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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Time To Lead

Allen Jackson - Time To Lead

Allen Jackson - Time To Lead
TOPICS: Leadership

It's good to be with you again. Our topic in this session is "Time to Lead". Folks, in my opinion, we have a leadership deficit in our nation, and I'm not talkin' about Washington, D.C. I think we have to start in our own hearts, in our own churches, and I'm not even pointing at the pulpit. You know, in most cases, the unofficial leadership in the church is far more significant than the official leadership, and we need the opportunity to lead and for the cause of Christ. Leadership is about influence. It's not about titles, positions, nameplates, benefit packages, it's about influence. Are you using your influence for the sake of the kingdom of God? And here's a clue, I'm not talkin' about using it someplace else, not using it at the church or in a committee meeting or a board meeting or in the office place. It starts around your kitchen table. It starts around your holiday table. Are you taking the influence for the kingdom of God? Do you have the courage to take those values and talk about it within your family system? It's an important time. It's an important lesson. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.

But leadership is a necessity. If we're to see the purposes of God break forth in this generation, we've gotta stop waiting for somebody else. We've gotta stop waiting for another church or a more anointed pastor or a more anointed speaker or a different political party or a different something or other. We've got to be willing to say, "If there's a difference to be made, I'm willing to be a part of that". If we'll make that decision, I believe God will move. Ezekiel chapter 22, God is speaking to the prophet, "'I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I wouldn't have to destroy it, but I found none. So I'll pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done,' declares the Sovereign Lord".

It's a pretty sobering passage to me. God said, "I looked for somebody. I searched the people to see somebody who was willing to take a stand to use their influence on behalf of my purposes, and I couldn't find anybody". I'd like to rewrite that. I'd like it to be said that the enemy looked for somebody who would take a stand on his behalf to give demonstration to evil and wickedness and ungodliness, but he couldn't find anybody because everybody's hearts were so fully devoted to the Lord. You all are pretty quiet. I think that's a pretty good scenario to begin to imagine. I think it's time to stop moaning about the rise of wickedness and evil and ungodliness and start to light the fuse on goodness and godliness and righteousness and purity and holiness.

They're values that we wanna see upheld and values that we wanna see grow and values that we wanna see flourish, which mean we'll have to turn away from them, and then we'll have to be so excited about our turning that we tell somebody else, that we'll see God looking at us, going, "I'll stand there. I don't know. Maybe I can't occupy a very big gap, but I'll stand in this place, Lord, if that's where you want me to stand. I'll stand here". God is searching for men and women. I think Proverbs 29, in verse 18, is a pretty accurate description of our current landscape, "Where there is no revelation". Some translations say, "Where there is no vision". They both work, "Where there's not an awareness of the things of God, the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law".

Here's the alternatives, the one yielded to God, who chooses to live in holiness and righteousness and purity, or the one who can't see any God perspective. "It's not apparent to them, so they cast off restraint". Traditions won't hold them. Laws won't hold them. Rebellion takes hold of them. You see, we need a demonstration of godliness as an invitation to others. The front door of invitation towards the kingdom of God throughout scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, isn't a theoretical presentation. It's a demonstration of the power of God, and when that power is made evident, people move towards the Lord. "Where there is no vision, we cast off restraint". Is it accurate to say that, in our nation, to a great degree, we have cast off restraint? Seems like that, to me. We don't wanna be inhibited any longer.

I read an article in the last, I guess it was today, yesterday or today, where the people said, "If the Supreme Court rules against our will, we will not be governable". That's a public declaration of rebellion. "We'll only obey the laws that we like". I don't know why we're surprised. We've been descending into lawlessness for quite a while that Jesus told us it would happen. He told us it would happen. He said, as we approach the end of the age that the increase of wickedness would become so intense, so prevalent, that the love of most would grow cold, that lawlessness would escalate. "Lawlessness" is kind of a fancy word for "rebellion," but we see it in our nation. It's growing, day over day, rebellion against authority, a refusal to yield to almost any authority. We don't even wanna yield to parental authority over children.

