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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Blessings and Curses - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Blessings and Curses - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Blessings and Curses - Part 2
TOPICS: Blessing, Curse

We're continuing our study on the strategies and tactics of the spiritual influences around us and we're specifically talking in this session about blessings and curses. It's a real thing, it's not just a fantasy or a fiction or something that Hollywood has dreamt up. You can understand your life or I can understand mine in terms of the blessings of God or the curses that come from disobedience, even as Christ followers. When we're born again, we've experienced the new birth, we're not removed from the arena of spiritual influences and we wanna learn to walk uprightly before the Lord so that we can stay spiritually clean and enjoy the blessings of God, it's a very important principle. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart to God's invitations.

In Genesis 4, we've discussed many, many times that the big rock ideas are introduced to us in the opening chapters of Genesis. The rest of the biblical narrative fills in the blanks and helps us understand more fully but the big ideas are introduced to us. This is Genesis 4, God is speaking to Cain; he's murdered his brother. He said, "Now you're under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it'll no longer yield its crops to you. You'll be a restless wanderer on the earth". He said, "You chose a path that's going to bring hardship to you".

The Bible tells us that entire nations, people groups can be under a curse. We don't like to believe that. We don't like to... we're reluctant to say that if you worship demons, it'll have a negative impact upon you and your people. We've been reluctant as a church, folks, the church has been reluctant to say. There's really a difference between animism, worshiping animals or nature, and worshiping the God who created the heavens and the earth. We've been embarrassed of the uniqueness of Jesus and we wanna act like we can create equity, we can create equitable outcomes for people even if they make life choices that bring them out from under the goodness and the grace of God. You can't do that. The most gracious thing you can do, the most loving thing you can do is invite people under the mercy and grace and protection of Almighty God.

That's the truth, and the church has to believe this. If you're gonna use dollars and policy to try to eliminate the negative impact of wickedness, and ungodliness, and immorality, it'd be easier to start a bonfire and just burn it. Godliness brings a blessing and ungodliness brings a curse. We've got to wake up. This is the church's territory. We look to the healthcare community to tell us the truth about viruses and bacteria. We've got to look to the church to tell us the truth about spiritual things. But we've had this notion we could just shop churches to find one that believes like we believe. It's just not what we believe it's what the Word of God has to say.

Now, I acknowledge there's some variance in how you understand and interpret it, not every verse is absolutely clear, and there's room for opinion, but there's a difference in opinion and setting aside God. And we have been guilty of that. Nations can come under a curse. In Malachi 3 in verse 8, this is the prophet speaking to the covenant people of God, the children of Israel, "'Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.' 'How have we done that?' 'In tithes and offerings.' You're under a curse, the whole nation of you.'" God says, "I've withdrawn my blessing from you as a people".

Now, if that's possible with the covenant people of God living in the Promised Land, I would submit to you that's possible for any people group. And it's worth noting that the blessings of God had been in our Bibles in the story of the Jewish people and the Israelites, that the blessings of God would exist and be withdrawn based upon their behaviors. Again, it isn't God's character; he's not vindictive. He said, "Listen, this is the arena where you can receive the fullest expressions of my grace and mercy and this is the arena where you can't. Now, which one will you choose to live in"? And we fold our little arms say, "Well, I don't believe a good God would". And then you start to fill in the blanks. Do you understand? That's just a nonsensical thing.

"Well, I don't believe a good God would let me suffocate with my head underwater". Huh? Bless your heart, I heard that. Jeremiah 44, come on do it, I'm okay, "When the Lord could no longer endure your wickedness," this is Jeremiah talking again to the Israelites. "When the Lord could no longer endure your wicked actions and the detestable things you did, your land became an object of cursing and a desolate waste without inhabitants, as it is today. You burned incense and have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you, as you now see".

You see, they have a rich history of God delivering them from enemies even when they were greatly outnumbered, of God showing his power and his strength on their behalf when their strength was inadequate, of God bringing rain to their land and causing their crops to flourish and their harvest to be abundant so that they had abundant food and they prospered. Israel's a tiny little place, it's the crossroads of the ancient Near East as it's the crossroads in many ways of the modern Middle East. The world's attention is riveted on tiny little Israel. There have been rockets raining down on them now for several days, thousands of rockets. The airport has been closed, the international airport has been closed, travel was suspended. You haven't heard much hue and cry in the media about the rockets raining down on the Jewish population.

Well, in the ancient world, little tiny Israel was, it was the crossroads if the empires to the south needed to assert their authority over the empires to the north they had to travel through Israel so it's always a battlefield. The busiest battlefield in human history is the Jezreel Valley, in the midst of the land of Israel; it's where the battle of Armageddon will take place. And yet, God protected tiny Israel, outnumbered Israel, out-powered Israel, outgunned Israel. They seldom led with strategic brilliance but they flourished because of the protection of God. The church is no different. We've had this wrongheaded idea that what we need is an election to be different or a party to be different, or a politician to be different.

