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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Worship and Authority - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Worship and Authority - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Worship and Authority - Part 2
TOPICS: Worship, Authority

It's an honor to be with you today. We're continuing our discussion on worship, praise, and thanksgiving. We're going to look in the scriptures at some portrayals of worship. Spoiler alert, they're not principally song services. Music may be involved in it. Music can be a part of worship, but worship doesn't mean you sing a hymn or you have a praise band and you sing your favorite chorus. Worship is an attitude that begins in our heart. There's an absence of worship in the heart of God's church today. Let's decide we're gonna change that with our responses to the Lord. Enjoy the lesson.

The privilege of a gathering with like-minded people to present ourselves to the Lord, whether we kneel and say, "Lord, we need your help, move in our families, move in our schools, move in our communities". We don't have to worry about Washington, D.C., or Portland, or Seattle. We better be focused on middle Tennessee. We need God's help. God, move in our midst. We come to church, and people will send me notes, "I'm not going back, I came to church, and nobody talked to me". I apologize, I'll meet you at the welcome center. I'll be glad to talk to you. Maybe they've never been to church. Maybe they don't know the drill. Maybe they've been so wounded that their needs are so great. They need to be ministered to. We can afford some of that, but everybody that comes to church can't need a station where they have personal attention like a nursery.

Some of us have to gather understanding why we're coming to present ourselves to the Lord. We've got to have a change. I'm saying we. Where was I? Verse 22, "they began to sing, and the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir". It's really almost beyond comprehension what happens. I won't belabor it, but it says the men of Ammon and Moab, these invading armies; it's a multinational force. And the men from these various nations rose up against the men from another part of their force to destroy and annihilate. They fought one another. And, "after they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert, and they looked toward the army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped". They didn't do anything. They didn't have to go face Goliath. God said, "You march to battle tomorrow".

By the time they got there, God had intervened. You see, God knows how to bring victory, whether by many or by few, whether he invites us into the arena or he does it before we get there. The most essential component is the attitude of our heart towards the Lord. "We will do whatever you ask". What was it that we read? God said to the prophet Hosea, "Take words with you and return to the Lord. Humble yourself and repent". Verse 27, "Led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lutes and trumpets".

So there is a musical component to it. But to describe it only as a musical event would be to miss the essence of the story. The music is engaged as an expression of joy at the victory that has come. I don't think the march towards the desert and an enemy that is overwhelmingly greater than you was an overly joyful march. It was an expression of obedience. I mean, we have the benefit of hindsight, and some of you knew the end at the beginning, but, if you were marching from Jerusalem down the mountains towards the valley, the Dead Sea, and the plain where the battle's gonna rage, it's a very sober day. If you're saying goodbye to family members, they're gonna make that march, you don't expect to see them again.

So I'm not surprised that they came back joyfully, and, when they came back and their families greeted them, they broke out the instruments. We can be better at celebrating the victories that God gives us. We can. We've had thousands of people on campus in the last few weeks that don't come to church that have visited the ice rink, hallelujah. We've gotten to serve thousands of people with kindness and generosity and a warm welcome. They've experienced church without being enduring a sermon; you can say amen to that. We served thousands and thousands of people through the month of December with toys that were donated, with food that was donated, with programs that we opened our doors to, that were free to whomever would want to come. The Lord has blessed us. We have seen him move in ways we would have never imagined would be appropriate for a local church. But we struggle to find joy in what we see God doing.

We're more aware of our adversaries and our enemies. There's a change; if we will humble ourselves before the Lord, he will bring a new perspective to us. I see some beginnings of it, some stirrings of it; it's encouraging to me. It says, "The fear of God came upon the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side". Again, they returned joyfully, rejoicing over their enemies. It's worship language; it isn't military language. It wasn't a military strategy; it was worship language. They went to the temple of the Lord with musical instruments and expressed their joy to the Lord. Again, we've got to reconstruct a little bit in our hearts when we think about worship. Now, I wanna give you a New Testament example. We'll do this first and with Peter; we've got time to do that.

Acts chapter 12, the church is well under way. Acts chapter 1, Jesus returns to heaven. Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out in Jerusalem, and the Jesus story goes public. It's been a rather... everything changes in Acts chapter 2. By the time we get to Acts chapter 12, the whole region has been stirred. And now the leaders that orchestrated Jesus's execution understand that the threat wasn't eliminated. And they've begun arresting apostles and threatening apostles; it gets grievous. Acts chapter 12, there's an escalation, "It was about this time that the King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. And he had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword".

