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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Embracing God's Provision - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Embracing God's Provision - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Embracing God's Provision - Part 2
TOPICS: Freedom From Worry, Provision

I hope you brought your Bibles. I want you to look with me at a passage a scripture. In the book of Ephesians, it's in the New Testament, Ephesians chapter 6 in verse 12, it says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, and against the authorities and against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". Pretty straightforward verse. And I think often times we read that, and we'd like to change the punctuation a bit. Words have meanings, and punctuation matters. I think we'd like to change that where it says, "We struggle not," and just put a period. Being a Christian means you don't struggle. It's a nice idea, it's just not biblical. It says that our struggle is not with flesh and blood.

One translation I heard said that our struggle is not with "persons with bodies," that our lives are described as being a wrestling match. Of all the the physical competition you can engage in, I don't know of anything that is perhaps more demanding than wrestling. It says that our wrestling match is not with flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. But there's a contest in your life, a wrestling match that's taking place, and the playing field, the battlefield, is predominantly, most frequently, in your thoughts and your emotions, and that it's not really a people problem.

Now, here's the challenge. The delivery system for those spiritual forces of wickedness is typically people. People aren't the problem, they're just the delivery system. This is illustrated to us in a lot of ways. UPS, you've heard of them, they do logistics, we're told, that Brown can deliver anywhere on the planet, not your problem because they got logistics mastered. And, if you see that big brown box roll up in front of your office, something's coming. But, you know, the reality is UPS doesn't deliver. Brown doesn't deliver. People do. I've got another friend in the transportation business, and their logo on the back of their truck says, "People are our driving force", closer to true.

If we take Ephesians 6, it says our wrestling match isn't with people. That's true, people aren't our problem, organizations aren't our problem. But there are spiritual forces of wickedness that are engaged in people. It's biblical, I understand this isn't really fashionable. We're a little too sophisticated and a little too polished and a little too well educated, so you don't really believe there's, like, spiritual forces. Well, Jesus did. And, if we're Christ followers, we have to find some imagination for this, and those of us that live in more developed parts of the world, we kind of take the high road, and go, "I'm sure those things exist in underdeveloped places". A wrestling match in your life. See, there's a battle in your mind and in your emotions. And, for the most part, I think we have been unaware, oblivious.

Let's look at another passage, you've got open, turn your Bible to the gospel of Luke. Matthew Mark, Luke, if you get to John, you went too far, you get to Acts, you're lost. The gospel of Luke, chapter 13, Jesus is in a synagogue on a Sabbath, roughly the equivalent of being in a church on a Sunday, religious place and time. And there's a woman in the synagogue who's not well, she has a disability, and Jesus recognizes it. It's Luke 13 in verse 12, it says, "When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said, 'Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.' And he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God".

Pretty straightforward issue here, there's a woman with a physical infirmity that has her bent over in some fashion. And, when Jesus sees her in the synagogue, he speaks to her, and he puts his hands on her and prays for her, and she's healed. And so she began to praise God, understandably, "Yay, God," right? Good news, well, not for everybody. Look at the next verse, 14, verse 14. "Indignant", now, who's indignant? "Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler". The synagogue ruler is indignant. One of the women in his congregation has been delivered from a disability, and she's celebrating, giving glory to God, and, rather than join her, he's indignant. Listen to his reasoning. "He says to the people, 'There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.'" What a happy, happy, happy man.

Now, what's a little less apparent to us is, by this point in the emergence of Judaism, you know, the law says that Sabbath is holy, to keep it holy. And the rabbis ask, "What's that mean"? And out of that came this large body of laws about how you keep the Sabbath holy. And the synopsis of that is you can't work. And they've defined work. You can only walk a very limited distance on the Sabbath. You can't light a light, many things. Even if you visit Jerusalem today, in the nicest hotels in the city, on the Sabbath, there's a Sabbath elevator. And, if you have the good fortune to get on the Sabbath elevator, what it means is it will stop on every floor without touching a button because to push the button on the elevator has been deemed work.

Now, if a Gentile inadvertently wanders onto the Sabbath elevator, work for you will be different. It will be not losing the joy of the Lord when you're riding an elevator that stops at every floor and you're the only person on it. Well, the leader of the synagogue in this case takes objection to Jesus because he considers his ministry to have been work. And listen to Jesus's response, verse 15, "The Lord answered him, 'You hypocrites! Don't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?'"

