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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Lead A Life of Significance - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Lead A Life of Significance - Part 2


Allen Jackson - Lead A Life of Significance - Part 2
TOPICS: Significance

I brought you a little example, and I don't know how much of this we will read. But we have two letters in the New Testament written to the church in Corinth. They were written by the Apostle Paul. He was very instrumental in that church coming into existence, and he was their spiritual father and he understands that. It's clear from his writings. In the beginning of 1 Corinthians chapter 1, he visits Corinth, the Corinthians, more than one time. In between his visits to them, he sends them letters based on the messaging that's coming back to him. He's watching their social media platforms, and he's sending them some correctives.

But in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, he reminds them of who they were before they came into the kingdom of God. And he says, "Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things, and to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It's because of him that you're in Christ Jesus". He's saying to them, "You didn't do this". In fact, he said, "You were recruited from the refuse pile. You didn't come from noble families. You didn't have a lot to commend you. Your resumes weren't great".

And God recruited you into his kingdom so that when something good happened through you, the whole world would know it was God and not you. That's us. So if we have the imagination that being public, out-front advocates for Jesus could diminish our reputation, pride has found an unhealthy place in us. Because the most consistent characteristic of my life that's worth celebrating is Christ in me. And if something good or positive or beneficial has happened through my life, it's because of Christ in me. And I want to own that story more fully and more completely. It's not some attempt at false humility. That's the truth.

When I was welcomed into the kingdom of God, God took on a liability. He didn't gain an asset. Come on. Most of us get that a little backwards. "You know, whoo, don't you know heaven was relieved when they got me"? Can't you just see Gabriel, "It's gonna be okay, Michael. We got Allen's IQ". That is funny. "Or maybe he'll stroke a check, and it'll make all the difference to what God wants to do". You know who benefits when we invest our intelligence, our resources in the kingdom of God? I do, you do. God didn't need what I have. I've never had an idea that was a new one to God. I've never been so creative that angels got together and went, "Yes". Most of the time they're going, "Oh, Lord, help him. He is so slow".

We've had this backwards, and it's what they're reminding the Corinthians of. And then we want to pretend after we're born again, that we're walking the straight and narrow with very little struggle, very little challenge. It's not that hard for us. We know there's people for whom it's difficult, but it's not difficult for us. Holy, holy, right? We just sing it. 2 Corinthians 2, "I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you". "Last time I came to see you, it was painful so I'm gonna write a letter to see if you can get it together so when I come back, it won't be so painful".

Now, that's 2 Corinthians. Let's go back to 1 Corinthians and see what was going on in the community. 1 Corinthians 5, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that doesn't even occur among pagans". You're more immoral than the ungodly. "A man has his father's wife, and you're proud of it"! Shouldn't you have been filled with grief? You should have, but you are not. This is a church in such brazen, blatant immorality that he said even the pagans would flinch. Next chapter, 1 Corinthians 6, "If any of you has a dispute with another, dose he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints"? You run to court suing one another, rather than sit down and solve your problems. It's the church. Same chapter, verse 9, "Do you not know that wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God"?

If he's asking that question, what have they forgotten? That the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. And then just in case they're so confused, they're addled that he kind of walks them through some bullet points on ungodliness. He said, "Don't be deceived". And again, if he's writing not to be deceived, what you and I understand is they are deceived. They believe that the following behaviors are not that significant, that they can be overlooked, winked at, overcome, that God will set them aside, he'll grade on a curve. And he's saying, "Do not be deceived. The sexually immoral, the idolaters, the adulterers, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the thieves, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers, will not inherit the kingdom of God".

And this is the fun, and then he says, "And that's what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God". He said, "You know better than what you're doing. You have experienced freedom and cleansing. Now, what are you thinking? Don't be deceived. You can't step back into that". We need that message in the church, church. We need a biblical worldview, not a secular worldview. We've got to be willing to take the authority of Scripture. When God said, "Thou shalt not," he hasn't modified it to be "better if you didn't". In 1 Corinthians 11 he said, "In the following directives I have no praise for you. Your meetings do more harm than good".

