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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Generational Faith - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Generational Faith - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Generational Faith - Part 2
TOPICS: Generations, Faith

It's good to be with you again. We're going to conclude our study today on generational faith. We're going to look specifically at Jesus and his attitudes towards children and what he had to say for the people who stood between him and the children. It's a very sobering lesson, but I think it'll open some doors for our own imagination on our own roles, our own pursuit of our faith. It's not just about me knowing my Bible and me maintaining a spiritual life. It's my attitude towards those around me, the generations behind me, the generations ahead of me. It isn't just about me being saved, it's about my place in the body of Christ and yours, and the impact we have on the people as we make our journey through time. It's an exciting time in the earth to be a Christ follower. There's tremendous turmoil. There's a visible battle taking place between good and evil, and God has called you and I to be difference makers. Grab your Bible. Get a notepad. Most of all, begin saying yes to the Lord in a new way.

In Mark Chapter 10, we get another component in this unfolding story. Jesus is an adult now. He's begun his public ministry and the crowds are beginning to gather, and the disciples are overwhelmed. The scene is changing more quickly. They've never seen anything quite like it. There's people that are pressing upon Jesus. They want miracles, and they have needs. And you can imagine how challenging that might have been. In Mark 10 and 13 it says, "People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them. But the disciples rebuked them. And when Jesus saw this, he was indignant". Fancy word, it means he was not happy, not with the parents, with the disciples. What exactly are you doing, Pete? John, get out of the way of that child.

They'd made enough of an impact on the disciples that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this scenario. They didn't forget it. You remember that day Jesus got heated up 'cause we were keeping the kids away? Whew, we didn't do that again. The parents were bringing the children to Jesus that he might lay his hands upon them. There's a spiritual component to to laying our hands upon one another. It's why we lay hands on one another to pray for one another. It's why we anoint those children with oil as an invitation to the spirit of God. It's not a religious routine. It's not some church we manufactured. "When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. And he said to them, 'Let the little children come to me and don't hinder them. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'" These are kingdom participants. He said, "The rest of you, we're working on that, but these folks, they're participants. I tell you the truth".

You know by now when you see that phrase, you better take a deep seat. "'I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' And he took the children in his arms, and he put his hands on them, and he blessed them". Jesus did that. You think there might be something in there that we could pick up? Children have a place in the kingdom of God. And Jesus is warning us not to hinder them in their pursuit of him. Don't stop them from coming to me, he said. You see, you teach your children, we train our children what to be enthusiastic about, what to anticipate. They don't need a lot of enthusiasm for sugar. They can develop that on their own if they just get a little taste. You have to kind of learn how to reign that in a little bit.

Selfishness, we can grow that on our own. But we need training and help to find our way to the Lord. And certainly parents have a primary responsibility in that, but we all have a responsibility in that. We'll put up an ice rink and say: Why don't you come skate with us at a church? You won't be lectured every time you come. Nobody wagging a finger at you. Oh yeah, we'll still talk to you about the love of Jesus, but we'll try to open some doors. You can make this as personal as you have the courage to make it. I have a friend. From time to time, we will distribute to the congregation little tins of anointing oil. We've done it multiple times. If you weren't here for one of those, they're available to you in the next chapter, I hope. Since I just sicced you on them, but they should be. But one of the men in the church, one of his assignments, he dropped his boys off at school in the morning. He's a surgeon.

So he's following the science. He told me this story, he said: When I take my boys to school, he said, I didn't focus on it a lot. He said: I was driving, and they were in their seats in the back seat, but that little tin of oil you gave me, he said, I got to thinkin' about it so every morning on the way to school, he said, I put a little on my finger and reach over the seat and anoint each of my boys and say a little prayer for 'em while we were driving. We pull up, and let 'em out of school. He said: You know, last week I pulled up and dropped 'em off, and I was getting ready to pull away from the curb, and I heard somebody knocking on my window, and I turned; it was one of my boys. And he said: Dad, you forgot to pray for us this morning. Wow, don't hinder these little people. You have a tremendous amount of influence with your life. You have a voice. Stop lamenting what others are doing, and let's turn up the volume on what we can do. We've been distracted.

Look at Matthew 18. Gets a bit more serious. This is Jesus, "Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me". Boom. How many would like to be on record of welcoming Jesus frequently? When you see him, how many would you like, you go to the computer screen. Wow, 78.000 times I was welcomed by you. I got the shorthand on that. "Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me". A lot of times, if I get an opportunity, I don't always get the opportunity, if I meet a little person out in the lobby, I get down. I'd like to look 'em in the eye. I knelt down in front of one little girl a couple of weeks ago, when I knelt down, she knelt down. I couldn't win that game. So I just kinda called it off. But, you know, it's not complicated. It isn't that challenging.

