Allen Jackson - God's Investment Strategy - Part 1
It's an honor to be with you again. Our topic today is "God's Investment Strategy". You know, we're still living through a time of tremendous turmoil, from the war with Russia and Ukraine, to the martial law in Canada, to we're still walking out COVID restrictions and mandates, with an open border in the south, there's just tremendous confusion and turmoil all the way around us. There's a devaluing nature to that, it makes us feel insignificant, as if our voice doesn't matter, our vote doesn't matter, but it does, because Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, knows your name. The Bible says he's aware of when you sit, when you stand, when you come in, when you go out. Nothing is lost to him. You are of tremendous value in God's economy. And don't accept the accusations of the enemy that says you're insignificant, it's a lie. The Creator of all things knows you, loves you, and cares for you. We're gonna explore that idea today. Grab your Bible and a notepad, and most of all, open your heart.
I brought you a quote this morning, it's from a German Pastor. He was a Lutheran pastor in Germany during the period when the Nazis rose to power. And he cooperated with much of that until he realized the error of his ways, and then he spoke against it, and he spoke against it with enough frequency and enough force that he was arrested and put in one of those concentration camps we've heard so much about. And it's a frequent quote, it's on the wall in the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. It says, "First they came for the socialists and I didn't speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, but I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me".
There's a question I would like to pose, and we're watching a world in turmoil with tremendous changes and responses that seemed unthinkable just a very few short months ago. Are we using our voices? I've been asking you for weeks and weeks, months now actually, to watch, and to listen, to think, and to act. Not to be angry, not to be embittered, not to be violent, but to be watching, and listening, and thinking. So, I want to ask you again today, are you watching? Are you listening? Are you thinking? Our world is shifting dramatically. COVID was a vehicle that seemed to introduce this change, but it's no longer the root cause of the turmoil. It's not COVID that's bringing the disruption to our lives these days. COVID rules have devolved. They have devolved into something which seldom resembles science anymore. You don't have to be particularly astute to notice this.
Now, there may be enough fear, residual fear, or anxiety that we're still kind of numbly going along, but in most cases it's not about following the science. Wearing masks outdoors is about as logically as sound as wearing sunscreen inside a building. But fear and uncertainty are real, they're not our imagination. And the deafening silence of those who could help continues to fuel the divisions and the frustrations that we feel. We have been informed of late, in recent months, that people prefer to work from home. How many of you have seen one of those studies? Yeah, me, too, no kidding. Did you have to have fund a study to get to that conclusion? The experts, wouldn't you like to meet them? They tell us we're more efficient at home. It's a convenient hustle.
I also prefer to work out in my Lay-Z-Boy recliner, I just feel like it's a more conducive exercise routine. I lift that two-liter Dr. Pepper and then I curl the Cheez Doodles. I feel refreshed, not tired and exhausted. You work from home, there's no commute, there's less discipline, there's no coworkers to interact with. I can meet the AC repairman when he arrives at my house and I don't have to take a day off. I can order my groceries and be home for the delivery. I can watch the kids well my spouse runs errands. Yes, we prefer to work from home.
Let me ask you a question. Do you prefer a Zoom meeting for your most personal and social activities? I doubt it, think. Don't succumb, don't just go along. Productivity and effectiveness are a part of our assignments. Integrity is a part of what it means to be a Christ follower. And the challenges are far more reaching than just those simple things around us. War in Europe today seems like at least a possibility. We're being told it's inevitable. And not some minor skirmish, a significant conflict pulling in world powers. Our government seems to have a fascination with the borders of Ukraine. I mean, we hear it endlessly, day, after day, after day. I only wish they were as watchful of our borders at home. The southern border continues to be the source of chaos and destruction.
Our leaders have no appetite for resolving the lawlessness. And this is not political, it's not about people on either side of the aisle, they seem to stand in unison on this. In fact, their habit is to routinely encourage the breaking of federal law, just ignoring federal law, our elected leaders. Now, if the border doesn't concern you, the breaking of federal law should, because if the laws continue to be ignored, the violence and the lawlessness we're watching will escalate, and it will become uncontrollable. It will unleash anarchy. It's even more distressing to me what's happening on our northern border, the protest over COVID mandates initiated by truckers.
Now, if you're like me, you've been on the interstate, you've probably had some choice words for truckers from time to time. I'm quite certain my driving has caused them to have some choice words for me. But the Canadian truckers have demonstrated a courage, and their response has been seized upon. Their choices have been seized upon as an excuse for implementing what we would call martial law, a government takeover, a suspension of civil rights and personal liberties. Arrests, seizures of bank accounts and assets, peaceful protests being disbanded, and this isn't in some far away country on the other side of the world, this is one of our closest allies in the world, and certainly the longest border we share with anybody, more than 5.000 miles. They speak the same language as we do. Their culture is not confusing to us, we understand, we're watching, it's just inconvenient to see.
