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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Spiritual Blindness, Cause and Cure - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Spiritual Blindness, Cause and Cure - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Spiritual Blindness, Cause and Cure - Part 2
TOPICS: Spiritual Blindness

I was reading yesterday one of Mother Teresa's speeches. It was actually the speech presentation she made at the presidential prayer breakfast in 1994. When she challenged the sitting president, she made her presentation as a pro-life presentation, standing before a president who had vetoed multiple times bans on partial birth abortion. Mother Teresa, all 5 feet of her, spent her life serving the poor, and the courage to stand behind that podium in the center of Washington, D.C. in a collection of powerful people and stand up for the sanctity of human life, but she made a statement that... it stuck in my heart. She said it cost Jesus something to love us.

Folks, the cross is free to every person. No matter your race, your ethnicity, your IQ, your income everybody can come to the foot of the cross, but to serve Jesus you have to take up your cross. We haven't talked about that enough. Look at Hebrews 8. "They, the priests, serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and a shadow of what is in heaven". There's something better than this present world order. That is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle. Moses built the earthly tent, but he'd been shown the real one. "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain". Verse 6, "But the ministry that Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is a mediator is superior to the old one". That Jesus has a ministry.

The author of Hebrews goes to extensive measures to convince us that Jesus' ministry is superior to the angels, that his leadership is superior to Moses, that his priesthood was greater than the earthly priesthood that had preceded him, but there's a statement in that 6th verse I want to call your attention to. You'll have to turn the page back over. Turning the page will not make me hurry. I'm sorry. It just doesn't help. The doors are on a time lock. Don't tell the fire marshal.

Said the verse, the ministry that Jesus had received. You ever thought of it in that way, that Jesus had received a ministry? It's not an insignificant-thing ministry. We don't attach great value to it. We don't attach nearly as much value to it as being drafted to play professional sports, or admission into some high-powered school that we deem significant, or inclusion in some professional groups that then denote achievement or accomplishment or proficiency. But I'm really not sure there's any greater invitation to you once you're a participant in the kingdom of God than recognizing that God has prepared an opportunity for you to serve. To serve God on behalf of others is a life role of tremendous significance, and it has nothing to do with podiums, and platforms, and preachers, and profession. It's how you imagine your time, and your days, and your energy, and your intellect, and your resources. What are you doing with those?

You see, ministry has a value both in time in this present world order and beyond. We don't think about this enough. You can be a GOAT. Saw that at the tennis tournament again this week, the greatest of all time, a GOAT. Not like a four-legged mammal that can find grass on a pile of rocks, but the greatest of all time. You can be the greatest of all time in your chosen arena with tremendous accolades and achievements and rewards for that. We say it about athletes, and we have debates about it. "This one was the greatest of all time in this sport or in that sport". And the debate rages back and forth across the eras. But do you understand that you can be a GOAT and be totally irrelevant in eternity? You can be the greatest there was in time, but this present world order is passing away.

What are you in view of eternity? What are you stacking up in view of eternity? What's your training pattern for eternity? What's your discipline schedule for eternity? Again, I understand that's a bit countercultural. I get the idea. It makes you an outlier, but it's worth thinking about. We've been blind to that. We've been blind in coaching our kids to that. I mean, we teach them to say please and thank you; yes, sir; and no, ma'am, if they grew up in the south; but we're really reluctant to coach them on serious godly things, listening to the Spirit of God. We've been a little blind spiritually. Find a way to serve. I mean, we help here, but you don't want to limit it to here. You want to serve every day some expression of kindness, some advocacy for Jesus, some word of yours of an encouraging Word, something that's informing.

Maybe somebody that's stressed and angry, you can soak up a little bit of their anger and not respond in kind. They needed somebody to shout at for a minute. Clearly they were beyond their threshold. Don't be easily offended. Folks, we got to live a different way. We have to see the world around us from a different perspective. For far too long it's been, "What can I get, and how can I get more, and how can I get to the point that I don't have to do anything anymore and then I can just do what I want"? Who said you ever get to do just what you want? Have I offended everybody yet? I'm working on it. I got a couple of minutes left. I'll get to you if you're still sitting there, just kind of feel safe.

2 Corinthians 12 and verse 1, Paul this time he said, "I must go on boasting. Although there's nothing to be gained, I'll go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I don't know, but God knows". Paul's talking about a third heaven. Now, logic tells us if there's a third heaven, there has to be a first and a second. You can't have a third of anything if you haven't had a first and a second. You can't have your third child if you didn't have the first two. So there has to be a first and a second heaven. The third heaven seems to be God's dwelling place, but from the beginning of our Bible the presentation is of heaven in the plural.

