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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Understand What God Is Doing - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Understand What God Is Doing - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Understand What God Is Doing - Part 1
TOPICS: Vision

It's good to be with you again. Our topic today is "Visions of the Future". You know, God will give us insight. He will reveal to us what his purposes are for the seasons ahead of us, not just our lives. We have led a very diminished spiritual life if we've imagined that our purpose of our faith is just to receive God's blessings for us and for our kids and our grandkids. God has a bigger assignment for us. We are at the center of his purposes in the earth. He will use you to get the generations ahead of us understanding of what he plans to do. What an exciting privilege. Folks, that's more than the routine of going to church and having a polite Bible study. That's being partners with the King. We're going to look at that a little more closely. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly open your heart.

We're going to talk about visions of the future, and the real heart of the discussion has to do with our ability to see not just with our physical eyes but to understand the things of God, to see with our spiritual eyes. You see, I believe as Christ followers and as the church of Jesus Christ we should have an awareness, an understanding, an anticipation, an insight into what God is doing that people who don't serve the Lord would not have. And if we don't have that, then I think we need to try to understand our faith and to understand why. It's really the goal of this. It's not a new thing with this generation. I don't imagine that we're somehow unique, that we've wandered off the path a bit, that no one's ever done that before.

Clearly from Scripture, that's not the case. But I do know that if God provides us with an awareness of our condition he'll give us the opportunity to be different, and so we have to have the hunger and the desire to understand our condition. Have you ever not felt well but you were afraid to go to the doctor? You didn't hear what they were going to say, or maybe you didn't want to go to the dentist? Amen, brother. Right? But ultimately you know there's really not a pathway to get better until you get a good diagnosis. A good diagnosis, even if it's news you don't want to hear, is the first important step to getting better, and I believe we're in that place as the church. We need God's truth. We need God's perspective in such a way that we can respond to it and we can put ourselves in positions for God's best in our lives.

So that's our target through this little series. With God's help, we will work towards that. I want to start on Isaiah 42. The prophet is talking to the covenant people of God, and he's talking to them about their inability to see but God's willingness to help them. Says, "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known," and he's not talking about physical blindness, "along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. But those who trust in idols, who say to images, 'You are gods,' will be turned back in utter shame. 'Hear, you deaf; and look, you blind, and see. Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the LORD?'"

He said there's a uniqueness when God's servants walk in darkness. He said it's a far greater limit than just forfeiting your physical sight. "You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing". We have so much; so many freedoms, and liberties, and opportunities; and so many churches to choose from, and Christian television, and Christian radio, and the internet, and books, and Bibles, and so much; and it seems to me that we struggle to comprehend, to understand, to have insight. It's not a new challenge. In Matthew 23, Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders of his day, the generation to whom the Messiah was sent.

So there's not a shortage of a message. There is no shortage of the divine intervention of God. There's no shortage of the dramatic, the miraculous, the supernatural. It's impossible to imagine a better scenario than to be the generation that welcomed the arrival of the Messiah. Agreed? And you would expect the religious leaders, the one who studied the prophets and spent their lives in religious training and are fully invested in religious service, to be the most welcoming of the group. So if you look to the world today, you'd look at the nation with the greatest freedoms and the greatest liberties and the most churches, the most access to the Word of God and you'd think that would be the place where the Word of God would be alive and vibrant and the people most enthusiastic and most yielded and most submitted to the Lordship of Jesus.

Listen to what Jesus says. Matthew 23, "You blind fools". People say to me, you know, "Jesus was all about love. He was a hugger, you know. Just had a big heart and welcomed everybody". Well, I'm thinking if you were in this conversation with him, when he looked at you and said, "You blind fools," that was not just, like, a warm kumbaya moment. "Which is greater; the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred"? I mean, he was coming for them, it's a larger context, and he didn't relent sentence after sentence, moment after moment in public. He didn't take them in the quiet place over on the side. He took them on in public and said, "You're a bunch of blind fools. You're blind guides. Don't follow these people," he said. Jesus.

In Matthew 23, "You blind guides. You strain out a gnat but you swallow a camel". So can we establish the point that it's been a challenge for God's people through the centuries, through the ages, different settings, different historical contexts, different political environments? All sorts of things changed, but the covenant people of God, the people that were walking in the greatest revelation of truth that was available to them found themselves spiritually deaf and blind. So I think we have to pause for a moment and say, "Is it possible? Is there any degree to which that could be said of us"?

You know, it seems to me that our nation has been on a pathway leading away from a biblical worldview for several years. It's not something that's happened in the last year, or with the last election, or with the last few election cycles. This isn't something urgent that has happened to us. We may have approached something of a tipping point, but it isn't new. The church or the community of Christ followers, whichever label you prefer for God's people, I would submit to you have been willing co-conspirators in what we have watched happen. This has not been done to us. Darkness does not overcome light. The only way for darkness to increase is to diminish the light.