I'm telling you, if the father of your community of faith and your mentor writes to you and says, "I have nothing good to say about your public gatherings," that's not a compliment. When you come together, it's not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. "You're gluttons, and drunkards". And he's writing to the church. So can we lose the pretense that we do this, well, all the time? I love you. But we've gotta invite the Spirit of God in to help us. We've gotta begin to talk to the Lord with a little more honesty and integrity because we have an assignment. We got a message to give to the world. And we don't give it to the world because of our perfection or our completeness or our absolute because we never stray. It's in the midst of all of our brokenness. We have a message to say because the world around us is broken.

We have an assignment. We've got to cultivate an intentional faith, a purposeful faith, not a generic Christianity. We don't declare ourselves Muslim so we must be Christian. We don't have a T-shirt that says, "I'm an agnostic or an atheist so I must be a Christian". We need an intentional faith to develop a life of faith. It's no more accidental than being physically healthy. That's not accidental. If you don't pay attention to what goes on your fork, you're probably not as healthy as you could be. If you're not willing to exercise when you don't feel like it, you're not as healthy as you could be. I mean, you may be young enough, it doesn't matter, but just keep turning the calendar. You get to about 50, the "engine warning" lights all start to come on.

Hebrews chapter 5 says, "We got much to say about this, but it's hard to explain because you're slow to learn. In fact, know by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food"! He's writing to a church. This isn't the Corinthian church. This is another group of believers scattered. And he said, "You know, I need to give you some solid food, but you still need Gerber's". "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature". Here's an explanation of maturity. "Who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil". It's not easy to know good from evil today. They are relabeling it faster than you can keep up with the labels. They keep adding initials. It's not easy to keep straight. It's bewildering.

Who's the good guy, and who's the bad guy? It's not clear. Is it the truckers in Canada or is it somebody else? We don't know. I mean, it's not easy. We've gotta grow up in the Lord. If we don't grow up, we are not prepared for what we have been inserted into. "Well, I liked it better before". Duly noted, but we're not there anymore. I liked it better before there was security at the airport. You could just get out of your car and walk onto your plane. The airport was simpler. I'm old. It's been a long time since we could do that.

Now, we've been working on this intentional faith together for a while. It's not a new thing to us, and you build it layer upon layers. It's like building flavor in food or building strength physically or developing a command of the English language or learning any academic discipline. You don't start at...you just learn layer upon layer, that enables you to take another layer and you can expand your vocabulary and you can speak with greater specificity because you've got better words. One of the things I dislike about social media is the dumbing down of the language. We communicate at such a base level. It takes a little discipline to truly learn, and we've got to grow up. We've started becoming familiar with Scripture. We've been doing this for years now. Read your Bible. People say to me, "What do I do now? I've read it". Read it again. When you've got it fully committed to memory, you come see me, I'll give you another read. But it's gonna be another translation.

Look at Psalm 11, verse 7, "The works of His hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy". All of his precepts are trustworthy. What else in our world is trustworthy? All of his precepts. Spend some time with it every day. Say, "I don't enjoy it". Okay, read it anyway. We've gotten so soft. I'd rather have something rolled in sugar and deep fried than broccoli, but I've learned to like broccoli. It's better for me. We become familiar with Scripture. We're learning to pray. We're learning new ways to pray. We pray together. We take prayers away from here. We post prayers every week. We encourage you to pray multiple times through the day. We pray corporately. We encourage you to pray with one another in small groups. We encourage you to take a walk on the wild side and pray for people beyond your religious discussions.

