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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Welcome - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Welcome - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Welcome - Part 2
TOPICS: Holy Spirit

It's a privilege to be with you again today. We're gonna continue our study on "The Power of the Holy Spirit," particularly about how to welcome him into our lives. One of the titles attributed to him is that he's our helper or our guide. I've visited Israel hundreds of times. A trip to Israel is far more fruitful if you have a guide with you. They know the terrain, they know the story, they know what you're seeing, saves you a trip back to the library and a lot of personal research. Well, the Holy Spirit is our guide, that we'll be more efficient, more effective and more fruitful if we will cooperate with the instructions of the guide. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your hearts to God's invitations.

Folks, the only solution to the problems we face as a people will come from the expansion of the influence of the Spirit of God in our world. Our answers aren't gonna come through a political party or an ideology. The form of government we live under, and I'm grateful for it is representative. It means the people in Washington reflect the hearts of Main Street. And if we want more truth and integrity in Washington, we have to have more truth and integrity on Main Street. Which means you and I are the delivery system. In your sphere of influence, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, the folks you hang out with, all of those people, you want to engage in dialogue about Jesus. Maybe you invite 'em to a group with you, maybe you bring 'em to a Wednesday night, I don't know. You can use church as a point of invitation, but the real issue is you use your advocacy.

You can say, "You know, I'm really into this Jesus thing, and I think he might be good for you". If we will do that, God shows up. If we could care less, we just want God to give us what we want when we want it, not so much. So, this really is, it's a doorway. It's a doorway. The power of God comes into the lives of people who are interested in the purposes of God. So, we're gonna say this prayer together, but I want you to have it in your experience so you can share it with somebody else. Let's pray this together. Just close your eyes for a minute. Forget the people around you. Say:

Almighty God, I'm a sinner and I need a savior. I believe Jesus is Your Son. That He died on a cross for my sin. That You raised Him to life again. That I might be justified. Forgive me of my sins. Jesus, be Lord of my life. All that I am. All that I have. I wanna honor you. And now, I forgive anyone of anything, And I thank you that I belong to God. In Jesus's name, amen.

Wow! Now, that's a miracle. It changes everything about your life. It changes the authority over your life, the power available to you now that the Spirit of God is within you. I wanna add to that one more component of the healthy spiritual life, a willingness to give energy and effort to praise, thanksgiving, worship. And I'm not talking principally about the things that occur on a platform like this. Worship starts in your spirit. When you accept Jesus as Lord of your life, your spirit is made new. And you still have your soul and your body, and those still have some components of the former life. They're not fully transformed yet, but worship begins in your spirit. So, we have to submit our soulish self to worship: my mind, my will, and my emotions. My mind says, I don't want to. My feelings say, I don't feel like it. And I have to say, it doesn't matter. You're not in charge here. I appreciate your opinion. It has been duly noted. Now hush and worship the Lord.

See, we've let worship deteriorate into something that is very soulish. We talk about it in terms of a style and preference. And I like this leader or that leader or that person or that whatever. And if it doesn't suit our style, we think we withdraw from worship. You're not withdrawing from worship. Worship starts inside of you. With that attitude, worship is distant from you. Now, I appreciate music when it suits a style that I like, or it's a song that I particularly enjoy or the words resonate with me. But the truth is, you should be able to worship the Lord with a kazoo and somebody like me that sings off key. 'Cause it's about what's inside of me and who God is.

And then, we've let this get a little flipped, and the reason I think it's an attack from the enemy, from Satan himself. Someone suggested that his assignment in heaven before he lost his place was music. 'Cause in scripture, worship and the Spirit of God are intertwined. And when we allow worship to be separate from us over soulish things, we forfeit the power of God. Thanksgiving is an easier way, perhaps, to think about that. We choose to give thanks to God. Now, that's a choice. It doesn't mean I feel like it. Everybody in the room, I'm quite confident, has some places today where our life is undone, either relationally or emotionally or physically or somebody you care about. You need God's help. So, it's not that we give thanks today 'cause everything's perfect. Do you understand the refusal to give thanks to God is an expression of disrespect.

