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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Behind Enemy Lines

Allen Jackson - Behind Enemy Lines

Allen Jackson - Behind Enemy Lines

It's an honor to be with you again. Our topic today is "Tenacious Faith," and we're gonna explore it from a particular perspective of being behind enemy lines. I think the image of warfare is probably overused in many arenas, from sports to faith, but I do believe there's a conflict raging in the world. I think our world changed with the introduction of the virus from Wuhan, China. It's changed everything about our lives, and I happen to believe that normal may describe something in our past, but our future is yet to be established. It's up to you and me. I'm not willing to relegate that to the politicians or a political party. I'm not willing to relegate that to the scientists. I want to bring a biblical perspective, the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the lordship of Jesus Christ into defining the normal of my future, and that would be my prayer for you. It's not an easy season, there's a lot of challenges around us, but Jesus has not abdicated his throne, and he hasn't withdrawn his Holy Spirit from us, he has something for us.

I've started a little series on "Tenacious Faith", Tenacious Faith. Not angry faith, or belligerent faith, or aggressive faith, but a determined faith, an assertive faith, a persistent faith. And in this particular session, I want to talk a little bit about what it means to lead our lives as Christ followers behind enemy lines, because it has an impact, how you imagine the circumstances of our lives. I've traveled enough, there are places in the world where the name of Jesus is not welcome in the public square, it impacts your behavior.

First time I ministered in the city of Jerusalem, I found it difficult to talk about Jesus, because I've been there so many times and I understood the resistance to Jesus in that place. But we need to understand our circumstances. We have been coached to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a pacifist, sort of a reluctant Messiah, a timid soul with a rather strong aversion to conflict or even assertion. Now, it's true that Jesus teaches us as disciples to turn the other cheek or to even go the extra mile, but I would submit to you it's far more reflective of his life and teaching to hear him challenging leaders who diminish holiness in his people, or confronting unclean spirits with the authority of an unseen kingdom.

Be certain of this, Jesus did not avoid evil, he gave his life to totally and completely defeat evil. He offered himself as a sacrifice to once and for all gain a victory for all people, and our assignment as Christ followers is to declare this good news to the entire world. He has commissioned us, empowered us with his Spirit, and promised to never leave us or forsake us. So, with that background, hello, 2022. Can you listen fast? I know you can. I want to suggest we're on an assignment, just a certainly as if you had a business assignment that required a passport and traveling to another country. You would imagine that when you got there, the language would be different, the currency would be different, the customs would be different, the favorite foods would be different. You would understand you weren't in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Well, if you're a citizen of the kingdom of God, we need to be equally aware that we're on an assignment in a realm where the rules are different, and the privilege we have is demonstrating the realm of the kingdom to which our first allegiance is attached, the kingdom of Almighty God. Jesus came proclaiming, "The kingdom of God is at hand". After his resurrection, he spent 40 days with the disciples, talking to them about the kingdom. They're question to him was are you gonna restore the kingdom at this time? We're on a kingdom assignment. In John 17 and verse 18, Jesus is praying before he begins his passion. "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world".

John specifically, but the New Testament in general, uses that word "world" not as this ball of matter hurdling through space, but the present world order, the system that's in place in this world. Satan is referred to as the prince and the power of the air, the ruler of the dominion of darkness. He has a spiritual authority in this world, in this present world order. But this present world order will come to an end, it's temporary. Not this planet, Jesus will rule and reign on planet earth as the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. He's coming back. This place was his idea and he's not going to yield it to our rebellious, fallen nature, or the authority of Satan. That's the point of the redemptive work of the cross. But between where we are and that point when Jesus returns to rule and reign on earth, he has sent his people, his church, people from every nation, race, language, and tribe into the world with a message, on an assignment.

In John 20 and verse 21, It's Resurrection day, Jesus's first meeting with his disciples after his resurrection. "Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, I am sending you". It's as if he couldn't wait to say it. I came on an assignment, now I'm giving you one, and the assignment is not just get to heaven, that's the benefit of accepting the assignment in time. If you don't serve the Lord in time, you shouldn't imagine you'll be with him in eternity. If we don't trust him to make our lives better now, if you think your life is better without his meddling, without his principles, without his values, without yielding to his lordship, why would you think eternity will be better with him? Do you understand the logic break in that?

Now, I understand there's a part of us that is rebellious, fundamentally, we're hardwired that way, and we have to learn to yield and submit to God. But as Christ followers, the maturing process in that is I will yield to you in time, because I want to be with you in eternity. Jesus said I'm sending you just as I was sent. Let's stay in John for constant language and thought. John 15, Jesus again, "If the world hates you," he's talking to his disciples, "Keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world it would love you as its own. As it is, you don't belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world".

