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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Experience The Power of the Spirit - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Experience The Power of the Spirit - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Experience The Power of the Spirit - Part 2
TOPICS: Holy Spirit, Step Out of the Crowd

Now, I wanna take the time we have left and simply look at, I don't know, one or two or three people who have preceded us in the faith. They're my heroes. I've lived with these men and women's names and stories for as long as I can remember. I look forward one day to seeing them, but in the meantime, their lives speak to us from the pages of scripture, and prayerfully are informing our own choices and our own decisions. You know, when I look at the church and the years I have spent in the church, and I don't mean just this congregation, but the broader Church, Church with a capital C, it seems to me we've spent decades debating about spiritual things, arguments like this. Did miracles cease? Did they end with the death of Jesus' original apostles? Does God still do supernatural things? Is it appropriate or presumptive to pray for healing? Are the gifts of the Spirit real or have they been supplanted by technology, science and modern medical care?

I mean, we can have seminar after seminar and study after study and opinion after opinion, and we all swell up with what I think. Honestly, what I think is very much secondary to what God's Word says. And we've got to begin to align ourselves with what God has said to us. We have divided ourselves into spiritual camps based on what we believe to be true as if we're the arbiters. So we imagine we're Pentecostal or Charismatic or Baptist or Church of Christ or Roman Catholic or whatever, whatever, whatever. And we're so smug and confident that we're with the right little group and how we know whatever is the best way. We've imagined that if we join a larger group, we must be closer to the truth and we've avoided the practice of our faith. We've just almost completely stepped away from it.

We read our Bibles, we act like, oh, that's not for today anymore now. We go to the doctor, or we go to school, or we go to church, that biblical stuff that's not for us. And in its place, we've accepted this rather weak soup of a intellectual safety in our faith. You see, a debate is far less messy than engaging the problem. A theoretical theology is far more comfortable than the actual practice of belief. It's much easier to watch a ball game than it is to actually have to step on the field and compete. It's much easier to watch the Food Network. In 30 minutes, they can gather everything they need for a three course meal and prepare it all and have it done.

And as if that doesn't humiliate your intellect enough, they'll have competitions and have multiple people do it in 30 minutes. It takes me that long to figure out how to make the microwave work. You lose your Christianity a couple times, you got to stop and repent. You get out your anointing oil and you anoint it in the name of the Father and the Son and then just, oh, bother, call DoorDash, right? It's like... and we've had this kind of theoretical faith where we collect the pieces, but I wanna remind you some of these people who have been our heroes. I would submit that they lived Spirit-directed lives. Maybe not in that classic sense of our study of 1 Corinthians 12 and the nine manifestations of the Spirit, and the vocal gifts, and the power gifts, and the revelatory gifts, I've done the study, too, but they actually led Spirit-directed lives. Lives with outcomes that apart from the supernatural involvement of God, they were destined to fail and often be humiliated. And amazingly God met them.

They faced widely differing challenges but they share the common ground of experiencing God's assistance. Folks, we have to be bound together by God's engagement in our lives more than bound together by intellectual ascent to some doctrinal position. We've got to begin to make room in our practice for the presence of God. It's no longer something that we can imagine to be an option. We find ourselves in a position today where only the supernatural involvement of God can secure our future. They are mutilating our children. We've watched them eliminate our babies while 60 million children disappeared and they weren't content with that, now they're targeting our children for mutilation, and we're addled by it. We should not be; it's wrong. It's unacceptable.

Let's begin to consider the information provided for us so that we can flourish and experience God's help. Of all the leaders in the Bible, until you meet Jesus, Moses is the expression of leadership. In the book of Hebrews when they're trying to make the case for Jesus, they first have to explain to the audience that they're addressing that Jesus exceeded Moses in what he did. Moses is the pinnacle until we get to Jesus. Well, in Exodus chapter 3 and verse 11, it says, "Moses said to God, 'Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'" Some of you know the Moses story, it's why I wanted to start with him. Either the Prince of Egypt or the Ten Commandments have given you all the backstory.

So, whether you've seen it in animation or with Cecil B. DeMille's help, you've seen it. But the reality is Moses was intimidated by the assignment which God presented to him. Moses knew Pharaoh, Moses knew Egypt. He knew the power of Pharaoh's armies, he knew the slaves, the Hebrew slaves and the circumstances with which they lived, and when God presented him with the opportunity to see them delivered from slavery, he agreed with the objective, but he felt completely inadequate for the assignment. I understand that feeling. I feel completely inadequate for lifting up the name of Jesus in the midst of a culture that we live in.

