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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Breaking Our Addiction To Easy - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Breaking Our Addiction To Easy - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Breaking Our Addiction To Easy - Part 2
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult

It's a privilege to be with you today. We're continuing this discussion on "Let's Do Difficult". We did all the easy yesterday. The options in front of us, they're not as simple. But on the other side of difficult, there are the best things in life. So I want to encourage you to be willing to say yes to the Lord even when the challenge isn't fun. Most of our heroes in the Bible are heroes to us because they walk through some pretty shadowed valleys, whether it was David facing Goliath or Daniel in a din full of lions or Jesus having to endure the cross. Well, we're the 21st century edition of the church. We may not have to stand before the Sanhedrin, but we're asked to take the name of Jesus into the public square with courage and boldness. Grab your Bible, and get a notepad. And let's chart a course for letting our faith lead in this generation.

So that when Jesus talked to us about easy and light, he's not talking to us about the absence of conflict or the complete elimination of resistance because Jesus's life was filled with that. There's something else involved. The one message Jesus gave repeatedly, and I didn't bring you all the references, it's beyond a single lesson, but that he was committed to do the will of the Father, to do what God had sent him to do, that he was on an assignment. I hope you and I can live with the awareness that we're on a God assignment, that I'm not just here to do what Allen wants. I'm not opposed to doing things that are pleasing or satisfying or bring contentment or joy, but that cannot be the only set of choices in making the decisions in my life or I will self-destruct.

Clearly, God intended for that generation to occupy the Promised Land. That was the objective before they ever left Egypt. God had declared his purposes before the plagues were visited upon the Egyptians, before the Red Sea was ever parted, before they gathered manna daily to eat, before they visited Mount Sinai and saw the glory of God. Still, it was a promise that required the Hebrews to occupy, to face intimidating odds, determined enemies. It was not an invitation to a picnic. Their exit from Egypt was not a picnic. Oh, there were plagues, but they were making bricks with no straw. They were telling Moses to leave him alone. On multiple occasions, they said, "We wish we had never met you".

So in spite of all the miracles and all the displays of the power of God and a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, it required the very best they had. And now, they've arrived at the Jordan River, at the entrance to God's promised inheritance, and they said, "We're gonna retire from difficult. We don't want to do difficult anymore. We're out. You're feeding us every day. None of us are sick. No thanks". And God called them wicked, his covenant people. He said, "I'll start over with a new group, and you can wander in a circle until your days are done". I honestly believe when we say I refuse to do difficult, what we do is commit ourselves to go wander in a circle. Because you'll be led around by easy. And they missed the opportunity of God. And it's clearly condemned in Scripture. Throughout the breadth of Scripture, Old Testament and New.

Now, I want to take it a step further and look at Jesus's life with you. At the end of the day, he's our leader. He is the one we follow. And in Hebrews chapter 12, again in Hebrews, they would be familiar with the concept of a Messiah. There was a tremendous adjustment that had to come in the Jewish mindset through a Messiah who could be killed by the Romans. You see that the heroes they knew were Moses that overcame Egypt, Samson that overcame the Philistines, Gideon that overcame the Midianites. They have a long history, a national consciousness, of these remarkable deliverers that God would bring. And now they're waiting for the Messiah, the incarnate Son of God, the King of kings. And they very much expect him to be a political ruler, a military ruler.

See, the church desperately wants an election right now to fix us in our nation, to turn back the darkness, to re-establish the biblical view of marriage, to have the courage to say that your biological sex actually means something more than your opinion. We want politicians to do what God's called us to do. We want people elected by secular authority to have more moral courage than we have in the church. We're afraid to say those things around our kitchen tables, and we want somebody to go echo those in the halls of government. So the imagination was the Messiah was gonna come and lead a political revolt and get rid of the Romans. And even the disciples asked Jesus that in acts chapter 1. And Jesus came, and the Romans tortured him to death. Big realignment. But by the time they put Hebrews together, the author of Hebrews understands.

And so, he's writing his audience a message, and we get to hear it. It's appropriate for us today. He said, "Let's fix our eyes on Jesus. He's the author and the perfecter of our faith," you could translate that equally, "He's the author and the completer of our faith". I love that. When you write a book, you get to choose how it ends. It's your book. Guess who the author of your faith is? The one who's going to write the ending. Spoiler alert. We win! He just keeps writing chapters. Sometimes, you know, when I'm bumping into things and people seem to be making life difficult or circumstances, I do, "Oh, y'all don't know my boss. He's gonna write a new chapter. I'm gonna win. It's gonna irritate you to no end". "He's the author and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning at shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart".

It says we have to fix our eyes on Jesus. He's the author and the completer of our story, who for the joy set before him endured the cross. Why would we do difficult things? Because on the other side of difficult are the best things in life. I've talked about that more in some previous sessions. I don't want to go back to that. But I assure you, if you'll just reflect on your life, those times when you were willing to walk through difficult places, you found something better. And when you are determined to push the easy button, every time you do, you forfeit something better. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross. He scorned the shame of that. He was hung naked, beaten almost beyond recognition, before his enemies. They had spit upon him. They blindfolded and hit him over the head again and again, and said, "If you're really the Son of God, tell us who hit you".

