the blessings of Abraham come to you and me through Christ Jesus, so that whole 28th chapter of Deuteronomy is relevant to you and me, both blessings and curses.

And in your notes I started with the curses, and I thought, You know, I bet everybody doesn't know, they're not as familiar with those first 12 verses. So I just want to read them to you. I know it's a long passage, but I want you to hear the blessings God intends for your life. If you need to close your, just soak 'em up. Don't take a nap, but this is what God said he will do in your life if you fully obey the Lord your God. Now, it starts with an if. You'd have to circle that if it was in your notes. It's conditional. You can't live any way you want to and expect the blessings of God. God's not a fool. Don't treat him like one, please. Treat him with respect and dignity.

Stop worrying about your systematic theology, and which of the seven seals is gonna happen before which trumpet, and which horn on which beast is gonna do what, and just try to focus your energy on what it would be to live every day expressing as fully as you know how respect toward God. What would that look like? What would that look like? If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you on high above all the nations of earth. Wow. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God. You don't have to seek the blessings of God. If you will seek God, his blessings will track you down. There's such freedom in that. How many people say, I'm trusting God for his blessing? Now, just trust God. I gotta stay on track, don't I? I need blinders on tonight.

Verse 3, "You'll be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock, the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You'll be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They'll come at you from one direction but they will flee from you in seven. The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he's giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you're called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you. The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground, in the land he's 40 or forefathers to give you. The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season, to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations who will borrow from none. The LORD will make you the head, and not the tail. If you'll pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them."

Wow. When we were boys, my brothers and I were still at home and we were young, one summer that was our family project. We memorized the first 14 verses of Deuteronomy 28. We're like little magpies walkin' around the house, I'll be blessed in the city and blessed in the field. The enemy will come for you one way and flee before you seven ways. We thought everybody grew up weird. But those promises, as remarkable as they are, represent only about a third of that chapter, 'cause the overwhelming majority of that chapter has to do with the consequences of ignoring God. I want to read you just a sample. Deuteronomy 28, you have this in your notes. However, if you don't want to plan A, if you don't obey the LORD your God and you don't carefully follow all his commands and decrees I'm giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. People struggle with this.

You see, the book is to help us understand the character of God. He's not just a God who blesses. The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. And if there's a sense that that would be descriptive of a significant portion of your life, I would begin to quietly say to the Lord, Lord, I want to repent. Help me. Help me see what I have done that has brought that response to my life. It's not confusing language. There are consequences to disobedience. And we have treated this very insignificantly in American Christendom, obedience to God. I mean, across the spectrum of American Evangelicalism, there is liberty to be almost and do almost anything.

I've spent my life in the church. I'm not throwing stones at anybody. I'm just telling you we have lost the notion of consequences for disobedience. We've ignored the righteous decrees of God. We have preferred to write our own life regulations. We use statements like, Well, that's just not how I believe. Well, I understand that that used to be the way we saw things. Well, I don't know about that. Well, the journey of personal exploration and personal enlightenment, that's good. You want to keep learning, and growing, and studying, but once you understand God's truth, or his principles, or his boundaries, then your obligation and mine is compliance. God isn't asking for my vote.

How many of you think those Ten Commandments were a good idea? God didn't ask my vote. He said, Go tell them this is the deal. Thou shalt not. Oh, it feels so restrictive. There is a God and it's not us. Now, we don't have to comply with him. We don't have to yield to him. We don't have to surrender to him. You can live your life, I can live my life on my own apart from God. Feel free, but the design engineer said to us that's really not the best way to do it. If you'll cooperate with me, all of these things will fill your life. If you rebel against me, all of these things will be void in your life. Don't think of it as punishment. Think of it as spiritual disease apart from God. I think many of us are angered that God would dare to call us account. Well, who does he think he is? He's God.

Now, how do we understand our struggle? Ephesians 6:12 is the best summary. I'm not gonna unpack these in a lot of detail. I just want to kind of walk through the topics with you. Ephesians 6, and verse 12 says, Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Please note the punctuation. It doesn't say our struggle is not, full stop. It says our struggle is not against flesh and blood. The admission, the concession is our lives contain struggle. Well, I don't like that. Okay. Now that we've got that out, what are we gonna do about the struggle of our lives? What can we understand about them? Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

If you'll allow me, in just the simplest of language, it says we're in a wrestling match with persons without bodies; that the problem in our lives isn't institutions, and organizations, and political parties. It's not nation states. It's not whomever you're angry with; that the real instigators of the struggle of life are spiritual forces of wickedness. Now, you'll have to do more than a casual read of that. You can give an intellectual consent and go, Oh yeah, you know, I believe that, but when you have a problem, you'll be mad at somebody. But the real struggle of our lives, the importance in that is to understand that the real victory of our lives is going to come because of a relationship with God and understanding his character and how he moves in the earth.

Think of the gospel. Somebody stopped me tonight and said they'd read the gospels five times during our 40 days. Good for you. I hope you're participating. I'll be curious who's read, don't show me, but if you've read it more than five, I want to hear. Some of you overachievers will have to get past that now, like, I can't sleep. But as you read the gospels, remember that Jesus came to the covenant people of God. And as he began to recruit disciples, he recruited godly young men, and he included remarkable young women in that group. So he is ministering to the chosen people of God that are pursuing God and they are consistently, completely dumbfounded, stupefied, amazed at what Jesus is doing. It's totally, they have no imagination of what God could do.

