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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Triumphant Life - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Triumphant Life - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Triumphant Life - Part 1
TOPICS: Triumph, Success

The topic is "Worship, Thanksgiving & Praise". We began this discussion in the previous session. If you have the time to go back and listen, it will add some momentum to what we will do, but in this particular segment, I wanna talk about "A Triumphant Life". And I have a goal, we've been, for the last few times we've been together, I wanna do everything in my power to prepare myself and the people with whom I'm making this journey to live in the fullness of what God has for us. I regret a little bit that we have been coached, trained, I've been a part of that, I've been in the church most of my life now, so that sitting in church is the full expression of what it means to be a child of God.

And I think we have some limited imaginations, particularly when we talk about worship. We call this a worship service, we talk about that when the musicians come out and the vocalists sing, that's worship, and it can be, but it isn't necessarily. In fact, you can come to this building and sit in this room and endure a service and it not really be about worship, I can do that. Our young people oftentimes have worship nights, they call them, and worship may occur, but I think on many occasions it's an evening of Christian music. Worship is not about music or a location or a time in the week, worship is an attitude, and I want to spend some time trying to imagine that with a little more clarity, with some biblical help, because I believe it's a way to open our lives to the presence of God, to allow him to cooperate with us, that we might cooperate with him more fully.

And the reason I think that's important is I think we're going to need his help with what's before us. We've had so much, so much liberty, so much freedom, enough security, so much opportunity, that we thought of God in terms of helping us with eternity, that when our physical lives were done, we wanted a little insurance out there, so we kind of rolled God into the equation and had this imagination that he would help us. But if you haven't noticed, the world is changing and rather dramatically, and I believe that in order to be triumphant, to live triumphantly day to day in our routines and with our families, and for our children and our grandchildren, we're going to need to know how to cooperate with the Lord in a new way.

And so that's really the genesis of this little study. Now we are in the midst of a culture shift, it's really more than culture, we could define it several ways. In my own imagination, we have been a part of this empire that we call the United States, that empire has been in place for 150 years or so. Whether you call it culture or an empire, the reality is it is unraveling, you don't have to be paying close attention to notice that. I don't believe that what we're experiencing quite candidly is reversible without divine intervention.

Now, "With God all things are possible," but left to our normal structures and our normal routines, apart from the sovereign intervention of God, I don't believe what we're witnessing is reversible. I do believe that if we choose God, that he is well able to lead us to something better, so I'm not filled with fear or great anxiety, I carry some concerns for friends and those who aren't awake. Apart from God, we'll continue our descent into violence, chaos, and expressions of demonic darkness. Again, not a big announcement, if you're paying any attention at all, you see them growing day over day. But the reality is, either outcome requires God's people to understand his character, and to depend upon his power and strength.

If we were to see God intervene, and to see his values and our biblical worldview exalted again, that will require God's people to change. If that doesn't happen and we continue in this path of degradation, it will still require God's people to change. The status quo is unacceptable for our future. A time of great change has arrived, the question, it seems to me, is will we change and grow to know the Lord better, and from that, gain stability and hope and greater purpose, or will we simply be swept along by the torrent of rebellion against God, which seems so prevalent? And I'm not pointing fingers outside the windows, folks, it's just as prevalent within the walls of church. I've never seen such a broad capitulation of our historic faith as we're watching within the boundaries of the organized Christian faith these days.

There's a verse in Jeremiah 32:17 that I think is a good beginning point. "Ah, sovereign Lord". Jeremiah is a prophet in Jerusalem when the Babylonians are coming, and this particular passage, from its context, Jeremiah has been thrown in a pit, they don't like his message, they're trying to shut him down. And from that place of confinement, he secures a messenger, and sends with them the resources to buy a piece of property, it's Jeremiah's declaration that although judgment is coming, God is also a God of restoration. And from that rather desperate place in Jeremiah's life, this is his message. "Ah, sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you".