Oh, he could have. He could have caused them to melt. He wasn't without power or options. Then they made him carry his cross through the streets and out through the city gate where the criminals went, and they tortured him to death where criminals died. And his enemy stood at a distance and mocked him, and said, "If you're the Son of God, come down from there". And he could have. He endured the cross, scorning, and shame. Philippians chapter 2 gives us just a little more insight. Again, this is how it came to be understood in the hearts of the people of God. This is something Paul wrote a rabbi, a pharisee, someone trained in the mosaic law. Now an avid follower of Jesus writing to a church that he'd helped shepherd into existence, he said, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus," okay.

Did you know God cares about your attitude? You just thought he cared about your vocabulary and your wardrobe and your beverage list. No, he caress about what you're thinking. "Who, being in very nature God, didn't consider equality with God, something to be grasped, he made himself nothing, and took the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and he became obedient to death," obedient to the point of death, "even death on a cross! Therefore," therefore is a word that means in conclusion, in summary, because of everything I just said. I learned it as a boy, but it's a great rule. It's not original with me. When you find a "therefore" in your Bible, you should find out what it's there for. Because it's telling you this is a summary of what we just said. "Therefore," because of all those things, Jesus did, "God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that's above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father".

Because of the choices Jesus made, because he was willing to humble himself, to become a part of his own creation and suffer the the indignity of the frailties of being human, to be rejected and mistreated, because he was willing to be obedient to his Father's instructions, even to the point of death and at that, death on the cross. It said, "Therefore, God exalted him and gave him a name that's above every name in heaven, earth, under the earth". No one will ever challenge the authority of Jesus. He has the penultimate authority from the Creator of everything because of what he chose to do. So if you'll allow me, I don't believe I'm stepping, like, into some crazy peripheral place to say that God can give difficult assignments.

Obedience is seldom easy. The right things are typically not the easy thing. Being a person of integrity, it's probably not as easy as being a person who doesn't keep your word or keep your commitments, who doesn't mind your character. Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 8 says of Jesus, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience," at the fair. No, actually it says, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered". It's really noteworthy to me that Jesus had to learn to be obedient. He came from heaven. The perfect, sinless, obedient Son of God had to learn what it was to live out obedience in the frailty of an Earth suit that gets tired and grumpy and hungry. He laid aside the glory of heaven and whatever went with that.

We don't know yet fully what that means, but he became one of us so that we could have a different future. And then he said to me, said to every one of us, "Come to me," he said, "If you're weary, and you're tired. If you're worn down, if you've tried it on your own and it has worn you down," he said, "Come to me and take my yoke upon you. Be obedient to me, and you'll find an easier way," not an easy way, not an absence of conflict, not the removal of all difficulty, not an applause line every time you step into public, but it's worthwhile. Obedience is seldom easy. The temptation that comes to all of us is the temptation of easy. It's worth noting it came to Jesus. In Luke chapter 4, it says, "The devil led him," Jesus, "to a high place, and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, 'I'll give you all their authority and splendor, it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it'll all be yours.'"

Now, Jesus knows his assignment by this point. He's begun his public ministry. He's been to the baptism, the Jordan River, and been baptized by John. The Holy Spirit has descended upon him. And Satan comes and shows him the kingdoms of the world, and he says, "I have authority here". And Jesus knows it's true. It's why he came. Because when Jesus appears to John in the Book of Revelation in chapter 1, post resurrection, remember what he said to John? "I'm the living one. I was alive, and I was dead. And I'm alive forevermore. And I have the keys of death and hell". But Satan is offering him easy. No cross, no betrayal, no beating, no suffering, no Golgotha, just worship me. It's just us. I'll give you the authority I have. Now, Jesus understands it's a temporary authority, but it's a solution. It's a broker deal. It's a compromise. And he said, "Away from me".

Oh, it was a temptation because we find Jesus in Gethsemane. We're three years on the other side of this little temptation. It's not in your notes, but it is in your Bible. I try to do that. He's in Gethsemane on the night he's gonna be arrested, and he's praying, "Father, if there is any other way, I would rather go whatever that way is. Nevertheless, not my will but your will". I'm gonna see this through. I'm gonna be obedient. This is looking tougher than I thought it was gonna look. And they come to get him. And Peter, bless his heart, jumps up. And you know, he's gonna defend his best friend, and he cuts off a guy's ear. I don't think he was trying for the ear. It was another one of Peter's, you know, "He's my friend". And Jesus said, "Put your sword away. If I needed angels, we could call legions, thousands of angels. I gotta go do this. I gotta go do this".

