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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Available and Obedient - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Available and Obedient - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Available and Obedient - Part 2
TOPICS: Obedience

It's good to be with you again. We're gonna conclude our discussion on "Time To Lead". And the question in this lesson is the question, I think, of this season of our lives. Is there gonna be someone step up to lead from a godly perspective? And I'm not talking about the White House or Congress, the Supreme Court, those obvious positions of leadership? Are we gonna find people to lead in our homes, in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our schools? Folks, leadership is about influence and a willingness to take your God perspective, your biblical worldview, and allow it to influence the world around us. I don't know the outcome of that question. It isn't apparent to me yet. It seems to me that we're still desperately trying to pretend that we don't notice we're in trouble, and we are. But God is searching the earth looking for men and women who will say, "I will stand on your behalf". Be one of those people.

Can we talk a bit about God's gifts for just a moment? There's some things I've learned about God's gifts. When God's gifts come to your life, and I'm not just talking about spiritual gifts or the gift of salvation, God's gifts to you come in, it's that entire portfolio of what God has designed into your story. And he gives it to you the same way parents train children. They do it in an age-appropriate way. What can they receive now? What are they able to process and implement at this point? And God will do the same for you. Children where his idea, folks. He did that before we had psychologists and psychiatrists, and I'm not opposed to those things. And God is interested in you growing spiritually, and he has some age-appropriate gifts for you, opportunities, doors to walk through. I'll tell you one thing I have learned, if you're willing to receive God's gift, they will stretch you. They will reshape your life.

Are you willing to have your life reshaped? Careful. You'll get stretch marks. You say, "I already have some". You'll get more. Are you really ready to allow God to reshape your life? You see, God's gifts enable us to serve him in new ways. "Pastor, really, I want to go to heaven. Why are we talking about this? I just wanted to go: there's a heaven, there's a hell. I'd rather go there than there. I'm into Christianity light. I'm not looking for this hyper-Christian stuff. You know, I don't want blue tights and a red cape and a big, you know, super Christian on my chest".

Well, I need to inform you that biblically, there's only one group of Christ followers. He's either Lord and you're all in, or you're not. Now, There's a lot of diversity in our personalities and how God wired us, but you can't choose to be like disciple light. I'm not mad at you. I'm not recruiting you. I want you to be prepared. I want you to be prepared. You can't hide in church and live like the devil and think you're good. You can't give God like a peripheral place in your life and imagine that he'll be okay with that. Remember those Ten Commandments, those way back in Exodus? It begins with, "You can have no other God before me. I get first place or I won't take any place". God's gifts enable us to serve in new ways. Are you ready to learn to serve in some new ways?

I'll give you another component about God's gifts. I've learned this in my life. In Genesis God said, "For as long as the earth exists, there'll be seed time and harvest". It's a pattern. We're still in a rural enough area that we get something of that agricultural cycle. Some of you plant gardens this summer or flowers this summer. You plant a seed, and there's a delay before you see the outcome of that. And I found that to be true in my life with the Lord. There's oftentimes a delay when I said, "I'm willing to receive, and when I then begin to see those outcomes".

In fact, sometimes I say I'm willing to receive, and God puts my feet on a path of obedience and cooperating with him in some new ways. And I'll have to stay on that path for a while before I see any evidence that something's growing. God doesn't microwave every gift. And for some of you, you've been being obedient for a while, and you haven't seen the outcome yet. I promise you, God is faithful. You can trust him. But I would ask you again, are you willing to receive some new gifts from the Lord today? I'm gonna pray. If you are, I believe God has some things for you. I believe he would change the shape of your serve. I believe he would invite you into some new patterns and some new habits, but you have to want it. He won't force that on you. I mean, he might forcibly intrude in your life, but he will intrude to give you a choice, put Paul's face in the dust and said, "I've got some stuff for you to do".

