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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Matter Of Influence - Part 2

Allen Jackson - A Matter Of Influence - Part 2

Allen Jackson - A Matter Of Influence - Part 2
TOPICS: Influence, Leadership

Now, I made a comment last week, and I had enough comment about it. I wanted to come back and take a couple of minutes with it. I made the suggestion that inadequacy is actually something that commends you to leadership in the kingdom of God, that, if you recognize the places where you're inadequate, that becomes the canvas for God to do something remarkable in your life, that God doesn't need Allen's strengths. Thank you for not saying, "Amen". I'm pretty certain, when God welcomed me into his kingdom, the angels didn't get together and say, "Thank God with him on the team". I'm pretty sure that I represented a liability that was gonna require an extra lift from everybody, and that's true until today. My IQ doesn't make the difference. My bank account doesn't make the difference. My physical strength doesn't make the difference.

The places where I am inadequate are the places where God's strength can be made most evident. It's a biblical idea. In fact, this notion of being inadequate, weak, incompetent, and under pressure are all necessary components for significance in the kingdom of God. So, if you find yourself in that category, you feel a little inadequate, you feel you don't have enough strength, your incompetencies seem to outweigh your competencies, and there's consistent pressure in your life, welcome to "Leading with Your Faith". It's biblical.

Look at 2 Corinthians 12. Paul said, "I'll boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I'm weak, then I'm strong". Did you hear it? I believe the words have a meaning. He said, "I delight in weaknesses. I delight in insults. I delight in hardships. I delight in persecutions and difficulties because then I gain strength". Weakness is a qualification for significance. Listening and learning are essential to gaining strength in the kingdom of God. If you're not a good listener and you're not a good learner, you're stuck. Oh, you can spout all sorts of stuff, but there won't be any substance to it because our strength comes from the Lord.

This shouldn't be understood. It shouldn't be interpreted as license for sloppiness or laziness. I'm not suggesting that at all. In fact, quite the opposite. Study, learn, train. Be diligent in your preparation, but after you've prepared yourself fully, as completely as you know how, you stacked all the degrees and all the experience, and you've talked to all the people who can provide any meaningful input, understand, after you've fully prepared yourself, God will give you an assignment for which you are inadequate, where your strength is too small, where your training is incomplete, and you'll often be accompanied by great pressures. We're doing something for the eternal kingdom of our God. We're not just doing what we're capable of. We need clarity on the assignment, and most of us have said, "Well, I can't do that. I don't feel qualified. What would I do in a classroom full of kids? What would I do with a group full of people? I can't keep my own life together".

No kidding. 2 Corinthians chapter 1, in verse 8, "We don't want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life". He said, "We didn't have the strength. We came to the point that we thought we're probably not gonna make it. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened..". Isn't that an interesting phrase? How many of you'd like to be able to answer this, "Let me tell you why this happened in my life". Wouldn't you like to be able to answer that question? Paul said, "But this happened that we might not only rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. And on him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us".

Look at verse 10 again. The verb tenses are kind of fun. I don't wanna take much time here, but he said, "He has delivered us," past tense. And then he said, "He will deliver us". And then he said, "He will continue to deliver us". He has, he will, and we're being delivered right now. He's got our past. He's got our future. But in the middle of that, he said, "We have to endure hardship and suffering". Please hear this. It's so important. I heard another message for decades along my journey. I thought that, if you were a Christ-follower, you were immune because of your great faith or the revelation that you'd been given. I'm not sure anybody said that to me directly, but, somehow, I got this idea that, if you had enough faith or a deep enough revelation or enough wisdom, you lived above the fray.

Well, Paul and his companions didn't, so I don't think you and I will either. Look at 2 Corinthians chapter 1: "It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us. He set his seal of ownership on us, and he put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come". How do we stand? God makes us stand firm. It's not Allen. I don't stand in my strength. My strength's not that great. We stand in the strength of the Lord, and so do you. Don't parent in your wisdom. Don't lead in your schools just in your strength. That's why you're willing to say what you believe about God. You bring his strength to bear. There's an authority in your life when you align yourself with his truth, that's absent when you just share your opinion. When you deviate from the truth of God that you know, you diminish your strength.

When you choose ungodliness or unforgiveness or resentment or hatred or bitterness or immorality or greed, you diminish your strength. Conversely, when you choose to honor the Lord, you gain strength. We need strength these days. Have you noticed? When the storms are coming, you wanna limit your vulnerability. You don't want any exposed glass. You don't want anything that's not anchored well. You don't want anything that's in a low place. It'll flood. You don't want anything that's just floating randomly 'cause it's gonna be carried by every tide or wall of water. You need things with a firm foundation and clarity. Look in 2 Corinthians 3, in verse 4: "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of the new covenant".

