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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - America, Stop Grumbling - Part 2

Allen Jackson - America, Stop Grumbling - Part 2

Allen Jackson - America, Stop Grumbling - Part 2
TOPICS: America, Thankfulness

Hey, it's an honor to be with you again. Our topic today is "America, Stop Grumbling". It's important. Folks, we are the most blessed people on planet Earth. I had a meeting this week with a man from Congo, and he's given his life to trying to collect shoes here in the United States. He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and he said, "If the children and the Congo just had shoes, it would change their lives". We have so many blessings. We don't even understand how to unpack them. Doesn't mean our lives are easy or perfect or there aren't challenges, that we have reason to be grateful, and that's the point of our lesson today. We're gonna try to turn our hearts and our attention to the goodness of God so we can understand how to unleash his power to deliver us from the challenges that are facing us today. Grab your Bible and a notepad, most of all, open your heart. God's got something for us.

Now, I'd like to make a distinction between simply being ungrateful but being actively unthankful, not in a passive way but in an assertive way. You know, the opposite of thankful would be to complain, to grumble, to murmur. Unthankful is without thanks, but complaining is an active expression of ingratitude. Not only do you refuse to be thankful, you give yourself your thoughts and your energies to expressing a lack of gratitude. We refuse to acknowledge the goodness of God: his grace and his mercy and his kindness and his abundance. We choose to give ourselves to assertively complaining. It's not a good pathway.

Corinthians warns us about it in 1 Corinthians 10, and again, this is written to a church, not to the Pagans. Says, "Do not grumble. Do not grumble, as some of them did, and they were killed by the destroying angel". That should have our attention. "Well, I'm not grumbling. I'm sharing prayer requests". Uh-huh. "I'm not grumbling. I just have a burden," uh-huh. "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you're standing firm, be careful that you don't fall"! That list, it includes grumblers. I didn't give you the whole passage. It also includes idolaters, the sexually immoral, those who test the Lord. Did you know that grumbling is placed right in that same list with sexual immorality? Guard your heart. It's written down as a warning to us, it says.

So, the alternative is thankfulness. Let's get better at it. Let's take a couple of minutes and talk about how to raise the quotient of our lives on thankfulness. Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 28 says, "Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe". An attitude of thankfulness will facilitate worship in your life, far more than music or the song that you prefer or the style of worship that you prefer. Let us be thankful, and that particular passage is talking about a season of God shaking the earth, and one of the most stabilizing things you can do in the midst of seasons of instability is to cultivate thankfulness. I brought it from another translation. The one I read was from the NIV. The New King James translates the word differently. He says, "Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably".

The Greek word is charis, from which we typically translate it "grace", not uniquely. There's some opinion expressed in translation, but I like the combination of those. Let us have grace. Thankfulness and grace go together. When we're unthankful, we're out of the grace of God. Grace is the unmerited, the unearned, the undeserved blessing of God, the goodness of God expressed towards us without consideration of merit. Because of God's character, he does good things to us, and when we refuse to be thankful, we step away from the grace of God. Conversely, when we will practice gratitude and thankfulness, we open our lives more fully. We don't earn it, we just create the capacity to participate. The New Testament talks to us about nullifying the grace of God.

So, the fact that it's not merit based doesn't mean that our responses to it don't matter. No matter how kind and good and loving God is, in John 3 it says that God so loved the world that he sent his Son, that whoever believed in him might be saved. He didn't send his Son to condemn the world, right? You know the verses? You've seen him in the end of football stadiums for years, John 3:16, right out there for God, but let me ask you a question. If God sent Jesus so that anybody could be saved, will there be anybody in hell? Yes. Not God's choice. He sent his Son as an expression of his grace and mercy. He didn't want anybody to be lost. You see, we can nullify the grace of God. It's not about marriage. We don't earn it, but our choices bring the benefits to our lives, and Thanksgiving is a powerful, powerful incubator for the presence and involvement of God in our lives.

Now, there's some instructions given to the church, very specific instructions in the New Testament. Colossians chapter 3 and verse 15, it says, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body; and be thankful". This isn't option. This is not an emotional thing. It's a directive. We're commanded to be thankful. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the God the Father through Him". There's a connection in that passage between peace in our hearts and thankfulness. We're living through a season of disruption. Fearful things are happening in the world. If you were just moderately awake and paying attention, you've got a pretty good idea that there's some pretty bumpy roads in front of us. We're making economic decisions that can't be resolved simply without disruptions.

We're bankrupt and we're spending money like drunken sailors, and that's an insult to sailors, and we're still stamping our feet and demanding more. There is no free. Government doesn't make money. We'll have to create goods or services to account for that or the economic future in front of us can't be great. We can look at any one of a number of indicators. This is not about politicians or political parties, it's the life we're leading right now. We prefer not to look at it and hurry along, because at the moment circumstances seem to be pretty good, but what we're asked to do is to understand that the peace of God, peace not based upon our circumstances. See, it's connected to thankfulness. If you're anxious or frightened or uncertain or afraid to look at the truth because it's unsettling, we've gotta begin to be thankful to God for what he's done for us. He's been good to us.

