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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Seek The Lord - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Seek The Lord - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Seek The Lord - Part 1

My topic for this session is pretty straightforward and if you've looked ahead, don't be discouraged, I don't really imagine that we can read all of those scriptures. But I wanted you to know that the topic, the theme, of this session is not some obscure idea. It's not some unique verse that I have peeled out of scripture to highlight. We could spend several sessions on this theme and I don't know that we will, but I wanna present it to you as a response, an appropriate response, to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, these days. We're gonna talk about seeking the Lord. But I wanna begin with borders and boundaries. There are so many ways to use those words and so many applications, but I'll start with Deuteronomy 27 and verse 17. Says, "Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor's boundary stone. And all the people shall say, 'Amen'".

If you know the context, it's in a chapter where God is giving the people a series of blessings and curses to pronounce over themselves. And it's a covenant that they're making with God. And he's showing the boundaries for how they should live as a people, how they should live as individuals, as families, as tribes, and as a nation. And one of his statements is if you move a boundary stone, before we had surveyors and GPS and blue-line drawings and civil engineers, the boundaries of properties and nations and individuals would be marked by stones, objects that were not easily moved. And so it's a prohibition of moving a boundary stone, of failing to recognize a border. And he said if you fail to recognize the border, there's a curse upon you.

And I'm not suggesting there's a one-to-one correlation with the boundaries of nations today. But I'm telling you that the idea of boundaries and borders is biblical long before it made it into the idea of a civil engineer. Hosea chapter 5 and verse 10. Judah's leaders... Judah is one of the 12 tribes. "Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I'll pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water". Clearly, God does not consider it insignificant if you try to erase or move a border. And then in Matthew 24 this is Jesus's most lengthy prophetic discourse and I'm just taking one verse. But the larger context is about what we can anticipate as we draw nearer and nearer to the end of the age. He said, "Because lawlessness has increased, most people's love will grow cold". I took that from the New American Standard. The NIV says, "Wickedness will increase".

I believe lawlessness is a little more direct translation. A lack of respect for the law will increase to the point that love will grow cold. Not too many sessions ago, we talked that in the Greek language, there's more than one word for love. You know, language brings with it limits. One of the things that I regret about the coarsening of the English language, and it is growing more coarse, we communicate in 22 word bites or with emojis. It's okay with me. I like the ease and convenience, but as it grows more coarse, it becomes less specific. And in English, we have one word for love. You can love your children and you can love your goldfish. That's unfortunate because you can flush your goldfish down the toilet. And that would not be the appropriate approach for your children.

In the Greek language, there's multiple words for love. The one that is used in this verse, the reason I took a moment, is the word that is usually used to reference God's love. So it's the love in the hearts of God's people that will grow cold because lawlessness will escalate. Now, I would submit to you that we are witnesses to a very intentional and very systematic dismantling of borders and boundaries. It is not new. It is well underway. If I were helping my dad make a diagnosis on an animal, I would say that the disease process has progressed to a frightening point, a tipping point. If there's not an intervention soon, I don't believe it can be reversed. And it isn't clear to me whether it can be reversed. Apart from God, I have no hope of that, at this point. It's not a new thing. It began rather subtly, wrapped in a great deal of language that was suggesting compassion.

But in reality, it was a very purposeful and intentional, from this vantage point is much easier to see, unleashing of chaos and confusion. Wasn't too many years ago, it seems, that sanctuary cities were advertised. They were welcoming. They were actually... what they were advertising for and welcoming illegal immigrants. Those same sanctuary cities refused to enforce federal law or to even hold the illegal population to the same legal standards of local citizens. That's just a matter of record. That isn't about opinions and then those same cities demanded federal funding. They said, "We're gonna reject federal law, but we still want tax dollars to do what we want to do with".

And because there was so much language wrapped up around in it and if you weren't participating in one of those places or you weren't affirming of them, there were some pretty hateful labels affixed to you. For the most part, we were quiet. There was a great political advantage in sanctuary cities. It garnered good press and public goodwill. We watched that idea be expanded and fueled and broadened until now we have an open border and the advertising of a sanctuary nation. It's understood across the globe, around the earth, people have come from more than 160 different nations, that our borders are not enforced, that federal laws are ignored. Funding is still being demanded.

Security doesn't matter. And for some reason for the most part, we have just been silent. I guess whether we imagined it wouldn't affect us, it wouldn't impact us, it didn't matter. That's extraordinarily naive. We see exploding homeless populations. Should we be surprised when well more than 10 million people have flooded across our border, in very short order? They came without housing, they came without jobs, they came without resources. Where would we imagine the people would go? And the people that were already on the margins are displaced by this tidal wave, by this invasion of people who are here illegally. There's lots of ways you could see it. We could talk about it for the entire session. I don't want to do that but US citizens were mandated to receive a vaccine or we were told they would forfeit jobs and businesses.

