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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - God's Provision Is Necessary

Allen Jackson - God's Provision Is Necessary

Allen Jackson - God's Provision Is Necessary
TOPICS: Provision

It's an honor to be with you today. Our topic is the necessity of God's provision. You know, I wanna submit to you that without God's provision, you and I will not be able to complete what he's called us to be. It's not enough in my strength or my wisdom or my resources or my contacts, God has given me an assignment that's bigger than Allen, and he's given you an assignment that's bigger than your resources. We need his provision. Well, that's our topic today. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

We've been walking through a series, really focused on the promises of God, and the concept is really simple: that God's provision for our life is in his promises. The title of this session is "God's Provision is Necessary". And, honestly, I don't think that's been that plain to us in the American church, but I would suggest to you that we will not be able to accomplish God's assignment for our lives unless we understand how to utilize God's provisions. Perhaps that seems straightforward and simple to you, but as an observer of the American church, and I have been for a while, as much as a participant, I have come to the conclusion that his vision and his assignments are larger than my ability or your ability or my resources or your resources. That God will consistently invite you and me to serve him in ways that, without his provision, we cannot accomplish.

Now that's a very biblical premise, but that is not typically the way we embrace our faith. We embrace our faith in terms of what we have time for or what we have resources to do. And we're gonna have to learn a new response to the Lord. The seasons have changed, the curtains have been pulled back. However you wanna describe what's happening, folks, we're not in the same place we were as the people of God before 2020, and it has very little to do with a virus, but what is happening in the world is different. The spiritual conflict is far more in the open. Things that had been hidden in the darkness, things that still had shame attached to them, no longer do.

And God's people are going to have to find a bolder, more courageous, more Spirit-directed response to the invitations of God. We have been trained to be content sitting in church and not being blatantly immoral. And if we could attend church a preponderance of the times and just not be engaged in gross immorality or blatant sin, you were golden. That's a tragic presentation of our faith. It's deceitful, it's dishonest, it's incomplete, it's destructive. And candidly, if it's all you hear, it's highly probable you'll miss the kingdom of God entirely. We're called to be children of the King, to have a relationship with him, to serve him, to lay our lives down for him, to offer ourselves as living sacrifices for him. And somehow, that message has been diminished.

So we're looking at the promises of God. 2 Peter chapter 1 and verse 3 is perhaps the most succinct declaration of God's plan and intent: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him," Jesus, "who called us by his own glory and goodness". He's given us everything we need for life and godliness. We cannot fulfill our life purpose, nor can we lead a godly life, without God's provision. We cannot do it on our own. We just can't. We've got to humble ourselves. We're not that smart, we're not that talented, we're not that creative. And if you think you're amazingly creative, if you put it on a bell curve and you're on the extreme edges of talent and ability and resources, then God gave you a purpose that exceeds those things.

Stop comparing yourself and say, "God, I wanna fulfill what you created me for". He has given us everything we need. There's nothing deficient in your life. There is no lack that God hasn't made provision for. Verse 4: "Through these he's given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires". I've told you repeatedly there's two statements made in that passage that are in the perfect tense, which means they've already been accomplished. They are not happening, they're not going to continue to happen, they're a completed fact. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, and secondly, he's given us his very great and precious promises.

The premise is very simple and straightforward, but it's profound. Don't let the simplicity cause you to think it's childish. God's provision for your life and mine is in his promises, and the promises are our inheritance. In the Old Testament, we're introduced to a concept that dominates the landscape of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, that under a leader named Joshua, God helped his people occupy and inherit a Promised Land. In the New Testament, under a leader named Jesus, God has made provision for us in the land of his promises.

Now, just as certainly as God made total provision for the slaves of Egypt, as they made a journey through the Negev and occupied the Promised Land, God has made complete provision for his people in the 21st century, not to occupy a place on the planet Earth but to live in the midst of his promises. So what we've begun is a little bit of an exploration of some of the more common challenges that we face in our journeys through time and to try to understand how we can apply the promises of God to that. Again, in the Old Testament, they were given a Promised Land. In the New Testament, we are promised a kingdom, very different things.