You know, we read that pretty easily, but James and John were a part of Jesus's inner circle. And Herod has arrested a group of people who belong to the believers, and he singles out James. There's no doubt in my mind that there was enough intelligence to understand his significance to the community, and he has him murdered. It doesn't take much imagination to understand how sobering that is. "When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also". One of the things that we're gonna have to recalibrate is the notion that, when the Spirit of God begins to move and God is doing remarkable things, that there will be a unanimous, overwhelming majority of people saying yes. Jesus said there's a broad way and a broad door that leads to destruction and a narrow way and a narrow door that leads to life. And, when God begins to move, there will be opposition.

In this case, the Christians are arrested, James is murdered, and it's pleasing to the street in Jerusalem. Herod's poll numbers go up. "When he saw this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. And this happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And after arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each". He's a bad man. "Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him". That's the most hopeful note in the first five verses. The church was earnestly praying for him. They understand the threat. It's not theoretical to them. They understand; they've lost James; it looks like there's a high degree of probability they will lose Peter.

And the church begins to pray; they gathered and they prayed for days because Peter's held in prison for several days. The timeline is not given to us, but there's reason to believe they're praying through the day and through the night, at least some of the time. I don't want to read more into it than is there, but we know that they're praying at least on one night, and we know they're praying during the day. If you'll allow me, it seems to me it's a worshipful attitude. They're seeking the help of God. It sounds like Jehoshaphat, doesn't it? It sounds like a part of their narrative of who they are as a people. It isn't about convenience, it isn't about comfort, it isn't about personal preference.

Again, those things have gained some elevation and status amongst us. And I say us, I mean the people of God in general. The things that can steal our joy, move us off our purpose, are oftentimes far too trivial. We lose our joy over the location of parking places. I know, I take those meetings. We're incensed, "Do you know where I had to park"? Well, I'm sorry, was it another county? We lose our joy over the available seats. "I didn't get to sit where I wanted to sit". We lose our joy over which classroom my children were directed to. I've had all these meetings. We lose our joy over who's leading worship, the choices of the songs. I understand all of those things, and I understand we're very diverse communities of people when we gather; I've gathered with Christians in other cities and other states; I get that, that we're... and there are people that are new, and they don't know, but I'm really talking to those of us that imagine we're the people of God.

We've allowed something to encroach on our hearts that is not helpful, and we're in a more desperate situation. We can't allow that anymore. The outcomes matter, folks; the armies have gathered. The persecution is evident. You don't have to... I taped a program a few weeks ago, it hasn't aired yet, on the persecution of the church in the world. Horrific things happening to Christians around the world. They sent me a note this week, there was hundreds of Christians killed in an African nation, and they said, "We've got to include it in the narrative". And we just yawn and go on. It's insignificant for the most part. Too often we forget why we have gathered. If you'll allow me, it's not about me.

You see, we've let this become about us. Peter's in prison, we're gonna lose him. This isn't some idle threat, It's not a theological discussion. We're going to forfeit our freedom, and our children are gonna lose their opportunities to worship if the current trends hold. Now, what are we going to do? We're gonna be mad at somebody else and say they should be different. "The night before Herod was to bring Peter to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance". This makes me smile. Peter's been in jail this whole time, days. He knows what happened to James. It's the night before his trial. How many of you think you could be tempted to be anxious? That'd be a tough, you're chained between soldiers. In the morning, you're expecting a trial that will end in your condemnation to death, and Peter is asleep.

The image in my brain is Jesus in the boat asleep in the midst of the storm. And I hear Jesus saying to his friends, he said, "My peace, I leave with you". And Pete is sleeping on the night before his imagined execution. And "suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell, and he struck Peter on the side and he woke him up. 'Quick get up!' The chains fell off, and the angel said, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did. 'Wrap, put your coat on. Follow me.'" I mean, Peter needs some real instructions here. "And Peter followed him out of the prison. He had no idea what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and the second guards, and they came to the iron gate leading to the city, and it opened for them by itself".

I think an angel opened that gate, in my opinion. I think there's a whole contingent of angels. They got the guards wrapped up. They're opening gates. Peter can just see the one that he needs the guidance from. My opinion. "And suddenly the angel left him. And Peter came to himself and said, 'Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.'" He said, "God came and helped me. I know that". The church is still praying. I wonder if we'll be willing to worship even when God's timing is suspect. Why isn't Peter released the day after his arrest? I don't know. I have no idea. And anything I would offer you as a suggestion would be entirely speculative because I don't see anything in the text that directs us to an answer. We've talked a bit about God's timing lately.

You know, I don't like to have to endure. I don't like to have to persevere. I like microwave answers. You've laughed at me. I think three and a half minutes to bake a potato is entirely too long. But the reality is what we're presented with suggests that we have to be willing to maintain an attitude before the Lord. Peter goes to the house where the church is gathered. He knocks on the door. They've been praying through the night, because he's released in the middle of the night, and they won't let him in. You know the story, the girl that goes to the door. Peter says, "It's me, let me in". She said, "No, no, no, Peter's in prison". And she went back into the group and said, "There's somebody at the door that says he's Peter". They said, "Oh, bother, it's not Peter, he's in prison". Why are we here? We're praying he'll get out of prison. Who's at the door? Somebody named Peter, but it's not Peter; he's in prison. Sounds about like us, doesn't it?

