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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Faithfulness Matters

Allen Jackson - Faithfulness Matters

Allen Jackson - Faithfulness Matters
TOPICS: Faithfulness

Hey, we're walking through this crazy season of turmoil, and, yet we need our faith to flourish in the midst of it. Well, to do that, the foundations of our faith are essential. We've got to not just know about them. We have to understand them and assimilate them into our practice. We're gonna explore a little bit this idea of transmitting God's authority. The biblical language is "the laying on of hands," but it's really how we establish continuity in the communication of our faith from generation to generation, from place to place. It's an important part of your journey. Enjoy the lesson.

We've been working on this little series. It's not a little series. We've been working on this theme of leading with our faith. The influence of our lives, the thing above all else you wanna be identified with is being a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. I'm happy for you to be a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, and whatever other adjectives and attributes you wanna list in your resume, but at the head of all of those things, you wanna be identified with Jesus, and the reality is we haven't lived that way: We've been undercover, we've been covert, we've been quiet, we've been timid, we've been reticent, we've been reluctant. We have tremendous confidence oftentimes to use our influence in many arenas professionally or in the business world or athletically, or we have opinions about fantasy teams or whatever, but when it comes to our faith, people with tremendous authority and confidence in those other arenas go, "Well, you know, I don't know much about that. I don't pray. I don't know how to do that".

What do you mean we don't know? Let's change our verb. We should say, "I'm really a weak Christian. I'm an uninformed beginner. I'm a toddler. I'm still wearin' Pampers, and I've got a pacifier". We gotta change our mind-set. There's no such thing as a disciple of Jesus that doesn't know how to talk about him. We may do it in a clumsy way. We may do it in a broken way. I don't play golf anymore, but I've been on the golf course with lots of people, and they think they're golfers. They're not. They're inspectors of the riverbanks and the ponds and the weeds, and I was with them. I know. I was right over there with 'em. Don't get, if you play golf like me, don't get angry. Just smile 'cause the fact that you occasionally hit a good shot was a blessing from God. It had nothing to do with your ability. And I'm tellin' you, we've come to church, and we've imagined that we've grown. We haven't. We've got to learn to use the influence of our lives, and the evidence that we've been so weak and so anemic is the culture around us.

I had a meeting this week with an official from the state when he said to me, "Allen, I'm so glad you weren't in the meeting with me this morning". He said, "I sat with a group of men, and this was a", he said, "They were demonic". He said, "They're mutilating the bodies of prepubescent boys and girls". He said, "It's evil". Folks, we're the salt and the light, so leading with our influence, influence of our faith is so important, and the influence is one component, but your faith is the equal component. We've had so much confusion about faith. I've spent a lot of time in some segments of the church that lead with the idea of faith, and the purpose of faith is not to make your life more affluent or more comfortable or more convenient. It's abundantly clear in the language of the New Testament that to be a person of faith is to be a faithful person, faithful to the Lord. The blessings of the Lord come with your faithfulness, not with the measure of your faith. "Amen, Pastor".

We've been confused about that, and then we draw lines, and we fight. "Are you one of those prosperity people"? Well, yeah, I'm for blessings. What are you, a poverty person? I mean, I understand it's misused, but so is food, but I intend to eat again. Automobiles are used for ungodly things, but I'm gonna use mine to go home tonight. Don't be confused because things are misappropriated. The notion of faithfulness is so essential. So the question that, to me, seems paramount in this is what does it mean to be faithful to the Lord? And you don't wanna proof text for that. You just need to know that the concept of faithfulness has tremendous value in Scripture, and so the simplest presentation I can think of is Hebrews 3, where it says, "Those of you who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus".

That's an interesting introduction. If you share in the heavenly calling, do you live like you have a heavenly calling, or do you live like you have an earthly calling? I've done funerals lately, and there's been too much earthly calling. You want the story of your life to be more about your investment in heaven than your investments on earth. I promise, help a brother out if he's gonna have to make a comment about your life. We share in the heavenly calling. Fix your thoughts on Jesus. The Apostle and High Priest whom we confessed, "He was faithful to the one who appointed him". Think of all the things you could say about Jesus. And the author of Hebrews says, "He was faithful to the one who appointed him". Now, the audience is the Jewish community, and so the comparison is with Moses, and he says that Jesus was faithful. "He was found worthy of greater honor than Moses," that Moses was faithful in God's house, but Jesus is faithful over God's house.

We wanna be faithful in the assignment that we've been given. I can't think of a greater honor or a greater attribute than faithfulness to the Lord, so I began to ask myself what are the components that feed into that and to try to go back and look at Jesus and Moses and what was said of them, and that's what led to this little list that I keep gettin' stuck in, but we started with obedience. You can't be faithful and practice disobedience. I could take you to place after place and place in Scripture verses, if you practice these things, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. And we can struggle with sin, we can be tempted by sin, we could be forgiven, but you cannot yield yourself to the practice of sin. Please don't do that. It says in Hebrews of Jesus that "he learned obedience". He learned obedience. Jesus, the perfect, sinless Son of God, learned what it is to be obedient.

