Allen Jackson - When Revival Comes - Part 2
Hey, it's an honor to be with you again. We're gonna continue our discussion of "When Revival Comes". You know, when the Spirit of God begins to move, it very seldom fits into the neat box of anticipation that I have held. You know, I typically know who I think should be saved or who would be the first to repent. And God seldom moves in the way I would imagine. It's been my story from the beginning of my journey until today, I was the least likely candidate to be a pastor. I didn't even like church that much. And I've spent decades of my life serving in the church. I didn't like TV preachers, and here I am. God tends to call us to the unexpected because God isn't limited to my imagination or my previous experience. He's the creator of all things. His Spirit is moving in the earth. Say yes to him. He has a good plan for you and a good purpose for you. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.
Well, I can tell you that what's in front of us is beyond what we could dream. And it is going to come and I tell you that from Scripture, and I can give you an almost unlimited, we could spend days on this. But in John chapter 7, and verse 40, Jesus is speaking, he said, "On hearing his words, some of the people said, 'Surely this man is the Prophet.' Another said, 'He's the Christ, the Messiah.' But still others asked, 'How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived? And the people were divided because of Jesus".
Some said he's a messiah. And some said he's a prophet. And some said, "You don't know your history, the Messiah's gonna come from Bethlehem". But they didn't know all their history. And the outcome is there was just confusion and division. Well, you would think if the Messiah was there and raising the dead and opening blind eyes and dancing on the Sea of Galilee, that everybody would be going, "That's the man right there. Behold the man". But no, they're bickering and arguing, and they're arguing from a scriptural position. The division was so deep, it says that someone had to seize him. "We gotta shut this guy down. What he's saying is so wrong". And as we walk further into this move of the Spirit of God, I believe we have to anticipate the unexpected.
1 Corinthians chapter 1, and verse 25, "The foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength". There's so many things these days that want to capture us with the wisdom of men. I love technology. I'm not opposed to it. I'm grateful for all the opportunities that gives us. We can minister to more people in a week now than in all of the years that preceded the week in which we just ministered, and we can do that because of technology. So I'm not opposed to it, but I believe that technology is when God gives us glimpses into his wisdom. I think technology is misunderstood when we use it to idolize one another. And I think God's wisdom is greater than mine.
That's why I will submit myself to the authority of Scripture. That's why I'm willing to hold to ideas that I know there are many voices these days that are, say, quaint or outdated. I hear Christians saying, "We're evolving in our thinking". It makes me a little uncomfortable. Look at Jeremiah 10, and verse 12. It says, "God made the earth by his power; and he founded the world by his wisdom and he stretched out the heavens by his understanding". That there seems to me there's a very clear distinction between God's power and God's wisdom and God's understanding and my power and my wisdom and my understanding. You're gonna to have to decide which you will yield to, which you will yield to.
What is it that you imagine will secure your future? There are many biblical scenarios that I simply could not have anticipated that are unexpected to me. No matter how many times I read them, when I read them, I still go, "You know, I didn't see that one coming". That's not the way I would have written that story. I wouldn't have sent Samuel to anoint David to be king when he's just a kid, knowing he's gonna spend almost two decades living as a fugitive because of the threat that was posed to the existing king because the same man that anointed Saul to be king comes anoints David to be king. That's a threat! I've just have waited to send Samuel to anoint him the day before he really needed to be king. Why make him live in the desert as a fugitive? I don't know. But there's a God, and it's not me. Aren't you relieved?
But see, I don't think we really spend that much time thinking about Jeremiah was called by God to deliver a message to a nation, and the outcome of that is he was reviled by most of the people they delivered the message to. Oh, I mean, that's hard on recruitment. Anybody here want to deliver a message to a group of people that when you give it to them are gonna hate you 'cause you told them what you said? I mean, I thought being God's person, hearing from God, a revelation of God, a message from God, would mean that they would like have parades for you. No, not always. Well, that was unexpected to me. I just didn't see that coming either.
In John 9, Jesus meets a man who's born blind, and he's gonna minister him and restore his sight. So the choice he makes is to spit in the dust and then smear the mud on the man's face. Huh. I mean, I've studied in lots of different schools and been trained in lots of different places. I've never had that Healing Spit Class 101. I mean, we read it like it's just as normal as it can be. And I know that the man that came home seeing was good to go with it 'cause he stood up in the face of some pretty significant antagonism. But that was really unexpected. I mean, it just goes on and on through the narrative in Acts chapter 12. James is beheaded by a wicked king. I'm like, wait a minute. How about all those times it says they wanted to stone Jesus, but he just walked through the crowd. James is beheaded, and the poll numbers go up.
