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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Run With The Horses - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Run With The Horses - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Run With The Horses - Part 2
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult

Good to be with you today. We're gonna continue our study on "Running With the Horses". Folks the most honest answer I have is the season in front of us is gonna be challenging. But here's the good news, there's nothing in front of us that frightens, intimidates, or threatens God. If we'll turn our attention to him, and trust him, and walk in obedience to what we know, God will bring victory to our lives. He is faithful. Enjoy the lesson today.

I want to begin with just a simple reminder that I hope will give you some sense of relief that you're not alone, that we're not left to ourselves. There's a phrase used by in the scripture with regard to the Lord in Psalm 46, and verse 7, it says, "The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold". It's not as plain in English. It's a bit more poetic. I think it's really intended to be less confrontational, but the Hebrew word is the Lord of the armies. It's the modern Hebrew word for army, the Lord of the armies, the Lord of the Angel armies is with us. You'll need to say that a bit. You'll need to walk around with it and live with it. You'll need to drive to work tomorrow. When the Lord of the angel armies is with me, you'll need to face the challenges that fill your life. Saying to yourself, I know that I'm promised that the Lord of the Angel armies is with me.

We're not by ourselves. There are things we can do, there are things we're capable of. There are assignments we're asked to take. But at the end of the day, we're dependent upon the Lord of Host, the Lord of the angel armies. Look at Isaiah 2, "For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning. Against everyone who is proud and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That they may be abased". Says the Lord of the armies will have a day of reckoning and everyone who has stood against him will be abased. It's kind of a fancy way of being made low. They're gonna get their legs swept and who's their opposition? The Lord of the Angel armies. There's a picture of it in the Book of Revelation. I don't have the verbal skills, but John describes a scene that he saw and it's truly remarkable. He said, I looked and I heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.

A hundred million angels. Hello? I mean in broad terms, about a third of the population of the US. You can't see them all in one setting. You need a drone overfly. You need something to bring perspective, horizon to horizon, disappearing into the horizon before you. The angels of God, "In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'" All of those things he intends to express through his people. So please don't be offended by any of them. If they're not inappropriate for our Lord, and I don't think we should imagine and they're inappropriate when they're given expression in our lives.

We get mad at one another about some weird things, "Then I heard every creature in heaven on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped". And I want to ask a question. You've got this amazing scene, millions upon millions of angels. Folks, there would be no reason for angel armies if there is no resistance. We have rather naively and politely, I might add, ignored the powerful influences of evil. We just wanna act like it doesn't exist. After all it might be offensive to say, well, that's evil.

The reason we have scripture and we can derive from that a biblical worldview, is God helps us understand good and evil. It's not about our opinion. You understand that? Because you and I have participated in things that were ungodly and we came up with a rationale that convinced us, it was okay for us to do it. And when God in his mercy enables us to come back to our senses, we repent of those things and say, God, I'm sorry. I chose wrongly. I wanna go another way. If you chase those things without limit, you find yourself standing in the midst of evil. And Jesus told us the outcome of evil. He said, evil comes to steal, to kill and destroy every time. You don't negotiate with evil, you don't compromise with evil, you don't enter into dialogue with evil. The only thing evil will yield to is a power greater than itself. It's why the church is essential. It's why a church that believes in angel armies is essential. It's why a spiritual church matters. We're not a Bible studies society.

Again, I love to learn, but we're more than that. And we have naively ignored the powerful influences of evil too long. They are burgeoning around us. You don't have to travel to see them. When we have left evil to be the responsibility of governments, of armies, of first responders, we put people in uniform and say go stop evil. And when they don't do it the way we like, we say, we're gonna to defund you. And somebody has the audacity to stand up and say, the ones responding to evil have caused it. And if we'll just talk nicely, evil will go away. What in human history suggests that's the truth? Nothing is the answer. I can walk you through generations, and empires, and nations, and cultures. And they have had the audacity to stand in front of us and say, if you'll just be polite, evil will yield. It's a trick. It's a lie. And I can make it more personal. We should not require the government to say that pornography doesn't belong in the elementary school libraries. I mean, I'd be happy for them to say it, but we shouldn't make it their requirement.