See, obedience isn't always just about sin and wickedness. You can just not wanna do the will of God: "I don't wanna do that. I wanna do what I wanna do". And Jesus had to learn obedience, and what that means, in an earth suit, with the weakness and the frailty and all the things that describe our journey through time, the things that are unfair, the expressions of evil that touch your life, the illegitimate accusations, the condemnation, the injustice, he learned what it is to be obedient. Now, the payoff of that, it says, "Now we have a high priest who's been tempted in every way like we have, yet he was without sin so that we can approach the throne of grace and find mercy to help us in our time of need".

And the second thing we tagged was you have to be willing to do difficult things. We haven't been told this very often. Our faith has been put in the context of what was convenient or easy or fun or pleasant or pleasing. We're gonna have to learn to do some difficult things for the kingdom of God. We're not gonna see the name of Jesus emerge again in the public square unless we have the courage to do some difficult things. We're not gonna see that come back into our schools and our college campuses and our hospital corridors and our courtrooms and our factory floors and our corporate boardrooms unless we're willing to make some difficult choices. I'm pretty certain that D-Day would not have worked unless there were lots of people willing to make some difficult choices. I'm pretty confident there were just thousands of them that felt threatened.

The third thing I suggested was you have to be overcomers. Jesus said, in John 16:33, this is worth, he said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you'll have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world". There's a key to this because overcoming is so essential. You're gonna have to be an overcomer. That's where the rewards go. It's all over the book of Revelation. Revelation starts with that. It concludes with that. But the key is what Jesus just told us. He said, "In the world you'll have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world".

How do we overcome? How do we overcome injustice? How do we overcome broken hearts? How do we overcome all the hurts? And how do we overcome our own failures? And how do we overcome our own inconsistencies? And how do we overcome those dark chapters and seasons of our own lives? How do we do that? We do it in Christ. We do it through what Jesus has done for us. We do it through the power of the cross. It's Christ in me. You're right, I am broken, and I am inconsistent, and I am frail, that I'm easily discouraged and easily turned back, but in Christ, he is my strength. He is my hope. He's my Redeemer. He is my life. We've gotta be overcomers, not just of the evil perpetrated against us. We're gonna have to overcome our own indifference, our own apathy, our own willful determination towards ungodliness. We can do this. What's the goal? "I wanna be faithful. I wanna be faithful".

The fourth component on this little list is we gotta be willing to say, "No," to ourself, to our old, carnal nature, that part of me that's hardwired towards "Me first," "I feel," "I think," "I want". Those cannot be the predominant impulses in your life and you'll be a faithful Christ-follower. We have to deal with them. Look in Luke 9. This was Jesus. "He said to all of them, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'" You don't just take up your cross when you repent and say the sinner's prayer. A cross is a tool for execution. It's not jewelry. It's not a symbol of a religion. "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet to lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels". Did you hear that? "If you're ashamed of me, I'm gonna be ashamed of you".

Think of the times and places we've been reluctant. We all have. I have. Lord, I'm sorry. Think of the times we wanted to close a deal or get ahead or get some opportunity that we wanted or close the loop on somethin' that we thought was important to us, and we push our faith way into the background. "It's not that big a deal right now. I'll deal with that later. After all, God will forgive me". What an arrogant presumptive attitude towards the Creator of all things. Do you realize how shabbily we've treated the blood of Jesus? When we push ourself forward, we go, "Listen, I'll get what I want, do what I want, be what I want. Then I'll come back around and go, 'Oh, no big problem. Sorry.'"

Don't you understand the disrespect in that? Now, we've all done it, from time to time, to one degree, but if you live that way, if you practice that, I wanna be faithful. I wanna diminish those places in my life. I wanna minimize 'em. I wanna space 'em further and further apart. I wanna find a way to things I can do that are expressions of my intent to be faithful. The next thing on the list, this is a really happy list, but if it's a list that will cause the Master to say, "Well done," do you know what an incredible gift it is? You know what a gift? The next one is endurance. Woo, hallelujah. We're back in Hebrews again, Hebrews 12, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus". That sounds a lot like where we started in Hebrews 3. In Hebrews 3, it said, "Fix your thoughts on Jesus," and now, in Hebrews 12, we just finished the Hall of Faith. He says, "Now fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him. Spend time thinking about him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart".

The implication is we're going to face opposition because of sinful people, and then one of the outcomes of that opposition is we will be tempted to lose heart. We'll grow weary. We'll be despondent. We'll be discouraged. You see, when endurance fails, we grow weary and lose heart. That's the message of that passage. "Consider him who endured so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". When your endurance fails, you grow weary. You quit. You have to guard your attitude. You have to guard your emotions. Emotions are real. God created us with the capacity for emotions. They enhance your life, but they're lousy guides 'cause they change so rapidly. The weather will change them. How somebody looks at you will change them. A sentence can change them. You ever had somebody say something to you, and it just sets you off? And you can feel the adrenaline go, "plaaah," from a sentence. Your emotions will do that to you.

