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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - More Powerful Than I - Part 2

Allen Jackson - More Powerful Than I - Part 2

Allen Jackson - More Powerful Than I - Part 2

We're going to complete our study today with the topic "More Powerful Than I". It's a quote from John the Baptist. John had a remarkable life and a phenomenal ministry. He impacted the nation of Israel, calling them to repentance, in the desert no less. When they came to interview him, he said, "There's one more powerful than I am who's coming". Well, the one more powerful than John is here. Certainly it begins with Jesus but Jesus said, "If I go away, I will send you another comforter, a counselor, the Spirit of God".

Now, he is in you if you're a Christ follower. Our challenge is to learn to trust him, to open our lives to him. Folks, we need one more powerful than we are. We're not gonna outwork evil or outthink evil or out-negotiate evil. It's not about our numbers. The Spirit of God is moving in the earth. God is pouring out his Spirit. We have baptized more people this year at our church than in any similar period of time in the history of our congregation. God is moving. I don't want to miss out, and I don't want you to miss out either. Grab your Bible and a notepad. Most of all, open your heart.

How many, after you said the sinner's prayer, were never tempted again? How many of you, after you said the sinner's prayer, never got mad again? Never got anxious in traffic? Anybody? Well, did anything at all happen when you prayed that prayer? I mean some people say, "Well, I felt something warm from the top of my head to the soles of my feet". And I'm like, wow, I didn't get that deluxe version. I felt like the same scoundrel I was before I prayed the prayer. And I've been working on that ever since, learning to yield my life to the Lord, to take up my cross and deny myself on a daily basis. I'm working on that with the person of the Holy Spirit too.

I had a little bit of tractor time this week. It's one of the gifts in my life. I don't get it very often anymore, but I got a little time on the tractor. I can't hear anybody when I'm on the tractor. I wouldn't know if my phone rang. And I couldn't hear what you were saying if I saw the phone was ringing. So I'm on the tractor, I get to pray in the Spirit. It's almost like a divine appointment. If you see me sitting in the church parking lot with the tractor running, I'm just praying, don't bother me.

Look in Joel chapter 2. In Acts chapter 2, after the Holy Spirit's poured out, Peter stands up to address the crowd that's gathered. There's some people were making fun of them, some people were curious, and some were inquiring as to what happened. And some said, "They're drunk". And Peter stands up and he said, "No, it's only 9 o'clock in the morning, it's a little early for us". If it had been 5 o'clock, but it's 9 o'clock. But then he quotes from Joel chapter 2. And I thought rather than read you the quote in Acts chapter 2, we'd go back and look at Joel chapter 2 because I think it speaks to this invitation that we're extending to the Holy Spirit.

You see, the motivation for this is the recognition that we need help. If you don't think you need any help, if you think the world is going in a way that's suitable, that your kids and your grandkids are gonna be okay, if you're content with yourself and your circumstances and you feel like you have the power to negotiate, you're probably not overly interested in this. But if you feel like we're dangerously close to a tipping point where freedom and liberty and opportunity for our children could slip through their fingers, or if you're facing threats to your own person, then I would invite you towards this. Joel chapter 2, "I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten". He's speaking to the Israelites. "The great locust and the young locust, the other locust in the locust swarm, my great army that I sent among you". It's worth noting God said, "I sent devouring armies amongst my people".

Why would he do that? Because of their syncretism, because of their compromise. Folks, we cannot practice compromise and imagine we will enjoy the blessings of God. And forget pointing your fingers at some politician you don't agree with or whomever. We have, the church, has been filled with compromise. And we've excused it with statements like, "Well, you know, that's not how I believe". Or "God knows my heart". Or, "It's only a piece of paper". We have such flimsy excuses. And so, before we get to the bonus lines here, God said that, "I sent devouring armies amongst my people". "You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, and that I'm the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed".

God said, "There's a day coming when I will gather you again, and I will restore what the devourer has taken from you". So God is both the judge and the restorer. And it's not just an Old Testament concept because Peter borrows it in Acts chapter 2. And then he says, "Afterward," after what? "After I've regathered my people, after I've begun the restoration process, I'll pour out my Spirit on all people, all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I'll pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke". Peter quotes those verses in Acts chapter 2 and he says, "What you're seeing in Jerusalem today is the fulfillment of what God said to Joel".

And I believe it was the beginning of something that we are now seeing on the concluding side. You see, when we think of biblical prophecy, we want there to be two or three chapters that are arranged chronologically and describe what we're watching from stem to stern, from beginning to end. But that's not the way prophecy is typically used in scripture. Jesus would take one sentence from a prophet and say, they would say he was fulfilling that, "I'll call my Son out of Egypt". If you go back and find that prophecy, it's in the midst of a whole collection of other statements. But what Joel concludes with sounds a great deal like what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 24 when he said, "There'll be signs in the heavens". But the common theme between both is the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all people, young and old, Jew and Gentile.

