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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Grace and Disruption - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Grace and Disruption - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Grace and Disruption - Part 2
TOPICS: Easter, Grace, Disruption

It's a privilege to be with you again. Our topic today is "Grace and Disruption". I'm gonna complete the message we did at Easter, just a few weeks ago. And I'll give you a little warning. At the end, we're gonna celebrate Communion together. You can join us in that. Just take a moment and you can grab a saltine cracker and a glass of water. You can use milk and an Oreo. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but you don't have to have a wafer that's stamped with a symbol from the church. It's what we bring in our heart before the Lord. I didn't wanna leave you out of Communion. You know, the idea of "Grace and Disruption," our faith is built on the grace of God. He reached out to us and did something on our behalf that we couldn't do for ourselves. That's grace. But that grace is not without a cost. It's disruptive in our lives. It changes everything: our friends, our patterns, our habits. Faith changes us from the inside out. It's a very important idea and it's powerful for every one of us. Grab your Bible and a notepad but, most importantly, open your heart.

And Jesus, can you imagine the audacity to challenge Jesus? I mean, can you imagine inviting Jesus into a debate. I tell you that because sometimes we tend to be a little timid. Somebody says, "Do you really believe God created the heavens and the earth"? "Yup, I do. I really do. What do you believe? Something came from nothing? Bless your heart". They didn't care about the woman; they came to trap Jesus. And Jesus, for a moment, played in the dust, wrote some things in the dust, and they demanded an answer so he stood up and he said, "I'll tell you what. Let the one of you that has no sin, you throw the first rock at her". And he bent back down and began to play in the dust a bit. And the crowd dispersed until they were all gone.

And I wanna draw your attention to what he said to the woman. It fascinates me. "Those who had heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left. The woman was still standing there, and Jesus straightened up and said, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' And she said, 'No one, sir,'" and then listen to Jesus's response to her. "Then neither do I condemn you". That's where Paul got the idea for Romans chapter 8: "There's no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". He said, "I don't condemn you". Now, unfortunately, the church often puts a period there and closes the book on the narrative. "No condemnation if you're in Christ". You need to hear that, but you need to hear the next phrase as well: "Go now and leave your life of sin". You can't have the first part without the second part. There's no cheap grace. It requires a new life, a leaving behind of behaviors. We're still leaving behind behaviors.

Tonight I was leaving behind a little stubbornness, a little pride. "Climb that stinking ramp, it's just a little water". I thought if I walk up there and my nose is bloody, it's gonna be hard to explain that I ignored three messengers. We can chuckle about it, 'cause we all have done it in ways that are far more significant than something that simple. "Go now and leave your life of sin". It's the second prayer I want to invite you to. If you came to an Easter worship service, I wanna commend you for the effort that that takes, for honoring God on the significant day that Easter weekend is to us, but I wanna ask you to do something else with me. I want you to purposely make a decision to say the intent of my heart is to stop accommodating ungodliness. I'm not gonna excuse it in my life anymore. We've got all sorts of phrases. "Well, that's just the way my people are". Or "If you knew what I'd been through". Or "That's just my coping mechanism". Or "You know, let me tell you about when I was born again".

Well, I'm grateful, I give validity to all of those statements but there's no excuse you can give to God that will cause him to side with you in your ungodliness. The biblical prescription is repentance, and repentance has two meanings: a change of thought and a change of direction. So there's an interior choice: "I'm gonna change. I've been thinking that was okay and I've been excusing it and I've been justifying it and I've been giving it all sorts of permissions, and I'm gonna change that thought pattern, but I'm also gonna change my physical behavior. It may mean some new friends, it may mean some new habits. It may mean some new ways to recreate, but I am going to leave that behind. Easter 2023 was a line in the sand. I'm gonna choose God's freedom". I wonder if you'd pray one more prayer with me. Just close your eyes for a minute. Let's forget the folks around us, all right? Just say this prayer with me. Use your outdoor voice if you're outdoors. If you're indoors, you use your indoor voice, okay? Don't scare your neighbor, all right?

