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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Following The Spirit of God - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Following The Spirit of God - Part 1


Allen Jackson - Following The Spirit of God - Part 1

I want to continue the series we've been working through on leading with faith. And in this particular session, I want to talk a bit about following the Spirit of God. But there's a bit of a preamble I'd like to give you. We had the opportunity this week to film a television program for Veterans Day, under the theme of "Where Honor Is Due". And one of the men, or a couple of the men that we were able to interview, one of them was a retired Marine. He served eight tours in Afghanistan. And he had one interpreter that he worked with the majority of that time, an Afghani by the name of Aziz. And most of their assignments, as I understand it, we had a limited time, but was off base. It was simply Chad and his Afghani alone in country, identifying safe houses and on classified missions.

I can't imagine walking alone into a hostile place and living that way month after month. But he and Aziz became dear friends. He said Aziz had saved his life many times. Because most of their missions were classified, the paperwork that had to be turned in, in order for him to be able to come to the United States, got kicked out every time. Because of the classified missions, you couldn't put the things in the paperwork that there was a blank for. So, when we withdrew from Afghanistan, Aziz was left behind. But a 15-year relationship with the American military will put a target on you with the Taliban. And Chad was at home. And after several months of Aziz and his family hiding from the Taliban and unable to get any responses through political channels, Chad decided to go get his friend.

So, he said he contacted a number of other retired military people from Special Forces, and the SEALs, and people that he had known. And they went back, and they got Aziz. Now, there were several pieces that were entreating. Aziz had basically grown up in a Muslim country and was a Muslim. And he said in those months when he was hiding, he said he became so desperate that he wasn't going to be able to save his family or himself. And he said he finally said, "I don't know the God that Chad knows, but I'm asking you to help me".

And he said the next day is when Chad found him. But the part that was more intriguing, he said, after they had been successful in finding Aziz and finding a way out of the country for he and his family, his parents are still there. But he said there were so many Americans and people with passports and with papers that come to the states, they were in Afghanistan, he said the group got together and said, "If we can get one out, why can't we help the others"? And he said they went to work. And for a matter of days, he said they made arrangements through the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, to have a midpoint. Long story short, they helped 17,000 people out of Afghanistan.

Now, you may remember, as I did, I remember in the White House Press Room a response that there was maybe 100 people left. I checked, 17,000 and 100, there's a discrepancy in that. I've been asking you for months, we started outside, to watch, and to listen, and to think. And this isn't political, because Washington is, although it's polarized, it's not a place where it's easy to keep a secret. And the messaging that there were thousands and thousands of people that we left behind in a shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan was not public knowledge. Or it certainly wasn't being shouted from the housetops. It's reprehensible behavior. It's inappropriate.

Folks, we're walking through a difficult time. And that's just one component. You know this. It's not hidden from us. Our southern border's open. People are coming across the border, hundreds of thousands a month. Do you think that's going to bring good to us? We're a nation of immigrants. I'm pro immigrant; but if we want to change the volume of immigrants coming to our nation, then we need to change our legal system. Any practice that's illegal and conducted of that scale, of that magnitude will destroy us, if it is allowed to continue. And I don't really, you know, I hear lots of theories about motives and reasons. I don't know. But what's very clear is the political clash, and that's around the whole spectrum, at this point, has no appetite to do anything about it. And the list goes on and on. You don't need me. I had a meeting this week.

Someone that works for our state government called and asked if I had a few minutes. And they came out for a cup of coffee, and I think they were just exhausted. They wanted a safe place to sit. We're relatively new acquaintances. I don't know them well, but they said to me, "Pastor, I'm so glad you weren't in the meeting with me this morning. I had a meeting with people who were demonic". Well, that's unusual for some secular person to come to me with that language. And I waited a minute. And they said, "I had a meeting this morning with people who were advocating. They've been removing the genitalia from minor, prepubescent children". And he said, "I don't know what we're going to do". You know the list. It goes on and on. It's a little inconvenient. It's a little awkward.

If we think about it, we might get bummed out. So, we try not to think about it. Well, I've told you over and over and over again that I don't believe the solution is going to come to us politically. It's not gonna originate with politicians. It may ultimately be delivered through politicians, just like we see health care solutions be delivered through the health care system, but I believe the originator of the breakthroughs is God himself. And we have to have a change of heart amongst those of us who imagine ourselves to be Christ followers. This is our watch. This is our season. This is our time in the arena. Now, what is going to be said of us? We were appallingly silent on the abortion debate. It took a sovereign act of our Supreme Court to do something about that. We lacked the will to do it at the ballot box. It was inconvenient for us.

Now that's our truth. We can hide from it, and wiggle away from it, but that is the reality. And now there's a whole new assault being launched against children and young people. Violence, lawlessness. We celebrate immorality. I go to meeting after meeting these days where they say they want pastors to stand up. I'm getting a little weary with it. You know what immorality is. I meet with parents, and they say, "Well, it's a difficult conversation". No kidding? This isn't going to get better until we change. Now, I love the church. I've given my life to the church. But we have awakened, and we find ourselves in a season where the response of the church is mission critical. The children, the weak amongst us are suffering disproportionately.