Again, not this planet, but this present world order, the values, the systems, the messaging. We are to be different. Not different necessarily because of our wardrobe or what we put on our plate, but difference by the formation of our character, the allegiance to a kingdom, a different set of values. "I've chosen you out of the world, that's why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you, no servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they obeyed my teaching, they'll obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me," tenacious faith. Jesus could not have said it more plainly. This is not going to be easy, he said. They hate me and they will hate you.

Now, the present world order and the kingdom of God, two realities, one is temporary, this present world order is temporary, it is on a countdown clock as certainly as your earth suit is. And if you haven't figured that out about your earth suit, just wait, it will read you in on that story. This present world order is temporary, the kingdom of God is eternal that currently coexists. Coexistant realities, not coequal, because they aren't, but they are in conflict, and you and I live in the midst of that. And I know there's a whole segment of the body of Christ that goes, "Pastor, I just don't like to think about that. I don't want to talk about that. I want to go to heaven, I just don't wanna be bothered with the rest of that".

Well, that kind of intentional naïveté is destructive, and honestly I think it could cause you to forfeit the kingdom. That kind of attention to your own personal wellbeing would certainly cause you to forfeit your physical health. "Yeah, I know diet matters, and I suppose exercise is important, and yeah, I understand that, you know, what goes in determines," but I just don't like to think about all that. Well, that attitude will be destructive to your physical wellbeing, and that attitude about your spiritual life is equally destructive. It concerns me.

Now, I understand there's a lot of latitude in that discussion, but there is a conflict taking place in the world, and you better be aware and understand how to engage. Matthew chapter 5, it's Jesus, it's the Sermon on the Mount. I didn't begin with the beatitudes but we'll get to those, if not in this session, another. "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute, you and 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".

Turn the page, apparently. There's an assumption in those words Jesus is speaking to us. The assumption is that there'll be persecution in this present world order because of a right standing with God. That's what righteousness means. That if you choose right standing with God, there will be pushback. Now, we have been a very privileged group of people in this nation, not based on our skin color or our education, but because of the prevalence of a Christian worldview, the pushback on us for that faith has been pretty minimal. If you believed in a biblical definition of marriage, or family, or human sexuality, there hasn't been great persecution. If you believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, it didn't diminish your opportunities in the marketplace significantly. But that set of statements has not been true globally.

There are many nations of the world where that set of statements would put you in a very diminished place, persecution, because you chose right standing with God. There's a battle raging in our nation for which worldview will predominate, whether we will succumb to paganism, where every individual is a law unto themselves. Many expressions of that, you really don't need me to paint that scenario for you, you see it every day. Not just in the news, you see it in your entertainment, you see it in so many ways. And if you have the courage or the boldness to stand in the public square or the marketplace and say, "I'm a Christ follower and I choose to make decisions that honor God and hold the values that come with a biblical worldview," there is more resistance than we're accustomed to.

Tenacious faith, it's time we recognize the world we're living in and we step into it with an agenda for the kingdom of God. We have been absent for too long. Look at Ephesians 5 in verse 3. He's writing to a church now. He said, "Among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or of greed". Who knew greed was in the same bucket with sexual immorality? We champion greed. Well, we used to. "Because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure, no immoral," this is the reasoning for the above statements.

"For this you can be sure, no immoral, impure, or greedy person, such a man is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of such things, God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore don't be partners with them". Very plain English. It doesn't say we shouldn't go into the world or go amongst people who don't know the Lord, I believe we have to. I don't want to extricate myself from that, and I don't want to go angry, or belligerent, or condemning, or critical, but neither do I want to adopt their behaviors. Are you willing to be different? Are you willing to use your voice? The motivation is very clear, you can be sure no immoral, impure, or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom.

I don't know about you, I would rather have an inheritance in the kingdom than any benefit that would come into this temporary circumstance. Now, that is the challenge, that's the tug of war of our faith. Because while we live in this present world, we're very much immersed in this present world order, but we've been invited to a greater awareness of an eternal kingdom, so that we don't capitulate for a momentary gratification. That we maintain an awareness of a set of values that will be rewarded in a way that there is no end to. If you're king of this present world order, your reign will end. Your rewards, the benefits of the kingdom of God are eternal. There's no comparison in those two invitations, so which do we serve?

Look at 1 John 2 verse 15. "Do not love this world or anything in the world. If anyone loves this world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful man, and the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does come not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever".