And our own State Department has been silent. In fact, the silence of our government is a powerful voice of assent, agreement to what's being perpetrated by the Canadian government. A group of Canadian religious leaders this last week wrote a letter and submitted it to their government asking for a change of course. They need our prayers, they do. We have to be watching. The Canadian reactions make us more than just a little uncomfortable if you look at all. It's just a little bit too close to home. But you really don't have to look at Canada, the authoritarian control is already on full display all around us. Are you watching? Did you hear what Pastor Niemöller said? I was watching but I said, "Well, it doesn't really affect me". LA County is seeking to fire 4.000 sheriff's deputies over COVID vaccine requirements.
Thousands of healthcare workers have lost their jobs for refusing to comply with COVID mandates. People who served in the hospitals before we understood COVID fully, taking care of patients who were sick with COVID have been dismissed because they wouldn't cooperate with a mandate that was issued by the government. It wasn't voted upon. Mayo Clinic fired 700 workers, and there are more than one hospital where you can work if you test positive for COVID but not if you don't comply with the mandates. Are we watching? The COVID vaccine doesn't prevent infection, it doesn't keep us from spreading the disease. It does weaken the impact of the virus. I'm not anti the vaccine, but this is not a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Are you listening?
In Los Angeles last week, they gathered to celebrate the Super Bowl. Most of us saw some excerpt, snippet, review, commercial, something. They gathered without masks celebrating a football game, and the very next morning they sent the children in that same county to school requiring them to wear masks. Are we watching? Are we listening? Are we thinking? You don't have to go to Canada to be made uncomfortable. COVID has been used to divide and separate us. We are witnessing censorship, unrelenting propaganda, the removal of dissenting voices, authoritarian expressions of power to close schools, to close businesses, to close gyms, restaurants, to limit access to healthcare, and the list goes on, and on, and on. Not in some distant country, around us.
Now what's our response? It's a very important question. What is our response? This is not political. This is not about politicians, this is about our lives, and our freedoms, and our liberties, and our faith. What is our response? Are we gonna wait for the next election, really? Do you think a politician is gonna fix this? Haven't we seen that enough? A better news channel, perhaps, that's what we need. Well, I know a lot of people working really hard on that. Better information will fix this, mm-hmm. Well, maybe better economic decisions, less debt, stop printing money, lower inflation. Yeah, it's just an economic problem, uh-huh. Perhaps a better energy policy, stop the reliance on global sources, energy independence, more electric cars.
Just for the record, electric cars are not fueled by renewable energy, think. And those are the choices of preference amongst the people who come to churches. That's where our hope is based. If we could just make it 'til the midterms. If we could just get a little better economic policy. If we could just get a little better attitude in our schools. What are we smoking? It's a religious question. Politicians from both parties are contributing to this. The media's complicit in the manipulation. All the alphabet organizations you know seem to be participating at some level, the CDC, and the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, on and on it goes.
Here's the real answer, we have to have a heart change. Not somebody else, not the people outside the walls of the church, those of us who have gathered in the buildings, and sing the choruses, and listen to the sermons, and volunteer for all the available slots. We have to have a heart change. The church must once again be an influence in our culture. We've gotta stop apologizing because we believe the Word of God is true and authoritative. Our freedom comes from God, it does not come from governments. And if we don't allow our faith to influence our government, our governments will become increasingly authoritarian.
We the church have lived too far in the world and too far away from the holiness of Almighty God. We've excused our sins. We've winked at them. We've nodded at them. We've embraced sexual immorality with the same frequency that the pagans do. I read the reports, I know the statistics, it's true. We have to get on our knees. We're gonna have to humble ourselves and put our faces on the floor, or we will watch this deteriorate until our children don't know the freedoms that we have known. This isn't about somebody else. If you're angry at somebody else, you're wrong. This starts with us. We haven't had a passion for the Lord. We've had greater passions for our hobbies. We've had greater ambitions for our children to be successful than we have for them to be holy. We've been far more interested in them having an opportunity to participate in the sport of their choice than in the cultivation of righteousness in their imagination.
God's investment strategy. I've got a few minutes, can you listen fast? God has a strategy for change, he truly does. He designed us. Just as much as he has a strategy to keep the earth in its orbit, or the sun providing the energy we need to survive on this planet, he has a strategy for the change of a human heart. He has a strategy for the change of a human life. The question is, will we cooperate with him? And please don't think of someone else, this is very personal today. Will we cooperate with him? There's enough of us gathered today and listening today that if we just took this personally, it could change the outcome of a nation. I believe that, not because of us, but because of the one we worship.
God's strategy is rooted in an idea, and I gave you the menu of the words. Redeem is a verb, it's an action. Redemption is a noun, redemptive is an adjective. It means it's something that we would act upon. But that idea of being redeemed, or redemption, or redemptive activity is the answer to the problem that we face. To be redeemed is to be bought out of someplace. You redeem something that you have pawned. You redeem your jacket or your coat that you've given to someone at a coat check. You give them the ticket and you get it back. You redeem your car if you've parked at someplace and they've exchanged a ticket and you give it to somebody to go get your car while you wait for it.
