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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Buy The Truth - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Buy The Truth - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Buy The Truth - Part 2

It's a privilege to be with you today. We're talking about buying the truth, attaching value to the truth, being willing to exchange time, energy, and effort in order to know what is true. We've lived through a season of tremendous deception. It seemed to me it escalated with that virus from Wuhan, but it's continued today, even into the church. Let's determine to value the truth and see what God will bring, the freedom he will bring to us. Enjoy the lesson.

Now, I wanna take the minutes we have left, I have a few, and look at some familiar passages of scripture. But they highlight for us the nature, the context, of what it means to submit to God's truth. Because when we talk about it in a setting like this, we tend to make it sound like it's easy. And in my life experience, it isn't. Every time I've come to a significant juncture where I had an imagination, God was inviting me toward something, I have been beyond reluctant. It's been frightening to me. It's been unsettling to me. It's been uncertain to me. It was typically a bit counterintuitive. It went against what the majority of my peer group was doing. And there weren't as many voices going, "Oh, that would be the thing to do". And so I was reluctant, hesitant, hoping for an off ramp.

Now, you may have never felt that way, but to imagine that saying yes to the Lord at significant junctures in your life, whether it's about moral choices or integrity or life choices or how you're gonna spend your time or what you're gonna give yourself to or what your objectives are going to be... I haven't found that following the Lord and embracing his truth is always easy. Now, I can tell you after the fact, after I've lived through it and overcome and whatever, I'm grateful for it. I don't regret any of those choices. But I will tell you that, in the moment, I have done it with anxiety and concern and a good bit of uncertainty. In Luke chapter 1, it's a very familiar narrative. It's the conclusion of Mary's conversation with the angel that came to announce she had been chosen for a bit of God's activity in the earth. I mean, I think that'd be wonderful if God tagged you for something. You know he has? Every one of us. Created with a kingdom assignment.

"But not the one I wanted". I'm sorry. You're confused. You're not the creator. I've struggled with that a bit myself. I thought I should have been a professional athlete. There were just some things missing, like athletic ability. You know, that's kind of frustrating. I thought the lifestyle looked pretty good. I liked crowds of people that applauded when you did something well. If you got hot, somebody handed you a towel. If you were thirsty, somebody handed you a beverage. I thought, "That's not a bad life". I was just missing. I was slow, and I couldn't jump. There just wasn't anything going to, and I thought, "Surely, God, you're confused. I need a miracle. I need to grow taller or faster or more muscle or less fat. I need something, God".

And you know, God has created every one of us with a life assignment. And many of us spend a great deal of our lives trying to convince God we have a better plan than his. Mary's interaction with the angel. The angel's already told her she's going to conceive and give birth to a son, and Mary says, "How can this be? I'm a virgin". That's a legitimate question. I mean, that's a pretty perplexing question. She's a teenager, but, for any of us, "The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.'" Well, that clears it up. "'So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a child in her old age, and she who is said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.'" And Mary answered, one of the most improbable statements in all of the Bible to me, "'I'm the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said.' And the angel left her".

I have no way of understanding how Mary arrived at that answer. Can I talk to my parents? Do you know Joseph? There's just a litany of things that she could have said. But Mary is prepared, and that's what I really, I would invite you to consider with me for just a moment that Mary is prepared for this moment, not for the magnitude of what's been handed to her, not for the significance of the miracle, not for trying to understand the virgin birth, but Mary has lived a life, she's made life choices that has enabled her to receive that invitation. So I would ask you a question. Are you living in such a way that you're prepared to receive an invitation from the Lord? Or would it require a miracle of preparation just before you could even receive the invitation?

See, I don't believe Mary understood what her life assignment was going to be prior to that angelic visit, but she'd been making choices that put her in a place to be prepared. And even though it seems like an intrusion of truth in her life, I mean her wedding plans are going to get shredded, her reputation is going to get trashed, I mean there's a whole lot of things that are going to happen. It seems like truth has just crashed over her life. But in reality, I believe Mary's been living to honor the Lord. And God presents her with the next step, not the next step she imagined. She would have probably content with a happy marriage and a healthy family. And God said, "I have something more for you". And my journey with the Lord would suggest that, if you will make your choices to honor the Lord, God will continue to invite you into places. You're going, "Oh, I don't know".

Not often because they feel significant. If you will do the insignificant things as if you're doing them on behalf of the Lord when nobody's watching, if you'll do them with determination and excellence and focus, whatever your life assignment may be these days, you may be taking care of little children. You may have a job that feels like drudgery to provide for your family. You may be working for somebody that is disrespectful and demeaning and belittling. I don't know, not every assignment always looks just as if it's packaged in a godly way. But if you will take those assignments and offer them to the Lord, I have experienced God's transformation along the journey.