They know when to go to synagogue. They know the foods they can't eat. They know the holidays that require a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They know how to celebrate Passover. They know the menu. Jesus sends them to prepare the Passover meal. They're up to speed on all of those things, but they are almost clueless about what God would do. There is a God and we haven't even begun to understand him. And we're so pompous. Well, you know, I'm not sure I can worship in that style. Bless your pointed head. I mean, I'll get the messages, you know, I couldn't believe you read from that translation. Let me help you believe it. I'm gonna do it again this week. We're in a struggle, folks, a wrestling match with persons without bodies, spiritual forces of this world's darkness. They're present, they're in an ascending and descending order. It's not random. They're structured. Satan saw the the kingdom of God and he's a great imitator.

Paul goes on in that passage to describe the army of a Roman legionnaire. It's most effective battle armor of the day. It was the most on point example that his audiences could know. The Roman legionnaires had conquered the majority of the civilized world. Not entirely, but an enormous block of it from France to Persia. So the armor of a legionnaire was understood to be fearsome and effective. We've got to acknowledge this problem of sin. I think we walk past it too quickly. You know, depending on the segment of the church you come from, our language is a little different, but the root underneath it is not that different. We're pretty casual about it. Oh, I just say, I'll tell God I'm sorry. I'll just tell God I'm sorry.

Well, it's good to tell God you were wrong and that you are truly sorry, but it's not good to treat that in a very casual way. I've watched our responses to COVID. I've watched what we would do under the fear of a virus. We've closed our businesses. We've closed our schools. We took our children out of schools. We cancelled our vacations. We cancelled our routine gatherings. We cancelled our habits. We have gone trillions, and trillions, and trillions of dollars in debt because we were afraid of a virus, which very thankfully did not prove to be as lethal as they suggested it might be. But we don't have much fear of God. We don't have that same respect for God.

Oh, you know, I know my kids are living in immoral ways, but they're my kids and I love 'em. And you know, I gotta love 'em. If I said something to 'em, they probably would be mad at me and I don't want them to be mad at me, and that's the church's job anyway. And you can ramp that into a hundred other scenarios. We just haven't had a lot of respect for God. Don't think of somebody else. Let's just hold us to our own selves and quietly, my suggestion to you, again, I'm not trying to induce shame. What I would, I think my objective would be that you would begin to quietly say, You know, there is a God and I really have not treated him with a lot of respect. I have a treated him with as, you know, if you're a Vols fan, do you treat their games with more respect than you treat God?

If you, whatever your hobby of choice is, do you treat your pursuit of that with more respect than you do God? The boundaries of God that you're familiar with, not the ones that you are familiar with. Don't worry about my boundaries. Just again, this is personal for all of us. Do we treat those boundaries with something like the same respect we wouldn't treat it if we thought it was a deadly disease, or we think, Ah, it's not that big a deal? God, I'm sorry. I know you exist. I believe you exist and I wanna honor you. This isn't as complex as we've made it.

You know, we wanna argue about Greek words and Greek verbs. And we have fancy words, how martyrology is the study of sin. I didn't have to go to school to learn to sin. I was born with that motor, and so were you. There's a God. God, I want to respect you. There's some simple ideas, and I linked 'em to our COVID experience because I think it just makes it more available to our imagination, but this problem of sin is not that complex necessarily, but we should understand that sin, and think of sin as spiritual disease. When you accommodate, when you tolerate ungodliness, something you know to be displeasing to God, and you leave it in place and you practice it, it's a spiritual disease at work in us. And sin is terminal. It's terminal. Not only that, it's highly contagious.

Now, you know this. You know this instinctively. If you're in a group of people or you're exposed to a group of people and they're engaged in some practices you weren't sure were good but you see a lot of people doing it, it's not a long step for you to be in the midst of it. That stuff is contagious. You see it with young people. We see it with old people. Romans chapter 5, and verse 12 says, Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, so death spread to all men, because all have sinned. It's so contagious it spread to everybody. Hundred percent infection rate. Well, that looks like fun. Hey, watch this. It's the Southern anthem.

The description in Galatians 3:22, The Scripture declares that the whole world as a prisoner of sin. There's another component of which your natural immunity to sin is short-lived. How many times, don't raise your hand, but how many times have you transgressed? You did something that you knew was displeasing to God, and you were convicted of it, and you repented of it, and you said, God, I will never, ever, I will never do that again. How long did that natural immunity last? I don't want to answer.

Now, the good news is God intervened. He didn't leave us there. He didn't leave us infected with no help. He has provided a solution. Romans chapter 5, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, to be justified, it's a fancy religious word. It means to be just as if I had never sinned. It's to be acquitted. The records against you are expunged. Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why does Jesus matter so much? He's the only way to have peace with God. There is a God and you will answer to him, but the only way to have peace with him is through Jesus. You better get to know him.

It's why we're willing to say we are Christ followers. He'll help us to have peace with God. Don't you wanna have peace with God? How can we not talk to our friends about this? How can we not care? But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! God's wrath. See, why do we want peace with God? Because we don't want God's wrath. Well, isn't there a third option? No, you are free to live your life apart from God, but you're not free to escape the consequences of that.

Father, I thank you that you love us. I thank you that you, that in your great mercy and compassion, you have made a way for us to be at peace with the Creator of all things; that you're not angry with us; that you are not resentful of us; that you have welcomed us into your kingdom and made peace with us through Jesus Christ. I thank you for that today. Nothing's hidden from you, no part of our past, no thought within us, and yet you love us. May that love grow in us every day and bring a boldness and a courage within us to face the challenges before us. In Jesus's name, amen. God bless you.

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