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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Lessons in Listening - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Lessons in Listening - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Lessons in Listening - Part 1
TOPICS: God Is Moving

We've been working through a series under the general theme that "God is Moving," and I believe that is an accurate statement. That God is moving in the earth, not because God always moves in the earth and God's always up to something, but I believe in a unique sense, in a sense of the fulfillment of portions of scripture. We can see God moving in the earth. I'm not adding to that some apocalyptic or eschatological perspective. I'm simply saying we're living in a season when without question, the Spirit of God is moving in unique and profound ways. I believe he is the initiator of the changes that we see around us. I believe he's preparing a people for himself, a church without spot or blemish. Then I also believe he's establishing the Jewish people in their historic homeland that he promised to Abraham way back in the book of Genesis. And he will do it in spite of the consternation of the United Nations or the academic elites in this nation.

I think in the shaking, something's being exposed the degree to which the spirit of Antichrist has flourished in American academia. And I believe we're gonna have to prayerfully and intentionally begin to see that there's another worldview that flourishes in our educational systems. We cannot abandon our young people to the ideas that they're being subjected to, I'm at church, I'll stay polite, but in spite of that, the Lord is doing the most remarkable things and I hope you're watching for those, and listening for those, and aware of those. I assure you, what God is doing is more profound than anything evil is about. That evil doesn't typically get clicks or sell as many papers. I'm sorry, what God is doing doesn't get as many clicks or sell as many papers. So most of the headlines and most of the clickbait leads you towards expressions of darkness, or evil, or perversion. But I assure you God is moving.

A week ago today, about the time we finished church, I went home and turned on the television. We just returned from Jerusalem on Friday, and I saw the missiles from Iran headed towards Jerusalem in the land of Israel. Looked like a fireworks display. It was really, it's the first time in modern history, we have seen the nation of Iran launch a direct attack on the state of Israel. Heretofore, They have used their proxies like Hamas, or Hezbollah, or others. The names change, but Iran stays behind them as the funding and the motivation. But someone shared a report with me this week, there was a testimony about what God is doing and I thought it was good enough. I wanna share it with you.

It's not first hand experience. I didn't talk to the scientist. Someone shared it with me. So uh you're the third person in the loop, but it seems credible with what I know of what happened a week ago tonight. It was a message that a physics professor wrote to his rabbi in Israel. He said, "I wanted to share with the rabbi something that is much more than a feeling, that on Shabbat". Shabbat in Israel begins at sundown on Friday and continues until sundown on Saturday. So, "On Shabbat night, something happened here on the scale of the splitting of the Red Sea. I'm a doctor of physics, and I worked for several years in the defense industry in Israel in projects that are still cutting edge for the state of Israel. When I look at what happened on Saturday night, on a scientific level, it simply cannot happen. Everyone, and I mean everyone, acted as one person in overall unity".

He continued in the letter, "The likelihood that everything works out just as it should does not exist in complex systems like the defense systems that we're operating. They have never, and I mean never, even beyond the state of Israel, been tried in real time. So I took a pencil and dove into the calculations to check the likelihood that such a result would materialize. The large number of events that had to be handled at precisely the right time doubles the chance of making a mistake. With all the high technologies, the expectation was for a breach in the defense of the skies of the state of Israel. Even if we got 90% protection, it would be a miracle. What happened though is that everyone, and again," he said, "I mean, everyone, the pilots, the system operators, the technology operators, they acted as one person, at one moment in total unity". He said, "If this isn't an act of God, then I no longer know what a miracle is".

If you know anything of Israeli history, what he says next is pretty remarkable. He said, "This is sharper than the victory on the six day war, or the war of independence. There, it could be explained according to nature. The rescue that took place for the people of Israel on Shabbat night is simply impossible, naturally. I believe that this miracle saved the lives of many people from the land of Israel. If the defense system had failed to intercept a number of cruise missiles, the result would have dragged us into a very complex campaign. I wouldn't bet that the next time it will work like this without divine supervision. The simple proof of what I said is that the managers of the security industries who develop and manufacture the systems, will guarantee no more than a 90% success". And then he quotes the scripture, "Since the days that you came out of the land of Egypt, we have been shown your wonderful things".

