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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - There Is A God - Part 1

Allen Jackson - There Is A God - Part 1


Allen Jackson - There Is A God - Part 1

It's an honor to be with you again. Our topic is, "There Is a God". It's such an important idea. If we will accept the premise that there is a God, by definition, we are creatures. And the Scripture, the Bible, then, becomes a journey to understand the character and the nature of God, not to disprove something; to try to understand who he is and what we would need to do to flourish in his presence. If God spoke our world into existence and sustains it by the authority of his Word, then it's just a logical next step that it's in our best interest to understand who he is, his character, and his nature. It'll go better for us in time in our journey under the sun and it'll be better for us in eternity when we meet the Creator of all things. There is a God, and here's the important part: he can be known. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.

We have to be more spiritually aware. We can't combat spiritual things with just intellectual approaches. Now, I'm not against intellect or education. I happen to be a great advocate for all the above. Get all the education you can afford. But at the end of the day, we need to be comfortable in the realm of spiritual things, and I think we are much less so. And I believe that because it seems to me that since we were introduced to COVID, there's really not an adequate explanation for what's happening in our world apart from spiritual things. They're illogical and they're stacked one upon the other until there's so many of them that if you're trying to formulate a logical response to the lack of, the things you're seeing, it's just terribly disorienting and confusing. But if you have a spiritual filter to look at what's happening in the world, there is a clarity that comes from that. It's like putting on glasses.

If you need them and you don't have them, the world's a little fuzzy, but when you get the corrective lenses, everything comes into clarity in a hurry. And that's what a spiritual worldview will do for you. A biblical worldview will bring some clarity to things that just seem confusing and hazy and disconnected. Your good news list, are you still working on that? We forget God's deliverances. You need to keep a list of the good things God is doing in your life personally and beyond us in our culture. My good news list keeps growing. Truth, it seems like to me, is breaking into the public square on a daily basis; things that for months, and months, and months they were saying, "You can't say that. It's misinformation," now they're going, "Well, I guess we got a study that says that's true". Hallelujah.

Now, there's not generally a press release or widespread coverage, but it's the truth being told. God is moving on our behalf, amen. But I think it's important for the body of Christ wherever to be aware of what God is doing. And the reason it's important is we're not finished yet. You know, the places in our Bible where we read of God's intervention, those supernatural stories, those miracles and healings and all of those things, we tend to focus on the supernatural part, the God part, the amazing part, but those have to be lived out in a context. The circumstances that lead up to that are often extraordinarily difficult and oftentimes the follow-up on that is not as simple and as neat and as clean as we would like it to be. We just look at the yay God, and kinda gobble it up and move on. But when you live through that, it's more about a relationship with God than it is just an event.

The event is often a course correction or an adjustment or a breakthrough into understanding God and the new way, or for readjusting habits, or retooling patterns, or breaking you out of a routine that wasn't as fruitful as it might have been. But the after impact of that is so important. I've suggested it to you for months and months, but I still think it is incredibly significant that we be watching and listening to the world around us. You don't need a lot of news. A little bit will go a long way, but you need a little bit. You need to be watching and listening to what's happening in the world. You need to think. Turn your brain on. Don't just accept what you're told; think. Common sense is not so common. And then we'll have to act on it. Not angry, not violent, but watch, listen, think, and act.

As I reflected on that in preparing for the weekend, there's so many things happening around us, you just, you can just pick a slice, but one thing to me that seems to be growing in expression that I think really is spiritual, it's being given expression in other ways, is authoritarianism. There are more blatant expressions of authoritarianism right now in our world than we are accustomed to seeing. Now, we have seen authoritarianism. I mean, there's a rise, and an ebb and a flow in that throughout history, but right now it's not ebbing. There were times when, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall," meant there was freedom coming to nation-states across the globe. We're not in one of those seasons. In fact, there is very little restraint being demonstrated these days. You put your finger on the globe and that's true.