Folks, we know how to do this. Do we care enough? Not to welcome them in the name of sports, but to welcome them in Jesus's name. But he doesn't stop there. "But," it's a negative conjunction. There's another idea, but we're going to change directions now. He said, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it'd be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea". That's Jesus. You know those people that say: I like the New Testament because Jesus is all about love. Heard those? That old Testament God, he's kinda cranky. But in the New Testament, Jesus said: If you hinder one of the kids, I hope you drown. Actually, he said it would be better for you if you drowned. Now that's horrific enough, but he didn't really leave it at that. And he didn't say: I hope you bump your head and fall unconscious into the water. He said: I hope somebody ties a large rock around your neck and throws you into the depths of the ocean. So you go fully aware.

I think Jesus was pretty intense on that point. And then in verse seven, he raises the bar, "Woe to the world because of the things which cause people to sin. Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come". When we welcome children, we welcome Jesus. This isn't complicated. If you cause a little one to the sin, you've got a real problem. Think about your behavior. Think about it. Jesus said, "Woe to the world". These things are gonna happen, but he said, "Woe to the world". He's not talking about this planet. He's talking about... to a present system in this, that's operating in the earth today that causes us to step away from God. It's prevalent. If you don't believe it, turn on your television.

Are there more messages encouraging you to be godly or to be ungodly? It's not even close. In fact, if there's a message that comes on encouraging you to be godly, if Franklin Graham shows up or Michael Youssef shows up or the My Pillow guy shows the My Pillow guy does some showing up. God bless him. He's got more courage than most. But it's unique enough that if Franklin Graham shows up for a little 30-second spot, you're like, you stop. It's startling. The message is so dissonant with all the other messaging. Woe to you. We can do better. We can be willing to do better. We can think, wouldn't it be better if there was more of that messaging? That should show up in more places in more ways with more frequency. We want our children to be exposed to that. We want them to think that that's more normal than the other things we're letting them be exposed to. We would rather godliness be more normative to them than Disney.

Why should we not think that? Well, pastor, that's not just realistic. Who said? Who said wickedness has to be normative? We have conceded the field because it's inconvenient to think about the effort involved in taking it back. How long are we going to be silent? Stop waiting for a politician, start in our homes, in our families, in our neighborhoods. Start with the resources we've been entrusted with. God will give us what we need. And then Jesus's last statement in that Matthew 18 passage is the most sobering to me. He said: These things are gonna happen. It's inevitable that they're gonna happen. But he said: Woe to the person through whom they come. You don't want your fingerprints on that.

Now I want to take the minutes we've got left, and I don't have a lot, and I want to talk about this general notion of the blessing of children. They're a blessing from God and not just to the parents whom received them, they're a blessing to all of us. Those 60 million children we've lost are a deficit to every one of us, every one of us. There's a whole list of characters. When I really started this outline, I started with my list of characters. I put them at the back of your outline. The young recruits, all these people we meet in the scripture when they're very early in their journey. Abel and Joseph and Samson and Samuel and David and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Esther and Mary and the list goes on. Young people.

When Jesus recruited his disciples, they think, well, most of us think they were teenagers. But I want to look at one story in particular. It's a woman. Her name is Hannah. Many of you will know her story. Hannah was childless and had great anguish because of it. And she prayed a prayer from a place of desperation. You know, I have found, in my life at least, that desperation, as much as I dislike desperate places, they have been the most fruitful times of my spiritual life 'cause until I'm desperate, I'll just keep tryin' to solve it myself. I'll keep, you know, I got this. I just need to work a little harder or focus a little bit more or be a little more determined, but when I get desperate, I step back and say: God, you know there's no way out of this unless you help me. You know what he does? He helps me.

So if you're in a desperate place, you're not far from the Lord. Even if you're in that desperate place because of foolish things you've done, you're still not far from the Lord. 1 Samuel chapter 1 in verse 10, "In bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. She made a vow. 'Oh, Lord Almighty, if you only look upon your servant's misery and remember me and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.'" It's not really advocacy for a man bun. Amongst the Jewish people at that point in history there was a group of people that you made a unique commitment to the Lord, they were called Nazarites, not Nazarenes from the village of Nazareth but Nazarites. And one of the signs that you had made that commitment to the Lord was you didn't cut your hair. You also didn't drink fermented drink, no alcoholic beverages.

Can you think of any other character in the Bible that had some sort of a commitment to the Lord about his hair? Samson. His parents made a very similar commitment. Samsung's haircut cost him a great deal more than his style. Well, now Hannah has made that prayer. Now we're gonna skip forward in the story of it just for the sake of brevity, but in verse 24, she has conceived and given birth. And she told her husband: When the child is old enough to wean, I will take him to the tabernacle and present him to the priest.

It's 1 Samuel 1 verse 24, "After he was weaned, she took the boy, young as he was, along with a three year old bull and a measure of flour and a skin of wine. And he brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And when they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli". He was the priest, and Hannah said to him, "'As surely as you live, my Lord, I'm the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I ask of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.' And he worshipped the Lord there".

