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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - God's Provision For Your Life - Part 1

Allen Jackson - God's Provision For Your Life - Part 1

Allen Jackson - God's Provision For Your Life - Part 1
TOPICS: Provision, Security

I started a new topic in a previous session. I want to continue it. It's really focused on God's provision, his provision for our lives; and we're going to look at that from a number of aspects. The premise is very simple, and I think the essential passage for understanding it is in 2 Peter chapter 1 and verses 3 and 4. It gives us God's plan for our lives. Wouldn't you like to know that? I would. It says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness".

That's an amazing sentence, that God through his divine power, not through human ingenuity, not through corporate efforts, not through collective initiatives but through the divine power of God he's given to you and me everything we need for life and godliness. Hallelujah. Doesn't come from the government, doesn't come from the church, isn't dependent upon the United Nations or the CDC or anybody else. God's divine power has given you and me everything we need for our life and for a godly life.

Now, that takes some faith 'cause there aren't very many mornings when my feet hit the floor and I feel overly godly. Or do you? You stumble in and look at the mirror and go, "You look so godly today". Yeah. Me, either. Okay? We need to finish it. "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires".

Now, that's a very important passage of Scripture. There's two things stated there in the perfect tense. And I'll spare you much of an English lesson, but the perfect tense means it's already been accomplished. It's not in process, it's not continuing, it is finished. And he says he has given us everything we need for life and godliness. It's already been done. It's not going to be given. It's not a gift to be explored. It's not promised in the future. God has made that provision, and he made that provision through the redemptive work of Jesus. Not because we join the right church or we read the right translation, God gave us that in Jesus's redemptive work.

Secondly, it says he's given us his very great and precious promises. God has made promises to his people. It's a theme of this book. We've talked about promises and blessings a bit lately. I could say it in another way. God's provision for your life and my life are in his promises. His provision for everything we need for life and godliness have been made through his promises, and of equal importance those promises are our inheritance. Now, that's better news than your response, but it's okay.

We're reading through our old testaments together. We're in the Book of Deuteronomy now. It's so exciting. Don't read too much at one time. It gets your blood pressure really jacked up. The adrenaline's coursing. You've barely survived the drama of Leviticus. But in the Old Testament, under a leader named Joshua God led his people into a Promised Land. When God met Moses in Exodus 3 at the burning bush, he said, "I've heard the cries of my people and I've come down to deliver them from the slavery of Egypt and to take them into a land that flows with milk and honey". It's a fulfillment of a promise he made to Abraham way back in the opening chapters of Genesis, that, "I will give you a land as an inheritance forever".

And we get to the book of Joshua, Joshua takes those former slaves or the children of those slaves into a Promised Land, a place on the terra firma on this planet that God says belongs to them forever. We just saw some video evidence of that. Well, in the New Testament the dialogue is a little bit different. In the New Testament under the leadership of Jesus, and I would remind you that in Hebrew Joshua and Jesus are the same, same letters. Under the leadership of Jesus God leads his people into the land of his promises, not a geographical space but an existence under the sun defined by the promises of God.

So God's full provision for you and me are revealed in Scripture through his promises, and what I'm suggesting is that over these next few sessions we're going to explore some of the needs and problems that are typical amongst the people of God and how we can address those challenges by understanding and applying the promises of God. It's important. It's important. The Old Testament, it's a Promised Land. In the New Testament, it's the promise of a kingdom. But when Jesus was interviewed by Pilate the Roman governor he said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, I would be calling my supporters and we would oust you. But my kingdom is from another place".

So we're not talking about a physical kingdom with a capital city, but we're talking very much about a promised kingdom that's spiritual. In the Old Testament, Joshua and the children of Israel had to occupy their Promised Land. The day they crossed the Jordan River, God's provisions changed. There was no more manna every day. He expected them through their effort to occupy their inheritance. They actually had to organize and mobilize for battle and conflict. They started with Jericho. You know the story. But it continued right through Joshua's life. It became the defining chapter of his life. Well, in the New Testament it also requires of us a conquest.

