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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Storm Prep - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Storm Prep - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Storm Prep - Part 2

It's good to be with you again. We're doing a study on "Have We Forgotten God"? It's an idea I borrowed from a Solzhenitsyn lecture some years ago at Harvard, but it's an important question for us. There's a lot of pressure right now to rewrite our history. It's true with our national history, but it's also true with our biblical history. They'll find some dark chapter in our past and tell us because of the failure of that season or the failure of our character at some point, that it discredits our story as a people. That type of investigative journalism would disqualify all of us. It's unhelpful, it's unhealthy, it's destructive. If we forget the stories and the lessons of our past, we're doomed to repeat them. We need to be informed by our history but allow the Spirit of God to help us write a better future. In the book of Hebrews it says that Jesus is the author and the completer of our story. With the help of the Spirit of God and the truth of God's Word, we're going to chart a course for God's very best in your life. Enjoy the lesson.

I want to shift to Hebrews chapter 11. It's our hall of fame. It's the listing of the most remarkable men and women of faith. It reminds us of some of the things they have done ahead of us. In fact, in that 11th chapter, more than 12 times it says to us something was done by an act of faith. What part of your life is a demonstration of faith? And why is it we've allowed our conversion to be described in that way, but not the life we lead after that? Again, I believe in conversion, but I believe the point of being birthed into the kingdom of God is so that we can grow up as Christ followers, and that's going to take a consistent, persistent expression of faith, decision built upon decision, built upon decision. It's not a singular decision. It's like imagining I could be healthy if I eat one healthy meal.

Thank God I got that out of the way. Now start up the fryer. I want to do this as practically as I know how. What I want to ask you to do with me is let's try to imagine what faith activity might look like 'cause I don't think we have good imagination. I'm not asking you to preach sermons or to build church buildings. But what would real faith activity amongst us look like? We need some of that. We've had too much worldliness, too much secular activity, too much governmental activity. What would faith activity look like? We have some words where it would be a revival. Well, okay, but that word is so used. Has a revival started? I don't know. Is there in Ephesus, when there was a revival, when there was a moving of the Spirit of God, they came together and burned millions of dollars of things they had used for wickedness.

In the public square, they were associated with their ungodliness. In the public square, we hide it. We don't want anybody to know when we're delivered from ungodliness. We're offended if someone would share it, because we understand to agree with gossip and backbiting flourishes within the church. If you're a bearer of tales, get on your knees. The Bible says the judgment for that is right there next to murderers. If you assassinate people's character with innuendo and suspicion, you need to put your face on the ground before the sun goes down and say, "God, I am sorry". And if you wrap it in a prayer request, you'd better get that prayer back out tomorrow. Folks, it's not the world that has to be different. It's us. I think if we'll peek into Hebrews 11, we can get some ideas.

In verse 4, it says, "By an act of faith". These came from The Message. So, if it sounds a little contemporary English, forgive me. Some of you dream in the King James. And I'm not opposed to that. Verse 4, "By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. And after all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice". You see, what you believe about God determines what you bring to God. This isn't that complicated. If you believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and that he's generous, and that he likes to bless his people, you'll live a generous life. You'll bring obedience to God. If you believe God is omnipotent, he is all powerful, and he's omniscient, he knows all things, you'll bring your best obedience to him.

If you think he's not paying much attention, he's going to grade on a curve, I could just say, "Oh, God, I'm sorry". Change authority structures for a minute. Put back in the terms of perhaps your place of employment, and it was discovered that you'd been stealing. Not an enormous amount. It's just a few thousand dollars a week. I mean, after all, the company was prospering, business has been good. I read a statement, one of the most successful business people in the nation made this week. He said, "Lately, money's been raining on fools". So, maybe you've just been borrowing a little bit, and it's exposed, and it comes out. So, you think you can walk into the office of whoever your supervisor is or to say whoever, and say, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I needed it. I know it wasn't a good idea, but at the point in time there was some real pressures in my life, and you understand what pressures are. No harm, no foul. I'm gonna stop next month".

Folks, we do that to God almost every day. We treat him not as if he's the Creator of the universe, as if he couldn't find the universe. We're pretty sloppy, pretty casual. What we don't understand about our Bibles is not our problem. It's what we don't do that we do understand. What you believe determines what you bring to God. If you're not leading a generous life, why? I assure you your security in the future has far more to do with your obedience to God in generosity than it does with your savings. I could give you historical example after historical example where every effort you can make to secure your finances can evaporate within 24 hours. But God's faithfulness doesn't evaporate.

Verse 5, "By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely". Well, there you go. "They looked all over and couldn't find him because had taken him". I love that sentence. "Where'd he go? Has anybody seen Enoch"? There's a little post-it note on his Bible: "God got me". We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken, he pleased God. What does faith look like? It means you got up today, and you said, "God, I'd like to please you today". What would that look like? I'm not gonna give you a list. I would ask you to start to talk to the Lord about that. "Lord, what would it look like for me to please you"?

