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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Great Opportunity - Part 2

Allen Jackson - A Great Opportunity - Part 2

Allen Jackson - A Great Opportunity - Part 2
TOPICS: Prayer, Opportunities

So we'll start with just a few seconds of giving thanks and then I'm going to pray a prayer of repentance, and if that's your place, you agree in your heart, say, "Lord, that's me, I'm sorry. I will change my attitude, change my direction, change my behavior". All right. You with me? All right:

Lord, we come this morning to say thank you. You have blessed our lives, Lord. You've been good to us, and we lift our voices and our hearts and our hands to you to say thank you for the food we eat and the clothing and the shelter, Lord. You have called us out of darkness into the kingdom of your Son. You have forgiven our sins. You have delivered us. Lord, you bring direction to our life. You've given us a community of believers in which we can stand and worship together and learn together. We praise you for it today.

Lord, in the midst of discomfort, in the midst of injustice, in the midst of things that are not fair and things that are inappropriate, we still lift our voices to you in praise and thanksgiving and prayer to honor the God who watches over us. You are the just judge of all the earth. We entrust ourselves to your care, Lord. You orchestrate deliverance. You bring freedom. We praise you for it today. Lord, we are not discouraged or disheartened. We will not turn away or relent. We bless your name for you are King and Creator of all things. We worship you.

And, Lord, we come in humility this morning, with humble hearts and repentant spirits to turn away from our own will and our own way. Father, forgive us when we have heard your direction and we've known the truth and we've known right and we have chosen wrong. Lord, we've justified it, we've excused it, but in reality we are rebels and we come today to say we are sorry. Forgive us.

In humility, Lord, we ask for your direction. Give us the wisdom to choose your path. Forgive us. Holy Spirit, we invite you in. Uncover every rock, Lord. Turn over every stone that has led us down this path of destruction. We choose your way today, and we thank you for it. Lord, I thank you for your people. I thank you for your presence here, for the Spirit of the living God that watches over us, that greater is he who's in us than the spirit that's in this world.In Jesus's name I renounce every spirit of oppression and heaviness and darkness that has settled upon your people.

In Jesus's name, your power be broken over our lives, our homes and our marriages and our children and our businesses. In Jesus's name, get out. Your power is broken over our lives. We've been set free to serve a living God. Let freedom come this day and liberty come this day. Let our eyes be opened and our ears unstopped and our hearts softened to the invitations of a living God. May they seem pleasant to us and glorious to us and not burdensome. We thank you for it. I thank you for our freedom. In Jesus's name we pray and believe. Amen.

Hallelujah. Give the Lord a hand, huh? Whoo! Amen. You can have a seat. You can't leave yet. I got 10 minutes left. You'll still beat the Presbyterians to the restaurant. It's okay. Maybe not. We're not going to do that whole outline, though. You can breathe easier. Some of you looked ahead. You're depressed. We need another prayer. I want to take just a minute with an idea. I want to unpack a couple of the fundamentals to effective prayer or answered prayer with you. You know, the goal of praying is to get an answer. It's not just to hear yourself talk. And if I'm going to pray, I want to know how to pray effectively. I have observed something in my life. Sustained excellence in almost any arena is directly, proportionally related to your focus on the fundamentals. Individuals or teams that sustain excellence in athletics are the ones that have the greatest adherence, awareness to, and focus on the fundamentals.

It's true in athletics. It's true in business. It's true in the kitchen. It's true in your marriage. It's true in parenting. It's true in your garden. It's true in life. It's true in spiritual things. You can't bypass the foundations. You can't ignore the fundamentals and take a shortcut and think that you will flourish over time. You may be a brief explosion in a moment, but if you're going to sustain excellence over a period of time, your awareness of and your attention to the fundamentals are foundational to sustaining success. So I don't want to simply say, "Oh, I know that in my mind or I'm aware of that idea".

I want to invite you back towards the practice in the routine of your life. And effective prayers, answered prayers, becoming a spiritual warrior, a person of prayer who makes a difference in the spiritual arena, requires an awareness of and an attention to certain fundamentals that you cannot escape. If you see somebody bypass them and they seem to be succeeding, I can assure you it is not sustainable. The first one I would tag for you is the one that's most directly attached to Jesus; and that's that answered prayer begins with reverent submission, with a submission, with submitting your will to God's will.

Look at Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 7. Says, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth". I love that phrase. It clearly implies that Jesus had a life other than his days on earth. Now, for once you know the scripture, Jesus had a life before he came to Bethlehem, didn't he? And Jesus had a life after he left from the Mount of Olives, didn't he? So the author of Hebrews is reminding us that this particular discussion is about during the days of Jesus's life on earth. Now, that's relevant to you and me because you and I have a life beyond our days on earth. When you're on earth you get an earth suit, one of these things, but they come with expiration dates.

Have you noticed? If you haven't, just hang on. The announcements will come. But when your earth suit's done and it quits working, you're not done. You've got a life beyond your days on earth. Hallelujah. In fact, the days on earth are challenging. Jesus said, "In this world you'll have trouble". He says, "Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world". There is a life ahead of you that's better than your days on earth right now if you're a Christ follower. Folks, Jesus isn't about diminishing your life. He opens possibilities. That's so important. We're about to get a little information about Jesus's life on earth. "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears".