In Genesis 1, when it says God made the heavens and the earth, the word heaven is plural. Now, if there's a third one, there's a first and a second one. I don't want to stop and do that a lot; but the shorthand on it, the second heaven, the mid-heaven seems to be that place where Satan has authority and has established his kingdom. The first heaven will be the one that's visible to us when we look up. Now, I don't think of those in terms of layers. It's not like if you go far enough up you get to God's throne room. It isn't layers to me. I think of it not in that way, not spatially, but in its dimensions, three heavens. We need a little, we've been blind to some things that are very much a part of the scriptural, the biblical narrative.

We've been blind to some things that are very much a part of the scriptural, the biblical narrative. You see, modern thinking, modernity if we can use the word, has given us a shift in consciousness from the supernatural to the secular. Everything has to be able to be explained in terms of an equation, a balance sheet, something that's measurable. Da Vinci, he would put people at the point of death on a scale to monitor their body weight at the point of death. He would take very ill people, put them on a scale so at the point of death if there was a measurable difference in their body when their spirit left. You'd be absurd to think that pre-modern people, and you can decide where that line is, but we tend to look back through a window of history and think, "Those were some stupid people".

You'd be absurd to think that pre-modern people were always praying or were really fundamentally different from us. There's such arrogance in that. I promise you they had to cook their dinner, they had to take care of the kids, they had to do something with the trash. They probably built a mountain with that on the edge of town. Among the many differences between their world and our world, one of them was that for them the unseen was not unreal, the seen was only a part of the world; whereas the unseen is generally for us unreal and largely irrelevant. We're just blind to it. We don't want to talk about it. We're a little offended by it.

"Well, you know, with my education it's just hard for me to believe in something I can't see". Oh really, Obi-Wan? We spent better than a year hiding from a virus. You can't see one of those. I mean, maybe if you got an electron microscope you can kind of see it, but when you look at it you don't know what you're seeing. Advanced modernity tends to make people lose an entire dimension of our reality in the name of realism. It's just not realistic to believe in spiritual things. It reinforces the naturalistic worldview of scientism and the secularists and it renders meaningless to supernatural worldview of the Christ follower. We're not predominantly intellectual in the way we follow God. It's a spiritual kingdom. The result is that we as God's people have lived in a world without windows and we just believe what we're told.

"You're all the same. The economy is fine. The border is closed. Nothing to see here". Because we have such a small God perspective, such a limited God perspective. Jesus came to the earth to demonstrate the kingdom of God to us, not in words, but in power and authority. He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He's anointed me to proclaim good news to you". And the message that came back after, over and over the disciples said, "We've never seen anything like this. Who is this man? He talks to the wind and the waves. He stands in the cemetery and talks to dead people. He interrupts funeral processions with good news. He prays for the sick and they get better. He speaks to demons and they leave. We've never seen anything like this".

And the modern response to that is, "Let's have a seminar and decide whether or not we believe miracles still happen". Spiritually blind. I didn't say evil; just totally unaware, no imagination, no vision, perhaps more concerning, very little interest. "Well, I prayed the prayer and I took a dip in the pool and I joined the church. I mean, what do you want"? Well, I would wish for every one of us a meaningful spiritual life, a life that's invested in a kingdom not of this world yet. Jesus is the Father's greatest gift to humanity, and the Spirit of Jesus is the greatest gift of Jesus to his followers and an essential element in living his way of life and fulfilling his great commission.

I put Psalm 1, I think, in your notes. It says, "Blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of the sinners or sit in the seat of the mockers". That to me is a practical description of diminishing spiritual sight. It's a downward progression. So it felt like an appropriate prayer for us this morning. It's a repentance prayer of our skepticism, of our stubborn reluctance to believe, of our detours way too far into the world. We want to be convinced that God is real. How about we just become early adopters? I'm willing to be caught being an over-believer. When you see the Lord, he'd say, "You know, you just believe anything about me". "Yes, sir, I was trying".

What are you trying to do? I want to invite you. It's just a one-sentence prayer. I think I put it in your notes, didn't I? Did you get that? Yeah, good. It's in bold. Can we just say that together? "I choose not to walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers, amen". I'm not done just yet. I got a couple of minutes. Doors will unlock in a moment. I'm kidding. That's not true. Ephesians 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He's blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing". We've wanted all the blessings now. We wanted all our blessings in this present world order. I'm not opposed to those. I like good food. But we've been narrow-minded. We haven't had a vision. We haven't been able to see.

Ephesians 1:19, "His incomparably great power for us who believe". Wow, great power for us. "That power is like the working of his mighty strength he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and he seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms". The vindication of Jesus is not yet apparent in the earth. It will be. The last time the world saw him he was struggling for breath on a Roman cross. He'd been tortured almost to death. In fact, he died on that cross because of the inhumanity of his abusers, so disfigured he barely looked human. He was hardly recognizable, but God has exalted him, seated him at the highest place in all of creation. Every knee will bow to Jesus. That is not yet apparent to our world. This present world order does not have to look upon that just yet, but we have chosen to focus our attention on that.