But Paul had to be willing to go. I mean, he orchestrated David hearing Goliath's challenge, but David had to be willing to say, "I think this is doable". Are you willing to receive a gift from the Lord? Or you just want somebody else to change so we can get a better outcome? "I'm pretty good with my life, I just wish some other people would get their act together". I'm tempted to pray that prayer sometimes. I'll tell you the truth, somebody said to me, it's been years now. Uninvited, I was quietly having a meal and they looked at me and said, "God has some gifts for you that you haven't asked for yet". Completely out of the blue. I didn't say anything because I didn't know what to say. For years now, I have prayed. I have a friend that, from time to time, we walk and pray, and we have walked and prayed and said, "Lord, we want every gift you have for us". And I have watched God change the shape of how we serve without me understanding what he was doing.

I had a different imagination of the gifts that the Lord was gonna bring. And I believe God has gifts for you today. I want to pray. I'll give you another verse of Scripture. This one's not in your notes either. I did this after I sent your notes away. I'm sorry. It's 2 Corinthians 6:1, you can check me. It said, "As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain". Don't receive God's grace in vain. Grace is a gift. It's unearned, it's undeserved, but you can receive a gift and it be futile. Vanity is futility. It can be futile if you're not willing to change. How many of you'd like a gift God has for you today? Yeah, me too. Maybe just palms up, huh?

Father, I thank you for these men and women. I thank you for their hearts for you to grow and learn and change. Lord, I thank you that you have gifts for us, outcomes for our lives that we haven't imagined. We haven't dreamt up, pathways that we didn't even know were possibilities. Lord, we want to receive today. Holy Spirit, help us far beyond ourselves, and may we have the courage and the diligence and the humility to persevere. In Jesus's name, amen.

God's people, that's the topic at the moment. We're talking about leadership and God's people. I think we have to acknowledge that we're people of extremes. Somebody told me once that the church arrives in its theological positions. It's kind of like we parallel park. You put it in forward and you go until you hear a noise. And then you hit reverse and you go in that direction till you hear another noise. And then you settle in the middle. I don't want to settle for the middle, and the reality is we are kind of people extremes. And one extreme in the history of the church is there's just not very many followers. There's nobody listening, nobody cares that much. Life's pretty good, and we can drive this thing.

Now, you know that's true. There's times in your life when you've had that attitude. There's times in my life when I've had that attitude. And what's true, in my own experience, is a microcosm is true in a macro way of broader cultures. My little personal journey is reflected in the larger journey of cultures. It's just played out over longer periods of time. In Ezekiel 22, God is speaking to the prophet and God said, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I wouldn't have to destroy it, but I couldn't find anybody". God said, "I was looking at the hearts of all the people in the earth. I needed one person in the midst of God's people".

Now, this is an extreme circumstance. On most occasions, there was a person in Noah's generation, there was one person. But because of one person, eight people were saved. God had a starter set. So this is an extreme condition, and I'm not suggesting that it's the condition today. But there are times when there is a greater degree of people willing to listen and cooperate, and there are times when it's a lesser thing. On the other end of the spectrum, we're introduced to somebody that's dramatically different from that. In Acts chapter 13, Paul is talking but he's speaking of King David. But he's talking about Gods interacting with people.

I want this notion to live in your heart that God is constantly engaged with the people in the earth. And as individuals, and as groups of individuals, there is an ebb and a flow to our willingness to cooperate. That's highlighted in the historical books of your Old Testament. We're getting ready to start reading those together. You know, there's good kings and bad kings. And you watch them and there'll be a good king, and there's a son who's a wicked king, Hezekiah and Manasseh. And you're reading it, and it's disorienting. How could you go from good to evil? And we've lived that out. We've lived it out on personal levels. We've lived it out in our family systems.

How do good people do things that are so ungodly with such belligerence and such determination? We're gonna have to have the courage to have this conversation and quit looking over and going, "Oh, it doesn't matter". It does matter. It does matter. It doesn't mean we can always stop it, but we've got to have the courage to say, "That's not gonna bring something God". Say, "But I want good things for them". I understand that. So begin to intercede, begin to pray, grieve over the ungodliness. On the opposite end of this spectrum, it's in Acts chapter 13. It says, "After removing Saul". God chose Saul to be king and then God removed Saul. Do you get that? He chose him and then he removed him. How did that happen? Saul had choices to make. Did you know you have choices to make?

