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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Living Spiritually Aware - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Living Spiritually Aware - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Living Spiritually Aware - Part 2
TOPICS: Awareness

It's an honor to be with you today. We're gonna complete our study in "Living Spiritually Aware." You know, God established realms of authority. He didn't wait for the CDC to have an opinion or the American Pediatric Association to give their perspective. God established family, God established marriage, God assigned our gender, that's not up to us. It really isn't that confusing. We've got to come back to a biblical world view. Grab your Bible and a notepad but most of all, open your heart.

Let's talk for a moment about realms of authority, they're important. When there's a conflict taking place you need to understand the authority in which you stand, and the places where you have vulnerability. There are some roles that God has assigned. God assigned them, we haven't, they didn't come from sociologists, they didn't emerge from the United Nations. They were God's imagination from the beginning of his creation. We're introduced to them in the opening verses of the book of Genesis. Realms of authority like men, and husbands, and fathers. And women, and wives, and mothers, their roles of tremendous significance.

There are no roles of greater significance in our lives. There's no title we will achieve, or power we will accumulate, or resource that we will manage to aggregate that will ever be greater than those roles and our willingness to fulfill them in the context of faith and of a biblical perspective. They're not open for evaluation or redefinition, God established them.

In Genesis 2:15 it says, "God took the man and he set him in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and to keep it in order". It's not quite as clear in English. The phrase in English is to keep it in order. In Hebrew, it's the modern root word for a night watchman or a guard. The assignment given to Adam was to watch over, to protect the garden from any intruders or any intrusion. He failed in that assignment, long before he got to his rebellious act. And in Genesis 2:18, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.'"

Women were created to be a help, we're different, biblically we're different. Not lesser please, but we're not the same, duh! And if the topic is realms of authority, there's one more component I think we need to add in Matthew 25. It's talking about judgment. You know, Jesus is not only our Savior, he'll be our judge. The Christ follower is not a judgment of destiny, but a judgment of reward. But for the whole world, he will be the judge. "Then he'll say to those on his left, depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels".

God never intended that for humanity. God's desire is that every human, God's desire is that every person would be saved. But to do that, we have to submit to his authority, we have to call Jesus Lord. We have to yield our will to his will. We have to desire to see his kingdom come and his will be done. We have to entrust our future to him. Being a Christ follower is so much more than sitting in a church, or joining a group, or studying a book, or being polite, or changing your vocabulary, or somehow adjusting your wardrobe. It has to do with the priorities of our lives.

Folks, we've missed a lot of this. We've lived in a culture that was certainly not entirely Christian, but the values that surrounded us had emerged from a Judeo Christian world view. And so we could kind of just blend into that, but we could still lead very self-absorbed lives. Well, I believe we've walked into a new season, a season of tremendous opportunity, a season of great shaking. And it's requiring us. You see if we will change our hearts, if we will change our responses to the Lord, if we will humble ourselves. This isn't about pleasing the preacher, or finding a group where you're more comfortable. There's some very serious business to be done.

But you don't need a tone of voice that you think about for church. You don't need formal theological language. You certainly don't need long robes or vestments, I'm not opposed to those. We've got to begin to talk to the Lord with some integrity. We've got to tell him, we've cared far more about the things of the world, than the things of his kingdom. That we've aspired for our children to succeed in this present order of things, far more than we've been concerned about them flourishing in his kingdom. That the great dreams of our life, the great ambitions of our hearts, have been a long way away from it. We didn't wanna declare ourselves Muslim, or Buddhist, or agnostic or atheist. We just didn't want our faith intruding in any overt way into the conduct of our lives. We wanted to be able to blend in wherever we were for the maximum opportunity. We've got to begin to tell the Lord the truth, he knows, he knows.

Because you see, our pathway forward and the future of our children and grandchildren is dependent upon our willingness to humble ourselves. If we persist in looking away, if we persist in imagining that an election's going to fix this, or a shift of power, or a change in the media, or the ice cap freezing, or something, we will forfeit what the Lord is inviting us to. Many, many of us read our Bibles regularly, the judgment of God comes to his people first because of their heart conditions. It wasn't the Babylonian military's expertise that caused Jerusalem to fall, it was the heart condition of the inhabitants of the city. And the same is true in our generation.

And as much as we want other people to be different, as much as we're agitated by what you watch, or see, the reality is if we will change, if we will change, God will move heaven and earth. You don't need me tell you, you begin to talk to the Lord. We've got to bring our faith back to the kitchen table. We've been winking at evil in our own homes. We've tolerated it, we've excused it, we've justified it. We didn't wanna disrupt a holiday, we didn't want the larger community to know that our family was less than perfect.

