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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Storm Prep - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Storm Prep - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Storm Prep - Part 1

It's good to be with you again. Our topic today is, "Have We Forgotten God"? Really preparing for the storm, and we're not preparing for some approaching storm, folks, we're walking through a season of storms. We're not finished yet. We have had so much abundance and so many freedoms and so much liberty, I think it's been possible for us to imagine that we could navigate turmoil, and yet leave God in a secondary role. Well, that time in our lives, I believe, is passing quickly. We will need God front and center to help us negotiate what is before us, not in a theoretical way and not in some academic way, but in a very personal experiential way, we'll need to have a living faith. We're gonna look at that in a little more detail. Grab your Bible and a notepad, most of all, open your heart.

I think there's some storms ahead of us, like, I think we're headed into a storm season. And I don't say that in a frightening way. I happen to like storms. I'll take a lawn chair and sit outside in the middle of one. I'm goofy enough to wear an aluminum hat. I mean, I like storms. But I think it's important to understand the season and what's in front of us. It's not subtle. You'd have to be pretty dense or determined not to notice that the seas are pretty choppy. You know, we've had another week and still another tragedy of violence. It fills our media, it fills our awareness, not inappropriately. You know, it wasn't just but a few days ago, it was in our community, not some distant community. It was here at a high school graduation. It was very personal that week.

This week, it was in Texas, horrific, tragic. It's almost, it takes your breath away. It's almost beyond comprehension, but it isn't an isolated event and it's not an isolated place and it's not a singular circumstance or a singular group of people. Last year in Chicago, they had over 790 homicides, 1 year. In fact, last year, 12 major US cities broke homicide records, 12 major American cities set records for homicides in 2021. It was November of '21 when a Wisconsin man drove his vehicle into a parade, killing six and injuring dozens of others. There's not a singular method around this.

In 2022, this year, there was a woman in New York City pushed onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train by a stranger. No identifiable reason, just evil. And the outcome of that is every time there's some new expression of violence or anger or hatred or evil, there are these loud and persistent voices shouting for change. We've heard them all week. And I agree wholeheartedly, as completely as possible, we need change, we do. The question is, what kind? Now, I have some questions around that and those that have the microphones and the big platforms and such determination, I'm annoyed, I question, I don't trust people that politicize tragic events for their personal gains. Which of our current maladies have been so vastly improved by those who are spewing solutions to violence this week?

If I can't see the solutions to the problems we had before the crisis of the week, why would I entrust them with the solutions to the challenges I see today? If they can't be trusted to protect our free speech, if they can't be trusted to protect our unborn children, if they can't be trusted to protect our right of peaceful assembly, if they can't be trusted to protect our borders from illegal immigrants, if they can't be trusted to tell us the truth about our economic condition, if they can't be trusted to protect our energy independence so that we're not dependent upon other nations who despise us for the energy resources we need to maintain our jobs and our homes, then why would we trust them with our personal protection?

It's illogical. It makes no sense to me. But being angry at other people is not the solution to this. There is a God and his headquarters, I assure you, are not in Washington, DC. Now, here's the awkward part, and it's uncomfortable. We are weary and sickened by the blatant and unrestrained violence. And our truth, my truth, is, I want an immediate answer. I would love an easily identified cause and a rapid solution. But I'll tell you what I'm saying to myself, and I'll say it to you as well, it's time we stop being childish. That's a childish response. "I want it fixed, and I want it fixed now or I'm gonna cry". We've arrived in this condition after years of ignoring God, and we will not find a better place over a holiday weekend.

Now, that's the truth. Our families are broken. We are decades into this problem, and it's gonna take true courage to walk in a new direction. I listed to you some casualty counts from some conflicts in our nation's history. I'm not suggesting physical violence, but I am suggesting there is going to be a sacrifice required to walk out of this place that we're in. We're not gonna get to a better place by electing somebody new or a different party taking charge. We're gonna have to have fundamental change at the grassroots level in our homes, around our family gatherings. If you gather this weekend and you tolerate, look over, cheer for, encourage, wickedness and ungodliness, you don't have to look any farther than your gathering to find the root of the problem.

Our lawlessness has been growing steadily. We ignore the laws we don't like, we do. We just flaunt our rebellion in the pursuit of our selfish ambition, whatever it may be. We have processes to change laws and mend laws. We've had evil, ungodly laws on the books before. We hide behind the laws when it suits us, and we flout them when we don't. Then we feign surprise and dismay when someone ignores legal authority. How could they do that? Because we've been practicing. Again, you don't have to look very far. I've been asking you for months now, encouraging you for months, to watch and to listen, to think and to act, not act out, not act in anger, but to act in your sphere of influence to stand for the truth.

We've heard this unrelenting cry to defund our police continually asserting that passive responses are preferred. And now we're shocked when we have video that they're reluctant to respond to a crisis. I think our first responders, our teachers, those public servants that we have, they need to be trained better. They need to be supported better. And then they need to be held accountable to do their jobs. Our schools are failing or have failed. That's not bad news. COVID was a gift, it pulled back the curtain. We've been so distracted, so disinterested in the education of our children, that we were barely paying attention to what the curriculum was and what was being pumped into their hearts and minds.