For 18 years, this woman has suffered a physical disability, and Jesus acknowledged its source to be spiritual. Now, does that mean that every physical infirmity, every sickness or illness has a spiritual origination. No, the Bible doesn't say that, but it clearly says that some do. Well, how could you possibly know? Maybe we would need the help of the Holy Spirit. If we're engaged in a wrestling match with spiritual forces of wickedness and we don't engage or welcome the help of the Holy Spirit, is it safe to say we're at a tremendous disadvantage? Do we think we're gonna outthink evil? Improbable. Jesus ministers to this woman, she's healed, she is celebrating. But Jesus finds himself embroiled in a controversy. "My peace, I give to you. My peace," he said, "I leave with you".

How many times have we been in a circumstance where there was an opportunity to be an advocate for Jesus? Maybe offer a prayer, maybe say, I don't think The Ten Commandments are evil, I'm not offended by them. I think biblically informed morality might be a good thing. All sorts of ways to have been an advocate for Jesus. But, if you took that expression of advocacy, you're astute enough and aware enough to know, there's a possibility of pushback. Not everybody may celebrate. Somebody may be indignant. So we take a more politically correct posture and say, "Well, you know, I said an inner prayer, I had a moment of silence. I prayed when I left the room. I said, 'Lord, if you want me to offer that prayer, give me a chance to do it in private.'"

How many times do we withdraw from the arena because of the battle in our minds and in our emotions? See, it takes courage to be a Christ follower. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness". What are we really seeking after? Whose approval is it we are striving for? What is it that we're worried about? "Well, I might lose an opportunity". "I might forfeit an advocate there, and I need the deal". "I don't wanna be ostracized or left out". "My peace," he said, "I give to you".

Now, I wanna close with an idea. I just got a moment. The last Roman numeral in your outline, number 4, is about endurance, Hebrews chapter 12, in verse 2. If we're gonna triumph on this battle, if we're gonna win in our thoughts and our emotions, it's gonna require of us endurance. Endurance by definition means we continue when we're fatigued. We get it physically, but it's equally true emotionally, and it's true mentally. We have to learn to endure in our entirety in the context of our faith because we're engaged in a wrestling match. You say, "I'd just rather not think about that". Well, that's called forfeiting. Hebrews 12 says, "Let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith".

Now, if that was all we had, if we had no context, that's permission to do an exhaustive study on the life and the ministry of Jesus. We would go through the gospel systematically, carefully, painstakingly, identifying his message and his miracles and his ministry. We would go to the Epistles and look at the post resurrection and post descendant expressions of Jesus in the Body of Christ in the various contexts. We'd go to the Hebrew Bible and sort through the the prophetic passages about the Messiah and the pre-incarnate appearances of Christ. And we would build volumes on Jesus. But this is in a very specific context, it says, "Let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross". What are we focusing on Jesus? The fact that he endured, "he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him", consider Jesus.

What are we supposed to consider again? This exhaustive study on the life of Christ? "Consider him who endured opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". It's asking us to focus our attention on Jesus's willingness to endure difficulty and pushback from sinful people so that we won't grow weary and lose heart. Why does it matter if we lose heart? Look in Galatians 6, "Let's not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if". You need to circle that little word, 'if,' it's conditional. To get the benefits, you have to meet the condition. "Let's not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up". It says, "Consider Jesus," in Hebrews 12, "consider what he endured at the hands of sinful, wicked, ungodly people so that you will not grow weary and lose heart".

In Galatians, "so that we don't give up". It's possible to give in in the battle in your mind and in your emotions, to step away from a godly response. And, when you do that, you forfeit the benefit. You say, "I don't like that". Well, I'm not certain I like it, but I'm grateful for the information. We'll give you one more passage, last one, I promise. Is this my third ending? This is the real one. Last book of your Bible, it's the book of Revelation, go to the maps and just back up a book. Revelation chapter 1, first chapter of the book of Revelation. You know who wrote Revelation? John, one of Jesus's apostles, the one that is credited with being closest to Jesus. All the other apostles are martyred, they lose their lives for their faith.

And, when the book of Revelation is written, John is an old man. He's been exiled, banished, imprisoned on an island. Not because he's violent, not because he's immoral, not because he's a thief. He's been imprisoned because he's an advocate for Jesus. He met Jesus when he was a young man, most likely a teenager. He spent three years with Jesus, watched him do incredible things. John stood at the foot of the cross while Jesus suffered horrible agony. And Jesus looked at John and Mary, and he said, "Behold, your mother". John's had a special place in this Jesus story, special place from the beginning. But now he's an old man, his strength is diminished, he's alone, and his closest friends are gone, and it says he's in the Spirit on the Lord's Day. It's the Sabbath, and Jesus comes to see him. Jesus comes to see his friend. He's been on assignment now for a long time.

