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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Family, Fathers, And Faith - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Family, Fathers, And Faith - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Family, Fathers, And Faith - Part 1

So how do we gain spiritual strength? I built this list really thinking of the most practical things I could that you could incorporate into your life and your home, I think they belong in your home and your practice. I was reluctant because I don't want to add burdens to parents, it's a difficult assignment, and you don't need somebody wagging their fingers saying, "You should do this". But if you want to accelerate the spiritual growth in your home, these practices will help you. Some of them you know as public parts of worship, but they're appropriate in your home, in your circle of friends, in your discretionary time when you get, if you'll get together with your friends and do ungodly things, why is it you won't get together with your friends and do godly things?

So, some of these, there's a list of seven, you don't have them all because I knew I wasn't gonna get to them all, I did the first couple in the previous session, but I just wanna tag them for you. You can go back and hear the fuller explanations, if you want to, all of the previous sessions are posted someplace, on your wall or your board, I don't know where they are. They're in the cloud. The first was communion, the celebration of the Lord's Supper. And I gave you a verse of Scripture because, if you're not familiar with this in a private setting, it feels pretty intimidating and you want a biblical basis to begin that.

If I were going to celebrate communion in my home or with a group of friends, I would wanna read a Scripture, and so I gave you the biblical passage that grounds it, it's what Paul shared with his friends in Corinth when he was redirecting their behavior. They'd gotten into some trouble on how they celebrated communion, and so he was giving them kind of a corrective and he gave them the theological background for it in that passage I gave you in 1 Corinthians 11. I'm not gonna read it to you, but you can take communion in your home with your family, you can take it with your extended family at a holiday, you can take it with your friends on a vacation, and say, "We're taking a few days away from our routine, let's invite God into the midst of this time away, that we might know him better". I would submit to you that's every bit as important as whatever you're going to experience or see or enjoy. It's not like we're taking a vacation from God.

You see, we treat worship and church and God almost like it's like a vitamin, you don't want too much of it, too much of it wouldn't be good for you. I mean, we've absorbed that from our culture, it'll talk about toxic religion. And yeah, you can make things toxic, but God is not toxic, and you don't want seasons of your life where you're away from him, you don't wanna coach your children to that. Your children will learn far more about what they observe from you than what you tell them. So communion in that private setting is important, with your friends is important. "Well, I've got a friend who's coming who's not a Christian". Gee, what it would be if they got exposed to six or eight people that thought Jesus was real enough that they brought their faith into their private life. "I've never done that before".

I know, it's why we're talking about it. "Well, at church you always have these handy-dandy little communion things. We either have trays with little cups that Jesus blessed, or we have little wafers with crosses stamped in them. Do I have to have the special wafer and the special cup"? No, I don't believe you do. We typically take communion with unleavened bread, which means there was no yeast in it, looks like a cracker. "Do you have to receive communion with unleavened bread"? No, you don't biblically. Leaven, in Scripture, Jesus warned the disciples to, "Beware the leaven of the Pharisees," so unleavened bread is typically a symbol of purity or holiness or cleanliness, but it's not a requirement to take communion with unleavened bread. If I were gonna take communion in a private setting, maybe a saltine cracker, if I could choose, I would use a cracker and some sort of grape juice, but it's not a requirement.

We're gonna take communion before we leave today, and I'll invite our online friends to go grab whatever they can put their hands on, a slice of Wonder Bread and a cup of milk. In fact, I met a person's family this week, they said they lived in California, they said, "We take communion with you at church," and they said, "We were never ready, you only give us about 30 seconds". So she brought me this little bag and she said, "We use these little mini Vanilla Oreos". And she said, "Now we keep a stash where we watch service, so if you decide on a wild idea to have communion, we're ready". I don't want you to intentionally be disrespectful, but I want you to take your faith outside the church. Dad, you can have communion, you can preside over communions. Moms, you can too, but men are often more reluctant. "Well, what if we do it wrong"?

