Allen Jackson - God's Timeline?!? - Part 2
It's a privilege to be with you today. We're gonna complete our discussion on "God's Timeline?!?". God's moving in the earth, there's no question about it. There's a war in the Middle East, it always reminds us that God is intricately involved in the lives of the Jewish people in the nation of Israel, but it has implications for you and me. Knowing what God is doing shakes us from the slumber of a routine of faith and enables us to lead with our faith in our homes, in our families. It's a holiday time, we're gathering with friends and families in some unique ways. We wanna bring our faith to bear in that. Take a few moments, ask God to use your life this holiday season to make a difference in the lives of those people you care about. Let's not just eat our holiday food and exchange gifts, let's lead with our faith in the midst of this very unique season. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart to the Lord.
Let's talk a little bit more about the present. In 2 Corinthians 2, in verse 14. It says, "Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him". Galatians 1, "Grace and peace to you from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father". You thought the age just got evil with the last four or five or six or eight elections. When Paul wrote that to the church in Galatia, he understood that this present age was evil. But the good news is, we've been rescued. We are a part of a triumphal procession. The triumph was not the winning of a victory, it was the celebration of a victory.
When a general had a successful military campaign, occasionally they were granted a triumphal procession through the streets of Rome, and they would take the slaves of the conquered people or the wealth of the people who were conquered or the unique things from that nation, the artwork, and they would be paraded through the streets of the city. It was a demonstration of a victory that had already been won, it was a triumphal procession. It's the image that Paul is using when he said that you and I are the demonstration of the victory that Jesus won for us through the cross. Our lives are intended to demonstrate the power of the Almighty God that we serve. It doesn't mean that we are not challenged or we don't have problems or we don't face difficulties, that we are immune from the things in this world, it means that we have a hope that lifts us above them, that we walk with a purpose and a meaning to our lives that fuels us, that there's a joy within us, an inexpressible joy the Bible talks about.
1 Peter 2 says, this is the fishermen. He said, "I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world". It's not your home. You see, it makes no sense, if you start to pull these passages together, if Jesus died to rescue us from this present evil age and we're betting our future on what we can collect from this present evil age, it's illogical. So Peter says it's slightly differently. He says, we're aliens and strangers in the world, we're temporary residents. We're here for a while, but we don't wanna get too anchored in. We wanna understand that our hope is someplace else. That there's a different value system for us. While the secularists pursue pleasure or power or whatever the chase of the day may be, we've been called to a different set of purposes.
Gee, I thought if I came to church and I volunteered at the ice rink, what more could there be? A great deal, as a matter of fact. 1 Corinthians 7, "Use the things of the world as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away". Again, it's a theme of scripture, it's not some subtle verse tucked away. That the world as we know it is a very temporary thing. Now, it may extend from the beginning of your journey in time to the conclusion, but what we see in time is but a shadow of something that is far greater and far more significant. The ultimate reality is beyond time. And the great invitation we've been given is to invest our journey through time, our days under the sun in the eternal purposes of God. And we're given a very candid presentation from scripture that that will require something of an internal conflict. That there's an internal war, a battle within us.
And so oftentimes we like to come to church and pretend like we don't understand what that is or that we used to have a battle and then I got saved. And then the battle intensifies 'cause the enemy doesn't really have to be too worried about you when you're participating in his purposes. There's no game plan for you as long as you're a part of the opposition. But when you decide to take a stand with the eternal purposes of Almighty God, the intensity of the conflict in your life grows. And it's not just the external, it's the battle in your own mind and the battle in your own soul. But God is faithful. So if I had to summarize, I mean, I did since I was building the outline, but we've seen is there was a victory that's been won on our behalf. We don't have to win that, Jesus did it for us. And because of that victory, we've been delivered from the authority of evil, it does not have authority over our lives.
It may touch our lives, we may have to address it, but ultimately there's a greater authority at work on our behalf than any expression of evil that we address. It's important to know, it's an important fact. And then for the moment we're on a temporary assignment, we're participating in a system that will be replaced. We've already read about the king returning, passing judgment on this present world order, and the interim between where we are and that point in time is a season of conflict. "Well, I don't like that". Duly noted. Didn't change anything but your objection has been noted, Obi-Wan. And my encouragement to you would be get ready for the conflict. "Well, I'd rather not". Okay. But whether you'd rather not doesn't mean that you won't be engaged in it. I mean people say, "I just don't believe in the devil and unclean spirits, and curses, and I just don't like to think about it, I just don't believe in it".
