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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - New Heroes - Part 2

Allen Jackson - New Heroes - Part 2

Allen Jackson - New Heroes - Part 2
TOPICS: God Is Moving

We're gonna think about what it means for you and me to cooperate with God. It's going to require us, I believe, my opinion, to cultivate some new kinds of heroes. And when I say hero, I'm talking about the people whose lives we point out and go wow, they're the people that we watch their lives, we think, you know, I'd like a big chunk of that to be the future for my kids and my grandkids. Amazing people. We celebrate them because the reality, whether you've done it consciously or not, is the people that you make heroes are the people that speak into your behavior. If you're not thinking about that, I promise you, your children are. Our heroes have changed a great deal. I have been around a bit.

I remember a time when our heroes, and Hollywood, and the media, and those public venues tend to help us shape those. You may have personal heroes. I'm not talking about them nearly as much as I'm talking about the ones that have higher profiles. Once upon a time, Hollywood cranked out movies that made heroes of military victories. There's a whole genre of movies. We call them westerns, and the typical pattern in those movies was the bad guy loses and the good guy wins. Prime time TV has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. A lot of things have changed. I'm not really bemoaning it.

I'm just telling you there's a shift in what we make heroes of. The hero movies now that are being cranked out of Hollywood, I see them on airplanes, because I'm scrolling through the list going, really? Most of them are very brilliantly presented presentations of cartoon characters. Our heroes now have capes and wear spandex, because we are not championing things like patriotism, and honor, and sacrifice, and dignity. So we don't make heroes out of those things. So I wanna push on that a little bit further with you if you'll allow me. I'm gonna use Saul of Tarsus who becomes the apostle Paul.

In Acts chapter 9, we're stepping into this narrative and I'm introducing it to you backwards. I know that, but I think you know who Saul is, and you know a bit about his story, right? He's a Pharisee. He's angry at people who believe in Jesus. He hates them. He will imprison them, men or women, or whomever else. He's murderous. And then Jesus comes for him. In Acts chapter 1, Jesus went back to heaven, but in Acts chapter 9, he's standing on the road to Damascus, and he has a message for one Saul of Tarsus. And after Saul has that Jesus experience, he goes on into Damascus and that's where I step into your notes, "After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him".

Imagine that, he has a personal encounter with Jesus and he begins to share the story, and there are believers in Damascus, Ananias is one, he goes to see him, he's part of a community of believers there. So in the face of Saul's dramatic conversion, instituted by Jesus himself, the response is murderous hatred directed at him. Again, that goes against the narrative that tends to emerge from the people of faith today. "But Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him". This wasn't like some momentary emotional thing. They've got a scheme, they're gonna shut him down. It will be harmful to the cause if his message goes out broadly: Let's kill him, "But his followers said," Saul, you've got to change your message. You've got to become a little broader in your perspective.

I'm sorry. That's in my imaginary Bible. It says, "his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. When he came to Jerusalem," that's his home. That's his base of operations. "When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him". He's a real enough threat, that Peter, James, and John don't want anything to do with him. They don't want to be seen with him. They're afraid to be with him. That's a pretty strong statement, "not really believing that he was a disciple". They know his methods. They know he's deceptive, they know he's dishonest. "But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus".

You can turn your page. Now that passage was Acts 9:23. I wanna go back to the beginning of Acts chapter 9. I want you to read the attitude with which Paul left Jerusalem and he headed to Damascus. Says, "Meanwhile, Saul was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. And he went to the high priest and he asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem". That's Paul's mindset when he leaves Jerusalem. He meets Jesus on the road to Damascus. He goes on into the city, blind. Ananias prays for him, his sight is restored. He begins to advocate for Jesus with such clarity, that the same community that he represented is trying to assassinate him.

