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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - We Need God's Perspective - Part 1

Allen Jackson - We Need God's Perspective - Part 1

Allen Jackson - We Need God's Perspective - Part 1

There's a spiritual battle taking place in our world. It's far more significant than the war in Ukraine. The outcomes of families, individuals, nations is in the balance, and the church has an essential role to play. I don't mean a polite Bible study or singing our favorite worship choruses. I mean understanding that we're the people of God, that the Spirit of the living God indwells us, and God has placed us in this season on assignment. We're gonna look at that in a little more detail. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

I started a new series in our previous session under the general theme of "A Battle for Our Hearts and Our Minds," because I believe there is a battle underway in the earth, a spiritual battle, fundamentally, but it's being played out at all the other systems and expressions that touch our lives. I wanna take a moment. I've been asking you for some months now on a regular basis to watch and to listen, to pay attention to what's happening in the world around us. It's easy to avoid that. Sometimes it's more comfortable to avoid that. It seems like it's just more peaceful if you don't pay attention. Many people say to me, "I've just quit paying any attention".

And I would submit to you that if we're not watching and listening, we're not prepared to take our place as salt and light. We don't know how to pray. We don't know how to intercede. Now you can overdo that. You don't need to spend hours doing that. A few minutes a day and you can get the gist of what's happening. And don't spend hours chasing your favorite conspiracy on the Internet, it'll make you nuts. But you wanna watch and you wanna listen, you wanna think. You need to use the mind that God has given you. Things are happening to us that are so bizarre, so inconsistent with previous experiences, that they're hard to assimilate. And then we have to act, not in anger or belligerence and certainly not in violence, but with your faith.

You wanna lead with your faith in all those places where God opens doors for you and has given you influence. There's some things that have happened in the last few days that I think have to be incorporated into how we practice our faith because they involve our faith in some very direct ways. One, the intrusion, the blatant, the bold display of censorship is something we haven't seen before. The discarding of free speech. Honestly, the betrayal of the First Amendment. It's an undeniable part of our current circumstance right now. Our government, even our intelligence apparatus and federal law enforcement, have all engaged in fundamental violations of our constitution. It's awkward just to say out loud. The media and our leaders, for the most part, demonstrate no outrage or even much interest. It seems that gaining power or maintaining power or the expansion of power have triumphed over the rule of law.

This is no longer just theoretical. The documents which have been released from Twitter reveal to us a pattern of behavior to control ideas, to control thought, the exchange of information on a scale that we have simply never seen before. The revelations have been met with a shrug of indifference, for the most part. We're being told there's nothing to see here, let's move on to more important issues. There have been no expressions of remorse, apology, or even embarrassment. In fact, the responses have been arrogant, brash, and in most cases dismissive. Now, I have told you on many occasions that I believe our problems are fundamentally spiritual, and I believe that's true on this topic as well. I believe the political and societal leaders are once again reflecting, they're just mirroring back to us the attitudes of God's people.

When we have been confronted with our sinful behaviors and our collusions with evil, for the most part we have lacked remorse or even embarrassment. We've preferred to just move forward, collect the benefits that we perceive to be available through our ungodliness, and imagine that there'll be no accountability. So I don't believe we should be surprised when we see those behaviors being reflected in those persons around us with authority in the secular arena. The church dictates the behaviors of our culture. Heartfelt repentance amongst God's people will precede transformation in the public square. I wanna say that again. I think it's important. It's my opinion. You can disagree with me. But it is at least an informed opinion. I believe heartfelt repentance among God's people will have to be in place before we see transformation in the public square.

If we remain unaware, indifferent, ambivalent of what is happening around us, it's because we're so absorbed in our personal agendas that we imagine no responsibility. It's not my problem. Really? God's people are called to be salt and light. We've been entrusted with an assignment to proclaim the truth in each generation. The fulfillment of this divine trust demands awareness and a willingness to prioritize kingdom initiatives. I think the best answer is let the change begin with us. Let's decide we'll walk in a new way. We'll embrace our faith in a new way. Let's stop pointing at what we've done that was so good and why the fault lies someplace else and begin to quietly say to the Lord, "How would you have us respond"?