Understand, if they can separate you from the most fundamental expressions of authority in your life, then we will have cast off all restraint. Don't forfeit your well-being to the government. The government is not God. I'm grateful for good government, but you should never confuse the two. There is a God, and we serve under his authority. And even more, I think a more frightening perspective from history is that a government apart from the influence of godly people always moves towards greater expressions of authoritarian control. The only barrier against that is the force of the Spirit of God that's expressed through godly people because human beings, apart from the Spirit of God, do not treat one another equitably. We don't live in peace.

Human history is a broad canvas displaying that very fundamental reality, and if somebody is telling you that your community, your school, our nation, any place will be better separated from a God perspective, they are deceptive. We've seen this lawlessness growing. Sanctuary cities, not a new thing. It's been going on for quite a while now, what, way over a decade. Cities in our nation ignoring federal law, refusing to enforce federal law, yet they demanded federal funding. We've been watching for several years now, it's reaching something of a crescendo but illegal immigration pouring across our Southern border now, tens of thousands of people on a weekly basis. The operative word in that is "illegal". I'm an advocate for immigration. We're a nation of immigrants. We don't come from a single place. We don't look the same nor sound the same. We are a melting pot. What's bound us together was a set of values, but we have a process for legal immigration.

Illegal immigration is just as troubling as an illegal withdrawal from your bank. If they wanna change our immigration policies, we have a process for doing that, but if those that are in charge of our government can ignore the laws, they can ignore the same laws that protect you and me. We've watched a growing call to defund the police. Lawlessness, even when we see the outcomes, the rapid increase in violence in our cities, those that were calling for the diminished in-presence of the police are not willing to link the two. We've watched an increasing politicization of our military.

Folks, the military is not a social experiment. They have a primary job is to defend our nation, and if we plunge them into political correctness, they'll fail in their primary mission. And now we see it reaching something of a zenith with the decision of a Supreme Court being leaked in advance of the release of the decision so that public opinion can be expressed to try to change the minds of the justices. It's a very flimsily clad attempt to bully and intimidate our judicial system at the highest levels. And now we're seeing, in major cities across our nation, gangs and mobs of people wreaking havoc day over day. Are you watching? Lawlessness is growing.

Proverbs 29, again, said, "Where there's no revelation, where there's no vision, the people cast off restraint". When you believe the consequence is real, you'll cooperate with guidance. You see, when what's being delivered to you, when you believe it's truthful, you're far more likely to cooperate. The best example that we've had in recent memory was COVID-19. We believed the threat, so we sheltered in place. There was a few weeks around Middle Tennessee where there was no traffic. It was a wonderful time to go for a drive. It may not have been very healthy, but it was certainly liberating. We believed the information we were given, and we cooperated. Well, I would submit to you that we, as the church, have lost sight of the consequences of godliness and ungodliness. Somehow, they've been conflated. They've been mixed up. We've imagined that the outcomes are really not that different, that it won't make that great of a difference if you're godly or ungodly. I can be ungodly and just say, "I'm sorry".

Folks, you can't mock God. You can't be a Christ-follower, present yourself as a believer in Jesus and as a part of a community of faith and practice ungodliness without a consequence. On the other hand, we have good news for people that aren't Christ-followers, and they're trapped in the domination of ungodliness and the dissatisfaction it brings. The power of sin over their lives can be broken, but the church has to have the clarity to understand there is a very real consequence between godliness and ungodliness. I would submit to you, we need greater clarity in our heavenly vision. Remember the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray? "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven".

