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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The People Who Choose God - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The People Who Choose God - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The People Who Choose God - Part 2

Now, I'm sure many of you know from scripture that the principle just as God chose the Hebrew people to be a unique people for himself, just as he's chose Abraham, God chose you and he chose me. Before we ever chose God, God chose us. It's a fundamental concept in scripture. We are the chosen people of God, just as certainly as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I need to tell you this just to be chosen is incomplete. That's not the total story, there's some things to be said after that. You see to be chosen, reflects God's initiative. God chose you. God also chose to give you a free will, which means your opinion matters.

Now some will say because God is omniscient, he knows those who will choose him and I agree with that. You know, there are many places in scripture where there is a the reality of a paradox. God in his wisdom and his omniscience knows those who will choose him and those who don't. But it does not mean he'll violate your free will. If you put before a toddler, a piece of candy and a sprig of broccoli, you have a pretty good idea, which one they'll pick up. You're not violating their choice, you understand the nature of the individual that you're addressing. God chose to give each of us a free will. Obedience is our response to God. And if we're gonna talk about obedience, we need to think of the alternative to that, and that's pretty simple, it's just disobedience. Little prefixed dis means without, disobedience is to be without obedience. I don't intend to obey. And if we're gonna have a meaningful conversation around obedience, we've got to have some conversation around disobedience.

God chose Israel, and in spite of that choice, and his calling, and his provision, and all the things he did on their behalf, I think we could say safely they still forfeited much through disobedience. Didn't make them less called, less chosen, less favored, they were still a delivery system for the purposes of God and have been blessed uniquely because of him, but they forfeited much. I would submit to you that God has chosen you. And I'd like to ask you a question today, not to be answered in this moment, but for some reflection. What are you neglecting? In the context of obedience, in the context of holiness, in the context of purity, in the context of serving the Lord, not in my opinion, not in what I would direct you to, in your own awareness, what are you neglecting? Because where you neglect obedience, there is great forfeiture.

Now walk with me, I think it'll become more apparent. God's chosen people, Deuteronomy 10. "The Lord set his affection on your forefathers and he loved them, and he chose you and their descendants above all the nations as it is today". God said, "I chose you above all the nations, all the nations aren't equal, you're my favorite". Awkward, but it's true. It's just true. I'm gonna take their land and give it to you. That's how it happened. Politically incorrect, God didn't panic. He probably got canceled in some places, he did it anyway. Colossians 3, this is New Testament. "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience".

You're God's chosen people, God chose you. God loves everybody, but he loves his people uniquely. Those who choose him occupy a special place in his purposes, and his outcomes, and his economy. There's no place for pride in that, the reality in the scripture is abundantly clear with this. All of our heroes, they're less glorious chapters are told to us. Moses, the murderer, David, an adulterer and a murderer. Paul, and angry violent man, I mean, the list goes on and on and on. Our heroes have not only clay feet. Clearly the message is we are an unstable system. We are not a reliable platform for delivery of godliness. We revert to previous patterns, we're often swayed by distraction, we lose our orientation. We're reading through the historical books right now if you're doing the Bible reading with us and the Kings, there's far more bad ones than there are good ones.

But it's not just an Old Testament problem, you go to the book of Revelation there's seven churches addressed. A message from God delivered to seven churches and of the seven, the majority of 'em have serious problems. Some of them God says, "I just wanna spew you out of my mouth". The churches. See, you really can't read the story of scripture and go: We are one reliable delivery system of holiness. I'll tell you that 'cause when you look at the world we're living in, we're thinking what have we done? What has happened? This is our watch, this is our time in the arena, this is our assignment. We're salt and light and darkness seems to be billowing over us at increasing intensity.

