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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Path Of The Storm - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Path Of The Storm - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Path Of The Storm - Part 2

It's good to be with you again. We're continuing our study on the big trouble ahead, and specifically the path of the storm. In the same way you can predict a hurricane, the Bible gives us enough information to understand something of the season we're walking through and what we can anticipate. We're gonna take a few minutes today and look specifically at some things that bring vulnerability to our lives. I'll give you the simple outline right now. You know, the season changed when we were introduced to COVID.

Now, I don't mean the seasons of the year, but the spiritual season we're walking through. Our world shifted and we're not to the other side of that yet. COVID has receded. We've lost our masks and we have a lot of freedoms we didn't have just a few weeks and months ago, but we're not through the other side of this season yet. So understanding what makes us vulnerable, understanding what gives us a firm foundation is mission critical right now. You know, it starts with the Word of God, but it's more than that. We've got to be paying attention to the world around you. Censorship is increasing. Manipulation is at an unprecedented level. Those things have spiritual backgrounds far more than they're political or ideological. We need the help of the Spirit of God to help us navigate this season. Here's the good news: he wants to help us. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, open your heart. God's got something that will help each of us today.

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 the 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. Now, there are some factors that contribute to our vulnerability in storms. In hurricane, if it's a hurricane, the season makes a big difference. You're much less susceptible in Florida in January than you are in August. It has to do with the temperature of the water where the storms incubate. But location has a lot to do with it too. A hurricane in the Gulf Coast isn't a huge deal to us in Tennessee.

We may get a little extra rain and it may inconvenience our picnic, but for the most part we don't have to put boards over our windows. Location matters. And if you're in the path of the storm, awareness makes all the difference. It's why they work so hard now to warn us days and days in advance if you need to evacuate, if you need to change your physical settings, there are many things you can do to be prepared. So that combination of knowing the season, and awareness of what's happening, and your location all contributes to your vulnerability. So I just want you to begin to pray a simple little prayer, "Lord, to what degree and in what ways am I vulnerable in this current storm"? Last year they were telling you, "Wash your hands. Don't talk to strangers. Stay 6 feet apart".

You had lots of guidance, lots of things helping us stay safe last year. Whether you liked them or not, there was an avalanche of information. We're not getting that information right now unless you are listening to the Lord, but the storm is more real. Job 15, and verse 21, "Sounds of terror are on his ears, while at peace the destroyer comes upon him". Completely unaware of the destroyer's approaching. We don't have to be frightened by it, but we need to be aware of it. Put the window back in and go to sleep.

1 Thessalonians chapter 5, and verse 1, "Now, brothers, about times and dates we don't need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. And while people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape". It says the messaging will be peace and safety, but destruction is eminent. People ask me frequently, do I think the Lord's return is near? Yeah, I think that's a highly probable scenario, but suppose we're wrong. Suppose we miss it by a thousand years. It doesn't diminish the storm that we're in. It doesn't diminish the reality that we've been asked to stand in the midst of. Say, "Are these really the last days"? These are really your last days.

Isn't that a happy, happy thought? There's some vulnerability factors I want to take a minute with you. I spent a lot of time in church world. I read a lot of the literature. I talk to leaders in the church across our country and around the world, and there are some things that contribute to the vulnerability of the church that I think have to be addressed. Some of these we have talked about a bit in these last few months. One has to do with the church being asleep. Sleep is a normal part of your life cycle, but you don't want to be asleep at the wrong time. You don't wanna be asleep when you're driving. You don't want to be asleep if you have an assignment to be attentive to something. When you're asleep, an accurate description of you're... is that you are uninvolved, you're unaware, and you're unconcerned.

If you're asleep and somebody breaks into the house, it doesn't bother you. You are not frightened. Help yourself, just don't wake me up. And I would submit to you we've been asleep too long. There's abundant evidence to the fact that we were asleep. Not too long ago, they took the Ten Commandments out of our schools. We didn't say anything. Not too long ago, they redefined marriage. We didn't say anything. There have been many things that are clearly contrary to our biblical worldview that have happened on our watch and we've said very little. Three thousand children today lose their lives to abortion and the primary defense of that for the last decade or more has been, "Nobody has a right to tell me what to do with my body".

Until this last year, then everybody can tell you what to do with your body, how far to keep your body away from somebody else, how to put a mask on your body, where to put your body. And we have not been able to find the courage to stand up and say, "I won't support you until you defend the lives of those that can't defend themselves". We've been asleep. Ephesians 5, and verse 14 says, "It's light that makes everything visible. That's why it's said, 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.' Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil". He says you're living in a storm. You better wake up and pay attention.

