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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - You Are Here - Part 1

Allen Jackson - You Are Here - Part 1

Allen Jackson - You Are Here - Part 1
TOPICS: What Are We to Do?

The question I'm asked more frequently than any other single question, whether it's here, on our campus, or when I'm traveling and talking to churches or church leaders across the country, variations on this question, it's not even close. "Pastor what should we do? What are we gonna do? How are we supposed to respond"? And then it's usually asked with a little bit of anxiety, trepidation, uncertainty, maybe even fear. So I wanna take a session or two or three, I don't know how long, but we're gonna take a few sessions and then kinda walk around that question a little bit. Then I wanna start with what I think is the essential point in any journey, is knowing where you are.

If you go look at a map, if you walk into the mall and you wanna find yourself or you go to an amusement park, and there's a map and you'll have to find the you are here button, to know how to navigate where you're gonna go. If you're gonna do it digitally, you gotta turn on your location settings, so somebody somewhere will know where you are. I think they know even if you don't turn on your location settings, but not to be a conspiracist. Well it's impossible to navigate what's in front of us if you don't know where you are. And in the body of Christ, it's hard to get unity around that. 'Cause we kind of unravel when it comes to discussions like this.

And so I'm gonna start in this session, see if we can locate a bit where we are, and some of the news isn't necessarily great, but it isn't discouraging. You can't get to a better place until you get the truth about where you are. And so I'll be as candid as I can, but there are some things we know and some we don't, but I'll start with the simplest I know. I believe we can see God's judgment has begun in our nation. I don't think there's another explanation for what we see.

Now I don't know what the outcome of that will be, I think the outcome will be determined by God's people. It's not gonna be determined by elections or political parties or expressions of evil or riots in the street, the choices and the attitudes of God's people will determine what God's judgment looks like as it unfolds, but I don't know another way to explain what we're watching other than that. It's illogical, it's irrational, the decay is too rapid, it's too deep. We have leaders, multiple leaders, not one or two that are leading most powerful people in our world and they are addled. I mean, I'm not talking about one or two folks, there's a whole group of them that I don't believe could put together two complex sentences.

That's concerning, our borders are open you can't have a sovereign nation and do that. Our military in the international stage abandons our commitments, and are more focused on social concerns and on winning wars and defeating our enemies, that's a formula for complete capitulation. Trust in the integrity of our systems is collapsing. It's not deteriorating, it's collapsing. Fair elections seem impossible without God's help. Our children are being preyed upon by evil, with the tacit approval of the government and corporate powers. The church is either silent or capitulating in far too many cases, and the list goes on and on and on. I don't know a way to understand it other than God has said, "If you're gonna choose that".

Now, here's the good news, Hebrews 12 tells us that "God disciplines those he loves". And that if he doesn't discipline us, we're illegitimate children, and that we should understand that hardship is God's discipline. So I would submit to you that in the midst of it, there is a note of hope but it's not just about maintaining the status quo. So I think we have to start if we're trying to locate where we are and understand it, what do you do when judgment begins? What are the implications of that from scripture? I brought you a couple of passages.

Ezekiel, Ezekiel's a prophet in Israel in a time of God's judgment. We're not the first generation to face God's judgment, we won't be the last. I hope your theology has enough room for that. And I hope your theology has enough awareness of the scripture to understand your assignment is to serve God in time, not just to get your ticket punched to go to heaven. Because if you don't intend to serve God with your life in time, you're not going to heaven. I don't care what prayer you prayed or what pool you got dipped in, or who assured you of whatever, that it's unassailable, if you have no intention of honoring the Lord with your life in time, what makes us think he would welcome us into eternity?

Ezekiel 14 and verse 12, "The Word of the Lord came to me; 'Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful,'" did you know not only people can be unfaithful? It says, "If a country sins against me". "If a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals". That's God saying, "I'll do that, I'll stretch out my hand". "Even if these three men: Noah, Daniel, and Job". It's right in front of palms if you wanna read his story. "'If Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness,' declares the Sovereign Lord".