People say to me a lot, "You know, Pastor, if I knew what God's vision for me was, I'd be all in". Let me help you, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". That's our assignment. Whatever little poor corner of the place he's planted us, to the best of our ability, "Let your will be done. Let your will be done in my home, let your will be done in my neighborhood, let your will be done in the place where I work". Now, we'll need God's help to do that 'cause we're limited and frail and broken and inconsistent, but, you see, a heavenly vision is a life assignment for every Christ-follower. Any further insight beyond that is really dependent upon your obedience and mine.

Why should God give us any further insight until we're willing to be obedient with the truth that we know? God's not gonna present you with a menu. "Well, I'll take a little bit of one and four and eight. Two, three, and seven are a bit intrusive, and I'm not sure I believe them". God won't do that. When we begin to respond enthusiastically to the truth he's given us, he will give us greater insight. We need a vision beyond ourselves.

Look at Acts 26. Paul is reciting the story of his conversion. Many of you know it. He said, "I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' 'I'm Jesus whom you're persecuting.' And the Lord replied, 'Get up and stand on your feet. I've appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you've seen of me and what I will show you. I'll rescue you from your own people and from the non-Jews. I'm sending you to them to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven".

Paul is telling his life story in terms of an awareness, a revelation, an insight, an understanding. I wanna suggest to you that you and I wanna tell our life story in terms of an understanding, an insight, a revelation, a vision, more than we tell it in terms of a degree earned, a profession chosen, a level of affluence secured, that we want our journey through time to be defined by a vision of the purposes of God. Now, it can be told in the context of a profession or a family or the pursuit of other things, but the dominant characteristic, the primary attribute is the fact that "we wanted to see your will be done on earth as it is in heaven".

We've had a heavenly vision. I think it's important to have a heavenly diagnosis. I grew up in a medical household. My dad was a veterinarian. I used to play this little game when I was a kid. He would invite us to go along with him on calls or when he was gonna see an animal, and there was always that point where he'd meet the owner, and they'd begin to describe whatever they'd observed, and then he'd wanna go see the animal and do his own evaluation and all of that. I was just an observer. So I started playin' this little game while I'm listening to the person tell the doctor, and then he goes and looks at the animal, and I'm watchin' what he does. In my head, I'm tryin' to get to the conclusion before he tells me what he thinks it is.

So I learned this little habit of trying to move through a flow of information towards a diagnostic conclusion. It was just a game. I'm not a doctor. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. You don't want medical advice from me. But a heavenly diagnosis is when God looks at us and tells us the truth about our condition. It's not always fun, but it's the necessary step in being healthy. In Revelation chapter 2, it's a message to a church in Thyatira, and "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and your faith, your service and perseverance, and that you're now doing more than you did at first".

That's a pretty good response, "I know your deeds, I know your love and your faith, I know your service and your perseverance, and you're doing more now than you did at the beginning". That's a pretty good evaluation, isn't it? Right? I mean, if the Lord said that to you, how many of you'd go, "Oh, yeah, I sure am," but he's not done. He said, "Nevertheless, I have this against you". And I want you to hold that for just a minute. The Lord can say things to us that are very affirming and encouraging and strengthening, but he loves us enough to say, "but there's an adjustment to be made".

See, we've morphed God into this kind of a mash-up of the fairy godmother and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and he's just loving. He just wants to hug us. He just wants to give you an "attaboy". And it's true that God loves you, but it also means he loves you too much to leave you at a place beneath your potential, and just like he knew Jeremiah when he was knit together in his mother's womb, he knows you. And don't reject the correction or the rebuke from the Lord. I'm not talkin' about from me, but have your heart open when the Lord begins to talk to you and says, you know, "What about that? What about that attitude or what about that response or what about that habit"? It may not be a sin of biblical proportion and that it's listed someplace, but "Your time and energy and effort and the ambition of your life is being taken away from me".

