Allen Jackson - Bold Faith - Part 2
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It's an honor to be with you again. We're gonna complete our study on 'Leading With Faith,' bold faith. You know, boldness doesn't mean we're reckless, it doesn't mean we're careless, it doesn't mean that we are disruptive. It simply means that we recognize the invitations of God, and we're willing to respond in that moment. That takes courage and boldness. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most of all, get prepared. God's got an assignment for us, it's an exciting time to serve the Lord.
What's it mean to be faithful? I think it means we have to face this. There's this biblical word, it's an awkward word, I would white it out if it were up to me. We have to be overcomers. Thank you for that enthusiastic response, and in the plainest of language, it means we're gonna have to overcome obstacles, it's not just theoretical things. There's gonna be challenges. Now in John 16, Jesus makes an acknowledgement that I think is important in this conversation. He said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble". Now, that's Jesus words, not mine. It's a troubled world we live in, it's not a 21st century thing, it's not the end of the age thing, it's not that we're just about the Lord ready to come back thing. Jesus said, "In the world, you're gonna have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world".
Now this is the key to being an overcomer. Everything else on this topic is secondary to this point, Jesus has overcome the world. So how do you and I lead lives of being overcomers? In him, it's in him. I don't overcome because of my great strength, or my force of will, or my intellect, or my connections, or whatever else. The ability to be an overcomer, to overcome obstacles, to lead a triumphant life, is grounded in the reality that I live in him. Our faithfulness to him, extends to us the opportunity to be an overcomer because Jesus has overcome the world. I promise it's biblical. Look at Philippians chapter 4 and verse 12, this is Paul. He said, "I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want".
That's a pretty good thing to know. In a season of instability that we're looking at, to know how to be content in the midst of wildly changing circumstance, is a pretty good little nugget to have tucked away. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength". We live in him. We have diminished that, we've talked in terms of our conversion, or salvation, or being born again. I believe in those things, I don't wanna diminish them, but I wanna encourage you, to begin to imagine that we've got to lead our lives in Christ, faithful to him as fully and completely as we know how, because that's where the momentum comes to overcome all of these things. "In the world, you're gonna have trouble". How will you and I overcome those things? In him. He is our victory, he is our life, he is our truth, he is our pathway through them.
Not convinced? Ephesians chapter 1 verse 9. " And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head". See, ultimately, everything is going to come under the authority of Jesus, everything. The Scripture says in Philippians 2, "That every knee will bow and every tongue confess". Every being in heaven and earth, and under the earth will acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. Ultimately, everything will be brought together under the headship of Jesus. But between here and there, the expression of that in the world is his people. That's how he taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven".
Just exactly, who isn't doing the will of God on earth? The angels, the animals, the fish, the birds, the insects? No, that would be "Usens". Welcome to the South. God intends us to do that, so we lead our lives as overcomers, this isn't an option. We've opted, I think for far too long to be overlookers, we just prefer not to notice. "It's not in my lane, it doesn't directly impact me. I can meet my budgets without bothering with that. I don't wanna forfeit my opportunities by getting outside of my lane. That's just not my problem, they're not my kids. I found a way for my kids, let the rest of the parents worry about theirs, it's not my issue". And we've been overlookers until we find ourselves in the place that we are.
Now, again, we're not a unique generation, this has been a consistent problem throughout human history. It's easy to see in secular history, but nevertheless, this is where we find ourselves. The ability to be an overcomer, to overcome obstacles is a part of accepting the assignment to be a Christ follower. In Exodus chapter 3, it's a famous story, I think you probably know the context. It's Moses at a burning bush, and God is ready to deliver the Hebrew slaves from the Egyptian abuse and it says, "And now the cry of the Israelite's has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them". That's all good news. God says, "I've heard and I've seen and I'm gonna do something about it, so now go, I'm sending you to Pharaoh". But Moses said, "Wait a minute, Who am I? Why should I go"? And God said, "I'll be with you". "Oh, okay, but I still don't wanna go".
You see, I don't think we lack the imagination that God would be with us, we just don't wanna go. It's difficult, there's obstacles. It's not gonna be cheered for always. There's risk involved, there's real threat involved, the outcome is uncertain. I mean, we read this from a historical point of view and go, "Well, duh, God's gonna deliver the people," but even the Hebrew slaves didn't believe it. They weren't even supportive of Moses. I'm not talking about a parade with lots of momentum in the polls are all in his favor, it's God with those scruffy recruit and a bad track record. I mean, he's on a wanted poster in Egypt. And God sends him back to Pharaoh whom Pharaoh knows, he remembers Moses, they have history together.
"Just, who do you think you are? Aren't you the one that refused to be known as Pharaoh's grandson? Aren't you that one? And you got the audacity to walk here and say, what? Just, who do you think you are? Get my magicians out here, we'll see how your tricks stack up". "No, God, I'd rather not do that, couldn't I just lead a small group? I'll tell you what I'll agree to do refreshments, Oreo's for everybody, I'm good for it, let's go". Folks, we're not there anymore. We're at a tipping point, and the question far more than about politics and elections, is about the heart of God's people. Are we gonna be overcomers?
