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

Allen Jackson - Alignment - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Alignment - Part 2
TOPICS: Prayer

You know, when I was a child, from time to time my mom would bake something. Chocolate cake, cherry pie. Put that sucker on the counter. I think it was a form of torture. 'Cause I was a very perceptive child, and I would recognize that as a chocolate cake. And having an astute memory, I would say, "That is good stuff". And so, I would approach my mother with a petition, "Might I havest a piece of thoust cake"? And typically, it was the wrong time of day. Maybe it was the afternoon or the morning, I thought cake for breakfast was a win. And she would say to me, "No, you can't have any cake right now. It will spoil your dinner".

And I thought that was a very narrow world view. I know what my nutritional needs were, and at the moment they included cake. I was quite certain she was abusive and if there had been a number to turn them in as that we have today, I would have reported her. You know, I know you may not... God created me to be about 6'5" and 240 pounds of muscle. But because of the malnutrition I suffered as a child and the lack of sufficient cake, I stand before you diminished this morning. And when she would deny my request, there was all sorts of demonstrations that would break forth. I knew she was unfair and inappropriate, and I needed cake more than broccoli. It was very clear to me, but she would hold, and the ultimate card is, "You know, if you don't get this together, when your father gets home", and I'm thinkin' when my father gets home, he's gonna eat all the cake. I know what's gonna happen.

Now, we can laugh at that because we recognize the lack of maturity in that desire to have what I want when I want it, and the refusal to yield to the experience of someone else making a decision that in reality was in my best interest. Well, I have to tell you, so often I respond to God with that same level of maturity. I want what I want when I want it, the way I want it, and I'm deeply offended if he doesn't get about it. And how often do we withdraw from a relationship with God because our circumstances are not pleasing to us. Or they're unpleasant. Or they're awkward. Or we don't like it in the moment. We only wanna serve God when it's making us feel good or happy.

Now, I'm not opposed to feeling good, nor being happy, but God's will, God's pathway for you is more about our maturing and our growing up than it is about eating cake. And I can substantiate that from scripture. Remember... how many think Jesus did the will of God? About 10% of you. I'll help the other nine: he did. But we get to listenin' to Jesus pray. He comes to the Garden of Gethsemane. He's reaching crunch time in his earth assignment. He's within a few hours of being betrayed by Judas, and he comes to the Garden of Gethsemane and he says, "Father, if there is any other way but this way, I wanna go that way. I wanna do anything but your will". Jesus said that. He said, "Look, Father, I got it. I know what you want me to do. I want you to know I wanna do anything but that". You know Jesus said that?

Now, if that's true of Jesus, may I suggest to you it is highly probable you and I will come to points in our lives when we'll say, "God, I know what you want me to do, and I just wanna be on the record, I wanna do anything else. I don't wanna do that! It doesn't feel good. It doesn't look like fun. I don't think I'm gonna enjoy it. And I'm tellin' you, I want another plan". Remember what Jesus said? "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours". See, prayer brings us to a place where we choose God's way and not just our own. Now, in the short run, it was not the most pleasant pathway, but because Jesus said yes, the scripture says God exalted him to the highest place. In heaven, on earth, and under the earth, that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. If he had chosen his will, he would've missed that. When you refuse God's purpose, when you refuse alignment in your life, you forfeit the blessing of God.

So don't think of alignment as burdensome, distasteful; knock, seek, ask. And when you find God's pathway, you walk it. The outcome, you'll be grateful for. Let me give you an example. Look at Acts 16. You know who wrote the book of Acts? Luke. There's a gospel that bears his name, it's the Jesus story. The book of Acts, Luke is also the author. It tells the story of Jesus's friends after Jesus went back to heaven. And in Luke 16, Paul and Silas have come to Philippi. It's a city. It's the city that which the book of Philippians is written later on. In Acts 16, we're getting the back story on the church in Philippi that the letter in Philippians is written to. And Paul there actually had travel plans to go someplace else, and Paul has a vision in the night of a man beckoning him towards Philippi. So they get up in the morning and they change their travel plans.