Look at 1 Corinthians 1, verse 26, "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards..." This is us he's talking about just in case you're not clear. You aren't all that wise, not many were influential. I mean, some were but not the majority. Not many were of noble birth. Most of us not only came from the wrong side of the tracks, most of us weren't even sure where the tracks were. But don't be disheartened, God chose the foolish things of the world. Now you got that? God looked across the world said there's a pile of foolishness over, He says, "I'll take those". That would be us. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. "He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him".

God chose us not because of our stellar character, or our intrinsic goodness, or our great strength, or intellectual prowess or whatever else we might wanna celebrate, he chose us because nobody else really wanted us, and he said, "Watch me, I'll take the leftovers. I'll go to the island of misfit toys and I will make a team of heroes". And then when everybody watches that, they'll know I've done it. Ain't it good to get voted off the island and be included with the people of God? We're not here to celebrate our perfection, the church is not the hall of fame of holiness and goodness and purity. Folks, this is a triage unit. We limp in here week after week, presenting ourselves before the Lord saying help us. We need renewal, and redemption, and strengthening, and forgiveness, and mercy, and grace. Not because we live sloppy lives. We are striving towards holiness, but only with the help of God.

Obedience, we have to choose obedience. I hope you do the day. How many of you do the right Bible reading with us? What are the rest of you doing? And when I was reading a few days ago, I was really struck by this passage in 1 Kings 13. As you have, I've read it many times. But there's always a freshness when I come back or not always, but many times there's a freshness. And I read this story, do you remember? It's 1 Kings 13 says, "When King Jeroboam heard that a man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel". The king is doing all sorts of wicked things and God tags someone to go say to the king, "God is going to interrupt your wickedness". But he also gives him some instructions on how to travel and how to behave while he travels. He tells him not to go and come in the same way. He tells him not to stop while he's there, but to make the trip quickly. "Go, don't eat with anyone, don't go into anyone's house".

It's kind of an odd story. And the prophet does, and what he says happens. When he speaks to the king, the altar before the king cracks and the things on the altar spill out onto the ground and the king is angry with him, and he points his finger at the prophet and when he does his hand withers. That's good for your credibility if you're the prophet. And the king says, "Pray for me". And when he does the hand is restored. That's even better for your credibility if you're the prophet. And now the king is impressed. It's in verse 6, "Then the king said to the man of God, 'Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.'" He interceded, he's restored. "The king said to the man of God, 'Come home with me for a meal and I'll give you a gift.'" He's humbled himself a bit.

Say well, "Well he's done it out of self-preservation". He has, but he still humbled himself a bit. "But the man of God answered the king, 'Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I wouldn't go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the Lord. 'You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.' So he took another road and he didn't return by the way he came". So far so good, right? Some of you remember the story. Says there's an older prophet and he hears the narrative and he sends someone to catch this prophet on the road. And he says, "Come eat with me". And he says, "No, I can't do that. I was told not to do that. I have to go". And he said, "The Lord told me you should come eat with me". So he goes back and he shares the meal. Long story short, the prophet that God sent is destroyed by wild animals on the way home.

Yeah, I know. I mean, I know that story, I've read it a few times and I read it the other day and I sat there and I read it again and I read it again and I thought, wow. And I finally wrote in the margin of my Bible, big block letters, "Obedience". There's a lot of things left out of the story. The why's and the how comes and how come the prophet that lied didn't get eaten by wild animals. I mean, clearly lying is not a biblical value. You get to the New Testament there's some exemplary judgements around lying in Acts chapter 5. But in this case, the message is about obedience. The prophet said, "These are my instructions. I can't eat with you, I can't drink with you, I can't take your gifts, I got to go home and I'm not even going the same way I came". And he breaks obedience.

So I write "Obedience," big block letters in the margin of the Bible and I turn, and I continued on through the book of Kings and that's 1 King's 13, 1 King's 14 it says, "Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord". 1 Kings 15, it says that the king, "He committed all the sins his father had done before him and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord". And I start writing every time one of those phrases is used. I'm writing in the margin of my Bible, "Disobedience, disobedience, disobedience". And all of a sudden, I have this idea that I'm reading through a book that's a commentary on obedience and disobedience. It's the story of being God's people. Obedient or disobedient. Are you walking in obedience to the truth that you know? Not some of it, not most of it. I understand we don't earn our way to heaven. It's not our good deeds that bring the blessings of God to us. Salvation is a gift, I understand that. But how we respond to God is the value we attach to that gift.

