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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Coaching Session - Part 2

Allen Jackson - A Coaching Session - Part 2

Allen Jackson - A Coaching Session - Part 2
TOPICS: Lessons from Peter

It's an honor to be with you again. We're going to continue our study on lessons from Peter. This session really to me is kind of a coaching session. We're going to look at the first letter to Peter. He's at the end of his life. He's giving us some information to help guide us. He understands that persecution is going to be ratcheting up on his friends. Folks, it's growing in our world as well. In this session, we're going to focus on some of the awkward lessons that Peter brings to his friends. He tells them they have to grow up in their faith. It's never fun when somebody tells you to grow up. They usually tell me that when I'm acting in a way that's less mature than I should be, and I don't want to hear the message. Well, that's a bit what Peter's doing to us. He says we've got to put some things behind us. We have to change some attitudes, change some habits, change some thoughts, and we have to elevate the place that we're giving the Lord in our lives. I think that's a message that is essential for the church right now. I hope you can hear it. I hope we can understand. Enjoy the lesson.

People whisper to me quite frequently when I'm on campus or after a service or even when I'm in the community, "Thank you. Thank you for telling the truth". Men. And I'm usually polite, not always. But I'll tell you what I'm thinking. Number one, why are you whispering? And number two, let's all use our voices, not in anger or belligerence. But every one of us has a sphere of influence, and we're going to have to have the courage to say, "Yeah, there could be some consequence for us".

At this point, they're not confiscating our homes and imprisoning us. They may accuse you of misinformation, which at this point it causes your First Amendment rights to be suspended. We hope that it'll change, but that is our reality at the moment. I can promise you this. If you don't have the courage to tell the truth now, to stand up now, you will not find the courage when the pressure is greater. You better start to exercise those muscles. So Peter gives you the themes of what he's about to write about, the significance of the new birth, that there's pressure coming and persecution coming, and he's going to give us some guidelines on how to navigate that.

And then he begins to talk to his friends about growing up, and I labeled them awkward times 'cause in my life every time I'm asked to grow up a little bit it just feels awkward to me. I've never wanted to grow up. I don't ever remember coming to a point where somebody said to me, "You know, this will be good for you. It'll help you mature or learn something or," I've never thought, "Oh, boy". I've always thought, "That didn't sound good to me. I don't really... I'm good". "You know, if you'll do this or that you'll..." I'm like, "No. I'm okay really. Why don't you just do that and that and bring me the benefit"? But God loves us enough, the Bible says, to discipline us, and in Hebrews he said we should understand that difficulty and hardship is God's discipline, and that he disciplines every legitimate child and that if we're never disciplined, if we never have any hardship, we're illegitimate.

So let's establish this. Being a Christ follower does not eliminate you from the realm of difficulty. In fact, if you want one of the characteristics, I would say that when you acknowledge Jesus is Lord of your life, the doorway for challenges is opened into your life. I'll push it a step further just from a biblical perspective. If you'll take the step with the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I think the door gets bigger. It certainly did in the disciples' lives in the Book of Acts. I think that pattern would hold true. But he gives us some coaching for these awkward times we have to grow up.

Look in 1 Peter 1:22. "Now that you've purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart". Again, this isn't theoretical stuff. Remember Peter and the disciples arguing about who's the greatest? I mean, these were the best of the best, the ones Jesus recruited. They're walking along with Jesus arguing about who's the best to the point that Jesus can't take it anymore and he calls a little child over and puts him in the middle. He said, "Listen, the pagans use their authority and lord it over one another. It can't be that way with you. Unless you change and become like a little child, you will have no place in the kingdom".

And you think, "Well, lesson given, lesson learned". Not really, two of the brothers come with their mom. With their mom? "We have a request. We want to sit on either side of you, the thrones on either side. We want a throne, and we want to be next to you". We've been arguing about seats in church for a long, long time. And Jesus said, "That's not mine to give. But can you endure what you would have to endure"? They did not understand, but they said yes. And he said, "Okay. Purify yourself by obeying the truth".

Did you know that obedience brings purity? Obedience to the truth that you know will bring the purity of God to your life. The goal is not to fool the pastor or the people you sit next to. The goal is not attendance. You know, the goal is not 90 minutes of restricted behavior a week. The goal is bringing the whole of your life, which is before the Lord's attention anyway, and beginning to bring it into compliance with the truth that you know. Verse 23, "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God". Chapter 2 and verse 1, "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and deceit, and hypocrisy, and envy, and slander of every kind". He's writing to Christians. He said, "You got to get rid of this stuff. You can't tolerate it, excuse it, justify it". "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you've tasted that the Lord is good".