The trajectory of your spiritual life is more about your choices than God's power. God's power is consistent. His grace is unyielding. Our choices, they're all over the board. How are you doing with choosing the Lord? "After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified, God testified concerning David: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.'" Look at that next phrase. "He'll do everything I want him to do". Boom. In Ezekiel's generation he said, "I can't find anybody to help". And he said, "I found David. He'll do whatever I want him to do". I want to trend towards David, don't you? I don't imagine I'm there yet, but I want the trajectory of my life to trend that way.

Folks, there are extremes around us today. There's extreme lawlessness, and there's some extremely precious people serving the Lord. I've been meeting them. People serving in obscure places and quiet places without much fanfare and with very few camera lenses and nobody paying attention, except the creator of heaven and earth. I like to stand next to those people. How about one more prayer? Could we do that? Would you be willing to accept God's assignment to lead, to use your influence for him? David didn't get to be a private prayer warrior. He had to start on a very public battlefield with his brothers mocking him and the other soldiers frightened, were suspicious of him. And ultimately, the king will turn on him because of his heart towards the Lord.

See, I think we've had the mistaken notion that if you serve the Lord or you allow the Lord to direct your path, that there's always gonna be an applause line. I know the Philistines didn't like David, but I don't think he was prepared for the king of Israel to not like him. So, I think it's important to understand that when we say, "Lord, we'll lead on your behalf, we'll receive that from you," that it comes with some mixed responses. I don't want you to be discouraged. And I want you to learn to encourage those people that are leading around you. Stand with them. Link arms with them.

The Bible says we're to encourage one another daily because we need it daily. I need to be encouraged daily 'cause I seem to leak. How about you? You've ever been encouraged and then discouraged like in the same little window of time? How's that happen? I was so encouraged, and now I'm so discouraged. We leak. In fact, you ought to look at the person on your right. Say, "You look a little leaky". We were gonna pray, weren't we? Isaiah chapter 6, it's not in your notes either, but it is in the book. Isaiah 6 and verse 8, it's the chapter where Isaiah the prophet, one of the most remarkable characters in the Bible, is commissioned by God. He has a vision of the throne room of God.

And God said, "Whom can we send on our behalf"? And Isaiah, you know what he said. "I heard a voice from the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And Isaiah said, 'Here I am. Send me!'" We've complained a lot in these last couple of years. We've complained about all kinds of things, CDC. We've complained about the leadership in our nation on both sides of the aisle. Come on. I wonder how many of us would be willing to say to the Lord, "Here I am. Here I am. I will choose your truth, and I'll be willing to be an advocate for your truth". You in? One more prayer? How many of you will be willing to say to that, "Lord, our hands are getting smaller with every invitation". It's okay.

Father, we come today, I thank you for your Word and its guidance and direction, the hope it brings to us. Lord, we ask you today to open our hearts to your assignments for our lives. Lord, we receive them. We didn't come today to be spectators. We came to be participants, and we receive your assignments for our lives. Holy Spirit, help us. Help us. In Jesus's name, amen.

One last piece I'd like to give you. I read a line and it's just been reverberating on the inside of me. It'd like to read the Book of Acts. The book of Acts is the beginning of our story. There's no formal conclusion to the book of Acts because the book of Acts isn't concluded. It just says Paul got to Rome and he preached for a while. Most of the other letters of the New Testament have conclusions, but the book of Acts isn't concluded because we're the 21st century edition. The book of Acts is still being written. But in Acts chapter 11, it says, "Those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen".

You have to remember who wrote the book of Acts? Luke. It's not a trick question. I'm not above that, but this wasn't. Luke wrote the book of Acts and it's very clear from his language there that there were multiple layers and multiple times of persecution. Those that were scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen, not the persecution in connection with James being murdered. This is the persecution in connection with Stephen, not the persecution when Paul was arrested. We're gonna have to be ready, folks, to own our faith, even when everybody doesn't cheer. I'm not looking for persecution, but I think if we understand it's a part of the story of God's people, then we will have prepared ourselves and not be surprised by it.