In fact, he has spent himself doing exactly what Jesus said, seeking first the kingdom of God. And, when John recognizes Jesus, this is in the first chapter of Revelation, you can read it later. He says, "I fell at his feet like I was dead". But you know what Revelation is? It's the message. It's the story of the end of the age. It's the end of time. It's about the return of the king of kings and the Lord of Lords and his righteous judgment being poured out upon the earth, his enemies being vanquished, and his kingdom being established forever and ever. And he wanted us to have that story. He wanted us to know there's an end and a beginning and an unveiling. But he needed someone to give that story to that was trustworthy. You couldn't just give that message to John Doe on the street corner.

And so he comes to his, one of his best friends, John, and he said, "John, I want to show you something". And the book of Revelation is not easy, but I want you to imagine that the fastest mode of transportation available to John was a fast horse or a ship with a strong wind, and he's gonna get a presentation of something that's gonna happen thousands of years later, of a nuclear age, of missiles and destruction that rain from the sky. And he struggles to see it and understand it and to put it down in words for a first century audience and to benefit us. So, it's no wonder that the book of Revelation is somewhat mysterious. But what I want you to hear is John's identification of himself, Revelation 1, have you found it?

Verse 9, he said, "I, John, your brother and companion", and now I'm expecting him to talk about Jesus, your brother and your companion in the the wonderful redemption of our risen Savior, the one who defeated death and rose to heaven. "I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and the patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, I was on the island of Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus". At the end of his life, what does John identify as the common bond between brothers and sisters in Christ? He says, we're companions in the suffering, in the kingdom, and in patient endurance.

If you're gonna see the victories, the triumphs, the breakthroughs, it will require a diligence in your thoughts and your emotions, a willingness to endure, a willingness to seek first the kingdom of God, a willingness to receive Jesus's peace into your life, to co-operate with the Spirit of God. He will invite you towards responses that are not always the responses that the ungodly would give. He is faithful. And I want to say to you today not to give up. I know some of you are tired and weary and worn down, and fatigue feels more real to you than victory. Don't you give up. Don't you give up. Our God is faithful, and you may feel like you've been banished to an island. But Jesus knows where you are, and you are not alone. You are not alone.

I want to pray for you. Will you stand with me? Why don't you join hands? Before you do that, if you don't know the person on either side, tell them who you are. I don't want strangers touching me, all right. Now, if you've got somebody's hand and they wouldn't tell you who they are, let go of them. Okay, they're rebellious, God isn't gonna listen to their prayer anyway. But, you know, we need one another. The privilege of coming to worship together, to lift our voices and praise together, to open the Word of God together is a powerful, powerful thing. To pray together is a tremendous privilege:

Lord, I thank you for these men and women. I thank you for their lives. Lord, I know they're precious to you, that you know every detail and every circumstance. I thank you, Lord, for what you've done on our behalf, that you've called us out of darkness into the kingdom of your Son. And I pray especially for those today that are engaged in a battle, Lord, in their thoughts and their minds and their emotions, some with physical diagnosis, some with great financial challenges, some with tremendous personal stress. Lord, some can be shared, and some is carried very privately. But I thank you that you're not unaware. And I pray that the Spirit of the living God would come today to speak to us, give us a revelation, send the angels to minister to us. Lord, give us your strength, your resolve, renew our hope today. Let the joy of the Lord come where there's been heaviness and despair. In the name of Jesus, we stand against every principality and power, every demonic expression, every dark force that comes to deny the truth of almighty God. to bring fear and anxiety and worry. You go in Jesus's name. Let your power be broken over our lives. Let the joy of the Lord come into our hearts. Let the triumph of the living God fill our emotions and the praises of God rise into our minds. I thank you for it this day, that greater is he who is in us than all that stand opposed to the purposes of God, that, with our God, we can run through a troop and leap over a wall. I praise you for it this day, that, in the name of Jesus Christ, we have been declared a triumphal procession in this earth, and we will give praise and glory and honor to our Lord and King. May his kingdom come and his will be done in us in Jesus's name. Amen, hallelujah.

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