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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Run With The Horses - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Run With The Horses - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Run With The Horses - Part 1
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult

It's my honor to be with you today. We're continuing our study on "Let's Do Difficult". You know, there's a part of our faith that isn't easy, and I think we have to have the courage to tell the truth about that. Coming to the cross and acknowledging our need of a Savior is a beginning point, but after that, learning to yield to the Lordship of Jesus, that'll take the very best you have, the very best self-control, the very best determination. It's a continual yielding on a daily basis to the Lordship of Jesus. We don't ever outgrow that, and we can't delegate it to someone else, and we can't join a church and make it easier. It's also the best part of following the Lord. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

We've been working through a series under the general title of "Let's Do Difficult". I don't believe our faith was intended to be easy, and, unfortunately, I think we have been, for the most part, addicted to comfort and convenience. So, we've been trying to establish some premises, kind of foundational ideas for this little series, like we did easy yesterday, that we're finished with easy, that we're willing to raise our hand and say, "We'll do difficult," or "Give us the assignments others don't want". We'll go to places where people don't wanna go. We will pray through those difficult places. If you're searching for men and women that will say yes to you, Lord, we wanna raise our hands. We wanna join that great chorus of men and women through the ages that have said, "Here I am".

Let's do difficult. Don't be afraid of it. Look, you can't do easy if God doesn't help you. Come on. The fact that we have small faith so we're afraid to trust God is not a declaration of great courage, and we're facing some real challenges. I was invited this week on rather short notice to go to Washington, D.C., to the Israeli Embassy with a group of people to review raw footage from October the 7th. I agree. I wouldn't describe it to you in this setting. It was more than unsettling. It was brutal, it was beastly, it was ghastly. It was all of those things. More than 1200 Israelis murdered. The darkest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust, by their explanation, by their neighbors.

There's a lot of feelings, a lot of questions, a lot of things to be sorted out, but it was video that was captured from body cams. Many of the Hamas attackers wore GoPros. Some was from security cameras, some was from cell phones, calling, they'd pick up the phone of someone that had been murdered and call their family back in Gaza and celebrate. "I've killed Jews today". And you hear voices shouting in the background, "Kill"! The most unsettling part wasn't the violence and the bloodshed. The most unsettling part was the absolute glee being expressed by those who were committing those heinous acts. Then they loaded some hostages. There's still 120 or so. The numbers are difficult, but more than 100 hostages. They put some of them in the back of pickup trucks along with some bodies. The request came from somebody in authority back in Gaza, "Bring some heads with you so we can carry them through the streets. We want the people to be able to celebrate our great victory".

And they put hostages in the back of the trucks and some of the bodies, and they drove back into Gaza, and this is the part that was, to me, was the most unsettling: thousands and thousands of people poured into the streets, celebrating with an enthusiasm that exceeds anything you'd see in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Ecstatic. Ecstatic. And if they could push their way through the crowds, and most of them couldn't, it was way to get to the truck where the hostages were, they'd begin their own expressions of abuse. I don't think you can understand what happened apart from a spiritual reality.

You see, there's a spirit that drives all of that. It isn't political. It isn't about a race of people or a form of government. It's an expression of hatred and violence and behavior that can only be understood as evil, and that is driven by a spirit. But I also listened to some interviews from families of hostages, and they're exerting all the pressure they're capable of on the Israeli government to make whatever deal is necessary to have the hostages released. I understand that. Makes sense to me. There's tremendous international pressure for a ceasefire. Some of the most elite leaders in our own nation, certainly in academia, have added their voices and their influence. They even refused to condemn the attack. Tremendous pressure.

Then there's the pressure from the citizens that live in that part of Israel whom the government had promised that if they would live there on the border, that they guaranteed their safety and security, and now more than 1,000 of them were dead. The attack took place on Simchat Torah. It's one of the most sacred of all the Sabbaths in Israel. It's the time of the year when they celebrate the completion of the scripture-reading-pattern cycle. They'll go to synagogue and they'll bring the tourist girls out on the streets, and they'll literally dance with the Torah. Tthe attack was timed to catch the Israelis at a most vulnerable, unprotected, unguarded moment, and, tragically, it was successful.