As if not believing in it removes you from the realm of existence. I'd be like saying, "I don't believe in debt". And taking every credit card you could get your hands on and running it up to its limit. You could believe you weren't in debt all the way to bankruptcy. And then you get introduced to debt in a very believable way. And we've had that same kind of silly nonsense in our language about spiritual things. It's a season of conflict. So we define some terms and objectives because I think it's helpful. Power is about ability, what you can do. And we've already established the premise that God is all powerful. He can do anything. He can make us out of dust. He can stop us at any moment, our next breath is a gift. He causes the sun to come up. But you should know we're not the first generation to question him.
The Bible is filled with people that said they weren't really sure about God. You think the Big Bang theory or whatever the latest theory that tried to replace God, do you think it's new? Job tried that, and God rolled in and said, "Well, just a minute. You're so smart, let's talk about these things. Where were you when I laid the foundation of this place? Where were you when I put the stars in place, when I set the earth on its orbit? Explain it to me, if you understand these things". So the 21st century with our people with lots of letters at the end of their name saying, "You know, I don't believe in God as the Creator of heaven and earth".
Folks, that's not the new thing. That is so old. Job's, the oldest book of the Bible, and it goes back to that. And if you wanna get ahead of Job, you go back to the garden, and Satan rolled up and said, "Did God really say"? And that same voice goes off in my head and yours, "Did God really say? Do you think God really meant"? "Yeah, I really do". He is all powerful. Now, here's the part that completely just, it's beyond comprehension. There is an all-powerful, all-knowing God. The Bible makes no attempt to explain this next idea. He loves you. He knows everything about you. He knows the things about you that if they got put on the screens at church, you'd never come back. Just look at the carpet, don't look around, just look at the carpet. He knows all of those things and he loves you. There's no explanation in scripture. It's the most remarkable thing. It will help you a great deal to spend time thinking about an all-powerful God.
Now, that little voice will roll into your head. "Well, if God's so all powerful, why did somebody take your parking place at church"? Because we're all spoiled kids. And even though your children, if you still have small children, that when you don't do what they want, they think you hate them. Because if you love them, you would let them do whatever they wanted. You're being mean, you're being punitive, you don't understand, you're being stubborn. You're withholding good things that they're quite confident they deserve. And then you assert these crazy ideas like you know best. How annoying is it when you get that sense sometimes that God is saying, "I know better". He loves you, there's an all-powerful God that cares about you. You need to think about that more. And then faith, a lot of discussions. Faith is simply the conductor of God's power. That's how you take God's power from being theoretical to being experienced in your life. Without faith, you cannot please God.
So you should think about how to develop more faith. God gives all of us a measure of faith, but the Bible says faith can grow, it can be diminished, it can be small or great. It's worth thinking about how to let your faith grow. Not for selfish purposes, nonsense. It's a false gospel. The purpose of faith is to help us fulfill God's will for our journey under the sun. And then authority. Authority is the demonstration of God's power. We desperately need a church in the earth that is filled with the authority of Almighty God. That supersedes all other expressions of power. Political power, economic power, military power, I'm not saying they aren't real, but there's a greater power and it needs to be expressed through the church of Jesus Christ in the Earth with that demonstration of his authority. "Silver and gold, I don't have, but you could walk today".
Now let's take just a moment. I'm about done, there's hope. With this idea of power versus all powerful 'cause it's a significant adjustment. In Amos, one of the minor prophets. Minor just simply because it's a smaller book. It says, "He who forms the mountains and creates the wind and reveals his thoughts to man," I love that collection of ideas. The same God that formed the mountains and creates the wind, reveals his thoughts to people. Do you know God is willing to share his thoughts with you? "He who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth, the Lord God Almighty is his name". The Lord God all powerful. Nothing's too difficult for him, nothing's too difficult for him.
Now, some prefer the New Testament. So Revelation 1 and verse 8, "'I'm the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God. 'The one who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.'" When God steps back into time, he will be demonstrating that he is the all-powerful God. Be an early adapter, be an early adopter. Now then in a startling presentation of scripture, God says he gives us power. In 2 Samuel 5, it says of David that he became more and more powerful. Because he was a brilliant politician. Oh, I'm sorry. Because the Lord God Almighty was with him. You want a life goal? I like goals. I always enjoyed the beginning of a semester 'cause I wasn't behind. And you'd get a syllabus and they would... if it was a well done course, you'd know what the objectives were and what was gonna be required, and you could decide how far behind you wanted to get before you started.
But have you ever thought of living with the objective that it could be said that the Lord God Almighty was with you? Could you be such a person? Could you make decisions? Could you work on a character? Could you engage in things that God would be willing to say, "I'd go with you on that". See, I'm not particularly complex, and it, for me, I found if God is doing something, I'll just raise my hand, going, "I'll help". Could I be a part of that? What would that look like? It's probably gonna take some energy and some effort, you're gonna have to disrupt your routine.