This isn't really confusing. He said there are some things you've got to rid yourself of, and he's not writing to beginners. This is informed by his own journey. You've got to crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow up in your salvation. We've preferred to say we got it all. We've had such arrogance. It's just the problems in the culture around us have nothing to do with our faith. It's got to be something else. It's got to be somebody else's problem. It couldn't have anything to do with our spiritual vitality. It couldn't be that we haven't grown up enough to take our stand or to hold our place.

Chapter 2, verse 5 he said, "Like living stones you're being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God". We're being built into something, folks. That's a very disruptive process, the building process. The ground has to be disturbed. Foundations have to be put in the ground. There are engineers that have to do their work. There's a lot of measurements and alignment, and it's very specific work. It's not simple stuff. We've been so sloppy with our faith. We want to say a little prayer and take a little dip in the pool and then maybe kind of, sort of we'll listen to something else, but we don't really intend to be shaped or to be put in a place or to be told to bear our weight.

We want to do what we want when we want and we expect Almighty God to bless us, and he should hurry. We have participated in a very sloppy form of our faith. 1 Peter 2, verse 11, "I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul". We used to sing a hymn, "This world is not my home. I'm just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue". Anybody remember that? Peter says you're aliens and strangers in the world. This isn't your primary orientation. We belong to another kingdom. We're not just homo, we're homo novus. We're a new creation. We have a new orientation.

I've had the privilege of traveling a bit. I've been in a lot of different cultures, in a lot of different places, I've even lived in some of those places. I like to go and see and I enjoy the new foods and the new customs, but I've really never been tempted to just go native. One of the street foods in the Philippines is balut, fertilized chicken eggs. I'll give you a clue, they're crunchy. I was not tempted. You give me a choice between ice cream or balut, I can sort it out. I'm good, I really am, it's okay with me. I want them to enjoy it, but I'm good.

And I think we've lived too far in the world, too far in the world. We've been uncomfortable with Christians because we have a little bit of Jesus in us and a lot more of the world in us. We've wanted the approval of people who really weren't striving for significance in the kingdom of God. We've wanted our children to be applauded by people in those arenas. We dream of our children flourishing in those places, and we think we can just vaccinate them with Christianity. Lead them in a little prayer and give them a kind of a group hug. They desperately need us to help them grow up in the world.

And then Peter takes a minute, I'm going to wrap this up, with suffering and injustice. He said, "It's commendable if a man bears up", 2 Peter 2:19, "If a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he's conscious of God. If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God". How many of you want to get that commendation? "To this you were called, to this you were called," you should circle that, "because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps". I don't understand that to mean we've been all called to be martyrs, but there was a great deal that Jesus laid aside and laid down, privileges that he didn't demand long before he ever got to the cross.

I won't take the time to unpack that in this discussion, but Peter's reminding us that everyone faces suffering. Everyone does, folks, I've lived enough life to know that nobody gets through without suffering. And if you'll allow me to say it without being disrespectful, you're not special. Everybody is quite certain that their suffering is unique. And there is a uniqueness to it, but it's not unique to you. My experience is everybody has to grow through things. Don't allow disappointment, don't allow injustice, don't allow the existent, those places where evil touches your life to rob you of the opportunity to serve the Lord with your life. You have to do what Peter was talking to us about, ridding ourselves of all of those things that would inhibit our growth. We've got to put them off and we have to crave that pure spiritual milk. Peter gives us, it's an amazing coaching session.

Verse 9 chapter 3, "Don't repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called that you may inherit a blessing". When you repay evil with a blessing, you lay up treasure in heaven. That's not intuitive to me, it's not instinctive to me. You push me, I want to knock you down. If you're bigger than me, I want to get an equalizer. I've had enough birthdays now that I'm not quite as tempted to do that physically. I don't bounce as well, but I'm just as quick with my smart mouth. James says the most difficult part of the body to tame is our tongue. We know it's true. We've got to grow up.

1 Peter 4:1, "Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin". That's an intriguing statement to me, that your attitude is a part of your armor. Peter said arm yourself with this attitude. I think we typically in church world imagine that attitude is something that they talk about in the secular world, but in Philippians 2 it says your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus, and Peter now as an experienced ambassador says arm yourself with this attitude. You have to give attention to that. Attitude means you subject how you think and how you feel to the decision of discipline. I may feel like acting this way or saying this, but I've chosen a more disciplined path and I'm going to give my thoughts another direction.

