Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Growing Season - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Growing Season - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Growing Season - Part 2
TOPICS: End times, Spiritual Growth

It's an honor to be with you again. It's growing season in Tennessee, and it's growing season for our spiritual lives, too. I love all the vegetables that come with the summer season, but I'm far more interested in growing spiritually. Well, that's our objective today. We're gonna look at some biblical truth, and then we're gonna talk about applications for our lives, how we can cooperate with God more fully. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart to the invitation God has for you today.

And when you were born again we understand very little about what that means, to be a new creation in Christ. We understand about as much of what that means to be a new creation in Christ as the infants in the nursery at the hospital know about what it means to be human. They know they're cold, they know they're hot, they know they're hungry, and they know they're uncomfortable, and they'll make noise until you help. Beyond that, they don't know a lot. They don't know what a computer is. They don't know the building they're in is called the hospital, and they don't care. Folks, that's the way we come to faith, unaware, uninformed, through the mercy and the grace of God.

Oh, we knew enough to say, "Help, I'm desperate, change me". But we can't write out the chemical formula for the miracles that take place, to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness, into the Kingdom of the Son of God. We don't know enough about the spiritual realm to understand all the rights and privileges that accrued to our account, when we in humility made that declaration of help and acknowledged Jesus is Lord. So Paul helped him. He took him a few steps further down the road. It's not surprising in the book of Acts, Acts chapter 1 and Acts chapter 2 are centered on Spirit baptism, so it's not surprising that as Luke tells the story, every time there's a breakthrough in a new place, Spirit baptism is a part of the breakthrough. It was true when the Spirit broke through into the Gentile, the non Jewish world, at Cornelius's household, the Holy Spirit was poured out and they spoke in tongues.

It's not surprising now that there's a breakthrough in Ephesus, it's the Holy Spirit. That's the theme of the book of Acts. Stop arguing about things that the Bible presents to us with clarity. You don't need another seminar; you need to raise your hand and say, "I'm in". It would be my best suggestion for you. Paul was inviting them towards an intentional awareness of a Spirit-led life. But I would say it a little different way, because when we talk about the Holy Spirit, we start drawing battle lines and going, "I don't believe in that. And I'm not doing that," and it isn't helpful, it isn't useful. It's the reason we have an anemic church that can hardly stand, let alone run. We're not doing a great job against standing against all the attacks of the enemy, because we don't really understand the power that we've been given.

So let me suggest we think about it in a different way. How do we, as God's people, avoid developmental problems? We understand how to evaluate physical health. We have charts for what normal is, how tall you should be by this age, how much you should weigh, what your agility should be like, what you should be able to process intellectually, what your dexterity should be like. We have established boundaries for normal, healthy and unhealthy, and we know how to think about that. We know how to think about that in business. We know how to think about that in many, many ways. But when it comes to our faith, we are very reluctant to accept any evaluation like that. All we wanna do is assert that we've been born again. "I said that prayer. And no one has a right or the authority to judge me". Au contraire, mon ami. The Spirit of the Most High God most certainly does, and the value of being in community is we get to encourage one another. The Bible says to spur one another on.

So I wanna ask you to begin to think about spiritual growth and to imagine that it can be inhibited, it can be accelerated. It's not about chronology. You can sit in church for 30 years and be a baby Christian. Or you could have been here six months and bypassed people that have been here for six years. It can be inhibited, it can be totally stopped. There's some things, I'll give you three ideas that I... they're not in your notes, you'll just have to do this the old-fashioned way. I think to maintain spiritual growth, to keep your development moving, you'll have to be willing to overcome pride and self righteousness because religious people are uniquely susceptible to pride and self righteousness. We are more right than most everybody else. Right? And then we start adding to it, our family systems.

