Allen Jackson - The Path Of The Storm - Part 1
It's good to be with you again. We're continuing our study on "Big Trouble Ahead," the biblical word's "tribulation". You know, don't spend your time trying to figure out if you're gonna be ready, or you're gonna miss it, or what you need to do. The whole notion, I think, is to live in a state of preparation and readiness for whatever God does in the earth, so that we can serve his purposes. We're gonna look today about the path of the storm, because it's predictable. The same way they can predict the path of a hurricane, we can have some biblical awareness of what's ahead of us.
Right now we're living through an undeclared revolution, the outcome's not clear, because I think the outcome will be determined by what God's people choose to do. If we maintain our routines, and sit in our churches, and be polite, I think we will forfeit the opportunity of the season. If we're willing to stand for the truth of God, and boldly acknowledge Jesus is Lord, we'll see God intervene on our behalf. We don't have to be angry, or belligerent, or obstinate, we simply need to have the courage to acknowledge our Lord in the entire arena of our lives. Get your Bible, open your heart, most of all, let's be prepared to receive whatever God has for us.
We have some rather elaborate technology now that can help anticipate the track of a storm. And long before it ever approaches landfall, we know the anticipated path of that storm and the track of that storm. They'll begin to investigate, to know its severity, the wind speed, a lot of things you can know. Long before it ever approaches land, we know where it's coming. Well, I wanna submit to you that we're in the midst of a storm, and in the same way that those hurricane watches have to be updated on a very regular basis, our storm watch has to be updated, because the storm we were facing a year ago right now is different than the one we're facing today.
A year ago, COVID was still pretty new to us. We didn't have a lot of science or a lot of data. We didn't really understand a great deal about how it was transmitted, or how long it would live on a hard surface, or who was most vulnerable amongst us. And there was a lot of fear and a lot of things we didn't know. Today we have learned a great deal. We have survived, for the most part, the threat that that represented and the projections they had were far greater than the reality we experienced. Yay, God and thank God for all those people who worked so diligently on our behalf. But it's a mistake. We can give the Lord a hand for that and all those people who worked so hard, but it's a mistake to think that the storm is passed just because we can go back out in public without a mask, or our kids have a much broader open door for their summertime activities.
COVID may have diminished a great deal, but I would submit to you that the threats we face today are perhaps greater, not perhaps in my mind, they're greater than the threats we faced last May. They're not nearly as obvious. They're not as easily tracked by science. We don't have brilliant people in laboratories helping us do analysis, and then reporting that analysis with something like an open release, so that we can interpret it. What's happening right now is far more covert, and less obvious, and less apparent, and far more spiritual. And I don't say that, I don't think it's a permanent condition, I think storms, there's an ebb and flow to that, but we're still in the midst of the storm. Feels like to me it's a category five storm that's howling all around us. Sustained winds, storm surges, lots of rain, tornados being spawned, things happening we thought we would never see.
You know, there are specific climactic conditions that contribute to the emergence of hurricanes, to those storms developing, that's why we call it hurricane season. And I would submit to you that we're in the midst of a storm season, and you need to stay aware, you need to pay attention. I know you don't want to, I know you're tired of it. I understand, I'm a bit weary with it myself. We make decisions about where church will happen a couple of hours in front of convening the service. That means we have to coordinate with hundreds of people where to be, and what to do, and how to do that, it's okay. If we can be together, no problem, we'll maintain that flexibility. But I want to start by just acknowledging this notion of the path of the storm. It's a spiritual struggle, it's not random. We're not just caught up in another turn of the historical cycle.
There is an intentional effort to diminish and disrupt God's purposes. And the genesis of that is not political or ideological. It's not some person or personality. There is a spirit behind it, and it makes the church's role in this of primary importance. And in the season we're in right now, last year it was a health concern. It was a threat to many, many of us. Right now I can identify some aspects of our lives that are in the path of this storm, and with just a little bit of awareness, you can build your own story around it. One thing I would tell you that is in the path of this current howling hurricane is family and marriage. On almost a daily basis, it seems we get new definitions of marriage, new definitions of family, new pronouns. We're told gender confusion is an enormous problem. Gender reassignment is a thing.
I grew up on a farm, I thought God made that assignment. In Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24, it says, "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother, and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh". I don't find any place in the story of Scripture where God has amended that original plan. In Genesis chapter 1 and verse 27, "God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. And then God saw all that he'd made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day". When God looked at creation, he didn't go, "Oh," he said, "It's very good".
Church, we have an assignment to be ambassadors for the truth. Not to be angry, not to be condemning, not to be belittling, not to be belligerent, but we cannot deny the truth and imagine we're God's people. We can struggle with sin. We can acknowledge that sin exists. We all have our personal stories around that. But there is a full-blown assault on the definition of family and marriage. It's not new, it's just intensified. Recently, in the last few days, a judge ruled that a Christian college in the state of Missouri had to obey an executive order from our current administration regarding gender issues. About how bathrooms would be used, locker rooms would be used, participation in various activities on the campus, how students would be housed, even though it violated their fundamental religious beliefs and values.