And that's really our beginning point. I want it, to the best of my ability, and it'll take the Spirit of God for every one of us for this to take root, but to get established within us that there is a God, that he created the heaven and the earth, and that nothing is too hard for him. For me, that's the platform, that's that beginning place where worship emanates from. And again, I'm not talking about a time when musicians play and vocalists sing, or when we convene formal services, worship is an attitude that I want to permeate my life throughout the course of my days. I want to awaken in the morning with, "God, thank you for a new day". I want to, when you step outside on these crisp mornings, "Lord, I thank you for that change of season and the privilege of seeing a sunrise again. God, you've been good to me, Lord, I want to bless you".

I want to let something begin to resonate within me that acknowledges God as an integral part of every day, not a few minutes on a Sunday or whenever you gather for worship, not when there's a group of people trying to help elicit some emotion to point your attention towards God and to help you out of the heaviness that often attracts itself to us as we go through our days, to lead a life of worship. Folks, what is before us will require us to know the Lord in a new way. I'm not questioning the authenticity of your faith or the legitimacy of your conversion, I'm not trying to cast any aspersions on our past or to suggest that your parents or your grandparents didn't prepare you adequately. The world is changing, the world is changing, have you noticed? And the question on the table is will we become a people who worship God?

And it isn't about your personality, you know, "I'm an extrovert," or, "I'm an introvert," or, "I'm just not emotional". I'm not asking you to be emotional, although I have an idea, once you see the Lord, you'll find all the emotion you need to respond in an emotional way. We have withheld our emotions because we didn't think we needed God's help that desperately. I've been with people, people who are rather stoic, and oftentimes, when they find that they have a desperate need for God, they find the emotion that goes with that. Revelation chapter 5, I want to spend a few minutes with some scenes from the throne of God. If you looked ahead at the notes, don't panic, I'll quit on time. Our next service is Wednesday, we'll be done in time to clean before then, okay? Maybe.

Revelation 4 and Revelation 5 take place in the throne room of God, it's this majestic scene. We looked at chapter 4 in the earlier session. We're gonna look at chapter 5 a bit, it's the control center of all the universe, it's a remarkable scene. You know there's a God and that he's intimately involved with what's happening in planet Earth, that the ultimate fate of nations isn't determined by governments or the United Nations, or even elections, that Almighty God is sovereign over all. He knows everything, he knows what's hidden in the darkness, he knows the ending at the beginning. It's an amazing thing to be in a relationship. The most remarkable aspect of Scripture to me is that that Almighty God is interested in a relationship with you and me.

You know, you could never know God unless he made himself available to us. He has chosen not only to make himself available, he knows our names, he's interested enough in us to keep up with our hairstyles. Well, at least the number of hairs we're styling. That's remarkable to me, he's not like us. We need a fundamental shift. You see, we tend to think of God in terms of sermon quality or pastoral ability or worship styles or architecture or stuff, and all of those things are okay, I've spent a lot of my time planning and being engaged in those things, but God is not like that, he's a completely different being. He spoke and the world came into existence, and one day you have an appointment with him, and in Revelation 5 we're going to step into his throne room. "I saw at the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll and writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice".

A mighty angel, do you know all angels aren't the same? There are some angels that are mighty angels, some angels are described as being very strong. There'd be no need to describe an angel as mighty if all the angels were mighty. "I haven't thought about that". You should, you want to spend more time thinking about the characteristics of the kingdom of God. "I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to break the seals and to open the scroll?' But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, 'Don't weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. And he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'"

This is the opening scene of chapter 5, we're still in the throne room of God, and John looks and he sees this scene with a mighty angel making announcement, "Who is worthy"? And there's no one in heaven found worthy. It seems to me we're pretty casual with this idea of worthiness in the contemporary church, we've been taught that we've been saved by grace, and I believe that. The grace is unmerited, unearned, undeserved, and I believe that as well. But because of that, we've kind of got some sloppy agape. Agape is the Greek word for God's love. It seems to me we've gotten kind of presumptuous with that, because we've been saved by grace, and we didn't earn it and we didn't deserve it and we never could, then we can live kind of presumptively, and I think that's a mistake.