And I believe before Jesus returns to the earth, before this age concludes, we will see an outpouring of the Spirit of God. But rather than us think of someone else, what if we begin to say to the Lord, "Lord, I want in on that. I want to receive your Spirit in a new way. I would cooperate with you". I think we can all agree that conversion, saying the sinner's prayer, prayer of repentance, and asking Jesus to be Lord of your life is an introduction, but to work that out is a continual determination to yield to the lordship of Jesus, does that sound right? Well, I would submit to you that that second Sunday is much like that. The invitation to be baptized in the Holy Spirit begins with a response from God to your openness to the gift that he has for you. But the fullness of a Spirit-led life is a daily determination to make room for the Spirit of God in your life, to yield yourself to his engagement and his involvement.

If you pray the sinner's prayer, you mark down the date of your conversion, but you make no attempt to yield yourself to the lordship of Jesus, you'll have a very underdeveloped spiritual growth. Well, the same is true with the Holy Spirit. If you invite this Holy Spirit into your life, be baptized with his Spirit, but you don't take time on a daily basis to pray in the Spirit and to develop that relationship and to listen to his voice, you have a very marginal relationship with the person of the Spirit of God. Isaiah 32, "The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; the citadel, the watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks". He's described a time of desolation in the land of Israel. He said, "Until the Spirit is poured out from upon high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. And justice will dwell on the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of righteousness will be peace: and the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever".

What is the line of demarcation? What's the transition? There's a power that's brought there that moves the people from desolation and a wasteland to a fertile field that becomes a flourishing forest. And the distinctive characteristics is that the outpouring of the Spirit of God. My hope would begin to pique your interest a bit in welcoming the Spirit of God into your life. Being a spiritual person doesn't mean you're less rational. Your intellect is not so towering that God is concerned about it. So you don't need to be bothered with that. You'll need your mind in order to pursue the Lord, but there is a dimension of authority and power beyond ourselves or our faith is foolish. Excuse me.

The next two verses, I think, are worthwhile. "My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free". God, it seems to me that he's saying even if the circumstances are such that the forest is destroyed and the city is completely leveled, my presence amongst you will keep you secure. There's a lot of anxiety amongst God's people these days because I think we've imagined that our security came from something other than the Lord himself.

Folks, empires come and go and the empire that has described our nation in recent years and decades is ultimately destined to pass as well. I don't know what the future holds. I have my preferences but either way, I believe my future is secured by God, not by government. And if that thought hasn't dwelt in your heart, if you haven't lived that way, I would begin to encourage you to, on a daily basis, make an incremental change. Begin to say to the Lord, "Lord, I'm sorry I've trusted other things. I've put my hope in other things. I have pursued other things. I'd like to know you better. I'd like to make room in my heart for you in new ways. I'd like to cooperate with you in ways I've never cooperated. I'd like to be engaged with you. Give me an understanding heart".

Talk to the Lord the same way you've pursued the things that you thought would bring contentment and fulfillment and happiness to you. If you've done them well, you've done them with great enthusiasm, with great persistence, with great determination. You wouldn't accept barriers or roadblocks or detours. You'd study and think and fret and until you found that avenue that gave you some momentum towards what you were pursuing. What if we pursued God in that?

Let's look at one more Isaiah passage. Isaiah 44, it says, "But now listen, O Jacob, my servant Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the LORD says, he who made you, who formed you in the womb", imagine that, long before we had ultrasound. The Bible really will help you. Most of the difficult questions that are being asked of us today could be resolved if we would accept the truth of scripture. Marriage was God's idea. He created us male and female. Family was his idea. Now, there are struggles that come along with all of that. None of that's easy or simple. I understand it can be complicated, but the categories aren't blurry, neither is life. I pray our Supreme Court has the courage, and I pray that we have the courage to stand with them.

"He who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground: I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring". The most powerful resource, the most significant, the most valued resource in the Middle East is not oil. We all understand the power of oil these days. It's driving the global conversation. But I assure you the most powerful resource, the most prized resource in the Middle East is water. If you have water, you can grow anything. I can take you to Israel and give you abundant illustrations of that. So when you find those references to water and he says, "I'll pour out my water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. I'll pour out my Spirit on your offspring".

Jesus said something very similar in John's gospel. He said, "If anyone's thirsty, let him come to me and drink and out of his innermost being will flow streams of living water". That's not just some metaphor about watering your garden. And if we use the images of today, it would be like there'd be an oil well that would come bursting out of your innermost being. You'd have a renewable energy source that would provide everything that was necessary for your life forever. And Isaiah is using a similar image. "I'll pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, and the poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, 'I belong to the LORD; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, "The LORD's," and he will take the name of Israel.'" Excuse me.

Again, there's this alignment with the outpouring of the Spirit of God and this amazing transformation from something that's desolate to something that's alive and vibrant and reproductive. What would the Spirit of God bring to your life, or my life, in greater measure if we cooperate with him? Life and vibrancy and health and fruitfulness in ways that we're incapable of doing on our own because it represents one greater than I am. It's something greater than I am. It's greater than my power and my strength and my ability and my experiences and whatever I can marshal. There's something greater than that. Do we have the humility to acknowledge that? And are we willing to acknowledge our need for that help?

