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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - God's Indispensable Word - Part 1

Allen Jackson - God's Indispensable Word - Part 1


Allen Jackson - God's Indispensable Word - Part 1
TOPICS: God's Word

It's good to be with you again. We're learning to lead with faith. Folks, there's a leadership shortage in our nation. I'm not talking about titles, or positions, or offices, or desks, but influence, the intentional use of your influence for a biblical worldview. That's our life assignment. You may be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, but you've been assigned by Almighty God a leadership role in this generation, and it has nothing to do with titles or how many followers you have on the social media. It has to do with how you use the influence of your life. There are people that care about your opinion, they care about what you think about, they wanna know how you see the world around you. And are we using our influence for godliness or not? It's an important question. We're gonna look at some components to help us lead with excellence. Grab your Bible and a notepad, most of all, open your heart. Enjoy the lesson.

We've been talking about leading with faith, and I really chose this as a theme for this year, because it seems to me that we need a new generation of leaders. There's a leadership deficit in our nation. Not a lack of people with titles, or positions, or an imagination of authority, but there is a lack of godly influence, and for that to increase, we need people who understand that their lives comes with influence, and they're willing to use the godliness of their lives as a factor in that influence, so that character becomes a key component of our leadership. Not our talent, not our gifts, not our physical skills, or abilities, or intellectual acumen, or the resources we can accumulate, but the formation of our character. It will change the people around you. It will change how you interact with people. It will change the quality of our homes, our communities, our schools, our congregations, and ultimately our nation. It won't start from the top down, it will start in our homes.

So, I'm not encouraging you to learn how to gather stadiums filled with people, or hundreds of thousands of followers on media platforms, I'm encouraging you to give attention to the formation of your character, so that the influence of your life reflects a commitment and a devotion to godliness, and holiness, and purity that is stable and foundational for the people who interact with you. It's a different life goal, and it's one that has for too long been pushed aside or relegated to something that is secondary. It's a slower way. It's easier to grow tomato plants than oak trees. And if you're going to see to the formation of godly character, you'll have to defer some things in your life. You'll defer gratification. You'll defer some things, but it's worthwhile.

And so, we're takin' a few weeks to try to understand that a little better. We've talked about the value of remembering the deliverances in our lives, maintaining a good-news list, both a personal list, those times in your life when unquestionably, unmistakably, God has shown you grace, and mercy, and kindness. He brought freedom, or deliverance, or he opened a door, or in some way you can say that outcome was better because something happened beyond myself. You wanna maintain that list. You want to give attention to it. You want to recite it. You want to live with it. You want it to become a part of your present, and not just some occasional visit with your past. In addition to that, I've encouraged you to build a broader list that includes truth breakthroughs that are beyond your life, and your home, and your family.

We're walking through a season of lawlessness and deception that are certainly unprecedented in recent decades for our lives, and when deception is rampant, and many people find it in broad-scale ways, find it inconvenient to acknowledge God, it's important to be aware and to acknowledge what God is doing. And don't decry the fact that major outlets aren't doing that, you just decide to be an outlet for that. You start to pay attention to what God is doing. You'll see it in different ways. You'll see truth break into the public square that has been pushed aside, or discredited, or censored in previous weeks or months. This habit will enable us to pray with far greater confidence, and it will awaken you on a daily basis, in a greater way, to your essential role as a leader in our world. Not because you have great power, or an important title, but because the Creator of all things knows you. Our prayers initiate activity in the kingdom of our Lord, and that impacts the kingdoms of this world. If we don't believe that, don't sit in church.

Now, if you're exploring Christianity, by all means, you come, but if you're a decades-old church sitter, and you don't believe that's true, change, it's important. If we're not aware and we're not involved, we will forfeit opportunities. And I don't intend to be a part of a generation that forfeits the kingdom opportunities presented to us. So, start to keep your good-news list, your personal one, your broader one. There's some things we're specifically praying for. I believe we need to pray for the healing, and the division, and the hatred in our nation. We're too divided. We've been pitted against one another, it's evil. We are one nation under God. We've been saying that as a matter of habit and routine my entire life, and I won't yield that. Monday is a day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's a good day to pray for healing in our nation.

Dr. King gave his life for the dream that in this nation, we would not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. We cannot relinquish that vision. I believe it was inspired by God in his heart, and we won't yield it. Because even in the moment, if you think it's trending in your direction, if we step away from that, it will bring destructive things to all of us. Pray for the unborn, they need your voice, they can't use their own yet, and they're being sacrificed daily for no higher purpose than convenience. Thousands of children, on a daily basis, almost 3.000 children a day. Lives are terminated in this nation, and we support it as an export factor to the nations of the world. It's not a uniquely American sin by any means, it's a global problem, but this is where God has planted us.