Folks, none of us have a perfect family. We're the ones who put fun in dysfunctional. Help one another. And if you still find joy, or some sort of satisfaction in the struggle of a brother and sister in the faith, put your face on the carpet until God changes your heart. We need one another. We need the strength we gain from one another. And I am way off course aren't I? I know where we were. "Those on the left depart from me, you're cursed and you'll enter into eternal fire for the devil and his angel. I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you didn't invite me in, I needed clothes and you didn't cloth me. I was sick and in prison and you didn't look after me".

See, ungodliness isn't just about what we do, it's what we fail to do. And many of us have spent our lives focused on not doing the wrong thing. But I'm not sure we've had nearly as much focus on what it means to serve the Lord and please the Lord. That requires boldness and strength and courage. It's oftentimes a bit upstream, it's against conventional wisdom, it will leave you off some invitation lists. It will cause folks to say some things that you probably prefer they wouldn't say, but it's worth it. You're an ambassador for a kingdom that's not fully expressed yet, but the king is coming and you wanna take delight in that ambassadorial role, it's the greatest honor of your life. There's no title you will ever aspire to that is more significant than that one. But that conflict is raging in our world. It's time to stand for biblical truth, not someone else, you and me.

Now I've got a few minutes and I wanna walk through with you just quickly some things that enable us to recognize and engage in some spiritual activity in our lives, beyond sitting in church. And beyond just praying polite prayers. You know, the prayers you pray over a meal or you pray with the children before they go to sleep. We've learned to incorporate that kind of a polite faith, we need more. We need a faith that believes there's substance to it and the outcomes of our lives will be determined by the vitality of our spiritual life. More than the outcomes of our lives will be determined by the vitality of our physical immune system. We really haven't believed that.

We give far more concern to our financial health, or our physical health, or our emotional well-being, than we do our spiritual health. We've kind of forgotten that. We said the sinners prayer, didn't we? I was baptized. What do you want from me? Nothing, I want for you, spiritual vitality. You know, it's in the academic world, we talk about social sciences, the soft sciences, harder to validate. I was involved in an interesting conversation in the past couple of weeks, with a couple of PhDs from Baylor University. I was actually, it was an interview.

So I wasn't directly talking to them, they were answering questions and I was answering some questions in response, but we were all parties in the discussion. And they'd done one of the most extensive research projects in religious behavior and religious participation that's been done in years. They did it over a lengthy span of time with an enormous number of people, and their conclusions, the reason they were being interviewed, their conclusion was there is an increase in religious participation in our nation, but that it is often under reported and often unnoticed, because it's not emerging in the traditional places we would seek to find it.

If the people are gathering and the labels are not traditional and they're not in the normal gathering places, they're not being identified. And this particular team of people had done an enormous amount of work to say, there's a great hunger, a longing, a desire in the hearts of people to worship the Lord. They said it took over a year to find anybody who would even publish their findings beyond an academic setting. God is moving in the earth. So how do we recognize it? The soft sciences are harder, real science is observable. I mean, that's the basis of science. We've been told to follow the science. You pay attention, you take note of what you see, what helps and what hurts and you try to do more of what helps.

So a proactive response, I brought you a list. There's some things you and I can do. We can self-initiate, we've been given permission to do this. The words are a little concerning to me because they're familiar, you put them in a context and you think of them as being inert words, but they're not inert words. Things like worship, learning, prayer, obedience. Those are all very proactive, spiritual responses. It's a tragedy that we've allowed worship to be imagined as a style or a form. It has nothing to do with music. Music can facilitate it, it can invite us, it can elicit a responsive worship, that there can certainly be a spiritual component to music, whether it's godly or ungodly. But you can worship without music. Worship is a recognition of the majesty of God, the glory of God, the honor he's due. And it's your willingness to give expression to that, to use your voice to do that, your posture to do that.

We stand to give honor to the Lord. We bow our heads as an expression of humility before the Lord, we kneel. There's a posture in worship. There's not a singular one or a better one. We have withdrawn from this. We've stood opposed to it and said, "Well you know, I'm not emotional," doesn't have anything to do with your emotions. "Well, I'm not an expressive person," okay change. "I'm more of an introvert". All right, worship quietly. Stop with all the reasons why we don't. There is a power in worship. There's an authority in it, there's an invitation in it. God's ego is not so fragile, he needs me to tell him he's doing a good job.

Worship changes my perspective, from my frailty, my creatureliness, my limits. And it redirects my attention to the one who created all things, who's the sustainer of all things, who spoke our world into existence. I need to have a greater awareness of him. We don't have very much trouble being emotional about things we care about. Watch a ballgame, watch a concert. Watch what happens when Wall Street goes up or down. There's a lot of ways to see emotion attached to things that you value. And we have brought such a limited part of ourselves into this spiritual arena, that our outcomes have been limited. We wanna become a people who will worship the Lord corporately, certainly, but far more privately.