Here's just the simple truth. Schools should not be sexualizing our elementary children beyond the reach of their parents. They should not. And for those of you that are still sorting it out, this is not about banning books. That is a false statement. It's deceptive. It's manipulative. This is about age appropriate opportunities. We don't sell alcohol in elementary schools nor do we teach drivers ed. It's not because the children aren't uniquely talented, or qualified, or have wonderful potential. They haven't developed a physical and emotional maturity to deal with those responsibilities. So why would we expose them to sexually explicit material apart from parental in involvement? It's evil. And why would we elect people who promote such things? What has happened to us? What has happened to us?

We've got to be ready to run with the horses. Don't forget the Lord of hosts folks. There is a day of reckoning. And if you're silent, you will not like the outcome on the day of reckoning. If you're doing our Bible reading with us, we're in the Gospel of Luke. Then I read a verse. It was a part of this week's reading that spoke loudly to me. I'll share it with you. It's Luke, 72:9 says, "(All the people," it's a Jesus commentary on John the Baptist. So he's reviewing a bit of John's ministry and John's life. And he said, "(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God's purposes for themselves, because they hadn't been baptized by John.)"

So John is the one who prepared the way the forerunner. He was the advanced team for the ministry of Jesus. And now Jesus is bringing context to the opportunities that John made available to everybody. And the message is that the most wicked, amongst the most celebrated sinners amongst you, that would have been the tax collectors. They were the thieves, they were the turncoats, they were the ones that betrayed their own citizens and line their own pockets with the money that they gained because of Roman enforcement. And the prostitutes, the immoral and the thieves amongst you repented. But he says of the Pharisees and the experts in the law, and by that, he means the law of Moses. So those are the most religious amongst you, the ones that know the rules, the ones who stand most close to the shadow of the temple.

The statement that caught my attention was they rejected God's purposes for themselves. They came to a fork in the road. There was a lot of momentum for it. There were enormous crowds of people coming to John. They could have to a degree blended in, but not completely. I mean, it would have taken a tremendous degree of humility to submit to John, to present yourself to John in the desert. They're the power brokers in the temple, Herod's temple, one of the most elaborate structures in the Roman world. It's expansive, a wonder of the ancient world and they control it. They're over in charge of it to wander 20 miles into the desert to the Jordan river, to let some guy dressed in Camel's hair, baptize you. I mean, he didn't go to the right schools. He speaks with an accent. Got a big leather belt that eats weird food. Who does he think he is calling us to repentance? You can't even pass our entrance exams.

Where did he study? But they're also experts in the laws of Moses. They know right and wrong. You see, we're not the first generation to cover our eyes and stop up our ears. We're not the first generation to have so much to think, I think I'll just play the hand I've been dealt. I don't wanna go join that fringe thing. I don't want to get in the midst of that fanatical stuff. I'm good. See, we tend to imagine we're the first. This is the first time these choices have ever been pushed upon the people of faith. It's not folks. The church in Europe made these decisions in some very awkward ways. The church in our nation made these decisions while slavery flourished. The church in our nation made these decisions when civil rights was a thing. Church is making these decisions again, while millions of babies have been sacrificed. And now our children are being mutilated. What Jesus had to say is relevant to us. It's goofy to study first century culture and not talk about the implications for the 21st century.

Many things contribute to our choices to reject God's purposes for ourselves. And many things contribute to our decisions to accept God's purposes. Jesus told a parable, Luke's Gospel, same author so there's a consistency of thought. Jesus is telling a parable. He said, "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and look down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable". Unfortunately, one of the characteristics of contemporary American evangelicalism is we've tried to make everybody secure in their own righteousness. Just if it's unassailable, don't have to think about that, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector".