Say, "But life hasn't been fair to me". I understand, and we can weep about that together, and we can talk about ways to move forward, but being angry and embittered and filled with hate and resentment will not put us in a better place. Peace and thankfulness, and then in 1, easy for me to say, 1 Thessalonians 5, says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you". Expressing thanks is God's will. It's not just something the pastor is trying to to encourage you to do so you can be a little better Christ follower. It's God's will for you. People say to me all the time, "If I just knew what God's will is, I would do it". I've got an announcement. A part of his will for you is to give thanks. "No, no, I meant something important".

Oh. Determine to become a person who is grateful to the Lord. Again, it's an expression of your will, not your emotion. Most of our responses to God begin with our will. God created us with emotions. They enrich our lives, but they make lousy rudders. Your emotions are affected by the weather, whether your team won or not. We throw bottles on the field. I read a little quote about praying. Like it a lot. It says, "Never come to the end of praying. Just never come to the end of praying". And then went on to say, "Never pray for more than 30 minutes, but never go more than 30 minutes without praying". I love the idea.

Expressing thanks is God's will, and then thirdly, the New Testament tells us in Philippians 4:6, "Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God". Thankfulness dispels anxiety. If you're anxious about what's going on in our world or you're frustrated by it or you watch the news and your blood pressure goes up, stop watching the news and start giving thanks to the Lord. We have food to eat and clothes to wear and health care available. Say, "We don't like it that a virus has disrupted our lives". Okay, we got that. "God, I thank you for the hospitals and the health-care workers and the resources available to us. You have blessed us, God, thank you".

You know, some of you are a bit more introverted than extroverted, and those words don't come, get out a legal pad, sit at your computer, however you make a list. Start to list the things that you can say that are good, opportunities that you have that are unique to us. They're not globally experienced. We had a friend come visit, a physician in Russia, and she wept and wept. She said, "We don't have the medicines that you have. The people come to see us, and I can't help them". We grumble because they're not free. The Lord has blessed us. We've lost our balance, folks. We have lost our balance. Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Never bring your request to God without thanksgiving.

Just some functions of thankfulness. It's worth tacking for a minute. Thankfulness will provide access to God. I want God more involved in my life. I don't know about you, I want him engaged. There may have been times and seasons in my life where I wanted God to be only intermittently involved. I was wrong. It's a miserable way to live. I would counsel you not to do that. If you're not inviting God into the way you do business and into the friendships you develop and how you act when you're with your friends and your discretionary time, you need to change your life so that God would be welcome 24/7. Not my opinion. What you wanna decide is how much of God's involvement in your life you would like, and if you haven't come to the realization yet, circumstances are before you where you will need his involvement totally and completely for an acceptable outcome, and one of the ways to begin to cultivate that is to understand that thankfulness provides this access to God. It's not my opinion.

Psalm 100, "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; and come before him with joyful songs". Don't worship the Lord with obligation. "Well, I guess we should go to church. Turn on the livestream. Hit mute. Who's got the cinnamon rolls"? "Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs, and know that the LORD is God. It's he who made us, and we are his; we're the people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good, and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations".

Verse 5 gives you something to be thankful for. If your circumstances today are not good, and that's possible. It's possible. Loss comes to all of us, but verse 5 says the Lord is good, his love endures forever, and his faithfulness continues through every generation. I can be thankful for that. I'm not alone, I'm not isolated, I'm not left to my strength or my intellect or my resources. I'm a child of the King, and he's good, and he's faithful. Lord, I praise you for that. I give you thanks for that. Secondly, thankfulness invites the supernatural power of God into your life. Folks, you need a power beyond yourself. We're not gonna out-think evil or out-work evil or out-organize evil. That's insanity. We're no match for evil. We need the power of God to help us. That makes our numbers irrelevant.

John 11:41, this was Jesus, he's standing outside the tomb of a friend, standing outside the tomb of a friend. He was sick, they ask Jesus to come, he didn't arrive before the death, and now his friend has been buried for four days. "Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you've heard me. Father, I thank you that you heard me.'" Lazarus, psst, come here. Dude walked out. If we were in charge of that, it would've been a different scene. All right, we'd've fasted and prayed for 30 days. It'd've been really stinky. All right, we'd had three hours of worship. We'd've had cameras, a hazer. I mean, it's a big ask, you wanna do your best. Jesus understood the power of giving thanks. We don't because we don't practice it that much.

