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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Have We Forgotten God? - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Have We Forgotten God? - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Have We Forgotten God? - Part 2

It's an honor to be with you again. We're gonna complete our study today on "Have We Forgotten God"? At least, in some degree, I believe we have, and one of the things that was a casualty in COVID wasn't our physical health, but there's some attitudes and some behaviors we lost through that pandemic. One of them is, I think, we've diminished our imagination of serving. We imagined, somehow, it's unimportant. We don't even wanna work anymore, let alone serve. Well, serving is the pathway to greatness in the kingdom of God. It's the path Jesus chose. It's the path you and I will have to choose if we're gonna find God's best. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.

"'What do you want me to do for you?' Jesus asked". These are two of the disciples have come to Jesus. You gotta love 'em. "Let one of us sit at your right hand and the other at your left in glory". They're kind of like us. "I want the best seat". "And Jesus said, 'You don't know what you're asking. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I'm baptized with?'" I tell you what intrigues me with that. Jesus put a very, very sobering question right back to them. I told you just a minute ago not to make a glib response to the Lord. "We wanna sit on either side," and he said, "You don't know what you're asking. Can you endure what I'm about to endure"?

Do you think they understand what he's about to endure? No. He's told them, but they can't process it yet. It's hard to keep up. We're getting a lesson in that. It's hard to keep up. There's so much stuff coming at us, so bizarre, so illogical, so ungodly, it's hard to process. They say something that makes no sense, and takes you a couple days to figure out why it makes no sense, and by then, they've said somethin' that makes no sense even worse. Well, Jesus says to them, "You know, I'm gonna be crucified, but three days later, I'll rise again," and they're goin', "Whoa, we've never seen that". And Jesus doesn't give 'em the explanation. Again, he just puts the question to them: "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I'm baptized with"? And they said, "We can".

Watch what Jesus said: "You'll drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I'm baptized with", he wasn't talkin' about them gettin' in the pool. We're gonna get in the pool in a little bit. That's not what he's talkin' about, "'but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.' And when the ten heard this, they became indignant with James and John. 'We were gonna ask for that.' Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.'" It's a different kind of leadership. "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must become your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many".

I'll tell ya what I've observed: The best servants I've known, you never understand the depth with which they serve. I promise you that those people traveling with Jesus did not understand the depth which he had come to serve them. They didn't understand what he'd laid aside. They didn't understand what he had undertaken. They didn't understand the depravity that he faced, and the people around you that have served well, you have not seen fully that sacrifice, and if you're sitting in the seat of the skeptic, trying to identify people who serve as illegitimate, get out of it. Go get in the serving line. You're spending your energy on the wrong thing. God will deal with the hypocrites.

Remember the parable of the end of the age and the wheat field and the tares and the weeds in the field, and the angels will sort that? Don't spend your time... spend your energy and your thought and your attentiveness and your focus on how to serve the Lord more fully. "The Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". What makes the quality of our lives better than so many places in the world is the people who take those ideas to heart and live them out amongst us. And I watch these voices around us and these powerful expressions of ideas around us, trying to make us dissatisfied and unhappy and critical and complaining. We want free. Folks, there is no free. Somebody's gonna pay, and if you're getting it without paying, know that somebody's paying for you. We've complained about health care a lot. "Too expensive".

Well, I have friends that work in that world. I've done quite a bit of life with them. I've done quite a bit of life, period, but with some of them in that world. Some are surgeons. You know, it takes, they stand in an operating suite on their feet, day after day, in the midst of a process that, once you begin it, you have to get to a conclusion. You can't hit "pause," and they do that in an attempt to give their patients a better future. Skeptics will say, "Well, the doctors earn too much money". Well, it's a ten-plus-year sacrifice of training, ten years when they didn't have the freedom to do what they wanted when they wanted. A lot of pressure put upon them. It's a system that's built on attrition. It starts with lots of people, and they whittle it down to a handful, and that's not a determination of polite inquiry. "How much pressure can we put upon 'em and see how many will quit"? Because the pressure of standing in that place in somebody's life is intense, and it's a part of their training.

