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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - I Am Sending You - Part 1

Allen Jackson - I Am Sending You - Part 1

Allen Jackson - I Am Sending You - Part 1
TOPICS: Faith, Boldness, Let's Do Difficult

It's a privilege to be with you today. We're continuing our study on, "Let's do Difficult". In this session, we're gonna explore, "I'm Sending You". I think we can agree that there are things in our world that need to be done, we need some changes. In almost any direction we look, politically, in the church, in business, in our schools and education, on our college campuses, we're all clamoring for change. We want somebody to go do it, somebody to make it happen. Well, here's the awkward reality. I think God's sending us. I know we say we don't have enough influence or our voice isn't strong, we sound like Moses when God recruited him. We're gonna consider this for ourselves today, grab your Bible and a notepad and most importantly, open your heart.

I want to continue a series that we picked up in the previous few sessions. And in fact, I hope to be able to pursue it with you for a bit. The general theme of it is "Let's do Difficult". It's not really a new concept to us, that biblical idea of that contraction "let us" is a very biblical one. There's a number of those statements in the book of Hebrews, we looked at them briefly together, but as a congregation, we've done this. We have implemented things like Let's Read, and we've read our Bibles together consistently over periods of years and we learned to do Let's Pray, and we've taken prayer outside of a sanctuary and off of our campus into the workplace, and the schools, and with our friends, and our families and we've realized that we could actually pray for people that we didn't stand next to on a Sunday or a Saturday.

Well, I want to add to that list because I believe first of all, it's biblical and I think it's essential for what is before us, and that's that we're gonna have to be willing to Do Difficult. That's different than just coming to church and being polite or even being a faithful attender, or a volunteer or a person of generosity. I think to embrace our faith and to live it out in the world that is before us in our immediate future is gonna require of us a different kind of a courage and a different kind of boldness. And so we're gonna walk around that from a variety of angles and perspectives and see if we can understand how to strengthen that, but I wanna be certain that we're... it's something we're gonna do together.

That when one of us has a problem, that we can extend a hand and say, I'll do that with you, we'll go face the difficult. That we don't have to do it by ourselves, that we're not alone, that we don't just gather on the weekend because we share some common points of theology that we like to bicker about, but that we have yielded our lives to the lordship of Jesus and we're gonna walk this thing out. It's not another program where I'm suggesting that you become a victim and raise your hand and say somebody care for me. We have an overabundance of those already. In fact, a part of learning to do difficult is we're going to have to leave our victim status someplace else. And in all of our incompleteness and all of our brokenness and all the work that we may need yet done upon ourselves, and in our own lives, we will stand together and say, we'll see the name of Jesus lifted up. We've been soft long enough. Aren't you excited?

I know you're excited because several people saw my outline last weekend, and said, couldn't we have a series on "Let's Do Easy"? There's several of those being conducted, I can give you places if you're interested. I want to start in Exodus chapter 3, in verse 10. This is God's commissioning to Moses. Moses has a career going, his little flirtation with royalty didn't work out well. He lost his temper, he was a bit too entitled in the midst of a murderous rage, and he tried to hide it, and the cover up didn't work, they seldom do. And he ran for his life. And he's established a new career and things are going pretty well. And he's minding his own business, and God steps back into the story. Don't you love it? And God says, "Go, I'm sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt".

Now, we can read that and we're pretty protected, we're several thousand years removed, we don't know Pharaoh, Moses did. And Moses was very, very, very reluctant. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with the assignment. His immediate response is, "Who am I? You know, I lived in that house for a while and it didn't work out really well and Pharaoh knows me, and he'll not give me a hug when he sees me, and I'm not going". And I won't recount that I think the narrative is probably relatively familiar to many of us, I just want to focus your attention for a moment that God purposely brought Moses an assignment, A, he didn't want, B, that was extraordinarily difficult, it was beyond him. He's outgunned, he's outmanned, he doesn't have any political party, he doesn't have an army, he has nothing that should cause Pharaoh to say, oh, that's a great idea, let's do that. And he's wise enough, aware enough, informed enough to understand that the degree of difficulty is off the chart. And so he very understandably, to me, says, no, thank you.