When Jesus was interviewed by Pilate, Pilate said, "You're a King". And he said, "You're right, I am, but my kingdom is not of this world. If it were, there'd be people defending me against you". We have a promised kingdom. Now, the Old Testament, the Hebrew people could not have their inheritance unless they were willing to drive out the inhabitants of the land. It required armed conflict. It wasn't just something God gave to them. He delivered them from Egypt "through his mighty hand," the Bible says. With his plagues, the Israelites didn't work their way out of Egypt, they didn't fight their way out of Egypt. God delivered them from that. And the concluding of that was when the Red Sea parted, and they walked through on dry ground, and the Egyptian army was drowned when the water collapsed upon them.

On the opposite side of the Red Sea, they were beyond the grasp of Pharaoh. God made provision for them while they journeyed through the wilderness, but when they crossed the Jordan River, the provision stopped, and they had to take by conquest their inheritance. Well, in a similar way, God calls us out of darkness. We don't earn our way out of that. We don't work our way out of bondage. Through the supernatural sovereign intervention of God, he calls us out of darkness. We receive it by faith. He's made complete and total provision for us. But in the same way, for them to occupy their inheritance it required a conquest. The New Testament requires a conquest of us. Not of physical territory, but of a spiritual kingdom. Amen, Pastor.

And we just have not thought about that. We've majored on how to be born again, and perhaps if we needed to be baptized, and perhaps you would be entertaining the conversation around Spirit baptism; but beyond that, you're kind of like, "You know, I'm okay. Que sera, sera". That is not what we're invited to. We've lived with such stability, such prosperity, where the culture was so significantly grounded, biblical worldview, that we really haven't had to rely upon God. Unless there was some personal crisis, some health crisis, some family crisis, or a, you know, maybe in a traumatic moment we would cry out to God, but in general we can imagine that our children could have a future, whether we had a relationship with God or not. That's very unique on planet Earth. And the only reason it could be said of us is for several decades, many decades, we have had that biblical worldview.

Now, tragically, we're abandoning it. We have abandoned it. And our world is rapidly changing. And the purpose for this little series is to help us grow up in our faith and our responses to God so that we can flourish with whatever is before us. These promises are no longer optional. They're not for hyper Christians, they're not for fanatical Christians. If you are going to flourish and survive and understand stability, body, soul, and spirit, I do not believe apart from understanding the promises of God and how to apply them, you'll be able to do that in what's before us.

I brought you one passage. You know, we often say that the Old Testament is a little harsh and violent and combative, but the New Testament is all about love. Just a big group hug. They all got together and broke bread, ate at one another's houses, and sang worship songs, and had miracles. We like to say that. It's just very unscriptural. And I brought you one passage from Paul. The church in Corinth which he helped to shepherd into existence, when he continued with his travels, people came in behind him and said that they were more spiritual than Paul, and they were leading the believers in a destructive pattern. Not a lot's changed in 2000 years of the church's history.

So Paul writes a letter to them, kind of calling them out. And I put it in your notes. It's a familiar passage. He says: "Are they Hebrews"? Those people who are challenging me. He said, "So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ"? And his conscience kicks in. He says, "I'm out of my mind to talk like this. I am more". And then he tells you why he said that. He said, "I've worked much harder, I've been in prison more frequently". Can you imagine putting on your résumé and applying for a job in a church, "I've been in prison more than anybody else you're gonna interview". "I've been in prison more frequently, I've been flogged more severely, I've been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one".

Forty lashes minus one because forty lashes was supposed to kill a man. He said, "Five times I was beaten almost to death". Five times. "Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I've been constantly on the move. I've been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country". The boy's been in danger. "In danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I've known hunger and thirst, I've often gone without food; I've been cold and naked".

