Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Great Gifts, Great Expectations - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Great Gifts, Great Expectations - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Great Gifts, Great Expectations - Part 2
TOPICS: Spiritual Gifts, Expectations

So, I think about reading our Bibles and the challenge that represents. It's 66 books written by dozens of authors over an extended period of time in different cultures. It's not arranged chronologically. There's a variety of different types of literature. There's history and poetry. I mean, it's a hodgepodge. It's written in a part of the world that we didn't live. So, the climate was different. The names of the cities are different. It's translated from different languages, so there's some language components. And on top of that, it's inviting us towards a set of behaviors that are not innate within us, because innate to us as human beings is rebellion against God, and the Bible shows us how we can have a relationship with him.

So, there's a variety of things that will impede you, distract you, dishearten you when you come to picking up your Bible. It's one of the great values of being in community. You can help one another, encourage one another, help hold one another accountable, cheer for one another. That the values of church extend far beyond music and sermons. In fact, the church is a people initiative. Those things are secondary. So, I wanted to do something, if I could, to add a little momentum. What I've discovered is many of us know Bible stories. We've collected them along our journey. Almost everybody knows about David and Goliath. It's just the ultimate underdog story. Most of us know about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and that fiery furnace in Babylon and how they went in and they came out, and they didn't even smell smokey.

Some of us know Jesus walked on the water. Some of us have made our life verse that Jesus turned water into wine. I'm not suggesting you should, but we know Bible stories, but very few of us know the story of the Bible. What's the point? Why do we have it? What's the objective? Well, I don't know, but I know about David and Goliath. I find that even ungodly people tend to know biblical principles, because when you're not living by them, they'll tell you you're not being a good Christian. They have no intention of being Christian, but they know enough about biblical principles, they'll tell you you're not measuring up. Have you ever encountered that? That's a blessing.

You know, the Bible is written to help anybody who chooses to, to make their journey through time in a way that would enable them to lead a life that's pleasing to the creator of heaven and earth so that they might spend eternity with him. It gives you enough information to accomplish that. That's the goal. Everything else is superfluous. Say, "Well, I'd like to know". I understand, duly noted, but that's what the book will do. I don't believe you'll be able to make that journey successfully if you ignore the opportunities you have to engage with the Word of God. It truly does matter. Say, "I don't understand everything I read," no kidding. The last time your device is updated, did you read the stuff they told you you needed to sign off on when you said, "I understand"?

Did you understand all that? But you kept using your device? Does that make you a hypocrite? No, I think it makes you pragmatic. And I will readily admit when I read my Bible, I don't understand everything. I don't, but I'm learning to understand more and more so I stay after it. For me, that's called learning. It's about discipline. It's not always fun. Some days it's okay. Some days it feels a little heavy. Some days it's a little intimidating. Some days it feels like it's the most liberating thing that's happened to me in a long time.

I brought you a little tool. I'm gonna start it. I'm not gonna complete it in this session, but I find we get so confused with the chronology of the Bible. We don't know where it fits because it's not put together chronologically. We don't really know where Isaiah fits in comparison to Noah. I mean, if your life depended on it, could you tell me where Zechariah fit in comparison to Isaiah? I hope my life doesn't depend on it. And so, we just kind of bluff our way through. Reading our Bibles means a lot to me, like the way I learned English. I studied English every year I was in school. And when you got up into the higher echelons, you're learning other languages, but you can't learn another language if you don't know English. I didn't know there was such a thing as a pluperfect verb tense until I got in Greek class. So, I learned English for years and years, and really, what I finally decided was just bluff it.

I mean, I grew up in the South, we've got our own vocabulary anyway. You know it's true, 'cause somebody's gonna carry me to town after church. Yeah, we won't go there. It will frighten our friends who don't live here. But we've kind of done that with our Bible. We don't really know the character of God. We get offended by God. Why are we offended? God shows us his character in Scripture and we go, "Well, I don't like that". Folks, that is not a helpful idea. I don't like the fact that chocolate is fattening. I think it's grossly unfair. But my feelings aren't gonna change the reality.

So, I brought you a little tool. I'll introduce you to it. We'll build it some more in the next session. It's a timeline. There's just 12 points on it. If you will put it... you don't have to put it in your memory, put it in your phone, put it in the front of your Bible, put it someplace you've got access to. And when you're reading through your Bible, try to decide where that particular story or event would fit in your timeline. It will begin to help you build a little structure, it's a little infrastructure. It's like a skeletal system for the things you know about your Bible. It'll make a difference because it isn't random. God is very intentional. There's nothing about our universe that suggests God is random or disorderly.

So, I believe the timeline will help. We start with Creation, because the Bible begins in verse 1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". It's more than a poetical way to begin a book that has a big picture view or something. It's more than a mythological introduction. If you'll allow me, don't ever apologize because you've decided to believe your Bible. I love to read, I've loved to read since I was a kid. The most logical, consistent book I've ever read is the Word of God. You don't ever need to apologize because you've chosen to believe it. I understand it'll be attacked and assailed and particularly in academic settings and people think they're more enlightened and they'll come at you with all sorts of things. I've sat in many of those classes, I've listened to many of those arguments.