Now, I read you the other passage 'cause I wanted you to have a fuller picture. Jesus said to us if you decide to do the will of God, you will be persecuted. If not buy institutions of this world, by spiritual forces, and principalities, and powers that will beset you, because you've set yourself apart from their kingdom. For the most part, the response of the American Church is, "But I just don't want to talk about that. Where's my ticket to heaven"?

Well, I want us all to make it into the kingdom of God, absolutely I do, but I want us to flourish while we are on an assignment. Jesus very clearly said I'm sending you. I am sending you, the same way he came. Jesus didn't come into this world, he didn't start in Bethlehem because he wanted a picnic, he laid aside privilege, and prestige, and honor, and authority to make himself vulnerable in the package of a baby. He humbled himself it says in Philippians 2. He didn't imagine that equality with God was something to be grasped, but he made himself a part of creation and became a servant, even to the point of death. Are we willing to yield our wills to the will of God, or do we demand that God do our will?

Too much of contemporary Christianity is invested in saying, "God, you should give heed to my will". I would submit we would flourish far more if we would say, "God, how can I yield to your will"? Not easy. Tenacious faith. I'm inviting you to something more than the costume ball of worship. I'm inviting you to something more than learning how to attend a public event without embarrassing yourself. And I've gone to religious services in other settings, gone to the synagogue in Israel, and I didn't know the order of service. I didn't know when to sit or stand, portions of the service were in a language that I wasn't very adept with. I could get about every third word. You can get in a lot of trouble only understanding every third word.

And you know, for me a victory in that setting was not offending those who had invited me. I didn't go with the intent of being transformed, I didn't really even imagine it as an opportunity to worship, because I was so self-conscious. I just thought, you know, if I could go and I could make it through the service and I not offend those who've invited me, God, I think I would've represented today. Here's my question at the beginning of a new year.

How many of you would say 2022, God, we want to live with a tenacious faith? If you'll help me, I'm in, I'm in. I want to pray for you, will you stand with me? Whichever sanctuary, fellowship square, if you're on, you can stand with me at home. Put your coffee down though. What an honor we have to represent the kingdom of God. I believe that we could see a gathering of a group of people from across our nation and around the world more committed to the purposes of the kingdom of God than we've ever seen in our lives.

As much as I see indicators of economic concern, as much as I see indicators of censorship, and propaganda, and a failure of the truth in the public square, I see those things, but as much as I'm aware of those, I'm even more aware of the Spirit of God moving and stirring hearts, and I want to be in that group, folks. I'm going to invite you in the next few weeks to take some steps beyond just the normal routine of reading your bible. Yes, I'm tryin' to raise the bar, not to earn anything with the Lord, but I want to be in that group of people, and so I'm going to make some changes and invite you to make a journey with me over these next few weeks. God is moving. Don't look at the darkness. Don't give it your heart.

Turn your heart to the Lord and say, "Lord, I want to honor you and your kingdom. Let it break forth where I work, in the neighborhood where I live, on the teams where my kids are playing ball". We've been concerned about teaching them to field a ground ball, but now I want to be concerned that they know the kingdom of God. Doesn't have to be either or, it can be the beauty of both and. But we've ignored a big chunk of this. God will take us through. If he shakes the systems of this present world until they crumble around us, God will enable you to stand. But it'll be too late to figure out how to do that in the midst of the shaking. Tenacious faith, not angry, belligerent, critical, condemning, tenacious.

Father, thank you for your word, for its truth, and power, and authority in our lives. I thank you for these men, and women, and young people that have expressed a desire to face this year with a new response, with a new cadence to our step. And Lord, I ask you to help us. We are weak, and frail, and inconsistent, and all of those things, but in you, Father, we are more than conquerors. And your Spirit is within us to help us, and we ask you, Holy Spirit, to help us. Give us a revelation of Jesus that is more real than the understanding we have with this present world order. Give us an awareness of his eternal kingdom, of its power, and authority, and magnitude, and its implications for us. Forgive us when we have loved the things of this present age, when we've given our hearts to them, and our souls to them, and have pursued them.

We choose to lay those down and to turn our hearts, and souls, and attention to you. Thank you for what you'll do. Thank you that we can participate in a remarkable move of the Spirit of God. We praise you for all that you'll do. Protect us from those things that would diminish us. Protect us from your adversaries. Give us discernment, wisdom, strength, the resources that we will need, all that will be necessary, that you might be pleased with our response. We thank you for a triumphant year, in Jesus's name, amen, hallelujah.

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