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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Storms Approaching

Allen Jackson - Storms Approaching

Allen Jackson - Storms Approaching

It's Pastor Allen and it's good to be with you again. Our topic has been "Leading with Faith". We're in a leadership crisis in our nation, and I'm not talkin' about politicians, I mean from the neighborhood where we live to the highest offices in the land, there's a leadership deficit. Leadership is not about titles or offices, it's not about how many people call you boss, leadership is about influence, and ultimately it's about your character, and that begins with our faith.

So, if we want to change in leadership, we have to have a change in the effectiveness and the vitality of the community of faith in our nation, and that starts with us. Now, that's exciting. In this session, we're gonna talk about trouble ahead, storms ahead, because we're living through the midst of some craziness. And it's not about a virus any longer, or about a politician, or an election, there's something happening in our world, and below it all there are spiritual forces at work. Again, you're important. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most of all open your heart.

We are walking through a series under the general heading of "Lead with Faith". I'm of the opinion that we have a tremendous leadership deficit. Oh, we have lots of people with titles, and offices, and positions, and power, and org charts, but there's a leadership deficit. Leadership ultimately is about influence, and I would submit we have an even greater deficit in leading with faith. Because we don't need more leaders based on celebrity, or your talent, or athletic ability, or resources, or who have even managed to accumulate power, we need people of influence with a God perspective. And the real formulation of that doesn't come with a title, or a position, or your stature on an organizational chart, that really comes from the formation of character.

We have to allow the Spirit of God to let the character of Christ be formed in us in order for us to be a consistent influence for the kingdom of God. It's not about platforms, or podiums, or stadiums filled with people, or lots of followers, the influence God created you for may be a different kind of arena. It may be he's preparing you to influence some young lives who will impact the generation ahead of us. It may be he's strategically located you with an opportunity to be an influence in the life of someone else. How he chooses to use us is not our business, submitting ourselves to be leaders for the kingdom of God is our business, and we've opted out for too long.

I would submit to you that we've been interested in getting our eternity squared away. We'd say a sinners prayer, and participate in baptism, and we would share the birthdate of our conversion experience, and I believe in those things, I don't want to diminish them, but they are the beginning point, the launch point, they're not the conclusion. It should not be a point of a celebration, that the date of your new birth and your spiritual baby picture is laminated and you wear to church every week. What is God doing in your life now? It's a very important question, leading with faith. And in this particular session, I'd like to talk a little bit about the approaching storms, because I think there are some storms approaching. I am, for the most part, an optimist.

In fact, I've been encouraging you to make a good news list. One of the challenges God's people have faced through the ages, through the ages in Scripture, and right up to our days, is we forget what God has done for us. We forget his deliverances. When we're confronted with a new challenge, our immediate response is, "Well, God's never done anything for me," or, "He may have done some things in the past, but I think he's out of bullets on this one". We forget our deliverances. And so, a good news list is more than just an attempt to help you be more positive, I'm not overly interested in that. I have a great concern that we be aware of how God has intervened in every one of our lives, because he has.

So, begin that list, do it intentionally, purposefully, and review it often. Thank the Lord quietly for it, for all those places that he awakens you to his truth, that he delivered you from darkness, that your sins have been forgiven. Those are not small things. If you had to give an account for all of those and you had to square the ledgers on all of those, we would stand apart from the kingdom of God. And then you can build on that. The many times you have offered prayers, or carried prayers, or you've seen God move when you weren't wise enough to pray, when he watched over us, your good news list. And then build the good news list that's beyond your own personal life or your family, what you see God doing in the world around us.

In an age of deception, it's important to recognize when truth is breaking into the public square, and truth is breaking through in many arenas these days. The timing of it is sometimes inconvenient. I would have preferred that God's truth would have broken into the open the moment that deception was put forward, but life doesn't always happen that way. I don't know why God doesn't agree with my sense of timing, but he clearly does not always. We're working on that. There's a great deal of COVID truth that is coming forward these days, facts which would have resulted in censorship just a few weeks or months ago. They would have had you deplatformed. You would've been decried as sharing false information. They're being acknowledged as correct in the public square, like the ineffectiveness of cloth masks against this virus.