I'll close with those last two verses you have. They're prayers we've been praying here for months now. We started when we were outdoors and we couldn't be in the building. Isaiah 45, "You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it". That is such a powerful passage. Righteousness will rain down upon us with an outpouring of the Spirit of God. But what Isaiah understood was that salvation would spring up because God created the earth for righteousness. When God created the earth, he said, "It's good". It was our sin, our fall, our rebellion that introduced all the corruption and the decay and the diminishment. God's intent is to pour out his Spirit and righteousness would flourish in the earth again. We can begin to pray, "Lord, rain down righteousness". And then Hosea is a parallel passage. "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground. It's time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you".

It's planting time in Tennessee. Well, it's just about past planting time in Tennessee. But break up the unplowed ground. That's hard work. It hasn't been fruitful. There's a transformation being called for. Your preparation is different, your outcome is different, your expectations are different, your responses are different. You're not going to get the harvest and the crop if you're not willing to break up your unplowed ground. We won't, in our lives, either. If your attitude is, "Lord, I'm open to anything you have for me. Whatever you have, I want everything you have". Folks, you could repeat that line until you breathe your last breath and go to hell. You can because the Bible says unless you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, "You won't be saved". So you can spend your whole life going, "I'm open to whatever God has for me. If he wants me to do something, if he tells me, I'll do it". You can say that your whole life and completely miss the kingdom of God. You can be good, kind, generous. There'll be good, kind, generous people in hell.

So again, we've got to bring a different kind of sincerity and a different kind of intent to cooperating with the Holy Spirit. It's not this passive response. It's the attitude of a searcher, someone who's hungering. Jesus said, "If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you'll be filled". He didn't say much about the casual inquiry or the person who said, "You know, it's okay if God wants to force it on me," he won't. If you're afraid the Holy Spirit will embarrass you, relax, he won't. He will not bother you. You'll have to be so desperate for his presence that you'd be willing to hang out with goofy people like us. It's time to seek the Lord until he comes and showers righteousness on him. Lord, we're not gonna to stop seeking. We're not gonna stop knocking. We're not gonna stop calling. We're not gonna stop praying. We're not gonna stop changing until you have showered righteousness on us 'cause the next verse is a more accurate description of our patterns.

"You have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors". Could we say that, that we've depended on our strength? And now we're at a place where we realize we don't have the strength for the outcomes we need. So in humility, like the prodigal, we've come to the end of ourselves and we've said, "You know, I'm in a desperate place, and I don't deserve to be welcomed back into my father's family. But I want to go back, maybe I could be a servant. If I could just be a servant, the servants in my dad's house are doing better than I'm doing". I wonder if we could come to the Lord and say, "Lord, we would be delighted to be servants in your house"?

You need to be born again, but I would submit you need the strength that comes from Spirit baptism. It's a tool that I don't believe you can afford to be without. I'm not talking about your eternal destiny. I'm talking about fulfilling what God has for you. If that's a new idea to you, there's a little book in the bookstore called "Unleashing The Power Of The Holy Spirit". It'll help you with that. In the last chapter, it will tell you how to receive the baptism in the Spirit because I'm out of time tonight. We'll be together again, I promise, God willing, okay? God is moving in the earth. He's stirring the hearts of people. Don't be discouraged. God doesn't need tens of thousands of people. A group of people fully committed to the Lord, willing to cooperate with him, God will move heaven and earth. I want to be one of those people, but we've got to put away our compromise, our indifference.

We've been friends with the world too long. We've excused ungodliness, we've winked at it, we've nodded at it, we've invited it to our tables. We've been rebellious. We've used our words to discredit and demean and destroy others. We've gotta stop. We've gotta be more serious with the Lord than we've been, but he will help us. Why don't you stand with me? Maybe palms up, let's just say, let's invite the Spirit of God into our lives without measure, one greater than I am. How'd you like to have help from one greater than I am or you are? Whoo, me to.

Father, thank you for what you've done for us. Thank you that you've opened our eyes and our hearts to the reality of Jesus of Nazareth. Lord Jesus, we thank you that you're Lord of our lives. Lord, we choose to turn away from our sin and our ungodliness and our rebellion to forgive those who have sinned against us and to ask you to forgive each of us. Be Lord of our lives, Lord of all that we have and all that we are. We want to serve you. We want to walk uprightly before you. We ask you to baptize us in your Spirit, Lord, in a powerful way. Holy Spirit, you are welcome in our lives. We want all that you have for us. We want every invitation. We want to hear every word of conviction, every prompt of direction. We choose to yield to you. Almighty God, may your righteousness rain down upon us. We're willing to break up the fallow ground to make the changes that we need to make to reorient our attention to give you first place. Teach us to pray in new ways. Open our eyes and our ears. Give us understanding hearts. Empower us to be witnesses for you beyond anything we've ever seen or imagined or understood as a possibility. I thank you that greater is he who is for us than all those forces arrayed against us. And we receive tonight. In Jesus's name, amen. Hallelujah. God bless you.

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