So I'm going to ask you to consider the fact that the God that we worship would purposefully, intentionally hand you an assignment that's difficult. Not the pastor with a recruitment card or another goofy idea about a capital campaign, how many of these do we have to do? But that God himself, in the purposes for which he designed you, and the reason that he gives breath to you or to me, he might actually have the audacity to ask us to do something difficult. Moses has to reorder his whole life. Has to sell the house, he has to tell the kids I'm taking you out of school, you gotta tell the wife. I mean, it's a disruptive initiative. Do you have room in your imagination, for real now, does your spiritual life, does your imagination of God and the nature of the relationship you have with him, is there any room in that construction for you to imagine that there's a scenario, any scenario at all, that God would have that kind of permission to step in and give you a difficult assignment that had that kind of disruption attached to it? I think it's probably fair to say that for most of us that is beyond the pale, no.

If I had the awareness, I'd renounce it, it had to be ungodly, couldn't be from the Lord. So there's some questions that come out of that for me, and I'm just gonna tag them because we're gonna look at this for a bit, why difficult assignments? Why would God do that, I thought God wanted good things for me and I thought he wanted me to be happy. I thought the joy of the Lord was my strength. Well, the reality is life is far more difficult than we would prefer. Even under the best of circumstances, life can be difficult, and most of the time, the circumstances aren't the best. And God needs people that are willing to follow him, listen to him, and co-operate with him in the midst of life. God presents us, you and me, in the 21st century, with opportunities that are not always easy.

Amen is the word you're searching for, I'll help you with this, we'll do both sides of it. I'm actually gonna use scripture, I think we can illustrate this is not something I dreamt up, but I'm not recruiting. The invitation again, "Let's do Difficult". It's a corporate assignment, it's not an individual assignment. Together is better, we need one another. When you see someone in the middle of difficult, you have some choices to make. You can step away and think who, ho-ho, God's after them, or you can step closer and encourage them. You don't have to have the solution. May you be delivered from the burden of having the solution to the problems you see around you. None of us are that wise, or that good, sometimes the very best we can do is simply listen.

I sat with a close friend, Wednesday night, on this platform, while we watched a video, a brilliant musical piece, and one of the most unemotional people I know wept, and there was nothing I could do to alleviate the grief except have the privilege of standing next to him. I don't understand fully, and I don't believe I'm capable. Let's do difficult, let's do it together. Let's not avoid it, let's not act like we don't see it. Let's not deny it, acknowledging the challenge is real and most of the time you can't fix it. I will tell you this, that very often, in all of our lives that the very best things in life are on the other side of difficult. And that if you avoid difficult, you're going to miss some of the very best things in life. This isn't particularly complex, you know it intuitively. The effort to complete a task, refusing to stop when you're tired or the answers are elusive is the pathway that leads you to the best things.

Stop wishing for the people you love that life will be easy. You are robbing them of what is necessary for them to enjoy the deepest things that life can bring to them. We have had the wrong information, we've been programmed incorrectly. My dad was a veterinarian, that's not a surprise to you. I've watched lots of different animals give birth, puppies and kittens and calves and foals and some other strange things from time to time. One of the most vulnerable times in life is when that mother is preparing to give birth. That's why they brought them to the doctor. That's why he made his kids stay up all night and watch for delivery. We didn't have cameras yet. But I also watched the moms in the church, when you see a mom with a new baby, you light up. You walk towards them and you just look. If you know them well enough and you have the courage you say, could I hold him?

I've never seen a mom with some experience walk up to one of those new moms and go, oh my God, it was awful, wasn't it? No, you understand the wonder of that new life, required difficult. Stretch marks were an essential part of the journey. You know another, if you win a championship, you don't do it without competing. And if you won because everybody else defaulted, you don't tell anybody. The only memories come from the engaging and we can say it a different way, there simply is no success without sacrifice, there is not. If you sacrifice and hand someone else the success, they don't appreciate it. If you succeed without sacrifice, you should know someone sacrificed before you, so you could have that success. And if you sacrifice and you don't see the success, someone will see it. Best things are on the other side of difficult.

