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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Deployment Begins - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Deployment Begins - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Deployment Begins - Part 2
TOPICS: Spiritual warfare

I have a question. What's gonna be said of our generation? Are we gonna be described for our athletic prowess, for the stadiums we built? We gonna be described for our turn towards green, the new energy? What's gonna be the story that's said about the church? That's up to you and me. It's not somebody else. We are the church, as awkward as that is. Folks, this is our turn, and we're gonna need courage and boldness and faith to see the name of Jesus proclaimed throughout the earth. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

You know, our culture these days is outraged. Almost completely intolerant at the idea of a Creator God. An omniscient and all-knowing and omnipotent and all-powerful God that could speak into our lives and provide direction or boundaries or a designer's direction for the best way to navigate our journey through time. In fact, our preference is the cultural mantra. It's been growing for decades. It's not new. This didn't happen with COVID, but you can hear it if you listen carefully. It's woven into the fabric of almost all the communication that cascades over us. "No one can tell me what to do"! Or "No one can tell me how to live my life". Or the inverse of that, "I can do whatever I wanna do. I can become whatever I wanna be, and so can you".

Baloney! It's a Greek word. It means I disagree. In actuality, there is someone who can tell you what to do, and one day you'll have to talk to him. God can give direction to us. He is wiser and more powerful and more experienced. He's different from us. And I just follow that up with a revelation, and it comes from scripture. And parents, you need to be teaching it to your children. I know you want to affirm them and you want to motivate them and you want to encourage them. I'll join you in that. I want them to flourish, but personal freedom is not infinite. It's not, just because you declare it so doesn't make it so. No matter how wealthy or how privileged or how much authority or whatever you may imagine, there are limits to your personal freedom.

Now, I wanna take the balance of the time we have, you're gonna have to listen quickly, and I wanna invite you on a journey. We're gonna do this for more than one session. We're gonna go with Jesus's closest friends as they begin their deployment. They had a training period with Jesus. He gave them some instruction. He showed them some things, and then he came to the point where he said, "I'm leaving and you've got this to do". They didn't like it. They complained. They groused about it a bit. But then they took the assignment. We are on assignment, and we've spent a good season learning and gathering some information, at least we've had exposure to it. Whether we've chosen to learn or not is on us.

So I'm gonna ask you to join me on this little quick journey with some of Jesus's friends. We'll start in Acts 13. We're gonna follow Paul, but there's a team of people who travel with him, and it's an ever-changing team because some drop out and some step in and some are re-deployed and some take new assignments. There's a couple dozen names attached to it. This is from Perga. They went to Pisidian Antioch. Now just a little bit of a note, there's more than one Antioch. There's more than one city named Antioch, so there's usually a qualifier around it and you'll know which city it is. Like there's more than one Rome. There's one, I think, somewhere over the ocean? But there's one in Georgia. But if every time you hear Rome you think Georgia, you'll be confused. Well, there's more than one Antioch. This is Pisidian Antioch. "On the Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and they sat down".

Now, that little action got Jesus in a whole heap of trouble. "And after the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, 'Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.'" So Paul stood up and he "motioned with his hand and said: 'Men of Israel and you Gentiles...'" Gentile is everybody who is not Jewish, so in the New Testament you're Jewish, men of Israel, people of Israel, or you're everybody else. "Who worship God, listen to me!'" And then he preaches a message. He delivers a message about the person of Jesus. And I put there verse 42. It's the conclusion. I'll just skip the message. I'm gonna give you a summary, but "As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath". They liked it enough, they got a invitation for part 2.

Now, for the sake of brevity, I didn't put his message in your notes, but you can read it. It's Acts 13:16 to 41. I'll give you a summary. This is my contemporary evaluation of what Paul said. He said there is a God and he's involved in our lives. And he uses Jewish history to illustrate that. He takes several segments of Jewish history and says there is a God and he delivered us from slavery. He gave us a Promised Land and he drove seven nations, seven people groups, out of our land. Did you have this notion that God determines where we live? Lot of angst against that these days. Paul said that God brings outcomes for our good for his people, which we couldn't achieve on our own. Why would yield to an Almighty God? Because he'll bring an outcome to you that you won't get on your own. Why do people resist him? Because they don't wanna yield to him. They want their own outcomes.

And then Paul makes the point in his message that even the people God calls, even his covenant people are frequently rebellious. Uncooperative. Then in our rebellion, we forfeit what God has for us. And in the second part of his outline, he introduces them to Jesus. He said that God sent Jesus to make a difference for us, that we needed a Savior. Folks, you've got to grapple with that. We have lived with so much freedom, so much liberty, so much abundance, that if you were willing to work or listen or make the effort, there were typically opportunities, maybe not in the time you wanted 'em or the way you wanted them or in the season you wanted them, but we really haven't had to have the imagination we've needed a Savior until we bumped into something, some disease or some tragedy or some heartbreak.