Yes, the New Testament is a book of love and peace. The primary advocate for the Jesus narrative in the New Testament after we get past Acts chapter 10, is Paul. And he's describing his experiences. And he said, "I've been in prison for this story more than anybody you know. They've beaten me to death". He said, "They've tried so many times". So is it possible, is it just possible, that our faith will demand of us a more intentional response than we have ever thought? Is it possible that suffering for the sake of the gospel might include more than an inconvenient parking place that permits you to park on the islands?

We were in a parking lot outside the Old City of Jerusalem 2 weeks ago, and there was a car parked up on an island. Parking in Jerusalem really is an issue. And somebody in the group came and got me and said, "Look, Pastor, someone from the church lives here". And they started taking pictures of the car. That's not the testimony we wanna export to the global community of believers. But I think it's safe to say we have not paid attention to... we have peeled out of the letters that Paul wrote to those churches the verses that promise us an upgrade in our clothing label or the car we drive. And we've ignored the context from which they emerged. We've lived by the mantra that we don't wanna offend anybody. Tolerance and inclusivity have been values held in far higher esteem than the truth of our faith. And I believe God is asking us to grow up a bit.

So we've looked at some promises. We looked at how to become a child of God. It's not in your notes tonight. You'll have to go back to Saturday and Sunday. But in John 1 he said, "To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". Can you imagine? The right to become children of the Creator of all things. You wanna know how to claim that promise. That's better than church membership. Then we looked at the promise of freedom from mental torment.

You know, in a world where anti-depressants are one of the most prescribed classes of drugs, when suicide rates are growing by double digits amongst the most affluent, not amongst the most poverty stricken, things and opportunities don't make us more content. There's more in play. We need to know how to live free from mental torment. In John 14, Jesus gave us a promise. He said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I don't give to you as the world gives. Don't let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid". Jesus gave us his peace. He says, "It's not the peace of the world".

The world can be at peace when everything's going their way: an absence of conflict, when they're triumphant, when their lottery tickets are winning, when their kids are cooperating, when their spouses are agreeing with them. That's not the life Jesus led. He led a life plagued by conflict. From his birth when they tried to kill, they did kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem, to when he began his public ministry. The town he grew up in, Nazareth, they tried to kill him in his home town, not because he was stealing or embezzling or lying, but because he told them the truth. And ultimately, he's betrayed, and he's tortured to death, and he looks at his friends, and he said, "I give you my peace". Ha, thanks a lot.

What he had was a calm assurance of God's unlimited power. He says to Pilate, who's about to condemn him to death: "You don't have any authority over me. If my Dad hadn't given you a little bit of authority, this would be a one-sided conversation". He said, "No one takes my life from me. I lay my life down; and if I lay it down, I'm gonna take it up again". He tells his closest friends, "Oh yeah, they're gonna torture me to death, but I'll see you later". There's no panic in him. You see, we're gonna need to know how to trust Almighty God. It's a very different portrait, but it's the same demonstration of the power of God that cared for the Hebrew slaves all the way through the brutal Negev wilderness. They had food to eat, and water to drink, their clothing didn't wear out, there were no sick people amongst 'em. There was no need to panic. God said, "I got this".

Well, the portrayal of the redemptive work of Jesus is God's complete and total provision for our lives. We don't have to lead lives of mental torment. That is a very, very important promise, and we need to learn how to live in that. Now, I wanna begin this session by looking in a little more detail at kind of the other side of that coin. How do we enjoy true peace of mind? How do we do that? And I think I need to start with the observation that the goal is not a mental vacuum, because there's a whole eastern mysticism, the occult has infiltrated Christianity very, very significantly.

So we borrow things like meditation and yoga and all sorts of things in pursuit of inner peace. But the absence of thought, a mental vacuum, is a very, very vulnerable place, a dangerous place. The Bible describes a demon leaving a place and going into the wilderness and coming back and it says if it finds the place it vacated empty and clean, it doesn't say empty and unclean, if it's just unoccupied, it'll go find seven spirits worse than itself and occupy that space. You need a biblical perspective. You need to know the Word of God. One essential part of our protection is to have our minds directed towards God.

