Allen Jackson - History Matters - Part 2
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You know, the Bible tells us that we're to be in the world but not of it. There's a lot of trends that take place around us that we can observe, we can have an opinion about, but we don't want to be swept along with them. One of those is this descent into ungodliness. We're setting aside a biblical worldview; a commitment to the authority of Scripture and imagining we can define truth subjectively based on how we feel, we can define whether we're male or female based upon the feelings of the day. We're reluctant to define marriage or family from a biblical perspective. It's paganism. It's growing around us. It's time for the church to find a voice. You and I can be a part of that. Enjoy the lesson.
See, we want a world with no turmoil. We want a world with no conflict. We want circumstances with no resistance. We don't ever want bad news, right? And so we imagine that our faith is going to give us that yellow-brick-road experience and if it doesn't we're mad at God, but that really is not a biblically-informed imagination. Jesus said in this world you will have winning lottery tickets. No, if I remember correctly, he said, "In this world you'll have trouble. But be of good cheer! I have overcome the world". And then we're called to be overcomers as well in Christ. "My peace I give to you," he said. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you". To dwell in God's peace is going to require the involvement of your thoughts, and the real focus, the bedrock of that is to trust in the Lord.
So there's an interplay here between trust and peace and fear. Where fear is flourishing, our trust is diminished. If there are things that frighten you, that might bring anxiety to you and uncertain to you, it's a place where you haven't yet established trust in the Lord. You imagine that you could secure that, and your ability to secure something is threatened, so it creates anxiety and fear. Rather than be ashamed or embarrassed or angry or mad at God, how about if we began to say, "Lord, I realize there's someplace here where I have not trusted you. I've been trusting in myself. Thank you for that awareness. Help me learn to trust you in this area. Holy Spirit, I need your help. I don't want to forget all your benefits". Look at Psalm 56, verse 3. "When I am afraid, I'll trust in you".
So it acknowledges that fear comes. What's the response when you're frightened? "God, I need to trust you here. I need to trust you". So what do we do to incubate trust? And that's an interesting question, and it's beyond the scope of a single presentation. Some of that has to do about the people you spend your time with. And if I want to go fishing and I want to come home with fish, I want to go fishing with people who are much better fishermen than I am. I don't want to go fishing with people that don't know which end of the rod to use. You know, and that pattern holds true across. So one of the things I try to do is spend time with people who have an interest in an active and vibrant faith. They don't have to be preachers, and I don't mean kooky. There's a difference in genuine faith and kooky faith. You'll know it when you meet it. You know, I'm not really overly impressed with, I think faith in God draws your attention to God and not to the person that says they're demonstrating their faith. We've got to become more discerning.
The Antichrist will be a supernatural person. So it isn't just about miracles or supernatural things or vocabulary words, but one of the things I like to do is I will work hard to spend time with people that have a genuine faith in the Lord. And they don't have to always be more mature than me, they have to be sincere in their faith. In the same way, spending time with small children, does it remind you of what purity feels like sometimes? There's an innocent, it's innocence in small children. Sometimes there's an innocence in new believers that are truly seeking the Lord that will challenge you. They have a hunger for the Lord and for the things of the Lord. They're willing to say they've been in a mess and that God is cleaning up their life and putting their feet on a new path.
That's a very helpful attitude to spend time with because sometimes if you've been around the Lord for a while or around God's people, we get really callous. We act like we don't even remember what sin was. I mean, we knew a sinner once, but it's been so long ago. That's horse for baloney. The people you spend time with, the time you give to the Word of God. You know, we do a daily Bible-reading, but honestly that's just intended to be an introduction. And I know some days you're busy and some schedules have ups and downs in them, but hopefully what that will do is incubate in you, elicit in you a desire to spend more time in the Word of God. You need it to ground you. Pray in the Spirit.
If you don't know what that means, get the book out there. What is it, "Power of the Holy Spirit"? "Unleashing the Power of the Holy Spirit". It's just a collection of sermons we've done, but it'll walk you into that. You need all the help from the Spirit of God that's available to you, period. It's not about joining a group. It's not about being special. It's not just... how do we maintain? How do we grow in trust? Well, a part of that is recognizing the revelation God has given us. And I'm going to wrap it up with these statements, but in Genesis 22, there are seven covenant names of God that are revealed in scripture. And we're not going to look at all seven, but they are unique revelations of the character of God to humanity. They're not abstract theological principles, they're all delivered in a very human context with the lesson about God's character and his desire to be involved with us, but they're delivered to us as a part of the covenant that we have with God through that covenant made with Abraham.
