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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Time For A Change - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Time For A Change - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Time For A Change - Part 2

It's an honor to be with you, we're going to continue our study on "Time For A Change". We're going to look specifically at Amos and Hosea, two of the minor prophets tucked into the last part of your Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible. I'd like to call them the last chance prophets because their message to the Jewish people was, "This is your last chance, judgment is coming". Now, I don't pretend to be a prophet, I'm a pastor, but I think that America is facing a last chance, the church in America, not the political parties, not the university professors, the church. We haven't protected our unborn children, we haven't protected the family, we haven't protected our schools. We've argued more about styles of worship than we have spent energy exerting the lordship of Jesus. Now, God, in his grace and mercy, has given us an opportunity to humble ourselves and seek the face of the Lord. I believe if we will do that we will see the deliverance of our God. It's not somebody else's problem, it's you and me, and our willingness to change. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, most of all, open your heart, God is moving and I wanna join him.

If I had to hang a label on Amos and Hosea, to their audience, they were the last chance prophets. They said, "You better listen to us or judgment is coming". And in this case, judgment meant they were gonna lose their homes, they we're gonna lose the land, their inheritance, their children are going to be slaves in a foreign land, it is not a bright future. Amos is a little more direct, Hosea is a little more emotional but they share a message and they share a tone, and the samples are brought are predominantly from Amos, but that's just a timing factor, we may come back and get some more over the weekend. Amos chapter 3, beginning in verse 14, "On the day I punish Israel for her sins".

Do you have an imagination God will punish us for our sins? I hope you do, not because I hope that he does, but if you don't imagine that he'll punish you it brings a recklessness to you. There's a consequence for ignoring God, there really is. And I know that's not a popular message and I know we don't think of that, you know, in broad terms, but we just can't ignore God any more than you can ignore gravity or you can ignore the rules of physical health. You know, you can eat a sloppy diet and it won't destroy you day one or day two or week one or week two but it will destroy you. And you can be sloppy spiritually and it won't destroy you day one or day two or week one or week two but it will destroy you. And this is God's message to his covenant people, not to the Pagan nations.

"On the day I punish Israel for her sins, I will destroy the altars of Bethel; the horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground". "The horns of the altar," is a phrase that's used throughout the Old Testament and it's usually referencing strength. For the horns of the altar to be cut off, your strength will fail, the things that you've thought made you strong and brought you vitality and independence, the things you've depended upon, they'll be cut off and fall to the ground. "'I'll tear down the winter house along with the summer house; and the houses adorned with Ivory will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished,' declares the Lord". He's talking to a group of people who it's very clear imagine themselves to be affluent and independent and enjoying some very good things, they can point to their prosperity. And God said, "On the day when I punish you, none of those things will make a difference, they'll evaporate before you". Not a threat, it's an awareness.

Next chapter, chapter 4, he says, "Hear this word," and I know you've just read this but just humor me. "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria". The northern part of Israel, you may have heard it in the news from time to time, the Golan Heights are the mountains that would go right up to the border with Syria. It was where they would graze the cattle, it was cattle country, rainfall was limited but there was enough to grow grass. And so when they talk about the, "Cows of Bashan," it's the biggest, healthiest, strongest cattle were grown in what we call the Golan Heights, Bashan. And it says those cattle from Bashan are on Mount Samaria, they brought them further south.

"You women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, 'Bring us some drinks!' The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness: 'The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. You will each go straight out through the brakes on the wall, and you'll be cast out,' declares the Lord. 'Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings, boast about them, for this is what you love to do,' declares the sovereign Lord". It's an indictment, God says to them, "You have the religious pretense but you lack the intent". If I had to put it in the plainest of Middle Tennessee language, "You have all sorts of religious activity, but you're carnal people, you don't intend to be holy before the Lord".

I read this and I think, "God, I've gotta be different, I've gotta change, I have to change". And then God gives them a series of warnings and its abundant in this chapter, I brought you the whole chapter, that he's seeking a response from his people, listen to the language. "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and a lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me". I interrupted your supply chains, but you didn't care. "'I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; and another had none and dried up. People staggered from town to town for water, but they didn't get enough to drink, yet you haven't returned to me,' declares the Lord".

My blessings were not applied evenly, I was trying to get your attention, one place would prosper and another wouldn't, so you'd just move from one place to another to find prosperity, but you didn't return to me. Sounds a lot like us, we will migrate to a state that looks better, but we don't get on our faces and say, "God, this is us as a people". I joke, a lot about the free state of Tennessee, but Tennessee won't be free if the United States isn't free. So what happens in New Jersey, and Ohio, and California, and New York affects us. We can't act like we're separate. We'd better put our faces on the carpet and say, "God, help us". "Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you didn't return to me". "I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. And I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you haven't returned to me".