Now, it's not easily done. They've gotta pay the change charges on all their airline tickets. But they reorient their trip. They go to Philippi. When they get there, they're goin' through the marketplace and there's a slave girl that has a spirit through, she tells the future. And when she sees Paul and Silas, she says, "These men are servants of the Most High God. They've come here to tell us how to be saved". That's an awkward way to walk through a new town. And so Paul, after a few days, turns and says, "In Jesus's name, you come of her". And the girl is delivered. It's a victory. But her owners have lost their means of making a lot of money, so the being to lie. They stir up a crowd. There's a riot. Paul and Silas are arrested. They're beaten. They're put in prison. That's where we step into your notes.

It's Acts 16 and 22. "The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they'd been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. And about midnight Paul and Silas were praying..." Now, I know that's in your Bible and we're in church so you read that and go, "Why, that's normal". That's not normal. That is one weird story. Number one, Paul and Silas are in Philippi because God directed them to go there. They had a vision saying, "Come this way". When they got there, they prayed for a girl who was demonized, a slave girl. She was set free. That's a God victory, right? Supernatural, something you couldn't do on their own.

The result of that was a riot. They are arrested, severely beaten, Luke the physician says. They're put in prison, and at midnight, they pray? See, if that's me, at midnight I'm lookin' over at Paul and goin', "Let's talk about that vision you had, oh spiritual one. Tell me exactly what it was you think you saw, and what did you eat before you went to sleep? And the next time you have a vision, could you just keep that to yourself? And the next time we're someplace in public and you see somebody that you think needs ministry, could you just dial it back a notch or two with the 'come out of her' thing? Could you just contain your ministry profile until we get to the synagogue in the appropriate setting? What were you thinking"?

That sounds more normal, doesn't it? Sounds more like what'd be comin' outta me. "Paul, if it's all right with you, I'm gonna travel with somebody else on the next leg of this journey. You seem to cause a lot of trouble, dude. God may love you, but I'd just as soon love you from a distance". But at midnight, they are praying. Look at the rest of that verse. They are "praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them". Can we call that an alignment? They're not there, they're not in prison with their backs open to the bone because they were in a strip club and a riot broke out. They weren't stealin' cars in Philippi and got caught. They are there as the result of a series of supernatural interventions of God, and yet their backs are open. They're in pain.

Do you have an imagination that cooperating with God would lead you to someplace unpleasant? And not as a permanent state. Just kinda like chocolate cake, it was very unpleasant. I needed cake. And at midnight, they are saying, "God, we're gonna give you praise". Look at the end of this. It says the jail was shaken. "Suddenly there was a violent earthquake and the foundations of the prison were shaken and all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose". You don't get those kind of outcomes unless you have intentionally, purposefully brought alignment to your life. The jailer comes in. Now by law, if his prisoner escapes, he'll be executed. So the jailer pulls his sword. He's about to fall on his sword, and Paul cries out, "Hey, don't do anything, we're all sittin' here. Doors open, chains off, we're just havin' a song service".

And that jailer and his family, it says, accepted Jesus as Lord that night and were baptized. Fun part of the story, the next morning the magistrates of the city, the political leaders, sent a message and say, "Throw those people out of town". And Paul sends a message back and he says, "Not so fast. We're Roman citizens and you imprisoned us and have beaten us with appropriate authority. And we won't leave this town till you come to the jail to see us". You gotta love Paul. His backup button was broken. Prayer, folks. It is not something that is unnecessary. It is not a passive response to life. And if you will determine to be a person of prayer, you will bring an alignment into your home, into your family, into your place of business, doesn't mean there won't be pushback, doesn't mean every day'll be easier, but you make room for God to do something that he cannot do unless you pray.

I've got just a couple of minutes. I wanna give you one more expression of this kind of alignment, and then we'll wrap it up. What's it mean to bring alignment with God into your home? Again, I like the simple places that I can get ahold of and understand and give some expression to. God is not beyond knowing. Look at Ephesians 5 and verse 33. Says, "Each one of you also must love his wife..." Did you know that's God's assignment to husbands? You have to love your wife. Some of you are sayin', "Yeah, but God hasn't met mine. That's a very general statement. It was written long, long ago, and if God visited my home, he would revisit that statement". Well, here's the... I can give you the bottom line of that. God gave you a free will. He let you pick a model. And then he gave you the assignment, and therein comes the maturity. The women are all smiling.