Heavenly Father, I thank you that through the blood of Jesus I have been delivered from the hand of the devil. That through the blood of Jesus all my sins are forgiven, and I come to you today in humility to repent of my sin. Forgive me of my stubbornness, of my determination to have my own way. I have ignored your truth. I wasn't confused. I was rebellious. And I ask you now to forgive me, to make me clean, and I rejoice that through the blood of Jesus I am justified, sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. And I worship you tonight for your grace and mercy, in Jesus's name, amen, hallelujah.

We're making some progress. I'm gonna give you one more piece of the puzzle and one last prayer. It's something that I don't think we say frequently enough. The grace of God, you know, grace is undeserved, unearned, unmerited, kindness from God. You have to think about that for a moment. It has no merit attached to it or it isn't grace. But it's when God, because of his sovereign choice, responds to you and to me with mercy or kindness or love. He's been good to us. Well, grace is partnered with something throughout Scripture. Grace and disruption go together. Now I don't think we've imagined that. I think if God smiled on us and answered a prayer, intervened on our behalf, that everything would be easy. There'd be no struggle or no challenge, but when the grace of God touches your life, he's illuminating a new path in front of you, a new response to life.

And that, by definition, is disruption because not everybody around you will have received the grace in the same way you did. Not everybody will understand, not everybody will applaud. Some people will be frustrated. Some will be even angry. And you'll have to be determined to receive that grace. You see, for grace to be fruitful, it has to be received. And I just don't want you to be caught off guard. We're navigating something we've never navigated before. Expressions of evil in the world we haven't seen in our lifetime. We're watching things deteriorate that I thought could never deteriorate in the way that we're watching. And we're gonna have to have a new response from God. That's what makes this so important.

Look at Matthew chapter 10 and verse 32. This is Jesus speaking. He said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I'll disown him before my Father in heaven". Pretty plain language. You'd need a preacher to mess that up. And then Jesus said something that's shocking. I don't think you'd expect to find it in quotes attributed to Jesus. He said, "Don't suppose that I've come to bring peace to the earth. I didn't come to bring peace, but a sword". Now, you don't have to have a great knowledge of history or even a particular depth of knowledge of the Scripture to remember that Jesus is a disruptor. His own people betrayed him so that he was crucified on a Roman cross. The devil was hunting him from the time he was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is a disruptor. He was in the first century. He is in the 21st century, and he has been every century in between.

I tell you that, if you align yourself with Jesus you need to be prepared for the disruption that comes with that. Not everybody will cheer. Choose Jesus anyway. Some of the people that care a great deal about you won't understand. Don't be angry at them. You don't have to be belligerent. You can be kind and patient. Someone's been kind and patient with you. But don't yield the place you've given Jesus just because everyone doesn't cheer. Remember what Jesus said to the woman in John chapter 8. He said, "I don't condemn you, but go and sin no more". It was both grace and a disruption of her lifestyle. "You can't go back to being the person you've been," he said. "You're gonna need new friends and new habits and new patterns. You're gonna need new relationships. You can't go back to the one you were with a few minutes ago".

You need to know Jesus is a disruptor and you need to give him permission in your life to disrupt your plans. You see, we've had this false gospel that said you make a confession of faith around Jesus and then he'll give you everything you want, that he'll look at your To Do list and then he'll call all the angels in and he'll say, "Listen, Allen has a plan and we need to help him get his way. See to it that he doesn't fall when he walks up that wet ramp. He's a little stubborn". No, that's not really the truth. What God invites us to do is to see his plan and then we are willing to have our lives disrupted to become Jesus people. Are you willing to be one of those people? I believe you are. I wanna be one of those people.