Good doctors give better lives to their patients. They do. Doctors with no incentive for excellence, if there's no longer any reward in the system, they'll be like so many bureaucrats we've already seen. We've had those experiences. He's in heaven now, but I had a friend. He was a surgeon. The end of his career, his hands were arthritic from the hard work of a life spent doing orthopedic surgery. He bore the marks in his body from his dedication to his patients. Another doctor I know is an oncologist. It means, day after day, he meets with people who are battling cancer. Those are words you never wanna hear. They're a part of his everyday encounter, doing his best to help sick patients find hope and a future. It's not just doctors. I've got a friend who's an electrician, and he's broken down his physical health to an extent, his back and his neck, working hard to provide a living for his wife and his children. Does it gladly, serving his family.

There's a man I know in the church. He sells real estate or works in real estate, but I watch him, week after week, facilitate opportunities for other people. He does it quietly with a gentleness, presents himself to pray almost on a daily basis in this building because he believed prayer matters. I could go on and on with that list. It's all around us, people that are quietly serving. I'm not talkin' about preaching sermons or billboards with their pictures on 'em. They're not influencers on social media, but they're influencers in the kingdom of God. Have we forgotten God? What has happened to us?

Some of you saw the film "Saving Private Ryan". At the end of the film, when Tom Hanks's character is not going to make it, he looks at Private Ryan, and he says, "You earn this. You earn this". Folks, our Lord gave his life for us. He was tortured to death, humiliated. Do we not think we should serve him with our journey through time? We don't earn our way to heaven. Nonsense. It's just our reasonable expectation. What would we do that's less than that? But there's a battle within us. There's a battle within me that's "Don't do that. Don't give your time to that. Don't take one more call. Don't listen to one more person. Why would you do that"? Because. So what do we have to pack for the adventure? We got about five minutes. We're gon' travel light, okay? What do we need for this adventure?

You're gonna need to know how to pray, so stop saying, "Well, you know, I don't pray, Pastor. I just don't pray much". Fellas, stop, if you can say, "I was late to the prayer thing. Don't know as much about it as I'd like to. I'm not a great prayer, but I'm learning. I'm a willing prayer". "I'm a frequent prayer. I'll pray just about anywhere. Would you like a prayer"? Change your vocabulary. Change your mind-set. Change our attitudes. "Anybody knows anybody I can pray for? I wanna pray". Let the people that know you, you will pray at the drop of a hat, and you carry several hats. We've been sideways. "Well, what if I pray, and nothin' happens"? What if you pray, and somethin' does? That's scarier. It truly is. I bet your kids know the sports teams you like the best or the hobbies you like the most. They know the things that make you angry. Let 'em know that prayer is important to you.

We're not gonna make it without prayer, folks. Prayer is an invitation to God in the midst of our circumstances. You better know how to invite him in. There's more than one kind of prayer, just the same as there's more than one kind of tool. If all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like somethin' needs to get pounded on. It's not much fun if all your friends, all the tools they've got is a hammer. Well, prayer, there's different kinds of prayer. James 5:16, said, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective". I'm completely convinced that one of the reasons there's been a fruitfulness in this congregation has been the commitment to prayer. It's persisted over decades, I mean, with a steely determination.

There's been different iterations of it. It's been expressed in different ways, but prayer has been a part of this congregation since before it was a congregation, and the degree to which we will flourish, going forward, I'm convinced, has a great deal to do with our willingness to be a people of prayer. Some of you, "I came to church, and nobody prayed for me". Who'd you pray for? "I came, and nobody talked to me". Who'd you talk to? "I didn't see anybody friendly". It's 'cause you were frowning at everybody. I mean, we've had this, "I come to church. It's about me". If you're brand-new, if this is your first time in church, I got that completely. Forgive us. We will smile and pray for you. By the time you've been here 10 or 12 times, you better start smilin' and prayin' 'cause there's some newbies sittin' next to you, goin', "That sure is a grumpy person next to me. I wish they'd pray for me".