Who knew a bandanna was not a medical instrument? They're acknowledging some of the benefits of natural immunity. There's better reporting around hospitalizations. The list goes on day after day, week after week, good news. The truth is being told. It's for all of our betterment. It's not about the diminishment of anyone, COVID is real. In other arenas, it seems that the filibuster in our Congress may have been preserved for at least a season. I think that's a good thing. That at least on some level, we might maintain being a nation of laws. There are many illegal government mandates that have been reversed. There are limits to that authoritarian power. It's good to know. But truthfully, there's still a lot of challenges, old ones, new ones. We're not done yet. There's still much truth to be told.

The specter of conflict with Russia today is escalating rapidly. The economic insanity that we have been walking through continues to fester with a tremendous lack of courage to face the reality of our circumstances. Those of us that live in the real world understand double-digit inflation is coming for us. That seems less apparent in some circles. The lawlessness that we have watched for months and months with nonsensical ideas like defending the police, or reordering our authoritarian structures around social constructs is resulting in violence that's affecting us all. Not just major cities, folks, it's affecting all of us. Pray for our police officers and our first responders, they need your prayers. But it isn't just violent crime, the lawlessness is the disregard for the rule of law, and that's been expressed at the highest levels of power and authority in our nation, from agencies that we have trusted to be arbiters of what was right and wrong.

And that will have to be reversed. We'll have to have the courage to say it's not right, and there'll be consequences for the willingness to say that in the public square. I don't doubt that. Immorality and perversion seemed to grow more common every day within the church and beyond. Challenges, new ones, old ones, challenges. I've told you many times, and I'm going to continue to say it, that the solutions begin with spiritual discussions, not with elections, or political parties, or politicians. The root of this is spiritual. A strong, vibrant, and active church is essential. We're gonna have to commit ourselves to more than self-promotional banter, we've had enough of that. The root of our problems are spiritual. We have forgotten God, in the simplest statement I know, and we're gonna have to address that. We are, not someone else.

It's time to repent and believe, because the kingdom of God, as Jesus said, truly is at hand. So, the objective today is to see if we can use some familiar portions of Scripture and perhaps gain a stability in addressing them, so that in the storms that are ahead of us, we are better prepared not just to survive the storm, but to flourish. Storms come, but you can flourish in the midst of them. We do not have to capitulate. In Matthew chapter 16 and verse 1, there's a passage that's somewhat familiar if you've been around here a bit. Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders. Easy for me to say, "The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus and they tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven".

Can imagine tryin' to test Jesus? Let me go play Jeopardy with Jesus. I don't think I'd recommend it. "He replied, 'When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it'll be stormy, for the sky's red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times". Jesus is not criticizing them for their ability to anticipate weather patterns, he's just telling them they're more in touch and more aware of weather patterns than they are spiritual patterns, and he says that's to your detriment. The Messiah is amongst you, and your lack of recognition means destruction is coming. You think it's possible that a lack of spiritual awareness could mean the forfeiture of stability, and peace, and wellbeing? That's the very clear implication of Scripture.

Luke 12 is a parallel passage. "Jesus said to the crowd, 'When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites, you know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, how is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time". Jesus's desire for his audience is that they would know how to interpret the present time. Well, I have that desire. I want to know how to interpret this present time from God's perspective. I have that desire for you. Let's stay with Jesus's pattern for a moment. He said we can anticipate weather patterns far better than we can anticipate spiritual patterns. We've gained a lot of ground in our ability to anticipate weather patterns, haven't we?