Suppose teenagers in your house said, "I'm not gonna be grateful to you until you do everything I want the way I want". Well, bless your heart. But that's a little bit of the attitude we hold towards God. "I'm not givin' thanks to you. You're not performing the way I want you to perform". And we withhold our worship and our thanksgiving. The Bible talks about a sacrifice of praise. Now, why would you do that? Because the worship of God and the praise of God and the Spirit of God are intertwined. And the psalmist says that we come into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Don't let it be about style. You may have styles you prefer. I appreciate that. That's not wrong. But that's not the determiner. My decision is to give honor to the Lord. All right. We welcome his Word. We invest some energy and effort in praise and worship and thanksgiving.

Now I wanna give you one more component, and that's prayer. Aren't you glad you got out in the rain for that nugget? I wanna suggest that you think about prayer in this way, as an expression of invitation and intent. If you don't pray, you fail to extend the invitation. And when we don't pray, we are declaring we have no intent of God being involved. See, when we fail to pray, we fail to extend the invitation to God and we demonstrate this nagging lack of intent of the Holy Spirit's participation. I don't wanna do that. Look with me in John chapter 11. It's an event in Jesus's life. He's in Bethany, it's the village where Martha and Mary live with their brother Lazarus, but Lazarus has a new home. He's in a tomb. Been there several days. He's not in good space. And Jesus goes not to visit the cemetery. He has another assignment.

You know the story. "They took away the stone and Jesus looked up and he said," we get to listen to Jesus pray. It's your notes, John 11:41. "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me". That's an intriguing prayer. "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I thank you in the present tense that you have heard me in the past tense". Jesus is referencing a prayer he's already prayed. "I've already prayed about Lazarus, and God, I've come here. I know what's about to happen. I knew (past tense) that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here. I want everybody listening and everybody's gonna read this in the centuries to come, to know I've already prayed about this before I got here". Then he says, "Lazarus, get out here".

It says that Lazarus walked out, bound with his grave clothes. And Jesus said, "Set him free". May I ask you a question? It's not a trick question. What would have happened if Jesus hadn't prayed? Lazarus would have never needed a second tomb. The prayer changed everything, right? Not just a prayer of invitation out of the tomb, his prayer before he got there. Folks, prayer in your life and my life is far more significant than we've imagined. And we've been workin' on this quite a while around here. We've had "Let's Pray," and we're continuing to pull that forward. We wanna be a people who learn to pray, because there're some things we wanna stop saying. "I don't pray," "I'm not comfortable with prayer," "I don't know how to pray". I get all of that. "I feel awkward". Me too!

Learning new things always comes with an awkward level, but we wanna become a people who invite God into the circumstances of our lives. If you have to change the language to up your comfort level, so be it. I wanna invite God into the place where I work, don't you? I wanna invite God into the lives of our grandkids and our kids and our neighbors and our friends. I wanna invite God into the lives of the teenagers when I watch them worship the Lord. I wanna invite God into my home. You and I are the point of invitation. What happens if we don't extend the invitation? Much less. Why have we lived in this deficit position with so little expression of the power of God? Because we haven't cared enough to invite him in. He will respond to the invitation. Let's pray. It really does matter. It really does matter.

In 1 Corinthians 12, we've looked at the list. It's a listing of the gifts of the Spirit. There are twelve listed there. The first verse says, "I don't want you to be ignorant about this". And then it lists... I'm sorry, there's not twelve, there's nine. A word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, the working of miracles, the gift of healing, faith, prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Nine expressions of the Spirit of God. But it's not the only list in the New Testament. In Romans 12, it says, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith". That one's in the other list. The rest of these here are not. "If it's serving, let him serve; if it's teaching, let him teach; it it's encouraging, let him encourage; if it's contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it's leadership, let him govern diligently; if it's showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully".

So, the list is growing a bit. It says these are expressions of grace. That's an important clue. Grace is not about something you earn. Grace is not merit-based. If you earned it, it isn't grace. The Spirit of God and the power of God don't move in our lives because we earned it or we deserve it. In fact, the Spirit of God moves in our lives in spite of us. But we can still welcome him, cooperate with him, intend for him to be a part. It's been popular for couple decades now to take gifts tests, spiritual gifts inventories. Kinda like we do personality tests. I don't think they're evil. They have some marginal benefit, I think. They're not my favorite. Have you ever taken a spiritual gifts test? A lot of us.