One apparently Godly and one very, apparently not. "The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other men, robbers, and evildoers, and adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of all that I get.'" What a happy fellow, "And the tax collector stood at a distance. And he wouldn't even look up to heaven, but he beat his breast and said, 'God have mercy on me, a sinner.'" And then Jesus gave an explanation. He said, "I tell you that this man, the tax collector rather than the Pharisee went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted".

So I brought you a couple of really quick lists. And I didn't bring all the scripture to support them because you didn't want to stay for the day. I had that discernment. There's some things you can do that will catalyze, that will accelerate your ability to embrace difficulty. The catalyst doesn't change the outcome. It just accelerates it. And we want to do, I want to do the things in my life that enabled me to get to God's outcomes as quickly as possible. I don't want to show up with my heels, having been dug in and the marks in the dirt the whole way of my life. There's enough of those seasons, but I don't want to institutionalize it.

So there's some things you and I can do, and these are all personal choices. They're not about others. One is humility. Decide to humble yourself. No one else can humble you. If someone else brings humility to you, it's called humiliation. It's the same kind of place, but one is self induced and the other is forced upon you. It's better to humble yourself than be humiliated. Jesus talked about that. He said, you know, if you go to a banquet, don't go take the best seat. He said go take an insignificant seat and then if they want to bring you to the front, you'll get the blessing. But if you go take the front seat and they don't want you there, you're gonna be moved. He said, humble yourself and you won't be humiliated.

You can humble yourself. Humility comes to you indirectly. You can't order it on Amazon. Nobody's gonna deliver it to you. You can't get it off the shelves at Walmart. You build humility indirectly. You think of others. You live sacrificially. You practice generosity. There's a whole host of behaviors you can engage in that will allow humility to grow in you. And there are very few things in all of the Bible that have more promises and blessings attached to them than humility. I'll give you the short version. Says, God promotes the humble and he opposes the proud. Now, if there's one line you don't want to be in, it's the line of people that God said, I'm going to oppose you. Because if God is standing against you, the outcome is just not gonna be great. I grew up in a barn in Tennessee, but I got that one.

Number two is, make a commitment to honor the Lord in your life. That's just a daily thing when you start your days, when you end your days, however you wanna do that set. That is, is, this is the boundary for my day today. I'm gonna honor the Lord and how I do business and how I talk to people and how I drive. Some of these will take more time than others. Again, it's not beyond you. It's not about knowing Greek or Hebrew, or knowing more about the character of God. You've got enough awareness as a Christ follower, the Spirit of the Lord within you. You know, when you're dishonoring the Lord, stop it. Well, sometimes... no sometimes. Just make the decision to honor the Lord.

Number three, cultivate a repentant attitude. Repentance says when you recognize that you haven't honored the Lord, you change how you thought about that. I used to think that was okay, but I don't think that's okay anymore. And with a change of thought, comes a change of behavior. That's repentance.

Number four, cultivate a listening heart. Care about God's opinion. Not just my feelings, and my thoughts, and my wants. Those things, they get pretty frequent expression in the world of Allen because on the radar screens of my awareness, those are the things that flash up first. I have to cultivate the determination to listen to God. How does God feel about this? Do I know anything from scripture that gives me an opinion or a perspective? What if I talk to some people whose faith, spiritual life I trust and I value, and whose maturity I look up to? Would they have an opinion on this?

And number five, is develop the bias towards action. If you prefer a biblical word, a servant. Now, I know somebody's gonna pop up and say, well, what about Mary and Martha? Well, thank you. I'm not suggesting that you never listen. I've already encouraged you to have a listening heart. But folks, the attitude in the church, I spent my life in the church. So I'm at least entitled to an opinion and it's an informed opinion. It's not just some random opinion from an outsider that the general model of movement in the church goes something like this. Ready? Aim, aim, aim. Let's have a prayer meeting. Aim, aim, has God given anybody a verse? Aim. Oh, we should form a committee and study this thoroughly. Aim. What were we looking for? I would like to suggest another model. Ready? Fire, fire, fire.