When we've been told he's not welcome in the public square or the public schools or the college campuses or the corporate boardrooms, and that we should peel him out of the government, what a bunch of baloney. That's a Greek word, it means I disagree. And when you say, "Well, that needs to be changed," my first sense is, I'm completely inadequate for that. I'm not up to that task. And that's what Moses said. Moses said, "Listen, I don't disagree with your premise that slavery's bad and they're suffering, and it would be better if they were free. But who am I? I don't wanna go". And God said, "I'll be with you". And Moses said, "Thanks, but no thanks," to the point that God was angry with him.

I don't know to what extent you've thought about Moses, but I would submit to you he suffered for some pretty serious identity confusion of his own. He had some real anger issues. He was conflicted, he was murderous. He was so torque that even though he lived in Pharaoh's palace, that even though he understood all the privilege, he had the opportunity for all the learning of Egypt, he understood he'd come from the Hebrew slaves and it left him in a very emotionally tenuous place so that when he saw an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew slave, he murdered him. And in that he forfeited his position. Moses had a tremendous battle with rejection. Not just fleeing Egypt and forfeiting all the privilege of the palace, his parents floated him in the river.

Now, you can say they were trying to save him, but you wouldn't forgive him if the nuance of that was lost on him. "You put me in a basket in the river"? There was some tremendous hurdles Moses had to overcome. God called to Moses from the fire. Now we know it in terms of a bush that was on fire not being consumed, but I would submit to you, God called to Moses from the fire of his own internal conflict. And if you'll allow me, God calls to every one of us through the fire. He doesn't call to us because we seem so well prepared, and so emotionally intact, and so spiritually sophisticated, and because we are so competent in all things godly, God calls to us from the fire. Most of us are hiding somewhere on the backside of some desert very aware of our previous failures and inconsistencies and inadequacies, and we begin to hear this voice and we think, you know that might be God but I don't think so.

And then we have a sense that perhaps God could do something and would do something, and maybe there's an opportunity even for us to participate. And then we begin to say like Moses, "I don't speak well and I'm not particularly powerful. And what will I say when they say to me, 'Just, who do you think you are?'" I mean, God gave him some pretty good parlor tricks. A shepherd staff that becomes a snake, and when you'd pick it back up and it'd be a staff again, that's not bad. But Moses said, "With all due respect, I know the magicians of Egypt, they do that". "Well, put your hand in your coat, Moses". And it came out leprous and put it back and it was healed again. He says, "There's a power with you". "It's all right, there's power over there too". You see, we are more aware, more confident of the power that stands against us than the power or the Spirit of God within us. And it leaves us mute, and frightened, and cowardly, and we have to change. It's not the ungodly that need to change, we have to.

I spent a day last week, a week ago, interviewing people around the world who live in places where the Christian Church is persecuted, suffering horrific things, too difficult to discuss in plain language in something that we would broadcast. We certainly couldn't show pictures. And it ranged across multiple continents, it's not like one place or two places. That the estimates by those who pay attention are more than 300 million Christians are being persecuted in the world today, that thousands are murdered on an annual basis, their properties confiscated, their homes burned, churches destroyed, their children taken away and put into slavery or abused in ways too horrific to think about. And there's no voice to speak on their behalf. The media doesn't cover it, it's inconvenient. There's a few organizations that pay attention to it, but we think of them in terms of a year-end gift or some expression of benevolence.

When I watched Israel mobilizing to respond to their citizens when they were mistreated to be candid, I kept thinking of the church. What would happen if we would stand on behalf of one another in that way? We live so far away from them, we've lost that imagination even as a nation. As horrific as the murder of the Israelis was, the murder of the Americans and taking Americans as hostage should have mobilized our nation. If they aren't returned safely, delivered to a neutral site, we will come for you whether Israel responds or not. What has happened to us? What has happened to us? Well, Moses was a reluctant recruit. He was so aware of the power that stood against him and he was inexperienced with the power of God. And one of the prayers I believe we have to pray is begin to say to the Lord:

Lord, I'm a bit ashamed. I've walked with you for a while now, I've known of you for years, I was baptized much earlier. I've read your Bible, but honestly, I'm not familiar with you and your power. I'm not familiar with the God who intervenes in history, I'm not familiar with the God who transforms communities, I'm familiar with a God who has polite Bible studies. I'm familiar with a God that never touches my emotions with something that's uncomfortable. But I would like to know you more completely. I'd like to know you more fully.