So he arrests Peter. Acts chapter 12, you can read it. Well, it's a holiday, so he says, "Just hold him in prison. We'll kill him after the holiday. I don't want to lose my polling bump 'cause people are distracted". And God leaves Peter in prison for several days. The night before he's to be executed, there's an angelic jailbreak. "Couldn't I have gotten out of prison a few days ago"? I didn't expect that. Are you willing to follow the Lord if he leaves you in an awkward place for a while, if he smears a little mud on your face? Are you willing to have to stand against the jealousy and the hatred of people because they see God doing something in your life, and they recognize he's not doing it in their life. And so they resent you for it like they did David.
"Well, God, I didn't think that's what it was like when you moved. God, I didn't know you were gonna move in the middle of a pandemic and", I didn't expect Moses to miss the Promised Land. I'm thinking if you can hold a shepherd's staff out over water and the water parts, like big bodies of water. I mean, just try that on the sink at home tonight, see how you do. I mean, if you get some momentum in the sink and you move to the bathtub, you're out in the backyard and the pool moves, go check out Stones River. I mean, when you get enough momentum that you're headed for the coastline, you call me. And then God says, "No, your disobedience will keep you from that".
Well, I didn't see that coming. The narrative is far more unexpected to me than it is something I can anticipate. So when I'm standing in this place and I see God doing these most remarkable things, things that were almost unimaginable, certainly couldn't be orchestrated, I have this very deep sense that there's more change afoot. It makes me want to get closer to the Lord and more time in my Bible, more time praying in the Spirit. I want to be listening more carefully. See, it was completely unexpected to me that in Capernaum, to the center of Jesus's ministry, that the Roman Centurion would say yes to Jesus and the synagogue ruler would say no. It's illogical to me. There's no way I could anticipate that. There's just no way I could have imagined that. And I understand that what's in front of me is beyond my imagination, who will respond and who won't and the opportunities that will be put before me and my temptation to think it's either unfair or too difficult or I'm tired or I just understand I can't fully anticipate it. But I want to say yes to the Lord.
Now, I've got one more idea I want to give you in this session, and this really has a great deal to do with the events that have been taking place beyond us because it's in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, and verse 1. What I want to encourage you to do, I want to plant a seed and ask you to think about with me for a bit is what it would mean to cooperate with the grace of God. 'Cause see, when the Spirit of God begins to move in the earth, when David sent, when God sent Samuel to David's house to anoint him to be king, it was an expression of God's grace. When God sent the angels to get Peter out of prison, it was an expression of God's grace. When the disciples called Jesus's attention to the man that was blind in John 9 said, "Who sinned, his mother or in himself, his parents or himself"? And Jesus said, "Your questions are wrong". But watch this, all of those are expressions of God's grace, unearned, unmerited, undeserved. If it has anything to do with merit or payment, it isn't grace.
2 Corinthians 6:1, "As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain". Now, it has to be possible to receive God's grace in vain or we wouldn't be being urged not to do that. So how is it that we could neutralize or nullify God's grace? I didn't earn it. I didn't deserve it. It's something God expresses towards me, and yet it can be forfeited. Now he has my attention. "For he says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you now is the time of God's favor. Now is the day of salvation".
Here's what I want to suggest that when God intervenes, our now response becomes important. Our response now, now that God's grace has been made evident, that it's broken into the open, that it's visible, that it's being demonstrated, our now response becomes critical 'cause if we don't respond to the grace of God, we forfeit the opportunity. I would suggest the recent activity by the Supreme Court has been an expression of God's grace. We didn't vote on it. We didn't elect somebody to do something. We didn't earn it. It wasn't purchased. It was quite the shock. It's an expression of God's grace, but our response is going to matter in what unfolds in front of us in the months and the years to come. Or let's say it a different way. God's deliverance, God's intervention, demands a response from us and if we don't respond, it's highly improbable we will hold the victory. And I'm not just talking about current court rulings. It's true in our own lives.
If God and his grace gives you a revelation of Jesus, you still have to choose him with your whole heart. All of us could give testimonies about times when God's grace has intervened on our behalf and then either because of ignorance or a lack of support or a stubborn determination on our own part to not cooperate, we forfeited the invitation of that grace. Only now, we're in a much different season. I'll give you an example from Scripture. It's not just my opinion. Matthew 12, Jesus is speaking again. He said, "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and doesn't find it". Just parenthetically, it's worth noting that Jesus believes unclean spirits can occupy people. And if Jesus believes it, you better figure out some way to process it.
