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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Risk, Reward, and Judgement - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Risk, Reward, and Judgement - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Risk, Reward, and Judgement - Part 2
TOPICS: Risks, Reward, Judgment

So we very seldom come to desperate points. We come to desperate points sometimes when there's a breach in a family system, or a breach in our health and the scientific community can't help us, or the healthcare community can't help us but we avoid desperation. Much of the world leads desperate lives. I talked to the pastors in Ukraine. I have friends in other places in the world. I have a friend who said to me one time, it's been years ago now, but he said, "Pastor", he said, "Allen," he didn't call me pastor. He said, "In the United States," he said, "You work to recreate, to have your time off, to vacation, to do the things you wanna do with your families so your children can be engaged in sports". He said, "In my country, we work to survive".

So Jesus is speaking to us, and "When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished," it's a paradigm adjustment for them, they said, "Well then, who then can be saved"? Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it's impossible, but with God all things are possible". Now, we've been given a little bit of assignment if you've heard Jesus. We're gonna have to have a little conversation with him, "Lord, I have so much, I live well and I eat well and I travel well and I have opportunities and I get to choose a future and plan it out to the point that I get upset when my plans don't work out, but I don't wanna miss your invitations, I don't wanna be deaf to what you're saying, I wanna cooperate with you".

We only make one journey through time, folks, you don't get to do this again. I'm amazed at the counsel I hear Christians give to people sometimes. I hear them say to young people, "Oh, sow your wild oats, go have a good time". If by that you're giving them license to be ungodly, Jesus has already spoken to you, we just read it. You're gonna be the least of these. You only get one chance to honor the Lord as a teenager. Go ring the bell for Jesus. You're only going to college one time I hope, as a Christ follower, it's not an eight year plan for your undergraduate degree. Go be godly in the midst of that. You're only gonna do business to honor the Lord.

Well, I would forfeit something, not in the eternal kingdom of God, lay up some treasure in heaven, tell the truth, make a fair profit, give a fair day's work for a fair day's wage and pay a fair wage for somebody who works a fair day. Stop with the foolishness. Lord, forgive us. We've been too casual with this. Well you say, "Well, I'm not one of the one percenters". Oh yes we are, if you get the pool out there big enough, it's us. "Well, I don't feel like one". Oh, stuff doesn't make you happy, we can all give a testimony. You know, I've had none and I've had a little, a little is better. Poverty is a curse. But Jesus isn't done, same passage, same context, same discussion. "Peter answered him, 'We've left everything to follow you! What will there be for us?'"

You gotta love Peter. He just says what everybody else thinks. He said, "All right, Lord, if it's his camel and the needle and it's hard," and he said, "We left everything". And, "Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel,'" wow. "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first".

First of all, we're not all gonna get the same outcome. There's 12 tribes, 12 thrones, and you were just told, Jesus just told you who's gonna occupy them. Then he broadened the conversation and we were invited into the discussion. He said, "Everyone who's left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and inherit eternal life". You know the most difficult place to live your faith out? Kitchen table. I've had this conversation dozens and dozens of times in the last year with church leaders across the country. More than one have looked at me, said, "Pastor, that's just really hard. That's really hard". Had the conversation in this community and they say, "No, that's pretty tough to have to do to tell your adult kids they're leading ungodly lives. That's gonna impact holidays, it's gonna introduce some disruption".

How many times have we tolerated, encouraged, supported, affirmed ungodliness, wickedness, immorality? We don't have to be angry, we don't have to be condemning, we don't have to be belligerent, heavenly, don't be violent. But we have to do what Jesus said, Jesus had the courage to tell us the truth we have to have the courage to tell the truth. That's not my wisdom. Jesus said it's gonna have a bearing on our status, on our trustworthiness. See, it's easy to go some other country, stand in front of a group of people you don't know, you'll never see again, you can be really Billy bad for Jesus. I mean, you drop the hammer. It's far more difficult to do with the people you do life with.

Folks, the change needs to come within the church. We'll see the culture change. Matthew 20, I love Matthew's honesty. "The mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons," you know who Zebedee's sons are? James and John, Jesus's best friend. "And she kneeled down and asked Jesus for a favor". And he said, "'Well, what is it you want?' And she said, 'Grant that one of these sons of mine may sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.'" Well, there you go. She didn't even wait for a private moment, the rest of the disciples are all hanging out. And mom rolls in and says, "I've got a favor to ask". And Jesus said, "Yes". And she said, "I'd like my boys to be on either side of you in your kingdom".