Between technology improvements, communications tools, we even imagine these days we can predict long-term global weather patterns. We got whole divisions and universities around that now. And I'm not really trying to mock it, I'm telling you there's a tremendous confidence around it. I would suggest this, you can be certain of this, long-term prognostication is far more difficult than short-term weather predictions. That should be just a matter of logic. It does not seem that logical to many. Climate change understanding is infinitely more complicated than predicting when it will rain or snow, or where a tornado will touchdown. The climate is changing, but the cause and the outcomes are far more difficult to understand than we're often led to believe.

The appearance of the sky was the phrase Jesus used. We're in touch with that. We can predict patterns, we know the necessary components for certain outcomes. If it's going to snow, we're gonna need cooler temperatures and more moisture in the air. We can be aware of changes in the barometric pressure, but we still lack some predictive precision. We can't determine that it will snow 2 inches in Rockvale and 4 inches in College Grove.

Now, we know that the Gulf Coast is gonna disappear in 12 years, but you see, we're better at observing and anticipating, the precision of it lacks a great deal of clarity. But we've spent trillions of dollars and enormous resources on a daily basis, and in the course of our lives, anticipating the weather. And yet, Jesus was chastising us. We need to take his words to heart a bit more than we have. I'd like to stay just a minute longer with this idea, this notion of barometric pressure, or atmospheric pressure, they're the same thing. It describes the weight of the air which surrounds the earth.

Did you know air has weight? It does, the layer of air that scientists can measure with some reasonable accuracy extends 25 miles above the surface of the earth. The portion of the atmosphere that sustains our lives is only about a 3-mile layer contiguous with the earth's surface. The higher up you go, the lighter the weight of the air. So, we measure atmospheric pressure at sea level. How many of you have heard the idea that at altitude, oxygen is less plentiful? You don't have to raise your hands, even though I encourage you to. Lots of people believe that altitude sickness is caused by a dip in oxygen levels.

In reality, mountain towns, say at an altitude 8.000 feet, you know, above sea level, the amount of oxygen in the air is really the same as at sea level, the difference is the air's pressure and density. At higher altitudes, there's less pressure. It means less air is being pushed into your lungs, just naturally, therefore less oxygen is going through your bloodstream. You have to work harder to secure the same amount of oxygen. The standard pressure at sea levels about 14.7 pounds for every square inch of air. You can take readings, most of us are familiar with barometric pressure. The pressure itself isn't what's so critical, it's changes in that pressure that portends changes in the weather. So, Jesus was talking to his audience, he said you can anticipate changes in the weather based on your observations of the skies, but you cannot anticipate spiritual changes.

So, I want to look at some familiar passages of Scripture and see if we can grow. We're gonna talk about some changes in spiritual pressure, how to recognize those, what would those symptoms look like? For instance, things like the mark of the beast. A mark being put on every person on the planet that would impact your ability in the public square not too many years ago seemed fanciful, like something that Hollywood would do, and now we're watching it be suggested on almost a daily basis. The notion of a global economy at one time seemed laughable, today it seems prevalent. The thought that you can be prevented from buying, or selling, or traveling by some authoritarian structure on a global basis just seemed comical a few years ago, and today it seems like a very real possibility, doesn't it?

The notion of a global government or a global response used to be the stuff of cartoons, and goofy prophecy preachers, and people that you didn't listen to, and today it's being discussed on a daily basis by authority figures before us. So, it doesn't take a lot of imagination, but what is the biblical path through that? What's the appropriate response? We haven't had to pay attention in the past because it didn't seem imminent. Folks, it is, and we need to think about it a bit more. In Luke 21, we're given some counsel. We're told to be on guard. Luke 21, "Be on guard, so that your hearts won't be weighted down with dissipation, and drunkenness, and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap".

Luke 21 is a prophetic passage, Jesus is talking about his return and the end of the age. "For it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of the earth". There'll be a season prior to Jesus's return that will affect everybody on the face of the planet. Everybody on the face of the planet will be affected. "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man". So Jesus starts this little passage, or this little phrase, "Be on guard". You get this. If they tell you there's a tornado warning, you take some precautions.