Now, it doesn't happen in a moment. In fact, in the midst of those things, they seem long to me, too difficult, too arduous. God should have responded more quickly. Yet when I look back on them in my life, I recognize they were far more brief than they felt like to me in the moment. Mary was prepared, and she chose the truth for her life, God's truth for her. It was disruptive, it was annoying, it was frightening. She had to leave town. Doesn't stop there. Luke chapter 2, after Jesus is born, we scroll forward a few months. This intrigues me. "On the eighth day", they've taken the baby to the temple to be circumcised. "On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus". And Luke gives it so nonchalantly, he said, it's "the name the angel had given him before he'd been conceived". Oh! Oh, yeah! Nine months ago, too much pizza, had that goofy dream, something about saving the world.

Now I've got a baby boy, a lot of family pressure. He's gonna be Joseph IV. His name is Jesus 'cause the angel said to name him Jesus. You see, choosing the truth in our lives is not a singular event. I do not like the way we have packaged Christianity, around an altar call and a dip in a pool and then no more God decisions. I believe in conversion, salvation, the new birth, however you choose to label that initiation into the kingdom of God, it's real, it's necessary. But it is not the culmination of your decisions for the Lord. It's not the culmination, it's not the last time you're gonna need to say yes to the Lord. In fact, it's one of the easier times. Because that time usually comes with the help of the Holy Spirit, and there's a sense of conviction and an awareness of your need for God's help. God will ask you to say yes to him as you progress through the journey, in times when you're far less aware you need his help.

Mary and Joseph said, "His name is Jesus. The angel told us his name was Jesus. Name him Jesus". They're in careful obedience to the direction they had received. How are we doing with that? Do you think an angelic visit is easier to be obedient to than the Word of God? Why would you think that? But it doesn't stop there. In the same chapter, while Mary and Joseph have gone to the temple, it says, "Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout, and he was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts".

Just a moment ago, we read in John's gospel where Jesus made some statements to us about the Holy Spirit. He said he would guide us into all truth, that he would make known to us what we needed to know. Remember that? This is Luke's Gospel, different author. And this is baby Jesus, but Jesus understood the person and the work of the Holy Spirit, and it says that Simeon, "the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Spirit of God," and on this particular day he was "moved by the Spirit to go into the temple courts. When the parents brought the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God".

I assure you there were many children being presented that day in the temple. Mary and Joseph weren't alone with Jesus. We do baby dedications. They line up around here like it's a sport. I think some of them rent babies just because they like the food that goes with baby dedication. There were many young couples there presenting their sons to the priest in obedience to the law, but Simeon recognized Jesus. He took him in his arms and said, "'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.'"

He's got all that to say about a baby? Do you know how many baby pictures I've been shown in my life? New parents, new grandparents, been invited to the hospital. I've seen lots of those little rascals. Do you know what a baby looks like? A baby. Unless it's your grandchild. And then it's the most beautiful, intelligent, gifted child that has ever drawn a breath. Can't you tell? It's a baby. And Simeon is in the temple, and Mary and Joseph present Jesus, and he has this to say about him. That's not the result of intuition. He's being directed by the Spirit of God to the truth that is in front of him. The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. They didn't have this imagination yet.

"Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, 'The child is destined to cause the failing and the rising of many in Israel, to be a sign that will be spoken against.'" See, I doubt Mary understood that yet. The Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of his people? And God's preparing her, he'll be spoken against. "'So the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And the sword will pierce your own soul too.'" Luke tells us that Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, that the Holy Spirit was upon him, that he was revealed to him by the Spirit of God, that directed, moved by the Spirit. Shorthand, the cliff notes: Simeon recognized, understood what many others present did not. And I believe the key to understanding how that happens is he was already submitted to God's truth.

We've got a couple of minutes left. I wanna close with just a note of caution. Jesus is speaking, and he gives us a cautionary note. I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that the people who embrace the truth are gonna be in a minority position. That there'll be louder voices and more frequent voices that embrace deception. There'll be people choosing the truth. The truth will be made apparent. It will be clear enough if you're willing to see it. But the majority of the people in the temple when they brought Jesus didn't recognize him as being unique, he was just another baby, another boy. And I have a feeling that, in our generation, those patterns are gonna hold, that if you're gonna be aware of what God is doing, you're gonna have to value the truth. We have valued going to church. We have defined ourselves as Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or agnostic or new age or whatever label that we chose, but we haven't really thought beyond that much about truly being individuals yielded to the truth of God. After all, you're almost mocked for that in the current culture.

If you dare to say in public you believe there's objective truth, that right and wrong can be known and it's not all subjective, you're narrow-minded, a little judgy. Nevertheless, I would encourage you to yield to God's truth in your life. Not in my opinion, get your Bible out, sort it out for yourself. But don't set aside what God says because of what you think or you feel. I always smile. People say, "You know, I know what the Bible says, but let me tell you what I think". Oh, I got up this morning hoping I could find that out. Well, Jesus gives us a little counsel. It's really a note of caution, I believe. He says, "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man".