So, there's a tremendous breach of trust with their own citizens. As I sat and listened and I thought about it since, there's no easy answer to anything. Those that are making decisions right now, they're gonna do something difficult. You know, life doesn't always bring us easy things, and being a person of faith, being a born-again, Spirit-filled, Bible-reading, demon-chasing, prayer-praying Christ follower does not remove you from the arena of difficulty. Nonsense. And we've had this adjusted gospel, this easy believe-ism, this kind of shallow something or other.

Now, I'm happy when things are simple and when they go easily and when there's no complications. I rejoice on those days. But I wanna invite you to consider with me what it means to be the people of God that face difficult decisions because if we're not prepared for that, I do not have the imagination we can flourish with what's before us. We did easy yesterday. I put a quote in your notes. I thought it was fun. It's from Teddy Roosevelt. He said, "If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month".

In a culture of victims, I like that a lot. If you'll allow me, I wanna submit that we've lived apart from spiritual awareness for too long. We've been so blessed. We've had such abundance. We've had so much freedom and so much liberty and so much opportunity. We've imagined those things come from governments or politicians or political parties or academia or economic cycles or something. We have separated our world into religion and science and acted as if that made sense, as if science could provide all the answers to our lives. Really? Follow the science, we're told, that if you follow God, you're like a goofball. I'm an advocate for science. I spent a lot of academic time in the sciences. I have no problem with following the science. Science is a method. It's a method of understanding our world, of learning, of growing, of exploring.

When it becomes authoritarian and politicized, it's no longer science. When it changes its state borders, it's not science. I wanna invite you as God's people back to this awareness of God and the spiritual forces as transcendent in our world. I've fully acknowledged the empirical world of our senses that can be measured and evaluated and judged. It's important, I don't wanna deny it, but there's a greater authority, and the church has to believe that. In our recent snow and ice escapade, because in Tennessee if we have any snow and ice, it's an escapade. We do not do that gently. Someone told me that they saw a snowman, I suppose now that's a snowperson, in the yard, and they said they drove by and thought, "Isn't it a wonderful example of evolution? All those snowflakes just falling in the right place. And that carrot emerging right there in the middle of that top", yeah.

John chapter 4, in verse 24, says, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth". The church has got to understand our dependence upon the Spirit of God. I love to learn, I like to study, I believe in discipline, all of those things, but there's a component beyond us, beyond the nature of the fact that we are creatures: the Spirit of the living God within us. And we've got to be willing to open our hearts and our minds to that because we need outcomes that we can't organize. We need outcomes that are beyond our strength, beyond our wisdom, beyond our experience. It doesn't mean we won't work and use our strength and our experience and our resources, that we've expended all of those things. We're looking to God, saying, "Now bring an outcome that only you can bring".

It's the church's unique role. It's why we're salt and light. We're a conduit for something that this world does not represent. Evil exists in this world beyond the evil that just exists in the hearts of people. Beyond our carnal, selfish nature, there is an evil in this world. The New Testament describes it as principalities and powers and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. We looked at that in more detail in a previous session. And if we imagine we can challenge those spiritual forces of wickedness with only our intellect and our physical strength, I assure you we're overmatched. So, it's necessary for the church to be aware and to have a voice and the courage to use it, to acknowledge righteousness, to not capitulate. Our assignment is to not build bridges to evil but to have the courage to share the truth. Now, we can do it in love and compassion. We don't have to be angry or belligerent. We certainly don't have to be violent, but we cannot capitulate. We cannot.

Just a casual glance at current events shouts at what the prophet Isaiah described as having our eyes shut and our hearts covered. It seems we're not paying attention. I mean, it's as if we're in some sort of a stupor, some self-induced something, coma, with just self-gratification: "If it works for me and I'm happy and it looks like we're going along, okay, it's not my problem, and if I raise my hand or use my voice or I stood up or if I broke my routine or I missed whatever, it might have an impact upon me. It might force me to sacrifice something, and if it caused my children to sacrifice something, then, by all means, I wouldn't do it".