So God is moving, even in places where the scientists tell us, God is moving. And I assure you he's moving in Middle Tennessee or wherever your home is, just as certainly as he was standing over the skies of Jerusalem in the land of Israel last Saturday. Our God is faithful. And in this session, I wanna walk through with you under the kind of a subheading, some lessons in listening. We've been using Gideon from the book of Judges as something of a template for our learning, and I wanna continue that. Throughout scripture, perhaps the single most consistent characteristic of the people of God throughout the Old Testament or the New, is that they listen to his voice.

Hebrew is an ancient language. It's simple in many ways. To add emphasis, they will duplicate a verb. And there are multiple places in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, where it says, listen, listening, it means listen carefully, listen using both ears, pay attention. So if you'll just spend a few minutes with me, we're gonna go to listening class. You're willing? Anybody live with someone who doesn't listen? My wife did not raise her hand. I've told this story before, but it's probably worth repeating. I was watching a ball game. It's been a while, much long ago. I'm a changed person, and Cathy had something she wanted to tell me and she was standing on the edge of the room and she began to talk, and I think she could probably, she noticed I wasn't paying close attention. She stepped into the room, kind of between me and the television.

So I had to keep eye contact, but I had the remote. So while she's talking, I'm just gradually raising the volume. But the TV I had at that time, I have an upgraded model. There was a little dial on the screen. You could see the volume level. She's clever. She turned around and saw it on the screen. I was so busted. Sometimes we do that to the Lord. We want him to speak to us. We want him to do it during the commercial break. Alright, we wanna know what God has for us, but we would like him to fit it into the 10 minutes where there's not something else we would rather do. And I would suggest that that's not the most helpful process in your home or with the Lord. And so, with God's help, we're gonna unpack this a little bit. I introduced you to an idea some time ago. Watch, listen, think and act. I think it's still a significant way to navigate the world around us. The institutions where we had such great trust seem to have forfeited a great deal of that. It's hard to know what to believe or what to trust.

The prophet Isaiah said that, "Truth has stumbled in the street," and I think that's an accurate description of what we watch these days around us. So watching and listening, thinking and then acting on what you're watching and seeing, is a very important habit to develop. You want to become the routine with which you're navigating life, and I'll start in Judges 6, and verse 7. It says, "The Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet who said, 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: "I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them before you and gave you their land. I said to you, 'I'm the Lord your God; don't worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But you have not listened to me".'"

Some of you remember the passage just in front of that. It says that God handed the Israelites over to their enemies, and the message he sent to them when they cried out to him. They cried out to him, and God said, I sent you messengers, I sent you a word. I tried to communicate with you and you wouldn't listen. You were too busy. You lived in a promised land. You had a covenant. You worshiped me, you offered sacrifices, you had priests but you wouldn't listen.

So our first component in lessons and listening is to recognize within yourself that there are consequences of ignoring God. If you're not willing to listen, if you're consciously putting your fingers in your ears and humming, if you're turning up the volume, you can sit in church and not listen, you can read your Bible and have no intention of cooperating. You can be very religious and still be very rebellious. I want us to understand from a biblical perspective, there is a consequence when we refuse to listen. Let's not be that people in this very unique season, let's decide to cultivate our listening skills. There's an importance in listening to God. How do you do that?

You know, in the book of Judges, it said God sent a prophet. What does it mean for you and me to listen to God in the most practical ways? I grew up in a barn in Tennessee. I'm pretty simple. I think it starts with the scripture. You have to spend time in a regular basis systematically reading your Bible. Some days you'll pick it up, and it will seem dry and empty, and there's absolutely little relevance to you. And there's other days you'll pick it up and it'll feel like it was written to you. It happens to me. But in the willingness to submit to the discipline, the habit, the pattern, to present yourself to the Lord and say I'm gonna open this book. I believe there's an authority in it that comes from the throne of God, and I'll present myself to you as one who wants to learn. If you will cultivate that habit, God will respond to you. If you don't like it, if you don't like the book, tell him the truth. He can handle it. He knows you're thinking it anyway.