We watched with some horror, some of us, that many of our finest military personnel were discharged for refusing a COVID vaccine. Yet that same government that implemented those mandates and enforced those rules on federal employees and others, that same government welcomes millions of illegal entries without requiring any health screening whatsoever. We're told repeatedly by our most powerful officials that "the border is secure. There's nothing to see. Don't look here". And if we raise an objection, we're denounced and labeled as xenophobic or lacking in compassion or some other term that's intended to bully and silence us. Not only are our borders being ignored, there's a very aggressive move under way to remove our individual boundaries in our lives and our homes, to separate us from traditions and values which have been foundational to our civil liberties and strength since our founding as a people.

Public authority is being swept aside. It's being attacked relentlessly in a multi-front way. For years now, we have tolerated the demands to defund the police. We have witnessed the vilification of those persons who run towards trouble on our behalf. They will scour the ranks of those who are first responders across our nation until they can find one example of poor behavior and then make it an unrelenting poster with a mantra that all the police are wicked and evil and should be defunded. The outcome of that... we're far enough into it, outcomes are visible now: we have increased crime rates, unsafe cities, brazen theft, looting, thieves will descend on a store in a matter of minutes, completely empty it, like a swarm of locusts, violent crimes, criminals repeatedly released. The headlines have become so common, so frequent, we hardly notice anymore.

Police officers can only restrain crime with the consent and the support of the governed. It's a very small population of people. You've heard the expression: the thin blue line. It's an accurate description. They don't have the power, they don't have the numbers. The only way that they can enforce anything that seems like civil order is if they have the support and the consent of the governed. And we have witnessed the purposeful dismantling of that. No profession could withstand the scrutiny and the criticism that our first responders have endured in recent years. The support for law enforcement has been intentionally deconstructed and the predictable outcome, and I want to underline predictable because those who are doing this want the outcome.

The predictable outcome is growing chaos. Our cities are not safe. I've been in many of them in recent months. In city after city that when I meet with the Christians, they say to me, "Don't go to this part of town and please don't go to this part of town". Beyond that, marriage has been redefined. Our society will not hold together if the biblical concept of marriage and family can be pushed aside. It matters not who's elected or what the economy is or the strength of the dollar or how much gold and silver you have buried in your backyard. If they can totally disrupt the notion of the biblical notion of marriage and a nuclear family, our society will unravel summarily. The nuclear family has been set aside. Biblical perspectives on sexuality and purity are viewed as quaint by our so-called intellectual elites.

Folks, they are not elite and they're not intellectual. Those things have been set aside for our more enlightened views. We're told that how we choose to identify is more important than our physical reality. We're told that, but it's not true. Most egregious is the startling reality that children are targets. I hope you've awakened to that. They're not going to be targets. They're not going to become targets. They have been targeted for quite a season now. And we have been rather distractedly not paying attention. Hormone therapies, physical mutilation, are common in our most prestigious medical centers and they use junk science to support it. Pornography in our elementary school libraries, and you don't have to go any further than Rutherford County to find this. You don't have to travel to some other city or some other state. And the books are defended by some members of the school board in our community and by those, some of those, sitting on our city council.

And if that's not enough, churches to far greater an extent, remain silent, or worse, are supportive of the ungodly immoral choices. I spent last week or a good part of last week in Nashville at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. And there was an encouraging note. There's some very bright people, very clever people, very talented people, working desperately to make an impact with the biblical worldview in our nation and beyond. But it's equally clear that there's a significant division in the church. People who refuse to look at current events and they prefer to do more sterile Bible studies about the culture of the first century. Well, I spent a good bit of my life trying to understand the culture from which our scriptures emerged. But the point of doing those historic studies is that we might understand the implications of the gospel for the world in which we live now.

So the question that we're asked all the time is what can we do? Well, what we can do is the point of much of what we are doing as a congregation these days. There's much we can do. You see, God doesn't need a majority. God isn't concerned about the election. I understand elections have consequences and outcomes. And it's desperately important that we participate in the process, but God doesn't need a majority because truth has an authority in and of itself. What God needs is a people who will stand for his truth. And if we will do that, he will respond and we will see outcomes that are expressed through elections and other places. So we give you tools like studies on determined faith.

In this session, I wanna give you a response point. What we can do is seek the Lord. That's not some platitude. That's not some warmed-over idea. I want to invite you. I want to plead with you. I wanna prod you. I wanna drive you away, if necessary, from the notion that you have recited the sinner's prayer and been dipped in a pool and there's nothing left for you to do. That's a deceptive lie from the pit. Now, I'm a believer, I'm an advocate for conversion, new birth salvation. That point in which you experience the most supernatural event that you'll ever encounter as a human being, when you change kingdoms from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's Son. The Bible describes it as a completely new birth, as dramatic as a physical birth. It's filled with as much opportunity and promise and hope as a new life in the hospital represents. But to imagine that that new birth, that new creature that has been given life, is the complete expression of what could be is just incredibly naive and requires you to ignore scripture. We have to grow up in our faith and to do that, we have to seek the Lord.