Now, righteousness is a gift throughout all scripture. So don't try to somehow eliminate the message of that passage by making a distinction between old and new covenants. All of our righteousness is imputed to us by faith, we don't earn it or qualify for it, it's not merit based. In this case, God said, "If I decide that judgment is necessary on an unfaithful people, it wouldn't matter if you recruited Noah and Daniel and Job, they wouldn't change it". That's a pretty sobering message. I would pair that with Psalm 1, I'm sorry, Psalm 11. It says, "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do"?

That's the question. We're watching foundations be destroyed. Foundations that have held our republic together since its inception. Simple ideas not complicated ideas. They're derived from a Judeo biblical worldview. That means they were derived from principles of scripture. They weren't the property of a denomination. They've held Western civilization together. They've held much of civilization together in general. Simple principles like God created us male and female. That marriage is between a man and a woman. Things that have been relied upon is foundational that if you tell the truth, it's an indicator of your character and if you don't, it's an indicator of a flaw in your character. We've lost that. We have a whole new vocabulary. We talk about spin or somebody is evangelistically speaking.

That just means you're lying in church words. It's not a good thing. Exaggeration is lying, don't do that. It's not good lawyering. If you're a liar, and a deceiver, and a thief. I mean, we have this whole cottage industry for how we explain a lack of truth and the reality it's a failure of character. The foundations are being destroyed so what can the righteous do? I give you some simple observations. One, is your choices matter. Stop ringing your hands about other people and begin to talk to the Lord about your choices, your character, your behavior, your patterns. If we will all do that, God will respond to his people. Your choices, "I feel powerless". You're not, it's a lie from the pit of hell. "Well, nobody cares about my opinion".

Almighty God does. He does, he pays attention when a sparrow falls to the ground. He pays attention if you pray or didn't pray. If you humbled yourself or you stood in your pride. If you chose to give your carnal impulses full expression, or you chose to say no to your carnal self and do your best to invite the Spirit of God to lead and direct in your life, your choices matter. Stop believing the lie that you don't matter, you do. "Well, if I stand up, I'll be swept aside". You may be. You may get a prison cell right in there with the Apostle Paul. Most of our heroes went to prison.

When Paul wrote to Corinthian church talking about his credentials, his qualifications for ministry, he said, "I've been arrested a whole lot". He's boasted about it. And we go, "Well if I stand up, somebody may not like it". No kidding. You got it, your choices matter. Secondly, there's a lengthy biblical presentation about judgment being delayed when God's people will choose him. I'll give you two simple examples, King Josiah led this enormous reform in the nation of Israel and God said, "I'm not gonna stop the destruction. They've been too wicked for too long, the consequences are coming, but it won't happen in your lifetime. I'll withhold it because of your choices and your behaviors and the people that have followed you".

What would've happened if his son had decided to be as honorable and godly as he had been? Maybe he'd gotten pushed back another generation, and another generation. We won't know because his son was wicked. I'll give you another example, King Hezekiah. God sent Isaiah and said, "Get your house in order you're gonna die buckwheat". Living Bible, he didn't really say buckwheat. And it says "Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and said, 'God,'" and before Isaiah got out of the building, he said, '"Go back and tell him he got an extension".

Wow, so judgment can be delayed. It's true, there's a biblical pattern. Judgment can be completely withheld. I think the most celebrated example of that in scripture is probably Nineveh. It's the big fish story in the Bible. God says to Jonah, "Go tell Nineveh I'm gonna destroy you". Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed. It's the capital of Assyria, the rising world power. They're going to bring incredible suffering to Israel and the people of the land, and Jonah was astute enough, and discerning enough to understand that he didn't want the people of Nineveh to repent, he said so. So when God said, "Go this way," Jonah went that way and he got to go fishing.