Do you have the courage to pray a prayer like that? Do you have the courage to acknowledge to the Lord you've had an antiseptic Christianity because you thought you could secure your future and the future of your children? "Moses, I've got a job for you". And fortunately for us, Moses accepted the assignment. I think we could say he had a supernatural life. From the shepherd staff, to the plagues, to the Red Sea parting, to manna in the wilderness, to the law on Mount Sinai, to the construction of the tabernacle. It's an amazing resumé that Moses can present. It's also staggering to think about the obstacles. There were constant challenges to his leadership, there was unrelenting opposition, there was a steady stream of problems to solve, there's no water to drink, the food's no good.

We don't like the menu you prepared, the enemies that continually present. And yet, through it all, Moses still has this continual learning about the character of God and the nature of God. It's the greatest leader in the Bible until Jesus steps into time. And Moses didn't even enter The Promised Land, he wasn't allowed. God said, "You can't". In spite of all we've done together, in spite of the revelation, he looked upon God. But God said, "I won't excuse your attitude, there's a consequence for that Moses". I hope we could agree that Moses led a Spirit-directed life. I'd give you another biblical character, I've just got a couple of minutes, you'll have to listen fast. His name is Samuel, he's the last of the judges. He's a very pivotal figure in the biblical narrative in the Jewish community amongst Jewish scholars, far more so than typically amongst Christians. He's the last of the judges, a man of great significance.

And near the end of his life in 1 Samuel chapter 8, the tribal leaders came to Samuel and said, "We don't want you anymore. We're tired of you leading us, you're old. You're old Samuel. And your kids don't follow in the way that you have followed the Lord. You're old and you're a lousy parent. Wouldn't that be good news from the people you'd given your life to? And on top of that Samuel, we don't wanna walk the way you've tried to lead us your whole life. We don't want another judge, we don't want God to be our deliverer, we want a king, we wanna be like all the other nations. You're old, you're a lousy parent, and the direction you've led us is wrong". It'd be a bad day at the office. And God had something to say to Samuel, it's what's in your notes. The Lord said, "Listen to all that the people are saying to you, it's not you they have rejected".

Why did God have to say that to Samuel? 'Cause I promise you, it felt like him they were rejecting. It was him, they said was old, it was his kids they didn't like, it was the leadership he'd given to them, that they were repudiating, that they were casting off. But God said, "It's not really about you, Samuel. They're forsaking me and serving other gods, so now they're doing it to you". He said, "You are just feeling what they have expressed towards me for decades".

And for you and I to allow the spirit of God to have the appropriate place in our lives, we're gonna have to climb over ourselves a little bit. Not everybody will cheer, not everybody will applaud. There'll be times where it feels a great deal like rejection and when reality, it's rejection of the Spirit that is within you. And you'll be alert enough and aware enough to recognize it because they'll be saying it in plain language, "We don't want you here. We don't like what you represent, we disagree with you. You should be quiet. You're old, you're ugly and your kids aren't cute either". And then, we start to quit, and then that's when we start to cave 'cause we're like, "Well, I don't want it to affect my children, or I don't want it to affect the people that are around me". And then we think we have license.

Well, if it's for our children or if it's for our friends or if it's for our co-workers, then I definitely couldn't step out of the crowd. It'd be inappropriate for me to draw attention to myself that caused other peoples to forfeit something if they didn't raise their hand. Well, if you imagine that the blessings of God should impact your children, or your grandchildren, or your co-workers, or your business, or your neighbors, then I think we have to have the courage to step out of the crowd and recognize that that's not always a comfortable experience for everybody involved. Samuel's in a very difficult place. He faces a very painful season of rejection. it's personal. It's an attack on his family, it's a rejection of his life's work.

The greatest contribution of Samuel's life came after the season of rejection. God wasn't done with Samuel. The tribal leaders may say, "We're not interested in you leading us anymore," but God said, "I want you to anoint a king". And he sent him to anoint Saul, and it didn't work out so well. Not because of Samuel, but because of Saul's choices but that would've been very easy for Samuel to have internalized. "Not only did I not get it just right and the people rejected me". Don't you think he second guessed decisions he made? Don't you think he replayed choices he'd made and places he had stood and what he had done? And then he anoints Saul and Saul gets so inflated with pride that he forfeits the blessing of God. And Samuel has to deliver the message that "When you were small in your own eyes, God chose you, but now he's rejected you".