In Acts chapter 5, this is not long after Jesus's return to heaven. He's left his closest friends without his physical presence. He sent the Holy Spirit. It's a game-changer, but they're still trying to figure out everything that it means, and by Acts chapter 5 the people that orchestrated Jesus's execution have decided that Peter and James and John and the crew are a threat. They thought they'd addressed this problem when they orchestrated Jesus's death but now they've got his disciples and they're causing even more trouble. So they call 'em in. Same council that orchestrated Jesus's execution. I promise you, Peter and the other apostles understood the authority they were standing before. If they could cause the man that walked on the water and stilled the storms and made wine out of a jar full of water, if they could crucify him, you would feel vulnerable.

And watch what they say. It's Acts 5: "Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. But God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We're witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.' And when they heard this, they said, 'Oh, in that case, we're very grateful to have the message.'" Wait a minute, if I tell people my Jesus story and God arranged the appointment, I think they're gonna say, "Awesome. We're so grateful you've told us. We've wanted to know just those things".

No, it says when they finished their little presentation, that this very powerful group of people "were furious and they wanted to put them to death". Folks, Jesus and his grace are disruptive. They're disruptive personally, they're disruptive in our families, it's disruptive in our world. The Lord told us. So the highest value of the people of God has to be to honor the Lord. Sometimes when I watch the contemporary church, I think our highest value is to negotiate with evil. We all need to understand the only thing evil will yield to is a power greater than itself. And we'll have to be a church empowered by the Spirit of God.

I wanna give you one more passage of Scripture, "There's Hope". It's the last one on your sheet. It's Acts chapter 4. It's the preceding chapter. Acts 5 wasn't the first time they'd been arrested. They'd been arrested earlier and they just threatened them, you know, intimidated them a little bit, tried to bully them. Imagine that. You thought the cancel culture was new. We really have, you know, we act like we're the first generation of God's people that wandered into the weeds. Folks, the story of Scripture is we've been wandering away from God since God began to invite us towards himself. And if you know anything of the history of the church, it's happened time and time and time again.

That's why we need awakenings and renewals, because we take a truth. We're transformed by it and then we decide we can live apart from God and we gain momentum. And we're in the midst of one of those generational pivot points again. We've wandered a long way away from God. We've wandered so far away we no longer even care to protect the children. Not just our children, the children. It's not a new issue. We've been letting them be sacrificed for decades now. It's just kind of inconvenient to talk about so we said it's political and we won't talk about it. That's not political; those are the kids and we're assigned them. Cancel culture's not new. The pressure to acknowledge Jesus is not new.

Do you think we're the first generation where they said, "Don't use his name here"? The awkward part of our story is we've been compliant. They said, "Oh, don't talk about him". We said, "Oh no, I wouldn't do that". "Don't pray over it". "No, no, I wouldn't think of doing that". "That worldview's not welcome in this boardroom". "Oh no, I wouldn't think of doing that, as long as I can keep the deal". And we have retreated and capitulated and apologized until we are seeing the culture around us deteriorate until our children, the most vulnerable amongst us, are being preyed upon. Church, we're not new. We're not that special. We even pull out our endtime theology, go, "Must be the end of the world. Never been this bad before".

Well, I believe Jesus is coming. I'm not trying to pick a theological debate. But let's not use an endtime theology to avoid our responsibility to be salt and light. So I wanna draw your attention to the prayer that the apostles prayed, 'cause I'm gonna ask you to pray this prayer with me in a moment, or one more prayer. It says, "'Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' And after they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God boldly". I can think of few things more important for the contemporary church than to come to the Lord in humility and say, "God, give us your boldness, and stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders in the name of your holy servant Jesus".

See, that wasn't some abstract theological concept. They were under tremendous duress. Their lives are in the balance. Before another chapter or two is gone, they're gonna begin executing them in the streets of Jerusalem. And yet, God responds to that prayer in a powerful way. I wonder if this Easter, if we have the courage to say, "God, pour out your Spirit upon us. Let us begin to speak on your behalf with a new boldness. And wherever your word is honored, would you begin to do wonders and miracles and signs? May people know there's a God in heaven and he is all powerful and he is all knowing". And we will present ourselves as ambassadors. You ready for that?