I've had some conversations with people who say, "You know, Pastor, I'd love to help you with that, but that's not my gift". And "I'd be glad to sign up for a hoedown, but I don't have the gift of evangelism, and that's clearly an evangelistic effort, and so I'm not signin' up". Well, bless your pointed head. See, I think what's not helpful in those kind an inventory is you spend 15 or 20 minutes takin'... and it's always fun to learn about yourself, whether it's a personality deal or a psychological profile or a spiritual gifts inventory. It's fun, but you take the little test and you think, well this is my gift. But the real, the root of this thing is the Holy Spirit. He is the gift.

And my observation is that the more you learn to cooperate with him and welcome him into your life and let the fruit of the Spirit grow and flourish in your life, the more frequently the Holy Spirit expresses himself in power through your life. And it's not about a singular thing. The more you cooperate with him, the more you'll see him, his power expressed in your life in a whole multitude of ways. I think we can explain it this way. Ever known somebody that was a gifted athlete? I don't mean just somebody that liked to play sports, somebody that liked competition and enjoyed keepin' score and were willing to train and work hard. I mean somebody that was a freak. One of those freaks of nature, they got some tools and equipment that most of us didn't get. Have you ever met one of those people? I have. I've been on some teams with some of 'em, known some of 'em, been out, you know.

I enjoy, they're a lot of fun, and if they're really good, you know, and in high school and they played multiple sports and be really good at all of them, and you could resent them. And some people's gifts are so good, they go to the next level. They're in college and they played multiple sports again. Fact, they have to choose now. They're competing, which one they're gonna focus on, 'cause some refinement of those skills is necessary to play at the highest levels. And some are good enough, not very many, but occasionally you meet somebody that's good enough that the professional level to participate in more than one sport. Freaks of nature.

So, they've got an athletic gift. But their gift brings an excellence to them across a whole host of physical things. Or maybe you're a world-class chef and you've got a style that you're known for, that set of seasonings and that particular region of the globe, that's your niche where you're an expert. But if you're a world-class chef, I suspect you're pretty good at just food in general. Well, spiritual gifts are a bit like that. What we wanna become really good at is cooperating with the Holy Spirit. And you may say because of your personality or because of the Holy Spirit's choosing, there's an area in your life where those gifts tend to be more focused. I get that. But the real idea is the person of the Holy Spirit, and I think the misleading part is the word gift. Because gift suggests that it's something that you possess. This is my pen.

If I choose to give my pen away as a gift, coach got my pen. He can throw it away. He can break it in half. He can give it to somebody else. He can frame it and put it on the wall. 'Cause it's his. That language is a little misleading. If you have the gift of healing, folks, you don't control them, they're directed by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, you should go to the hospital and clean house. So, to hold of the imagination that it's something you control misses what's there. What we wanna understand is who is in control and how do we yield to him so that that power can be expressed more frequently, and I'm telling you, prayer is a doorway. If you don't pray, you leave the door closed. We prayed a few minutes ago to welcome Jesus into our lives as Lord. Heaven didn't change, we changed. I want my pen back. It's just an illustration. Ha ha ha ha. God's a better friend than I am. He won't take something back.

I got a couple of minutes. I wanna give you an illustration. Acts chapter 4, we're not gonna read that whole passage. It's too long. Acts 1, Jesus went back to heaven. Acts chapter 2 is the day of Pentecost, we're gonna do that before we're done with this study. Acts chapter 3, there's a man healed in Jerusalem. Peter gets to tell his Jesus story. He gets arrested for it. When they get out of jail, they go back and find the gang. Says they went to their own people and reported what the chief priest had done.

Look in verse 30. This is their prayer, "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". Did you hear their prayer? They weren't praying for a sick person. There wasn't somebody in front of them with pneumonia. They prayed a prayer for the community where they were. "Stretch out your hand, God, to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus".

What are they doing? They're inviting the gifts of the Spirit into the midst of their world. It's not about a particular person or circumstance. They're saying, "We're here, we're available, please"! It's an appropriate prayer in your groups, in your ministry teams, in your home. For us as a congregation, we can pray that prayer for our community. Wouldn't that be good? If all over Middle Tennessee, God stretched out his hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Jesus, I'm for that! Fact, I'm gonna invite you to pray that with me. We're gonna just take that verse and offer it to God as a prayer. You want to read it with me? Wow, okay.

Heavenly Father, stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. Amen.