Russia, in many ways, but most recently with ambitions towards Ukraine. You've heard enough about that. China, they're hosting the Olympics right now, but they have an abysmal human rights record and blatantly, openly expressed ambitions towards Taiwan, threatening the freedom of that tiny island. They have a very intentional expression, you see it with just a casual glance at the news, to control the narrative around their nation. Even US politicians are warning our Olympic athletes not to criticize China. I wish they had the temerity to tell them not to criticize the nation that's sponsoring them. But it's not just other places in the world. When I say authoritarianism seems to me to be on the rise, it's on the rise in the United States. It's more blatant than any time in recent history.

The refusal of our leaders, and this is not a political issue 'cause it's true across the board. The refusal of our leaders to close our southern border in spite the wishes of the American people, it's just unimaginable. Two million people streaming across that border illegally. The drugs, the destructive things that are being unleashed on our nation while our elected officials refuse to respond to the will of the people. That's not the way the system is designed. We're sending troops, equipment, and money to protect a Ukrainian border, but we're determined to leave our own border open. But it's not just there. COVID mandates. When we first heard about COVID-19, there was so much that was unknown. There were choices made for the public health while we learned, but we're not in that season anymore and we're still battling mask requirements and vaccine cards and restrictions on travel.

For the most part, it's not science-driven. It's about blatant expressions of authority. Viruses aren't different in Tennessee and California. We have a scientific community. We have a medical community. We should be able to tell the truth. And when we can't, it's for fear of authoritarian influences. Jobs are threatened. Careers are threatened. We hear it and we shrug our shoulders. Well, it's not my job or my career. Wrong answer. Censorship has become commonplace in this nation. Misinformation is just no longer tolerated, we're told. It's comical. You can't say something in public unless it's correct. Really? Misinformation must be silenced, canceled, discredited. Well, just exactly who gets to decide what is appropriate for discussion? We'd like to meet them. Will they please stand up somewhere? Whatever happened to the free exchange of ideas, free speech, the right to peaceful assembly? Had a good example lately, and it wasn't an idea that I particularly agreed with but it was another egregious affront to this.

Whoopi Goldberg, she has a right to an opinion. She made some rather uninformed statements regarding the Holocaust, but she's been suspended from broadcast for two weeks. Now, I don't agree with her comments, but I will support her right to express her opinion. That's the world we have lived in previously. Not so much these days. We cannot quietly submit to the thought police even if we think it's for a good cause. And don't focus on Hollywood or Washington D.C. or New York or the power of the epicenters of the broadcast. Think about it in terms of your social network, the people you're close to. Do you have the courage to tell them what you think? We have yielded for too long. We've winked at ungodliness and wickedness and greed and immorality. We just didn't say anything. We like 'em. They're good people. They may be good people, but they're doing wicked things. You better use your voice.

Our silence at the local level is just being reflected at much higher, more powerful levels. Censorship and propaganda and authority and control over free speech and thought is unacceptable in this nation. And if we accept it, it's on us. Well, what can we do? We can use our voice. Start in the place where you have influence. We are witnesses to a spirit gaining influence. It's not about a nation state or an economy. It's a spirit. It's global. It's being expressed across cultures, across languages. It's being given expression in the most unique ways. It's like water finding holes that it can penetrate. It's not a great stretch of the imagination from where we stand right now to consider a global leader who appears to solve problems asserting authority over the nations, right?

Or out of that, the formulation of a global economy or a currency. All those things are foretold in Scripture. They are on the menu, but they also accompany a time of big trouble for the people of God. And please don't imagine that your escapist theology will mean it's not relevant for you. I want to ask you to take a few sessions with me. Let's keep learning about spiritual things. We have been woefully under-informed. And we've been churched, and many have been saved, and many have been baptized, but we are unprepared for spiritual activity. And so I'm inviting you to purposefully, the beginning of this year, to begin to say to the Lord, "I would like to walk with you in some new ways".