So I want to submit to you, I want to give you an invitation that our first step in this little study in this particular session is to stop trying and to start training. Most of us, in some context of our faith, at one point or another, said, well, I tried. I tried that, I didn't like it. You know, I tried reading my Bible, or I tried going to church with some regularity, or I tried church and I found that it just was boring or it wasn't meaningful or it didn't, you know, whatever. We've tried something around God and we stepped away from it. So I'm going to officially give you permission to stop trying. I'm not impressed that you tried, and the reality is because if the outcome really matters, trying doesn't cut it. I mean, if it truly... the outcome matters, you want more than somebody who tries.

If I'm getting on the plane and I peek through that little door up into the cockpit and the person isn't in uniform, they got shorts and a hoodie. And maybe I just, I'm bold enough, I walk up and say, hey, no uniform today? And they turned up, no, actually, I've just always wanted to fly one of these things. Then I want you to go take a nap because I'm gonna try my best. I'm getting off the plane. I want somebody that's trained for that, it's actually a biblical idea, who knew? 1 Corinthians chapter 9, and verse 24 says, "Do you not know," and any time the Bible asks you that question, what's the answer? Probably not. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will last; but we do it to get a crown, they do to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever".

If you took a snapshot of kind of general behavior around American Christian, and that's where I've spent the majority of my life, we live as if everybody's getting a prize. Participation trophies. If you endure enough sermons, you should get to go to heaven. I mean, that just seems fair. I mean, I fought through the sleep, I laughed at bad jokes, but that really isn't the biblical presentation. He said, not everybody's gonna get a prize. We're not all going to arrive at the same place, we're not all gonna get the same outcome. And then we're given a very specific set of instructions: Run so that you imagine you would qualify. But he doesn't say it just depends upon your DNA, or your circumstances, or what might happen to present itself to you, he said we understand that in a physical race, people go into training to do that.

And he said they'll go into training to get something temporary, something that is somewhat fleeting. He said, you can train for something that has a benefit for all eternity. That's a whole different call to a training regimen. I mean, I'll actually do a little physical exercise because I believe it gives me a better future physically. But I understand no matter how much I exercise, I'm still on the countdown clock. The earth suit isn't permanent. So there is a limit to how much time and effort and energy I will focus on that, there's kind of a balance that you have to work out for everybody. But the biblical invitation is that what you invest in the kingdom of God has no countdown clock, that the benefits are perpetual, eternal.

You see, trying ends when it gets difficult. I stopped trying when the criticism mounts. Trying concludes when the costs get too high. Well, I tried that but well, it proved to be way too expensive, or yeah, I thought maybe I could do that, but you know, I just couldn't put up with all the people chirping. Those are all responses to trying. Training is something completely different. Training is submitting to discipline to achieve an outcome impossible in the moment. Today, I couldn't do it no matter how desperately I tried, but I have committed myself to a protocol so that a year from today I could accomplish it. That's training. We've had far too little training in the context of our spiritual lives. We like immediate, we want instant. Training and trying are not new concepts to us around World Outreach, but training presupposes difficulty, discomfort, a leaving behind.

I've got friends in the church that have gone hundreds of days without missing a run. So now I let them run vicariously for me. It's just wonderful, it's not particularly good for my cardio health, but it makes me feel better. Training is fueled by confidence in the reward, and if you're going to commit to training spiritually, the foundation of that will be because you believe there's a God and that he's trustworthy and true to his Word, and you spend enough time getting to know his character to know that he rewards those who seek him. It's actually a biblical principle, all buttoned up in a single verse. "God's the rewarder of those who diligently seek him". It's not in your notes, but it is in the book of Hebrews. See, Christianity, in recent years, has been largely co-opted by kind of an easy believe-ism. At least in my opinion, it's a rather self-indulgent approach to faith, which has eliminated the premise of a sovereign God who would dare to issue commandments.

Now, we kind of imagine a benevolent higher power, who grants wishes, and he indulges our dalliance with evil. The premise of judgment in the context of a church discussion is so yesterday. We're much more enlightened these days, everyone has a right to do what they feel is right, because after all, you can't know right and wrong until you've walked in my shoes. The distraction or the diminishment, however you prefer to describe it, of the church was an essential first step into this abyss that we find ourselves bumping against. We are several decades into these pursuits, they're not new, they didn't happen with COVID. They're not the result of a particular politician or a political party, those are nice answers, but they're way too easy. Surprisingly, the outcome is not greater freedom, because that's really been the promise of most of these things.