If you study, if you do biblical studies in a formal way, they describe that period of Israelite history between the exodus, the Red Sea crossing and the journey through the wilderness to when they're established in the Promised Land is described in the literature as the conquest. They had to conquer the land. I know it offends contemporary sensibilities but it didn't offend God, and he said his people would have to conquer that land city by city, battle by battle. Well, in the New Testament in order for the kingdom of God to emerge in our midst it also requires a conquest, amen? You see, we have this dichotomy in our imagination that the Old Testament is harsh and it's filled with conflict and God has a little bit of an attitude, then we get to the New Testament and it's just about love.

"Let's just hold hands and sing another verse of 'Kumbaya.' Everybody chill. We should wear tie-dye". And it's a very much a false narrative. It's not consistent with the dialogue and the story of the New Testament. It's an imagination that's been laid over by a group of people who don't really want to invest themselves in the way that the Bible invites us to. There's no such thing as a half-hearted Christ follower. It's impossible to find that in Scripture. God doesn't call us to be moderately interested in him. We're called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. And for the kingdom of God to be experienced in the earth for those values and principles to dominate our lives and be present in our schools or our businesses or our hospital corridors, it will require us to have the attitude that a conquest is needed, not formed with violence but driven by spiritual authority.

Now, here's the challenge. We've lived with such stability. We've had so much prosperity and a culture that reflected to such a remarkable extent a biblical worldview that we really haven't had to rely upon God. We really haven't until there was some personal crisis, maybe a health crisis, or a relational crisis, or a business crisis. In those points we kind of mobilize ourselves and point our attention towards God with a little bit of renewed interest, but by and large we imagine that our children could be educated or they could have health care or they'd be able to travel a little bit or there'd be opportunities. We don't really like to think about God in those contexts because we thought there were going to be supplied someplace else.

Folks, if you haven't noticed, we've arrived at a place, we're in a world that's changing very, very rapidly, and I would submit to you for our children and grandchildren to have the kind of freedom and liberties that we have known it will require, it will demand of us that we grow up in our faith and our responses to God. We're going to have to understand that we're on an assignment to take the kingdom of God into the world in its darkness, to stand against wickedness and evil and immorality and perversion. We're going to have to have the boldness to say, "I will not agree with that. I won't tolerate that. I'm not going to incorporate that into my life".

Now, I'm not suggesting that you be angry or violent. I'm not suggesting those things at all, but this notion that tolerance and inclusivity is the ultimate objective of expression of the love of God is deceptive. Now, tragically it's being shared in too many places. In fact, I'll take just a minute. I didn't put it in your notes today, but I want to walk you through the New Testament narrative. This New Testament that we're told is the book of love and hugs, that God's all about love; I'd like to share with you the highlights, and I think you know them. I'd just like to read them in the stark reality of the way they're presented.

You see, we've peeled our favorite verses out of the New Testament and we've made it a book about happy blessings on how we can improve the label in our clothing and upgrade the car we drive. And I'm not opposed to nice clothing nor nice cars, but that's not really the message of the New Testament. That's not the context in which it's written. It's very much about a conquest every bit as much as the Old Testament is.

See if this sounds familiar to you. Our king, his name is Jesus, as he's presented to us in the Gospels is falsely accused, and he is relentlessly the object of irrational hatred until ultimately he's tortured to death. Sound right? His friends and his closest followers at the point of greatest stress in his life abandon him. They'll deny they know him. They certainly won't stand with him. They're not going to be his advocates. They're clever enough to recognize the magnitude of the imminent personal threat, and they intend to have nothing to do with him. So he's tortured to death, falsely accused, and alone.

Then God sovereignly intervenes without the help of anyone and raises Jesus from the dead, supernaturally rolls the stone away from the tomb where he's been buried. After his resurrection, our king only appears to his followers. As far as the general population is concerned, the last of Jesus of Nazareth is when they saw him suffocate on a Roman cross outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem. His enemies imagine they have scored a tremendous victory. And then the Spirit of God is poured out upon Jesus's friends. It's in Acts chapter 2. And with a renewed vigor and a new director and new leadership from the Spirit of God, they begin to tell their personal stories of knowing Jesus. They haven't been to a new seminary. They haven't found a new rabbi.