So the counsel we're given is "Consider the endurance that Jesus was willing to embrace so that we won't grow weary," and you gotta monitor those things if you wanna be faithful. If you don't wanna be faithful, it's okay. I just looked for the simplest definition of "endurance". "Endurance" is "the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time. It's ability to resist, withstand, recover from and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue". Wow, what do we say? "Well, life's so hard". Yes, as a matter of fact, it can be. "Well, I don't like it". Okay. Let's go anyway. We've already decided we're gonna do difficult things. We've already decided we're gonna be overcomers. Why? 'Cause we wanna be found faithful. I wanna be found faithful. If Jesus had to learn obedience, I got a feeling Allen may have to learn a little bit of that, wooh. Endurance. You don't believe me?

Look in Galatians 6: "The one who sows to please his sinful nature will, from that nature, reap destruction, but the one who says to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let's not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we'll reap a harvest if we don't give up". Every day, you're sowing into something. You're either sowing into your carnal nature, or you're sowing it to your spiritual nature, and there's a crop coming. There's a crop either that's gonna lead to life, or there's a crop coming that's gonna lead you to destruction. You say, "I wasn't doin' something wicked. I wasn't doing something evil". We're confused. You don't have to be blatantly immoral to be carnal. You can just be indulgent. One of the words listed as the work of the flesh is debauchery. Big ole word. Fancy word. It just means "excess". It's never enough. Never enough food, never enough pleasure, you can't ever get it fixed right. You need a little more. You need to redo it. Needs to be upgraded. Just can't be content. Debaucherous.

See, none of us think we're debaucherous. That's somebody else with more than we have. It's not about an amount. You can be impoverished and be overcome with debauchery. What's the message? Don't spend your time trying to satisfy your carnal nature. It cannot be satisfied. The Bible says, "It's like the waves of the sea always churning up mire," discontented. Don't give discontent a place. We are a discontented, we are the most affluent, the most blessed, the most prosperous. We have more opportunities than any people in the world, and we're the most discontent. We are. I've got one last, then I'll wrap this up. Perseverance. It's a little different from endurance.

James chapter 1, in verse 3, says, "You know", y'all, when the Bible starts tellin' you what you know, it's like when I say, "Y'all remember"? "Nah, we really don't. Could you remind us"? Says, "You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance". What a happy, happy thought. And "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything". See, if you're gonna grow up in the Lord, if you're gonna mature, you have to deal with perseverance. So you're not gonna be able to be a faithful disciple, a faithful follower, unless you're willing to cultivate perseverance, and perseverance is cultivated through testing of your faithfulness. Will you be faithful in this circumstance? Will you be faithful in that circumstance? Can you be faithful here? Can you be faithful over there? It sounds like a Dr. Seuss book. "I do not like green eggs and ham". But will you be faithful?

And you'll come through one season, and you'll learn faithfulness in that arena, and God'll put you in another arena and say, "Can you be faithful with this"? You know, "What's this about? I just did that over there". "Yeah, I know, but now we're gonna grow up. This is the next level". Remember learning English in school? What grade did you learn English in? Every stinkin' grade. I mean, I went to school forever, and every time I enrolled, next semester, next level, next degree, you had to know more about English until they made me learn other languages, and then I couldn't learn those languages until I learned more about English. I thought it was, never, and, no, it never was, and I still sound like this. Well, do you think we're gonna master Almighty God? I wanna be found faithful. I do. Don't you?

So, when you go through those hard places, you begin to thank the Lord and say, "Lord, I don't understand. I don't know why. I feel incomplete. I'm certainly inadequate. My strength is weary. The opposition looks more robust than I do, but I trust you. I trust you. I'm not gonna stop. I'm not gonna concede the point. I'm not gonna relinquish the field. I'll do my part. Well, it's hard". Yeah, it is. Come on. "Well, it looks easier for you". That's just 'cause you can't feel what I feel.

We look at other people. "Oh, it's just so much easier for you". People say that. "You know, Pastor, it's just easier for you. You like to read". Well, as a matter of fact, I do. Thank you for that. "It's just easier for you. God did somethin' special for you". Yes, he has. Sorry about you, loser. They'll edit that out before that gets broadcast anywhere. And we always tend to look at other people. You know, "If I just would...if I had their family system or I had their resources or I could've done", no. I've done this long enough. I've lived long enough. I've listened to enough people. Brokenness is universal. If more made you happy and content, we wouldn't have all the crisis we have with people that have a lot and make dreadful decisions. It's a heart condition. We wanna be faithful.

I wanna close our time together today with an invitation, an invitation to the Spirit of God to invite us towards what God has next. We don't wanna just maintain the status quo. We wanna grow up in the Lord. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you that the Holy Spirit is within us to lead, guide, and direct, to teach us what we need to know, and we have listening ears and receptive hearts to become the men and women you've called us to be. I thank you for what you will do, in Jesus's name, amen.

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