Do we need a course adjustment? Fire, a bias towards movement, a bias towards movement. Evil will not wait. Well, you have a six week assessment. I'm tired of waiting for election cycles. Why don't we have a change of heart without an election cycle? My time's up but I brought you a list of enemies that doing the difficult, they're just the opposite. I'll touch a couple of them. That first one's kind of fun. Entitlement versus requirement. I saw somebody else make a portion of this and it made me smile. He talked about entitled mints, like a little box of them. And the next time you're giving expression to your sense of entitlement, pop them in. You know, you're at Starbucks and your chai latte comes out with almond milk and you ordered oat and it's ruining your day. Have a mint. We could spend a lot of time with that. The alternative is understand, you're gonna have to accept some of the requirement of discipline.

So when it doesn't go your way, take a different mint. Oh, that's necessary to build the character in me. To let the strength be formed in me, so that I can run with the horses. Watch out for those things that will stop you from doing the difficult. Don't feed indulgence, don't be emotionally indulgent. Don't be spiritually indulgent. Just don't be sloppy. Failure and fatigue. You're gonna fail. I'm gonna fail. There's how you grow. Do you ever watch kids learn to walk? What if you said, unless your child can walk without following your child is wrong. We're all wrong. We're not weevils. We wobble when we fall, then we get back up. Fail forward. I don't like failing. Neither do I. But if you're gonna do anything as significant, you're going to.

So many of us, we fail until we have something that kind of works and we don't ever try anything else again. That's a very destructive waste of your life. I'm tired. Duly noted. Let's go anyway. The world's built by tired people. All the rest of the people are watching. Wave at him. Self righteousness and criticism. Just don't spend your time looking down on everybody, look at them with compassion. The Lord did such a thing in my heart. It's been a while now, but you know, people used to annoy me to no end. That's a problem if you're in ministry. And when they did, they just bugged me. I didn't like them much. I thought God, have you seen the church? They're messed up. They're wicked, and broken, and sinful. I mean, greedy and selfish and I mean, they are a mess. 'Cause they'd come see me and tell me about it. And then some way the Lord made it so clear that that's why he put me here. I fit right in. And that the assignment was to learn to love people like he did. And if you're mad, and torqued up, and angry, and nobody's doing it right, I'm just like stop. Find yourself in that parable Luke gave us from Jesus.

One last thing, disrupt your difficulty, and then we're gonna pray. The tyranny of comfort and convenience. Folks just don't make them your goal. I'm not opposed to comfort and I'm not opposed to convenience. In fact, I prefer them if I get to choose, but I'm not going to allow my life to be built off of those two decisions. I'm going to choose some things that require perseverance and self discipline and sacrifice. Seeking the Lord requires those things. We looked at that in the previous session, how Daniel spent weeks seeking the Lord and God sent an angelic messenger to him and said, you are highly esteemed in heaven. That's what heaven's opinion of you is. It's worth thinking about. I'm not suggesting you earn your way to heaven. I'm suggesting you give your best to the Lord. There's a difference.

Let's run with the horses, folks. I know they're stronger and they're faster, but we've got angel armies. They're going to help us. I brought you a prayer. Why don't you stand with me? My time's up and some. It's not original. I borrowed it from Daniel chapter 4. His prayers worked out really, really well. The jury is still out on some of mine. So I thought we'd borrow one of his. I hope you take these prayers and you use them throughout the week. Make them a part of your daily devotional, share them with somebody at work, email them to somebody. Do something. Don't just hold them, don't just throw them away. This one isn't even mine. Let's read it together:

I praise the Most High; I honor and glorify him who lives forever. His Dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. And no one can hold back his hand or say to him: What have you done? Amen. That's our God. Amen.

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