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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Storm Season - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Storm Season - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Storm Season - Part 2

It's good to be with you again. It's storm season. It's true spiritually right now, I believe. It's also true in the world around us. It's summertime in Tennessee. It's thunderstorm season. I love thunderstorms. I will sit outside and watch 'em or go to the barn and listen to the rain pound on the tin roof. A storm always reminds me of the power and the majesty of God, and it reminds me that were not in control. You know, we try to anticipate the storms, or where it's headed, or what the impact will be, but we're usually chasing the reality. I think that's a lot true with our lives as well for all of our desire to anticipate what's coming. We need to be listening to the Spirit of God because ultimately he's the only one that could prepare us for what's ahead.

I'm grateful for all the resources we have. I love to learn. I like information. But at the end of the day, I want to be better at listening to the Spirit of God and being dependent upon him and his direction in my life than any other source of information. One of the take-aways from these last 18 months or so is there's not very many trustworthy platforms for information, but the Spirit of God is trustworthy. We're gonna open our Bibles and our hearts. We're learning lessons about how to respond to the Spirit of God so we can walk through every storm triumphantly. Grab your Bible. Notepad maybe will help. Enjoy the lesson today.

And I think you have to understand, before you think about it in global terms, or across a community, or even across a congregation, when we think about harvest time and the separation that comes with that, I think we have to begin with that in the most personal way, in your life. Where is my life? Where are my life decisions? Where is my courage? Where am I in relation to the kingdom of God? And I know we're in church on a holiday weekend so the answer to all the questions is Jesus, but as you have a little bit of time to reflect, where are you really? What are you dreaming about? What are you aspiring for? What are you longing, where are your emotions attached? What are you hoping comes true? Where are you? Is it really harvest time in your heart? But the thing is the kingdom, the things of the kingdom, are they coming to fulfillment? Are they ripening? Are you in a place with greater momentum than you've ever been, and greater aspirations, and where are you in that?

See, before we can talk about it on a broader scale, it starts within us. I've been saying to you for months that it's the conditions of God's people's hearts that's gonna determine the outcomes around us. So in the context of this discussion, harvest time is a relatively brief period. If you've been ignoring those invitations from God, if you've been turning down the volume on it, if you've been engaging in entertaining the spirit of the world more than you've been entertaining the Spirit of God, understand this: those choices have consequences. You're either forfeiting or you're embracing God's opportunities. And don't imagine that that gentle nudge, that invitation from God should be extended to you indefinitely. It's harvest time. I can give you a couple of examples biblically.

Acts 26, the Apostle Paul has been arrested in Jerusalem. He's been falsely accused. He's made his way to Caesarea because of the assassination plots against him that were being spawned in Jerusalem. They were taking him to Caesarea to protect him. Caesarea is in Israel and it's a city in Israel, but it's a secular city, where Jerusalem was a much more religious place. They've taken Paul to a secular place to protect him from the angry, religious zealots. And a king visits the city and he's heard of Paul's story, and he wants to hear Paul speak. So Paul is on trial for his life, and rather than point the finger at his accusers, he tells his Jesus story. It's an interesting perspective. You can tell what has hold of Paul's heart. But the king he's presenting to is Agrippa, and in Acts 26, and verse 28, "Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?'"

Standing before the king that day, whether he knew it or not, was arguably the man who had an anointing from God himself to reach the non-Jewish world. His impact on the non-Jewish world is unparalleled. There's a there's a bit of irony in that. God chose a Pharisee of the Pharisees, someone steeped in Judaism, trained in rabbinic Judaism from his childhood until his adulthood, to become the advocate for Jesus of Nazareth to the non-Jewish world. And he's standing before King Agrippa, making an impassioned presentation of Jesus from firsthand experience. "I met him," he said, "on the road to Damascus and my life made 180 degree turn. I had to separate myself from the people who were bringing all the momentum to my professional life. All of the avenues for success and achievement, I had to turn my back on them and walk into the unknown. But I did so willingly because of Jesus". And Agrippa responds to him and he said, "Do you think in such a short period of time you can convince me"? And I'm reading that thinking, "Oh, I hope so".

Paul made that change in a very short period of time. One moment he's on horseback and in the next moment his face is in the dust, saying, "Who are you, Lord"? And I can feel the emotion when I read that. He's saying to Agrippa, "C'mon". And Agrippa said, "Do you really think? Maybe we'll hear some more of this another day. We'll talk about it over dessert. You can go now". Totally unaware of the season that was before him. You see, a harvest starts in your heart. What's the crop that's there right now? What are you longing for? There's other examples, the rich young ruler that came to Jesus. The Bible says Jesus loved him. Young man with tremendous spiritual momentum. His future was bright. Jesus saw him. He's inquiring of Jesus and Jesus said, "Come, follow me. Be my disciple. Come on, join Matthew, and Pete, and John. Join the parade. Come on," he said.