We wanna lead lives that are worthy of the Lord. We don't earn our way to heaven, it's nonsense, it's impossible. Everything in the earth is the Lord's, so you can't accumulate enough money, power, influence, that you could bribe your way through the gate. But we do wanna choose to live in a way that we are worthy of what has been extended to us in the grace of God. And before you think that's a low bar, I would call your attention to what we just read, that there was no one in heaven worthy to open the scroll, not the mighty angels, not the archangels, not the created beings that surround the throne of God, there wasn't anybody in all of the kingdom of heaven worthy to open the scroll. Do we attach that kind of value to the things of God?

You see, this is where worship will emanate from. When we begin to imagine that God is so valuable, so priceless, so beyond us, that the opportunity to turn our attention to him, to direct our voice to him, to imagine even the remotest possibility that we might gain access to his presence, we would do whatever was necessary to be included amongst those people. That's not the attitude we've had towards worship. We judge music styles, we evaluate presentation or wardrobe, whether it went too long or it was too short, whether we liked the song or we didn't, and we think that's worship. Folks, we have missed the invitation, we desperately need the help of God, and to do that, there's some recalibration that's available to us. No one was found worthy, not the angels, not the archangels, until the Lion of the tribe of Judah emerged.

Great deal of hatred being expressed towards the Jewish people these days, some very powerful, very influential, very wealthy people have some rather harsh things to say about the Jewish people in the land of Israel. It's worth noting, at least in passing, that in Revelation 5, the only one worthy to open the scroll, the only one with the credentials, the status in the heavenly kingdom, is identified as, "The Lion of the tribe of Judah". It's from the tribe of Judah we get the word "Jew," that our Lord and King, the Creator of all, the Judge of all the earth identifies himself to us in the last book of the New Testament as a Jewish man. I would encourage you to make peace with the Jewish people, we owe them a tremendous debt.

Let's read on. Verse 6, "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if he'd been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he came and he took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne". It's the book of Revelation, so there's a lot of room for opinion, I'm gonna try to stay on the high ground for today's discussion at least. When John looks to see the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he's shocked. We all understand what we would expect to see with a Lion, but when he looks, he sees a Lamb that appears as if it's been slain. There's a principle in that, the strength of God is made evident in a life that is yielded to him. It isn't our strength that God needs, he created us and the world in which we live, what God needs, where the great benefit comes to us and the great encouragement comes to him is when we're willing to yield our lives to him.

You see, we imagine that yielding is a position of weakness, that it's a forfeiture of opportunity, that we're walking away from what we might achieve or become or accumulate or accomplish. And in reality, when we yield our lives to the Creator of all things, the opportunities of the kingdom of heaven open before us, and he'll bring more to our lives. It's counterintuitive, it goes against our carnal nature, our earthly nature, it takes some real discipline, some intentional refocusing of our thoughts to entrust our future to the Creator. Therefore, we worship him, it's an attitude, remember, not a service, that we begin and end each day with that attitude, "God, thank you for this day, for what you've opened before me, what you enabled me to accomplish. Forgive me for those places where I know I wandered away from what I knew to do," worship.

Worship is yielding to God, it's a yielding of our attention, it's a yielding of our will, "It's offering ourselves," in the language of the book of Romans, "As a living sacrifice". We're not involved with the sacrificial system anymore, we don't bring a goat or a bull or a bird to the priest to offer a sacrifice on our behalf. Aren't you grateful? When you commit sin, now all you have to do is quietly repent. You know, once upon a time, if you committed a transgression and you knew it, you had to bring the offering that corresponded to your transgression. Just imagine if you came to church today with your cattle trailer and you're unloading that bull out in the parking lot. We would talk about you, I know church people, we would not let that go. "Didn't he bring a bull last week? What do you suppose he's up to? He's going to have to change, he can't afford to keep living like this".