You know, one of my... I don't have a lot of time, but if I get a little bit of time on a tractor to drive a bush hog, I've got an old rickety diesel tractor. It makes enough noise, I'm sure it's a hazard. The part I love about it, it's when that tractor's fired up, you can't hear what I'm saying. And me and the Lord have a good time. I can get loud. I just rev up the RPMs a little bit, I can get louder. We can cut some weeds and talk to the Lord. You need to find a time, and a place, and a space, where you can worship the Lord. Maybe it's a walk, maybe it's in your car, turn off the noise and worship the Lord. Maybe you mow the grass. I don't know when that is, but begin to give him honor and glory.

There's a spiritual power authority in that. Prayers, we've talked a lot about that. Learning, giving time and attention to learning about the Lord. We don't wanna act like it's an intrusion or burden. "Do I have to read my Bible some more, oh geez. I did that thing last year. You know, it's not ten minutes a day pastor, it takes me longer than that. I can't read those portions in ten minutes. You say ten minutes, it takes me at least 30 minutes". Okay, I don't know, you know, agreed. "So I did it last year 30 minutes. I'd get behind, the guilt would be oppressive. So I'd catch up and I'd feel so good and I'd get behind again, it was awful, it was torment all year long, but I'd finished. Now what do I do"? Oh, I got it. You mastered it first time through. "Well, I have some questions for you, we need an appointment. 'Cause I'm still working on it".

Learning is not a burden, it's not an intrusion. I need to understand the character of God more completely. It's a mystery to me, I'm working to conform my thoughts to his thoughts, 'cause my thoughts clearly are not God's thoughts most of the time. Pray for me. Spiritual wellness and spiritual health are important, they are as important as your physical immune system. They are, don't be panicky because you see expressions of evil in the world. Your body is constantly alert, protecting you from any number of things that would be completely debilitating and diminishing to you. Viral threats, bacterial threats. Your body's designed to heal, to repair, to renew, to refresh. God designed us that when we pray for healing, we're not asking for something special, we're asking God to let our body do what he created it to do.

So your body presupposes these intrusions, that's what your immune system's all about. Well spiritually, we're so naive. We're offended at the thought that there could be some intrusion, some opposition, some resistance. We need to understand how to maintain a healthy spiritual life. Look at 2 Peter 1. "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love".

Now I know it's in the Bible and we read it like it makes perfect sense, but that's not a fun list. He says, make every effort, every effort. Leave no stone unturned, spend any dollar that needs to be spent. Take whatever time it takes. Get up early, stay up late, expend your strength and your energy. "Make every effort," he says, "to add to your faith goodness". How many of you worked really hard on goodness last week? Don't raise your hand. And to your goodness knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control. How many of you last week said, "My goal is more self-control". "And to self-control, perseverance," oh hallelujah. "And to perseverance, godliness".

Now we're getting some momentum, and to godliness, brotherly kindness. I mean, we want other people to be kind to us. "And to brotherly kindness, love". Why would we do that? "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you". They'll keep you from what? "They'll keep you from being ineffective, and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ". Did you know you can have a knowledge of Jesus, and still be ineffective and unproductive? I don't think we wanna meet the King that way. You don't want him to look beside your name and have in real bold letters, "Ineffective, unproductive". Look at the next line. "If anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he's been cleansed from his past sins".

What's our motivator? A response to the grace of God. Because you've done so much for me, I will make every effort to add to my faith goodness, and to goodness knowledge. I brought you a prayer. We'll come back to that outline I promise. Actually what I brought is intended to be a proclamation. It's from Psalm 34, I didn't even adjust it. I left the verses in there. I want you to know where it came from, there's an authority. God's people have been working on this or as long as God has had people.

See, we were able to look away and imagine we didn't have to have these kind of conversations, because we've lived in a place that had so much stability, and so much of a biblical influence, woven into the fabric of our society, that we could kind of coast on the sacrifices that others had made before us. And now because of our neglect, or our lack of attention, or our indifference, or something, that fabric is unraveling. And if our children and our grandchildren are going to know liberty and freedom, and opportunity, it will be because we are willing to make the sacrifice, to see godliness emerge again. Not the first time this has happened. It's a consistent part of the story of God's people.

So we can go all the way back to the book of Psalms, and we can find a proclamation that feels appropriate to me for the 21st century. I'm gonna ask you to say it with me. We're gonna make it as a declaration over our lives today, over our homes, over our congregation, over our state, our nation, over the church and the earth, saying what God's Word says about you is a really good habit, amen. Why don't we stand together? It's in your notes, if you're online, you can download it. They'll put it on the screens. Be hopeful I'm done for now.

"I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me: he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. The poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing". Amen, hallelujah, God bless you.
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