The temptation of easy comes to all of us. It comes to me. It comes to you. We act like we don't know right and wrong. We act like we didn't hear, therefore, we don't have to say anything. We pretend like somehow it's murky to us or we don't understand. We just remove ourselves from the arena. We accept the temptation. We compromise. So, I wanna extend to you the invitation that Jesus gave us. It's Matthew 28, said, "Jesus came to his disciples," this is post-resurrection, "and he said, 'All authority in heaven on earth has been given to me. Therefore,'" here's your word, and it's appropriate English if you allow me, "'Therefore you go and you make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to,'" do what? Obey, "'teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I'm with you always to the very end of the age.'"

Jesus's abiding presence in my life and in your life, in our lives collectively in this generation, is connected to our willingness to accept the assignment, to go and make disciples of all the nations, to teach them, to obey everything he said. It's not up to us to sort out the ones that we like and we don't like. We begin by practicing obedience, and then we invite other people to join us. And when we see one another struggling, we say, "Come on. Let's do difficult together. Looks like a tough patch you're walking through. I've been there myself. Let's go. We can do this". That's why Hebrew says to us, tells us to encourage one another daily. Because most days, we all would benefit from a little encouragement. Let's do difficult. Let's determine to be the generation.

Our story hasn't been written yet. Our tagline is still emerging. They like to say that World War II generation was the greatest generation. What's gonna be said of us? We were the most convenient generation? We presided over the most precipitous decline of Christian influence in the history of civilization? I don't think so. You see, we have help, the power to complete the difficulty. I got about two minutes. We're gonna do this. In Scripture, and I'll do this, we'll develop this more in the next session. But in Scripture, the exercise of all true power rests with God alone. Forever. It's all his. He's the one who gives political power to whom he pleases. He strengthens those who wait on him. God revealed his power in creation and in unfolding the world and creation. And there's nothing that's too difficult for him. Nothing. He's not like us, but he's willing to call us his kids. And he simply says, "Will you yield your life to me"? Then we go, "Well, how much"?

So, I would just wrap this up with a reminder that we have help in Zechariah 4:6. And I chose this verse on purpose. I'll explain. It says, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel," if you can spell Zerubbabel, you get a gold star. Zerubbabel gets the the assignment of rebuilding the temple. He builds the second temple. The first temple was built by Solomon. It was destroyed by the Babylonians, and some years later, Zerubbabel gets the assignment to rebuild it. And this is the message the prophet takes to him: "'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord". He's been given an assignment to build a building, just to build the building. We build buildings every day. We see them all the time.

Now this one comes with some opposition, both physical opposition, political opposition, and I promise you, spiritual opposition. There were demonic assignments to keep that temple from being built. I mean, there were political orders, a lot of stuff. And the message from the prophet is "Not by might nor by power". Now, in English, there's more than one word we could use to talk about power or authority or strength. We get that. Well, the same is true in Hebrew. But the two primary words that are used for "might" or "power" are both in that verse. So the message to Zerubbabel is really a pretty inclusive message. It's not by your strength. It's not by your physical strength. It's not by the political power you have that gives you the grants to do this, but it's by my Spirit.

So that no matter what the opposition is, if it's political, if it's weariness, if it's weakness, if it's a lack of resources, whatever it is, there's a power available to help you complete the assignment. That is the place the church is going to have to arrive. We may see God's deliverance expressed in political arenas, in financial arena, in all sorts of places, but we understand the authority behind it is the Spirit of Almighty God. We have turned our hearts to all of those other things too often as the first imagined deliverance. "'Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord". Romans 8: "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you," and the assertion of Paul in Romans 8 is that's exactly who lives in you, "he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit".

When we prayed a few minutes ago, we asked God to do what we can't do. It's not some imaginary hocus-pocus. It's not wishing upon a star. It's not a Hail Mary. It's not a last ditch effort because we pushed every button and pulled every lever. In humility, we are turning the one to whom we have sworn allegiance. We call him Lord, the Creator of all things, and we've invited his power into our lives. Now, we prefer that power to make everything easy. And sometimes Jesus asks us to run, with perseverance, the race that's marked out for us. He asks us to endure. Because everything about life isn't easy. Evil exists. Bad things happen to good people. Aging brings some humility that we would never prefer to never encounter. I read that.

I'll close with Ephesians 1 without comment: "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us. Who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he," did what? "When he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, and power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come".

Choose obedience to the Lord. Let's break our addiction to easy. We've made too many bargains with the devil. I brought you a prayer. Why don't you stand with me? We can read it together. It's a great book end to the one we started with. Are you ready? Use your voice. Give it application in your life. If you just stand and listen, you step outside. Your words have spiritual authority, I promise. Together:

Almighty God, You've made the earth and everything in it. You change the times and seasons; You set up leaders and You depose them. You give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. We choose to submit to You, to follow in obedience with the strength You have provided. Now may the eyes of our heart be enlightened to know the hope to which you have called us, the riches of our glorious inheritance and the saints and Your incomparable power and work on our behalf, in Jesus' name, amen.

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