Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Big Changes Ahead - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Big Changes Ahead - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Big Changes Ahead - Part 2
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult

It's an honor to be with you today. We're gonna complete our discussion on Big Changes Ahead. You know, I think most of us imagine, at some point in our journey with the Lord, that we can convince God to change his mind. Well, at this point in my journey, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of the experience is God changing my mind. If we have the courage to allow the Word of God to change our minds, we'll get God-sized outcomes every day. Now, that's a better way to live. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, enjoy the lesson.

Turning the other cheek, that's difficult. Going the extra mile, that's difficult. Being a peacemaker, that's difficult. Telling the truth, ugh. So here's my suggestion, let's go do difficult. Let's go be different. Let's choose the path that's least taken. Let's go to work and decide we're gonna be somebody different. Well, I work with a bunch of dishonest, greedy, okay. That's called the mission field. I'll tell you what's worse. Find yourself with a bunch of dishonest, greedy people, and they call themselves Christians. That's a really awkward place. Then you're like, oh, what am I gonna do with this? There's a series of statements in Matthew chapter 5, I wanna take a minute with them. We won't go through all of them, but they're going to follow a pattern of Jesus introducing an idea by challenging an idea that is prevalent to his audience, and he does it by saying, you've heard it said, and then he tells them something that's pretty much common knowledge, commonly agreed upon.

Well, you have heard it said that Jesus was a pacifist, that he wasn't political, that he got along with everybody, that he loved everybody, that Jesus loved everybody. He just did, Jesus is all about love, group hug. Come on everybody in, let's hug it out. Well, God is love, but Jesus was not universally loved. In fact, he was frequently rejected. We've all heard this, you've heard it said that Jesus was non-political, non-confrontational, not disruptive, he avoided Roman authority, well, kind of. I mean, he looked at the most powerful Roman figure in the land of Israel, and he said, you have no authority over me unless my Dad gave it to you. That is not a passive response. Or maybe you've heard that Jesus was a revolutionary, and he rebelled against all authority.

Now we make him into kind of a fun revolutionary. The Bible says Jesus was a king, that he was sent to make a way for us to enter his kingdom, and he provided some brief glimpses into the nature of that kingdom, primary amongst those was a revelation of the Father. And if you want to enter his kingdom, the primary requirement is submitting to the authority of the king, the gospel. And I'm an advocate for the gospel, I've given my life to the gospel. It is disruptive, it's confrontational, and it's very irritating to those who refuse its message. I find them to be very intolerant of it, once they decide they're not going to accept it. In Matthew 5, and verse 38, Jesus is speaking, and he said, "You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'"

It's the law of the desert, it still reigns. "But I tell you, 'Don't resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.'" Now, I heard that used this week, by the leader of one of the most prestigious divinity schools, schools of religion in our nation. And he took that passage and he said this is evidence that Christians should never be disruptive, and he's a very disruptive person. I know a bit of his story, he's been an advocate for some very broad initiatives that oppose the fundamentals of the gospel, but he was using this passage against anybody who would dare to introduce a disruptive idea into the public discussion. He said, you're biblically illiterate, and he was using a very fancy language.

And the longer I listened, the more this study boiled in me, so you can blame him. I would submit to you that Jesus's response in Math, those four verses is a response of strength, it's not a passive one. You're saying if someone strikes you on the cheek, you can turn the other one. You ever played with a little child, and had him grab your face and push it. Have you ever had that happen? Do you go looking for a ball bat? No, you kinda giggle and go try this one. You understand the power dynamic, and you understand there's no threat. Oh yeah, here. You know who my dad is? Here, try this one again. Hey, pop. Here, you want this one. If somebody needs your tunic, let them have it. The cattle on 1,000 hills belong to me. It's not a passive response at all. And to take that passage and to convince God's people to sit down and shut up is an abuse of the scripture.

Jesus also talked about the forceful, taking a kingdom, and that no one took his life from him. No Roman soldier with a scourge, no Roman that could lay 39 lashes across his back took his life. The soldiers that stretched him out and drove spikes in him didn't take his life. At any point in the process, he was free and easy. We may face adversity and difficult and challenges, and we may seem like we're overpowered or outmatched or under resourced, but we are children of the king. And you're right, our IQ may not be the best, and we may not have studied at that school, and we may have come from the wrong side of the tracks and you're right, I have an accent. But have I told you about the kingdom to which I belong? Jesus isn't done. I put them out of order, because that first passage is the one that lit the fuse on this in me, so now I'll go back and put them in their order.