Let me help you, you mean what if you try to honor the Lord and you don't get it just right? Don't be disrespectful, don't treat it flippantly, turn off the football game while you're doing it, sit down, focus everybody on the moment, honor the Lord, invite him into your home. I don't believe that's displeasing to the Lord. It would be more displeasing, in my opinion, to submit to you that you needed to have my authority in order to have communion than it would be for me to commission you. There's a second thing we talked about in a previous session, and again, I won't belabor it, but I want to invite you towards it, you can go back and hear the details. That's anointing, taking oil and praying for one another or for something. Oil, in Scripture, is a type of the Holy Spirit, "type" meaning "a symbol of".

And so, anointing something with oil is an invitation for the Spirit of God to be present in that life or to use something for the purposes of God. And both are very much a part of Scripture, the anointing of people and the anointing of inanimate objects, things. When they built the temple, when they built the Tabernacle, when Moses gave them instructions for the Tabernacle, there was very clear instructions that they were to anoint all of the articles that were used in the Tabernacle, the tables and the tools and the altars and all of those things, because they wanted the presence of God to be there. So, if I were moving into a new apartment or a new house or a new place or a new dorm room, I think it's most appropriate, I would anoint that place. "Well, how would you do that"? Well, if it were me, I would just anoint the door and say, "God, let this be a place where your presence is welcome".

Now, if you'll allow me, I wouldn't post it on social media. "Well, why not? I want all of my friends to know I'm a Christian". It may be my personality, but when I'm doing my best to honor the Lord, I do my best not to draw unnecessary attention to it. If I'm gonna pray for the office where I work, I don't stand on my desk and swing a chicken over my head. Nor do I post a prayer and says, "This was the prayer I paid for all the Pagans where I work today". There's a time to make your faith public, but I think there's a time to have some wisdom in how you do it. Parents, I would anoint my kids. If it's the beginning of a school year, maybe you anoint them and say, "God, let it be a year unique with your blessings. We wanna invite you into the beginning of this year".

We give you anointing oil around here from time to time, It hadn't been too long since we gave you some. I don't think our latest version was this one, this one says, "Jesus is Lord". And to be completely honest, this is chapstick, we buy it and we repurpose it, because a little bottle of oil in your pocket or your purse is more problematic. One mom came and told me that she caught her kids early, young, one of them wasn't well, and so the other one came back in, she said, "I got the chapstick from church. I'm gonna pray for you". The kids get it. You know, if you've never done that, if that is so foreign to you, I just take a little bit, usually I'll just make the sign of a cross on somebody's forehead. One, if I'm praying for somebody I don't know, that's a safe place for me to get involved. You can do it on the back of their hand if that's safer. But you wanna invite the presence of the Lord into those places, into any of those significant beginnings in your life.

What part of your life do you not want to invite the Lord into? You don't have to be weird about it. Begin. As fathers, in our homes, in the midst of our faith, it's got to get out of this building, we do. I know the verse in James, "If you're sick, call the elders of the church". The word for "elder," you know, we have to decide if we're interested in titles and labels or we're interested in function. We've gotten way heated up about titles. I'm far more interested in the function. An elder really just means someone with a bit of experience, so if there's someone you know that's prayed for somebody else and you've got a need, let them pray for you. I know people with titles that have very little real-world understanding. You've all known somebody with a title and nobody's following them.

We're talking about things to strengthen, now, to bring spiritual strength into your life, into your home, and they are things that will flourish outside the church. This one's serving. In Matthew 23, Jesus said, "The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted". The implication is that serving carries with it some sense of humility, it's not pride-based, it's not self-promoting, it's not about achievement. Jesus said, "If you intend to be significant in the kingdom of God, you're gonna have to be a servant". I'm not recruiting for anything today, you're safe, today. But I'm telling you, if this is not a part of your life practice, you are forfeiting significance in the kingdom of God. Say, "Well, I don't like it". Okay, do it anyway.