I wouldn't pretend to understand that. Taking a child that was a child of promise and a child of deliverance and a child of a dream and offering him, to leave him. I've been to Shiloh many times. You can visit it if you go to Israel these days. It's where the Ark of the Tabernacle was originally set up before Jerusalem was the center of life and before there was a temple in Jerusalem. In fact, the setting at Shiloh looks very much like the setting in Jerusalem. It's just a mini version. There's a flat place where the tabernacle was set up, but it's surrounded by hills so the tribes of Jerusalem could could gather around the hills and see the tabernacle. It was a tent. The geographic imagery of Shiloh is repeated in Jerusalem, just on a grander scale. The Jerusalem is built on a hill, but it's surrounded by higher hills.

And it's there where Hannah took Samuel and offered him to Eli the priest and said, here, I promised the Lord he could live here. We're told in the rest of the narrative that every year when they would make that annual pilgrimage to Shiloh, that she would take clothes for him. We think there might have been some emotional trauma in that, yeah. But there's also an outcome. In 1 Samuel chapter 3 in verse 1, it says, "The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. And in those days the word of the Lord was rare. There were not many visions". You know what a privilege it is to live in a time and a season where God is moving in remarkable ways in the earth? Well, every time is like the one we're walking through right now. Don't let the pandemic capture your attention, let the spirit of God capture your heart.

"Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the Ark of God was". It's nighttime again, I've edited a bit. "And the Lord called Samuel. And Samuel answered him, 'Here I am.' And he ran to Eli and said, 'Here I am. You called me.' But Eli said, 'I didn't call. Go back and lie down.' So he went and lay down". That happened three times. And the third time when he went to Eli, Eli caught on. He was a little slow. The third time, remember, the voice of the Lord wasn't heard very frequently in those days. The third time, the boy went to see Eli the priest, Eli said: "The next time you hear that voice, you say, Lord I'm listening".

Do you understand that humility involved in that? The high priest and a boy, and God is calling not to the high priest but to the boy. He could've just put him in time out. He said: "The next time you hear that, you say, Lord, I'm listening". You have it there in your notes. "The Lord came and stood and called as at the other times, 'Samuel, Samuel.' And then Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant is listening.' And the Lord said to Samuel, 'I'm about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle.'"

There's some lessons from Hannah's story. Children are not ours. We don't collect them like trophies or pets. They're a sacred assignment from the Lord. The Lord knows them before we know them. He's seen them before we see them. He authors their story, not us. Don't lead those children on a path away from God. He will speak to you about that. And I'm not just talking to parents, I'm talking about all of us. They begin in the imagination of God. We have been recruited as shepherds on temporary assignment. And it certainly isn't just my children, it's the children. And it seems to me that our primary objective is to protect them from evil. To protect them from evil.

Do everything in our power to see that they have an opportunity to respect and to serve God. That's all of our assignment. The public schools aren't somebody else's problem. The universities aren't somebody else's fault. Our money supports them. How have we backed away from this? Any child, whether they want to be identified as a Christian or not, would be strengthened by understanding the principles that come from a biblical worldview. If the church doesn't believe that, what makes you think you're the church? What has caused us to be so timid? They've taken 60 million of our children because they found some implied law in a document where it's not written. And they're not ashamed or embarrassed or reluctant.

Why exactly are we deferring? We have lost our respect for God ourselves. To protect them from evil when the family begins to be redefined, who suffers first? The children. When marriage is redefined, who suffers first? The children. We see the evidence around us. They're confused now as to their sex. And we're struggling to find our voices. Secondary on the list are the things we all know about, their self-esteem, their self-fulfillment. The temptation for us to live vicariously through them to let them do things we didn't get to do. God wrote their story. You better seek him. You bow with me in prayer?

Father, thank you for your Word, for its truth and power and authority. Lord, it reminds and refreshes and renews us. It brings perspective to us, and I thank you for it today. And as we have received the bread and the cup, Lord, we come first of all to acknowledge our own frailty, our own sins, our own shortcoming, the times when we have chosen ungodliness or we've been silent in the face of ungodliness or distracted or disinterested. Father forgive us. I thank you that through the blood of Jesus Christ we have been washed clean, we have been justified and sanctified. We praise you for it today. And Lord, as we receive that forgiveness, we receive those we need to forgive. We don't want to carry away any anger or bitterness or resentment. Lord, we release them today. We set them free just as we have found freedom.

And Lord, there are those amongst us with great needs today. We need healing in our bodies and peace in our minds and your provision in our lives. We need wisdom to know the pathways to choose and the strength to stand where you've asked us to persevere. I thank you that you are alive and well and your spirit is within us, and we are more than conquerors because of the one who has called us is victorious. And as we have received the bread and the cup today, we receive your life. Father, I pray you'll open our eyes and our hearts to the children, to serve them in this place, to stay on their behalf and this nation. Lord, open doors that we don't know how to open. Give us boldness beyond ourselves and outcomes of such impact and such import that you'll be glorified for them. We thank you for it, and we praise you for it today in Jesus's name, amen.

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