Verse 21, he said, "You've heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca.'" It means "worthless," the root of that word is to spit. Do you get the emotion of it? "Is answerable to the Sanhedrin," that's the religion, the Jewish political authority. "But anyone who says, 'You fool!' Will be in danger of the fire of hell". Wow, the law used to say if you murdered somebody, you're in trouble, Jesus said, if you just call people a name. Jesus isn't lowering the standards of holiness, he's upending the status quo. Do you know how disruptive that is? Do you understand the challenge that he's pushing to the audience? Can you feel the awkwardness in the room? Wait a minute, that's difficult. Yeah.

Verse 27, "You have heard that it was said, 'Don't commit adultery.'" Yeah, we've heard that. "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart". Woof, that's a scope change. Now he's talking about your cell phone, I mean, it used to be about like physical transgression, and now he's talking about the attitude of your heart. "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out, throw it away. It's better for you to lose one part of your body than your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off, throw it away. It's better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell".

Now, I don't believe Jesus is literally asking you to gouge out your eye or cut off your hand, but I would submit to you that is a very disruptive statement. He's not just echoing the party line. You know, people will say, well, we're not under the law anymore, we're under grace. Now there you go, there's a picture of grace, right there. Used to be, if you committed a physical transgression, you were busted. Now, Jesus said, if your thoughts wander. Again, is it possible we've been coopted by some sloppy agape, and some cheap grace, and some easy stuff? Could Jesus require more of us, could more be expected, in order to see the power of God move in our generation, is it possible that we might have to recalibrate a little bit? Is it possible that God intended us to have to have difficult conversations and stand in awkward places because there's a spiritual battle raging in the earth, and he prepared us for this generation to be salt and light, and to be standard bearers, and to take our place, to be watchmen on the wall, and say it's enough. Is it possible?

Well, it's going to require a new cadence from us, because we've kind of been coached, you know, doing difficult things at church is when we volunteer. Right? I mean, that's kind of what, you know, like, I'm not one of those people. You know, I don't know. He's not done. Jesus isn't lowering boundaries around holiness and purity. He's challenging the audience to move from a place of smug self-righteousness, and to begin to review their thoughts and their attitudes and their intent. Verse 43, "You've heard it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his son to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Not even the tax collectors".

I mean, even the tax collectors, he said, act that way. The most wicked people you can think of do that. "And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Don't even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". Now, if you pull that passage out of that context, you've got license now to go be great to everybody. You're immoral and ungodly and wicked and you're all, bless you brother. So you'll hear that a lot. I'm out here loving my neighbor for Jesus. Everybody come in. But if you go back at that passage before that, and he said, you know, if you've got a bad thought in your heart, you're gonna burn. Don't tell our neighbors that. And we've got to reconcile that sort of things. We have good news.

There's a God and you'll stand before him, and you'll be held accountable for your random thoughts. But it's possible to be forgiven and to be made righteous, but to do that, you're going to have to love him more than you love your parents or your children. You'll have to own the principles of the kingdom before those things. That's not easy. It's easier than standing before the king of all and the judge of all, unprepared and guilty, and having to pay the price for what you haven't been. There's a way out from under the guilt and the shame and the burden and the brokenness. But it's not easy, let's go do some difficult things. Peter, follow me, I'll make you a fisher of men. We all know the phrase, he walked away from his business, his friends, his routines, the place where he had expertise, he knew how to catch fish in Galilee.

He had no clue about what it meant to follow this crackpot from Nazareth. I mean, he's getting called out all the time. Do you have really such a little faith? Are you that dense, are you that slow and... yeah, let's go fish. I feel that way following the Lord. We've been so desperate to invite people in. We haven't been, well, we haven't had honest conversations about the benefit we've received, because we've been pretty slack with our thoughts and our behaviors, and folks, we have the same struggles in our families that ungodly people have. We wrestle with this stuff, we have the same enemy, he has the same plan of attack. We're bigger targets than those people that are already serving him. You've heard it said.

We're still in Matthew, Jesus is still talking, I'm telling you, this is some dramatic stuff. We're changing. I'm trusting the Holy Spirit to begin to say to you, hey, you park like a pagan. I'm kidding. We're building parking. "Then some of the Pharisees and the teachers of the laws came to Jesus from Jerusalem and they said, 'Why your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!'" Have you ever noticed that people who don't honor the Lord know how you should. I'm always intrigued with that. "Jesus replied, 'And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?'" That is not a conciliatory statement. That just isn't. They said, your disciples are misbehaving, and he said, you're misbehaving. "God said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'"

You can see him nodding, yes, he did. "But you say if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might have otherwise received from me is a gift devoted to God, then you don't have to honor your father with it. And in so doing you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites"! Again, that is not a bridge building phrase. "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you," now he's going to invoke the Hebrew prophets. "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; and their teachings are but rules taught by men". Now, he says this to the group that's come from Jerusalem, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, but he doesn't stop with that.