Three-thousand children a day, and yet we continue to support politicians and political parties who brazenly advocate for such a heinous behavior. It's unthinkable for the Christians. And we have all sorts of dances, well, we have different priorities, no, no. Pray for leaders who fear God and protect our country. It's an important prayer to pray. It's not about political parties or particular politicians, pray for those in authority over us. It's a biblical assignment. But our borders have to be secure, or we will forfeit our freedoms and liberties. That's not even a question, it's a reality. We've become more vulnerable with each day. We've become more vulnerable in Middle Tennessee, or wherever you're listening, each day that passes, and our borders remain open, and they are open.

As many as two million illegal people flooded into our nation last year. That is reported to us, and we're coming to understand the reporting that comes to us is a little fuzzy. And now it's openly being discussed, not as a part of some voting bill, it's being discussed apart from any legislative action, just as a fiat of people with authority, that non-citizens be allowed to vote in our elections, it's unimaginable. Why wouldn't we just send ballots to China, or South America, or Africa, or wherever else? And if we're gonna... millions of illegal immigrants and allowing them to vote will end the rule of law in our nation. It'll be finished. Wake up, pray, don't be angry.

Now, on the other side of this equation, there is consistent good news, day after day, week after week. We see it break into the public square. You know, for two years now, we have been enthralled with the discussions around COVID-19. It's real, I've done enough funerals, it's real. I'm not suggesting it isn't, but COVID-19 information is far more available, and misinformation is slowly being revealed, day after day, and week after week. That's good news, because it gives us better tools to navigate with, to make decisions with. The hospitalization and death rates have been over-reported. That's very good news. Again, not to be reckless, or calloused, or casual, we need to be prudent and wise, but it's good to know. The CDC this past week said that the cloth masks that have been so much advocated are not helpful with the virus. That's good news to have back in the public square. Not very many weeks ago, you'd be censored for such reckless statements. I would submit we need to pray. There's too much government money in healthcare.

Oh, I understand the advantages, the cost advantages. We'd prefer it to be free, but if our healthcare is predominantly supported by government money, there is tremendous temptation to manipulate the truth in order to keep the money, and the pressure's too great. I'm not indicting anybody, I'm tellin' you, folks, it's a slippery slope. Let's accept responsibility for our wellbeing. The government is not God, it's an idol. They cannot secure our future. The notion that we would all have the same thing is not a good promise from the government, it's a diminished life. If the government were in charge of flowers, we would have one color. God made them and we have an infinite variety, you can trust him. We haven't known him. We have stood at a distance from him. He's moving in the earth. He's awakening his people. It's an exciting time. It's a time filled with opportunity. Begin to maintain your lists. Pay attention, learn to think.

And I simply want you to understand that God's Word in your life is indispensable. If you don't spend routine, regular, systematic time in the Word of God, your spiritual life is diminishing. Attending worship services is not adequate. It'd be roughly the equivalent to having a meal a week, or a workout a week. It's certainly better than not having the meal, and it's better than skipping that one workout. But to imagine that the one meal or the one workout are going to generate health and strength would be deceptive. And we need regular investments in the Word of God. You won't understand it all. I don't understand everything I watch on the evening news. I'm quite confident if I watch a sporting event that I don't understand everything I see, but I take the benefit from the part I do understand.

I've never played professional sports, I don't know what's involved in preparing to compete at that level, or the sacrifices that are made, or the nuance, or the subtlety, or the scheming that's involved in the effective orchestration of those intricate activities, but I can enjoy it and appreciate it nonetheless. Why do you think there's an excuse in saying I don't understand it all, or I don't understand it as fully as someone else might understand it, and therefore I don't have to engage? That is a mistake, and it robs you of a great deal. I brought you a list of scriptures, I'm not gonna look at all of them with you, but I wanted you to see the significance throughout the breadth of scripture where we are encouraged to engage with God's Word.

In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua was the leader who replaces Moses, one of the more difficult job descriptions in the Bible. Who wants to be Moses's successor? I mean, come on, plagues, Red Sea parting, manna, Ten Commandments, what are you gonna... if you're Moses's successor, are you gonna get twelve? I mean, it's a tough job description. You're gonna come in somewhere less than Moses, and that's Joshua. Joshua 1 verse 8, he says, "Do not let this book, this book of the law, depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it, and you'll be prosperous and successful". I like that, that's a conditional promise.

How many of you would prefer to be prosperous and successful? About a third of you, what are the rest of you hoping for? Failure, poverty, it says that if we will meditate on it, if we will think about it consistently, and be careful to be obedient to it, that it will have an outcome in our journey through time. I believe that. I have lived that out in the most, in fact, I have consistently chosen improbable paths, and yet I have seen the goodness of God continue to come to my life. And it's not because I'm clever, or uniquely righteous, or holy, or good, because it's not, I'm a product of the grace and the mercy of God and the redemptive work of the cross of Jesus. But God will honor his Word if you will give it a place in your life.

So, I'm not sure I believe that that's the point. "I have commanded you," he said. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go". The second, verse 9 is as important as verse 8. He said I've commanded you to be strong and courageous. The church is going to need strength and courage. If your faith is not affiliated in your thought process with strength and courage, begin to implement a change. And then he gives us some warnings. He says don't be terrified, don't be discouraged. If he's warning us against that, in the context of your faith, there will be terrifying things and discouraging things. And if you don't understand that your faith fits into the portfolio of terrifying things and discouraging things, when you're terrified or discouraged, you won't have faith as an asset.

