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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - My Friend Jesus

Allen Jackson - My Friend Jesus

Allen Jackson - My Friend Jesus

It's good to be with you again. Our topic today is one of my favorites. We're gonna talk about "My Friend Jesus," and I don't want you to be imagine that he's just your buddy because that's not the nature of the relationship. He's my Lord. But he said he doesn't call us his "servants". He calls us "friends," which means, one day, we will see our friend in all of his glory and his majesty and his power and his authority. He has the name that's above every name, above every name on earth, under the earth, in heaven, wherever it may be. There's nobody quite like my friend. See, I'm not a Christ-follower because I wanted to join a church. I'm not a pastor because I needed a day job. I serve the Lord because of my most remarkable friend, and his name is Jesus. Grab your notepad and a Bible. Most of all, open your heart.

This lesson, to me, came as a response to some other things happening in my life and in the world, and, you know, the reality is that the routine of life is just difficult. Well, there may be great days or awesome days or amazing days, but if you push back from that, just the routine of it, week in and week out, month in and month out, "difficult" seems to be appropriate, is that fair? Particularly for the last couple of years or so. Disappointments are a part of the journey, everybody's journey. Nobody gets through without 'em. Despair seeks entry points, despairs, disappointment that settles over you, and it begins to cloud how you see everything around you. Weariness, I find, is a frequent caller, and if you'll answer the call, he'll move right in, and he'll convince you you're just weary beyond belief.

Often, the challenges are just more challenging than we would prefer. I saw a cartoon once that said, "Lion tamer wants to tame her lion". I feel like that some days. Well, my vantage point in all of that is that all of that is part of life. That set of things describes life. If you're gonna make the journey under the sun, disappointment and weariness and despair are things that you're going to have to have a plan for because they come with the journey. We live in a fallen world, a broken world, a sin-filled world. Nobody gets through without it. When you look at somebody else and you think their life is easier than yours, you don't know enough about their life. I interact with enough people and listen to enough stories. It seems, to me, that brokenness and challenges are universal, however, beyond that, I would submit to you that we're experiencing a spiritual struggle of unique intensity.

I believe we are watching a rather desperate demonic effort to thwart the purposes of God, and if I had to just describe it in the simplest of terms, it seems, to me, that expressions of evil are celebrated. Compromise within the church, within the church is far too common. Common sense is uncommon. Shame has been replaced with brazen rebellion against God. It's hard to think of something that's too brazen any longer. We just seem to have put shame someplace else, and the temptation amongst the people of God, at least from my experience, is to look away or maybe to yield to distraction, "Maybe I can find something else to think about", or avoid our assignment or maybe we just sing more loudly so we don't hear the cry of the desperate, or perhaps we just prefer to pretend that nothing has changed. We can just stay focused enough and keep our blinders on and look at the Bible study. Maybe we can convince ourselves the world isn't changing.

Well, all of those things are true, and I have found, for my own self and my own heart, I have to have a remedy because, otherwise, the voices and the shouting and the things I'm seeing can cause me to lose my momentum. So my resolution for the weekend is I wanted to spend some time focused on Jesus. I wanna turn my attention to the one who I know can deliver, to the one who will reign triumphant over all of his adversaries, so we're gonna spend a few minutes with Jesus. I wanna start in the book of Colossians with a revelation of Jesus and his people, and this is really gonna be simple stuff. It's a little different than perhaps some approaches, but I'm gonna invite you. We're gonna think about Jesus, who he is, and what he's done, and what the implications of that are for you and me, all within the context of this emerging friendship.

You know, to say, "I'm born again", and to think you're done with the relationship is like saying, "I met somebody," and there's nothing more to know. You know, that's just nonsense, and yet we've lived with that rather arrogant attitude. It's almost as if we're afraid of the intrusion of Jesus. We don't want him knowing too much of our business. You know, we don't really want him looking at our calendar or our checkbook or our finances. We don't want him dictating where you really think he will diminish your life? If you're living a life that you think Jesus would diminish, either you don't know Jesus or your life's too ungodly. Jesus will not diminish your life. But I wanna start in Colossians chapter 1, verse 9. It really begins with a prayer and a statement of thanksgiving, but I think it's appropriate for us. It says, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you", Paul's praying for the church at Colossae, "we haven't stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding".

I'd like to be filled with the knowledge of God's will. I'd like to be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding. "We pray this for a purpose in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way". That sounds like friendship to me. "We pray that you'll be filled with the knowledge of the Lord so that you could live a life worthy of his calling". How you live your life is the expression of your faith, far more than your ability to pass a test over biblical questions. "Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience".

I did a quick study this week. You know, almost, it's unique, it's consistent across the letters of the New Testament that Paul prays for those churches he's coaching that they would be willing to endure and persevere. I thought maybe it was unique in this church, so I did a little work, and, no, he told 'em they're all gonna have to do that. Maybe it was a first-century thing. I don't think so. "Joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who's qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness, and he brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins". We're talkin' about Jesus and why he's unique and why we would give him a special place.