It's been years ago now, over 20 years ago, I got recruited by a doctor in the church. He'd helped to plant a hospital in the remote area of the Amazon, and he was just shameless in recruiting people to go. I mean, you couldn't talk to him without him telling you, you needed to go. "God said you needed to go. It was important to the kingdom of heaven, and people were dependin' on it," and so I said, "Yeah, okay". So I signed up for a trip. He's in heaven now. I can't wait to see him. And we were goin' to, there were several from the church goin'. I was goin' along to carry bags and stuff. I didn't have any medical expertise, but the group of people said they would pray where we were goin'. It was an area where there were some political unrest, and the climate wasn't good, and the mosquitoes filed flight plans, and the snakes were plentiful.

And they said, "We didn't feel called to go, but we will pray," and they met in the morning at 6 a.m. to pray. They met on campus to pray. One person drove more than an hour and a half, one way, to be there. They said, "We'll pray while you make the trip," and we made it. Then we were told there'd be tropical rains and blistering temperatures and oppressive humidity and disease. I got five vaccinations for one pin cushion. Snakes, especially the snakes, I heard the part about snakes. Did I mention that there's a lot of snakes in the Amazon? Well, we got there, and the temperatures were mild, and the humidity was moderate, and the insects were insignificant, and there were no snakes where I was, and for 19 years, that group of people never missed a day, not Christmas, not Thanksgiving, not snow. COVID forced them to reshape that a little bit. Prayer. Begin to build it into your life.

You say, "I don't know how to do that". Just begin your day by saying, "God thank you for the day". When you pull into work in the morning, before you get out of the car, "God, I thank you that I have a job, that I can work, that there's people I can work with, that there's people in this place that would benefit from knowing you. I'm going in the name of Jesus today". When you come home at night, "God, I thank you I have someplace to come home to. I thank you for my family". Just start to pray.

Number three, we gotta have a willingness to be changed. Paul, chapter 3, he said, "If anyone thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I've got more". Really, what he's about to say, he says, "My resume is better than yours". And in his case, he's tellin' the truth. I mean, he starts at his eighth day. On his eighth day, he was better than you were. How many of you have a lot of awareness about your eighth day? He said, "My CV's better than yours. I was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews". He did not lack for confidence. "In regard to the law, a Pharisee. As for zeal, I persecuted the church. As for legalistic righteousness, I was faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider the loss for the sake of Christ".

I would submit to you that following God is not nearly as much about changing the world as it is about you and me being changed. It isn't the world that God needs to change. It's us, it's me, if we can change. Let's say it a different way: It's what you learn after you know it all that really counts. We're reading the book of Exodus. I just worked on that this past week quite a bit, and I think Joshua was such a good example of that. He starts his life in the slave pits of Egypt. He's Moses's aid to camp. He gets coached by Moses, goes up on Mount Sinai with Moses. He's a spy. He goes into the Promised Land and comes out and says, "We can do this," and he gets voted down. He spends 40 years walkin' in a circle, and then he's tapped to take Moses's place. Anybody wanna take Moses's place? I didn't think so. And Joshua, now he's gotta learn a whole new set of lessons.

Wait a minute: He knows about manna. He knows about water from a rock. He knows about parting a Red Sea. He knows about Ten Commandments on stone tablets. He's gotta start over again. "I don't know nothin' about capturin' no cities". And he meets the captain of the Lord's host. He said, "Are you for us or against us"? He said, "That's the wrong question, Joshua". "I'm sorry, I'm still learning". "Take your shoes off. You're on holy ground". It's what we learn after you think you know it all. We got too much know-it-all disease. I'm so thankful for COVID. We've been killin' sacred cows. We have. Almost everything's different. It's okay. Some of us are still goin', "Well, I liked it". I know, me too. I'll give you the biblical language for that: The food was better in Egypt.