Well, you might as well just swing for the fences, mom. I'm amazed at Jesus's answer. "'Grant that one of these sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left,' and Jesus said to them," to them, not to her, "'You don't know what you're asking. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?'" That is a very serious question. "And they answered, 'We can.' And Jesus said to them, 'You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or my left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.'"

I think it's safe to say from that passage that there'll be different assignments and different opportunities in the age to come. Jesus didn't look at them and say, "Oh, everybody's gonna rotate through those seats. Everybody gets a day on my right and everybody gets a day on my left, it's like musical chairs, we're just gonna keep circling". He said, "No, to even be considered in the conversation, you'd have to share the cup I'm going to drink". Can you do that? And they said, "Mmmh". And Jesus said, "Duly noted". We're not finished, Matthew 25. Matthew 24, some of you'll remember, is the most lengthy prophetic discourse of Jesus's public ministry. He describes the end of this age and the circumstances in the world prior to his return.

And Matthew 25 is really a continuation of that discussion. He begins to describe the groups of people that will be involved in that. And in Matthew 25 and verse 14, he says, "Again, his kingdom will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents and to another one, each according to his ability. And then he went on his journey. And the man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. And so also the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money".

Now, the most obvious, I think most of you are familiar with that parable. Jesus comes back and rewards them for what they have done. I think it is a picture of our judgment of our lives and what we have done in time, but we would note, first of all, that they were given different gifts and talents, it's not all the same. What they're asked is to be faithful. One of the more destructive things you can do is spend your life in comparative analysis. You can be angry at people who have talents that you don't. You can feel demeaned and cheated by people who have things that you don't. You can spend your life filled with envy and covetousness as a Christ follower.

You can give expression to those carnal things and greatly diminish the impact you can have in time. Or you can give yourself license to be more ungodly because you feel like the circumstances that define you were less than what you thought they should be or you would've preferred them to be and your response is to be less enthusiastic for the Lord. We're given different gifts and talents. The analogy that's used in the New Testament, I didn't put the passages here but you can look, it's in Corinthians, is the analogy of a body and Paul said to the church in Corinth that the eye can't say to the foot, you're not a part of the body.

Again, it's the idea that we have different gifts and abilities, but we all matter to God. We may be valued differently by culture or society, we may be willing to pay athletes far more than willing to pay teachers. Don't be angered by that, recognize the difference and if God's invited you to be a teacher, teach with great enthusiasm. If he's called you, given you the gifts to be an athlete, go cash the check and be godly. We'll be judged and rewarded for what we have done with our gifts and our opportunities, it's the loud language of that parable.

Do we use our gifts for the kingdom of God or do we use them for ourselves? It's a very important question. I can't tell you how many people I have met through the years that have the imagination they wanna do everything they can do to maximize their gifts, and their talents, and abilities, whatever they may be, and that at some point in the future they're gonna begin to consider God. I would say that is the more typical response. That giving God permission to interrupt your pursuit, God doesn't need my accomplishments nearly as much as he needs my faithfulness.

So let me wrap this up with a summary. I gave you some observations that I've taken from those Matthew passages. There are a variety of opportunities within the kingdom of God. It's not all the same. And who you are and what you do in time will determine a great deal about your role in eternity. I'm not talking about heaven or hell.

Secondly, Jesus told us that now we can invest in eternity. It was Matthew 6 he said, we can lay up treasure in heaven now. You wanna figure that out. That's better than any dollar cost averaging scheme you've got for this present age.

The third one is that wealth or success, if you prefer that word, presents a threat to a significant life in the kingdom of God. So if you recognize you've been given that ability to accumulate or to achieve, it should be a cautionary note, we're gonna have to be even more intentional in order to lead a life of significance in the kingdom of God. It's gonna be more difficult, there'll be unique temptations, pride, your carnality, the opportunities put before you to think of yourself more highly than you ought will be easy.

Number four, our ambition has to be carefully focused. We learned that from, the label in scripture is the mother of Zebedee's sons. But you get a feeling the boys have been involved in the discussion. Ambition's not evil, Philippians chapter 2 said that our ambition should be to have the attitude that Jesus had. We shouldn't be driven by selfish ambition but ambition is important. We have a culture right now that has become so idolatrous with the government, we've lost ambition. We think it should just accumulate, accrue to us, somebody, it should be given to us, somebody has something they shouldn't and we should be given some of it, that is evil and it's a lie being used to manipulate you. But our ambition has to be very carefully focused.

There's an almost, several verses in Philippians chapter 2 walk you through Jesus's attitude. "He didn't consider equality with God something to be grasped but he made himself nothing. Taking the very nature of a servant, he humbled himself and became obedient". "He humbled himself and became obedient, obedient even to the point of death". There's the pathway for us. The more talented, the more determined you have to be to humble yourself and be obedient. The more successful, the more intentional you have to be.