I wanna be guilty of that invitation. Look at James 1 and 5. Says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God". Well, Pastor, help me for a minute. You said that one of those nine manifestations of the Spirit was a word of wisdom. How exactly would that happen? I think James gave you a clue. If you lack wisdom, ask! God, I need your wisdom! How he does it, through whom he delivers it, that's his business, but God, I'm here saying I would like your wisdom. And when it shows up, watch me go, "That was God. I didn't get that one out of a book. God helped me with that". See, I'm not certain we've been guilty of inviting God. We're okay, look, hey God, you wanna do it to me, I'm here. Bring it on. But that's a little bit like saying, "Hey, listen, you wanna eat tonight, just come over whenever".

I don't know, if you gave me that invitation, I'm not comin'. That doesn't sound very sincere. Your willingness to pray over your home, your family, when you pull into work tomorrow, "God, thank you for a place to work. Help me today. Bring your wisdom to bear in this place today". When you pull in the drive, "God, thank you for my family. God, help us, we need your help. Let our home be filled with your presence". See, those simple prayers of invitation change everything. Don't spend time online gossipin' and criticizing and... how 'bout sendin' out some "Let's pray" texts? Some "Let's pray" tweets? Some "Let's pray" posts? It's more important than what you had for breakfast. "Just checkin' in". How 'bout just, "Let's pray"?

Let's ignite! Let's open our lives to the Spirit of God! He'll show up! I was in a small group this week, and one of the men shared this story. He said, "Pastor, you gave us for Father's Day, you gave anointing oil. Looked a lot like Chapstick". And he said, "My assignment is to take the kids to school in the morning". And he said, "I've gotten in the habit when I take 'em to school," he said, "I anoint 'em with oil right there on the forehead". They're younger elementary kids. And he says, "I'm drivin' and some days I forget and we're on the way and," he said, "I'm reachin' over the back seat. Some days I'm... phone's goin' and I'm talkin' on the phone and I'm doin' this". He said, "But I don't, they won't ever get out of my car without me anointing with oil". He said, "I want God to go with them into school". He said, "My little boy got out of the car the other morning and," he said, "I was getting' ready to pull off and he was knockin' on the window. And he said, 'Dad, you didn't anoint me today".

Folks, we've been guilty on this. We'll say, "All right God, you know, you don't wanna show up, it'll be okay with me". I'm suggesting we kinda flip the script on this and we say, "Hey God, today you're welcome here"! What if I pray and nothin' happens? It's not about you! One of my heroes in the Bible is Daniel. Daniel's one of the greatest men of prayer in all the Bible. Daniel had a difficult life. He was a slave his whole life. Daniel prayed with such regularity of time and place that his enemies knew that his prayer place was the place they could find him. Daniel prayed hundreds of prayers when there wasn't any evidence of an answer. But he prayed enough prayers that God sent an archangel to give him a vision of the future.

So, it's not that you pray, it's not a one-to-one thing. "I prayed once, and I didn't get what I wanted". We are gonna become a people of prayer. "God, you're welcome here. You're welcome". It's like reading the Bible. Every time I read it, I don't hear somethin' jump out at me. But if I stay with it, God speaks to me through that book. The Spirit of God is within you. You wanna learn to recognize his voice and his prompts. We've been too casual with this. Start to welcome him into your life more fully. You up for that?

All right. Why don't you stand with me? I'm done. I wanna close by saying thank you to the Lord. All right, I know for some of you, this would cause palpitations. For some of you, it's probably, your wardrobe makes it impossible. So let me make a suggestion. At least palms up. All right? Surrendering to the Lord is not distasteful. And surrendering our heart for a moment to say "thank you" to God is a really good habit.

Lord, we just wanna come say thank you. You've been so good to us. You've called us out of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son. We thank you for it today. Lord, we have food to eat and clothes to wear and a dry place to worship. We thank you for it. We thank you for one another, for the people around us, Lord, who love you and are interested in you. That we can come to worship and it's safe and comfortable and convenient. Thank you for it, Father. We praise you today. Lord, we trust you. You've been faithful to us. We were unfaithful to you, and we thank you for your goodness and your grace and your mercy. We bless your name. Let the praises of God well up within us. Forgive us when we've been reluctant. But Lord, we come today to choose a new path, to be men and women who will give glory and honor and thanks to you. In Jesus's name, amen.

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