See, repentance isn't such a bad deal. "God, I'm sorry, I'll go a new way". A living sacrifice, we don't live in that world anymore, but what we're asked to do is offer ourselves, to put our lives on that altar. By the time an animal was placed on the altar, it had been slaughtered, its lifeblood drained out of it, it was completely emptied of any self-determination. No animal ever jumped off the altar, it's not like a fish flopping back into the water. And so the invitation given to you and me is to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. "It's no longer my life, it's yours, I will worship you with the days of my life".

I'm not talking about being a professional Christian, you can be a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker and do it for the Lord. Again, we've walked a long way away from that, because we haven't needed to know the Lord like that, we've had so much, and so much opportunity and so many privileges, and we've turned to the government and imagine they were gonna make things equitable for us. And now we have this magnificent scene, look in verse 8, the Lamb takes the scroll. "When he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy,'" "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth".

It intrigues me that our prayers are presented before the throne of God in golden bowls, they're held as something very precious, they're presented to God. I hope you are cultivating a life of prayer, an attitude of prayer, they don't have to be long, flowery sentences in an acquired tone of voice. I regret that we've learned to pray that way, like there's a special vocabulary, like we only pray in King James English. "God, thou knowest all, including that I'm filled with pretense". Our prayers are presented to the throne of God. And we're told in that passage that we were purchased, we were redeemed out of a kingdom of darkness to become priests and to serve our God. We've been told Jesus died on the cross so we could be saved, we could avoid hell and we could go to heaven, we didn't understand. "You mean there's more to it"?

Apparently, that the purpose of that whole redemptive narrative and all that's involved, from the stable in Bethlehem to the cross on Golgotha, is to enable us to serve God. The punchline perhaps is in that last verse, "You made them to be a kingdom and priests," just as accurately, kings and priests, "And they will reign on the earth". We've taken that verse and manipulated it a little bit, I think in an unhealthy way, to imagine that we're gonna reign now, that we're little kings, little monarchs, reigning over our realms of interest and our preferences.

Well, I believe in the victory of the redemptive work of Jesus impacting our journey through time, but ultimately, we reign on this earth when our Lord and King reigns here, we reign in his authority. It may seem like a slight distinction, but it's important. We don't reign because of any other expression of power, we don't reign apart from him, we don't reign without him, we reign because we have yielded to him, it's why we worship him. Your authority and your power are made evident in our lives, we have outcomes that we could not have achieved on our own, we enjoy benefits and blessings that could have only come from a power beyond ourselves. All of our lives are described with good things that are beyond us. If you're not aware of that, you haven't been paying enough attention to the world in which we live.

The majority of the world does not go to sleep on a sheet at night, much of the world's quality of existence could be transformed by something as simple as a pair of shoes. We are blessed people, we are blessed people. "Well, I've worked hard," I understand, but there are people all over the earth, today, working desperately hard in order to have enough food to survive. Please don't imagine that our hard work is what has made us successful, God has blessed us.

Verse 11, "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels," this is a magnificent scene, "Numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. And in a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' And I heard every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that's in them, singing," all of creation singing, can you imagine?

"'To him who is on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever.' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down," and had a worship service. Not exactly, "They fell down and worshipped". Ten thousand times ten thousand angels, more than a hundred million angels, it's the population of the US these days, it's over 330 million. A group of angels that number more than a third of the population of this nation gathered before the throne of God. But the scene doesn't stop there, it says everything in all of creation, the things on the sea and in the sea, the things on the land, everything is giving praise and glory and honor to the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, to the farthest corners of the universe, the praises of God are resounding.

I love the imagery of that scene before the throne of God with millions of angels gathered worshiping him. I wanna pray, today, that we'll have a revelation of the angels that are present in the earth to help you and me. We're not alone, God sent his angels to help.

Heavenly Father, open our hearts to see the help that you have provided for us, thank you for your great concern for us, that we're not alone, that you haven't left us. In Jesus's name, amen.

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