We have to overcome our spiritual inertia. It's kind of a fancy word. "Inertia" is a physics principle. It says, "A body at rest will remain at rest. Won't move unless it's acted on by another force". It also says that "a body in motion will remain in motion unless it's acted on by another force". So, if I took my pen and I put it in motion towards Nashville, it would go all the way to Nashville. How many think I can throw all the way to Nashville? There was another force in play, wasn't there? What was it? Gravity. You're so smart. We have spiritual inertia. There's a resistance to change because we don't wanna cooperate with the force of the Holy Spirit. We wanna do it our way. That's why Jesus said, "Unless you're willing to take up your cross daily and say, 'No,' to yourself, you really won't make it as my disciple".

A willingness to change. And then, finally, we need to understand mercy and grace. John 1:17, said, "The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ". It isn't just grace, folks. Grace without truth is destructive. Grace without truth is a permissiveness. We've had too much of that. We gotta come back to the truth of God. You can't live however you want. You don't get to define the boundaries. Those have been defined for us. "Well, I think", please, keep thinking, but learn to submit your thoughts to the Lord. "Well, I feel", keep feeling. It's important, but submit your feelings to the Lord. "Well, I want", it's good to have desires and ambition. Submit your wants and your ambitions to the Lord. Any place that you don't allow the truth of God to be uppermost in your life, you've created an idol, and idolatry does not work out well.

Grace and truth, folks. The church is not a perfect place. Avoid the Goldilocks syndrome. You know this from our heroes. Abraham, he was the impatient one. Jacob was a deceiver. Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Peter was a denier. Thomas was a doubter. Paul was a persecutor, and Allen fits right in with them all. Grace and truth, we need 'em both. Grace without truth is unsustainable. God enables us to change by the power of his truth, and if you don't intend to change, you make the effect of grace have no effect. There's not enough grace 'cause, ultimately, we have to repent. God's grace is not infinite because judgment is just as much a part of his character as is his grace, and when we refuse to change, we nullify the grace of God. Grace should lead us to repentance and humility.

Now, it's tragic, in the contemporary American church, for a couple of decades, we've elevated grace above truth. We should not imagine that we can negotiate sinfulness with God. He won't negotiate, and you can't throw a fit big enough to get him to agree with you. I gave you some questions to begin to ask the Lord. "Is there anything in me, any place in me"? And all under the banner of "To what extent have I forgotten God? To what extent have I relegated him to a secondary or a tertiary place in my life"? The Spirit of God is moving in the earth. The Spirit of God is moving. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the most remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God that we've seen in a long, long time, but it would surprise me to see it unless I see groups of people yielding their hearts to the Lord without reservation. I brought you a prayer.

Why don't we stand. If you're here to be baptized tonight, I'm gonna let you slip out while we pray. I'm gonna give you a head start to the pools. If you didn't hear, we're gonna leave those baptismal pools up for a couple more weeks. We still have dozens of people, every week, saying they wanna be baptized. That awesome? But if you have been dragging your feet and trying to decide - decide. 'Cause the church isn't built on your convenience. We've been so sloppy with the Lord. When the opportunity presents itself, when you feel the Lord touch you, respond to him. We've got to develop that within us more than we have. How many testimonies have we heard, where we say, you know, "I resisted the Lord for", however long, or "I felt so often I should, and I didn't," and, folks, we're not in that time anymore, so if you need to be baptized, it's time. You can have a shirt and a towel tonight. We'll help. God willing, we'll have the pools up next week. Stop by on your way out. Cheer for the people. They'll give you a hug. You'll get wet. I brought you a prayer. Can we pray it together?

Heavenly Father, I offer myself as a living sacrifice before You. You have given me life and have delivered me from the kingdom of darkness. Grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Forgive me of my sins. I choose to forgive those who sin against me. Establish me and I will rest in the security of Your watchful care. I choose to finish the course for which I was created, may You be glorified in Jesus's name, amen.

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