For instance, in Genesis 22, this is the... Remember when God said to Abraham after he waited and waited for Isaac, the child, the promise, and Isaac finally came, and God said, "I want you to offer Isaac as a sacrifice"? Unimaginable. And Abraham said, "Grab some wood, we need some fire, and, Isaac, we're going to take a trip". And they headed for Mount Moriah. The mountain where Abraham built an altar and put Isaac on the altar to offer him as a sacrifice to God is the same mountain where the temple would be built and where Jesus would be offered as a sacrifice. So Abraham follows through with that. They climb the mountain. He builds, he lays the stones for the altar. He puts the wood on the altar. He binds his son and puts him on the altar and draws back the knife, and the Lord says, "Don't touch that boy". And the Bible tells us that Abraham believed that even if he'd taken his life, God would have raised him to life again, but in that moment of profound obedience, you talk about disciplined emotions.
There's no sloppy emotions in that story. Listen to what God says to Abraham. It's Genesis 22:14. "So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide, and to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.'" Well, in Hebrew it's Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord is our provider. But we've ripped that out of its context, and we use it really sloppily. "The Lord will provide all the things I want". And God is very good and gracious to us. I'm not questioning the generosity of God, but that revelation came to Abraham in the midst of an expression of obedience that is just about beyond comprehension. Is that fair?
So we have this presentation of God our provider. So whatever needs you face, whatever turmoil may come to the earth, whatever economic chaos seems to be unfolding around us, what are you going to, you're going to be angry, panicked, frightened, worried, concerned, or will you begin to build the trust in the Lord our provider? If he could provide in that moment of duress for Abraham, I believe he can take us through. If he could feed the Hebrew slaves in the midst of a barren desert with no green thing growing or provide water for them in that barren wilderness, he'll take care of us. You have to think about that. You want to talk to the Lord about that. Make a list of the places in your life where God has given you outcomes that were disproportionate with either the efforts you invested or the wisdom you had or he caused the resources you had to extend further than you imagined. Reflect on it. Don't forget the Lord and all of his benefits. He has provided for you. Most of us have so much, we don't know where to store it all. We have so much food. There's too much of us.
Look in at Exodus 15. This is Moses. We're little deeper into the narrative. They're out of Egypt. They've crossed the Red Sea. This is their first stop. The water is not good. They can't drink the water, and the people are talking about stoning Moses. They had it so good in Egypt. "Let's kill the guy that got us out". "Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. And the Lord made a decree and a law for them. There he tested them. He said, 'If...'" and you ought to circle that little word. It's little preposition, but it's a conditional promise. "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and you do what's right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all of his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I'm the LORD, who heals you".
It's another one of those covenant revelations. In Hebrew it's Jehovah-Rapha. Rapha is the modern-day word in Hebrew for a physician, a medical doctor. God said, "I'll be your doctor. If you'll listen to me, if you'll be obedient to me... Oh, yeah, I can make the water drinkable, but I can do more than that. I'll be your doctor. You won't have all those sicknesses and diseases that you saw in Egypt". It says when they left Egypt, there were no sick amongst them. Can you imagine? You have to think about that. You need to meditate, reflect on the times God has restored your health, the times God's brought you through. He just kept you through a pandemic. Don't tell me he's never done anything for you. He's been good to us. Think about it. Remember it.
The times there was health care available when you needed health care and you got a good outcome, the time when you had medicines available for your children when they needed them. "Lord, you've been faithful to me. You've watched over me. The times when disease and sickness have not overwhelmed me. God, I thank you". Don't forget his benefits. Stop looking at the wind and the waves and start to discipline your thoughts and your emotions to be filled with what God has done in your life. Talk to one another about it. Tell your God stories. Listen to one another. Stop repeating the evil. Turn off the internet. Stop listening to the knuckleheads and stop indulging your carnal self and begin to fill your heart and mind. Folks, it's not our imagination. We're walking to a storm, and to do that there are some precautions that are necessary.
Look at Exodus 17. Same journey from Egypt on the way to the Promised Land, and now there's a battle taking place. And Moses is on top of the hill watching the armies fight; and as long as he holds the staff of God in the air, his team wins, but when his arms get tired and he drops his arms, the Hebrews lose. So Aaron and Hur figure this out. Don't you know it had to happen more than once? Hot, cold, hot, cold. And they finally kind of figured out the correlation. So they say, "We'll hold your arms up when you're too tired to hold your own arms up". So they brought rocks and, I mean, they worked, orchestrated plan. Their status on the top of the hill had a bearing on what was happening on the field. Do you believe that your attitude towards the Lord has a bearing on what happens in this nation? I promise you. "The Lord said to Moses," Exodus 17:14, "'Write on this scroll as something to be remembered, and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out of the memory of Amalek from under heaven.' And Moses built an altar, and he called it The Lord is my Banner".
Jehovah-Nissi. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord said, "I'll raise up a standard, a banner against him". The idea of carrying a banner or a standard into battle as a point of rallying those who are on the same side is as old as conflict, and that was played out that day. As long as Moses held up the symbol of God's power in the midst of his life and as a leader of those people, victory came to them, and when he was incapable of doing on his own, those that were standing with him did everything in their power to ensure that victory. And God said, "Be sure Joshua knows this story 'cause Joshua has a whole lot more conflict in front of him. He's going to have to lead the conquest".