I'll give you another example, an unsettling one from this Christmas season. The American Girl brand. Are you familiar with it? It's a set of dolls that have been brilliantly marketed to the young people, particularly the young girls, in our culture. Well, they faced in the last few days some pretty significant backlash, thankfully, over a book that they published. It was targeted at prepubescent girls, easy for me to say. American Girl doll published a book targeting girls before puberty, promoting gender transition without parental consent. Somebody in Mattel, that's the parent corporation of American Girl doll, thought that was a good idea. The book is titled, "A Smart Girl's Guide to Body Image". It's marketed to girls ages three to twelve. It encourages children to talk with a doctor if they're questioning their gender identity.

I quote, "At first you and the doctor might talk about wearing the clothes and using pronouns that make you feel most like the true you". It goes on to encourage children, "If you haven't gone through puberty yet, the doctor might offer medicine to delay your body's change, giving you more time to think about your gender identity". The book points these young people, these children, to resources and organizations that can help them if they don't have an adult in their home they can trust. Again, I quote, "Parts of your body may make you feel uncomfortable and you may want to change the way you look. That's totally okay". Another sentence, "You can appreciate your body for everything it allows you to experience and still want to change certain things about it".

This isn't something that's happening someplace else. This is happening amongst us in those same corporate settings where they told us that our "Biblical worldview wasn't welcome, that it wasn't appropriate to bring a worldview or an ideology into a corporate setting. It should be neutral". What deception. It's Christmastime. Some of you will give or receive a puppy. One of the first questions you'll ask, if you're in the market for a puppy, is it male or female? And if the person providing the puppy says, "Well, it's confusing," find another provider. You see, it isn't confusing with puppies or kittens or calves or foals. And if you'll allow me, it isn't confusing with babies. It really isn't.

So please do not be confused by the demonic assaults upon our children and our families. So what do we do? This is not beyond us. Your commonsense, the Spirit of God within you, and your life experience, they are sufficient to guide you through this discussion. Don't be intimidated by celebrities, by academics with agendas, or tragically, even religious leaders who've rejected the counsel of scripture. Be strong and courageous, use your voice, protect the children. Now again, our topic is the battle for our hearts and our minds. If the people of God, the church, if we lose our God perspective, we will fail to be salt and light. We can't huddle in our churches and do theoretical discussions about 1st century culture and ignore what's happening in the world in which we live, and imagine that our Lord will say, "Well done". We don't wanna be angry. We want to be salt and light.

We need God's perspectives. Let's start with a very simple premise. The verses, I suspect, are very familiar to you. It has to do with God's thoughts versus my thoughts. All of us generate ideas and thoughts and responses to our world in an almost unending stream on a daily basis. But everything that I think or everything that I feel is not necessarily in alignment with God's thoughts or God's perspectives. And the essence of being a Christ follower is learning to bring alignment with my thoughts and God's thoughts. If you don't care about that, I would ask you what exactly you think it is that makes you a Christ follower. So the challenge is to allow God's perspective to more completely inform my perspective.

Look in Romans chapter 12 and verse 2, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world," very plain language. "To conform" means to adapt to the standards of. Don't adapt to the standards of this world. Don't try to blend in. Don't wear ideological camouflage. If the place where you work, and the neighborhood where you live, and the sports teams in which your children are engaged, and the parents with whom you sit and watch the children's activities, if they don't know you're a Christ follower, that should concern you. I understand there's pushback. There'll be some times there'll be exclusion directed your way, you'll feel some rejection. I get that, I promise, but I do not want to conform, adapt, to the standards of this present age. And the next verse gives us the way through. It says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind".