Again, this is not some subtle part of the story. In Revelation chapter 21, this is very near the end of the book. It says, "He who overcomes will inherit all of this, and I will be his God and he'll be my son". The overcomers are the ones who are leading faithful lives, not the avoiders and the overlookers. Again, you don't have to be belligerent, you don't have to be obnoxious, you don't have to be a spiritual bully and pick fights, you don't need to find demons behind every bush and spiritual conflict behind every discussion. You don't have to label every principality and power on a map in your living room, and point it out to everybody that walks past. We've got to decide we will be faithful in the places where God has given us influence, and we will use our voice, even recognizing there's a cost. We've been watching one issue after another, being put before us as a people, where there's tremendous pressure to capitulate to some edict that's been handed down. And we were caught completely off guard with that.
How should we respond? What should we say? Who do we trust? Well, let's start with God. Let's start with the issues that we know he has established. God established marriage, God established the family, God created, as he said, male and female. We can start with the principles that we know. They're first principles in Scripture. "He who overcomes will inherit all of this, I'll be his God, he'll be my son". But now we're given the alternative, but it's a negative conjunction, we're going to the other side of the equation. "The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers". You understand that the cowardly are lumped right in here with the vile and the murderers and the immoral. See, unbelief is not some insignificant thing. When you choose not to believe you have made a very determined step away from God. You cannot understand, but don't choose not to believe.
"The murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death". Romans 12:21. "Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good". See, I think we imagine, we talk about being an overcomer, that we think about external things, those things beyond us that are gonna require of us tremendous courage and boldness in our voice. And there are times and places that's true. Certainly was true for Moses and Paul, but I would submit to you that it started internally long before it started externally. Abraham, I would submit to you was an overcomer. In fact, he makes the hall of fame in Hebrews 11. But if you think about Abraham, what did he have to overcome? Well, he had to be patient for a while 'cause God promised him a son and the delivery system was slow.
But there's some far greater things it seems to me that Abraham had to overcome beyond his impatience. One, he was a liar of significant proportions. Abraham, I mean, he lied about his wife to save his skin twice. I mean, the first time he did that, maybe we would forgive him. He got caught off guard, somebody powered up on him, he lost his mind. "Honey, I'm so sorry". Right? Maybe, maybe he had a way with words and he could negotiate that. But when you do it the second time, I'm thinking there was more than an eye roll involved. Excuse me. Abraham had to be an overcomer. He had to overcome something, I would submit far greater than impatience. Moses was an overcomer. Long before he got to that burning bush, he was a murderer, and a fugitive, and a failure. He had to overcome that. Those things are not easy. What did Jesus say, "In this world you will have," what was the word? "Trouble," that was it.
Wouldn't it have been nicer if he said, "In this world you'll have a parade"? Almost everybody will applaud. "In this world you'll have trouble". Moses was a murderer. David was an overcomer. Maybe in the most significant of all, in my little list, David took a man's wife, and then if that weren't egregious enough, he orchestrated the man's death, because he wanted his wife. There's no other spin on it. Now he's exercising the authority of the typical ancient near eastern monarch, but he's supposed to be a man of God. The great psalmist, the man after God's own heart, the one who triumphed over Goliath, the one to whom God promised from his lineage would come the Messiah.
David had to be an overcomer. Paul, no different. Some of you prefer the New Testament. Paul hated Christians. When he could find one with great joy, he would take them before the priest, have them condemn to prison man or woman, child. He was so effective in Jerusalem, he was sponsored to do it in other cities, until Jesus showed up. He had a lot to overcome. You see, we don't lead with our faith because of our sterling track record. We don't use our influence because there aren't people who haven't known us in other times and places and go, "I've never known you to say those things". We don't lead with our faith because of the incredible integrity which we have pursued our lives, never having made a wrong choice.
We lead with faithfulness because we determine that we will become people of faith and we understand that's a continuum of growth, and maturing, and gaining strength, and emerging that we stand, we overcome in him. And the more fully we understand what it means to be in Christ, the more fully we can give expression to that overcoming. It takes courage to acknowledge our failures, and our shortcomings, and our weaknesses, and our inconsistencies. We weren't distracted or confused, we made bad choices, we chose ungodliness, we chose indulgence, we chose whatever it is. We've pretended for so long. "It wasn't significant, it wasn't that". Yes it was, it was significant, it was a big deal. We opened ourselves and our family's to spiritual influences in this generation and for generations to come.