And perhaps sometimes we might cry out. For most of the world, there is not an imagined outcome that's acceptable apart from God. We have got to grow up. We need a Savior. If you think your bank account, your influence, your wisdom, your experience, your intellect, your diligence, your perseverance, your hard work will deliver you from the realm of evil, you are deceived. We need a Savior. And Paul told those people that. But he followed it up with something that's intriguing. He said typically he's not recognized, and frequently he's condemned. You've seen that. We read it in Jesus's own life and ministry.

"You shut up and you sit down. We don't care what you can do. We don't care if you can heal, we don't care if you can raise dead. You shut up and sit down. Because if you are the truth, then logic would submit that I yield to you, and I don't intend to yield to you, and I don't wanna be confronted with the decision, so you shut up". We hear a lot of shut up these days. You understand it because we've cooperated with it. We've dropped our eyes. We have hung our heads, and we have passively backed away. Paul's telling 'em about Jesus and he's giving 'em the truth and it's the same today. But then he says something. He said in every generation God raises up Jesus. He lifts him up. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, remember the story? God will cause Jesus to be lifted up, that in every generation people get to make a choice. You're given an invitation.

The Bible says every person is without excuse. And then Paul, he announces as a fact, he used the word "fact". He said the fact is that Jesus will be exalted over all. It's a fact as certainly as the sun rising in the east. Jesus will be exalted. Every knee will bow, every tongue confess, every demon will yield. Every principality, every expression of evil, every human being will declare Jesus is Lord. It's a fact. Now, why does that matter? Because if that fact is in truth reality, it would be in our best interest to get aligned with that now. I'm not talkin' the church, I'm just sayin' if Jesus is truly Lord of all, join the team. Make a friend.

And then he gives us the motivation for that. It's a beautiful presentation. He says through Jesus your sins can be forgiven and you can have peace with God. It's a gift. He says through Jesus you can be justified. It's a very, it's a technical word in the New Testament. To be justified is to be acquitted, to be declared not guilty. It's a complete pardon. Your record is expunged. There's no story against you. There's no message of condemnation. You can be justified but only through faith in Jesus. This is what Paul's telling 'em in the synagogue. And then he closes with a little bit of a caution. He says be careful that you don't join the scoffers. He understands that in his audience not everybody's going to embrace what he's saying.

And I wanna give you that caution this morning. It's much easier in our current culture to be a skeptic and a scoffer than a believer. It is. You'll find more affirmation. You'll find a broader friend group. Jesus told us the truth when he said it's a narrow way and few enter in. But there's a broad path that the majority will enter in that leads to destruction. Don't choose to be a skeptic. If you're proud of your skepticism, humble yourself. You don't have to agree with me folks, I'm not the judge. Don't make your God decisions based on my ability or lack thereof. That'd be foolish.

In fact, I think we oughta say it quick, for I'm not done, so don't run. But I wanna lead you in a prayer. A real simple little prayer to acknowledge Jesus is Lord. Would you pray that with me? Just close your eyes for a moment, forget the people around you. You can pray quietly with me or out loud. I want, you need to repeat it with me, okay? Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner and I need a Savior. Thank you for what you did for me, that you took my punishment, that I might have your blessing. Forgive me of my sin. Be Lord of my life. I wanna honor you with all that I am and all that I do. Amen. Now, if that's a new idea to you, I'd keep saying that. I'd say that every time it came to my mind. You don't have to repeat it exactly like I said it, but Jesus, I need your help. I wanna honor you. It changes everything folks.

Now, I read you the verse. We're gonna go to the very next Sabbath with Paul, Acts 13. We're back in the narrative. You've got it in your notes. "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord". Paul's message went viral. He got hundreds and hundreds of "likes" and "shares". They were talkin' about it all over town and the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered. "When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and they talked abusively against Paul and what he was saying". Filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. If you'll allow me, I would submit to you, remember we're studying tactics and strategy. That is a very typical expression of the spirit of antichrist. What was there to be jealous of? A traveling preacher's coming through town.

Yeah, I mean a few people wanna hear what he has to say, but he's leaving. It's the spirit that's jealous. Because the spirit of antichrist wants the worship, wants the adulation that is directed towards Jesus. He wants that place, and because he doesn't have that place, he stands in opposition to anyone that will give that place to Jesus. You need to be aware of what the spirit of antichrist looks like, how it sounds, how it behaves, because it is unleashed in our world. And you've got zero chance of recognizing the individual that will be the embodiment of that if you aren't trained in recognizing that spirit as it's deployed in the world now. They're jealous because Jesus is being exalted, and they will use any means possible to discredit him, to diminish him, or to disrupt those who are telling his story.

Same scenario, verse 46. "Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: 'We had to speak the word of God to you first and since you reject it and don't consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.'" Remember he said, he cautioned them, he said, "Don't be a skeptic please". And when they persist, he said we'll go someplace else. "For this is what the Lord has commanded us: 'I've made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord, and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord spread through the whole region". Boom!