At the end of the day, I decided to treat the Bible as if it were true. And I believe in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And those first 11 chapters of the Bible deal with big rock issues, universal issues. The Flood, the Tower of Babel, big rock things that applied to all humanity. When you get to Genesis chapter 12, there's a very significant change in the story. And it's the second point on your timeline, you meet Abram. And now, the story's not universal anymore. God begins the central story of the book. He's going to have a people for himself. "Abram, leave your home and go where I'll show you". I know we're reading the New Testament in the book of Palms right now.

If you're already doing the Bible reading and you think, "Pastor, you're messed up. I don't need Genesis now, I need Matthew right now". We'll get to Matthew, it's down there on the timeline, I promise, but Abram is a significant shift in Genesis 12. In fact, God is going to be willing to identify himself throughout the story as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So, when we meet Abram, understand the narrative has changed. The book of Genesis is the book of beginnings, ends with Abram's extended family going to Egypt because they got a bargain on some real estate. But the story's not gonna stop in Egypt because that's not the land that was promised to them. The second book of the Bible, the book of Exodus, opens and says, "A Pharaoh arose who didn't know Joseph".

And he was threatened by how the Hebrew people had grown. And so, he enslaved them. Well, you know the covenant people of God are not going to live as slaves long-term. They did for almost 400 years. So, the Exodus is about that deliverance from Egypt. And it becomes the prototype for the redemptive work of Jesus. They were completely subordinated in Egypt. They didn't have the power, the resources. There was no way they could free themselves from that place of bondage. They were doomed, their children were doomed. They had no stories of freedom, they had no institutional memories of freedom. They had been there hundreds of years. They knew far more about Egyptian holidays and Egyptian religious practices and Egyptian gods than they did the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And God sent that scruffy shepherd in out of the desert, Moshe. And he said, "We're leaving".

And you see the power of God in the Exodus. The plagues, ends up with the Red Sea parting, that big drama. There is no story of deliverance. So, we're introduced to something about the character of God. He's a God who delivers, he's a God who redeems. He does things that we're powerless to do for ourselves. He doesn't eliminate human suffering. He doesn't eliminate or obliterate tyranny. He doesn't obliterate hatred. Everything isn't just and fair in every moment. We learn a great deal about following God. God leads his people out of Egypt to a point where they are trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. God led them there. Pfft. And then he parted the sea. And they escaped and their enemies drowned. There was a big party, Miriam and all her buddies danced. American Bandstand on the other side of the Red Sea. You're too young to know what American Bandstand is.

I studied history. And God led the people... this isn't on your timeline, but it is in the book, in Exodus. He led the people from that victory of the Red Sea to a place where the water couldn't be drunk. There were springs in the desert, but the water was not potable. So, the name of the place was Marah. Marah is the transliteration of the Hebrew word. It means bitter. God led them to a place where the water was bitter. God led them there with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. And the people grumbled. They said, "We should have stayed in Egypt. Moses, we don't like you". Can you imagine leading God's people with all the supernatural accompaniment that God gave to Moses? A staff, snakes, a staff, plagues, the parting of seas, and the people you're leading saying, "We don't like you". That's a bad day, no matter when that is in time or history.

I've been doing this study for a long time. I just brought you a little sampling. I know there's a tendency for people say to me frequently, "I like to read the New Testament better". So, I brought you God as Creator in the New Testament. Did you know it's all over the New Testament? It's not just a Genesis thing. I brought you some samples, I put it in your notes. I think. Yeah. Look at Matthew 19. Jesus is speaking, so this is Jesus's perspective. He said, "Haven't you read", did you know Jesus was trying to get the people to read the book? "Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female. And for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?'" So, spoiler alert, Jesus believed in a creator. So, if you're Jesus's friend, you gotta grapple with this. And it's not some singular verse.

In Mark 10, "Jesus replied. At the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'" In Mark chapter 13, Jesus is, it's a prophetic, it's a longer prophetic passage and he's talking about distress at the end of this age. But he said, "Because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now and never to be equaled again". So, in multiple settings, in multiple contexts, Jesus affirmed his understanding that God created the heavens and the earth. So that if you call Jesus is Lord, if you've submitted to his authority, it might be prudent to accept his perspective. His closest friends did. The people he trained did. The people he taught personally did. In Acts chapter 4 says, "On their release," they've been arrested for being Jesus's advocates, "Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all to the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together to prayer in God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that's in them.'"

So, those first believers in Jesus that saw his miracles, that saw him walk on the water, and raise the dead, and open blind eyes, that saw him tortured to death on a Roman cross and saw him after the resurrection, they accepted Jesus's coaching that God created the heavens and the earth. In Acts 14, this is Paul, "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them". Again, it's a fundamental principle. You see, if we're gonna worship God, if we're gonna yield to him, if we're gonna trust his power and authority, it extends from the idea that he has the power and authority to create the world and everything that's in it.