In the simplest possible definition, do what you know to be right. Do what you know to be right. I'll give you some specifics on seeking the Lord. But I just wanna start with some scripture from both New Testament and Old. Matthew chapter 6 and verse 33. This is Jesus. It's a part of his much larger sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. You know the Beatitudes, but when he's concluding it, he says "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well". In the preceding verses, he said that the pagans run after all sorts of things, clothing and houses and money. They pursue those things. And Jesus says, "But not you". He said, "You seek first the kingdom of God and all of those things will come along".

I have served in the church most of my adult life. I love the church, but we have reversed that process. I've been in this conversation dozens and dozens of times. "Pastor, you know, first, I'm gonna get all these things in order. I'm gonna get my career going and my family going and I'm gonna get my future established and then I'm gonna serve the Lord". It's highly unlikely, it's highly unlikely. Life happens. Jesus gave us a different model. He said, seek first his kingdom. I'll tell you how to begin to evaluate that. I'll give you the shorthand on it. Look at your calendar and your cash flow and it will help you focus on what is the most valuable in your life. And I'm not taking up an offering or recruiting. I will do both, but I'm not right now. I won't apologize for either. But if you can look at your calendar, what do you do with your... and we have jobs and responsibilities.

That's really not what I'm talking about, with your discretionary time? What do you do? How do you invest it? How do you spend it, with your discretionary resources? I understand a big chunk of your resources available to you are spoken for. They're committed. And I'm not trying to bring unnecessary guilt and shame to you, but neither do I want you to live in deception. You wanna bring alignment between what you say and how you behave because one day, every one of us will give an account for our lives: Not what we wanted to do, not what we would have liked to have done. We will give an account for our choices. And Jesus gave us very plain language. It really requires little interpretation: "Seek first his kingdom. All these things will be added to you. Don't worry about tomorrow".

I don't believe Jesus is against planning. Jesus is the greatest of all the Hebrew prophets. Hundreds of aspects of Jesus's life were prophesied many, many years before he was born in that stable in Bethlehem. So it isn't that God is opposed to planning and but oftentimes I find that we use planning as an excuse to avoid serving God with enthusiasm in the moment. Do we really think we can secure our own futures in a world that is as tumultuous as the one in which we live? Do we really imagine we can secure our futures apart from God? Again, I'm not coaching recklessness, but I would suggest that you wanna learn to listen to God so that your life gives evidence that you are seeking him as a first priority.

Look at Hebrews 11 and verse 6: "Without faith, it's impossible to please God". Faith is about activity. Faith is not about learning. Faith is not about study. Faith is not about information. Faith is expressed in action. Without faith, without belief that is expressed in action. In English, the words "believe" and "faithful" and "faith," they seem very different. In the Greek language, it's very clear they all come from the same root. When you see them, you understand that to be a person of faith is to be a faithful person. That to be a person of great belief is to be a person of great faithfulness. And you may not feel like you have tremendous faith if you don't speak to mountains and they jump, but if you are a faithful person, I assure you from a biblical perspective, you are a person of significant faith.

You don't have to have big words and big language. In fact, those people don't impress me much. Without faith, it's impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe two things: that he exists, and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. There is a reward for seeking God. What's the reward? Jesus told you in Matthew 6, all those other things that you think you need for your life. If you'll seek first the kingdom of God, God will bring all of those things to you. He may not bring 'em in the same timeline. You may think your peer group is getting ahead of you. You may think you're behind. They may be working on their second vacation home and you're still just working. You keep serving the Lord. You keep serving the Lord. You keep seeking the Lord, you keep pressing in. You keep giving your discretionary time and energy, your discretionary talent. They may recreate more. They may have stories and they may have better postings in the social media.

Give them the award, give them a call and say, "I love your postings," and then you keep serving the Lord. Seek the Lord with your life. Seek him while we have the freedom to do so. Seek him while we have the liberty to do so. He is a rewarder of those who earnestly, some translations, diligently, seek him. Proverbs chapter 2, same idea, but the language in this passage is intriguing to me. "My son, if", it's a conditional statement. It begins with a little two-letter preposition, "if". It means this isn't necessarily going to accrue to your account.

If you meet the condition, you will get the outcome. If you accept my words and store up my commands within you. And then it gives us a series of activities, actions, behaviors that we can engage in if we choose. Turn your ear to wisdom, apply your heart to understanding. If you call out for insight. And if you cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure. Verse 5 is the payoff: "Then you'll understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God". I would submit to you that that's a very poetic description of what it means to seek the Lord. Well, how would you approach that? How would you begin? Well, I think the author of Proverbs gives us: first, you have to accept God's Word. You have to store it up within you. Then you have to turn your ear to wisdom. Not just turn your ear to noise or to information.

And we are living through a season of tremendous change. It's getting to be unsettling at the least. It can be frightening. But I don't think that's the appropriate response. I believe God is moving. And if we'll turn our hearts to him, we'll see the purposes of God break forth in our generation. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you for what we see you doing. Lord, we see the destruction, but we also see the promises of your presence. And we ask you to intervene or to awaken the hearts of your people. Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers. Pour out your Spirit in our generation, in Jesus's name, amen.

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