And the young man hung his head and he walked away. He would determine that his investment in securing his own personal future reflected too much effort. I can't just walk away from that. Understood. I don't know, maybe he circled back. Maybe he got into the story later. We don't know. I can tell you this: harvest time is a very brief period compared to the growing season. The fifth point about harvest I would give you is that the Lord of the harvest is not us. Luke chapter 10, and verse 2, Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers".

The harvest is not under our control. We're servants. Settle it. We'll do whatever the Lord asks us. We'll have church outdoors, indoors. It can rain. We'll sit in the rain. It can get cold. We'll put on a coat. We like it better with temperature control and indoor plumbing, but if we have to, we'll use portable toilets and sit by a fire pit. We're not in charge of the harvest. We used to be. We came to church if it wasn't raining, and we could park in our spot, and we liked the worship song. We used to be like that, but the Lord's waking us up. We're changing. And we're not done changing. We're going to continue growing and the strengthening our commitment to the Lord. Because the next point is that the harvest is preparatory for what's next. The harvest isn't the end. It's not the objective.

Harvest is preparation for what's next. If you're harvesting a crop, you're either gaining seed for the next planting season, you're gaining food to sustain you in a season where there aren't going to be an abundance of crops. Growing season's coming to a conclusion, folks. It's harvest time. In John 7, verse 30, Jesus is in Jerusalem and it says, "They tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. His time hadn't yet come". Times and seasons. "Still many in the crowd put their faith in him and they said, 'When the Christ comes, when the Messiah comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?' And the Pharisees heard the crowd whispering things about him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him". They're not going to have this.

Folks, opposition to the truth is not a 21st century thing. We're gonna have to grow up. We've been wilting before the current onslaught of propaganda and censorship. It's not a new thing. Listen to what Jesus said, "I'm with you for only a short time and then I go to the one who sent me. You'll look for me, but you won't find me. And where I am, you can't come. I'm here for a little while and then I'm gone". There's something else comin'. God's not done in the earth. "I'm gonna send my Spirit. This story is gonna be told to all the nations. I'm not done, but this season is brief".

You see, we get so anchored into our dreams, and our aspirations, and what we want that we have such small imagination of what the Spirit of God is doing. So what's our current assignment? Acts chapter 1, and verse 8. Jesus again, his last words before the ascension, "'You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' And after he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight". Last words have heightened significance. We understand that intuitively. Jesus's last words to us is, "You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. You'll be empowered to be witnesses for me". That assignment has never been amended nor rescinded, as far as I know from Scripture. That's our assignment.

Well, I would submit to you that Jesus had a great deal to say about current events in his day. That Jesus consistently, throughout his life and particularly his public ministry, challenged the status quo. In fact, he challenged the existing status quo far more frequently than he conducted reviews of Scripture. When he talked about Scripture, he talked about it in terms of current events in his world. Jesus's teaching was in the context of the current events of his day. I can demonstrate that I believe consistently, but I'll give you a couple examples. Luke chapter 7, it's the story of a Roman centurion in Capernaum whose servant is healed, and he's asked for help from Jesus and Jesus agrees to go help him.

Now, he's part of an occupying force. The Romans are no doubt mistreating the Israelites, abusing their women, exacting taxes. It's a very humiliating condition. They are hated. Abundant evidence for that. "So Jesus went with them. And he wasn't far from the house when the centurion sent friends to him to say, 'Lord, don't trouble yourself. I don't deserve to have you come under my roof. I didn't even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the Word and my servant will be healed.'"

You know the story. The man's servant is healed. Now, at that point, if I were Jesus, in charge of Jesus's PR, I'd have just left it. You probably shouldn't have talked to that man. You certainly shouldn't have gone to his house. It would make you unclean. You're public advocacy for him his very unseemly. He's hated by the general public. And he needed help, but he's ungodly, and wicked, and he's outside the covenant. He's not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He doesn't offer sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem. He doesn't celebrate the right holy days. He eats an ungodly, unclean food. He's a pagan. And if you had compassion on his servant and you had to help his servant, okay, but enough. But Jesus didn't stop there. The centurion said, "I'm a man under authority. I have soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes, and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. And I can say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it".

Can you see the eye rolls. The crowd, "Yeah, we know, big guy. We see your authority. We know who you are. You don't have to gloat in front of us, you occupying pagan". He's stating the obvious. The disciples are pulling on Jesus, "Come on". "When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and he turned to the crowd following and he said, 'I tell you, I haven't found such great faith in Israel.'" Can you see the disciples now? "Oh jeez, get him out of here. Somebody get him out of here". Do you understand the degree of agitation Jesus just introduced? "This Roman pagan has better faith than all of you good, godly people do. I haven't found faith like this anywhere". He says it out loud.

Why do you think they recorded it in the story? There are lots and lots of miracle stories without Jesus's follow-up sentences to the healing being given to us, but in this case Luke says, "That was so bizarre, you gotta know what he did". You can't un-ring that bell. Jesus's comment regarding the centurion could hardly have been more provocative. He's an occupier. He could've easily healed that servant and slipped back into the crowd. He does it on many occasions. Don't tell anybody who did this. But no. I'll give you another example. Mark chapter 3, "Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. And some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus". They're lookin' for anything they could accuse him for, like healing a centurion or helping one.