Well, that last verse, verse 13, puts it in a context above all the other requests in this prayer, beyond the other points of thanksgiving. It says, "God rescued us from the dominion of darkness, and he brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption," deliverance. We have been bought out of the place we couldn't deliver ourselves from. Jesus came on the ultimate search and rescue mission, and I wanna highlight it for a moment. Hebrews chapter 2, in verse 14, says, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too," Jesus, "shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death".

Did you think of Jesus's assignment, the Incarnation, Jesus in an earth suit in that context? He came to destroy the one who had the power of death. He didn't come to hinder him. He didn't come to diminish him. He didn't come to resist him. I wanna shift your attention a little bit away. I've lived in a segment of the church, legitimately, so we're aware of the impact of evil, and there are some things you need to do to walk in spiritual freedom, to be clean spiritually, the same way there are some things you need to do to be cleaned physically, but sometimes it's easier to be focused on the things that can beset you than it is on the one who sets you free.

See, I don't think it's helpful to live in fear of a virus. I think you want to live trusting your immune system and your ability to maintain health, but I think, in the same way, it's important to understand we can live spiritually whole, and we don't have to be afraid of evil or be intimidated by it or threatened by it. Let's be so familiar with the one who has delivered us that we trust him to bring freedom to our lives. We're spending too much time wringing our hands and discussing the darkness. I'd rather talk about the one who has invited me into the light. So it says that "he shared in our humanity so that by his death he could destroy him who holds the power of death. That's the devil".

Jesus came to destroy the devil's stronghold in your life. I would like to have a friend that knows how to destroy the devil's stronghold, wouldn't you? Again, this goofy notion that Jesus is gonna take somethin' away from ya, he will. He'll take away the stronghold of Satan in your life, "and to free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death". That is the description of a search and rescue. He came to destroy your enemy and to free you from the place where you were held captive. Now, that's a friend. That is a friend. 1 John 3, in 8, he says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work".

The whole Bethlehem story, the whole Christmas narrative, the whole Easter drama, all of that was to destroy Satan's power over your life, but it's centered not in a church or a denomination or a translation of the Bible or a style of worship or your favorite verse. It's centered in a person, and his name is Jesus. Get to know him. Learn to be aware of him. Recognize his character. Know what would please him, and know what would displease him, and don't engage in things that would displease him. Don't align yourself with people who oppose him. He came to destroy the power of Satan in relation to your life. Through the cross, Jesus accomplished something, and you need, this needs to be established in your heart as second nature, a complete, eternal, and irreversible defeat of Satan and his kingdom.

When you watch the evening news, the commentators will try to convince you it's a close struggle, that evil is winning. No, it isn't. They may have had a good day, or they may have had a better PR team, and we may prefer to gasp around bad news more than we do good news. It's a sad thing. Because of our carnal nature, we're far more inclined to share destructive stories than we are affirming stories, and I'm not talking about the media or the social media influencers. I'm talking about those of us who filled the church. That's why we're warned against things like gossip and backbiting and slander, and they're included in the same list with the adulterers and the murderers.

Be careful how you use your words. You cannot be a friend of Jesus and use your words and your influence to cast aspersions on the characters of people and to diminish their lives with innuendo. Don't give yourself to that. He came to destroy the devil's work, and what he accomplished was complete. There's nothing that can be added to it. There's nothing that can be taken away from it. It was eternal. It's not going to be undone or revisited or appealed. It's irreversible. That's our friend.

The Jesus story can't be told completely without talking about his Resurrection. The Resurrection simply means to be made alive, and there's two perspectives on that. In the Resurrection, we were made alive. The Bible says, "We were dead in our sins," that we're made spiritually alive, that we were dead to God, we have a new birth, and we're made alive to God again. And then the Bible talks about physical resurrection. Let's start with the spiritual component. In Colossians chapter 2, it says, "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins". That's a pretty powerful statement, isn't it? He made us alive with Christ spiritually.

What makes you spiritually alive? Joining a right church, reading the right translation, singing the Joining the right Keeping the right set of rules? No. The only way we can find spiritual life is through the person of Jesus. It brings back the centrality. Our friend is important. God sent his Son. It's the Incarnation, and every component of that matters. We've been reluctant to say Jesus is unique. "Well, maybe there's many ways to God". Well, if there are, then Jesus is a liar and a deceiver and a manipulator. We have to sort this out. We've been so afraid we would offend someone.

I don't know why we have that timidity with our faith, and we don't have it in the other arenas of our lives. You'll hire a hitting coach for your four-year-old grandson so he can dominate the other four-year-olds playin' T-ball, not only with a clear conscience, you'll brag about it: "He's gonna crush 'em". If you're an advocate for a college team, you know that the other teams in your conference serve the devil. "They all cheat. They pay their players. Their home-field advantage is so unfair. We don't even like to compete there. I mean, it's crystal clear. Anybody should be able to see it. ESPN is against them". And we start to talk about Jesus: "Well, you know, I don't wanna be such an advocate that someone would be offended".