It won't be a resource available to you. But if you've begun to think about it, and prepare yourself for it, and understand this is what my faith was built for, when Goliath is bellowing his challenge at me and threatening my future, I have an answer for him. And it's not about a javelin, or my sword skills, or the armor that I put on that was fashioned by the armor bearer, it's because of the covenant I have with Almighty God, and Goliath is going to come down. But you build that before you hear Goliath. It's what Joshua is telling us. "Don't be terrified, don't be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go".

So, begin to build a good-news list. He's been with me here, and here, and here, and here. I have known him in all of those places and I trust him today. It starts with thinking about God's Word. Look at Hebrews chapter 4, this is New Testament. "The word of God is living and active". It's not dead history. It's a living thing inspired by the Spirit of God, "Sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart". One of the most difficult things to know is your heart. So many competing factors and different influences, and we need God's Word to help us understand our own hearts.

Look at 1 Peter chapter 1. "You've been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God". There is something about God's Word that will reach into your life beyond time. Peter makes the comparison in the next sentence. He says, "Men are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field," It's just here for a moment and gone. Subject to temperature, precipitation, or humidity, "But the Word of God," he said, "Is living and endures". Spend some time. What are you giving yourself to? "I don't have 40 minutes to read". Really, really, I bet if you turned off the social media, or the broadcast material that you watch, you could find a few minutes. Not forever, just for a little window of time. God's Word has a value that we struggle to attach to it. We think of it as intrusive and cumbersome, maybe even loathsome.

I want to skip down to the passage in Matthew 13. Jesus is teaching the parable of the sower, remember that? It's the man who went out to sow seed, a farmer or somebody that went to sow seed in their garden, and they sowed it indiscriminately. They didn't till a patch of ground, they just cast the seed about, kinda like you're hiding Easter eggs for toddlers. There's not really any hiding, you're just gonna throw 'em across the yard and there's gonna be a human vacuum cleaner coming. Well, that's kinda the imagery of this farmer. He's just gonna randomly sow the seed, and there's four different locations identified in the story, and now Jesus is gonna explain it to us. And what I want to draw your attention to is the antagonism towards the Word of God, the adversarial nature that exists between you benefiting from it.

Listen to what the parable of the sower means. "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and doesn't understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart". Can you imagine that evil would come to take from you, to diminish your awareness, your memory, your attention, your focus, your thoughts on what you have heard about the kingdom of God. There's an adversarial nature in this. People say, "Well, you know, I open my Bible to read it and I get sleepy". Stand up, you don't get sleepy when you're pursuing your favorite hobbies. There's an enemy. It just doesn't stop there. Look in verse 20. "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears it and receives it with joy, but he lasts only a short time, 'cause trouble or persecution comes because of the Word".

There'll be challenges to the Word of God in your heart. People say, "I don't believe that," or you'll hear other information that stands in opposition to it, or someone will question it. And you at this point, you have a decision to make. Am I gonna believe, am I gonna be an advocate, or am I gonna yield? Many, many times, I've been in many academic settings, I love to learn. I like universities, I like secular settings where they don't believe about God. It's like I get to listen to their game plan. It doesn't cause me to panic, it's easier to believe God, but you've gotta be prepared. There's gonna be challenges that come.

Verse 22, "The one who received the seed that fell amongst the thorns is the man who hears the Word of God, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it and they make it unfruitful". These are internal, these are self-inflicted wounds. God's Word in your heart is not fruitful because of the worries you carry, the anxieties you carry, the things that you give preference to in your thoughts and your emotions above God's Word. The deceitfulness of wealth. Deception is a portion of the truth, but it promises something that can't be delivered. That's what it means to be deceived. And wealth is deceitful, wealth makes you think you can secure your future.

I have stood in too many hospital rooms with people with significant resources and there was no amount of resource that could solve the problem, it's deceitful. I've been with too many people who were depressed, and filled with desperation, and they had tremendous resources and unlimited opportunities, but there was no peace within them. Now, I'm not opposed to money, if yours bothers you, bring it to me. But I'm not confused about it either. I don't want to compromise my character or trade away my integrity to accumulate a little bit more of it, 'cause it's temporary. It's not gonna last any longer than the grass and the flowers. We happen to be living in a season of tremendous economic turbulence, they're just not telling us. That truth hasn't made it yet into the public square.

Your resources are diminishing at an alarming rate. The government's printing money like they are playing Monopoly. And they're passing it out and they're trying to tell you that you're doing really well, it's deceptive. Affluence comes from effort, from sacrifice, from doing difficult things, from work. And it will take some work to guard the Word of God in your heart. You'll have to monitor your emotions, pay attention to your goals and your objectives. If you'll do that, it'll take root in your heart and it will produce a crop. Remember what Joshua promised? That you would be successful and prosperous because you gave attention to the Word of God. God's Word is indispensable, it's inexhaustible, and it's available to you.
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