"So they watched him closely to see if he would heal this man on the Sabbath. And Jesus said to the man with a shriveled hand, 'Stand up in front of everyone.' Then Jesus asked them, he turns to the crowd of accusers, 'Which is lawful on the Sabbath, to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?' But they wouldn't answer him. So he looked around at them in anger and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, and he said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out and his hand was completely restored". So what's the outcome? "The Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus".

Jesus could've healed that man before the synagogue convened. He could have healed him after the synagogue service was complete. He could have healed him after sundown when the Sabbath was over. He was capable. The story of the man's healing is secondary to the larger narrative. Jesus is confronting the evil in the hearts of the people. He's not practicing a theoretical discussion on divine healing. Does God heal or does God not heal? It's clear from Jesus's life and ministry there's power present to change our physical condition. But he's interested in a far greater scenario, and that's the authority that is sitting upon the people, if it's righteous or unrighteous, if it's honoring God or dishonoring God.

And in a very public place in front of people that you and I would have expected to understood the nature of that debate, they didn't. Stand up in front of everybody. I want everybody to watch me break the Sabbath rules. I don't think we have the privilege of hiding, because not everybody wants to hear the truth. I don't think we have to be belligerent, or obnoxious, or condemning, or critical, but our faith is not theoretical. It's harvest time and it's storm season, and I believe we'll see an outpouring of the Spirit of God, and I believe we will see unprecedented challenges.

Now, what will you do? What will you do? You don't have to be angry, or belligerent, or critical, or hateful, but it may be that you need to repent. This didn't stop with Jesus. Remember the disciples? By Acts chapter 4, they've arrested the disciples, the same people that had arrested Jesus and orchestrated his execution, and they stand Peter and John before the Sanhedrin. And you remember what they said to them? The reference is, I don't know if I put 'em in your notes or not. It's in Acts 4. They said, "God made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Messiah". And they brought them in after they had their discussion and they said, "Don't ever mention that name in this city again. Don't ever mention that name again or we will come for you too".

Remember what they said? "You do what you need to do. We won't stop". I don't enjoy the awkwardness that comes when people don't want to embrace the truth. I don't enjoy being left out, none of those things that come with that. But the truth is I don't believe we'll get to enjoy the harvest if we don't have the courage to own the truth. I'm gonna hush. I want you to stand with me. I want to pray. Actually, I want to give you an invitation. I want to give you an invitation. Let's make it personal. There's no harvest beyond us until there's a harvest within us. And the reality is our own hearts look a lot like that field. There's some wheat and there are some weeds, and I wonder if we'd have the courage to give the Holy Spirit permission to begin to weed our hearts. Are you willing?

I wouldn't, I don't say things to the Lord casually any longer 'cause I think he takes us at our word. And I tend to, typically if there's things that persist in our lives that are limiting, it's because we want them there. We've given ourselves permission to be a little carnal, a little secular, a little worldly. After all, I'm not going too far with it. I'm not gonna give it too much space. So if we're gonna say this prayer, I want to encourage you to be willing to say to the Lord, I don't want to give that any place in me. God forgive me. I've given myself license. Maybe you just use undisciplined words. Maybe you're undisciplined with your beverage choices. Maybe you're undisciplined with your moral choices. I don't know. It'll be as diverse as we are. But don't excuse it. Don't tolerate it. Let's let the rain of the Spirit of God began to soften our hearts. Let's be the first place where God can begin that harvest within us. You ready to say yes to the Lord? Hallelujah.

Father, thank you for your Word, for its truth, and power, and authority. We thank you for the great honor of being together, Lord; that you've delivered us from that great threat and have kept us. We praise you for that today. But Lord, we're aware that the shaking hasn't been completed and the storm clouds are still present. Lord, we don't imagine it's someone else's fault or there's someone or something else to blame. Lord, we come today into your presence and ask you to search us, search our hearts. Lord, if there's anything in us that separates us from your best, we ask that by your Spirit you would help us to recognize it.

Lord, we ask for forgiveness where we have tolerated ungodliness, where we've tolerated carnality, where we've tolerated things that we knew diminished you in our lives, but Lord, we didn't treat it with significance, or appropriate attention, or respect. And we come today to say we're sorry. We choose to lay it down. And we ask you to cleanse us, and to deliver us, and to separate us. May our longing for you be greater than our longing for anything else.

Holy Spirit, help us. Give us a revelation of Jesus that is more real. May we see him in his glory and his majesty; that we might willingly yield our lives to him, our dreams to him, our hopes to him; that we would serve him as King and Lord as never before. We thank you for it. We praise you for it, that your Spirit is moving in the earth in unprecedented ways, opening hearts and opening doors of opportunity that no person can close. May it be increased. Father, protect us. Deliver us from evil. Give us this day our daily bread. Lord, as we forgive those that have trespassed against us, we ask you to forgive us. We thank you for what you're doing. May your name be exalted and your purposes break forth in the earth. In Jesus's name, amen.

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