What I have discovered in my own heart and in the lives of other people, sometimes we have an awareness of what might be pleasing to God. We just don't want to think about it. I traveled a little bit this month. I have avoided that studiously for a long, long time. I did some pastors conferences. I spoke to some people. 'Cause I really felt like the Lord put that in front of me. There's not much down time on those trips, and you speak to a group of people, and you get in the car, and you leave, and you don't see them again. And for me, that's not the most fulfilling part of what I do. I've done life with a group of people for a long time. I'm dedicating babies of people whose parents are married. I mean, I was six, and they got married at eight, and they had kids at nine. And you can do the math on that, but it's possible if you do the math just right. But I also had the sense that maybe the Lord wanted me to do that.

And I thought, you know, if you come into the building, I can tell you what I want to say. It feels like home field advantage. I can tell you the truth. And when they said open the windows and let somebody beyond the building, you know, I thought, oh, wait a minute. I don't want to do that. Everybody will think I'm nuts. I'll bet you've got a little bit of an idea what God might be... what would be pleasing to him. It might be inconvenient or uncomfortable. I mean, you have to work a little extra or make a little extra effort or be a bit more vulnerable than you would like to be. You'll know what that is. Verse 7, "By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land".

Think he got talked about? What do you think the social media posts around Noah looked like? "He was warned about something he couldn't see". So are you. We've talked a lot about what Jesus had to say about this season. Very plain words, very plan language, just as plain as what he said to the disciples about what would happen when he got to Jerusalem. Well, "Noah was warned about something he couldn't see, and he acted on what he was told". The result, the result, you need to read that next sentence. His family was saved. He acted on a warning he had from God, even though he couldn't see it, and the result was his family was saved. Don't tell me how much you care about your family, if you're not encouraging them to be godly. It's inconsistent.

Folks, this is the church. Have we forgotten God? Have we imagined God's just an add-on, kind of a bolt-on after the fact, an upgrade? His family was rescued. Folks, our families are broken. This is our watch. We haven't protected the children. I don't just protect my children. We have to protect the children. Verse 8, "By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God's travel to an unknown place that would become his home. And when he left, he had no idea where he was going. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city". That's a little tricky there to keep your eye on the unseen, "a city with eternal foundation, a city designed and built by God. Abraham said yes to God's invitation to go to an unknown place".

Sounds like COVID season to me. "We're moving". "Where are we going"? "I'm not sure, but we can't stay here". "How come"? "I'm not really clear". "Where are we going"? "I haven't gotten that part of the map yet". "What are we doing"? "Moving". "I don't want to move". "I understand, but you can't stay. Well, you can stay, but you can't stay and be obedient". Some of us have made the trip with the parking brake on. I mean, we've been moving, but there's that aroma of burning rubber. All right? And it's clear that we're not just rolling freely, and it's taken a lot of effort to get us down the road.

Let's take the parking brake off, folks. God, wherever you're going, we want to go, with enthusiasm and joy. "Well, the recipes were better in Egypt". "Yeah, but the dinner meal was not so great". "I don't like manna". "Well, okay, but the Lord provided it, so maybe we should eat it and say thank you". God sent Moses, Abraham, somebody. Abraham said yes to God's invitation. I want to be guilty of that. We keep a tradition of truth, but we have to have a container that fits the hand of every generation, and we've confused sometimes the container with the larger objective.

And finally in verse 11, "By faith, Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the one who made a promise would do what he said". Sarah became pregnant with a promise. Biology wouldn't do it, biology wouldn't do it. We pray for one another frequently here. We pray for the sick. We pray for the discouraged. We pray for those that feel helpless and powerless, 'cause there's a power greater than our physical power. That's what we believe. It's the story of our faith, that God created the heavens and the earth. It's the opening sentences, and the closing sentences say that Jesus our Lord comes back as the judge of all the earth and establishes a new heaven and a new earth.

Have we forgotten God? He's bigger than our worship services and our favorite songs or our style of worship. Imagine your faith activity. You wanted an incubator for that. You want it to be growing and burgeoning. You want new expressions of it. You want it to multiply. It'll be awkward. It's gonna be inconvenient. Everybody won't cheer. Some people say, "Well, you know, I don't like that new pattern. I don't like that new", I got it, I understand. Me, too. But let's go anyway. Let's go anyway. "Abraham, offer your son". "Whoa, what's this? No". There's a promise attached to that kid. Somebody get some firewood. Somebody put some fire together. Isaac, load the donkey. We've got a trip to make. Have we forgotten God? "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature". He didn't say they'd have a parade everywhere we went.