We're humiliated internationally by what happened in Afghanistan, we abandoned our people. Our young men and women spilt their blood and made the ultimate sacrifices to serve on our behalf, and when their service was not honored we blamed somebody else that we didn't agree with. "You didn't return to me". "'I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning sticks snatched from the fire, yet you haven't returned to me,' declares the Lord". Verse 12 is the punchline, "Therefore". You know when you find a therefore and you want to find out what it's there for? It's a summary statement, "Because of all the things I've just said". "This is what I will do to you Israel, and because I'll do this to you, prepare to meet your God".

I don't know about you, he's got my attention at this point. "He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places on earth, the Lord God Almighty is his name". God said, "You're gonna have to deal with me," and I think that's precisely where we are, we're gonna have to deal with God, we are. Not some other parties, not some politician, not some scientist, not some organization, not some other church, not some other denomination, not somebody else, we're going to have to deal with God. We're going to put our faces on the ground and say, "God, we intend to honor you". Amos 6, "Woe to you". I grew up in a barn, you know, "Whoa," W-H-O-A? it means stop, W-O-E means something else, W-O-E means, "I'm about to come upside your head".

Oh, it's okay, you never rode a horse. "Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come"! He's addressing a group of people who are complacent in Zion. Zion is the most comprehensive name for the people of God in the scripture. You're complacent in your place amongst God's people, you think you're good to go, pretty much unassailable, you've checked the boxes and done the right things and were pretty comfortable in that seat. "Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, you who feel secure, you notable men of the foremost nation. Go to Kalneh and look at it; go from there to the great Hamath, and then go down to Gath and Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror".

Your complacency brings near a reign of terror. "You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and you lounge on your couches. And you dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on your musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you don't grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you'll be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and your lounging will end". My summary on that is that they're religious but they're not submitted to God, people of the covenant living in the right land, keeping the right holidays. Externally they looked pretty good, but God said, "You're really not submitted to God, you're not subjects of his will".

If I could help us re-imagine what it means to be God's people, we are subjected to his will, his will matters to us. There are times God's will is not comfortable to me, I don't like it. I don't want to forgive, I don't want to serve, I don't wanna be generous, I want to be selfish and get even. There are times you pull out in front of me with your car, I'd love to hit you. Right? I'd like to hand you a card and say, "Not today," then back up and hit you again. And that's just the example it's okay for me to give. But I choose, and I have to choose it every day, and I choose it imperfectly but I keep choosing it, to submit my will to God. It isn't easy but it's important, it is important.

So what's the resolution? Hosea chapter 10, "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, break up your unplowed ground, for it's time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. But," it's a negative conjunction, he's gonna tell us the alternative. He said, "But you have been planting wickedness, you've reaped evil, you've eaten the fruit of deception". Folks, our lives are filled with it. We didn't get here by accident, we were distracted. "Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated". Verse 12, to me, is the key right now, "Seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you". Keep seeking the Lord until, don't stop until.

I remember years ago, my dad was trying to teach me to work and to finish a job. I said, "Well, you know, how long do I need to do this"? "Until you're finished". I hated that answer. Right? "How much hay do I have to pick up"? "All of it". "How? I'm tired". "So"? "My friends aren't doing it". "I could care less". "It's not fair". "Tough". "I'm underpaid". "Uh-huh". I couldn't come up with an excuse that could change the equation and we're not gonna find words that will change the equation, we're gonna have to seek the Lord until he comes. "Well, when will he"? I don't know. "How far away"? I don't know. "How dark"? I don't know. "How difficult"? I'm not certain. Are you willing?

"Break up your unplowed ground," there are parts of our lives that we have not exposed to the Lord, we didn't think we needed to. We'd said the sinner's prayer, we've done baptism, we've been relatively good people, we've kind of had a general moral code that most people would go, "Okay". But there are parts of our lives we had no intention of yielding to God, breaking up, allowing the Spirit of God to actually dictate. And seeking the Lord means we're gonna have to stop compartmentalizing, segmenting, withholding our lives or our stuff. "Break up the unplowed ground," am I willing to do that? I'm not pointing a finger at you, I'm talking with you because we're going to do this together or we won't make the journey. "Break up the unplowed ground. it's time to seek the Lord".

We'll, "Reap the fruit of his unfailing love," he's faithful, we have been unfaithful. We see people that are worse than us or more ungodly than us or more wicked than us and we think it's their fault, but all around Israel were nations that were far more pagan, they were committed wholly to the idols that Israel was only partially committed to, but God expects something different of his people. We're the messengers, we're intended to make the ungodly jealous because the blessings of God upon our lives and the relationship with God make us distinctive. And they'll come to us, not because we point our finger at them in criticism but because the good things in our lives will draw them to the Lord.