In Judges chapter 6, the Lord said to... this is Gideon. Remember Gideon, one of the judges, one of the leaders of Israel? Except at this point in time, Gideon doesn't know he's a leader of Israel. He's a frightened young man. He's hiding from the enemy, trying to get enough food for his family, and the angel of the Lord comes and says, "Behold, mighty man of valor". And Gideon looks around to see who he's talking to. Now, he says, "No, you don't understand. I'm the least significant in my family, and my family is the least significant in our tribe, and our tribe is the least significant in our clan. And you clearly, you got the wrong number in your GPS". And God said no. And then Gideon starts in with all the fleeces. You know, no dew on the fleece and then no dew on the grass and, I mean, what he was really trying to find was no do. He didn't want to do what God was asking him to do, right? We've been there.
"Well, Lord, if that's you, if you really want me to do that, let the sun go backwards". I've prayed that prayer. So this is God. "The Lord said to Gideon, 'Peace. Do not be afraid.'" What do you know Gideon was? Anxious and frightened. "'You're not going to die.' So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and he called it The Lord is Peace". Jehovah Shalom. It's more than peace. It's a very robust word. Content, without anxiousness, secure. And if you start to build these together, it's an amazing set of promises. The Lord that will provide, the Lord who will heal, the God who is my banner, God who is my peace. Who's going to take your peace away if the Creator of heaven and earth is your peace? A politician? No, I don't think so. A school board? Uh-uh. Wall Street? Nope. You see, we cannot afford to forget the Lord's benefits. It's worth meditating on, thinking about, not in the abstract and not just in the biblical sense, in your own story.
Turn your thoughts and your emotions to the places where God has brought those victories, where you've experienced his faithfulness. Sometimes if it's a difficult day or a difficult week, I've walked down in the lobby of the church and walked down to where those picture boards are down by the café, and I'll stand and look at those pictures and I remember those times and places and how we've experienced the faithfulness of God in community 'cause in those snapshots, for me, in most of them there's lots of emotions around the scenes that are there. Sometimes I look at the pictures and I just get exhausted 'cause I remember what we were doing, but I think, "God, you've been faithful. And if you were faithful there and there and there, I think you'll be faithful here". And then I'll go find some people that I know are doing their best to walk with the Lord, and I'll say, "Tell me what the Lord's doing in your life". And I'll listen to their stories, and as I do that, I begin to push back on the anxiety and the uncertainty and the fear. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and forget not all his benefits".
When you begin to occupy the places God created you to occupy, don't forget who put you there. Don't imagine you built the cities and planted the vineyards and dug the wells. Remember who puts you there or you'll become an idolater and then judgment will come. Folks, what we see through the windows of the church is his judgment 'cause of our hearts, but we're changing. We're changing, we're learning to trust in the Lord in some new ways. We've trusted in too many other things. What we trusted in was almost indistinguishable from the secular friends we've had. We've taken coaching from them on how to secure our futures. Our dreams have been almost, you could overlay them, but God is helping us.
How many of you will be willing to offload some fear and anxiety tonight? All right, why don't you stand. I'm done. The invitation in the New Testament is to cast all your anxiety on the Lord 'cause he cares for you. Years ago, we did a sermon and I had everybody wad up their outline, write down onto the things they were most worried about, and had them write, and then we wadded it up, then on the count of three they all threw it forward, it was like a snow storm. I'm not about to give you permission to throw things at me tonight, but with that same imagination, let's take those points of anxiety that you have.
What is it you're worried about? What is it that gives you uncertainty? What is it that makes you feel unstable? What elicits fear? Now, you have to decide. Some of you, so much a part of you is like anger. Some of you, anger is a part of your persona. You like it. It's an intimidating force. And some of you like to worry. Everything to worry about, you get worried about it. For some of you, anxiety is your default position, and we've got to come to the Lord and say, "Lord, I'm sorry. You said not to worry. I'm going to give all that anxiety to you". Destructive emotions don't leave and stay away. They return. They'll knock. "I offered that to the Lord. I'm not picking it back up again. I remember you, I recognize you, but no, no, you're not coming in. I don't intend to have a meal with you". You ready? Why don't you just repeat a prayer after me?
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the truth of your Word, and I repent tonight of any fear, of any anxiety, of any place I have given worry access to my life. I choose a new path. I want to put my trust in you. I want to remember your faithfulness. I will tell the stories of the faithfulness of God. I will dwell on the things you have done for me. I choose to rejoice in my God and my Creator, that your power is greater than anything that stands in opposition. I praise you tonight for the revelation of yourself that you've given to me that you're a God who provides, that you're a God who heals, that you're the Lord my banner, that you're the Lord my peace, that I stand in your strength and in your authority, and I will triumph over every expression of evil in Jesus's name. Amen.