If you're looking for the label for that, it's cowardice. Failure to stand up for what's right may have an immediate cost, but the failure to do that will have a much higher cost, not only for you but for the generations you think you're protecting with your silence. History validates that. It's not my imagination. Just a real casual review, you don't have to, I'm not asking you to scour the media for the greatest events. Just a pretty quick glance through the window of recent history was September the 11th, 2021, that the United States withdrew from Afghanistan. September the 11th 2021, not very long ago, not quite three years, about 2 1/2 years. We abandoned Bagram Air Force Base for our own security here in Middle Tennessee, one of the most strategic places on the planet, and wherever else you might live in this nation.

We abandoned US citizens and personnel, breaking our commitment to people who had supported us in a 20-year war within days, and honestly, within hours. With that last plane taking off, many of you remember the pictures: people hanging on the planes. Within hours of that departure, the Taliban was in control of Afghanistan. Women were being brutalized. Children began to suffer in new ways again. Billions of dollars of weapons were in Taliban control. September the 11th, 2021. Scroll forward just a few months, not long, not long at all. February of 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine.

Now, there were many factors to that. I agree, it's a complex thing, but a significant factor in that was our nation's unwillingness to deconstruct provocation. We took positions and asserted policies that made that invasion almost a certainty. No question. Since that time, since February of 2022, just two years, the United States has provided more than $75 billion in support because the border of Ukraine was violated. There have been more than 500,000 casualties in two years. You haven't heard any demands from the international community for humanitarian ceasefires. You haven't heard any rumbling from the intellectual elites of our most celebrated universities. I won't call them prestigious anymore. They're just celebrated. Five hundred thousand casualties.

Scroll forward two years: February of 2024. Our own nation is unwilling to protect our border. They actually, with a straight face, look at us and say, "We don't have the money to build a fence". But we're busy. We got ball games to go to, things to do and trips to take and vacations to plan, so we don't really pay much attention. Millions of people have invaded our own country illegally. Illegally is the important part. We're a nation of immigrants. I'm an advocate for immigration, but it needs to be done legally. Otherwise, we're giving multiplied millions of people from more than 160 nations. Many estimates suggest that since 2021, eight million people have made their way illegally into our nation. If they gain access illegally, there should be no imagination that they're required to obey any of the other laws that we have. It's just fanciful. It's a fantasy. Then we act like we don't notice. And the Christian community says, "Well, it's compassion".

Folks, if you help somebody do something that's illegal, you're not being compassionate. You're an accessory. And the illegal behavior continues with very minimal consequences. This is not imagination. Just this past week, we found out, coming from the halls of Congress, you can drive if you're illegal, if you're here illegally, and if you're here legally, if you're a citizen, this does not apply to you, but if you're here illegally, you can drive under the influence of alcohol and be arrested for felonies, and that's not sufficient reason for any significant punishment. We certainly wouldn't deport you. We'd want to participate with your illegal behavior. That's per our Congress.

Multiplied billions of dollars for borders of other places and such a lack of concern for our own citizens and the quality of life in our cities, for our health care systems and our educational systems, and the people that are trying to make our local communities work, that we just close our eyes and stop our ears at millions of people flooding into our nation illegally from the nations of the world. I've read multiple reports of late that said the attack of October the 7th in Israel is some form of that is almost a certainty in our nation. Do you think the spirits of hatred... folks, if it isn't about race and it isn't about organized religion, if it's spiritual, do you think those spirits aren't present in our nation? Spiritual forces are shaping our lives more than economic and political forces are. What we're watching, if you just watch it casually, you don't have to study it. You don't have to meditate on it. Don't give great hours to it.

If you watch it just casually, it's very plain it is both illogical. It cannot be understood in terms of economic or political policy. It breaks all rational streams of thought that way. And I know the answers. I hear them frequently. "Well, to make changes will be difficult. We have systems". Stop telling me about your systems. If there's millions of people pouring across the border, I don't wanna hear about a system. Or we say, "Well, you know, I'm not responsible". No, you're responsible for your table, for your little sphere of influence. "Well, I'm doing okay". That is a very short-sighted perspective. And this is probably the most honest thing I hear: "Well, I would really prefer someone else do something. So, can we elect somebody or we could appoint somebody or will you be a spokeswoman? Can we get somebody to do something"?