Now, I could give you many examples, I suspect you know many of your own. It's the stunning silence of the church that concerns me. It's a storm, and it's a greater threat to the wellbeing of our children and our grandchildren than COVID was. COVID was of little concern to them. It's affect and impact upon them was minimal. The impact of this will change their lives. There's another target that's in the path of this storm, and it has to do with the church and a biblical worldview. The notion of a biblical worldview simply means the way we look at the world that emerges of understanding our world, that emerges from the Bible. That begins with the premise that the Bible is our rule of faith and practice, and that we as God's people will submit to its authority. That we don't have the freedom to change the rules. We have submitted to the authority of Scripture. We don't worship the book, but we worship the God that the book reveals to us. To be a Christian means you have a Christian worldview.
Now, the church is a little different, and there's some confusion around that definition. Church is about a person. Church with a capital C. Church is not about a building or a denomination, and the person that church is about is named Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth is the head of the church. He is the incarnate Son of God. He led a sinless life in obedience to his Father. He died on a Roman cross. He was buried and raised to life again. Now, that is central to the church. God's love, God's mercy, and God's grace are all understood in the context of Jesus's life and redemptive work. Absent that story of Jesus, it's not the church. I don't care what the architecture looks like, how religious the language is, how's zealous the participants are, it's not the church unless Jesus is the head of the initiative.
And please don't put the preference for your local congregation, or denomination, or your style of worship ahead of the Lordship of Jesus. It's gonna be a shock when we get to the other side of this and find out there were people there that didn't worship like we did. But their entry into the kingdom is centered in one person, and his name is Jesus. Assaults on this worldview are being made both from outside the church, and perhaps more distressing, from inside the church. Matthew 16 in verse 18, Jesus was speaking, "I'll build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it".
That phrase changed my life. My spiritual formation didn't take place in church. I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life in the kitchen floor at 4811 Jackson Street in Hollywood, Florida. I was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean in Fort Lauderdale. My spiritual formation didn't take place inside a traditional church setting. I had to learn to love the church. I had to learn to understand the value of corporate worship and God's people standing together. But when I read that verse where Jesus said, "I will build my church," I began to say if there's anything I can do to help with that, I'm in. David said, "I'd rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than dwell in the tents of the wicked". I'm with him. "I'll build my church," Jesus said, "And hell itself won't overcome it. I'll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven".
You understand there have been keys placed in the hands of God's people in the earth, those submitted to the Lordship of Jesus to bind and loose things that are bound or set loose in our world. If you don't like what you see being set loose, we have an assignment to stand against it in Jesus's name. We've been silent too long. We've been passive for too much time. The church and a biblical worldview is in the crosshairs of this current storm. In 2 Timothy chapter 4 and verse 2 it says, "Preach the word. Be prepared in season and out of season. Correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their ears want to hear". I think if we're not seeing the fulfillment of that, we're seeing the precursors to that.
There's a third part of our lives that is caught in the pathway of this storm, and that's the notion of truth. And I don't just mean biblical truth, I mean the public expression of truth. It's under assault. It's not even held in high esteem, we misremember. Folks, if you put on your resume that you graduated from Harvard University, and you went to MTSU, you didn't misremember. And we're watching it at the highest levels of our nation, and traditionally, some of the most respected and revered sources of information. We are watching the dissemination of propaganda wrapped up in the media. It's not supposed to be that way. We're experiencing censorship in ways that I have never seen it in my lifetime, and I'm not aware of in our history as a people.
We've been told for a year to follow the science, and I am gladly willing to do that. I'm an advocate for science, but you should know this about science, science doesn't change in California, Michigan, and Tennessee. It's reproducible, it's consistent, it can be evaluated and measured. When science is coopted by political agendas and becomes manipulative and a tool for propaganda, it's difficult to follow. Truth is under assault, you know that. We've watched the struggle with that through COVID. You're seeing some breakthroughs to prayers you have prayed over the last months, lies that were told about the virus we struggled with. The truth was buried, but many of that, much of that truth is beginning to come forward. I believe that's an answer to your prayers. The lies and the deception that was put in place can't stand, it's crumbling.
May it continue to crumble. May other lies and deceptions that had been put in place in the public square crumble. May the truth be told. Don't stop praying. Don't grow weary. Don't be discouraged. Truth is under assault. We were told in Scripture in Isaiah 59 and verse 14, you know the passage by now. It says, "Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance. Truth has stumbled in the streets, and honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey," that's P-R-E-Y, becomes a victim, not a person who prays, P-R-A-Y.
Currently, in the public arena, to shun evil, to take a biblical perspective towards evil and say I will not endorse it caused you to become a victim. They don't want to hear your words. They don't want to hear your opinion. You understand that, it has brought a stunning silence to the people of God. We're gonna have to find our voices and the courage to stand up and speak the truth. This is not a new thing. We're dealing with a new version of it, and it's facing us from some new platforms, and it came to us rather unexpectedly, it seems as suddenly as the virus from Wu Han China did, but it's not a new thing.