Oftentimes it costs something. I mean, like monetarily. And all of those things, you know, initially looked like a sacrifice, but I have discovered something in my life that if you'll engage, if you can recognize God is doing something, blessing something, that he's about something, if you'll go, it doesn't matter if I'm holding the door, if I'm carrying the boxes, I'll do whatever, I just wanna be a part. And whatever the cost is, I'm willing to go do that 'cause what I've discovered is that if you will do that, God is with you. And then it starts to bring outcomes far beyond what you could have imagined. But when you start that, not very many people wanna go with you. No, they're busy, they got hobbies or things they wanna do or things they're interested in, and that doesn't look like fun, and why would you do that? There's not much promise.
Well, it seems to me that God might be doing something here, and I'd like to be a part of that. If he's attaching value to that, "Can I get in line please"? "What are you gonna do"? "It doesn't matter". You can get overlooked, you can get mistreated, you can get pushed aside, you can get a lot of things, but if God is... you keep saying, "You know, I'd be happy. Can I hold the door? I can empty a trash can, I can mow the grass. What do you need? I'm in". And it doesn't always happen. You know, it's not like I did that on Monday, and on Tuesday afternoon, the heavens opened and the bells started ringing. That hasn't been my experience. But somewhere along the journey, you find yourself with outcomes that are completely inexplicable. And you say, "You know, God had to have done that".
So David grew in power because God was with him. Decide to be a person, when people look at your life, and it won't be everybody you meet 'cause not everybody would know if God was standing there. People have lots of agendas and lots of things but you, in the most sincere way, you know. And if you'll do it quietly and with as much humility as you know how to give expression to, don't try to find the parade and run to the front of it and say, "Look what I did". Clean up behind it. Go pick up the trash at the end of the parade because if God is with you, there's no ceiling. It's amazing because he's all powerful. Life doesn't have to be so complicated, folks. We get impatient, and that voice starts up in your head and it says you're wasting your life and the years are slipping past, and they'll compare you to your peer group or somebody else.
Psalm 68, it says, "You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary, the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God". I'm thinking if you knew the Psalms, you wouldn't attack the women and children of Israel because the all-powerful God gives strength to his people. There'll be some bad days and there'll be some bad chapters, but the outcome's gonna be remarkable. And finally, in Psalm 29, it says, "The Lord gives strength to his people: the Lord blesses his people with peace".
Biblically, peace is not the absence of conflict, Biblically, peace is a tranquility in the midst of things when they can be chaotic. The best example I can think of is Jesus in a boat where the fishermen in the boat where they think they're going to drown because of the storm and the carpenter's asleep. They have to wake him up so he can be awake to drown. It's a picture of peace. 'Cause when they finally wake him up and he said, "Why'd you...you bothered me for what? Waves? Wind? Be quiet". And it got quiet.
Can you see the fisherman's faces? "Who is he"? He had an authority, a power they didn't understand. The Lord gives strength to his people, the Lord blesses his people with peace. You don't have to be filled with fear. No matter the diagnosis, no matter the economy, no matter the threat, no matter the discomfort. I'm not saying this is easy, I'm telling you there's a pathway to something better, and it's rooted in the strength of an all-powerful God. You stand with me for a prayer. If you're at home, you can stand with us right there.
Now, the circumstances of your life are not unknown in heaven. So what if we use this prayer as an expression of faith and acknowledge our conviction that through the redemptive work of Jesus, God is both able and willing to intervene on our behalf. I've learned that I'm better off to let him bring his solution. I'm really guilty of getting my solution in mind, and then I'm mad at God when he doesn't adopt my solution and I've wasted a lot on that. But I believe, what our faith says is that we believe you are able and we wanna invite your solution. And then let's watch what God does because God is with you, amen? Let's pray:
Father, thank you for your Word, for its truth and power and authority. I thank you for your great love for us, that you sent your Son. And Lord Jesus, I thank you for your faithfulness, that you endured the cross, that you scorned its shame that we might be free, that we might be made righteous, that we might be justified, that we could be sanctified, that we might spend our days under the sun serving you. And we come now to offer ourselves before you as living sacrifices. Where there's no detail hidden, you know the needs that we have. And I thank you that through the blood of Jesus we have life in our bodies and peace in our hearts and hope in our souls that you're the author and the completer of our story. That when we have written chapters that have brought destruction, that you'll write chapters that are for your glory and for your honor. I praise you for it tonight. May the peace of God grow within each of us. May a confidence in Almighty God grow within each of us. Holy Spirit, help us. May we be more aware of your abiding presence than the presence of any threat or any challenge or any need. I praise you for it. As we've received the bread and the cup tonight, we receive your life into our lives and we praise you, that greater is the spirit that is within us than everything arrayed against us, that in Christ Jesus, we are triumphant, that we have been delivered from this present evil age, and that we have a hope for the age to come. In Jesus's name, amen.