Another good news is, in Christ we are triumphant. But we're gonna have to determine to lead the life of an overcomer. You see, if we haven't overcome, we'll just remain overlookers. "Well what right do I have to say anything? Why would I say anything? My life has been far less than perfect, who are you to say something to me"? Well, you're absolutely right, I'll take my place right there with the crew. Abraham, Moses, David, Paul. It goes on and on. Yeah, you can put me, you're absolutely right and but for the grace of God, I would have no hope. And the reason I would have the conversation with you is, I'd like you to know the grace of God, and not to stand in your determination to be more ungodly or more wicked. Let's determine to honor the Lord.
You see, we have a message for the world that God can help change your life, he's even changed me, and you. You know you meet those people that don't wanna come to church 'cause they've met Christians and they were awful, and you can go, "Yeah, I've met a lot of those too. I spend more time in church than you, I have a higher degree of opportunity to meet those crackpots". But I'll tell you what, if you'd consider Jesus, we'll squeeze one more nut job into the building, you just come on. We're gonna have to be overcomers folks, we have capitulated. We've allowed our failures, and our shortcomings, and our inconsistencies, to be used against us by the enemy, and we've lived beneath the shame, and the humiliation of our failures. And it's kept us from being overcomers, we've been quiet. "Well those people have seen me when I didn't honor the Lord".
Don't you think that Hebrew slaves knew Moses was a murderer? Don't you think that story's been told? The believers in Jerusalem were afraid to let Paul in the room with them, he needed an intermediary even to get him an appointment. God sent the prophet to David to say, "I know what you did, you think you're so powerful. I know what you did, and I'm gonna take you down a few pegs". We're gonna have to be overcomers folks. We've been worried about getting our salvation right. Let's stop the discussion, I don't wanna start a controversy, I don't wanna waste my time. Let's stop the argument about losing your salvation, and how about if you focus the argument on losing your inheritance? Because I promise you that's biblical. God's covenant people lost their inheritance, you can't live in the land anymore. You'll still be my covenant people, but you're gonna learn to speak Persian, and you'll serve in the court of foreigners, and you'll watch your temple destroyed.
We focused on the wrong set of things. And because of that, it's kept us from being overcomers. We thought of overcoming as the enemy, something outside the wall, something outside the gates. And in those places we will need to be overcomers, we'll need the willingness to do difficult things in order to take our faith and lead with our faith, into those public squares. But the big challenge of leading at the kitchen table requires you to be an overcomer. "Yes, this is what I have been, but through the grace of God, and the shed blood of Jesus Christ, I have been forgiven, and redeemed and delivered out of all the hand of the enemy. And while I have not yet attained perfection, there's one thing I do, forgetting what is behind. I will press on towards what God has called me to". Overcomers church, I know you're gonna stop hiding, "Well, pastor, you know". No, stop. What did Jesus say, "In this world you will have trouble, but you can be of good cheer, I have overcome the world".
There's nothing we face that trumps the cross and the redemptive work of Jesus, unless we don't apply it. So do we have the courage to face what we've been, and are we willing to believe what's been said about us? That the atonement is sufficient, that the grace of God is adequate, not cavalierly. Folks, don't lose your inheritance. What are you trading it for? A bowl of soup? Don't do that. There is nothing in time, that is worth trading your inheritance for nothing. We're called to be overcomers. Told you I wasn't gonna finish that outline, man of my word.
I wanna invite you to a proclamation, I couldn't fit it in your notes 'cause I wanted to scare you with all those Scriptures, but I think they'll put it on the screens for us. It's a proclamation, it's not new to us, we've said it before, but it's a public expression of our determination not to stop. Yes, there are obstacles, and there's gonna be barriers, and it will be difficult, and they'll be challenges within and challenges without, but we're not gonna stop. Amen?
Why don't you stand with me, we'll make this proclamation together. Somebody stopped me before service last night and said, "Pastor, could you please read those prayers more slowly"? I'm not sure, but I will try. Let's read. It's not the whole proclamation, if you know the whole proclamation, don't panic. I just chose two stanzas. Let's make, it's a declaration over our lives. You see, when you use your voice to take biblical principles and express them, you give them authority in your life. You know that's true, 'cause the Bible says, "That you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart, you change spiritual kingdoms". If it's true there, it's true in other ways as well. So together, let's make this proclamation:
God has uniquely blessed us, the best is yet to come. God has heard our prayers. God has healed our bodies. God has restored our marriages. God has protected our children. God has delivered us from oppression. We live in a season of shaking. God is shaking the earth. He is restoring the Jewish people and purifying His church. If we look at the things which can be shaken we will be filled with terror. If we look at the eternal kingdom of our Lord, we will be filled with anticipation. Our determination as we gather today is to declare before one another and Almighty God, WE WILL NOT STOP. (We're not done) We are not satisfied. We are not distracted. We are not weary in doing good. We are not discouraged. We have our eyes on the cross and our hearts set on the prize. We believe the one who has promised is faithful. We believe the Holy Spirit is our helper. We believe that what we ask in Jesus's name, our Father provides. We believe that the King of Kings is returning to the earth in all of His glory and we intend to be about His business until that moment in time. WE WILL NOT STOP, amen.