Well, go home and find a mirror and make the announcement: "I have found someone". It's a beginning point. So, here's the invitation: Let's do difficult. I would submit to you that throughout the course of scripture, throughout the story of the Bible, season after season, place after place, change in empire, whatever it may be, God has called on his people to do difficult things. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the book of Jeremiah, and I think Jeremiah has one of the most difficult job descriptions in the Bible. He's a prophet in Jerusalem and his message is "Destruction is coming and there's nothing you can do".

That will not get you invited on the A-List Banquet Circuit. I promise, it will not. He didn't get to announce that there was going to be a great deliverance or a supernatural intervention. He's saying to the covenant people of God, "The enemy is coming, and your blood will run in the streets because of the condition of your heart, so there's nothing you can do". Jeremiah has complained to the Lord, and God answers Jeremiah. Chapter 12 and verse 5, you have it. He said, "Jeremiah, if you've raced with men on foot and they've worn you out, how can you compete with the horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan"?

Then maybe it's 'cause I grew up around horses. I spent a bit of time in stalls and cleaning those, doing all the things you have to do if you spend time around horses, and as a little boy, when I was around them, they frightened me. They were stronger than I was and more powerful than I was, and they snorted and stomped and blew, made a mess. I knew I was overmatched completely. My dad was a veterinarian. He didn't have that fear. He loved horses. So, if you lived with him, you were gonna learn to be around horses. I complained. It was not registered. If he needed an assistant, I was the oldest for a while, I got recruited. My brothers, thankfully, stepped into the breach, but for a while I was the recruit. You know how that works, right? You go into a stall of some old farmer's barn, and if you haven't been in farmers barns, they don't clean their stalls, like, every four hours, so there's an accumulation of organic matter, and they're often not lit very well, and it's not uncommon that they don't call the veterinary until the end of the day, 'cause they wait all day to see if the horse is gonna get better.

When the horse doesn't get better, it's getting dark, "Maybe we better call the doc". So, off we go in the dark. So, we take a flashlight in there. We'd catch the horse and secure him, and he'd begin the examination, and that sounds polite, but if an animal doesn't feel well, if they got a cut or a puncture wound or an abrasion and it's gonna require treatment, guess what the doctor's gonna do? He's got a push on it, prod it, poke in it, irritate it. If you've never been around a horse, they don't like that. They just don't, so they get agitated. Guess what your assignment is? Hold the horse still. Oh, sure, no problem, Obi Wan.

Well, you know, I weighed in at about 120, all muscle, and he makes the diagnosis and he's gotta go back to the truck to get the medicine to take care of the sick animal. "But we won't turn the horse loose, so I'm gonna leave you alone in the dark". You know what you do during those little interims, right? You pray for the Rapture, right? "God, any moment now". But I had enough experience that horses don't frighten me, big ones or little ones, angry ones. But I was always amazed at their strength. They can pick you up off the ground with just their neck, even be today. That's a lift. Tremendous strength. And God says to Jeremiah, "Jeremiah, if you're complaining because you're running with the foot soldiers, son, I need you to run with the horses".

Somebody stopped me somewhere along the street. She said, "Yeah, but it's been difficult". Okay, I'm asking you to recalibrate, recalibrate. Difficult for a toddler is different than difficult for a 16-year-old. It's different for someone who's 30. We recalibrate all through our lives. I'm asking you to begin to prayerfully say to the Lord, "I would like to grow with you. Let's do difficult. I wanna run with the horses".

And God asked Jeremiah what he would do when the times got more difficult. The reality is we can't run with the horses. It's impossible. But with God's help, we can outrun whatever is before us. Let's pray:

Father, we stand in your strength and your strength alone. May we be more aware of your provision than our own inadequacy. I thank you for it in Jesus's name, amen.

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