"Well, that's the way me and my people believe". Well, if you and your people are occupying the throne when we cross over, you're golden; but if you're not sitting on the thrones, you're in deep weeds. So we gotta be willing to overcome pride and self-righteousness. We have to, secondly, maintain the posture of a learner. We gotta keep growing folks. We serve an infinite God; we are finite creatures. If you learn a great deal about God every week, you're a beginner when you have finished your run. You may know more than you did before, but you haven't yet begun to scratch the surface. I promise, I promise. Every time they create a better telescope, and they can see further into, to our universe, there's more there than they knew. I haven't decided whether God just creates more every time we get a new telescope? I mean, no big deal to him or if we just don't have the humility to recognize we're not all that smart.

Take up the posture of a learner. We're threatened by that. We wanna believe we've had it all right before, because it excuses the years where we have been inert. We have been inactive and unconcerned. We don't have to deal with that, we don't have to say, "Oh Lord, I'm sorry. I've been distracted, I was running other races and thinking about other things, and I really wasn't that focused on you. I thought I could secure my own future. Lord, I'm sorry". So rather than have that honest moment with God, we say, "Well, I've pretty much got it all figured out". There's a third component to a Spirit-led life. Notice, I didn't start with the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Folks, you don't need me to tell you that; you know it's there. The third one is be willing to do difficult things for the sake of the Kingdom. Who said serving the Lord was easy? There's not a biblical pattern. I'm telling you, when God recruited Moses, I mean Moses was clever enough to argue from the jump. "Don't wanna go, tried that, didn't work well. Pharaoh's bigger than me. Barely got out of town alive the last time". "I'll go with you". "I'm happy that you can be willing to go with me, but I don't wanna go". "Well, I'll give you a neat bag of tricks". "Like what"? "Well, throw down your staff, snake". "Pick it up again, staff". "That's pretty slick. I'm good right here, thanks". "Well put your hand in your tunic, pull it out, terminal disease. Put it back". "Oh, it's whole again. Swell, nice show, I'm really good right here. I don't talk so plain". "I've had about enough of your back talk, you're going to Egypt". "Well, since you put it that way".

Are you willing to do difficult things for the Kingdom of God? You know, we think in terms of difficult things, if the sermon's long. You know like, Well, I might have gone a couple of weeks from now, but I think I got a month's worth this time, I'm good. Or the parking place was inconvenient, or the person that you sat next to was obnoxious, or somebody didn't smile at me. I get messages. "I'm never coming back, I visited and nobody smiled at me". I'm thinking wow. I've never done it, I'm really tempted to say, "Would you take a picture"? Just do a selfie of the face you have when you're, like, just sitting still. Maybe I could offer an explanation. Because in my life I find that if I smile, you know, one of every 30 or 40 people smile back. Are we willing to do difficult things for the Kingdom?

My time's about gone. Verse 8, we're still in Ephesus. "Paul entered the synagogue and he spoke boldly for three months. He argued persuasively about the kingdom of God, that some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way". Things have not changed a great deal. Some were interested, some were curious, some received, some were obstinate and said there's no chance, and then they began to be critical. Which one are you? And the truth is we've all been all of the above. Which would describe you in this season? Which would describe the majority of your heart's attitude on your journey?

The overwhelming majority of the people I meet are encouraged about the Lord and anxious to know him better, but I meet a consistent group of people who spend their lives frustrated and critical. They have all sorts of things they don't like. I have come to the realization that God's purposes will continue, but that group of people miss out on the majority of them. And if that describes you, don't get mad at me, just hang on for a moment. Don't get madder at me. Hang on for just a moment. It's not a fruitful place to stay.

The message that came to Ephesus wasn't just get saved so you can go to heaven. The message that came to Ephesus was you can be different. And the message of the Gospel is you can be free. You're not gonna be free, you're not gonna be delivered out of this present world order, but you can lead an overcoming life in the midst of this present world order. Your life will be touched by evil and injustice, because that's the nature of this present order. But you can lead an overcoming life in the face of that. And what I would like to do as we walk through the Church of Ephesus, is give you some doorways into applying some of those truths. We can't do them all, and I knew I was going to be out of time in this session 'cause I'm so clever. So I chose something that was a bit more familiar. I wanna start with forgiveness and unforgiveness and the profound impact it has on our lives when we don't forgive.