There's a regional thing happening because of a fuse that was lit in a synagogue with a very simple and direct Jesus story. And now the whole region is changed. Verse 50, the very next verse: "But..". But is a conjunction where you take two ideas and you hook 'em together. And is a conjunction. I'm going to church this morning and when I'm finished I will eat lunch. I hooked two ideas together. But is a conjunction, but it's a negative conjunction. It means you were going this way, and now we're gonna change course. "The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city". Now that's a team. "God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city". They coulda been low-standing but they were leading men. "And they stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region".

You gotta listen really quickly. I'm gonna give you the highlights. Their next stop is Iconium. Says, "At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual to the synagogue". You know that drill by now. They learned it from Jesus, "They spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed". Yeah, we've seen that too. "But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers". I think it's safe to say they weren't telling the truth. Same spirit at work. I won't read it all.

If you finish the paragraph at your own leisure, you'll find there's a plot to mistreat Paul and Barnabas and to stone them. But they found out about it and fled. What's noteworthy, it's the first time in their journey that physical violence has been suggested. By their second stop, they're talking about physical violence against them. Cancel culture's not new! Intolerance is not new. Acts 14, same chapter, very next stop: "In Lystra there was a man crippled in his feet. He was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him and saw that he had faith to be healed and he called out, 'Stand up!' And the man jumped up and began to walk". Gee, we've heard that before. Check Acts 3. "When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their language, 'The gods have come down to us in human form!'"

Now they wanna sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas! They've shown them the power of God. Wow! Kinda like a man's hand being healed in a synagogue. Do you believe God heals? I do. We get really weird on this one. "Do you believe in healing or doctors"? What do you mean? If you go to the doctor and you get well, you'd better say "Yea God"! and pay your bill. I've been with too many people who go to the doctor and don't or can't get well. What is wrong with us? Do you study or pray for wisdom? If you're in school, you better do both. Do you exercise and eat healthy or just ask God to make you healthy? We are knuckleheads. We would rather debate and have the messy edges of what do you do when you pray and you're not sure of what... Let's be guilty of inviting God in.

How many people here today need healing? I'm not gonna take an offering, you can raise your hand. How many of you? I wanna pray for you right now. You say, "Well, I don't feel..." You don't have to feel something. Let's invite God into the midst of that. I'm happy if he does it with a breakthrough with a doctor. I'm happy if he does it without a doctor. I trust him. Lord, you're a healer. You created us. You designed us to heal, and I pray for those that acknowledge their need. You bring healing to their lives today. Unleash your power in our midst to every person listening, whatever that need may be. I thank you for your great mercy for us, for Jesus's sacrifice and our deliverance from the kingdom of darkness. In Jesus's name, amen.

They stopped the people from sacrificing to 'em. They got that tamped down. But in verse 18 it says, "Then some of the Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and they won the crowd over. And they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city". They're not threatening him any longer, they stoned him until they thought he was dead. They threw enough rocks at him that he's on the ground immobile and they think he's dead. That would suggest some violence against him. "The disciples gathered around him and he got up and went back into the city. And the next day, he and Barnabas left". Clever chaps. Now the violence has begun. And it will continue through the Book of Acts, city after city. Folks, we've read it but we haven't paid attention.

So, when we face a little bit of resistance, when somebody says don't bring your Bible, or don't mention that name, we just cave. And we're very susceptible then to somebody who brings us a message that says well, you know, Jesus has just left. I agree. I don't want you to be angry, I don't want you to belligerent, I certainly don't want you to be violent. But I want you to be prepared. Jesus's name has never been welcomed by all. Even when Jesus himself was present amongst us and he was doing miracles for the good of the people, there were people who would plan his execution in the midst of the miracles.

In his absence when his friends began to tell his story, invite other people towards the freedom of the kingdom of God, it's illogical because the force being arrayed is spiritual. And they would enact violence against them. Our assignment's to take the name of Jesus. There's a pattern that emerges through the Book of Acts. We're gonna look at it in a bit more detail. The truth is told. There's significant responses to the Good News. Dozens and dozens, hundreds of people, whole regions are changed. Wonderful things to celebrate. Lives are transformed, changed in potential. That's what transformation means, and people step forward as antagonists.

People step forward as antagonists. But we have to have enough awareness to know fundamentally it's spiritual antagonism, that there are two opposing kingdoms. One brings freedom and transformation, the other results in bondage and destruction. And we cannot afford to be silent while we watch our generation ravaged by the forces of darkness. We have to take Jesus back to the marketplace. We have to lead with our faith. We have to use our voices. But it begins at our tables. I brought you a prayer. I really am gonna hush. There's hope. I want you to stand with me. We can read this together. You got three prayers in one service. You're clappin' 'cause I'm done. I know what's up. Let's read this together:

Heavenly Father, You have delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and welcomed us into the kingdom of your Son. Now, may our hearts be open to your invitation. Grant us the boldness to share the truth you have brought to life within us. May Jesus be exalted, may people find freedom and hope, and may those trapped in despair be set free. Deliver us from evil. May all the honor be directed to Jesus. Amen.

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