Now, there's many ways to serve. One of the phrases that's become a part of this discussion in our kind of a world is "servant leader". I think it's a good idea. The best definition I ever heard wasn't mine, I borrowed it from Ken Blanchard, he said, "A servant leader isn't someone who gets coffee for everybody, but is someone who's willing to get coffee for anyone". Amen. And it just simply, it's more about an attitude of the heart, it cultivates humility, and if you'll allow me, I don't believe we ever become too mature in the Lord, too experienced, too grown up that we no longer need to serve. In Matthew 20, Jesus again, he said, "With you, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant".

Now I don't know about you, but I will tell you, I want to be significant in the kingdom of God. I don't mean stadiums-filled-with-people significant, I don't mean great-resume-over whatever, I mean like when the angel came to Daniel and said, "Daniel, you are highly esteemed by God". He's a slave in a foreign country, he's most probably a eunuch, everything about his life speaks to defeat and oppression, and when the angel comes, he said, "In the halls of heaven, you are held in high esteem". I don't suppose that I'm gonna attain Daniel's status, but I intend to live my life in such a way that it's valued in the kingdom of God and I would encourage you to do the same. And, spoiler alert, sitting in church is probably not gonna raise that value, it's who we are when we leave here, so service becomes a part of this equation. And Jesus goes on, "Whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many".

So, maturity, significance in the kingdom of God is not about entitlement. Now, I will grant you, there are times and places where we have to be willing to lead and we have to make decisions, but in my own life, I see to it that on a regular basis I still engage with small groups of people to listen and talk. I will purposefully do that, I will engage in activities that I don't have to engage in, I choose to be a part of them, because I want that in my practice and my routine and my habit, and I hope you do too. If you have young children at home, let them know that you do that, let them hear you do that with joy and enthusiasm. There's a difference in serving God than just being a community servant. Don't muddy it for them. I believe in serving a community, I do that as well, but it's very important to me that I be engaged in serving the people of God, and I would encourage you to cultivate that in your life. We are servants of the Lord.

If Jesus understood his role is to be a servant, not to claim privilege, not to claim honor, not to claim uniqueness, but to demonstrate the characteristics of his heavenly Father and of the kingdom he represented to the people, then just perchance, you and I as Christ followers should practice being servants. The only way to serve isn't in an assignment from the church, I'm not suggesting that to you, but I can tell you, we work hard to create some places with a little structure around them, so, with minimal effort, you can come in, serve, and get the victory lap. We will work together, it's a part of our commitment, as a community of faith to create engagement points where people that have never exercised that muscle can do it with some pretty minimal commitment. But I hope you don't stay at minimal commitments, that you will grow as a result of that.

Serving the Lord. I don't think you can make an argument that you serve the Lord if you don't serve his people. The way I know to serve the Lord is to serve his people. It's not theoretical to me. I've given my strength to that. Again, it's the pathway to significance in the kingdom of God. If you wanna gain spiritual strength, you want to begin to serve. We want to take the practices of our faith and give expression to them in our lives. Go into the marketplace, go into where you work, and without telling anybody what you're doing, find a way to give an expression of service. Wash the coffee mug, clean the pot, empty a trash can, put paper in the copier, don't fight for the best parking place, be early for a meeting, act like your time is not more valuable than everybody else's time. Don't announce it, don't sell it, just leave it between you and the Lord, but begin to serve in that place at home.

Let your children participate with you in expressions of service, tell them why. Don't announce it, let them see it become a part of the fabric of your life. Folks, we have not been living our faith. We need a grassroots change. We are so determined that somebody will go to the White House and be different. Until we go to our house and be different, the White House isn't gonna change. Now, God will help us if we're willing. I want to close with communion. My time is up again, I'm not doing well with time management. I'm going to do those seven things. If you listen Wednesday, we're going to jet through those. "Oh, ye of little faith". We want to close with communion. As you came in, the ushers were in the building, if you're in the building anywhere, they were giving out communion. If you missed that, they're in the aisles.