I wanna start in Joshua chapter 24. I wanna start with our Scriptures in Joshua 24. There's something of Joshua's final instructions to the people. Now, I want to remind you a bit. Joshua is Moses's successor, which means Joshua began his life in the brick pits of Egypt. Joshua is the last of the 400 years of Hebrew slaves. He was familiar with the lash of the Hebrew taskmasters. He was familiar with what it meant to have no personal autonomy. He no doubt heard the rumblings when the message began to spread through the people that Moses has walked in out of the desert and he said we should pack our bags. Joshua becomes his aide-de-camp, his assistant. He's mentored by Moses. He assumes the role of leadership after Moses's death. And now we're at the end of Joshua's life.

So again, Joshua begins his life as a slave. He knew Egypt. He made the journey through the wilderness. He heard the spies say, "We can't do this". He pled with them, "Don't say that". He said, "The same God that delivered us from Egypt will deliver these Canaanite cities into our hands," but the people wouldn't listen. So for 40 years, they made a circle in the desert. And then he led the conquest, Jericho, and city after city, the dividing up of the land. And now Joshua was about done and he has a message for the people. How many of you would like to hear that message? From slave pits, to a failure of faith, to a conquest, now Joshua's gonna say, "Let me tell you what I learned".

There are very few people in human history that saw the change that Joshua saw, the transformations that he saw, the miracles that he saw, the expressions of the power of God that he saw. He's worth listening to. It's worth meditating on, far beyond our little bit of a time together. Joshua 24:20, "If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and he'll make an end of you, after he's been good to you". That is a sobering sentence. He said, "If you forsake the Lord and you seek other gods, he will turn and bring disaster to you. He will make an end of you, the same God that was good to you".

This is not some theoretical theologian. This isn't somebody that came down from some ivory tower after he researched a 100-page paper. Verse 21, "But the people said to Joshua, 'We will serve the LORD.' Joshua said, 'You're witnesses against yourselves that you've chosen to serve the LORD.' 'We are witnesses,' they replied. 'Now then, throw away the foreign gods that are among you.'" You have got to be kidding me. They carried foreign gods through the Red Sea. They picked up manna every day and had breakfast with a foreign god around. They carried those same foreign gods across the Jordan River when it was backed up and they entered the promised land. They carried foreign gods as they marched around Jericho for seven days. When they gathered at Shiloh to have the land distributed amongst the 12 tribes, they brought their foreign gods.

Now Joshua's at the end of his life and he said, "Now put away the foreign gods that are among you". If there's a big picture point to us, folks, don't imagine you made all your God choices when you made a profession of faith. Don't imagine that you did all the heavy lifting when you repented that first time. I'm grateful for, I believe in the new birth, conversion, salvation. Very, very important, but we have business to do with God today because we're not finished with this journey yet. There's challenges in the earth we haven't seen before. We need expressions of the power of God that we've never needed before and we can't just be telling our story from 50 years ago. "'Yield your hearts to the LORD.' And the people said to Joshua, 'We will serve the LORD our God and obey him.'" Covenant made.

Throughout Scripture, the reason we read our Bibles, the reason it's so important, through Scripture, God's character is made known to us. That's how you get to know him, not from sitting in church. We're not that focused. We're not that good of listeners. I mean, a lot of reasons. I'm not throwing stones at you. It's not unique to us, but the reason we read our Bible is to get to know the character of God. It's a learning opportunity. It's not presented to us as a menu list. This isn't like DoorDash or Grubhub. You know, where would you like to order from? Which set of rules feel good to you today? Well, I don't like those. Let's not look at the Old Testament. They seem to have a little, they're a little more prickly. Let's turn over here to the New Testament. That's not what it's about at all. It's that we might know the character of God. Who is he? Joshua gave us a clue. He said, "Listen, if you forsake him, if you walk away from the Lord, he will come for you".