One of my favorite lines in the Bible, it said, "The whales vomited Jonah up on the beach. And the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time saying, 'Go to Nineveh.'" And Jonah said, "Love to, thank you". We've all been there, we've all smelled like the whale. And he gets his heart's still in a really bad place. He gets to Nineveh and he walks through the city. "Forty days God's gonna destroy you, 40 days God's gonna destroy you, 40 days God's gonna destroy you". It didn't say he wept over, it didn't say he fasted and prayed, he didn't say, "I'm so sorry". He just said, "There's gonna be a fire show". And he went out he sat down on the edge of the hill to watch the destruction of the city and it says something most remarkable. That from the most powerful people in the land to the most humble, they put on sackcloth and ashes. They physically humbled themselves and repented.

And God said, "I'm not gonna bring destruction". And the prophet was ticked off. You can read it, is simple, it's only four chapters and, "That's why I didn't wanna come here I knew they could repent". I mean, can you imagine an evangelist angry 'cause people, "I knew they would repent, I wanted you to destroy 'em everyone". So Jonah got a little object lesson with shade in the near But judgment can be withheld. There's a fourth observation about God's judgment, and that's if the challenges are spiritually motivated.

Remember we read in Ezekiel, God said, "If I stretch out my hand," this was not about politics, it wasn't about rain and agricultural supply, it wasn't about rising foreign powers, God said, "Those all may be delivery systems but this is my hand". Are you prepared to imagine that the hand of God is moving in the earth? I hope so 'cause if God's people don't have that imagination, we're really in trouble. Spiritual challenges require spiritual solutions. Spiritual solutions. Best example I could think of that we would probably all are familiar with without having to do a deep dive into anything is Goliath. Remember him?

The Philistine, great big guy, intimidating lots of armor. A spear that they said, "You know, the shaft of his spear looked like a weaver's beam. I mean, he was an intimidating motor scooter. He was so intimidating nobody in the entire Israelite army wanted to take him on". But the reality, if you know the story and I hope you do, if you don't it's really good reading. Goliath could've repented. You know, when we meet him, he's mocking God, "Am I a dog that you send a boy out to see me"? He's mocked God for 40 days and 40 morning and evening every day he's mocked the God of the Israelites. He could have said, "You know, really I'm an arrogant rascal. And because of my imposing physical condition, my pride had overwhelmed me and I'm sorry".

'Cause I'm telling you when God sent somebody after Goliath, his shield and his armor and his sword and his spear didn't make any difference. Some kid with a sling gonna cut off his head with his own sword. It was a spiritual battle. And when you look at the landscape today, you may see politicians, and governments, and people that think they're powerful and have lots of influence, and corporate people with billions of dollars and mega yachts. And they imagine that they are unassailable, that they manipulate governments and they plan the future of humanity. I'm here to tell you, Almighty God is engaged and we better know the difference. But we've been guilty of thinking the solution has to come because they're defining the tactics, that's not right. If God has unleashed his judgment because of the condition of our hearts, our hearts are what have to change to get to a better place.

What happens when God's people rebel? And I spent some time with this line because I couldn't decide, I really asked, I wanted to understand the best word. 'Cause I could put it in parenthesis around that when God's people fail, when God's people are distracted, when God's people are indifferent, when God's people are deceived 'cause all of those things are happening. But I really think the root of it is we've rebelled against him. We got the me do it syndrome. We think we can secure our futures, we think we can work it out. We've had so much, so much freedom and so much liberty and so much opportunity. We act like ever you could go anywhere in the world, and start with nothing and earn a living and care for your family.

Folks, we have been blessed because the foundations of how we put this thing together where we live honored God and now we're tearing apart the foundations. We've rebelled against God. They said don't bring that name to work so we quit doing it. Are you kidding me? You want my help? I'm bringing my Lord. You want my training, and my expertise, and my skillset, I'm bringing Jesus. I've apologized enough, we've been rebellious. You can't put that on the public square, watch us. They put everything other, every other expression of wickedness or evil, or perversion in the public square. What has happened to us? When God's people rebel, look at Matthew 21. Jesus is speaking in Jerusalem to the Jewish leaders.