You want to be a Christ follower of enough intent and enough discipline that the adversary has to game plan with you in mind. You don't want to be an indifferent Christ follower. You don't want to be an overlooked Christ follower. You don't want to be an irrelevant Christ follower. I'm not even sure those are possibilities. But you want to order yourself and your prayers and your obedience and your perseverance in such a way that you have to be accounted for. And in this case, Stephen needed to be silenced. "Those who'd been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews". The Jewish communities were the first recipients of the Jesus story. "Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also".

In this case, this will be everybody not Jewish. So, in some cities, it just went to the Jewish people. But when they got to Cyprus and Cyrene and Antioch, the non Jews got to hear the story, and it's in Antioch where they're first gonna be called Christians. "Telling him the good news about the Lord Jesus". Verse 21, this is the punch line. "And the Lord's hand was with them, a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. The Lord's hand was with them". I'm gonna close with this. How many of you would like to believe the Lord's hand is with you? Whoo, me too. I'm telling you, that's better than any affirmation I can think of, any endorsement you can get. The Lord's hand was with them. The Lord's hand was with them.

What a good testament. How was your week? "The Lord's hand was with me". How are things going in your life? "Well, the Lord's hand is with me". The Lord's hand, what started this? Persecution that forced him out of the city of Jerusalem. How could the Lord's hand be with you in the midst of persecution? I thought if the Lord's hand was with me, the hands of my persecutors would wither. We gotta hold these things together. I also think it's noteworthy that the names of these remarkable people with who the Lord's hand was with, were not even given them. They're nameless, they're faceless. Who were they? We don't know. We're just told where they went. The most important characteristic about them wasn't their name or their education or their social status or if they were connected with the governor's household or with the household of Caesar or if they had been one of the apostles.

The most important characterizing aspect of their lives is that the Lord's hand was with them. I would trade any aspect of the descriptions of myself for the ability to say the Lord's hand is within them. There isn't anything more important. Where do you go to church? Okay, I'll tell you, and the outcome is that a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. Only God can do that. That's an outcome we can't get to. We can have Bible studies. We can learn information. We can fill it outlines. We can go through courses and check off achievement marks and processes that we've been through. And we can tell you the things we've read. And I'm an advocate for all of that, spent my life doing it. But at the end of the day, I want outcomes that reflect something other than me, don't you?

So to get there, we have to invite the Lord's hand to be with us. If you didn't know it, we're having something of a commissioning service today. We came to church, but we really came to enlist. We came to say, "Lord, we will lead, we will use our influence and our homes, and our communities, and wherever, for your purposes". And as we look back on this day, the days and the weeks before, ahead, we want to be able to say, "From that day until now, in the most remarkable way, the Lord's hand has been with us. The Lord's hand has been with us". Have there been troubles? "Yeah, I guess so". There have been unanticipated things? "Uh-huh". Have there been, "Yeah, there have been some disruptions". Has it been easy? "No, I wouldn't call it easy, but let me tell you what the Lord's done". How did that happen? "Well, the only way I can say it was the Lord's hand was with me". Were you ever discouraged? "Yeah, sometimes". Did you get tired? "Mm-hmm". You're willing? I believe you are, you've been praying your way through this with me.

I brought you a prayer. I think we ought to close with that. Well, I brought you a prayer, but I don't think I brought it for me. Yes, I did. I gave you more outline than we used, didn't I? That's never happened before, has it? Why don't you stand with me? Lord, help us, help me. Did you find the prayer? I found mine. Did you find yours? They'll put it on the screens if you can't find either one of those. I hope. Yeah, there we go. Let's say this together. The corporate prayers of God's people are difference makers. Let's read it together:

Heavenly Father, Apart from your voice we are lost and without direction. Respond to us in mercy and compassion! Grant us receptive hearts that we might understand your ways, the discernment to grasp your truth that we might obey. Deliver us from the schemes of evil and establish us in your righteousness. Pour out your Spirit upon us once again, let the glory of the Lord fill the earth, may your people rejoice in the wonder of our God, amen.
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