All right, let's go back to that wonderful green bag one last time. We've got in there the elements of Communion. If you missed that, there are some ushers out here with more green bags. It's a little crowded. I don't know if you raise a hand they might bring you one. If they don't, it's not personal. If you're joining us online and you're at home, you don't have to have one of our handy-dandy Communion kits. Go grab a glass of water and a saltine cracker. You can take Communion with a Mountain Dew and a cupcake. I don't mean that disrespectfully but sometimes we get weird about the wrong things. Communion is not a tradition of the church. It's an expression of authority. We're not saved by something we have done. When we come to the Communion table, we have a physical, tangible reminder of Jesus offering himself as a sacrifice, his body broken and his blood shed.

You see, the fundamental reality, the story of Scripture, is that Jesus took the punishment that we deserved. He took the punishment that we deserved for our ungodliness, for our rebellion, for our immorality, for our wickedness, for our greed and selfishness. That laundry list of things that we've checked boxes on, Jesus exhausted the curse of our sin, that in turn we might receive the blessing of his perfect obedience. The cross is about a divine exchange and when we come to the Communion table, we have a physical reminder to help us recenter. This isn't about me, or the church where I worship, or the label on the building. This is about Jesus of Nazareth who took my punishment that I might have his blessing.

And so I think to offer this prayer for boldness and to ask for God's help in the midst of our current world, we want to get absolute clarity under the authority through which we can make that request. It's because of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus taught us this pattern of Communion. He was with his disciples. It's the night he's to be betrayed. It's just a few moments before they'll leave to go to Gethsemane where they'll come to arrest him. He's washed the disciples' feet, they've had a Passover meal together. The end of the meal, he reaches over to the Messiah's place and he takes a piece of bread and he said, "This bread is my body that's broken for you. As often as you eat this, do this in remembrance of me". He hasn't been to the cross yet.

The significance of that meal will not break into the consciousness of the disciples for some days yet. It's not until they've seen a resurrected Jesus and they start remembering the story of that night, that the authority of that will begin to settle into their hearts. Our obedience doesn't begin with our intellect. Our obedience begins with our will, with our choice.

So you and I, tonight, come as disciples. If you can peel back that cellophane layer, you can get to that wafer. I used to tell the church that if there was sin in your life you couldn't get that cellophane open and then one Sunday, standing in front of the congregation, I couldn't get mine open. And the camera person decided to focus on me and that little cup. They worship at another church now. No, they don't. Have you got your wafer? We're gonna follow Jesus's instructions: as often as we eat this bread, we do it in remembrance of him. Let's receive together. Then he took a cup and he said, "This cup is a new covenant". The strongest commitment in all of the Bible is a covenant. He said, "I've given you a covenant, a contract, and it's sealed by my own blood. As often as you drink this, you do this until you see me again". Let's receive together. Will you stand with me for this prayer?

Father, I thank you for your Word, for its truth and its authority and its power in our lives. And I thank you for your Spirit within us that guides and instructs and leads. May we be more aware and more receptive to him than we've ever been before. And in response to what we've read, Lord, we come tonight in humility to ask you to give us a new boldness, give us a new courage, give us a will to persevere, to share the good news of Jesus that we, each one, know in our very own way. And we be willing to share that with our families, in our neighborhoods, in our places of employment, in our hospitals and our courtrooms, in our classrooms. Wherever you send us, may we go with that faith. May we have the courage to say that we believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord of all and we have chosen him as King of our lives. I thank you for it. And Father, as we do that, I ask you to confirm your Word in our midst with healings and signs and wonders, things that we can't do in ourselves. May we be willing to say "That's my Jesus". Father, look upon us with grace and mercy. We're a people in need of great healing. Our hearts have been far from you, and I pray that we will understand in the days and the months ahead that this Easter you began to move in our midst as never before. We praise you for it and we'll give you the glory and the honor for it's in Jesus's name that we pray, amen, hallelujah.

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