Sounds like a pretty significant dose of inadequacy, to me. He said, "My competency comes from the Lord. I stand in him. I stand in his truth, in his wisdom, in his power, in his authority, and he'll push me forward". Remember Moses and the burning bush? "I've heard my people's cries, and I've seen their suffering, and I've come down to deliver them," and Moses is going, "Yeah, you go". And then God says, "Now I'm sending you". "Whoa, hang on a minute". See, it's one thing for us to say, "I believe the truth of God can change a nation, that, if God's people would repent and turn from their wicked ways, he would heal their land". We can spout all that stuff all day long, but if we don't live it out in the worlds where we live, if we don't lead with our faith and work in our neighborhood, on the ball fields, we're just wantin' somebody else to do it.

Now, that's awkward, but it's also incredibly empowering. It's also incredibly empowering. God is with us. Look at chapter 4, 2 Corinthians 4, verse 15: "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God". I pray we can say that about the season ahead of us, "that the grace that is reaching more and more people will cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God". Wouldn't that be good? Wouldn't that be more fun to talk about than wickedness? Wouldn't that be more fun to talk about than deception? It would. I promise. "Therefore we do not lose heart". If he's telling you they don't lose heart, you know he was tempted to. "Therefore we don't lose courage. Though outwardly we were wasting away. Inwardly we're being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all again".

He's acknowledging the struggle. We get tired, and we're tempted to lose heart. Outwardly, we're more frail than we've ever been. He's telling you some rather awkward things, but he said, "We're achieving an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes," not on the internet, "but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". Folks, God is calling forth a generation of men and women to make a difference in his kingdom. He didn't awaken us just so we could fix our hair. He didn't awaken us just so we could get our makeup set for the day or coordinate our fashion. He awakened us to put on armor, and you wouldn't need armor if we were just goin' to a fashion show.

See, I know how we're not serious enough about it yet 'cause we're still having conversations as if the weapons that've been presented to us are optional. We say things like, you know, "I don't read my Bible. I don't like to read that much, so I don't read that, that much. You know, I don't pray that, I'm not a good prayer. I didn't grow up learnin' to pray. I don't know big words. I'm not sure I'd say the right thing. You know, speakin' in tongues, hoo-hoo, not my people, uh-uh. That's with all the crazy people". Those are all tools God has given us, and if you really believe you're going into a conflict where somebody's coming for you, and the outcome is not clear, you'll pick up any weapon available to you.

Think about the Ukrainians. They want every weapon system they can get. They'll figure out how to use it after they get it if you'll send help in training. They'll take that too. They want all the resources that we will put at their disposal. They understand they're in a conflict, and their survival is in question. We're not acting that way yet. We're still kind of bumpin' around, goin', "I don't know". We're waking up, but we're not fully awake yet. "I feel inadequate". Me too. "I feel oftentimes like I'm not strong enough". I understand. "Many times, I feel like I don't have the competencies I need for the assignments that are put in front of me". Me too. You know, in James 1, it says that "when you lack wisdom, you can ask God". And it says the most remarkable thing. He says, "He will give you wisdom without criticism".

Wow, so, yeah, we are inadequate, and we are weak oftentimes and incompetent, and there's pressure. There is pressure. See, sometimes, we don't wanna step into the conflict 'cause we're clever enough to know there's pressure out there, and "I'm gonna see if I can't stay over here in the shadows and just be quiet and pray that God will raise up a leader". I want you to go back and read those verses about the watchmen on the walls. I don't understand it to be optional. You don't get to choose the arena where you live, that you lead. In fact, I'm always a little suspicious. Self-identified leaders, to me, are far less significant than those whose lives demonstrate influence. Just use the influence you have. Use the voice God's given you. The best example I think I've ever seen of that was on "Andy Griffith".

Now, you can choose whether you're gonna be Deputy Barney Fife. You're only allowed one bullet, then you can't put that in your gun. Then, when trouble comes, you have a loud voice, but nobody wants to see you. Or you can be Sheriff Andy Taylor, who very seldom raises his voice, but if there's a problem, he's the person everybody wants. Now, which are you? Do you boast a lot about your badge and your gun, your one bullet, do you lead with a quiet strength?

I thought about my heroes in the Bible. Moses, abandoned by his parents. He failed as a deliverer. He not only failed to bring deliverance. He murdered someone. He forfeited the position he was given as a prince in Pharaoh's palace, and with that less-than-stellar track record, he becomes the greatest leader in the Hebrew Bible. There's nobody to compare with him. In fact, when you get to the New Testament, the author of Hebrews has to make a rather lengthy argument on why Jesus is greater than Moses because he understands that his audience thinks that Moses was the greatest leader there had ever been.

David, the king of all kings in Israel until we get to the Messiah, he was the youngest of many sons in a culture where the oldest son inherited everything. He was a shepherd, and just in case you weren't up on 10th century BCE social culture, that is not a power job. He had no access to training or authority, and, yet it says, "He was a man after God's own heart," and became the greatest leader that the nation of Israel knew from a political standpoint. Mary Magdalene, in the New Testament, do you know her story? She was a woman who was demonized. She was not known in social circles for her stellar character or her stability as a person. On top of that, she's a woman in an occupied country, a country occupied by a foreign army. Her training was not in rabbinic law, and, yet she is trusted by Jesus, included in his confidence and in his inner circle.