Now, let's stop just a moment. We were given a bit of information about Jesus's prayer life. He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and emotion. Well, we learn to pray in whispered tones and certainly with not emotion. Now, I'm not trying to turn church into some raucous disrespective thing, but I would submit to you that as your prayer life emerges, that it's most appropriate, Jesus is our model, that there are times we will pray with some sense of authority. You know, my dad was a vet, so we grew up around animals, and one of the... he liked horses the most when I was a kid, and one of the lessons... you know, we had to go help him catch horses out in the field, and I'm about this tall and the horse is about this tall. I weighed about 60 pounds and that horse weighed about 50 tons, it looked like to me. And my dad would say to me a horse will not run over you.

Well, he's my dad, and I'd look at him and I'd look at the horse and I thought, "You know, he doesn't usually lie". He said when that horse is running at you full speed, if you'll go... "Hey, horsey," he'll go around you. Well, I'm here to tell you when that horse or several horses are coming at you, you don't just go, "Horsey". I'm like, "Ah"! And it worked. They usually went around me. One ran over me one day. True story. It has nothing to do with the sermon, but it's a good story. And he came up to me and he said, "I apologize. I should have told you that one was blind". "Would have been helpful, pop". But don't hold the imagination that every prayer is a quiet little, there are times and circumstances in your life. Shouting doesn't always mean it's more authoritative. It's a reflection of what's happening in you.

Jesus is praying with loud cries and emotion. Some of you think emotion is completely inappropriate in the context of your faith. It wasn't in Jesus. "With loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission". What was the catalyst for Jesus's prayer being answered? His reverent submission. That's an interesting prayer he prayed. It says that he prayed to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard. The context of that reverent submission is Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and the focus of his prayer is his betrayal, the physical suffering, and the crucifixion. The author of Hebrews says God heard his prayers.

Now, I've read that Jesus's story in the Gospels a few times. Help me, but the way I remember it, didn't Jesus die on a cross? Is that the way you read it? I got the right story? I think so. And yet the author of Hebrews says that he was heard. I'm quite certain that Jesus's prayer was, "I don't really want to do this cross thing". And the author of Hebrews says he was heard, and yet Jesus went to the cross. See, Jesus didn't see the fullness. He was praying for an avoidance of the pain and the discomfort and the agony and the humiliation and the suffering. Appropriately so, and God said, but he said he reverently submitted to that. He walked that path. God had a plan altogether different. You see, the cross to Jesus's enemies looked like a triumph. It looked like a termination point for the Jesus story. It looked like a period. "We're done with him now".

Don't you know Pilate breathed a sigh of relief and Caiaphas danced a little victory dance? Don't you know that Jesus's enemies thought they had won, the scripture says that Satan himself would have never crucified the Lord of glory if they'd have known what God was going to do. They danced when that cross, saw Jesus's crucifixion completed until God rolled the stone away and brought him out of the grave. And Philippians says that God gave him a name that's above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. You know, one day you will bow before the man of Jesus, your knee. His staunchest opponents will bow before him. Those that have cursed with his name, have spat upon his people, will bow their knee before him. That was God's plan.

What was Jesus doing? He reverently submitted to the plan of God, and he got an outcome that exceeded anything anyone could have asked or imagined. What's the catalyst? Reverent submission. I think that is expressed in Matthew 26. You've got it in your notes. It says, this is Gethsemane. This is an olive grove. That's what Gethsemane means. "Going a little further, Jesus fell with his face to the ground and he prayed, 'Father, if it's possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.' And he went away a second time and prayed, 'Father, if it's not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.'"

Do you hear what Jesus is saying? We need to pay attention. I know this is Jesus and we read everything he says like, "Oh, it makes perfect sense". But this is Jesus saying to his Father, "God, I don't want to do this. I do not want to do this. I want to be on the record, if there is any other way". Think of the creativity of God. I love nature and creation because almost any living organism you look at or examine or explore, there's such an amazing creativity and intentionality and order to living things. The creativity of God, when he made flowers, there's an infinite variety of colors and shapes and sizes. And Jesus is praying to his Father. He knows him, and he said, "Listen, if there is any other way in your brilliance, your creativity, your ultimate power, there's any other option, let's go with plan B. But if there isn't any other way, I'll yield my will. Let your will be done".

I'll tell you why that's important, 'cause I think you and I imagine Jesus had a party doing the will of God, and clearly he didn't. If Jesus struggled saying yes to the will of God, it's highly probable that Allen's going to struggle saying yes to the will of God. And I would think it's maybe even possible that there are times you'll see the will of God, you'll know it's God's will and you think, "Pfft, I won't do that. I don't intend to do that. Surely God does not mean that, not for me. I mean, he may mean that for pastor, but he doesn't mean that for me".