So often when we take time in the presence of the Lord, we want him to hear about our problems and do something. But learning to listen to the Lord means I simply would like to be in your presence. I'll take some time with your Word. I'll put on some worship music and enjoy the imagination that the Spirit of God is present with me. I wanna learn what it means to be with the people of God. And if you don't enjoy that, if that's uncomfortable for you, if it's awkward, if it's frustrating, that's a very important place to begin. I have discovered something. If I want to learn to fish, I need to hang out with people who are better at fishing than I am. If I wanna learn to hunt turkeys in Tennessee, I need to hang out with people that are turkey hunters. Hanging out at the frozen food section in the grocery store will not make me a better turkey hunter.

I can go home with turkey, but it won't be the same. And if the imagination of being in the presence of the Lord holds little appeal for you, have the courage to say to the Lord, you know, I haven't been that interested. It hasn't mattered that much to me. Again, the honesty, the integrity of the desire for a relationship with God, will exponentially change the tone of what God will do in your life. Listening matters. In John 10, in verse 27, Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me". Pretty simple stuff. "My sheep listen to my voice". They know me. Folks we've got to learn to recognize what God is doing. We are too easily manipulated, we're too vulnerable. There's too much foolishness in the church, that gets wrapped up in God language, and the Lord said, and it has little to do with the Spirit of God or the character of God. Amen.

Matthew 3, and verse 8, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance". This is an interesting notion what comes from the presence of the Spirit of God. The Bible describes as fruit, the fruit on a tree is dramatically different than the ornaments on a Christmas tree. If you see a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, you didn't think, oh, somebody really fertilized that, somebody sprayed all the insects. You understand immediately that somebody did something to decorate that tree completely apart from the integrity or the health of the tree. On the other hand, if you pick fruit from a tree and the fruit is of good quality and it's delicious, you understand, the tree is healthy. Well, the Bible talks to us about the Spirit of God bringing fruitfulness to our lives, in Ephesians 5 and verse 8, "Once you were in darkness, but now you're in the light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth). Find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness".

Again, I like simple things. I want to live with the notion that my light is bearing fruit that reflects the participation with God in my life. Then I want to avoid things that are fruitless in God's economy. If God says they don't have value that he doesn't approve that he's not interested, even if I'm attracted, even if I have an interest, I want to cultivate the habit, I want to implement the discipline that says, I will not give my time or energy to things that God says is fruitless. I believe that will become increasingly important in what's before us.

There's a third component of developing our listening skills of watching and listening and thinking and being prepared to act. We have to both watch and understand. Understanding requires some insight in judges. Chapter 6, it says, "An angel of the Lord came and sat down under an oak that belonged to Joash. It's Gideon's father where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The Lord is with you mighty warrior.'"

In those two verses, two things are reported. They're separate, they're related, but they're separate. It says an angel of the Lord came and sat down under an oak tree. We don't know how long he was there. We don't know what he observed. We simply know he took a place under an oak tree. But then in the 12th verse, it says, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said something to him. The Lord is with you that intrigues me. It doesn't say the angel came and sat down under the oak tree and spoke to Gideon. It at least seems to me to be implied that the angel was there for a bit before Gideon, he was revealed to Gideon.

So I wanna plant a seed, I wanna submit to you that God is moving around your life and around my life that there are angels involved in our journey that we're not yet aware of. So, the question is, are you watching for God's involvement? You see, it's so easy for me or for you to focus on the disappointments, the discouraging things, the ungodly things, the things I don't like or the things I don't agree with, they get pumped towards us all the time. They cascade over our awareness. It takes more discipline and intentionality to watch and listen for what God is doing. It's a different way to live in the world. You don't need to spend hours a day focused on the news report. They've got about an 8-minute loop. They just repeat, take 10 or 12 minutes. You can listen to it one and a half times. You got the news for the day.