So, what's it mean for us to lead with our faith? This is no longer just some casual discussion about evangelism and whether you like to do it with the EE method or you prefer the bridge and the gulf method, or you like a chick track. This is a different conversation. This is about how we're leading our lives, who we're spending our discretionary time with. What does it mean for us to lead with our faith? We've worked on this a bit, I've given you a couple of components. One, I've encouraged you to use your influence for the kingdom of God. Stop being a covert Christian. Let the people with whom you work and the people with whom you spend your time, and your neighbors know without any question you're a Christ follower.

Stop hiding your faith. "They'll be offended". Don't be angry, or belligerent, or condemning. Just tell them who you are and what you believe and why. Talk about that with the same enthusiasm you talk about UT these days. Yeah, I'm getting personal. The second thing I've suggested to you, that to be a person of faith, to lead with your faith you have to be a person of faith; but more that is the ability to get what you want from God. To be a person of faith is to be a faithful person. It's a myth to think that you're a person of faith, but you're unfaithful to the Lord. And so if faith seems a bit obtuse to you, and you get caught up into that debate about, you know, I'm not one of those kind of... the question is are you a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? And if you are, is there enough evidence to convict you?

Now, I want to add one more component, if you'll allow me. I want to spend a little bit of time asking you to think with me about directional leadership. I don't mean telling people what to do. We have plenty of that. What I want to ask you to think with me about is selecting a path towards God and leading with your actions. Stop waiting for the group. Stop waiting for it to be safe. Stop waiting for it to be applaud, applauded or legislated. Stop waiting for your peer group or your family system, or whomever's approval you're looking for. If you know what the right thing to do is, let's go. At some point, we're gonna have to wake up from the slumber; and at least, you've got to begin to talk to God about it.

This isn't like a new thing. One of the big myths is that all of these things are happening because it's the end of the age, and Jesus is coming back next Tuesday, and so I need to get to Disneyland before he gets back. Now, I hope he comes on Tuesday, but I don't think, you know, if Jesus is coming on Tuesday, your goal should be Space Mountain. For real. And I'm not criticizing a theme park. I'll save that for another day. But I think that kind of escapist theology has been destructive to us.

Well, the time is short, so I want to be sure I live life to the fullest between here and there. Wrong message. Jesus talked about it a great deal in Matthew 24 and Matthew 25. Matthew 24 begins with this lengthy prophetic discourse about the end of the age. And in the rest of that chapter 24 and chapter 25 gives you the instructions on how to behave, if you think that's where you are, and it's all about being about the business of the Master when he returns. So, this notion of directional leading with your life, with your actions, with your behaviors... see, we've been focused on getting our theology right, doing our favorite Bible study, listening to our favorite pastor, or preacher, or teacher, or reading our favorite author. We have to lead into the darkness.

This is not the first time the church has wandered into the weeds. This is the story of Scripture. You can put together, just about any book you hand to me, this is the pattern that God's people have demonstrated, the exodus generation. They started in the brick pits of Egypt, suffering, hundreds of years of suffering. And God sends a leader to get them out of the brick pits, and he sends him well-equipped with some really cool party trick; right? Shepherd sticks and snakes, and I mean, some really cool stuff. That might be God. And it escalates into a bunch of plagues, until finally, the Egyptians, they plunder Egypt, gold and silver, the wealth of Egypt. They take their payment for hundreds of years of slavery out, and they get pinned against the Red Sea, and the water parts.

You know the story. They're living on manna in the desert, following a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. You know what those people said? "We're not going any further. We're not doing this anymore. It's too hard. We're not following you any further. Yes, it's a land that flows with milk and honey, but it's gonna be hard work, and we can eat manna. Why should we do it"? That's the truth of the story. You know it. Most of you have read it. That's an awkward, awkward story. You know that generation that walked through the Red Sea, those adults, they died in the desert, but their kids made it in. But the adults who walked through the Red Sea didn't walk through the Jordan River. Their kids did.

We're not the first generation to wander into the weeds and say, "Well, following God's a little inconvenient". Duh. We're in this fine mess because for several decades now, they've told us that it's about our worship style and our architectural style, and the translation of the Bible we read, and what day of the week we should worship, and what hour of the day is the best. You cannot sit in my seat. And can you get me out to the restaurant ahead of the Presbyterians, please? And we've done that for so long that we've booked our spiritual life like we've booked a passage on a flight. I'm saved, and I've got my travel documents, so I can quit paying attention to this, and I can go back to thinking about my own life now.