Back to the book of Acts, they had a riot most places they went. "Well, I don't want to share my faith. People might be offended". No kidding. "If I talk about my faith at my family gathering, somebody's gonna be unhappy. It's gonna be disruptive". Duh. You know, we say, "Well, the point is we're just together". No, that's not the point. If we're together, and we promote wickedness and ungodliness, we're not helping. Imagine your faith activity. My time's up. The end of that chapter gives us a pattern. I think I made the phrases bold in your notes in those verses. It describes those people of faith. It says they hadn't all received what was promised. There's a part of our journey through time that will not fully understand nor experience the promise of God.

In Philippians chapter 2, it tells us about Jesus' choices, that although he was equal with God, he didn't consider something equality with God something to be grasped. So, he laid aside the majesty of heaven, and he participated in the incarnation. He became one of us. The Creator became one of us, and then he became obedient even to the point of death. And at that, it was death on a cross. It wasn't some noble death saving a friend. It wasn't some celebrated expression of his life. He was publicly humiliated, tortured almost to death, and then executed as a criminal, being ridiculed and mocked by his enemies. And then the next word is "therefore". Because of that, God exalted him and gave him the name that's above every name.

The Jesus story cannot be understood only from human history. You have to believe that there's life beyond your earth suit. And your God story won't be understood fully in your journey through time. Oh, God, his blessings will come to you, and his faithfulness will be evident. I've lived long enough. I can tell you that God is no man's debtor. You will not regret what you invest or give of yourself to the Lord. But the fullness of that response will not be known in time. That's why Paul could say from a Roman prison cell, with his ministries that he's planted struggling, he can say, "There's a crown of righteousness in store for me".

Have we forgotten God? Do you think the goal is what you're going to do in time? I'm grateful for the journey, and I want to get everything out of it I can. I'm not going to the sideline. Each one of these people's died in faith, not having yet received the full promise, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it. You have to thank about it. You have to think about it. They tell me the great athletes anticipate what they're going to do before the physical activity takes place. They tell me that business people have a vision, an insight, an understanding of what the goal is before they go track it down.

Why are we such sheepish people of faith? "Well, I won't believe it until I see it". Well, you probably won't see it. "Well, I don't want to be one of those emotional people". You're telling me that when an athlete stands and imagines that he can do something that's impossible for mere normal people, there's not some emotion in that? They express a lot of emotion when it happens. What have we done to ourselves? They saw it. And then it says they were transients. They accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. This wasn't their final resting place. This wasn't the final evaluation of themselves.

And then in verse 16, it says they were after a far better country, a far better country. God created this world, that everything that's in it, for our enjoyment. It's an amazing place. In another realm, I trust I will get to see a great deal more of it. In this particular season I have chosen to do my best to honor the Lord, not perfectly, Lord knows. But there's something better. Hebrews 6:12, I don't think I put it in your notes, but it says, "We don't want you to become lazy, but to imitate those with who faith and patience inherit what was promised".

Folks, you can't be a lazy Christ follower. And then it says in verse 16, that last phrase, "You can see why God is so proud of them". Don't you want to live a life that makes God smile? When the Lord sees you, don't you want him to turn around to Gabriel or Michael and give them a high five. Here they come. They made it! When he sees you, you don't want him going, you're gonna see him one day. Do you know that? The Lord Jesus, nail prints, you will see him. He's gonna say, "How'd it go? What'd you do with that opportunity I gave you? How'd you do in that office where I planted you? Whew, that was a group of folks where I put you. How'd you do in that school where I asked you to teach? Woo-hoo, did you have a kettle of fish, but I knew you could handle it. And those kids I entrusted to you, ah, I got them off out of the difficult pile".

You're gonna see the Lord one day. Are you living like that, or have we forgotten God? Stop stewing over Washington. Stop gnashing your teeth over who's elected. We'll have different people in positions of authority when we have different hearts. Until then, we're gonna just keep getting people that reflect our hearts, maybe not the hearts we show in church, but our hearts. Boy, isn't that awkward? We can figure out how to secure our kids and make our places safe and lead lives that are fruitful and productive, if we will determine that we're gonna honor God again. We're not powerless. The one who made heaven and earth is watching over us, church. We have to decide that we would rather please God than ourselves. Hallelujah, it is really good news.

I brought you a prayer, and I built it out of Psalm 77. So, I gave you the verses, 'cause I messed with them a little bit to get it into some readable format, but you've got the passage. So, I'm gonna ask you to stand with me. We're gonna read this prayer together. It's a proclamation, a declaration over our lives. I could pray for you, but it's far more powerful as we learn to pray the corporate prayers of God's people. Amen. Have you found it? Good. Let's say it together:

I will remember the deeds of the Lord. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, oh, God, are holy. What God is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles. You display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. I boldly proclaim you are my rock and my redeemer, my hope in you alone, amen.

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