You need to read the rest of the verse. It said, "The wife must respect her husband". And now you're going, "Yeah, but he hasn't met mine. Even God doesn't respect my husband". He may not, but he's told you, you have to. That's your assignment. Because there's no way around it. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, respect your husbands. That's a God assignment. Don't ask for another one until you've grappled with that one. If you ignore that, why should God give you anything else? This isn't a smorgasbord where you can pick 1, 2, and 6. Husbands, love your wives. Look at 1 Peter 3: "Husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker..." If you listen quietly, you can hear alarms going off. "Since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered".

Did you know how you treat your wives, husbands, has an influence on the effectiveness of your prayers? You can't treat your wife any way you want to and expect your prayers to be effective. God said you have to love your wives, to live with them in an understanding way, to show them understanding. It makes an interesting statement. She says that to show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life. The Bible says we are joint heirs with Christ; that we are co-inheritors of what was accomplished on that cross. It's the reason in Galatians it says in Christ, there's neither male nor female, slave nor free; we're all one in Christ. The benefits of the cross come equally to us. So that God's grace towards us is equal. But it doesn't mean we're the same in every way.

Remember, we're talking about alignment. We have arrived at a unique place in our culture. We have ignored what God has said about family and home and marriage and gender to such point that we have arrived at a place we're so confused, it's bizarre. Now, that's the truth. But it's not about somebody else. The reason for this is within the church, the people of God have ignored what God has said so long because it was inconvenient and we were afraid it would, somehow we would forfeit something that we wanted, that we've ignored God's counsel. It says pretty clearly, the husbands live with your wives in an understanding way with someone who's weaker, since she's a woman. The Bible suggests there is a difference between male and female.

"Well, I don't like that". Well, okay, I don't like gravity always, but it's still real. You know, I'm certain it's not the point of the discussion today, but when I was in college, and that's been a while, but not as long as you would think 'cause I was in college a long while. I was a professional student, and I sat in many classes based in the social sciences where the topic being presented was that there is no difference between male and female other than our reproductive organs, and that any physical differences between male and female were just the result of the orientation of children when they're young and the toys they're given to play with.

Now, we'd sit in those classes. We were relatively intelligent folks. We'd be sittin', the professor'd be makin' their speech, and we'd be lookin' at one another goin', we knew there was something inherently goofy in what they were sayin', but I wanted to pass the class. I needed the grade, so I'd spout out whatever they told me. "Men and women are equal. Same strength. I played with wrong toys". We are different, folks. Now, I don't doubt there're some women that come to worship this... we can have thousands of people come to wor... I'm sure there're some women that came to campus this weekend that have the physical strength to beat the lovin' Jesus outta me. I do not doubt that. I yield to you; God bless you. But in general terms, there are physical differences in our strength, in our stature, and those differences create opportunities for us. They don't diminish us, and we have to have the courage to accept that.

Look at 1 Peter 3. This one's more about the women. It says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry..." You know, there are some Christian traditions, not perhaps as much today, but in my life, Christian traditions have said women shouldn't wear... if you wear jewelry, you are an ungodly woman. And they'd come visit our church and they'd see some of you ungodly women with jewelry on. And I've had more than one appointment with people saying, "You know, Pastor, I need to talk to you. I'm concerned".

So we'd make the... and they'd come, and they'd say, "You know, I want you to open your Bible. I want you to read a verse to me. It's 1 Peter chapter 3. Have you ever read 1 Peter chapter 3 and verse 3? I want you to read that verse to me, Pastor". So I say, "Okay, just a minute. That's the New Testament, right"? And they say, "Open that verse 3, read that to me". "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment as braided hair..." "Braiding of the hair! And jewelry, do you see it's right there in plain English, read that. Jewelry"! I say, "Yes, sir, I see that. And do you know the next words? It's 'clothes'. So technically... don't get ahead of me. If you can't wear the jewelry..."