Some of you go to the closet and get your pillows, others, you find a safe place to shelter. Some of you get a lawn chair and go sit and watch. But you're familiar with the concept of being on your guard. If they say there's a snow or ice storm coming, you know there's some preparations that many of you'll make. We'll cancel school for a couple of weeks. It might really happen, be on your guard. What's it mean to be on guard? Jesus said to you and me, "Be on guard". Oh, it's just words. Well, that's why we're reading the gospels for a few weeks, over and over. Look in Mark 4, it's the parable of the sower, but Jesus is referencing something very similar to what he told us to be on guard for. He said, "The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things can choke the Word of God and make it unfruitful".

Did you know that you can have access and exposure to the Word of God but it not be fruitful in your life? You can know about it, you can hear it, you can sit in a church service, you can say amen, you can collect outlines, but Jesus gave us, in this particular verse, three very specific things. He said the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for things can choke out the effectiveness of the Word of God in your life, so you want to be aware of those things and to what extent they dominate your thoughts, and your passions, and your intent.

Matthew 6, Jesus again, similar theme, "Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear?'" We talk about storms ahead, how much of your energy is focused on what we'll eat, what we'll drink, or what will wear? I think we call that prepping, and I'm not really opposing that, but if you're spending all your time and energy on supplying food, and water, and clothing, you're not listening to Jesus. He didn't say those things didn't have merit, or value, that they're not necessary, he said there's something else we should consider as the primary point. "The pagans," he said, "Run after those things. Your Heavenly Father knows you need them, but if you'll seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, then all these things will be given to you as well".

See, if you will seek my kingdom, I will see to it that those needs are met, wow. "Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". We started this with Jesus saying, "Be on guard," be on guard. There's some things that will diminish your ability to interpret spiritual pressures. They will distract you, they will consume you, and you will not be aware, and you will be unnecessarily vulnerable. I don't want any of us to be unnecessarily vulnerable. But that's not the only place Jesus said we needed to be on our guard. In Mark 13, he said, "False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect, if that were possible, so be on your guard". This is Jesus again, "Be on your guard. See, I have told you everything ahead of time".

Now, I think we need to pause just a moment, because a casual glance and you'll dismiss this. "Well, I wouldn't be deceived by a false Christ, I know the true one". But let's think about it just a moment. Christ is the English equivalent of the Greek word "Christos," which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Mashiah, Messiah. So when we say Jesus Christ, we're saying that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, so the warning here is against false messiahs, not religious figures, not founders of a religion, not people that are worshipped at an altar necessarily, but messiahs, saviors, problem solvers, deliverers, great unifiers, people who will come with those messages and those platforms, but they're not based on the authority of God's Word, or a biblical worldview, or the uniqueness of Jesus, they are false messiahs, 'cause nothing's gonna unify humanity other than the Spirit of God.

We have thousands of years of history, it doesn't work. And the church is incredibly vulnerable to this. In fact, we're more comfortable in many churches talking about platforms for unity and cooperation. We get very uncomfortable talking about the uniqueness of Jesus, or the authority of Scripture, or allowing biblical priorities to become our priorities. False Christs, Jesus warned us. He said, "Be on your guard. False Christs and false prophets". A prophet is a truth teller, someone in a spiritual sense that's gonna give us a God perspective on what's happening in our world. But false prophets don't have to be limited to religious characters, someone that's intended to tell you the truth and doesn't is a false prophet. How many of you have had some exposure in recent months with people that you expect to tell you the truth but have not?

Jesus told us to be on our guard. We don't have to be afraid, we don't have to be threatened, we don't have to be intimidated, we need to be aware and prepared. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you for your Word, for its truth, and authority, and power in our lives, and I pray that you will awaken us to those things that we need to be cognizant of. Help us to be prepared to take our place in this season, in Jesus's name, amen.

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