There's a lot we could say about that, but in the days of Noah, ultimately there were only eight people going to find deliverance. So it's a minority position. And Jesus said it's going to be like that before he returns. "People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. And the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot". And again, Lot and his family, immediate family, were the only ones that escaped the destruction that came to their home. Community, it's a minority response. "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all". The scenario is repeated in Matthew's Gospel, they're parallel passages.

In Matthew's Gospel, it repeats the description of Noah's generation. Matthew left out Lot's generation. But there's four pairs of behavior that Jesus described as being prevalent. He said people will be eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, buying and selling, planting and building. I think it's worth noting that the behaviors Jesus identified, they're not immoral or wicked. None of the things Jesus described would have explained the judgment of God that came to those generations. Now, we have larger biblical context. We know in Noah's day that it says that the hearts of men was constantly evil. But that's not what Jesus is drawing our attention to. He didn't point out the ungodliness of Noah's day or the immorality of Lot's day. The behaviors he describes are perfectly normal behaviors, behaviors you could be completely engaged in and fulfill the purposes of God in your life.

Nothing inappropriate about eating or drinking, marrying or being given in marriage, buying or selling, planting or building. The characteristic of both of those generations was God's purposes were given just almost no consideration whatsoever. In both cases, in both Noah's generation and Lot's generation, the overwhelming majority of the people were completely blind to the purposes of God and, in their cases, his imminent judgment. They had no awareness of the things of God, a complete lack of the circumstances. They were busy with things, and they're not listed as being ungodly or immoral or wicked or blatantly something wrong. They were just so busy buying and selling, planning weddings, looking for someone to marry, making a profit on the next deal.

The things of God had little relevance for them. I think it's a challenge we face uniquely. I think it's very easily connected to that condition of being lukewarm. Because if you imagine that you could negotiate your future successfully, adequately, without the help of God, there's very little motivation to be passionately yielded to the Lordship of Jesus. Because after all, we could probably work this out. I don't want to declare myself Buddhist. I don't want to reject God. I'll go to church when there's time or there's not a better option. I'm happy to be identified as a Christian. I don't want to be one of those fanatical versions. I mean, you don't want me to like raise my hands or be emotional or (what are you gonna ask me to do?) give money. I don't want to be one of those, but I'm okay being a Christian, but I'm not really dependent on it because after all I've got a pretty good education, and I got a good start, and we began to craft all the reasons why we don't really have to be dependent upon the truth of God.

And I think it's a very easy step from there to be completely overwhelmed by the deception. And I think we find ourselves in that place today: where Christians are so addled we don't have the courage to stand up to be a voice for the unborn. We're far more comfortable talking about choices, or to be completely honest, we're just quiet. The truth is abortion has touched all of our lives directly or indirectly, so it's a little inconvenient to talk about it. And because we have accepted it as a suitable solution at some point for someone that we knew, we don't have much courage or moral authority to say anything about anybody else, so we're quiet while thousands of more children's lives are ended. See, I think we're gonna have to make a decision. Whether we're gonna honor the Lord and be obedient to him, or whether we will be overwhelmed by the deception. The middle is going away.

I mean, right now there's tremendous pressure on the middle class. If the authoritarian power brokers that are trying to manipulate what's happening are successful, the middle class is finished. The notion of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people today seems rather quaint. But far more importantly, we have to decide if we're going to submit to the authority of God, or we'll just imagine that we're churched. I know I'm preaching to the choir. You're in church in a midweek service or you're watching this service at your own leisure. You could be watching a thousand other things, and you choose to listen to a hillbilly preacher from Tennessee that grew up in a barn. So I'm very aware I'm preaching to the choir, but it's still important that the choir understands why we gather together, because the message that we have to deliver is important for the world in which we live.

And I wanna encourage you to continue to submit to the truth of God as you know it, in humility, with determination, careful. And most of us have been thoroughly coached on passwords and all sorts of necessary things to live in a digital world, and you understand your password is case sensitive, that you can't just type in a close approximation. I mean, "I don't remember exactly what it is, but I kinda know what it should be". That does not work well. And we've treated God with a sloppiness that's embarrassing. I don't have to be really obedient, I just, my intent. I kinda meant to be godly, but, you know, that's not easy. Well, all of us makes mistakes, and all of us fail, but when you find that's happened, we have to humble ourselves and repent and clean it up, and change our behavior. Buy the truth. It's the most valuable thing that is available to you. Everything that can be shaken will be. But the truth of God will stand.

I brought you a prayer. I want to close with a prayer with you. Why don't you stand with me for this? It would be a great devotional for you for the next few days, or at least be an option for a devotional for you for the next few days. Let's read it together:

Almighty God, I choose to align myself with your truth, to yield to you in obedience. Forgive me for my pride and rebellion. Holy Spirit, teach me to walk uprightly. Give me an understanding heart. Deliver me from anything which distracts me from your purposes for my life. May your kingdom come and your will fill the entire earth, in Jesus's name, amen.

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