Ezekiel 33 is a little more direct. Ezekiel 33 talks about the watchman on the walls, the people assigned to stand guard over the city. And God's perspective is pretty stunning to me. It says, "If the watchman sees trouble coming and doesn't blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood". See, you and I can't sit in the safety of our homes and say, "Well, I'm not doing that". We have an assignment. We're to stand watch over the children, the vulnerable, the young people. While immorality is being redefined, and marriage is being redefined, and what family looks like is being redefined, we're bringing a vulnerability to those that we've been asked to watch over.

You say, "Well, I'm watching over my kids". Good for you. I hope you are, but the church has a broader assignment. Say, "Well, that's not easy". Duh. We wouldn't have needed the prompt if it was easy. We have to behave responsibly toward others, but we cannot accept responsibility for others. We're responsible for ourselves, but we have a response, we have an assignment to behave responsibly towards them. There's another factor that contributes to the challenges and the vulnerability of the church. This is my opinion. You could disagree on this one, but I believe the tremendous affluence that we've had and the freedoms that we have had have been distractions to us. I believe we have struggled mightily with a love of money, and the pursuit of pleasure, and a rather marginal interest in the kingdom of God.

Now, you're sitting outside on a cold, damp night to worship the Lord, so I will acknowledge I'm preaching to the choir. But even the choir needs a good message from time to time. And whether this is our challenge of the moment or not, it's a challenge that we wrestle with, all of us. Because you see, our way through this is to not point our fingers at other people and say they are so wrong. The challenge we face is to say to the Lord, "Lord, forgive me for the condition of my heart". The challenges we face will be turned back. This storm will be abated. We'll see it turned around and go back out to sea if God's people will change their hearts.

In 2 Timothy chapter 3, the first five verses, I won't read them to you, but it lists 18 aspects of human character that will deteriorate in the last days, and I think they're captured. It says there are three great loves that people have. Says there'll be lovers of money, lovers of self, and lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God. And you can fit all of those things into the portfolio of contemporary American Christianity. Lovers of money, lovers of self, and lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God. Before COVID, we thought church should be convenient. We should be able to park close to the entrance where I want to come. We shouldn't have to stand in lines. We should be able to sit in the seats we want and they should be comfortable. The sermon should be done early enough that we can get to the restaurants ahead of our other friends in churches. The worship needs to suit my personal style and preference.

In fact, the worship leaders need to be the ones that I like. And on, and on, and on the list went. We would argue about translations of the Bible. We would argue about the goofiest things, fully exposing the fact that our commitment wasn't to the lordship of Jesus Christ and the expansion of his kingdom. Our commitment was to our comfort and our personal pleasure to ourself. We've been exposed a bit. In Philippians 3, and verse 18, he says, "As I've often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ". He's writing to a church. You know you can sit in church, and attend church, and participate in church and live as an enemy of the cross of Christ? You see, the cross has only one real function. It's a place of execution.

And to be a Christ follower is to take your carnal, selfish, "me first" nature and to execute it. That's why were taught to pray, "I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings that somehow I might become like him in his death". It says, "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame". You know, their mind is on earthly things. Your earth suit, your body is intended. As remarkable as it is, the Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. But as remarkable as your body is, it's a reminder that you are a creature. No matter how elaborate or expensive the meal or the food you consume is, we all process it the same way. And no matter how glorious your strength is and how remarkable your health, if you'll turn that calendar enough times, your body will begin to betray you.

It's a reminder that there is a God and it isn't you. But we've flipped the script on that. We've made our bodies, and our appearance, and who we are the thing we worship. It's our greatest concern. It's a point of tremendous sacrifice. Let me ask you a question. What do you sacrifice for? What is it you protect? Lord, help us. In Luke 16, "Jesus said, 'No servant can serve two masters. He'll hate the one and love the other, or he'll be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.'" And the Pharisees, this is the punchline, "The pharisees, who loved money, heard all of this and they were sneering at Jesus". There's a lot of sneering at Jesus these days. There's a lot of sneering at Jesus, and too much of it coming from places that look like churches. Folks, we have to guard our hearts. We cannot afford to be asleep and we cannot afford to care more about affluence and comfort and convenience than we do serving our King.

Now, there's one last component to this. My minutes are just about gone. And it has do with the season that we're in. My opinion, and again, you can disagree with me or you can save some time and agree. Next session will be on humility. I believe the season we're in can appropriately be described as a harvest time. Now, biblically a harvest time is a time of increased spiritual activity, both good and bad. I believe God is busy gathering his people, but I believe it's equally true that Satan is busy expressing hatred for those who love God. And we see this happening around us in some of the most blatant ways of my lifetime. I have never seen a hunger for the things of the Lord like I've experienced in the last year. I've never seen anything like it in my lifetime and I've been a Christian for a while now.

On the other hand, I don't know that I've ever seen greater expressions of evil or more ambivalence from people who said they were God's people. All that's happening in the same mix. It's harvest time. We shouldn't be surprised. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a parable about a field that was planted. Many of you know the parable. It's the parable of the wheat and the tares, or the wheat and the weeds. And the disciples ask for the explanation of the parable when they're in private and this is what Jesus said, "The field is the world and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. The harvest is the end of the age and the harvesters are the angels".