Folks, Jesus struggled to do the will of God, but his prayers were heard because of his reverent submission. The outcome of his prayer didn't deliver him from the trauma, but it delivered him to a result that exceeded anyone's possible imagination. Are you willing to submit your will to God? Are you willing to say, "Not my will be done but your will be done"? See, we begin our prayers by trying to get God to pay attention to our will. Not evil, normal. In the same way toddlers, little people learn to talk, so they can tell you what their will is and you can do it. Isn't that right? You teach them, "I'm hungry. I need to go to the bathroom". "Please tell us. We want to know".

So they learn to speak, they learn to communicate, thinking the only point of communicating is to tell bigger people what they want, and then they are highly offended when you won't do their will, and they know you are wicked and evil and abusive when you try to impose your will on them. "Go to bed". "No"! They're so tired, they can't see or walk. "I'm not sleepy". And they know you're wicked 'cause you're trying to get them to go to bed. We do the same to God. Reverent submission. Folks, this isn't a beginner's prayer. Some of us have spent years and years arguing. I'm not talking about doing weird things, about liquidating your assets and moving to the Amazon. I'm talking about how you treat the people in your home and the position you take at work and the attitudes you hold towards others.

Jesus taught us this in the Lord's Prayer. He said, "Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Who do you think is gonna do the will of God? You think when Jesus taught us to pray that it was so the pagans would change? The pagans aren't praying that prayer. The church is praying that prayer. We are the ones that have to conform to the will of God. "I thought all I had to do was say the sinner's prayer and get a ticket to heaven and I was done". No. "Let your will come in me". I'll give you one more line from the Lord's Prayer and then I'll quit. I promise. Remember what Jesus said? "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us".

Remember that line from the Lord's Prayer? I want to give it to you... it's another fundamental. I want to give it to you as an exercise for the end of your day. Most of you have something of an end-of-the-day routine. Before you close your day, you empty your pockets, you hang up your clothes, you brush your teeth, you take off your face, I don't know. You know, I expect the routine is a little different for everybody, but I bet everybody here has something of an end-of-the-day routine.

I want to ask you to add something to it. I'm not talking about a 30-minute addition. You can do this in 60 seconds or less. At the end of every day, I would suggest you take that line from the Lord's Prayer as a personal assignment. It says for... forgive my sins. Ask the Lord, "If there's anything in my day today for which I need to repent. Lord, is there anything I said, anything I did, any attitude I held, anything I failed to do or say, anytime I was silent when I could have... is there anything in me, Lord, before I close the day that was displeasing to you? I would like to repent, Lord, because I would like to please you every day".

Could you do that? And then take a long time... give the Holy Spirit permission. If there's any thing, if there's any way, "Lord, if it was the way I drove or the way I spoke to my wife or the way I spoke to my coworker or when I didn't speak up when I knew there was a let's-pray moment and I just shut down 'cause I was afraid I'd be embarrassed". Repent. And the other side of that is to forgive those who have trespassed, sinned against us. So there's a prayer of repentance and then there's a moment of forgiveness. "Is there anybody I need to forgive before this day passes"? And what that really is saying, "Is there anybody that injured me, wounded me, angered me, anybody that sparked in me a sense of resentment or bitterness or hatred, I don't want this day end with that alive in me. I'm going to lay that down. I want to unpack that before I go to sleep tonight".

You can do this in 60 seconds. Make your little Post-it Note. Put it someplace where you do your end-of-day routine. Repent and forgive. Close every day as cleanly as you can with the Lord. Don't let that stuff fester and grow. It's like having a splinter in your hand. No big deal unless you ignore it and you let it get infected and deteriorate, and all sorts of stuff can come from that. It's a lot easier to get rid of it when it's small, right? How many will be willing to take a little 60-second spiritual inventory before you close your day out? About a third of you. Okay. The rest of you, pray about it. Will you? It'll help you.

Don't just come to church to collect ideas. We come here to learn how to be transformed. The fundamentals will empower your prayer life. I'll tell you why it matters. You want to develop a prayer life when it feels like an unnecessary luxury because the day you hear Goliath bellow his challenge in your face... remember Goliath? The day you hear Goliath bellow his challenge in your face, it's too late to learn how the sling works. When you feel his hot breath in your face, it's too late to try to figure out, "How many times do I swing this thing before I let go? What size rock do I need? Somebody show me how to use this thing real quick". It's too late. Sometimes in God's grace he delivers us from those points of ignorance, but you don't want to depend on it. We want to learn to pray effectively. I brought you a prayer this morning. It's way over there at the end of your outline that you didn't use. Thank God.

Why don't you stand with me? We'll read this together. We are a people learning to pray. It's going to change our community, change our homes, change our families, change our children, change the generations who follow us. We're going to learn to stand in Jesus's name and see principalities and powers brought down and strongholds broken. Amen. We're not here to play some polite church game. We're not here to be tamed or calm or learn to be more peaceful or polite. We're here to learn to be warriors in the kingdom of God to make a difference, and that starts with an awareness of spiritual things. Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, teach me to pray. I desire truth in my heart. I submit myself to Your will and Your way. Help me to order my days so that my life may be pleasing to You. Give me strength to complete the course for which I was created. Remove every barrier and grant me victory over all that stands in opposition to Your purposes for me. I rejoice in the majesty of my Lord and redeemer. In Jesus' name, amen.

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