To be transformed is to change in potential. Changing my thoughts to more align with God thoughts brings an entirely new potential to my life and to yours. One of the great lies that has flourished amongst us, even in the churches, is that behaving in a biblical way, a godly way, will diminish your life. It'll diminish your pleasure, your fun, your fulfillment, your contentment, your satisfaction, that your kids will really be better off if you help 'em be really good at being ungodly but give 'em just enough faith that they slide under the door into heaven. It's a lie. The best possible outcome, the greatest potential for any human being is as being fully aligned with the purposes and principles and ideas of God as you're able to, period. That's the target.

Isaiah said it in some very poetic language, brilliant language really. Isaiah 55, he said, "Seek the LORD while he may be found; and call on him while he's near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, and he will freely pardon. 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Again, it's very plain language. It's not confusing at all. God said, "My thoughts, they're just not your thoughts, and my ways, they're not your ways. Learn my thoughts, learn my ways. Forsake your thoughts".

Again, I don't know to the degree to which we've really focused on this idea. Some simple definitions will help here, and these are just my, they're working definitions but they won't vary widely from the technical ones. When we talk about ideas and thoughts, we need a little bit more information. You know, language is being used to manipulate us widely. And then we're gonna have to pay more attention to that. As much as we didn't enjoy language arts, we're gonna have to go back to school. And the first word you just need to be conscious of is what information means. We have more information to us as an individual than has ever been available to an individual in the history of civilization.

You have not just a library, you have an almost untold number of libraries available to you if you just have a smartphone or an access to the Internet. Either one of those, and you have an unyielding stream of information. Information is just facts, ideas. It's data. That's all information is. Knowledge is something different. Knowledge is when that information becomes personal. It becomes into your sphere of awareness. It takes it out of the abstract, it exists someplace, and it comes into your consciousness. Now you have some knowledge. That's why I'm suggesting that we have to watch and listen and think. If we're not watching and listening and thinking, there's a whole sea of ideas or information around us but it's not knowledge that's impacting our lives and therefore we can't respond to it.

The third definition would be wisdom. And wisdom is the best use of knowledge. And for that, we need God's help. That's why we need God's perspective, because our ideas and God's ideas are often very divergent. They're very different. You say, "Well, I feel". Okay, duly noted. I appreciate that. I'll even respect that. But it doesn't mean that every feeling I have or every feeling you have is godly. In fact, if we had just a moment of candor we could probably all remember sometime in our way distant past where you had an ungodly feeling, like in the parking lot last weekend at church. I mean, not you but somebody that gestured at you. This topic of renewing our minds, I think requires just a bit more discussion. I have heard message along this theme for as long as I can remember, and I don't think they were inappropriate.

You know, we were talking about renewing our minds in the context of defeating our carnal nature, of overcoming those attacks, those spiritual attacks of our adversary to dissuade us or discourage us. So we've discussed this premise in the context of attitude, or maybe perseverance and not giving up, or yielding more fully to the Lordship of Jesus. So our language has been around things like the battlefield of the mind, or the struggle of forgiveness. Now, to be clear, those are all legitimate ideas and they're grounded in scripture, but I wanna make a suggestion. I would like to expand this discussion when we think about our thoughts and renewing our minds a bit. You see, I would submit that the challenges we now face are more elemental, that they're more foundational in nature. I'll give you some examples in a moment.

See, I believe we're in a great struggle to understand and embrace the truth of God, that the fundamental idea that there is a God and he can be known is being challenged. There's a great horde of ungodly ideas flooding our lives. Every possible format has been seized and is being utilized to challenge the knowledge of God. It's around us 24/7, it's around us in the corporate setting. It's around us in the governmental setting. It's in academia. It's in the entertainment world. It's in the sports world. There's very few places you can look where those fundamental precepts of our faith are not being challenged. If we fail to renew our minds in this current season, our faith will be lost. That is not some abstract, absurd statement. Apostasy in the organized church is being announced on a weekly basis in an unprecedented way. So you can sit in a church with architectural reminders of our faith and still renounce the fundamentals. If we don't renew our minds, our faith will be lost and our children will be enslaved to darkness.