We have decriminalized disobedience. We're in a lot of trouble these days as a nation, violence is escalating. Lawlessness is exploding because we've taken the notion that we live under the rule of law, and we've pushed it aside. We're celebrating disobedience, violence, lawlessness, for personal gain, for the accumulation of power, a whole host of reasons behind that. You know why that's broken out in our nation? Because the church has yielded to disobedience. We've winked at ungodliness, we've winked at immorality, we've winked at greed, and covetousness, and selfishness. And all the things that we are coached against, we've said obedience to God, is not that important to us. We're born again, and we've been baptized, and we stood in church from time to time, and basically we're pretty good people, so don't really talk to me about obedience, I'm not under any rules. Really? I mean, you can take the Ten Commandments out of the schools they're not that important for our kids.

You know, you're probably gonna have to put SROs in there. Metal detectors wouldn't be bad. Can we have SWAT teams to respond to our schools, but for heaven's sakes don't put the Ten Commandments in there. Somebody might see those and actually start to meditate on it, and think about it, and abide by them, that'd be horrible. Folks, what we are watching is a reflection of who we've been. So if we want different outcomes in the broader culture, we have to become different people. We have to humble ourselves and begin to say to the Lord, "We've taken obedience to you too casually". It hasn't grieved us. We befriend the disobedient, we champion them in our homes, we don't want the awkward conversation that comes when we say, "That's ungodly". "Well, who are you to say it so"? I'm not saying it, I'm reporting the news.

Isaiah 1, God's recruiting a prophet. He says, "Come now, let us settle the matter,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they can be as white as snow; though they're as red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you're willing and obedient, you'll eat the good things of the land.'" The people who choose God, every bit is important as the people whom God chooses. What's it look like to be the people who choose God? Where you sit in church, the books you read, the beverages you drink? Those aren't the leading indicators. The leading indicators are the pursuit of holiness and obedience. The assignment of obedience still stands. It's not just an Old Testament concept, it's not a Hebrew Bible concept. Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 8, it speaks of Jesus. He said, "Though he was a Son, though he was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered".

Please note that. It says that Jesus learned obedience. The sinless perfect Son of God, set aside the glory of heaven. He'd seen the kingdom of his Father in all of its glory. He understood the magnitude of that. Says, he humbled himself put on an earth suit, but that he had to learn obedience. If Jesus learned obedience through the difficulty of his journey, is it possible that as our Lord and Savior, you think we might emulate that model, and you and I learn to be obedient through the challenges of life? When the challenges come oftentimes too often, I think we take them as license. "Well, God hasn't given me what I want, so I'll go get it on my own terms. I'm unsatisfied, I'm unfulfilled, I'm unhappy, I'm lonelier than I wanna be, something. I thought I'd be more successful by this point, or have greater resources, or I've had too many problems or there have been too many expressions of evils. So now I feel empowered and I feel licensed to go be ungodly".

Jesus learned obedience through the difficulty, through the rejection, the hardship, the suffering. It's not a singular idea, it's a theme. Philippians chapter 2, "And being found in appearance as a man". It's speaking of Jesus. "He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross". A humiliating death. He didn't die a hero's death. He didn't die by the world's standards, a triumphant death. He died amongst the wicked, the rejected, the shamed, hungry, thirsty, naked, beaten almost beyond recognition as human. Powerless it seemed to stave off the attacks from those who were accusing him and torturing him, finally until his physical body broke. Into my hands I commit your spirit. Obedient, and through his obedience, we have achieved a tremendous victory, a victory over Satan and all of his kingdom.