See, if it's inconvenient to think about God, then we need to make changes. If you're tolerating enough ungodliness in your practice and your habits, that it's inconvenient to think in a godly way, if it's embarrassing, if it's awkward, if you don't wanna have godly conversations, if you don't wanna hang around godly people, you need to start to clean that up, to bring it to light, to address it, because the safest way to truly enjoy peace of mind is to begin to cultivate a mind directed towards God.

So I would submit that the first step in this is we have to know how to have peace with God. Isaiah 57 and verse 18, you should have this. The prophet said, "I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him". We used that verse on our prayer cards for many years. God said, "I've seen your ways, but..." It's a negative conjunction. A positive conjunction would be, "He said, 'I've seen your ways, and I will heal him.'" That's not what the prophet said. "God said, 'I have seen your ways, and in spite of your ways, I will heal you.'"

You see, the goal is not to hustle God. It's tragic. We've got this notion that we can hustle, you know, if you go to church for 60 minutes and hold it together, you can fool them all. That's not the goal. "God said, 'I've seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those who are far and near,' says the LORD. 'I will heal them.' But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. 'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked.'"

The promise to the people of God is peace. You need to hear that. You need to meditate on that because life is going to come filled with challenges. I interact with people on a regular basis throughout the day, powerful people sometimes, influential people sometimes, sometimes not, and I can tell you the struggles of life come to everybody. And power and wealth will not bring you peace of mind. In fact, they may make it harder to hold. But the promise of God is peace. It's worth understanding. Romans chapter 5 and verse 1: "Therefore, since we've been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ".

The foundation of peace that we have with Almighty God is through Jesus. What did we read in 1 Peter? That God's provision for us is in his promises, and in Christ all those promises are yes to us. Peace with God, not because of who we are or the church we attend or because we've memorized the right verse of Scripture, but through our faith in Jesus Christ, the uniqueness of Jesus. I grieve, well, honestly, first I get angry. And then after I repent of my anger, I grieve over the casual way in which the church will step away from the uniqueness of Jesus in an attempt to find approval from a broader culture that is reluctant to say Jesus is the only way. Jesus himself said, "No man comes to the Father except through me".

So when you expand that formula to include whatever else you're expanding it to, you're making Jesus a liar. You're putting, it is so disrespectful. Folks, the pathway to peace is a relationship with Jesus. We have to have the courage to tell our friends and our families that. If they're leading ungodly lives, and you don't have the courage to say that was going to steal your peace, it will rob you of your health, it will diminish your well-being, it will put your feet on a path that will end in destruction every time. I love you, but please don't do that. I know it's not an easy conversation to have. It is an absolutely necessary conversation to have. They won't wanna hear it.

And you don't have to say it in anger. You don't have to say it with belligerence. You can say it with love, but you have to say it, and you have to have consequences attached to it. Because if you participate in ungodliness, even if you do it passively, the responsibility comes to you, too. Romans 5:11: "Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation," to be reconciled, to recognize our need for reconciliation. We can't reconcile ourselves to the Creator of all things, not through our kindness, or our goodness, or our generosity, or our acts of service. We needed help. We were not living in a way to enable us to be at peace with God. We were reconciled by Jesus' redemptive work and nothing else.

No one finds peace with God other than through that pathway. But through Jesus, we just read it in Romans 5:1. We've been justified. It's an interesting word. It has multiple meanings or layers of meanings. It's to be acquitted, to no longer be held guilty, to be rendered righteous. The most straightforward definition is to be just as if I'd never sinned. Imagine. Imagine the opportunity to stand in front of Almighty God as if you are clean. Show me that line. I intend to be in it. To be justified. Begin to think in terms of being justified. We have God on our side. He wants to be at peace with you.

I think the first step and maybe the most important in receiving God's provision is acknowledging we need help. No shame in that. In fact, I think it's a sign of wisdom. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you for your great love for us and your wonderful provision in our lives. We wanna pause to say we recognize we need your help. In ourselves, we are inadequate and incomplete. Give us your wisdom, your strength, your understanding. Holy Spirit, help us, in Jesus' name, amen.

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