That's a perversion of the gospel. This is not the first generation to find ourselves in this place, and the Bible is filled with the stories of God redeeming, calling his people back. That is the story of the book of Judges. That's why Gideon was hiding. The Midianites had occupied the land. They were plundering the nation. God's covenant people, they'd been given, God gave the Midianites over them because of the hardness of the hearts of God's covenant people. Same with Samson, same with Jephthah, the same with Deborah, and the same with the 21st century. Directional leadership makes it all the way to the New Testament.

When Jesus is here in the gospels, the Romans are occupying Jerusalem. The Messiah, the Son of God is in the midst of his covenant people, standing on the Mount of Olives, looking at the Temple Mount, and all they can think about is political freedom and autonomy. And Jesus begins to weep. He said, "If you'd only known, if you had only recognized what would bring you peace". He's weeping. "But you didn't see it". And now they're gonna build a siege embankment against your walls. I could pick you up today and stand you on the Mount of Olives. You can see the remnants of that siege embankment. They built it 40 years later. Jesus was weeping. He said, "They will dash the heads of your babies against the stones of this city, because you didn't recognize the time of God's coming to you".

Folks, we're not playing church anymore. Now, I spent my life in the church, but this is a different place. Directional leadership. We're not the first generation to find ourselves having wandered off the path, but not every generation humbles themselves and repents. So, the question, I think, is still very much on the table of what our future is going to be, and it depends upon the people of God, more than it does on Washington, or elections, or governors. All those things are important, and I believe God's deliverance could show up in those places, but it begins in the hearts of God's people. Directional leadership. Philippians 4:9, this is Paul writing to a church in Philippi. "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you".

That's like a drop the mic moment. That's not some theoretical theological discussion about communion and when to take it, and whether the grape juice should be purple or red. "Whatever you've seen in me, or heard from me, or learned from me, you do that". Are you living like that? Do you take Jesus to work with you that way? Do your neighbors see your faith in that way? You see, I believe one of the reasons that evil has come in like a flood is the church has been so anemic. Same book, Philippians 3, listen to Paul again. "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus".

That does not sound like a passive faith to me. And all of us who are mature should take such a view of things. If you're not pressing on towards the goal for which God has called you heavenward, Paul just called you immature. I didn't, Paul did. I'm hiding behind Paul, but he's tough enough to take it. And just in case you didn't hear him, on the next sentence he said, "And if on some point you think differently, God will make that clear to you, too". If you don't agree with me today, God will change your mind tomorrow.

You see, there is objective truth. There is right and wrong. Not all truth is subjective. Do you understand what that means? The prevailing notion these days, the conventional wisdom pushes at us, and our children, and our universities so prevalently with such force is that no one has a right to say what's right and wrong, that everything is subjective. Unless you've walked in my shoes, you don't know the view from where I stand. And there are some things in our life journey about which that is certainly true, but there is objective truth. There is right and wrong that deals with the concept of sin. And the skeptics and those who refuse objective truth says, "Well, who decides? Who gets to decide what's right and wrong"?

And at this point, so often in the Christian church, and, tragically today, in much of the organized Christian church we have capitulated. And the answer to that question is very simple: God. There's a sovereign God, a Creator God, a Designer God, who made the earth and everything that's in it, and he created humanity, not as the highest rung on the evolutionary ladder. It's something different from all the rest of creation. He gave to Adam and Eve authority over all of his creation. He desired a relationship with us and we rebelled against that and forfeited all those blessings and all those good things, and that launched the greatest search and rescue mission in the history of all creation.

God told us about it in Genesis. He said that he responded to Satan, and he said, "You have struck the heel of my treasured possession, but he will crush your head". And we can follow that thread of redemption all the way through the Scripture until we get to the gospels when God's Son is incarnate amongst us, and he's crucified on a Roman cross to take the punishment for our sin, so that any human being, regardless of race, skin color, ethnicity, IQ, social status, physical ability or lack thereof, could participate in the eternal kingdom of God.

It's that God that said, "I have established a pattern that will allow you to participate in my kingdom. If you choose another way, you are free to do that, but you will not participate in my eternal kingdom". If you wanted to know what's so bad about sin, it will keep you outside the kingdom of God, period. You can't negotiate that. You can't throw a big enough fit to get God to agree with you. You will not be able to make a case for how unfairly you were treated or what you were missing out with. God will not side with you in supporting your sinful choices. He will not do it. God established marriage. God established the family. God defined what's moral and what's immoral. He didn't take a vote. He doesn't need the Supreme Court. There is some truth that is objective.

I want to pray with you before we go. I'm going to ask God to give us a new boldness to stand for Jesus. When Jesus was on the earth, there was significant opposition to who He was and to what he did. And then he told us that that opposition would persist and impact our lives; and yet, we're surprised. That's not helpful. Jesus told us it was a reality. We can see his response to it, that he was undeterred in his mission and his assignment, and we have to be the same. Please don't let fear of someone else's opinion keep you from being who you should be for Jesus.

Heavenly Father, give us a boldness to stand for your truth with courage and clarity, wherever you open the door. I thank you for what you're doing, and I trust you and your protection. In Jesus's name, amen.

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