Now, we're not unique. We're not the first generation to witness such a threat. What I think we need to acknowledge is that we have enjoyed a lengthy season of light where there were tremendous opportunities and tremendous freedoms and a whole multitude of options from which we could choose to give expression to our worldview. These goals existed amongst us as the fabric of our culture. The things like respect and dignity and the rule of law and equality before the law, opportunity, haven't all been perfectly expressed but the ideals have lived amongst us. We've talked of them. The pursuit of justice, personal property, tolerance. Those things collectively have resulted in this extensive season of stability.

Are you paying any attention? That season has passed. It doesn't describe our present. It has become imperative to choose God's perspective to welcome biblical truth as essential and to purposefully embrace God's ideas for ourselves and our families. We can no longer just presume that they exist in the world around us. We have to become advocates for those things, voices for those things, living expressions for those things, or they will diminish. It only takes three generations for an idea to be completely annihilated. The Bible uses a category and I'll take a moment with it. They call it futile thinking or the futility of thinking. Futile's not a word we use a lot. You know, its simplest definitions is to be pointless, useless, fruitless, of no value. It's the rational equivalent of empty calories. You can be busy with things that are futile and exert lots of energy, lots of resources, and lots of time, and lots of attention, and it will amount to nothing. You can do that with your thoughts. We've all done that.

You've given yourself to worry or anxiety or frustrations or anger and exhorted enormous amounts of emotional energy and thought only to arrive at a place where it didn't create a better outcome. It just totally occupied you. Well, there's a choice to be made, the fundamental choice, a good choice. I'll give you a couple examples. Moses with the children of Israel, he's nearing the conclusion of his season of leadership with them. He's about to do a handoff, and he's doing his best to prepare them for what's ahead and he said, "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I've set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, that you and your children may live".

This is fundamental to this little series we're going to do. You have a choice. You can choose God's thoughts and God's ways or you can choose your own. You hear it all around us all the time, people talking about what they think and what they feel. "Do you really believe in a God"? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. "Why would you do that"? I've chosen to. And I can talk to you about why I've chosen to, but I understand, fundamentally, God may have called me before I responded to him but I have made a decision. I have chosen to believe in God. That's what Paul said when he was on trial before his life before a very powerful Roman figure. He said, "I would to God except for my chains that you were just like me. Choose God," he said. That's our message to this generation. Choose God and live. It'll be better for us. It'll be better for our kids and our grandkids, it'll be better for those who don't choose God if the majority of us do choose God. We have got to quit apologizing for our faith. Joshua picked the idea up nearing the end of his leadership.

Again, talking to the tribal leaders in Israel, people with a covenant. Their whole story is immersed in faith. They wouldn't even be a people without God's sovereign intervention. Their whole narrative is defined by the sovereign supernatural intervention of God, from the recruitment of Moses, to the plagues in Egypt, to the parting of the Red Sea, to the manna and the food and the water in the desert, to the parting of the Jordan, to the driving out of the Canaanites and all the people in the land. They had no story apart from God and yet Joshua says to them, "If serving the LORD is undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you're living. But as for me and my household, we'll serve the LORD".

What have we been saying? Leading with your faith starts at the kitchen table. It starts in your family system. We choose the Lord. We will honor the Lord. We'll take that biblical worldview and we will wrestle with it until we figure out how to give expression to that in our lives. We will submit ourselves to it. We will honor it. As awkward as it is, and as messy as it is, even with our own family systems. It's not easy. But we choose the Lord. Why? Because we believe he'll bring better things to us. It's not onerous or burdensome. It isn't loathsome or intrusive. It's an invitation to freedom. We have a choice to make, folks. We're still so tempted to imagine that it's someone else's problem or someone else is gonna fix it or we just need another election or... how many elections are we gonna have to stumble at before we realize that's not gonna fix us? We have to have a heart change, fundamentally. You say, "It isn't affecting me yet". Oh, it is, you're just not paying attention. Censorship is amongst us. We are limited in what we can say and where we can say it and to whom we can say it. That's no longer theoretical. "Well, it's not affecting me personally". You just don't recognize it yet.
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