The teachers's unions blamed the parents, and there's enough blame to go around. The parents are angry with the system. But here's the awkward reality, the education of our children begins with the family, and it has to be strengthened by faith and then that worldview has to be integrated into our larger culture. But the churches are equally culpable. Our churches are weak, and they're often co-opted by the spirit of the world, yielding to God and the authority of his Word, the fundamental conviction about the uniqueness of Jesus and his redemptive work, a willingness to accept the direction and involvement of the person of the Holy Spirit. They are all necessary if we're going to recover from this place, far more necessary than some new program or new law on the books.

The social component of our faith, it has to extend, it has to grow out of our heart change, otherwise, we're just a civic group, and we don't have any more moral authority than the extent or the length of our purse strings. The gospel is sufficient for the transformation of a human life, and we haven't had the courage to point people to the cross, church. From where we stand today, when I look forward, what do we see, what are the options? Well, honestly, our wealth may fail. It isn't clear to me yet. Our freedoms may very well continue to deteriorate. We may continue to watch ungodliness be celebrated and righteousness be mocked. The abundance that we have enjoyed from the stores of our groceries, the shelves of our grocery stores to the big box stores to the convenience in the lives that we have lived, that abundance may continue to dwindle.

Safety and security may increasingly give way to violence and a lack of restraint. But there's some things that you should know and you should focus on. I assure you that God is still triumphant, that holiness will prevail over wickedness, that God will express both mercy and justice in the earth. His timing is not our timing always, but sin will be punished and the righteous will be exalted. And my suggestion to you is to humble yourself under the hand of the Lord. If I could have just a candid moment, and I guess I can, I'm concerned about the toll of temptation upon the people of God, not the wickedness beyond us. But to live in the midst of this swirling turmoil of ungodliness and perversion and license and immorality and debauchery, it's taking a tremendous toll on the church.

We have tolerated the camouflage of the world. We have dreamt worldly dreams. We fill our children with worldly aspirations. We long for success, as defined by the systems of this present order, not by the boundaries of the Word of God or led by his Spirit. And it's having a very great impact upon the people of God. I don't say that to cast aspersions. I spent the majority of my adult life serving in the midst of God's people. But I want to make a suggestion, a very personal one. I want to ask you to consider to begin, on a daily basis, a persistent basis, to quietly invite the Holy Spirit to reveal any place where you have tolerated compromise. Stop searching the evening news for who's to blame. Get off the internet. You don't need to spend hours a day there to understand what's happening in our world, ten minutes will do it. You get more details than that and you can't take it.

Most of it makes no sense anyway, but begin to persistently throughout the day say, "Lord, if there's any place in me, anything in me, any thought, any attitude, any part of my past, if there's anything I'm accepting, if there's any expression of ungodliness that I'm overlooking or I'm supporting". You know, we talk about lending our support to godly things, and that's a good thing. But, you know, the Bible promises some rewards for that, that if we give a cup of cold water to one in the name of the Lord, that there's a reward. You suppose that the other side of that is nullified, that if you give a cup of cold water to somebody that's doing wicked? How much time and energy do we spend providing comfort and aid to people?

I'm not talking about people we don't know. I'm talking about people within our sphere of influence where we encourage them to be ungodly. Do you think we won't reap a consequence for that? Allow the Lord to rebuke you. Determine ahead of time you won't be offended. It's uncomfortable 'cause it probably won't come from a talking donkey or an angelic visit. It most likely will come through a person. And it's easy to dismiss the messenger 'cause the messengers are all fractured. But we need a God perspective in our hearts, in our lives.

May I ask just a couple of quick questions? Whose voice are you listening to? Whose voice are you listening to? The logical? The educated? The sophisticated? The successful? The wealthy? The influential? Do they pursue holiness and righteousness? Whose voice are you listening to? What are you striving for? What are you striving for? We're in the midst of a conflict, that's a different season. The boundaries are different. The responses are different. What exactly are you striving for? You trying to get back to where you were? What's the outcome of the direction you're pursuing? The question of the day is, have we forgotten God?

I want to give you a couple of options. It's a contrast between two choices, unlikely choices, both biblical characters, both with tremendous pedigrees of faith, but their outcomes are gonna diverge widely. One is Solomon, the third king of Israel, the wisest of all the Israelite kings. Now, you should know this, Solomon was a king. Saul, the first king of Israel, was chosen by God, but he was ruling over a group of loosely affiliated tribes who had never had a king before. And there was no established governmental system. There was no central authority. There was an anointing from God, but Saul was in the deep end of the pool and he wasn't a great swimmer. And he lost his humility, and he lost his anointing. He was followed by David. David was more of a strategist, but David was a warrior at heart.