Well, the Bible says we've been redeemed from an empty way of life. We've been redeemed from a pathway to destruction. We didn't redeem ourselves, we didn't outthink evil, or outwork evil, we didn't accumulate enough assets that God said, "Well, in your case, you come in". God intervened on our behalf. In Jeremiah 15 and verse 21, it says, "I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel". Is there any question that cruelty is growing in the earth? What are we gonna do about that? A new politician? A bigger army, more weapons? How 'bout the redemptive power of the Creator.
In Colossians chapter 1 and verse 13, "He's rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption". It's a noun, it's something that has been extended to us. The redemption, the forgiveness of sins, not those that need to be forgiven by us, the recognition that we need to be forgiven. Most of us are far more aware of the transgressions of others than we are our own. Very few of us march, or protest, or express our voices because of our own transgressions. And redemption comes to us when we can acknowledge our need of forgiveness.
I have a question, and it's an important question. We spent the previous session on it entirely. Do you believe the gospel is enough? I sit with Christian leaders frequently, and I'll give you my assessment of that. No, we don't. It's not a question for the unbelievers, we know the unbelievers don't think the gospel is enough or they would be believers. The question is, do those of us that imagine ourselves to be God's people, do we believe the gospel is enough? Is the redemptive power of God sufficient to change the course of human destiny? God made a very precious investment.
In Isaiah 52 in verse 3 he says, This is what the Lord says. "You were sold for nothing, and without money you'll be redeemed". We weren't redeemed with gold or silver, not diamonds, not nations, God didn't bargain or barter for us. In 1 Peter 1 in verse 18, "You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ," of a Messiah. Christ is not the family name of Jesus, and I don't mean that disrespectfully, but for a casual listener, sometimes we hear the words go together. It's a title attributed to Jesus.
There were many people named Jesus in Israel in the first century. He's often referred to as Jesus from Nazareth. He was the Jesus that came from Nazareth. But when they became aware of who he was, the title was attached to his name. He is Jesus the Messiah, the anointed one, the Son of God. We were redeemed with the precious blood of the Messiah. A lamb without blemish or defect. Hebrews 9 and verse 12, "He didn't enter," it's speaking of the Holy of Holies in the heavens. The Bible tells us that what we see on earth is just a representation of the greater reality which is spiritual. That's another day's discussion. "He didn't enter by means of the blood of goats your calves, but he entered the most holy place once and for all by his own blood". He had to shed his blood.
You see, the high priest would come into the Holy of Holies once a year with a basin, and then it was the blood of the Passover, the sacrificial lamb, to be sprinkled on the mercy seat as an atonement, a covering for the sins of the people. But Jesus didn't come to atone for our sins, he came to pay the price for them, to redeem us, to pay the ticket, to get us out of a future condemned to separation from the Creator. Hebrews 13, "Jesus suffered outside the city gate". You couldn't be crucified by Jewish rules inside the city gate, so he suffered outside the walls of the city, why? "To make the people holy through his own blood". It took Jesus's shed blood, the sacrifice of his life, in order for you and I to be redeemed.
See, that demands respect. If it's treated casually, if it's treated with a marginal indifference, yeah, yeah, I know that, what's the big deal? Excuse me, excuse me? Just that emotion reflects such an ignorance of scripture that it's startling. And this isn't about me. If there is a God, and I believe there is, and if he's the Creator of all things, and I believe he is, and if he saw the condition of humanity and decided to intervene inexplicably, which is what the scripture says, he didn't intervene on behalf of the third of the angels who rebelled against him, they're doomed. He intervened on behalf of humanity who had rebelled against him in the midst of his creation. He intervened, and the only possible pathway was to send his Son to become one of us, the incarnation, to show us the kingdom of God.
And the differentiation between the kingdom of God and our own earthly kingdoms was so great and threatened our own authority so much, we killed him. If we respond to that casually, or with indifference, or with a complete rejection, there's very little left for us. Forget the pagans, forget the people that have said the gospel is not enough, we're focusing in this particular talk about those of us that said, yeah. we think there might be some credence to this gospel thing. What's the respect we give it?
The assurance of the New Testament is that through the blood of Jesus, we have been forgiven of our sins. In fact, it tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ continually cleanses us from all sin. That's the good news today. So before we go, we're gonna come to the cross. We're gonna acknowledge our need of mercy and grace. We're going to lay down our anger and our resentment towards others, and we're gonna say, God, be merciful to me in the midst of my failures and my shortcomings. I thank you for your forgiveness. Let's pray:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the blood of Jesus. That you loved us enough that you sent your Son and that he offered himself as a sacrifice on the cross. Lord, we come in humility to say forgive me for my shortcomings, for my attitudes. I release anyone I need to forgive today, and I thank you that through the blood of Jesus I am free and clean, in Jesus's name, amen.