What do you mean? If you really don't think there's any difference in Jesus and Buddha, worship Buddha. And if there is a difference, again, we don't have to be angry or belligerent or condemning. We need to understand why we're advocates (how'd I get there?) spiritually alive. Jesus, one of the aspects of Jesus's earthly life and ministry that we're familiar with, he's not only prayed for the sick, but on more than one occasion, he raised people back to life. Physical resurrection. Matthew 9, says, "Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players", this is Jairus, "and the noisy crowd". They hired professional mourners if you had the ability to do so. Even how you mourn the loss of someone you cared about was a part of social status. And Jesus put the professional mourners out. "He said, 'Go away. The girl is not dead. She's just asleep.' And they laughed at him. They laughed at him".

If you decide to stand up for Jesus, some will laugh at you. It's okay. Do you think people haven't laughed at you when you chose to be wicked? It's really okay. It really is. It's kind of good if we, just, kind of, established that together. It's why I can read Scripture in Elmer Fudd's voice. It's okay. You'll laugh at me on the way home. We might as well have a chuckle while we're all together. "But they laughed at Jesus. And after the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up". Matthew says that kind of, just, gently. "He took her by the hand, and she got up". She was dead. "News of this spread through all that region".

I'll bet it did. There's something missing in the narrative. It tells us about those who made fun of Jesus. It tells us about the desperation of the girl's father in trying to get Jesus to his home before his sick daughter died. He didn't succeed at that, and Jesus said, "It's okay". There's quite a few details that are given there. To me, the most glaring deletion is the response. What do you think the dad had to say? "Thank you for stopping by, Jesus. Would you like a cup of coffee"? I mean, what's missing is the response to that. It says, when Jesus is revealed in his glory, we read it just a moment ago, that we will marvel at him.

How many of you think, in that household, there was a little marveling going on? I did a memorial service this week, or I was part of a team that did, for a child. And I stood beside that casket. It was a broken place, and I stood there for a few minutes. I had a few moments by myself, and I was thinking of that passage. I thought, "What would be the response if that child sat up"? If we reported it in the scriptural language, "Most of the people in town talked about it". I don't think that's adequate. We haven't really paid attention. I mean, we know the words. We could give the definitions if we were asked to write them down. We understand the language.

We haven't really paused to think about what it means to be in the proximity of Jesus, and some of you say, "Well, you know, I know it's hard to believe. I don't know what I think about that". Look at John chapter 5. Jesus is speaking. He said, "As the Father has life in himself, so he's granted the Son to have life in himself. And he's given him authority to judge because he's the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear Jesus's voice and come out. Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned". Jesus said there's a day ahead of us when all the dead will hear his voice. Physically dead, their spirits are still alive, and there'll be a resurrection.

See, when we talk about our friend Jesus, it's not just a systematic theology or a theory of faith. It's the power of the Creator of all things, the one who has supremacy over all, the one who holds all things together to help us navigate our journey through time. Now, that's a gift. And perhaps rather than think of it as a burdensome religious duty or the joining of a specific group that fits our personal taste or even surveying the room to see if it's gonna meet the needs of our social aspirations, it seems, to me, a more appropriate approach is "What could I do to be included in the people who are identified as Jesus's friends? I wanna be as all in as I know how".

It's important. It won't diminish you. It won't take something away from you. In fact, I would encourage you to begin to talk to the Lord and tell him those places where you have those concerns. See, I think you can be very honest with him. I got a couple of minutes, and I would be just as plainspoken and do it, you do it in the privacy of your home, and if your home is not private, do it when you're driving someplace or whatever that has to be for you, but tell him the truth. Say, "Lord, I'm afraid that, if I really yielded to you, there's some things about my life I would need to change, and some of 'em, I like. Would you help me"? or "There's some parts of my journey that are so dark, I'm ashamed to bring 'em to you," or "To be honest, I'm concerned about what other people would say".

Jesus is our friend. Folks, we live in a season where there's tremendous turmoil and a lot of confusion with evil and violence and destruction and challenges, candidly, that we haven't seen in a long, long time, and I think they will intensify before they get better, but I would encourage you not to focus your attention on that. Think about your friend. Don't ignore them. We'll talk about what's happening in the world. We do it as a matter of habit. We're not gonna ignore it. We're not gonna wish it away. We're not gonna pretend it's not happening. We'll talk about it, but the reason we have hope in the midst of it is because of who our friend is. I brought you a proclamation. I want to invite you to say it with me. Why don't we stand together for this. We'll just do this one all together. If you're at home, you can stand and say it with us as well:

I believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. He is the Lord of my life. I choose to live for his glory and purposes. I serve at his pleasure. He has rescued me from the kingdom of darkness and accepted me into his eternal kingdom. I am not afraid, I am not weary, I'm not discouraged. The one who has called me is faithful, and I will see the triumph of my king in the land of the living, amen.

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