In fact, I've been uninvited from some places because I've said that an election isn't going to fix us unless we have a heart change. We've talked about this. We sing a little song, it's a phrase we use quite a bit, "God bless America". So what we've been praying together for a bit now is, "God bless America again" because we've walked out from under his blessings, we've refused to stand up for our children. We've refused to stand up for marriage, we've refused to stand up for family. Until now we find ourselves where they're mutilating our children and if you say you don't think that's a good idea, they wanna shut you down.

Folks, we've got to choose obedience to the Lord, it has to begin in the church and the hearts of God's people, it has to start at our kitchen tables. Moms are gonna give you a little tin of your own anointing oil. Let it become a part of your family, pray for one another. Invite the presence of God into your lives. Summer's about to begin, I would anoint my family and say, "God, let this be a summer where you'd lead us, you guide us, you direct us". Not just outta school, growing season. You use it in the way that makes sense to you. Let it become normative for your children. Don't teach them to sing rocky top and not teach them how to receive the blessing of God. I'm not opposed to UT; I live here, I'm grateful for the good things that happen there or emanate from there but it's way secondary in what needs to be instilled in our hearts of our children.

And there's no place more important than that starting at home and if you send them to school and you find a teacher or a professor or somebody that stands in front of your child and says, "I'm gonna deconstruct the faith that your parents gave you or that they learned in their church," you move them out of that place. It's wicked. How dare they? How dare they? Now, I've been in that setting myself, it's not new, it didn't just happen with COVID. I've sat in a theology school where they said, "We're gonna deconstruct the faith you learned in church". Stop it.

I wanna take the minutes we've got left and just give you an introduction to freedom from curses. If they're real, we need to understand if we can be free and if we can, how we can be free. I'll start with Proverbs 26:2 it says, "Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow an undeserved curse does not come to rest". So if you have a sense that you're leading a life and there's a diagnostic process you can use to walk through that, that is outside the blessing of God, understand there's a cause to that. And if you understand the cause you can find freedom from it.

In Galatians chapter 3 and verse 13 it says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for its written: 'Cursed is everyone who's hung on a tree.' He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit". Some of you are thinking, "Oh, this blessing and curse thing is just Old Testament language". No, that's pretty much New Testament stuff, talking about Jesus and his crucifixion and our redemption. And it says that he redeemed us from the curse of the law in order that the blessing of Abraham might come to us. That it might come to the Gentiles, to the non-Jewish community.

I promise you the Jewish community understands that the blessing of Abraham is still theirs. And the good news of the New Testament is that Christ tore down the dividing wall of hostility so that the blessings given to Abraham were no longer limited to a unique people group, but they're available to any person of any race, language, nation or tribe that would acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and King. That we could be delivered from the curse of disobedience and its consequences and we could receive the full blessing of that Abrahamic covenant. That's Bible. 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 24 says, "He himself" speaking of Jesus, "Bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed".

The pronouns begin to matter a great deal here. It's important to understand. "He himself" Jesus, "Bore our sins on his body". He took the punishment for my ungodliness and yours. He exhausted the curse of sin that we deserved. He exhausted the consequence so that we might be set free. That's what makes the gospel good news. That no matter who you've been, or how you've been, or where you've been, there is a pathway out from under. That's the heart of the uniqueness of Jesus. It differentiates him from Buddha or Muhammad, or just a higher power or some new age benevolent force in the heavens. It distinguishes him from the government. The government is not benevolent, human governments have never proven to be benevolent over time. They accumulate power and they centralize it increasingly in the hands of fewer and fewer people to dominate those that they are supposed to serve.

That is the history of human governments. And we're watching it once again play out on the stage of modern day history. Church, we've got to wake up; the author of freedom and liberty is God himself. There's no justice apart from God. And the more we separate the authorities in our life from the truth of God, the more authoritarian they will become. When the church has been confused and addled, and frightened, and timid, and distracted, and disinterested, and a host of other things, but God has begun to awaken us, and I believe he's awakening us for a purpose.

In Matthew 8, it says, "When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to Jesus, and he drove out the spirits with a word and he healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah that: 'He took up our infirmities and he carried our sicknesses.'" Pronouns matter again. Matthew in describing Jesus's ministry in the authority with which he ministered to people and he saw the authority of evil spirits broken over their lives, he attributed to a quote from Isaiah and he said, "He took up our infirmities and he carried our diseases". He took my infirmities and he took my diseases that I might have his blessings.

I gave you a portion of Isaiah 53, it's a messianic prophecy. Isaiah, 500 years before Jesus was born, is talking about Jesus. You know, biblical scholarship, academic criticism, critical race theory has gotten a lot of airplay in recent months and years but that notion of critical academic theory didn't start with a race discussion, it really flourished more than a 100 years ago in biblical studies, biblical criticism. Not complaining about the Bible, deconstructing the Bible into all these little subsets so that you could... if you carve it into enough tiny little slices, you can discredit one sentence or one component so that you can discredit the whole book. It flourished. It's not a new thing. They've been training ministers and church leaders and clergy for decades now to not believe the Word of God is authoritative.