Church, the Lord is asking us to grow up. Our children and our grandchildren are desperately in need of a church that can mature. I pray we'll take the coaching that Peter is offering us. Look in verse 12, chapter 4, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you". Well, I have to admit I know it's in the Bible, but I'm always surprised. I think I'm going to get through without any problems and then when something happens I'm going, "I had no idea. I'm as clueless as the disciples". Jesus kept saying to them, "When we get to Jerusalem, I'm going to be arrested". And he went through the... and then when it happened, they're like, "Ahhh"! Peter says to us, "Don't be surprised at the painful trial that you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you".

I think, "This is so strange. How could this happen"? "But rejoice..." no, I'd rather complain. I'd rather be angry. I'd rather be filled with resentment, or bitterness, or hatred, or demand that the government fix it. "Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ". Folks, the church has come a long way from the instruction we've been given. "So that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed". There's a day coming when Jesus in all of the splendor of his kingdom will be made evident, and you will be thrilled beyond measure at everything you have invested in that kingdom. It's a call to be different, to be aliens and strangers in this world. We have to have different goals and different aspirations and different objectives.

You can't live like the world that every once in a while say Jesus and think you're a Christ follower. We need to turn up the light. The good news is the Spirit of God is present to help us. I want to give you an invitation. I want you stand with me. I told you that short outline was deceptive. I believe God takes our commitments seriously, and I have no interest in religious lectures. If I wanted to deliver lectures, I would have stayed in the university. The hours were better. I believe the point of hearing truth is to make a decision, and I want to give you an opportunity tonight to say that, to acknowledge to the Lord that you truly want to give him your best, and I think implied in that is that that may not always have been our primary objective. If that's you, I don't have much time.

Well, I guess we do, but we don't, there'll be sending kids in here with us. I'm just going to ask you to slip out of where you are. We can't all fit around the front, I suspect, but I think the movement is healthy because we need a new outcome. And I would prefer, you know, I'd be delighted to tell you I think it was going to start in Washington, but I truly believe that it's the church where the change will begin. And since this is the place God has planted us, what if we just said tonight, "Lord, here we are"? We borrow Isaiah's "Here I am. Send me".

We may not be asked to go see the Uyghurs in China or we may not be on a ship that gets torpedoed, but we're in the middle of a battle and you have influence. And if you're willing to take that go into all the world seriously and you'll say to... I'm just going to invite you real quickly to move and come forward. We're not going to sing or play anything or bang a drum. If you're in one of the other sanctuaries on campus, you can come to the front of that room. There are people there with you.

If you're at home, you just stand up with us. I'm confident the Lord can see us wherever we are. I'm just going to say a little prayer for you and then I want to say a blessing over you, but I believe this weekend we're taking some steps towards a new outcome. We're going to start talking about what God's asked us to be. I think we ought to just begin with a profession of faith, real simple. I'm sure we've done it, but, you know, everything begins with that. "Jesus, I want you to be Lord of my life. I'm giving you permission to shape me into whatever you need me to be for your purposes". That's not about sitting in church, you know. So let's just say this prayer together, and then I'll say a quick prayer for you, okay?

Almighty God, I'm a sinner and I need a Savior. I believe Jesus is your Son, that he died on a cross for my sins and you raised him to life again that I might be justified. Forgive me of my sins, and I forgive all those who sinned against me. I cancel every debt, and I thank you now that I belong to the family of God. In Jesus's name, amen.

Father, I thank you for these men and women. I thank you for their lives and their commitment. Lord, I believe you're moving in the earth in a very unique way, that you're purifying your church, that you're stirring our hearts. And I pray that any place in our lives where we have been embarrassed or ashamed or disobedient, Lord, we come tonight in humility to lay it down. We don't excuse it or defend it or justify it. Lord, some of us have been taking a deep dive. We've complained and been embittered, and we've been angry with you. We haven't liked circumstances. Lord, we lay it down. I thank you that you have forgiven us, cleansed us. By your Spirit we're being sanctified, set apart for the purposes of God. May we have the courage to say yes to you, to accept all that you have for us. I thank you that you're awakening your church, that your glory will shine through our lives in ways we've never imagined. We praise you for it. Holy Spirit, give us understanding hearts and the boldness to say yes to you where we have been reluctant. In Jesus's name, amen. Now, may the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ after you've suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be power forever and ever. Amen.

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