And for the record, I'm for clothes. I don't believe the intent of that verse is you shouldn't braid your hair or put on jewelry or wear clothing. It's that you shouldn't imagine that's what commends you before God, or the quality of your clothes or the cost of your jewelry somehow commends you to God. Look at the next verse. It says, "Instead," in lieu of that, "your beauty should be that of an inner self the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God's sight". Folks, if there's something God tells you that he values highly, may I suggest you cultivate a little bit of that. He said, what's on the inside of you is more important than what's on the outside.

Now, that's not to diminish what's on the outside. Please don't stop workin' on the outside. We are very appreciative. It's not an either-or proposition, but don't spend more time and energy and effort and money workin' on the outside than you do on the inside. Because God said one of those things is very temporary, and one of them has eternal value and God holds it in high esteem. It's important. It is important. One more. Look at Ephesians 6. I'm done with this. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother", when they do what you want them to do. I inserted that, "which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you might enjoy long life on earth".

If you wanna live long on earth, honor your parents. Honor your parents. That means they're not stupid. That means you may be technologically more sophisticated than they are. It may mean they're strength is diminished, but you better be honoring them, or you're crossing off days on your calendar. Honor your parents. They're not an impediment. Honor your parents. But it doesn't stop there. Verse 4: "Fathers, don't exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord". It's another assignment for dads. Dads, don't exasperate your children. Bring them up in the training, in the fear of the knowledge of the Lord. We're talking about alignment. More effective prayers.

How do you bring alignment to your life so that your prayers have more weight to them, more substance to them? Don't exasperate your kids. Bring 'em up in the fear of the Lord. Okay, this isn't hard to understand. I'm not saying this is easy to do. We have drifted a long way away from this. Look, it's not the church's responsibility to educate your kids about God. We can be a resource, we can add some momentum to it, in face, we'll train the dogs, we'll give them the best training and the best tools to add momentum and value to what you're doing but if you're not training your kids to be godly, church can't make up that difference. To be completely candid, it's not the school's responsibility to educate your children.

Parents, that's your assignment. The schools clan help. They have experts, they are trained, they will work with you, but if you don't intent to educate your children, if you spend your discretionary time and energy and freedom to do what you want, when you want, the way you want, and you think your children's faith and education and character is the responsibility of somebody else, God'll talk to you about it. We have lost our alignment. We have become adult adolescents. We wanna do what we want, when we want, the way we want, and want somebody else to bring the responsibility to our life. We say government as if government is something to be worshipped. The government has no character. The government has no moral values. They only have values that reflect the people of the land. It's what's in our hearts that matters. We have to humble ourself. We've gotta recalibrate a little bit. There's a verse, I didn't put it in your notes. It's in Luke 17. You can check me later.

Now, whenever I work with the children's ministry team, I often use this verse. Jesus said if you cause one of these little people to stumble, it's better for you to tie a rope around a millstone, big rock, put the other end around your neck, and then throw the stone into deep water. You know what's gonna happen if you tie one end of a rope to a big rock and the other end to your neck and then you drop that in deep water? You're gonna have a bad day. It's a pretty graphic image, isn't it? Jesus said that is the best day you will ever have. As bad as that may be, he said that's the highlight reel of your life if when you see me, you've caused one of these little people to stumble.

I want you to stand with me. This prayer is actually taken from Psalm 119, and I left Psalm 119 in your notes because I wanted you to see all I added was "Almighty God" and "Amen". One of the most powerful ways to learn to pray is to pray the scriptures. Say what God has said about you. I'll give you another example: Psalm 23. Most of you know the first verse. It says, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing". That's a wonderful prayer to pray in your life. "Almighty God, you are my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. Amen". It's hard to improve on a prayer like that. Well, I brought you a prayer from Psalm 119. Let's read it together:

Almighty God, turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees. Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed. I come in humility to seek your ways, amen.

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