I have been in those institutions and participated in those classes. It's not theoretical, it's fact. It's not new, folks, it's why the church to such an alarming extent is apostate. The people leading it don't believe in the authority of Scripture or the uniqueness of Jesus or the authority of Almighty God. But God has sometimes a sense of humor. One of the books that was at the center of that critical approach to biblical studies was the book of Isaiah. And the most enlightened scholars and the most enlightened schools said there was no historic Isaiah or if there was he certainly didn't write the prophecies that are in the book. That it was a collection of prophecies from a collection of people.

Maybe there was a school of Isaiah, or a group of people and they cobbled all their similar thoughts together and they labeled it with Isaiah, and then because the oldest copy we had of the Old Testament was hand copied and the oldest copy we had was from about a thousand A.D. and they said by that time the Christians had corrupted it, and the Jews had corrupted and they'd inserted their history in it so the text really wasn't trustworthy and you couldn't believe it. You're with me? Well, one of the chapters that they said absolutely Isaiah did not write before Jesus was born was Isaiah 53. It's clearly a Christian insertion describing the Messiah and Jesus's crucifixion, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They've trained generations with them.

Well, 1948, the year that the modern nation of Israel was born, May of '48 Israel was born, they're celebrating their 75th anniversary. A little Bedouin when shepherd kid loses a sheep and looking for the sheep he finds he's in a cave and he discovers an old scroll. Long story short, the Dead Sea Scrolls, you've heard of them. Well, one of the parts of that find was they found a complete copy of the book of Isaiah. It was almost a 1,000 years older than the oldest copy we had. Well, that's not the good part. If they'd found it and Isaiah 53 wasn't there, game on, but where they studied it. It was almost letter for letter accurate with the copy that we had that was a 1,000 years older; the Christians hadn't messed with it. They hadn't written Jesus into Isaiah 53, Isaiah had done that.

And it took an enormous amount of biblical scholarship and just dropped it in the shredder. But the faculty didn't apologize and the schools didn't recant. We see that same thing happening these days, follow the science until the science changes at the state line. And then we don't hear the scientists saying, "Oh, that's not science any longer," there's kind of this strange silence that reverberates around us. It's happened in biblical studies, too, but Isaiah 53, Isaiah writes this 500 years before the birth of Jesus.

Describing the Messiah, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and he carried our sorrows. And yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced". I prefer the first person pronouns here, "He was pierced for my transgressions, he was crushed for my iniquities; the punishment that brought me peace was upon him, and by his wounds, I am healed".

You see, how can we find freedom from the disobedience of our lives? How can we break the spiritual authority that has settled over us because we wandered into the realm of its existence and made ourselves vulnerable? Folks, evil by definition does not play fair. It's not just, it exploits, it manipulates, it dominates, it controls. That is the description of evil. So if you make yourself available to evil it will do that. It will exploit children, manipulate children, dominate children. It's evil. And the only thing it will yield to is a power greater than itself, it's why we needed a Savior. It's why we needed a sinless obedient Son of God to exhaust that curse, to break its power over our lives.

But then we have choices to make and is to which arena we will live in. And because we are broken people we have all wandered into places we should not have or walked purposefully there. The exit strategy is centered in three words and I'll give them to you but we can't spend much time here today. It begins with repentance. Repentance is a change of mind and a change of behavior. Repentance is not, "I'm sorry". I'm sorry it's like, "Yeah, it's kinda awkward I got caught, sorry". Repentance is different. Repentance says, "I used to believe that was okay for me, permissible for me, explainable for me, that I could give myself permission to be or do or act in that way, and I realize that's wrong. I'll not think in that way any longer, but I will also no longer behave in that way".

Repentance is a change of thought and a change of behavior. And if you're not willing to change your thoughts and your behavior, you're not ready to repent yet. If you just out one out from under the consequence but you're just gonna run right back to it as soon as you can, you're not ready to repent yet. You have to be convinced that that thought and that behavior will destroy you. Repentance. But then you need to add to that something we have to learn to renounce where we've been and the impacts and the influences that we have subjected ourselves to the things we have welcomed into our thoughts and our lives, the spiritual influences.

I put a little passage from Colossians in there it's worth thinking about. It says, "When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ". God did that for us. "He forgave us all our sins, he canceled the written code, with its regulation, that was against us and it stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross". Jesus has done that for us. But we have to use the authority of our words and an expression of our will to say, "Any influence that I invited into my life by my choices and my thought and my behavior, I wanna disassociate myself with it, I renounce it now in Jesus's name. I wasn't confused, I wasn't distracted, I wasn't emotional, I chose".

I wanna close the benediction it's a little different. It's a pronouncement over our lives. It's a blessing. It's a biblical principle. In 2 Chronicles 30 and verse 27 it said, "The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place". The priest stood to bless the people and God heard them. I pray that we will see the blessing of God once again upon our lives, upon his church, upon our families, upon our cities, upon our nation. It's the prosperity and the blessings that we have had have come from the hand of God and we have lost sight of that. I want to you stand with me, we can read this blessing together. We'll speak it over one another. Are you ready? Okay. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace". Amen, hallelujah.
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