Whoa, that's important to know about God. It's given to us for our preparation, for our information, for our illumination. In the simplest of terms, there is a God. There is a God and he can be known. It's amazing. He's not unknown. He's chosen to reveal himself to us. But fundamentally, establish it deep within you, there is a God. It's worth walkin' around for a few days, just saying it to yourself over, "I believe there is a God". Actually, I do. I think there is a God. There really is a God. There is a God. When I'm done here, I'm going to see it. There is a God. He's gonna ask me what I did with my days under the sun. There is a God. He has an opinion about what I do with my time. He's talked to me about my thoughts. He's talked to me about my resources. There is a God.

Folks, if you interview the church, we're not even good on this one. I don't mean just our community, but the broader church. We have learned so much in the last two years about COVID, so much we didn't know two years ago, how it spreads or it doesn't. They called and asked us at one point if we'd be willing to care for the children of essential workers in our community because they knew we had children's spaces and we said, "Yes, we would do that". And they said, "Well, can you write the protocols for that"? So we were tryin' to gather all the information that was known about COVID at the time. They said, you know, you couldn't wear your shoes into the children's spaces because the virus would live on the soles of your shoes for as many as seven days. It was the best information we had at the time, so we wrote all the protocols.

We've learned a lot about COVID since then, its symptomology, et cetera. We didn't get to vote on COVID. We didn't pull some group of people and say, "All right, let's get together and decide what the properties of COVID should be. Really shouldn't bug the kids much. Let's just all agree, kids will be influenced in much less significant ways". That's not how that happened. COVID existed and then we had to discover the properties of that virus, right? Is that what you've lived through? God is not, there is a God and he's not gonna change his responses based on your emotions. "Well, you know, I just don't much like that". Bless your heart. You know, if you're a church person, our go-to is, "Well, you know, let me tell you what I believe".

Don't you know before God makes a decision, he gathers the angels? Before we act in the world, could we review one more time what Allen believes? I promise you that meeting does not happen. There's a God. He can be known. Look at Daniel chapter 2. You know Daniel, one of our heroes. A slave all of his life. Difficult life, almost constant antagonism. His antagonists were not fair. They weren't just. They were immoral. They were wicked. They were ungodly. And yet Daniel continued to choose the Lord. It's amazing to me. The king has asked for an interpretation of a dream and he said, "If you can't tell me the answer in the morning, I'll kill you".

Most of us would have spent that night talking about how unfair the king was. Daniel spent that night seeking the Lord to know what the dream was. His response, "No wise man, enchanter, magician, or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he's asked about, but there is a God". There is a God. I know it's so simple, but it's a very, very, very, if you will accept this as a cornerstone of your life, it will change everything about you. There is a God. You can't fool him. You can't con him. You can't throw a fit that will bend him. You can't accumulate enough people to vote with you that will cause him to change his mind. There is a God. Brought you just one verse from the Psalms. We could've, Psalm 58, "Men will say, 'Surely the righteous are still rewarded; and surely there is a God.'"

Joshua is one of my Biblical heroes. He began his life as a slave in Egypt, and at the end of his life, he's the leader of God's people as they occupy the promised land. God entrusted him with that amazing assignment, but it wasn't easy. You know, between those two bookend events, he's Moses's protege in that journey through the wilderness, his understudy, so he sees the Ten Commandments, the manna, the golden calf, the refusal to go into the promised land. He has to spend 40 years in waiting because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of his own generation. It's not an easy story.

Well, it's important to me because most of our life stories are not perfect. No, our lives by our own choices or the choices of evil in other people may have diminished us. And we think because of that block of time, we have forfeited what God created us for. Well, Joshua reminds us that that's not true, that God writes our story and he'll write the ending to honor himself. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you that you're the Author and the Completer of our story; that evil doesn't define it. If we've made choices, that through the blood of Jesus, we're set free. I thank you for that deliverance. In Jesus's name, amen.

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