"Then it, the spirit, says, 'I will return to the house I left.' And when it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with its seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first". The next sentence is the punch line. "That is how it will be with this wicked generation". God and his grace sent Jesus into a specific generation of people. Now, it's true that there was a benefit and opportunity for all generations through the coming of Messiah, but that one generation that got to see and hear and experience him had a very unique opportunity. And the heavenly perspective upon that particular generation of people was that they were wicked because when they were given the opportunity, they didn't choose.
God is moving in the earth, folks. The evidence is overwhelming. The evidence for the moving of the Spirit of God is greater than the evidence for the movement of wickedness, and there's some pretty significant evidence for the moving of wickedness. We're watching things I never thought I would see, transgender athletes competing with, it's just nuts. There's not a logical discussion to support it, and we stand there watching it as if it makes perfect sense. And those kinds of absurdities are going to increase because the wicked will be more wicked, and the righteous will be more righteous. And it's the middle that's in trouble. That fence is gonna get electrified. But we have choices to make, whether we will cooperate with the Spirit of God and with his cleansing and his purifying and his calling us away from some things that we have tolerated.
Look at Amos chapter 4. This is really just a sample. The chapter is worth reading because the pattern in the little passage I gave you is repeated over and over in Amos chapter 4. But God is speaking to the people and he said, "'I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,' declares the Lord. Therefore this is what I will do you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel. 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 of the earth, the Lord God Almighty is his name". God said, "In spite of what I have done this, in spite of the judgments that I brought to you, in spite of the discipline that I brought to you," he said, "You have not returned to me".
I believe what we have witnessed is an expression of the unearned, undeserved, unmerited blessing of God to us, the opportunity to write a new chapter in our history as a people, an opportunity to stand for the sanctity of human life, an opportunity to return more completely to a biblical idea of sexual behavior and habits and patterns. But it means we'll have to come with repentant hearts and humility and integrity and honesty. I believe we can see God compound the blessings, the expressions of grace he has brought to us. I do believe that. I think we will have to be willing to practice our faith in our homes. We will have to bring the Bible back to our kitchen table. I think the notion of a family Bible is a really good notion. Your children know the sports teams that you support or the hobbies that you have. And that's okay, it's not wrong. But before any of those things, they need to understand the depth of your faith and your commitment to it to bring prayer back into our homes. We're gonna have to have faith with our friends when we're at the lake or at the ball fields or at the beach.
Now, here's the trick, it's probably gonna require some alteration of behaviors. Because honestly, you can't live like the devil and recruit for the angels. Come on. So we're gonna have to start to reconcile some of that. Stop pointing at other people and go, "God, you know, it's really true". We're gonna have to bring our faith to the marketplace. We're gonna have to, once again, talk about the dignity of work. Folks, the government is not our provider. What are we doing? Every time they want to give you something, they will take more of your freedom and liberty.
What are we thinking? We're gonna have to talk about what a fair profit is. Exploiting people does not make you smart. The Judge of all the earth will come for you. It won't be easy. It won't be comfortable or convenient. There's tremendous anger and the root of the anger is not political or ideological. It's spiritual. It isn't logical. So our responses don't need to be in anger with great emotion. They need to be with, they can be given in love and mercy and kindness and grace, and most of all, humility because of our own immorality. It's not like abortion hasn't been an issue within the church.
Stop hiding our sins. Stop denying. We're gonna have to have the courage to say, "You know, I've walked that path". "Well, I don't want anybody to", what do you mean? God is moving. It's as exciting, you know, in the Book of Daniel, it's so easily lost because we've had so much, so much abundance. Daniel's a slave. He's lived his whole life as a slave. He has really no hope of going back to Jerusalem. But it says about, in that book it said Daniel said, "I understood from reading the prophet Jeremiah that it's time for my people to go home. It's time for my people to go home that the younger generation of people around me are not gonna have to serve in a pagan court, that the young people coming behind me are not going to have to face the temptations of a pagan nation and the humiliation. It's time for my people to go home".
And for the entire 9th chapter, Daniel repents of sins that are not a part of his own personal journey, but a part of his people's journey. Folks, I feel like we're in a very similar place. God has opened the door for us. He said you can have a new future now. You can have a new story. Please don't say, "But yeah, but I'm going to the beach. Or I'm, you know, I'm in the middle of the season where being more godly is a little uncomfortable for me". So I borrowed a few verses from the end of Daniel chapter 9, and that's the prayer I brought you. Why don't you stand with me? We'll read it together. Have you found it? Let's read it like we mean it. It's Independence weekend, not independence from God, independence from sin and ungodliness and immorality and wickedness. What a wonderful weekend. That makes me want to like some fireworks. Let's read our prayer:
Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name. Amen.