So we have to have the courage and the boldness of soul to look at ourselves and say, "The circumstances which we find ourselves is every bit as much self-inflicted as something that has happened to us". They told us some time ago not to speak about our faith; that we shouldn't take our faith into the public sphere, to the marketplace, or to the corporate boardrooms, or the corporate settings. That wasn't the appropriate place to talk about Jesus, or to pray out loud, or to discuss our faith or what we believe how that impacts our world.

We were told to leave that out of the halls of the hospitals, or the courtrooms, or the classrooms of our children. Wasn't welcomed in the halls of academia, and the reason we were told this was that someone might be offended. And if you dared to transgress that suggestion someone would be offended, and they would raise their hand and there would be a microphone provided and they would say, "I was offended," and the message would be reiterated, "You shouldn't do that. It's inappropriate. Stop doing that". We were told we had no right to push our beliefs upon someone else.

Now, here's the awkward truth. We complied. We politely and rather demurely yielded to evil. We took our faith out of those places. We took our language around our Lord away from those settings. We made our faith a private thing. We thought, "Well, as long as we can gather inside our church buildings and talk about what we believe, surely we'll be okay". Well, today, some decades into this debacle, we find those same settings, the marketplace, the corporate settings, the halls of authority and power, are being dominated by a worldview that is unacceptable to Christ followers, and it's being expressed with a very aggressive advocacy for adoption of the prevailing worldview in all of those settings where they told us not to use our voice. Our children's classrooms, the halls of academia, the corporate settings have all become platforms, pulpits, if you will allow, for the proclamation of a worldview that stands in opposition to that of a Christ follower.

In fact, if you oppose this new orthodoxy, you'll face removal from the public square, legal threats. You'd be threatened with financial ruin. Well, may I ask a question? Whatever happened to the notion that one's personal belief shouldn't dominate the public square for the vantage point where I stand today? And this is upon, it's much upon me as anyone else. We were foolish. We were foolish and we will not get to a better place until we recognize that. I think it's time for us to speak up. The litany of what we're hearing is not always immoral. Sometimes it's just illogical because once you separate yourselves from the moorings of God's truth and you begin redefining words and terms and expressions you lose your boundaries. Not all truth is subjective, and it becomes easier to be deceptive and to tell a lie than it does to tell the truth.

I made a list of some things we hear. And they're not all moral issues, but they all certainly have implications for our lives. It's time to speak up. The truth is open borders do not reduce poverty. In fact, the case for our own nation, they will increase it. Electric cars. And I don't oppose them. If you have one and you want to give it to me, I'm all in. No problem with that. But just for clarity's sake, they are not an expression of renewable energy. Think. It takes a fossil fuel to make the electricity to drive that battery-operated wonder. And it may prove to be a better mousetrap, but it's not about environmental support. Your biological sex certainly is not confusing and it really isn't difficult to determine. And if there's confusion around it, that is a very difficult place.

And I have tremendous compassion, but it shouldn't be unleashed or expanded. There is no free. There just is no free. Someone has to pay. Abortion, honestly it really is the termination of a human life. It isn't confusing. We need to go. Liberty and freedom, liberty and freedom come from God; they don't come from governments. In fact, the history is very clear. Governments consistently, governments of every stripe, governments with different languages from different continents, governments reduce freedom and liberty. Now, today we are witnessing the intentional dismantling of the values and behaviors which have provided our liberty and freedom. Open borders are being promoted no matter the consequences. The onslaught of transgender confusion upon our children is being mandated by an ever-increasingly authoritative government system.

Folks, it is unacceptable that our elementary children would be subjected to training in gender fluidity. It's evil, but in all fairness we created the vacuum. We took our faith out of those places. We stepped away. We didn't have the courage to stand. We wanted the approval. We didn't want to forfeit an opportunity. We didn't want to be called a name. This is on us. Don't be angry at somebody else. You can't remove something as ungodly unless you replace it with what is godly or you'll just get something worse. If we don't have the intent to take our faith back into the public square, don't grumble about the ungodliness you see. It's serious.

Financial responsibility has delivered, our financial irresponsibility has delivered double-digit inflation. Internationally it's even worse. We're realigning global financial practices that will leave us as a poorer people. It's not talked about, but it's happening day over day. The decline is precipitous most prefer not to notice, and the part that's most awkward to me is the strange silence of the church. We're not in a political battle. This has been taking place for a long time. It's a spiritual struggle and the church, God's people, I promise you are the key. Don't feel powerless or unimportant. Your choices matter and what we choose to do in this season will make a difference.

And I want to take a few minutes and talk to you about godly vision; the ability to see, to have a spiritual awareness. It's about understanding spiritual realities, what really are the possibilities of God in the life of a person, what is the majesty of the king we serve. We've lost sight of these things. We're deaf to them. We've traded them away in the market of public opinion. We'd rather be seen as chic, or fashionable, or affluent, or successful, or well-educated than people of faith fully yielded to Jesus of Nazareth. And we'll point to our church attendance or some moral scorecard that we don't think we violate too grossly, but we've lost our vision.