Again, a little bit of... we have so much pretense in these presentations of our faith, with our bravado and our arrogance. Peter finally convinces them to open the door. It's verse 17, "He motioned with his hand for them to be quiet, and he described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. And he said, 'Tell James and the brothers,'" it's Jesus's brother, James, "'and the brothers about this,' he said, and he left for another place". You know, earlier in the book of Acts, when they'd be released from prison, the Lord would say, "Go back to the temple and preach some more. Go finish your sermon". But, at this point, they're not just rinsing and repeating. There's no false bravado. This time, Peter says, "I'm leaving for a while".

I'm leaving for a while. It bugs me; I don't like him to leave; I want him to go slap Herod. But, you know, by the end of this chapter, Peter who was imprisoned with the intent to be killed is freed and Herod who arrested him and because he thought it was popular amongst the people, was gonna murder him, the judgment of God comes on Herod, and Herod's dead by the end of the chapter. You see, the outcomes are in the Lord's hands, if we will determine, in our heart, we're gonna worship him. My time's up, I'm not gonna read you the next passage, but I'll point you to it. You can look at it on your own. Paul and Silas in Acts chapter 16 are arrested. And they've been beaten, and they're locked in the innermost part of a prison. Their future looks pretty bleak.

Now, I'm gonna submit to you that, by Acts 16, Paul and Silas know Peter's story. It's a part of the community narrative, right? It's a relatively small group of people telling this Jesus story. And now Paul and Silas find themselves in prison in a foreign city, they're not in Jerusalem. So the church doesn't know to mobilize. So at midnight, what are Paul and Silas doing? Singing praises to God. Singing, it's illogical, it's irrational. It isn't about comfort or convenience or ease. It's the best way they know to get the chains off. "Let's worship the Lord. Well, how long? I don't know. We may be here a week, we may be here a month. We're gonna worship the Lord".

And it says God shook the jail, and their chains fell off. We don't even get to see the angels in this case. The chains fall off, and the doors swing open. Who do you think's doing that? Well, if you read Acts chapter 12, you got a pretty good idea who's doing that. And the jailer knows he'll pay with his life if the prisoners escape. And, when he sees the doors swing open, he draws his sword to take his life. And the prisoners say, "No, don't do that. We're here". And the whole city is stirred. The whole jail is turned upside down. And the next morning they come to release the prisoners. And Paul, you can bless his heart, he's so true to form, he said, "You wrongly arrested, gave a beating to, and imprisoned a Roman citizen, and now you want me to sneak out of town. Not a chance. You send the magistrates to see me".

And he got escorted by the city council to the city limits. But it seems to me that the attitude in Acts 16 was derived from the story of Acts chapter 12, which was derived from Jesus not being panicked. He could speak to a storm, and the disciples were amazed. "My peace, I give to you". An attitude of worship. Not an attitude defined by everything going the way I want it to go, and everything being pleasing to my carnal self, but an attitude focused on who God is. And, though we're outnumbered, God is well able to deliver us. And we may have taken some losses and suffered some grievous defeats and have broken hearts, but we will worship the Lord. We may be feeling the pain of unjust suffering, but we are gonna worship the Lord. And, in that environment, God moves.

Folks, we need that lesson for what is before us. That is different than, "I'll sing along if I like the song". Are you with me? Begin to let the Spirit of God build that into your heart. Begin to begin your days by saying, "God, thank you for the day. Thank you for the strength to join you in the day. Help me today". Start to turn your attitude towards the Lord. Use your experience and the influence God has given you to be an advocate for Jesus.

I brought you a prayer; it's familiar to many of you. Why don't you stand with me? We'll say it together. We're gonna worship the Lord with it. I like giving honor and glory to the Lord, Amen. I like to do it more than I wanna complain, more than I wanna describe the strength of the enemy, more than I wanna revisit the depth of the despair or the grievances against me or the things that I thought I would deserve that I didn't receive. We got to stop. Let's begin to exalt the Lord, who he is and what he's done for us. Let it resonate within us. There is evil in the world, and it will lead to destruction, but there is a God, and he is moving in a more powerful way. Let's say it together.

Through the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Through the blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven. The blood of Jesus Christ, God's son, continually cleanses me from all sin. Through the blood of Jesus, I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. Through the blood of Jesus, I am justified, made righteous, just as if I'd never sinned. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, Satan has no place in me, no power over me, through the blood of Jesus. Hallelujah, Amen.

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