See, the things you trust are the things that you have included in your experience. Truth separated from experience will always dwell in the realm of a doubt. If you'll begin to practice being thankful as a matter of your daily routine, you'll begin to see the impact it has on how you see people, on the choices you make, on the involvement of the Spirit of God in your life, and you'll begin to gain confidence in it, a new strength will come from it. You'll become even more grateful. There's one last thing I would submit. Praise and thanksgiving dislodges, displaces despair. So, if you struggle with despair or heaviness, one of the things you can do to weaken its role in your life is to give time and energy and attention to purposefully giving thanks.

Isaiah 61, it's describing about God's remarkable involvement in our lives, and it says that we'll be given a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. See, a part of what Thanksgiving does is aligns you with the Spirit of God. Our wrestling match, we're told in Ephesians, isn't with flesh and bone. It's not with people that the greatest struggles of our lives are with spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Well, we know how to wrestle physically. You know how to gain strength or gain a weapon or leverage or something, but when it comes to spiritual combat, we're not quite as comfortable or adept. We try to ignore it or pretend that it's just not real, or it only takes place at church or something, but when you use your words and your decision, your choices, and your mind to give thanks to God, you displace those spirits of heaviness.

"See, well, I did it once". Oh, well, that's like me declining dessert once and announcing that eating less doesn't work. I was so frustrated that when I declined dessert and I didn't lose weight that I eat three pies, and that's a bit of the attitude that we've had. Well, I tried that. I went three days, and once a day I said thank you for something, and my feelings didn't change, and we spent decades or at least months or years creating a pattern of thought and reaction and perspective, and then we're angry at God and then ready to set him aside because a momentary nod in his direction didn't bring the power of the creator of the universe to bear on our behalf. It doesn't have to be done with a great deal of drama or fanfare or enthusiasm. You can quietly sit and begin to say, Lord, I just wanna thank you. I thank you that I can worship with friends. I thank you that there are Bibles I can read. I thank you that there's food I can eat, there are clothes to where, there are schools for children.

You may not like what's happening in the schools, but the schools are there. The outcome in the schools has a great deal to do with our involvement. We cannot stay uninvolved and expect better outcomes. God be looking at us, going, "What were you doing? I put you there to be salt and light because it was dark". Then begin to say thank you. You can even say thank you in the midst of broken places. The most difficult times in my life, the times that I am not a person given to despair, but there have been some times and places where it just about overcame me. When I couldn't find anything in my circumstances that I felt like elicited the response of gratitude, I could thank God for his character. God, I know you're faithful. I know you're a God of love. I know you're a God of mercy.

Do you know what a gift it is to know those things? Do you know what a gift it is? I can't tell you how many times I have stood in a field with the stars above, and I say, God, I know you're a faithful god. I don't know a way through, and I don't know the answers to the problems that are before me, but I know you're a faithful god, and I wanna trust you. It was the best I had, but it was all I had. I'd say those words, and then I'd just hush. Some of us need to hush. If you can't open your mouth without complaining and grumbling, hush. It's destructive. Thankfulness.

Folks, we are so blessed. We are so blessed. If we will humble ourselves and begin to say, Lord, we would like to serve you. We wanna follow you. We wanna honor you. Just help us to see how to do that. Lord, I'll give my energy and my free time to giving thanks to you until you give me another assignment. Let the people that encounter you know you're thankful. God will respond. He placed us in this nation for a purpose, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't just so we can get one more vacation home. I'm not opposed to that. If yours bothers you, bring it to me. I don't think it's evil, I just don't want to trade my soul for it. I don't want it to be the great ambition of my life. I don't want it to be the result of the striving of my days under the sun.

As a part of God's blessings for our lives, it makes perfect sense to me, but as the objective, or the evaluation, of your days under the sun, it's a poor barometer. Give your heart to the Lord. He'll do more for you than you can ever imagine. We're a blessed people. The Christian faith has been an inseparable part of our nation from our beginning, and the only way that's forfeited is if we don't care enough about it to extend it. It's up to us. I brought you a prayer. Why don't you stand with me? One of the things that we're learning to do is to pray, to pray together, to pray individually. I hope you take some of these prayers and pray them at home or pray them with friends. Please don't leave them here. We've put a battle plan together most weeks, and it's got prayers to pray throughout the week. There's lots of prayers available. You don't have to pray those prayers. Just use them until you find your own words. Let's read this one together.

Heavenly Father, we humble ourselves before you today to acknowledge you as the creator of all things. You have made us. We are the sheep of your pasture. Through your truth, we have found freedom. You've given us a home in a place of liberty. Give us the wisdom to maintain what has been entrusted to us. Let the darkness be pushed back and the light break forth in this season. Awaken your people in this generation. You are our hope and our great redeemer. Let the name of Jesus be exalted and all who oppose him stumble, in Jesus's name, amen, hallelujah.

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