There's already an enormous tension between Jesus and the power brokers in the city, to the point that it's not safe for him to be there. He slips in as quietly as he can, he slips out as quietly as he can. His closest friends beg him not to go. I mean it's reached that point that his presence in the city is an open confrontation. And so now he's in public, in a public place talking to the leaders of the nation. And he said, "I tell you," and you could put parenthetically, "I tell you the truth," so you know he's just about to rock their world. He said, "I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you". He just pronounced interdict. He said, "You lost your status, you lost your standing".

It's a very sobering statement in the city of Jerusalem. "It'll be given to a people who will produce its fruit. And who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed. When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus's parables, they knew he was talking about them. And they looked for a way to arrest him". They didn't look for a way to change, they didn't ask for a private meeting and say, "Would you pray for us our hearts are hard, we're overcome with greed and covetousness". No, they have to shut him up. "But they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet".

Now the church, there's entire courses designed. There are seminars and university levels and seminary levels to talk about the failures and the mistakes of the Jewish people, we don't talk so much about the failures of the church. In fact, if we start to talk about current events, people get really squirrely. "Shouldn't do that, that's political". So we talk about other people's failures 'cause that's not political, that's historical. Well I earned a degree in history, so let me dabble for just a moment. World War II, 55 million people died as a result of World War II.

Now for most of you, you're too young to know world, I'm fortunately too young to have known World War II. But I've read that I've seen a lot of 55 million people. There's many ways to understand those kind of conflicts but I'll give you one way of understanding it, the failure of the church. Let's just take a moment, what if, what if, the church across Europe had stood for righteousness and godliness and said no? What if the church had stood up? What if the church had gotten their faith to the forefront and not to the background? What if the people of God had said, "We will behave towards one another with righteousness and integrity and dignity? You're not rounding up anybody in this community based on their ethnicity, we won't have it".

Now I understand there's other factors. I've been in those classes too. But I'm telling you it's a legitimate observation that the church didn't do well. Because to stand up there was a cost involved. And they were aware enough and intuitive enough to know it's really just better if we just go along. Now I understand it spun further out of control than they wanted it to. I don't think they understood that Dachau and Ravensbrück and the death camps were coming when they started. But they did get to the point that they knew they had to sing their hymns more loudly when they were in church 'cause the trains filled with the Jewish people crying for help were rolling past the church, and it was awkward to have to hear it.

What happens when God's people rebel? It means death, and destruction, and devastation, and suffering. In the 20th century, as a result of communism, this is agreed upon. It's not about conservative, this is a pretty much generally agreed upon fact and academics. In the 20th century, a 100 million people died as a result of communism. And you know the first act in the communist countries as they gain power, is to eliminate or completely silence the church.

So the failure of the church to be light, distracted, lost their balance. 'Cause there were historic churches and all of those places where communism flourished, long histories of Christianity, venerated histories. We lost our place, we failed to recognize there was a spiritual challenge. What's gonna be said of our generation? We've lost 60 million American children to abortion and we said, "Well, it was legal". Oh, that'll be your answer when you see those folks in eternity. Well, I'd have done something, but you know it was legal. When God's people rebel, we need a spiritual solution. And we're the people that understand what that means.

Jesus said that, "I've come that you might have life and have it to the full". When we choose the Lord in our lives, when the church is the church in the earth, it brings life and vitality to our families, to our lives, to our communities. The church is such an important mission. We have an assignment beyond worship services and our musical style preference. We are representatives of Almighty God. Let's pray and ask him for help:

Almighty God, I thank you that you've called us to this season to be light in the darkness, to hold out the Word of truth, and I pray that by your spirit we will do that in such a way that it brings life to our generation. We thank you for it, in Jesus's name, amen.

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