God says to this church, "I have this one thing against you. You tolerate that woman Jezebel. She calls herself a prophetess. And by her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols". We meet Jezebel as a Phoenician queen in the Old Testament. She's not Jewish, but she's an immoral, lustful person of tremendous influence that does her best to disrupt and destroy the purposes of God, and what God says to this church, in the midst of these wonderful statements of affirmation of love and faith and good deeds and that they're more on fire than they were at the beginning, he said, "You have tolerated in your midst the propagation of immorality and wickedness and the diminishment of the things of God". And he said, "I won't accept that. You've got to deal with it".

And from my vantage point, my opinion, the church in our nation has tolerated sexual immorality. We have tolerated wickedness. And in many respects, we have been tolerant while others were intolerant of God's people. We didn't stand up for them. If someone was suffering a consequence because they prayed in a public place, we would shake our heads and say, "They should've known better".

I'm sorry for when I've been quiet. I should've known better than to be quiet. I should've stood with my brothers and sisters. We need God's prayers in our schools. We need God's prayers in our courtrooms. We need God's prayers in our surgery centers. We need God's prayers. But I wanna ask if you'd be willing to say a quick prayer with me of repentance, that we've been a little smug with our previous successes and blessings, and we have had a reluctance in our heart to acknowledge evil. We didn't wanna be offensive. We didn't wanna be rejected. We have tolerated what we know God won't tolerate. We don't have to be angry, but we have to be willing to tell the truth. Does that feel right to you?

Folks, we need a God change, and he will change if we will change. So I wanna offer one more prayer of repentance, and then I'm gonna pray for you. How many of you'd say, "Pastor, I think that's right. I need some of that in my heart"? Okay, I'm not gonna ask you to stand just yet 'cause I'mma get you up in a minute, but this is a prayer you can take away. You can just quietly say to the Lord, "Lord, I'm sorry". You know, maybe you wanna spend a whole day with one of those points. "Lord, I'm sorry. I have been far too aware of the good things you've done and the victories I've had and the good choices I have made, and I've pointed to that path with an arrogance and a pride, and, Lord, I'm sorry because I'm in a place today where, where I've been is not nearly as important as where I know I need to go. Give me a new vision, Lord. I'm sorry for my pride".

It's so easy to do. Religious people get proud in a hurry, me included. It was Jesus's most persistent, adversarial response. The people would come to him, and they said, "We're children of Abraham. What do we need from you"? You could spend a day with that, and you can pick up the other one. "Lord, forgive me for when I've been tolerating wickedness. I've tolerated it close to me. I've tolerated it in myself. I've tolerated it in the people I love. I didn't wanna tell 'em the truth because I was afraid it might disrupt a dinner conversation or might affect a holiday meal".

Folks, we can't ask people to lead us on a broader scale towards God's truth if we're unwilling to own that truth in the places closest to us. It's not fair, it's not appropriate for those of us that are the church to ask God to raise up leaders that will speak the truth in broad platforms if we're not willing to speak the truth in those places where he's planted us. We're gonna repent those two things. Will you just bow with me?

Father, thank you. Thanks for your Spirit that brings conviction and truth and awareness and understanding, and, Lord, we pause tonight to say we're sorry for our pride and our arrogance for pointing out our successes to you. Lord, you are the one that's given them to us. You are the one that's brought blessings and prosperity and opportunities and abundance. You are the one that called us out of darkness into your kingdom. Lord, you are the one that has forgiven us and washed us and cleansed us and redeemed us. We couldn't save ourselves. We thank you for it.

And forgive us tonight, Lord, for our arrogance, for the pride with which we've walked before you. Give us a spirit of humility, a new reverence for you. And, Lord, we also ask you to forgive us for tolerating wickedness, for tolerating it in ourselves. Lord, we've all done that. Lord, forgive us. We turn our faces to you. And forgive us of tolerating it, Lord, wherever you've planted us, in our homes or our neighborhoods, wherever it may be. Lord, give us the courage to share your truth with your love, not in an angry way, not in a condemning or belligerent way, but help us to be willing to speak the truth. I thank you for what you will do, in Jesus's name, amen. Hallelujah.

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