So Jesus told us that at the culmination of this age, there's going to be a harvest that's unprecedented. And included in the harvest are going to be both the sons of light and the children of darkness. And the angels are gonna be busy in that great deal of spiritual activity. And we're watching that. We've been baptizing people every week, week, after week, after week. We baptized more people last year than in a year in the history of our church. And in case you missed it, there was a pandemic. We were outside, and it was hot, and it was cold. We were baptizing people and it was so cold we had to put towels in a warmer. You act like that's normal. People are coming from other states on a weekly basis, saying, "I wanna be baptized". That's not typical. The Spirit of God is moving. Don't give your heart to the expressions of darkness. Don't give your emotions away to the ungodly things that are happening. Recognize what God is doing. Give your time and energy and invest it in those things, and celebrate what the Spirit of the Lord is doing in the earth.

Revelation 14 tells us about this harvest that takes place at the end of the age. It says there'll be two harvests. There'll be a harvest of mercy and a harvest of judgment. And they're gonna happen in very close proximity to one another and both of them are initiated from heaven. They'll involve those of us in the earth, but the initiative for the harvest comes from heaven. And God willing, I'm gonna unpack the characteristics of that harvest in our next session. What I want to invite you to do with me tonight is make a commitment to say to the Lord that I will live with an awareness of the storm. I will not give in to my desire to ignore it. I won't be silent. I won't turn my back on it. I won't decide to have a party until it passes. I'll take my place in the kingdom. Now, here's what I know from experience. We'll all miss some opportunities. I do. You will.

When we recognize that that happens, in the same way the disciples missed some of the opportunities that were put before them. Sometimes when Jesus had said "Beware the yeast of the Pharisees," they would argue about lunch. I think Jesus was pretty much on the record. He could feed a lot of people with just a little bread, but the disciples had trouble keeping perspective. So do we. Storms are disorienting. And if you've lost your balance over these last few months with the storm, or you grew weary, or you missed an opportunity, tonight's a great night to say to the Lord, "Lord, I'm sorry. I'll begin again. I wanna stand for your people. I want to be salt and light. I'll take the place you created me to take. I want to participate in this great harvest at the end of the age".

Folks, the King is coming and we've got something to do other than play church between here and there. We've got something to do other than be angry at the wicked. We've got to hold up the truth. It's gonna take an effort on our part, a greater effort than we've ever known. But we have more help than we've ever had, amen? I want you to stand with me if you will. Didn't God give us a beautiful sanctuary? He really did. I spent the last, the better part of the last 25 years in one stage or another of planning sanctuaries in places for God's people to worship, and in a three week period of time, God gave us one that was more beautiful than any I ever worked on.

I want to pray for you. I want to pray that God will give us a new anointing, an anointing to see. Remember when Jesus said to the disciples, "The fields are white with harvest"? Don't say in three months or six months, "The fields are white with harvest". And they're making their way to Jerusalem, and they come to a Samaritan village, and the disciples go into the village to buy bread. And they come back with dinner, but while they were gone, Jesus ministered to a woman and she comes back with the whole village. All the disciples could see was they were hungry and there was dinner. Jesus could see that the fields were white with harvest. We need God's help. Without his help, our selfish desires, our carnal desires will dominate how we interact with our world and we will forfeit much of what we were created for. So I want to pray that God will give you eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Are you ready? Let's pray:

Father, thank you. Thank you for your Word and its truth, and authority, and power in our lives. I thank you that you care about us, that you called us out of darkness, and that through the blood of Jesus we have been redeemed from an empty way of life. Lord, I thank you that you have chosen us for this very unique season in human history when we see the culmination of the ages beginning to unfold. Lord, the news reports seem as if they're taken from the pages of our Bibles. And the challenges are not only great, they're threatening and often intimidating. But Lord, we present ourselves to you tonight as living sacrifices and we ask that you would use us. Lord, you said you chose the weak, and the foolish, and those who weren't of particularly noble birth.

And Lord, I thank you that in your great love, and mercy, and compassion, you've called us. Forgive us when we have failed, when we've missed those windows or failed to recognize the opportunities. We were more focused on dinner than the people. Lord, I pray now there would be a new anointing upon our lives, a new discernment, a new insight, a new understanding, a new desire to see the kingdom of God extend, and a new boldness to stand for the truth. Awaken us from our slumber. May the grogginess, Father, go. May our head, our awareness clear. I thank you for what you're doing. I praise you for it. I thank you for a church that is being awakened to this season; that we're gaining new strength, a new anointing, a new calling upon our lives. May you be pleased with us and may we accomplish the purposes for which we were created, in Jesus's name. And let all God's people say amen.

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