So our compromise and our wickedness and our ungodliness diminishes the purposes of God. And he loves us enough, he starts with, my dad didn't make everybody learn to get the hay out of the fields, just his kids. The neighbor kids didn't seem to bother him, 'cause I'd point at them, "Look at them," "They're not my problem". And God loves us enough, he said, "I won't leave you alone, I will not leave you alone". We go, "That's not fair," and he goes, "Hmm". "Hmm," that's a Hebrew word, not really. Isaiah 45, last verse, "You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the Lord, have created it".

One of the most hopeful verses in all the Bible to me. God created the earth to bring forth righteousness, he did, we messed it up but he created the earth to bring forth righteousness. When he looked at it at the end of Genesis, he said, "It's very good, everything I've done". And he says that if we will seek him, that righteousness will rain down, the clouds will shower it down, and the earth will open wide, and salvation will spring up, and righteousness will grow with it. Wouldn't that be wonderful to see? So are we willing to seek the Lord? Are we willing to repent? Are we willing to keep seeking God until he brings a spirit of repentance to us and we stop thinking about somebody else that needs to be different and which party's wrong and which politician's messed up and which news network's evil and which organization makes us the most angry and which international group of people are the biggest problems?

Stop. If God's people will humble ourselves, God will move heaven and earth. He can save with a handful, he can save by his own strength irrespective of us but he loves us too much to step away from us. I brought you a prayer, we've prayed it before, it's not new, it's taken from Daniel chapter 9, you remember Daniel's story? He's a slave in Babylon, spends his whole life as a slave, but he discovered from the scripture that it's time for the Jewish people to go back home.

In Daniel chapter 9, he prays. What strikes me is, even though Daniel's a godly man, a man that the scripture said is highly esteemed by God, when he prays he includes himself in his prayers of repentance. He says, "We have sinned, and," "We have been stubborn," and, "We have been rebellious". He doesn't pray about the stubborn and about the wicked, he says, "God, that's me". And I'll give it to you as a prayer to pray, I think tonight I'd like to pray with you if I may. But I give you Daniel's prayer because, if you want a starter set to start to light the fuse on what this lesson really represents, I think that prayer is a wonderful point of ignition.

We'll start there, I trust the Holy Spirit to give you the next step. We've got the perfect number of people here tonight, the perfect number of people engaged either in the house or with us digitally, to start an outcome that could bring sweeping change our world, to see Jesus honored in our public schools and on our college campuses, to see business done with integrity again, to see God's idea of family celebrated in public, to see morality honored amongst God's people again. Amen, hallelujah.

Why don't you stand with me? There's room for us all down front, there is, but I don't want anybody getting that close. How about if we kneel? if you'd like to. If you didn't come dressed to kneel, that's okay, and if your physical apparatus does not include kneeling that's okay too. But you know, prayer is not just words, prayer is posture. The reason we bow our heads and we close our eyes is a physical expression of respect. And kneeling means the same thing, it's universal, it's an expression of submission, and one of the things I think we need to do is submit ourselves to God.

So, Father, I thank you for your Word and its truth, and your people. I thank you that you love us. Lord, you have blessed our lives so abundantly in so many ways and we pause tonight to acknowledge you, to thank you for your grace and your mercy and your love. And I pray that you would help us to hear that which is appropriate for each of us tonight, and that which isn't, Lord, let it just fall to the ground. But that which is, I pray that you'd give us no peace, Lord, that it would stay in our awareness, that you would keep it alive within our thoughts. Lord, show us what it is you're asking us to do, what it would look like for each of us to seek you in a new way, to yield to you more completely and more fully. Lord, not to be more religious or to keep more rules but to truly yield our lives to your authority and your lordship. Forgive us when we've accommodated evil or we've tolerated wickedness. Forgive us when we have been unforgiving and judgmental and harsh and angry, when we have been instruments of hate and destruction.

Father, forgive us. We come tonight not to point a finger at another but to ask you to help us. Lord, we recognize the need for change and we offer ourselves, may it begin within our hearts. Lord, we're not demanding something of someone else, but we're asking that you help us. We want to seek you, we want to know you more completely and more fully, with greater truth and greater transparency than we've ever known you before. Holy Spirit, help us. If there's anything within us that is harmful or hurtful, where we have tolerated things that separate us from your best, make them clear to us. May we have willing spirits to lay them aside.

I thank you for what you're doing. Lord, we are a people in need of renewal and awakening, we're a people in need of cleansing and refreshing, and we ask you tonight to let that begin with us. Lord, may it grow far beyond us, may it sweep across our congregation and our community and our region and our nation. May it go even beyond that. May your name be lifted up in the earth, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven and the name of Jesus be exalted. Let righteousness reign upon us. Lord, let the fallow ground, the ground that has been unfruitful, be broken up. May a new harvest of righteousness come forth from our lives and in our midst. We praise you for it and we thank you for what you will do. In Jesus's name, amen, hallelujah.

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