In fact, they've lost their best friend. In Acts chapter 1 he ascended back to heaven, but now they're telling their story. And quite surprisingly if you just read the narrative, their responses become tremendous quickly. In fact, the same things that Jesus was directing begin to happen through the lives of his friends. There are miracles. The crowds gather. Thousands of people are interested and respond and begin to acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of the Jewish people. There's growing pains to be certain. Their processes break down. There's angry people. There's bickering, all the things you find. And then very quickly, I mean, in the earliest chapters of the Book of Acts we also see jealousy and hatred emerge. The arrests begin.

Violence is used against them. They're beaten, they're threatened, and before we get halfway through the book of Acts the murder begins. They're killing Jesus's followers now on the streets of Jerusalem. They're beheading them, and when they do there's enough popular support for it the poll numbers go up. "So let's behead some more". That's the story. In fact, the persecution grows so intense that it's not safe for Jesus's friends any longer to stay concentrated in the city of Jerusalem, and they're dispersed throughout the region. They go to Samaria. They go to Antioch. They're going to find their way around the empire.

And so they begin again telling their personal Jesus's stories, and quite surprisingly again we see these most remarkable results. There are people accepting the stories by the dozens and hundreds and thousands, and with that there are miracles, supernatural expressions of the power of God. There are healings, there are deliverance from unclean spirits, and then the pattern of Jerusalem follows again. There's hatred. There's accusations. There's arrests. There's violence. There's riots. That's the story of the New Testament.

In fact, the letters that you and I read so frequently where we find our verses of encouragement and hope, many of them Paul wrote from a prison cell in Rome. He wrote the letter to the Ephesian church from there, to the church at Colossae, to the church at Philippi. You see, it's not a happy story at all. It's a triumphant story. It's a victorious story of the kingdom of God spreading over the Roman Empire. But in the face of both Romans, the Pharisees, over much hatred and over much violence; and those who were carrying the message had to overcome those things.

Look in Romans chapter 8 and verse 35. I did put that in your notes, I think. Do you have that? Good for me. It says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ"? You see, we ask that question and it's rhetorical, but they're talking about prison cells and edicts. "Don't ever mention the name of Jesus again". Gee, we haven't heard that lately. "We don't want you to say that in the public square. If you say that in the public square, we'll shut you down".

You understand the threat. It threatens your employment. It threatens your children's opportunities. It threatens the social circles that you would prefer to be included in. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword"? That's not a rhetorical question to Paul and those who travel with him or to the churches with whom he's communicating. He's describing their experiences. Trouble and hardship and persecution and famine and nakedness and danger and swords, those don't stop the love of God. He's talking about a triumphant kingdom.

Look at the next verse. Verse 37, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us". The New Testament in the face of violence and riots and hatred and unjust persecution and false claims, the message to Jesus's followers is we're to be more than conquerors. Well, church, I have an announcement. We haven't been called to genuflect to a wicked, ungodly culture. We haven't been called to bow our knee to wickedness and immorality and perversion and greed and hatred and violence. We represent another kingdom.

Now, it is a kingdom of love and it's a kingdom of peace and redemption and renewal and healing, but the opposition to that kingdom is very real and we're going to have to make an adjustment in our imagination of what it means to be the people of God. I don't believe the goal is to tolerate every imaginable ungodliness, but I think for us to make the transition we're going to have to understand God's provision and his promises. Up until this point because our lives could be stabilized by the systems around us, the really only promise we paid much attention to was how we made it into the kingdom of God and the rest of it we thought we could handle.

Well, I'm inviting you on a little bit of a learning experience. How do we learn to flourish and thrive in the midst of a world filled with chaos? Our friends in the New Testament did it. They were triumphant. They triumphed over the might of Rome. They triumphed over the hate of the Pharisees. You and I can triumph over the wickedness in this world if we will learn the promises of God for us. So let's start with maybe the most amazing promise, at least in this session.

John chapter 1 and verse 11 says, "To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". I'm not going to stay here too long. I hope you're familiar with that story, but there is no greater promise than the privilege of becoming the children of God. We often hear the expression, you may have even said it, "Well, we're all God's children". You ever heard that? "After all, we're all God's children". It's an interesting statement, but actually it's not true. It isn't true. We're all God's creation, but we're not all God's children. And if there's one thing you want to establish in your time under the sun, it's more important than your education or your... it's more important than anything else.