Are you praying for people at work? Are you praying for the people you interact with at your kids' soccer games and ball fields? In Luke 11 and verse 1, Jesus with his disciples and he was praying. And when he finished, one of the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray. John taught his disciples to pray, teach us to pray". Prayer is learned. It's not intuitive. Are you learning to pray? Say, "Well, I know how to pray". Well, that's good. You knew how to pray before COVID, how about now? You knew how to pray before we were on the precipice of a global conflict. How are you praying now? What's that look like for you? You're praying the same kind of prayers you prayed before COVID? We haven't caught up. We learned to pray.

The Lord taught us to pray. He gave us the Lord's Prayer. You know it, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name". That's not just a prayer, that's a filing cabinet of prayers. It's a whole host of topics that Jesus is giving us permission to pray for. "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name". It's worship and praise. Some of you don't worship. Some of you come to church late so you can skip worship. "I don't like the music". I don't care if they play a kazoo. If we get to be together for a few minutes, worship the Lord. Now, if you're four years old, we will give you age-appropriate music. We'll even hang in there with you all the way through elementary school. We'll help you worship in an age-appropriate way. At some point, we expect you to be mature enough to worship, whether it's your style or not.

Have I offended everybody yet? I'm not done. I'll get you, hang on. "Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on earth". It's intercession. The whole Lord's Prayer is his introduction to prayers. A few years ago, we gave you a little tool to use called, Let's Pray. Remember that? Let's Pray, not about prayer in a corporate setting. It's a personal prayer you can pray. We interact with...this is the south, we talk to people. We don't care about them but we talked to them, you know? You meet somebody, "How are you today"? And you've moved on, you're not really listening, but you ask. And if you'll listen, there are God opportunities that come at you every day 'cause some people will surprise you. They won't just give the polite answer, "Oh, I'm great. Oh, I'm not really so good. My kids were sick all night". Or, "My husband just got deployed to Poland, and I'm terrified".

I got a text this week from somebody said that his son was a Marine, and 3.000 of them were discharged over COVID mandates. He said, "Pray for me". If you'll listen, people will...this stuff leaks out of them all the time. When it does, you have a choice. You can be polite and move on, "Oh, I'm so sorry". Or you can say, "Let's pray". Now here's, when you say, "Let's pray," don't say, "May I pray for you? Would it be all right if I delivered a Word from Almighty God to you? It's clear to me that you have a need". Because any sane person would go, "You are nuts and don't say anything about me". But if you got the courage when they give you that little window and you say, "Let's pray," you just drop your head and close your eyes. You only get one sentence, one sentence. Don't quote your favorite verse. Don't give them a link to your favorite sermon. Just one sentence, "Lord, help my friend get some rest. They were up with a sick child all night. In Jesus's name, amen". "Father, be with that person that just got deployed. Protect them in Jesus's name, amen".

Just one sentence. And when you say, "amen," here's the key, and this is so important, don't give them the Christian eye. "What'd you feel"? It creeps me out. Don't look to them for affirmation. Don't wait for them to give you a hug and say, "I'm so grateful you prayed for me. I was hoping somebody'd come pray for me". They still haven't caught up with you. The last thing they heard you say, "Let's pray," and their brain went... So when you're finished, move on. When you say, "amen, don't you love spring? Have you seen a daffodil yet? How expensive is gas gonna get"? Just move on. You've done two or three things. You've invited God into the midst of their circumstance. You've identified yourself as a resource if they have a need. Some of them will come back to you and say, "You know that let's pray thing"? And you have been willing to acknowledge yourself as a believer in faith. Let's pray. If you will open your heart, you can have a let's pray moment every day. You can have a let's pray moment every day.

Now, some people won't like it, some won't be thrilled, some it will change the trajectory of their lives. Are you tough enough? I read a quote from a college football coach. He said, "If you want everybody to like you, sell ice cream. If you want to be a leader, be tough enough to know everybody's not gonna cheer". Our Bibles, let's pray. I want to add one more idea and my time is just about gone, which is really unfortunate. But we're gonna keep working on this. I want to go ahead and introduce it. Let's pray. I want to put one more thing in the toolbox. It's Let's Talk. Here's my observation, we really don't have a very good skill set or the courage to support it when it comes to talking about our faith. I mean, we'll do it at church a little bit but most of our conversation at church is not about faith.