Now, it's an application, and I chose some verses from Ephesians, because they know the story that I've been sharing with you. It's a part of their spiritual DNA. So when Paul writes to them, he's not telling them something new; he's reminding them of something he told them. They met every day for more than two years. They had heard it over and over and over again. In Ephesians 4 and verse 31, he said, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger". Get rid of it. You get rid of it, like take out the trash, get rid of it. "Brawling and slander in every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another". How do you get rid of it? Forgiving each other just as the Messiah forgave you. What's the standard? You forgive, like Jesus did. Ephesians 4, a little earlier, same chapter, he said, "You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self. It's been corrupted by its deceitful desires".

Our old deceitful desires want to get even. They want to get our way, we want to be the implementer of justice. To be made new in the attitude of your mind, you gotta learn to think a new way, to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. He said the same thing to the church at Colossae. I don't think I put it in your notes, but it's Colossians 3:8. He said, "Now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander". You have to rid yourself. Folks, we are hindered by resentment and bitterness and anger. They're all under this portfolio of unforgiveness. We are collecting offenses. I didn't like this, and I didn't like that, and this didn't go my way; then your arms get full.

Some while, it's been a while back, I preached a sermon, and I talked about having to get rid of some of the baggage we collect. Some of you were here. And I picked up, I think it was a 50 pound bag of seed, and I held it under my arm. Well, back at that point in time, we were doing four services: two on Saturday night, two on Sunday morning. That's a long time to carry around a bag of seed. By the fourth, you know, my arms quivered and there's sweat dripping off the end of my nose. I'm like, I'm ready to unload this stuff. Hope you all are listening. Bitterness and anger and malice and hatred are a far greater weight than carrying around a few pounds. You'll never convince God to agree with you in your unforgiveness.

So I brought you a little tool kit. I'm going to walk through it with you. The first one is a prayer of preparation. This is a prayer you can pray, giving the Holy Spirit permission to help you identify places where you have tolerated unforgiveness or malice. I'll just read it to you. Thank you for showing great mercy and kindness to me. You've made provision that all my sins may be forgiven, and that I might be righteous before you. I confess I have not extended that same grace to others. I have held on to the offense, refusing to extend kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. Please bring to my mind anyone I need to forgive that I may do so, in Jesus's name, amen. It may even be somebody that's already passed on. It may be somebody you haven't talked to in decades. But there was something that happened that left an offense. And you're still living with the emotion of the offense.

And I'll tell you how you identify that: if, when you have the thought of that circumstance or that individual, that it elicits a response from you and it's not a happy one. The Bible tells us to be dead to sin. I like M&M's, but when I'm dead, you can fill the casket with M&M's, and I won't fight you for one; 'cause when I'm dead, there'll be no attraction. It won't require any self-discipline on my part, not that... you could consume them all. There'll be no reaction from me. And when we're dead to sin, the sins of others... why don't we read that little prayer together? It's not the last prayer, so don't run for the door. Okay? Can we read this together?

Heavenly Father, thank you for showing great mercy and kindness to me. You have made provision that all my sins may be forgiven, and that I might be righteous before you. I confess I have not extended that same grace to others. I have held on to the offense, refusing to extend kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. Please bring to my mind anyone I need to forgive, that I may do so, in Jesus's name, amen.

Now, If you'll pray that prayer, I would pray it more than just a time at church. I would take it through this week, and I would take it like medicine. Give the Holy Spirit permission to help you. And in my life what that looks like is I'll be reminded of something I hadn't thought about in a long time. Or there'll be somebody that I just can't get 'em off of my mind, that there'll be something that causes me... and when that happens, even if you say, "Oh, there's nothing," stop.

Now I'm gonna give you the prayer of forgiveness. And I put some blanks in here cause there's a little work you'll have to do. But it's Almighty God, I choose to forgive, and you'll wanna put their name in there. I would say it out loud when I was saying the prayer. You know, "I forgive Elmer Fudd," for all that happened to me and others. I have felt... And I would take a moment and tell how it made me feel. I felt cheated, lied to, betrayed, disappointed, I was heart broke, whatever it is. It's not like the Lord doesn't know. Do you think we'll hide something from him? I release them, I cancel the debt, and I entrust them to your loving care, in Jesus's name, amen.