I want to read a passage, it's John chapter 7. The leaders in Jerusalem have given the temple guards the assignment to go arrest Jesus, they don't like his message. And they're reporting back, they fail to carry out their assignment. It says, "The temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees who asked them, 'Why didn't you bring him in?' And the guard said, 'Well, no one's ever spoken the way this man does,' to which the Pharisees responded, 'You mean he's deceived you, too? Has any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed in him? No, but this mob that knows nothing of the law.'" There's a curse on them. And then Nicodemus speaks up, you know Nicodemus?
In John 3 he had come to Jesus at night. He's a part of this ruling group. "Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier, and who's one of their own number said, 'Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he's doing?' And they replied, 'Are you from Galilee?'" Jesus came from the rural part of Israel. They spoke with an accent. Listen to their response. "Look into it and you'll find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee".
Folks, long before we had digital media and social media, there was fake news. Because the religious leaders in Jerusalem, had they chosen to, there was an abundance, dozens, and dozens, and dozens of biblical passages that they were familiar with, that highlighted the authenticity of Jesus's message. But his message was inconvenient. They didn't want to accept the truth. They would rather tell a lie. In fact, he was later to be condemned based on lies that they propagated. Fake news is not new. Fact checkers with an agenda, they were there in the first century when Jesus was ministering in Jerusalem, and they're around us in the 21st century. It's not a new thing. We're still committed to the truth. The fact that we're in a storm, and we see family, and marriage, or a biblical worldview, or the truth under assault doesn't mean we should be silent. We will stand for the one we serve.
There's a fourth component, I think, that's in the path of this storm, and it's economic. But the implications for our lives go far beyond dollars and cents. If the current trends continue, we'll forfeit our independence. You understand when dependence is created upon the government, in order to benefit from that, you have to relinquish your independence. When you're given something that you're told is for free, and you begin to rely upon it, and depended upon it, or anticipate it is changing your life, in order to receive that benefit, you have to relinquish your independence. It's not a good bargain. We're seeing a diminishment of our resources. We're seeing, on a daily basis, a remarkable empowerment of central authority.
Proverbs 18:9, I like the verse. It says, "One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys". The Bible called us to work, God worked. When we meet him in the 1st chapter of Genesis, he worked a six-day week. Work is not evil. Work is not wicked. Work is not for someone else to do. We are called to be busy with God's work, and with the work that is necessary to support and to sustain our families. If you don't like work, if you hate work, if you complain about work, began to repent. Thank you for that resounding amen. Do you know private property is a biblical idea? We can take more time than I'm willing to tonight, but in Acts chapter 5, it's the story of Ananias and Saphira. Their outcome's not great. They sold some property, then they lied about it, but I'm interested in what Peter had to say to Ananias.
Peter said, "How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you've lied to the Holy Spirit and you've kept for yourself some of the money you received for your land"? They had property and they sold it, and they pretended to have brought the full purchase price, but they kept some for themselves. Peter said, "Didn't it belong to you before it was sold, and after it was sold wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? It was yours". You could have come in and said we want to give you 1% of the purchase price, no harm, no foul. You could've said we brought a tenth, a tithe off the purchase price, no harm, no foul. You could have decided not to give anything, it was your property, it was your choice. But you wanted the benefit that came from a generosity that you weren't sacrificing for. We're a little addled on this topic right now. We're a little confused. God doesn't need my resources. I don't give because God needs what I have, I give because I need to break the stranglehold of selfishness in my life.
See, the challenge we face is no matter what we have, we want more. And when we get more, we're still not satisfied. Most of us have lived through that. You know, we thought a 10% improvement on what we have, we'd be happy. We got 20% more, we're still not content. Psalm 50 and verse 12, I love it, it says, "If I were hungry, I wouldn't tell you". This is God. "For the world is mine and all that's in it". God said look, if I needed something, I'm not calling you. And we get it kinda sideways. We think, "Boy, God would be relieved if I'd step up and be more generous". No, you'd find new freedom if we would learn to stand up and be more generous. You need to open your heart and your mind to what God has to say about your resources, or this current storm you will lose your balance. And the reason it matters is I don't believe the abundance that we're enjoying right now is sustainable. I think that same way we have seen a health scare, and a threat, and a shaking, I think it's inevitable that we see an economic shaking. And you need to know what your source is. You don't have to be frightened or threatened, but we need to know what our source is.
I want to pray with you before we go. You know, in the midst of all the turmoil and everything that's changing, the Spirit of God stabilizes our lives. He will lead us through. We don't have to be afraid. We don't have to be anxious. We don't have to be uncertain. We can have the calm assurance that the Spirit of the living God will guide us through this season in a triumphant way, let's pray.
Father, I thank you for my friends, for the opportunity we have to open your word. I thank you for your Spirit that indwells us, that leads, and guides, and directs us. Give us ears to hear, and eyes to see, and hearts to receive. Forgive us when we have wanted our way more than your way. Today, we choose obedience to you, and thank you for the good things that are ahead for us. Thank you for your church in the earth and the privilege of being included, in Jesus's name, amen.