I want to use Abraham for just a moment. He's a remarkable character. Does anybody happen to remember which book in the Bible you meet Abraham? We meet him in Genesis. It's the book of beginnings, but it's in Genesis chapter 12. Very near the beginning of the story we're introduced to Abraham and throughout Scripture Abraham becomes the father of our faith, the epitome of a man who believed God. So he's mentioned both throughout the Old and throughout the New Testaments. In John chapter 8 Jesus is speaking, and he's going to speak about Abraham. So I think he's telling the truth. I trust Jesus to tell the truth. Can we agree? Okay. Says, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad".

Jesus is alive on planet Earth with an earth suit thousands of years after Abraham lived and Jesus said, "Abraham saw my day. Abraham understood I would stand here, and he rejoiced in it". That has to kind of settle in for a minute. Abraham had a vision, an insight, an understanding. You see, the sight we need for our lives goes beyond our physical sight. Your physical sight is of great importance, but of equal importance is your ability to understand, to see with your spirit, to see with your heart. We have lost that. We are the people Isaiah was talking about, but God extended to that generation an invitation and, I believe, is extending one to you and me.

In Acts chapter 7, it's the story of the church. It's unfolding, and we're going to step into the middle of a scenario. Stephen, a critical component of this emerging church in Jerusalem, it's growing so fast that they can't keep up and the apostles appoint some people to help them, and Stephen is one of the young men selected. We're told he was a man full of faith and the Spirit of God, that God did remarkable miracles through Stephen's life. And he's engaged in presenting the gospel in the streets of Jerusalem and he's going to receive an outcome not unlike our Lord's. He's going to be murdered in the city of Jerusalem because of his testimony for Jesus. And so the entire seventh chapter of the book of Acts is devoted to the presentation Stephen made. Think of that.

How many characters in Scripture have an entire chapter devoted to one of their presentations? Not very many. He's a young man. I want you to note what he said about Abraham. It's Acts 7 and verse 2. "To this he replied: 'Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham.'" That's the defining characteristic. The God of glory appeared to Abraham. Abraham saw the Lord. He saw his purposes. He saw his agenda. He understood that there was more than just a ritualistic nature to his faith. The God of glory appeared to Abraham. We need an appearance of the God of glory, but listen. He goes on, he says, "While he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 'Leave your country and your people,' God said. 'Go to the land I will show you.' So he left the land of the Chaldeans and he settled in Haran. And after the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you're now living".

God didn't tell him to take his father and Lot with him. Abraham didn't get it all right. In fact, maybe before we're done with this series, we'll look at some of the struggles that Abraham had. God told him to leave his family and to go to a new place, and he participated kind of. He took his father and he didn't make it all the way. He stopped partway until his father died. And he completed the journey, but he still had Lot. I heard one biblical scholar say that Lot was a lot of trouble. That's true. "After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you're now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground". God said, "I'm going to give this territory to you and your descendants forever". But it's worth noting that in Abraham's lifetime the only part of the Promised Land that was ever technically his was a burial plot and he had to purchase it. When he died, the fulfillment of that was still a promise to him. God said, "You walk this land and where your foot lands I will give it to you". But it was going to be inherited by a later generation.

Do you have the courage to serve the Lord so the generations who follow you will have a better life than you have, or have we become so self-absorbed, so self-centered, so me first that our faith is entirely about realizing the benefits and let the next generations struggle for themselves? "But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess that land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. God spoke to him in this way: 'Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they'll be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.'" What's he talking about? Egypt. "Your descendants would go to Egypt". Abraham saw the horrible suffering of the Hebrew slaves. He understood what would happen to them.

"'I'll punish that nation they serve as slaves,' God said, 'and afterward they'll come out of that country and worship me in this place.' And he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision, and Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. And Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs". It's safe to say that Abraham saw the whole panorama of redemption. He saw the whole thing. It's staggering. The glory of the Lord appeared to Abraham and his faith was so remarkable he saw the redemptive intent of God. Jesus said, "Abraham saw me". God showed him their slavery in Egypt and their deliverance, that they would return to this land to worship him. Would to God that most Christian believers had that same understanding, that we could look beyond ourselves and our immediate desires and preferences and see the purposes of God that are in front of us and live in such a way that they might be fulfilled?

Abraham had a heavenly vision that brought the motivation to his life and his great faith. Thousands of born-again believers have little, if any, awareness of such an idea of a heavenly vision. I want to pray for you today, that the Spirit of God will let that grow within us.

Father, thank you that you love us and that you've called us more than just to be birthed into your kingdom but become citizens of that kingdom. May it grow within us. May it explode in our hearts in Jesus's name, amen.

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