Spend the rest of the day thanking God that he's moving in the earth, that he has assignments for you, that he's engaged with you, that there is hope for your future, that our security isn't related to the Federal Reserve or the strength of the dollar that our children have. Hope beyond the president of the teachers unions. Yeah, that would have been a good place for an amen. But it's okay. You just hang in there. Hebrews 13:2 says, "Don't forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it". Practice hospitality. You'll get to entertain some angels. "Well, I don't like people".

Change! Be kind to the people who serve you in a restaurant, be generous, be kind to the people whose names you're never expected to know, the people that you interact with at a grocery store or at a Quick Mart. The people that you bump into through the course of your day, listen to them, treat them with dignity and respect. You never know the appointments God has arranged for you. Behave as if you're an ambassador for the King. You say, "I'm busy. I've got a lot to think". I know, I know, I know busy people. But determine to take the events of your day as a series of divinely arranged appointments, I believe if you'll do that, you will find God's engagement in your life is far more frequent and far more prevalent than you've been willing to consider.

Alright, watch and understand. Number four: When we're listening for the Lord, he'll provide confirmation. When God gives you direction, God will confirm it for you. Now, you don't need confirmation for the fundamental truths which are presented in scripture. You don't need God to confirm what moral and immoral is. He's told us that in the plainest of language. God said he created us male and female. You don't need that to be confirmed for you. So don't be so spiritual that you no earthly good. God's defined marriage for us. HHe's warned us about gluttony. He's warned us about drunkenness. We don't need God to tell us what to do with our resources. He told us the first tenth belongs to him. We have a lot of instruction. We don't need confirmation of that. But in the specific responses to the seasons that we walk through in life, the challenges that come when God is initiating changes, we need to understand how to listen and recognize His confirmation.

The principle I learned as a young man has held true that big changes require big guidance. Don't make great changes because someone suggested it to you. Don't make tremendous changes in your life because you found a single verse and it just resonated with me on that day. So, I sold my home, and I canceled my insurance, and I took my kids out of school, and we don't know where we're going. That's not God. That's too much pizza. Big changes require big guidance. It's biblical. In Judges 6, Gideon has had this visit with an angelic figure, but he's not done. The confirmations that come are multiple. Gideon replied, "If I found favor in your eyes", verse 17, "Give me a sign that it's really you talking to me. Don't go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you". And the Lord said, "I'll wait".

Same scenario verse 21, "With the tip of his staff that was in his hand, the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread, and fire flared from the rock, and Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord. He exclaimed, 'Sovereign Lord! I've seen the angel of the Lord face to face!'" Up until this point, Gideon really didn't understand he was interacting with an angel until the moment had already passed. It confirmed this notion that he had, he knew he was speaking to someone who had a perspective that he didn't have himself. You see, it's so important as we begin to listen, we have the desire to hear from the Lord. Not to be weird. I really have little patience with weird Christians. Weird does not make you spiritual. It just makes you weird.

Do you understand the difference? If you have no gas in the tank of your car, you don't need a word from the Lord. You need a filling station and cash or a place to plug in your EV. again, it's, it's a very important principle. I've seen too many people. I have shed tears over people I cared about who've been manipulated with spiritual language. You don't have to be weird to follow the Lord. But if you have a desire to know him and you'll present yourself to him and you'll become familiar with what the fruit of the Spirit of God looks like. It's not hidden. It's clearly described for us in scripture. It can be recognized. If you'll do that, you'll begin to recognize God's involvement. Now, why that's important is that momentum matters, momentum matters in physics, momentum matters in business, momentum matters in athletics. And I assure you momentum matters in your spiritual formation.

We're gonna pray before we go. But I spent my life in and around the church, and far too often we're critical. We're so aware of what churches aren't, not just the one we attend, but the ones we don't like. Folks, Jesus is the head of the church. If we can disagree and both still go to heaven, I will extend the hand of fellowship. Let's pray for the church:

Lord, strengthen your church. Give us a compassion and a love for your church and the earth and forgive us for when we brought division, in Jesus's name, amen.

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