Acts 17. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn't live in temples built by hands. He's not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth". It's a very clear principle. Again, it's not subtle or hidden or isolated. It's in presentation after presentation, book after book. Throughout all the different seasons and scenes of history that the Bible presents us, it affirms time and time again that God created the heavens and the earth. Look at Romans chapter 1. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse".

See, we'll take that bit of information, we'll go, "Well, how'd he do it"? That's not necessarily the objective of this narrative. It's far more important for us to understand that there's a God who created the heavens and the earth than he's willing to be known by his creation. There are aspects of creation that I don't understand. There are parts of it, candidly, that from my very limited perspective, I would have done differently. If you're looking for a technical definition of that attitude, it's rebellion. I felt that my parents had the same deficiency. When I was a child, I thought they lacked the wisdom that I had accumulated. 'Cause they had some bizarre rules. I didn't agree with them. They made no sense to me. They didn't satisfy me, I didn't care about their explanations, and only the fact that they were physically bigger than me and could impose their will caused me to yield.

I was thoroughly convinced chocolate cake was an appropriate appetizer for any meal. And you could compound the effectiveness of it if you would put ice cream on it. And they had some strange, bizarre, ungodly, punitive ideas that I should eat other things first. Spoil your appetite. "No, it's my appetite, I'll care for it, thank you". We can chuckle about it because it's pretty harmless when we think of a child and what they don't understand. But when I'm expressing to God my sense of his injustice or his lack of concern or his failure to meet his obligations to me, it never occurs to me that I could lack perspective or lack understanding or lack the wisdom that's necessary. I just want what I want the same way I did when I wanted my chocolate cake.

God created the heavens and the earth and everything that's in the earth and above the earth and in the seas. How'd they do that? I don't know, I wasn't there, but he's capable. It changes the whole narrative. People say to me, you know, "Pastor, it's just hard for me to believe that with my education". And I understand that. I spent a great deal of time in formal education. I'm grateful for that. I could have been a professional student. I enjoyed the environment and the environment is typically, fiercely, ungodly. Even, typically, in theological settings. The Bible says that knowledge puffeths up. It tends to cause us to believe that we can explain everything. You know the definition of a PhD? You learn more and more about less and less until you know absolutely everything about nothing and then they give you a PhD. I'm kidding. I have tremendous respect for people that will submit to the discipline of academia. They sacrifice a great deal to do that. They deserve to be listened to and understood. Their perspectives matter. You can benefit from the training they took the time to cultivate in their own life.

Having said that, don't forfeit your confidence in God. I believe God created the heavens and the earth. There's much I can't explain. And I don't feel it's incumbent upon me to explain all of those things. I believe God has given us enough that we might know him, have a relationship with him, be delivered from the evil of this present age, and arrive in eternity with God pleased with us. Everything else is secondary. But I'm not done with the New Testament. I, I guess I am done. We'll leave it right there. Folks, God is able. I'm weary with pushing him to irrelevant places. I am determined this year to invite him into the center of my life in ways I've never done before. To be an advocate for him. To be an advocate for biblical perspectives. We just read it in multiple places.

Jesus said God created us male and female. The church is hiding from the clear authority of Scripture and we've got to have the courage to come back. Invest your time and energy and your heart in the Word of God. Won't you stand with me, if you will. At least for me, I want to give you an invitation to a prayer of repentance. If we really, if we have held ourselves apart from Scripture and we've read it as if we were the judge, I think it's a far more beneficial place to allow the Word of God to judge us. And if you'd be willing, I wanna invite you to say to the Lord: "I'm sorry, that I've stood apart from it, I've evaluated it like I was an Olympic judge or a professor in a classroom, but I wanna submit myself to your authority in my life. I'd like to know you as the Lord of all that I am". Would you be willing to pray that prayer with me? If you are, just bow your head. I'm not gonna ask you to move, but...

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your Word. We have Bibles available to us in so many different ways. And Lord, you've been good to us. And yet, Lord, we have so often in our pride and our arrogance and our self-determination and our self-will, we have said yes to ungodliness and stood in our ignorance. Lord, we've ignored the truth that we've known. And we come today in humility to ask you to forgive us. We wanna honor you more completely and more fully than ever before. I thank you for your great love for us, for your patience, for your provision that through the blood of Jesus, we might be forgiven and cleansed. And Holy Spirit, we ask for your help. Give us wisdom beyond ourselves. Open our hearts and minds to see those things that have not been clear to us. Give us listening ears to recognize your invitations or your direction. We offer ourselves to you as living sacrifices. I pray that this year we would walk under your direction in ways we've never walked before. Help us to encourage one another, to strengthen one another, to stand with one another. I thank you for the victories you will bring, for the triumph you will bring, the insight you will bring, that you will give us the strength to endure and the will to persevere, that we might overcome every expression of evil, that in our lives and around us, we will see the name of Jesus exalted. May your kingdom come and your will be done as it is in heaven. In Jesus's name, amen.

Are you Human?:*