But then God sent Samuel to Jesse's house and Samuel anointed David. A boy, a teenager, to be king over God's people. A man who would become the greatest king in all of Israelite history. A man from his lineage, the Messiah would come. So Samuel is the one who physically poured the anointing oil upon David from whom Jesus came. So Samuel's ministry introduced not only King David into the story of Israel, but he took the Jesus narrative right into the midst of what God was doing in those people. The greatest contribution of Samuel's life came after the most blatant expression of rejection of his life. If you'll allow me, you haven't messed your life up to the point that God can't redeem it.

If you've been silent, or distracted, or disinterested, or ambivalent, or fully engaged with ungodliness, if you will come with humility, if you've been steeped in religious behavior and religious tradition, and you've been hiding in the group, and you've lacked the courage to say to the Spirit of God, "I want to get all in," you haven't forfeited the opportunity. The same God that enabled Samuel to lead a spirit directed life is recruiting men and women in the earth today.

Let's raise our hands. Let's not look at the culture around us and say they're the problem. Let's not look at the people who are sitting in elected positions. Don't imagine the politicians are our problem folks; they're not. The people of God are the issue. If we will put our hearts in the right place, if we will begin to talk to the Lord, he will change the course of nations. That's the story of scripture. He did it through Moses, he did it through Samuel, and he will do it in the 21st century if we will choose him, amen. I'm not discouraged by what I see happening around me, I'm more committed than I've ever been to put the invitation before the people of God because it's your choices that will determine our future.

Your choices and my choices will determine whether our children and grandchildren know freedom and liberty or not. It won't be about elections, it won't be about terrorist, it won't be about some global reset, it will be the choices and the attitudes of the hearts of God's people. You have been empowered to be a difference maker if you will cooperate with the spirit of God.

Now, it will mean change, it will mean realignment, it will mean stepping out from the crowd a bit. You can't stay on the backside of the desert and tend your business. You can't go and grieve because the people have rejected you. You can't just mourn because your last choice for a king didn't work out so well. "I thought I was gonna get over that little hump, or they didn't want me to lead and we got a king, but now that didn't work. Oh mercy". It's too easy to fall into those places of despair because the journey's more difficult than we would like it to be. Who said it was gonna be easy? Why do you focus on the difficulty? Focus on the expression of the glory of God. Focus on the opportunity that comes with raising your hand and say, I will serve the King. I'm an advocate for Jesus. I'm an ambassador for the Prince of Peace, and his Spirit is welcome in my life.

Don't worry about the darkness, keep turning up the light and God will meet you. Let's determine to lead a Spirit-directed life, and if that causes us to be singled out of the crowd, so be it. Sometimes that's a wonderful place. I brought you a prayer. I'm gonna ask you to pray it with me. It's on your notes, they'll put it on the screens. It's a prayer pattern after the prayer in Daniel chapter 9, another prayer that's in the book of Nehemiah where those great leaders recognizing the need for God's help. They didn't point accusing fingers at others but they acknowledged their own complicity in the judgment of God that had been poured out upon their people. Folks, we are living under the beginning of the judgment of God.

Now, I don't know if it will be given full expression or it will be withdrawn. I think what we choose will be the determiner of that. But what we're watching can't be understood just as a result of logic, the dismantling of our freedoms, the dismantling of the systems that have brought the blessings of God to us, the intentional destruction of the best things available to us. I don't believe those begin in the heart of a person, but I believe God is the author of the shaking. So it gives me great hope, and I brought you a prayer. If you'll stand with me, we're gonna pray it together. We stand out of honor for the Lord. The corporate prayers of God's people change the destiny of nations. Let's pray this together:

Heavenly Father, we have sinned and turned our backs upon you. We have put our agenda before your assignment. We stand in your presence to acknowledge our failures and our rebellion. Now look upon us with mercy and pardon our transgressions. We choose to humble ourselves before you. Do not respond to us, according to our deeds, but respond to us from your great love. We choose this day to walk a new path, to live uprightly before you, to walk in righteousness. Bring healing to our hearts, our homes, and our land. In Jesus' name, amen.

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