A bit of careful observation reveals that we are sliding further and further under authoritarian domination of the few, not greater freedom. And I'm gonna say to you repeatedly, as I have been saying to you repeatedly, I believe the church is most at fault in what we're watching happen, because we understand the truth or we're called to that. The messages that we hear promise freedom. They're abundant, they come to us on a regular basis, they're designed to capture our attention and endear our support. Things like freedom from debt: If you'll support me, I'll forgive your loans. Or freedom from the worries of sickness and disease: If you'll support me, everybody deserves free health care. Or freedom from competition: We think everybody should have equitable outcomes.

Yet, in spite of all these promises of greater freedom, it seems to me, and it's not just an opinion, I think it's supportable, that we have less liberty and less choice. Our speech is no longer free, if you challenge the status quo too often, you'll be canceled. I have some firsthand experience with that, YouTube, without apology, hands out demerits. If you collect very many of them, you'd be just removed completely from the platform. And if you start inquiring about social media and what gets promoted and what doesn't, they bring out the fancy word: algorithms. We've all probably heard it, and the people that live in that world will talk to you about it, but the answer we're given is it's far too complicated to explain to normal Americans.

Somebody's determining which ideas are promoted and which principles are buried, so we get introduced to terms that help us explain that that don't really provide any explanation, you've been shadow banned. Does that require the sun? We see the outcome of the loss of freedom, but we're not supposed to complain. I mean, our own federal government has proposed a Department of Truth. That's like something you'd read in a comic book. Well, our educational institutions aren't better, they no longer encourage diverse thought. They demand allegiance to the new orthodoxy of progressive principles, because our students can't bear the assault of diverse ideas. The federal government issues mandates for its citizens, while at the same time refusing to guard our borders, and promising benefits to the illegal invaders into our nation. It's bizarre.

Bureaucrats incentivize whether we purchase a gas automobile or electric, who knew the government should be taking a hand in that? And they use our money to create their incentives, and then to motivate us, they manipulate science and they punish the scientist who dare to tell the truth. Federal regulations now select our light bulbs, they dictate the design specifications for the systems that heat and cool our homes. Federal agencies control our creeks and our streams, I promise you. They control our airspaces, our children's curriculum in schools. The government tells us where we can and when we cannot say the name of Jesus, where we can and where we cannot pray, where we can and where we cannot post the Ten Commandments. And here's the bizarre part: We have gladly entered into this covenant because we were promised greater freedom.

Now, many of us now understand it's been a bargain with the devil, but here's the rub, we face a significant problem. The power of those with authority is great and the unspoken truth is that many of the citizens are afraid of the power of the government. No one wants to be on the wrong side of this monster. The government has after all, as long as they control the printing presses, unlimited resources, our own money. They have legions of lawyers and they make the rules and they can suspend them or enforce them, and it's all common knowledge, but our fear keeps us silent for the most part. Well, I'd like to suggest that I believe it's time for God's people to awaken from their slumber.

Not to be more political, but to resume our relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth. To recognize that he is the author of freedom, that we can't live apart from him or in disobedience to him and imagine that we will have freedom and liberty for all. To repent of our adulterous flirtation with freedom apart from God, and to return to our covenant of serving the most high God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the only pathway to true freedom and to real liberty. God's people are the key, I will continue to repeat it. Our hearts and our behaviors must change. The problem is not about political parties or economic policies. The root, the fundamental problem we face has to do with the hearts of the people that have imagined themselves to be the people of God, and I consider myself amongst them, so I'm not pointing fingers.

Too many Christians feel that this shouldn't even be discussed, that we should reserve our thoughts to more polite Bible study topics, focusing on the culture of the first century. Let's reflect further on who were the Sadducees and what did the Pharisees believe? Well, a faith that doesn't engage the culture in which we live is merely a theoretical faith, and I don't worship a theoretical God or serve a theoretical Savior, I believe Jesus is the Lord of the 21st century as well, and we have a responsibility to take his truth into the world in which we live, with boldness and determination and courage. And it may not be easy, we may have to be willing to do the difficult. Hey, let's pray before we go:

Lord, we say yes to you. Yes to your invitations, yes to walking uprightly, yes to living out the faith you have placed in our hearts, in Jesus name, amen.

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