Now, those words are pretty harsh. I promise you, this is not a conversation where the warmth in the room is emerging. And then it says, "He called the crowd to him," turn my mic on. I want everybody to hear this, he said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth doesn't make him 'unclean,' what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'" That is turning their whole understanding upside down. Their whole menu has been dictated for them. If you go to Jerusalem today, the menus are kosher. You can't get meat in a dairy restaurant or dairy in a meat restaurant. If you order a pizza and there's cheese on it, they're not going to put meat on it. It's not kosher and we're too millennia removed and that's in a secular state.

Jesus is talking to a group of people. He said, listen to me, what's on your fork does not make you unclean. But what comes out of your heart does. I'm telling you that people are looking, what are you kidding me? And the disciples came to him. Psst, did you know that the Pharisees were offended? Yeah. "And he replied, 'Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.'" They're not in my garden. They're not in my kingdom. The next sentence is the most sobering. "Leave them; they're blind guides". Leave them. Don't pray for them, don't intercede for them. Don't continue going and win them with your perseverance. Leave them, get away from them, separate yourself from them, don't tolerate that. "If a blind man leads a blind man, you'll both fall in a pit".

Jesus is challenging again, we've seen it over and over and over again now, the leaders of the people. If you'll allow me, it is a very political dialogue. It's disruptive, it's uncomfortable. You are breaking the command of God, he said, for the sake of your tradition. And then he addresses the crowd, and he exposes the failures of their leaders, and he said, leave them. It is a very confrontational activity in which Jesus is engaged. If you go back to the passage from Isaiah, the invitation, he said, look, let's reason together for a minute. You can be willing and obedient, or you can resist and rebel, and you can choose which door you want. Church, let's vote for willing and obedient. Let's start to revisit that, let's start to say to the Lord, just candidly, my opinion isn't really what's gonna carry the day.

You start to talk to the Lord. Lord, if there's any place where I've been rebellious or disobedient, help me to see it. If there's any place I'm honoring traditions more than I'm honoring you, if there's any place I'm following along blindly, because it's more comfortable and more convenient and more easy, help me to see it. I want to honor you. I wanna eat the best of the land, I want the best that God has. But I'm gonna tell you the truth, it will take your best. Now, the rewards are amazing and the benefits are incredible. But it's a lot like other things you do that require self-discipline and perseverance and determination. There are seasons in the midst of that, when the rewards don't seem as imminent, and they seem a little uncertain, and it's uncomfortable and it's difficult, and there's people around you not doing what you're doing. Right? That sound right? Be willing to be different. Let's go to difficult.

In an age of easy, let's go be difficult. God has something good for you, you'll never regret it. There may be moments where you think, what have I gotten myself into? Don't you know there was days, Moses, you read, if you follow your heroes through the Bible, there's days Moses would say to God, God, I'm done with them, and God would say, oh Moe. Living Bible. And then there's days God would say to Moses, step back, I'm done with him. And Moses would say, no, your enemies will celebrate. I wanna pray with you, may we do that? We're gonna make a difference. We're gonna see a generation change, by the power of God. And he's gonna use a bunch of crackpots like us, people with southern accents, that eat country ham. Come on. Anybody in the house has never had a piece of country ham? Oh, bless your hearts. Why don't you stand with me? Did you know, God is able, he can help you with that. You'll need a local to tell you how to cook it, or you'll swear it's leather.

Mm, Father, thank you for your word. Lord, we want to honor you. Forgive us when we have said no, we've chosen our way and we have ignored the things we knew to be right or wrong. Lord, we come tonight in humility, not to assert our correctness, but to cry out to you and to acknowledge that our need for your help. Holy Spirit, you're our teacher, you're our guide. Give us understanding hearts and co-operative attitudes. Our choice is to be both willing and obedient. May we hear what you have to say, with greater clarity than we hear the messages of the world around us. May we love you more than we love family, or careers, or whatever else might be available to us. Help us, Father, to recalibrate where we need to, to give you first place. I pray for those tonight, standing in difficult places, with great pressure, that they would know your strength, and your wisdom. Lord, open doors where they're needed, bring help where it's needed, bring responses that only you can bring. I praise you for it, Lord, that we're not alone or abandoned or isolated. That we're children of the king, and that you're watching over your people in the earth. I praise you for it, in Jesus name, amen.

Are you Human?:*