That's the message of Hebrews; to set our attention on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross. We understand he's risen from the dead, that he's ascended back to heaven, that he's seated at the right hand of God the Father. It's a heavenly vision. It's a vision of something beyond time. We've been a little blind to that, hadn't mattered much to us. We've been a little casual. I want to give you one more piece of something that's new. I think it's worth this second.

Revelation 21. Very near the end of the book, he said, "He carried me away in the spirit to a mountain great and high and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel". The city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, the New Jerusalem, we're told in that same chapter, the city of God. See, in Hebrew tradition, in Jewish scholarship there's a heavenly Jerusalem. Even their language says there's more than one. Spiritual blindness, we've been so invested. Our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations, our disappointments have been so grounded in this present world order. We've lived with very little ambition, with very little attitude, with very little enthusiasm for the kingdom that's ahead of us.

Folks, something better is coming. Yeah, this present system is being shaken, and I got news for you. It's going to continue to be shaken. It will ultimately collapse, but God's still on the throne. He's still watching over us. He will care for us. He will take us through. We got a message for our world. We got to start leading with our faith. We've been leading from the back of the pack. It doesn't work. What's the old line, unless you're the lead dog the view never changes? I don't want to go there. That's enough. God has something better for us. I brought you a prayer, but I'd rather pray for you today, if I may. I want to pray.

You know, when Jesus met Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, he lost his physical sight for a bit. And they took him on into Damascus, and God sent Ananias, one of his trusted servants, to go pray for Paul, and he said, "He's had a vision of you coming to pray for him and his sight being restored". And it says that when Ananias prayed for Saul of Tarsus, that something like scales fell from his eyes. Now, I know it was his physical sight that was affected, but I would submit to you that that's really an image of something far more profound that was happening. He started on that journey on that road to Damascus. He was Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee of the Pharisees persecuting Christians, and by the time he arrived in Damascus he knew Jesus is Lord.

Something he was blind to when he started the journey he was very much able to see before he completed, and that's my prayer for us; that the scales would fall from our eyes, that we would begin to attach new value to spiritual things, that we would begin to redirect our attention and our dreams and our efforts to the kingdom of God, that we would have the courage and the boldness to invite the Spirit of God to help us see those places that we're too far in the world, and that we'd be willing to stand in a new way as citizens for a kingdom that is yet to be fully known. Are we willing to stand for a kingdom that is not yet fully realized in a way we've never stood before?

I think it is the question for the church of our generation. We've quibbled for long enough about secondary things, worship styles and translations and dress codes and we got to stop. We got to come back and start to own the kingdom wherever we go, and we will see God move in ways we have never seen him move before. I believe it.

Just stand with me, if you will. Whichever sanctuary, if you're watching at home, stand with us. A digital window does not give you permission to be disrespectful to the Lord. If you're driving, you stay seated. Hallelujah. It's exciting to be a generation God called for his purposes. He didn't recruit us in a burning bush in the middle of the desert; but he's recruited us in the middle of a season of unprecedented turmoil and realignment, a time when the enemy's come in like a flood and God is looking to raise up a standard against him, and he's looking for standard bearers, and he called your name and mine.

Father, I thank you for the privilege of being together. I thank you for your Word, for its truth and authority and power. I thank you for each person that is able to hear this. And, Lord, we present ourselves today as living sacrifices. In your great mercy you have called us out of darkness and made provision for our sins to be forgiven. Through the redemptive work of Jesus we have been justified and sanctified, made holy, and set apart for your purposes. Father, we've taken those great blessings and those great gifts and we have presumed upon them. We've made our own way, chosen our own goals, created our own dreams, have had little interest in yours, and we come this morning in humility to repent. Forgive us. We choose to think in a new way and we choose to walk in a new way, and now I ask that you would begin to give us new sight.

Open our hearts to understand that we might see, Father, not with just physical eyes but we might see with eyes of faith. And here with the understanding of a spirit-directed heart, not simply what you're saying to us but what you're doing in the earth, may we have courage and boldness to share the good news of Jesus as we know you with the people around us, may we be willing to take our faith into the fullness of our lives. Forgive us for our timidity. Forgive us for wanting the approval of others more than we have wanted to be pleasing to you.

I thank you today that we will begin a new season and begin a new part of our journey with new eyesight, a new understanding, a new boldness, a new courage, a new awareness of your abiding Spirit within us. Help us begin to see what you're doing around us every day, the things we've walked past and we've been unaware of because we couldn't see before but now we will see. May a spirit of rejoicing come to us and a true joy that you are moving in the earth, that you're preparing a people for your own purposes and that you are shaking systems to expose the significance and the merit and the value of your kingdom. We thank you for it. We thank you for a new joy where there's been heaviness and a burden and a fear, that there'll be a sense of victory and triumph and hope because of the kingdom of our God. In it all, may you be glorified, and may the name of Jesus be lifted up, for it's in his name we pray, amen.

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