We've been welcomed into his eternal kingdom. We're identified with him. We are Christ followers. And the evidence of that far more than church membership or baptism certificates are assignments that we engage in as we serve together and do life together. The evidence of that allegiance is in our obedience to him. And when we choose not to obey, in the same way when we read the pages of the Old Testament, you see the forfeiture that comes with disobedience. I want you to be conscious that when we choose to disobey, we forfeit a great deal. In fact, that's my closing prayer this morning. I wanna give you an invitation, an invitation to repent of disobedience. I know I'm preaching to the choir, you're in church on a holiday weekend. I'm sure the lake's not closed and the golf courses are open and you had many alternatives, and you came to church. But you know, sometimes preaching to the choir is important 'cause if the choir thing's off key, everybody else is gonna sound awful.

And if a group of people, the size of those gathered today on campus and those listening in other places, if we would repent in a meaningful way, it could change the course of nations. It's not the number that makes the difference, it's the intent of our heart. We've been distracted, we've been lulled into this sense of kind of an altered consciousness, a limited awareness. Maybe not quite asleep, but not really awake. Well I've said a prayer and I've complied with some initial requirements for entrance. What else is there left for me to do? To lead a life of obedience. Desiring to be holy before the creator of all things. Why would I do that? Because it's the best possible way to make your journey under the sun. I'm gonna ask you to stand with me. I'm not gonna ask you to move this morning, partially 'cause I don't wanna leave those of you out who aren't in this space with us, but we're gonna borrow.

I learned it as a Quaker prayer, I don't wanna blame them that's just the way I learned it. But if you'll take your hands and you'll turn them, turn them up, we wanna receive what the Lord has for us. And then at a point, we're gonna turn him down to relinquish to the Lord. We'll receive his invitation to now and reason with me, but we wanna come this morning. I'm gonna pray in a moment, but I want you to know 'cause I'm gonna ask you to make a choice. In fact, you're on record now. September the 4th, 2022, you had an opportunity to make a choice. "Lord, I would meet with you. If there's any harmful thing in me, any place where I'm willingly, purposefully, intentionally, repeatedly, being disobedient, I don't wanna continue in that path. I'm gonna give it to you today, and I'm gonna choose your obedience. I'll honor you, Lord help me". God's not surprised by us, he recruited us. He looked at all the highlight tapes before he recruited us. He looked at all our weaknesses and inconsistencies and all of our brokenness and all of our stories and he said, "I can do something spectacular with that one". That's you and me. You ready? Let's pray.

Father we come this morning. I thank you for your great love and your mercy, for your goodness to us, that you've called us out of darkness into the kingdom of your Son. That you've chosen us. That you've made provision, that our sins could be washed white as snow. That we could be made righteous, justified, sanctified in your presence, we worship you today for that. But Lord, we come into your presence to acknowledge the struggle within each of us. Those times and places where we haven't complied, we weren't confused or distracted, Lord we chose not to obey. We chose our way, we chose our will, and we pushed yours aside. And we come this morning in humility, to ask for mercy and forgiveness, to repent, we choose a new pathway. Lord as we receive your mercy, and your healing, and your forgiveness, we lay those things down. We put 'em at the foot of the cross and we choose obedience today.

Holy Spirit, if there's anything in us that diminishes what God has called us for, what he's created us for, help us to see it that we might lay it down. Not to defend it, not to justify it, not to excuse it, we choose to honor the Lord. We choose holiness, we choose purity, we choose to walk uprightly. We choose to walk in integrity, help us Lord, help us. Awaken us, in ways we've never been awake before. Give us understanding hearts, and ears that can see and eyes that, ears that can hear and eyes that can see. Help us to encourage one another, to strengthen one another, to stand with one another, to speak the truth to one another in love. Thank you for what you've done today. Thank you for a new beginning. Thank you for the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus and the grace and mercy of the God we serve in Jesus's name, amen.

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