If you're at home, you can go grab your Oreo or a piece of Wonder Bread or a cracker where you've got a little bit of a moment. Communion is not a religious ritual, communion is a way for us to have a tangible connection to Jesus's redemptive work. That's kind of fancy words for his death, his burial, and his resurrection. That's what changed everything for us. It's what makes Christianity unique. It's why there are not many paths to God. It's why every religion is not the same. We believe Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, that he lived a sinless, obedient life, and that he offered himself as a sacrifice on a Roman cross, and that God placed upon him all of the judgment that was due by divine justice our, my ungodliness, so that I and you, in turn, might receive all of the blessings that were due, his perfect obedience.

The Buddha did not do that. Muhammad did not do that. In the Hindu faith, there's no suggestion that anyone did that. Christianity is unique and it's centered in the person of Jesus. And in communion, we come, Jesus himself put this in place, referred to it as his body and his blood. So, we bring it as a part of our corporate worship on a regular basis so that we could address whatever has emerged in our lives, our need for forgiveness. If you're not in the habit on a regular basis of cleaning your accounts, you need to be, don't wait for me to do a communion service for you to pause and say, "Father, forgive me, for I have sinned". It's a really good daily habit to get clean on a daily basis. "Lord, if there was... wherever in my day today that I was inappropriate with others or with you, I am sorry. Forgive me".

But if you come to the communion table and you need forgiveness, by all means, repent and ask the Lord. If you need to forgive others, do not walk away from the communion table with anger and bitterness and hatred. And if you come to the communion table and you've been blessing wickedness, you need to get it sorted out, because if you were blessing it and cooperating with it, it's a part of you. It may be healing, it may be peace, it may be a family, it may be worry and anxiety, but in that divine exchange is an invitation for every one of us. That's the reason we give it time and space in a public setting. So now, as disciples of the Lord, we're gonna come to the communion table. Jesus initiated this. It was the night he's to be arrested.

Early in that evening, he has a Passover meal with his friends, before he's gone to Gethsemane. And at the end of that meal, he took bread and he broke it, and said, "This bread is my body, broken for you. As often as you eat this, do this in remembrance of me". At that point, he hadn't been to the cross yet, but within a few hours, the import of that event with Jesus and his friends became far more significant to them, and it's become a part of the church ever since. So we, this morning, as disciples of Jesus, come to receive that bread, his body, broken for us. Let's receive together. Then he took a cup, and he said, "This cup is a new covenant," plain language, a whole new contract. "And this one is sealed by my blood," he said. "As often as you drink it, you proclaim my death until you see me again". Let's receive together. Now, if you'll stand with me, I'd like to say a prayer with you.

Father, I thank you for the great honor we have today of gathering in your presence. I thank you for your people and the significance they hold in your sight, Lord, for the great honor of coming to the table to receive the bread and the cup, I thank you for that freedom and that liberty today, Lord Jesus, for your sacrifice on our behalf, for what you suffered and endured, for your willingness to serve, that we might be free, and we come before you today to humble ourselves. In those places where we need forgiveness, we come with repented hearts to acknowledge our shortcomings and our failures, our inadequacies. Forgive us. Lord, there are those we need to forgive today, we release them, we cancel those obligations that we have held, we set them free.

There are those of us who need healing, and we ask you to strengthen our mortal bodies, do what doctors cannot, bring life to us and health to us and vitality to us. Some are tormented by anxiety and fear, I pray for deliverance today, that freedom would come, that peace of mind would come. Lord, whatever the needs, nothing is hidden from you, we lift them before you today. I thank you that through the blood of Jesus we have been delivered out of the hands of the enemy, that all of Satan's claims against us have been canceled, that through the blood of Jesus we have been justified and sanctified, set apart for the purposes of God. We praise you for it today. Lord, we receive, as we stand in your presence, we receive your life and your forgiveness and your health and your power and your hope. We rejoice in it, we thank you for it, we give you glory and honor. May the name of Jesus be exalted in this generation, may your kingdom be extended, we praise you for it, in Jesus's name, amen.

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