Number five, there are rewards, or if you prefer responses for the life we choose to lead in time. The most candid answer about that is there's a cost in following Jesus. The ground at the foot of the cross is level, it's open to any person who will come. But Jesus told us in the plainest of language, if we're going to be his disciple, we have to take up our cross daily and follow him. It's not just a Bible study, it's not just information collection. There's a uniqueness that comes with that. You'll have to be willing to be set apart different, not weird different, godly different.

Number six, outcomes are required. In the terrible of the palents... in the parable of the talents, the servant who had the one talent, remember what he did? He went and buried it and he presented it and said, "I knew you could be a difficult evaluator and I didn't wanna lose anything, I didn't wanna take any risk, so I brought you what you gave me intact". Remember the response, you wicked lazy servant. You knew I was a heart evaluator, did you, you should have at least brought interest on what you were given. You wouldn't have had to work for interest. You could've been absorbed with your own selfish agenda and received interest. Take what he has and give it to somebody else and cast him into outer darkness. Outcomes are required of our lives.

In Philippians chapter 2, if we go back to that passage, it says, because of what Jesus did, God gave him the name that's above every name. That every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. The perfect, sinless, obedient Son of God, was asked to accept an assignment, the incarnation to put on an earth suit and come and understand the frailty and the vulnerability of the human experience, and then willingly take upon himself the punishment for our ungodliness. Do you think you and I are going to become Christ's followers and serve the Lord in our journey through time in the context of a picnic and a parade and a promotion? Are there blessings for serving the Lord? Absolutely. But there's a cost.

And then number seven, spiritual awareness is required to discern the opportunities. You see, we have to willingly, intentionally cultivate this awareness of a spiritual life. We've imagined that we can push that off until we step into eternity, but right now we just wanna be fully engaged in the world. We spend more times trying to understand the ungodly so we can build a bridge to them than understanding righteousness and holiness and purity, so that we can display that in such an appealing way that the ungodly will want it. We have to be different. We've been intrigued with the license that has come with compassion for the ungodly, and we have shunned the call to righteousness, and holiness, and purity. But God is awakening us and he's calling us back.

Folks, there is a reward for honoring God with your life. Don't forfeit that. When you have the opportunity to acknowledge that you know Jesus in the marketplace, embrace it. When you have an opportunity to honor the goodness of God and in your family system, be thankful for it. When you have the opportunity in the bleachers at the ballgame, when you're watching the kids or the grandkids on the sports field, talk about Jesus. There's a reward for that. "Well, I don't want any reward I just wanna go to heaven". Oh, stop it. Stop using nonsense, nonsense language and then saying Jesus at the end of it. That's like saying, "I go to work, I don't wanna be paid for it, I just enjoy hanging out with people".

We came back from Bridgestone Arena, I'm done. How much, yeah, I am done. We went to Bridgestone and did an event and I don't know how many people, we had a lot of people over there and we came back, somebody stopped me in the lobby and said, "Pastor, it was worth it if one person heard the gospel". We'd worked for weeks, weeks and weeks. We loaded, I forget, 28, 30 buses of people that went to Nashville from here. And I said, "No, it wasn't". And he looked, eyes got big, and I said, "If only one person needed to hear the gospel, I'd have gone to the mall".

I took evangelism explosion training, I know the two diagnostic questions. I'll go do the interview, we get one person to hear the gospel tonight and I get eight weeks back. We went to Bridgestone for a much larger cause. See, we've adopted the spiritual equivalent of word salad. We don't like it in others, let's not do it ourselves. We need a higher, heightened spiritual awareness in order to engage the opportunities around us. The Spirit of God is moving in the earth. There are some risks involved when you run your hand up and say, "I'm for Jesus," but there are some amazing rewards and God is a just judge.

Nothing you entrust to him, nothing you give to him, no statement of affirmation on his behalf, no matter how violent the pushback against it will be overlooked or lost, you can trust him. Lay up treasure in heaven, you won't regret it. I brought you a prayer. I've really enjoyed the family prayer guide that's been a part of this sanctuary of scripture initiative, and if you haven't found it yet, you're missing out. I would encourage you to pray with your family or with whomever you pray regularly, but I brought you the prayer, the first prayer for the third week. Why don't you stand with me? We'll pray it together. Let's pray this prayer together:

Lord, forgive us for the casual way we have approached you about expanding your kingdom. Show us how we can be a part of your purposes. Awaken your church and use us as instruments to bring about your glory in the earth. In Jesus's name, amen.

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