You see, when we don't forgive, when we hang on to the malice and the resentment and the bitterness, we're waiting for something. We're kind of taking them captive until, until they qualify for forgiveness, or until the statute of limitations runs out, and we just hope it drifts away somewhere. It leaves you in bondage. I can't tell you how many people I have been with in these last few weeks, and you asked them a question about some point in the past, and there's tremendous emotion that comes with their answer. Capable people, clever people, accomplished people, people of tremendous abilities and talents, carrying spiritual burdens.

You see, if you can learn, if you can apply this, you can help others. We'll start an exponential chain of freedom. It happened in Ephesus. Now there's some things you need to know about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision, it's a decision you make. I choose to forgive. What you have to grapple with is I've chosen not to forgive. I have chosen to be unforgiving. I have chosen the offense. It's awkward stuff we have to deal with it, and we gotta be honest. Secondly, don't confuse forgiveness and forgetting. That's why you're giving the Holy Spirit permission to help you remember. The passage of time does not mean you have forgiven. Don't be surprised if the Lord reminds you of some places from your life in the past, where you still have a lot of emotion and you need to stop and pray that little prayer of forgiveness.

Thirdly, understand that forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another's sin. That's exactly what it means. If you suspected that's what it meant, you got it. You're saying I understand something wrong happened, but rather than maintain a hostage situation, I've said, "Lord, I'm gonna live through this". And fourth and lastly, don't wait until you feel like forgiving. Your emotions will trail your decision. Self-control is an important part of growing up in the Lord; it's one of the fruit of the Spirit. Now one last prayer, it's the follow-up prayer. After you've prayed that prayer of preparation, and the Lord's began to show you the times and places you need to forgive, there's a follow-up prayer. It's a little trilogy, and I'll read it to you, then we'll read it together as a conclusion.

Lord Jesus, I choose to release all resentment, bitterness, and rage. I relinquish all of my rights to seek revenge or the desire to see others suffer as I have. I ask you to heal the brokenness within me. I rejoice in my freedom from bitterness and anger. Bless those who have cursed me, in Jesus's name, amen.

I understand this is not easy, but I promise you, it will change your future. It will unleash growth in your life and freedom in your life. You say, "It's not fair". Well, being filled with anger and resentment and bitterness and hatred is not fair, either. Jesus is our model. If he could look down from the cross and say, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing". What do you mean they don't know what they're doing? You think that centurion that nailed me to this chunk of wood didn't understand what he was doing? I think he did. They were gambling for his clothes while he said that. They crucified people as a routine, they were anesthetized to the pain and suffering they caused.

Jesus said, "There's something bigger at work here. They weren't aware of it. I forgive them". He's the reason we can forgive: because we need his forgiveness. He gave himself on that cross, that we could be called a part of his Kingdom. Don't accept unforgiveness. I don't care who tells you it's important. It does not give you an advantage. Being filled with hate does not guarantee you a better future. Forgiveness will bring more blessings to you than keeping an accounting of every wrong against you. Amen? We're gonna keep walking with those Ephesian folks and see if we can find some other ways to practice what we believe.

Why don't you stand with me? We'll pray that last prayer together. You ready? If you're home, you can stand up and read it with us. Don't miss out. Don't sit there just staring at a screen. You talk to your TV all the other times. You watch a ball game, you talk to your TV, you watch a dumb commercial, you talk to your TV. Why is it when we watch a religious program we go, "Well, I'm not saying anything, what do they think I am, crazy"? Well since you asked, yeah, I mean. Together.

Lord Jesus, I choose to release all resentment, bitterness, and rage. I relinquish all of my rights to seek revenge or the desire to see others suffer as I have. I ask you to heal the brokenness within me. I rejoice in my freedom from bitterness and anger. Bless those who have cursed me, in Jesus's name, amen.

Are you Human?:*