And he had the force of will and the determination and the relationship with God and the direction of God that he consolidated a nation, but Solomon was born to the purple. He was born in the palace. He's the first of the Israelite kings that you can speak of as a true ancient near Eastern monarch, an absolute authority, an unquestioned power. His word ruled. There was no court of appeal. The tribal leadership, the boundaries were redrawn. The tribal leaders were diminished in their authority.

Now, there's a central state, you're gonna pay taxes. That's Solomon's reign. He's the son of David and Bathsheba, some of you will remember. He had 700 wives of royal birth. That's biblical, 1 Kings 11 said he had 700 wives of royal birth, 300 concubines. He had 700 wives that had papers that said, "I'm a princess". We should just stop and pray. He had 4.000 stalls for horses, and 12.000 horses. I worked for a while at a barn where there was 200 stalls, that's a job. Keeping those rascals clean will keep you moving. Four thousand stalls, nah, I'm good.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon says of himself, "I undertook great projects. I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, a harem as well, the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all of this my wisdom stayed with me".

Verse 10 is the summary statement in all of that. "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired. I refused my heart no pleasure". He could have been a tech billionaire. I bet he built rockets. He said, "I denied myself nothing. I had everything I could think of. I didn't just have what I wanted". He said, "If I could imagine it, dream it, if I saw it, I would make one better. There were no checks and balances on my life. I'm the king of the people of God. I built God a temple". No one had ever done that before, one of the most lavish buildings ever constructed by human beings. In the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, he said, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come in the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them.' Because man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 'Meaningless! Meaningless!' Solomon said. Everything is meaningless!'"

I've heard some biblical scholars say they think it's more likely that King Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, will be in heaven, than King Solomon. He didn't end well. By the end of Solomon's reign, when his son comes to the throne, there's a civil war. The nation of Israel is divided into two. The fruit of his life was such division, such bitterness. It isn't just internal. He has poisoned the nation with it. Now, I want to contrast Solomon with the Saul of Tarsus. What do you remember about Saul? When we meet him, we understand he was educated as a Pharisee. He was a fanatical persecutor of Christians. He would put women in jail, children in jail, certainly the men in jail. He didn't think you should be free if you dared to say that Jesus of Nazareth was the Jewish Messiah. He was a Jewish rabbi. But if you had the audacity to say you thought he was the promised Messiah, Paul wanted you in a prison cell.

Then Saul of Tarsus has an encounter on the Damascus Road. He's headed to Damascus, the same Damascus in the Middle East today. He's looking for more Jesus followers. He's gonna bring them bound in chains back to Jerusalem. It's gonna be a parade, a little misinformation parade. "I've rounded up another group of those troublers". And somewhere on that road, as he neared Damascus, Jesus stepped out of eternity back into time, put Paul's nose in the dust and said, "Just exactly what is it you think you're doing"? He was a very, very bright man. He said, "Lord". Good choice, son. His life changed that day. The allegiance of his life changed that day. The focus of his life changed that day. His career was on the fast track. He had a brilliant education. He'd come to the attention of the most powerful people in Jerusalem. He'd been authorized to take the authority of Jerusalem to outlying cities and outlying nations.

He was well on his way to becoming somebody of tremendous significance. And in that one moment in the dust of that road, he completely realigned his life and stepped away from all of that momentum, and the people who had been providing momentum to his life became his antagonists for the rest of his life. In fact, when he steps out of the pages of our Bible, they have orchestrated his arrest. They've put together multiple assassination attempts against him. In fact, the only way he could secure his safety was to appeal to Caesar. There was no safety for him in Israel amongst his people. It would appear that he'd thrown his life away, that he'd cast away all of his momentum, that he'd forfeited the benefit of his education. But in reality, that wasn't true because the message that he had to share about Jesus was so powerful, so irrefutable, that it frustrated the Jewish community and it was accepted by the non-Jewish community, and that persists until today.

In 2 Timothy chapter 4, verse 6, he's in a Roman prison when he writes this to a young man he's mentoring. It's hard to mentor people from prison. I mean, your credibility takes a thump, right? Well, there had to be some truth to those accusations. They wouldn't put him in prison for just nothing, couldn't be in prison just because of what he said. "I'm already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come from my departure". He knows that his condemnation to death is near. "I fought the good fight. I finished the race. I've kept the faith.

Now there's in store for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, but not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing". Strange he doesn't sound embittered. Sounds very different than Solomon. He doesn't say, "My life is meaningless or empty". He said, "There's a crowd awaiting me that the Creator will give to me and to anyone who would join me". He said, "I've run my race. I've finished this thing. I fought my fight". What did Solomon say? "I chased a lot of pleasure. I stacked the cash. I was a king like no other". Have we forgotten God? It's worth thinking about.

We need God's wisdom to be able to invest our lives in his eternal purposes and not to forfeit our time into distractions. I want to pray for you that we'll have God's wisdom.

Father, thank you, you said when we lack wisdom, we could ask, and we ask you to help us to order our days right, that we wouldn't simply spend our time, but that we would invest it in your eternal purposes. Holy Spirit, we need your help. I thank you for what you'll do. In Jesus's name, amen. God bless you.

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