Or John? I mean, we know him as an apostle, but arguably his greatest work comes when he's an old man. His strength is diminished. He's not gonna outwork the other people that he's imprisoned with. He's old. He's alone. His peer group are gone. He doesn't have the support any longer from Peter or James. He's imprisoned. So there's a cloud that hangs over his integrity, and his character is easily dismissed by anyone who wants to be his critic. His life mission of advocacy for Jesus seems to have completely unraveled. How could he be in this position if he truly was serving the King of kings and the Lord of lords? And, yet, to John, Jesus entrusts the revelation of the end of the age. So you say to me you feel a little inadequate, a little weak, a little incompetent. You're aware there could be more pressure if you stepped up. I understand.

I wanna close with Communion today. You should've received the elements when you came in, but I want us to come to the Communion table. Usually, I invite you to bring your personal needs, illnesses, and relationships that are strained or financial challenges, and those are all legitimate things. Certainly, Jesus dealt with them on the cross, but this morning, I'd like us to come with a bit more of a focus. Can we come to the see, the Communion elements are an invitation to the redemptive work of Jesus, where he gave himself for us that we might be forgiven for the places where we need forgiveness and we might be empowered for that which we were created, and we need a church without spot or wrinkle, empowered by the Spirit of God to be salt and light in this generation.

Are you willing to be that kind of Christ-follower? If you are, I wanna invite you to the Lord's table today. We're gonna come and acknowledge those times we've been silent when we could've used our voice, where we didn't wanna say what we knew. We either didn't wanna have the conversation with a brother or a sister, or we didn't wanna own the truth in a secular setting. We have many versions of that. And then we wanna ask God for his power to help us. Are you willing to be salt and light? I believe you are. Jesus himself gave us this tool. He put the habit in place before he actually went to the cross. It was the evening he's to be arrested, so he hasn't begun his suffering yet. Peter hasn't denied him yet, but he's setting the stage in that last Passover meal. He's giving these last-minute instructions. He's washing feet. Judas is sent out of the room because he knows what's about to happen. They will never forget. It's gonna be imprinted on their minds and their character and their soul. It will shape the rest of their lives.

In fact, there's a dramatic transformation in them from this night, going forward. And Jesus gives them this one last component. He takes a piece of bread. It's the place that's set for Messiah, and he takes a piece of bread, and he breaks it, and he said, "This bread is my body broken for you". They haven't seen his body broken yet. After the fact, the reason Communion made its way into the church is they understood the importance of what he had done on that cross. They understood the importance of his Resurrection. This invitation would not mean as much to a brand-new Christian.

If you just accepted the Lord last night, this isn't as real. We understand the places we've been silent. We understand the times we've had agendas that had very little to do with God's kingdom, and we've been pointing at the fact that we were born again and baptized, and "Don't look at that other stuff. I'm born-again, and I'm baptized". And I wanna invite you today to say to the Lord, "Lord, there are some things I need to clean up with you". Jesus said, "This bread is my body broken for you. As often as you eat it, do it in remembrance of me".

Let's receive together. Then he took a cup, and his looked different than the one we have. That's why I'm willin' to give you some latitude if you're someplace else. But he said, "This cup is a New Covenant," a new contract. It's not just some fanciful gift. He said there's a legal notion to this. A price has been paid so that you might gain access to something you didn't have access to before you came to this covenant, this contract, and we're gonna invite the Spirit of God to help us. We're gonna ask him for boldness and courage, and endurance. "This cup is a New Covenant, sealed with my own blood. As often as you drink it, you proclaim my death until you see me". Let's receive together. Will you stand with me for this prayer? How are ya?

Father, I thank you for your Word, for its truth and its power and its authority in our lives. And, Father, we come today, grateful for Jesus, for all that he's done for us. Lord Jesus, I thank you for what you demonstrated that we might follow you for your willingness to lay aside your power and your prestige and your glory to become one of us. And, Lord, we come this morning in humility to ask for your forgiveness in our lives, those times when we've been silent or distracted or unwilling or reluctant or hesitant, when we were not faithful watchmen, when we weren't willing to share what we knew. We wouldn't acknowledge our awareness of you. Forgive us today. Forgive us. Lord, we choose a new path.

And, Holy Spirit, we asked you to help us. I pray that the fear of God would grow in our hearts, that you would give us a new boldness, a new courage, a new trust in you to hold out the light that we have experienced so that those in darkness might have hope. We choose to honor you. Forgive us for we have compromised, and we have continued in our ungodliness. Lord, cleanse us. Deliver us. Set us free today. I praise you for a new boldness in your people, for a new sense of purpose, Father, for a stronger voice and a greater willingness to use it, that the influence with which we've been entrusted, we will use for your kingdom.

We praise you for it that we will see the light break forth and the name of Jesus exalted, that the children will be delivered from the demonic attacks that have beset them, that families will be restored and marriages will be protected. We praise you for it today, in Jesus' name, Lord, that you'll begin to raise up voices as we use ours, that one voice at a time, one small light at a time, the light will grow until the darkness is dispelled. We praise you for it, and in it all, may the name of Jesus be glorified. May his kingdom be extended. May the grace of God be made evident to more and more people in Jesus' name, amen.

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