We gather in the lobbies and gather with our friends, and we talk about where we're going to eat, when our kids are playing ball, what our grandkids are doing, about the weather and the price of gas, but we don't really talk a great deal about our faith. It's a pretty safe place to do it, so some of those conversations will happen. But if we leave campus talking about our faith, it's just not easy. I hear what you say to me. You say, "Well, you know, I'm not a biblical scholar. I don't want to say something wrong. Well, not everybody likes it. I don't want to be intrusive". You know, we've got all these reasonable. "Well, it's not okay at work. They told us not to talk about it". Oh, like you do everything they tell you. Mm-hmm. We just don't have much courage here. A couple of verses, Acts 5, "They called the apostles in and had them flogged". That's a fancy word for beaten. "They ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they'd been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the Name".

It's worth noting, they didn't leave because they were worthy to take a physical abuse. They suffered disgrace, that's something different. They've been arrested by the most powerful authority, Jewish authority, in the city of Jerusalem. They've been put on the list of people to be de-platformed. They are spouting misinformation. Their invitations are drying up. The welcome mats are being pulled in. Their business opportunities are diminishing. They have been disgraced. Do you understand the difference? You might have taken a physical beating, and you could be a hero, you could take some pictures and post some selfies. And people would support you and you'd get a lot of likes and a lot of good comments. They have been disgraced and their attitude is they leave that place because they were counted worthy, rejoicing because they were worthy to be disgraced for the sake of Christ.

I wonder if we're willing to grow to that? Would you have your professional group step apart from you because of your affiliation for Jesus? Would you have the people that you look to to support your children or your grandchildren's activities step away from you because of your affiliation with Jesus? You willing to forfeit a little social stature because of your affiliation with Jesus? Watch what happens, verse 42, "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ". Day after day, in the temple courts, in public gatherings, and from house to house, they never stopped. Reading our Bibles, learning to pray, and learning to share our faith to talk about what we believe, even if it brings with it some disgrace, cultivating the courage to talk about your faith, spiritual things and your spiritual life.

We're pretty good at talking about our hobbies or our families or our profession our world events or the weather or the Vols or the Titans or about how much Alabama cheats. That stuff just rolls right out of us. Now everybody's paying their players, they should level the field. I mean, we've got all the lines. But when it comes to our faith, we lose our boldness and our courage. And we're apologetic, and we don't want to be intrusive. We're working on some things to help. In fact, we got a little window of time. We're gonna take this spring and see if we can cultivate this a little bit.

I'm gonna talk to you about it all year long. We're working on a series of tools that we can share with you, kind of like we did, Let's Pray. We're gonna talk about this, about it's a faith discussion. We're gonna take a little, real brief clips from sermons and give you a video clip with two or three questions so you could gather a friend or two, not your Bible study buddies, but maybe a neighbor or somebody and show them a little clip. And say, "I want you to hear what our preacher said". And then a couple of starter questions where you could have a little 5, 10-minute dialogue around it. If you don't practice, you'll never get better. We gotta decide if it doesn't matter, maybe it's not but if it real, we gotta do something about this. We are losing ground every day. You're waiting on a politician or a political party or some world event or the UN or the WHO or the CDC. You want them to do better while we do nothing different. That's sinful.

Folks, we've been quiet for too long. We've been wanting somebody else to save us and we've forgotten Jesus. We have a Savior. We don't need a politician or a political party. If the church will be the church, we should repent. I gotta hush. Why don't you stand? We're gonna pray together. I'm gonna invite you to join me in saying the Lord's Prayer. It's kind of in your notes, but it's really in there, but it's not listed as the ending prayer. But I suspect most of you know it as the Lord's prayer or the Our Father. Jesus taught his disciples to pray with the introduction of this prayer, and I think we honor him when we pray it. Let's say it together:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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