You want to understand how to be included in the family of God. If it's joining a church, by all means join that one. If it's a translation of the Bible, read that one. If it's a dress code, fill your closet with those garments. But it isn't those things. In John chapter 3, Jesus explains to us how to become a child of God. It's a long discussion he has with a very interesting character. I'm going to read it. It's that important. "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council".

So this isn't some rabble. Jesus, he's not a beggar by the side of the road. "He came to Jesus at night," because he's afraid, "and he said, 'Rabbi, we know you're a teacher who's come from God. No one can perform the miraculous signs you're doing if God were not with him.' In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth...'" And by now you know when you get that little phrase you got to buckle up 'cause Jesus is about to blow your mind. "Nicodemus, you ruler amongst the Jewish people, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he's born again.' 'How can a man be born when he's old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he can't enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born.'"

Nicodemus may not have been coached up on I tell you the truth, but he's had his mind blown. "Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth,'" doubling down, "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he's born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'" Jesus expects Nicodemus to know this. I ask you a question. It's another lesson, but what do you imagine Jesus expects us to know? Do you ever ask that question? Be an interesting prayer to give the Holy Spirit permission in your life.

"Where have I not valued things you would like me to value? Where have I put my trust in places other than you? Where do you have a legitimate reason to expect me to know things that I really don't know"? Take a little courage to pray that because I find the Lord takes me at my word when I'm sincere. Clearly Jesus thought Nicodemus should have been up to speed on this. Verse 8, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you can't tell where it comes from or where it's going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit". Nicodemus is still struggling. I mean, he's been completely knocked off his feet. How can this be?

Now, Nicodemus is a sincere, intelligent, and educated person, but he is struggling mightily to understand what Jesus is saying to him. Jesus declares about being born again as essential to experiencing the kingdom of God, and Nicodemus has no frame of reference for that. None at all. He can't get his mind around it. Jesus is explaining to him that there's a physical nature and a spiritual nature, and Nicodemus' imagination of worshiping God and relating to God is almost entirely, if not completely, invested in his physical nature. It's about what you eat and where you sit and what day of the week on which you worship, the holidays you observe, and how you do that. He has no imagination whatsoever of a spiritual nature. It befuddles him.

Well, if you'd allow me, I would submit to you we have millions of people who identify as Christians in our nation but have never experienced the new birth of the Spirit. They know about physical expressions. They know where to sit on the weekend. That's where Christians go to sit. They know what some of the rules are and they have some imagination of participating, some, but they haven't experienced the new birth of the Spirit. It's an important question, folks. If they're your friends, if they're your family members, if they're your co-workers, if they're your neighbors and you understand how to be a part of the kingdom of God and you don't routinely have that as a part of the dialogue of your life, of the conversation of who you are, why it matters, if that doesn't radiate from you with more enthusiasm than your favorite sports team or your investments, what are we doing? What are we doing?

Stop raging against the darkness. Let's start turning up the light one life at a time. Jesus changes things. He's changing me. He's changed many of us. You know, in both Hebrew and Greek wind and spirit are the same word, and Jesus is making a little word play on that. When he speaks of the wind, he's directing Nicodemus and us toward the behavior of the Holy Spirit. He said no one can tell where the wind where to blow. We don't know where it comes from or where it goes, but we do know what it does. In some of these thunderstorms we've had lately, I've seen the impact of the wind. I spent Friday afternoon cutting up a log and dispensing with it that the wind very graciously put in the middle of our yard. But I've never seen the wind, I've just seen its impact.

The greatest honor and privilege of our lives is being a child of God. There's no other aspect of our person that is more significant than that. I want to close the program today by just taking a moment to thank God; that he's loved us, that he's made provision for us to be included in his family and to tell him what an honor that is for each of us. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you for your great provision for us through Jesus, that as we have chosen him as Lord of our lives you have welcomed us into your kingdom. We thank you for that great honor and that great privilege, your goodness to us, your mercy to us that we've been justified and cleansed. Thank you. In Jesus's name, amen.

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