And the believers have to sneak him out of town. What intrigues me is that when he goes to Jerusalem after that escape, he tried to join the disciples. He's got no heroes. His career is totally tied to the blessing of the high priest and the Pharisees. Everything about his education, every year, he's invested. All the momentum of his existence, all of his future is invested in the blessing of those people. He is the rising star. He's the poster child. He's the lead story in their advertisements, and he's met Jesus. He's making new heroes, Saul completely realigned his life. You see, repentance means a change of thought and a change of behavior. Behavior and values change as an expression of repentance. Repentance is not saying I'm sorry, I got caught. Can we mitigate the consequences? Repentance says I was thinking wrongly and behaving badly, and I have changed how I think and I'm gonna walk a new direction.

Now if you'll allow me, I know it isn't universal and I'm sure there are exceptions. But I'm gonna suggest to you that our heroes have too often been people who lead ungodly lives. And we have given that to our families. We've helped with that. We've spent money to promote that, because there were voices speaking to them. They were helping shape their expectations and those external voices were more profound than the influence in our own homes. And it's really difficult to stand against that because there's disappointment, and there's disruption, there's all sorts of stuff. And so, rather than deal with that, we just think, well, I'll take him to church and we'll figure it out. And we've allowed heroes to form, values to be celebrated, behaviors to be looked up to.

You know, I started making lists, and I thought there's no end to this. One that's been pretty prominent lately and I'm not trying to pick on anybody particularly, but Taylor Swift is like a phenomenon, she can change the ratings in the NFL. That's not easily done. But I don't know a great deal about her, but I don't have the sense that she's a poster child for a biblical world view. But I'm not, you don't have to pick on her uniquely. Diddy he's in trouble these days. You know, his scenario is not great. Talented, capable, amazing gifts. Lady Gaga, I mean, the list goes on. The Rolling Stones if you're older. We'll wear their merch. We'll celebrate them, we'll promote them. Gifted, musically. Okay, gifted musically and ungodly. I'm picking on musicians. We could do the same thing amongst athletes. We could do the same thing amongst professional Christians.

You see, we emulate the behaviors of ungodly people because they're our heroes. And it isn't helpful. And we do this in the church. I don't mean just this congregation. I mean, the church in general. I would submit to you that Christian musicians should present differently than secular musicians. But because we aspire to that kind of success, churches have a few people in them, a few 100 people in them, and the secular musicians, the good ones they played almost untold numbers of people and we aspire to that for ourselves or our children.

So we wanna act like that, even if every once in a while we're singing Jesus. We're gonna have to change our heroes. I don't believe ministers should look and behave in the same way as ungodly leaders. We have a message that's different. It's derived from a different authority. I have a question. Do we hold aspirations that our children serve the Lord? We imagine that, that is a profession as a direction of their lives, as a utilization of their talents and their abilities to be a high expression of opportunity and potential for them. But I'm not suggesting everybody should. I don't believe that. But it seems to me that, that's a diminished notion. Just the general notion of the helping professions.

Once upon a time, there were a whole professional classes of people who understood that to participate in them was a yielding of service to your life, meaning you would forfeit some things. Ministry was certainly one of those helping professions. So was health care. Long before we had Big Pharma and the government, there was so much money in health care that the government wanted it. Again, I'm not opposed to being compensated fairly for what you do, teachers are a helping profession. Our first responders are helping professions. If you take that list, they have been systematically deconstructed, questioned in the public arena, told they're unimportant. We need them. We need our children to understand how valuable they are.

I think we can take this one step further in cooperating with God and crafting these heroes. And I'm talking about you and me. It has to do with our expressions of belief and faith and faithfulness. Belief, faith, and faithfulness in the language of the New Testament, the Greek language, it's very clear, they're all very closely related. You can't be a person of faith and be an unfaithful person. You can't be a person who believes and be an unfaithful person. They go together. So when I have this conversation about faith or belief, I'm really talking about the expression of that in faithfulness, it is not inconsequential when you choose to be unfaithful. Plain language.

If you refuse to believe, if you refuse to cultivate belief, if you say, well, you know, I don't believe that, and you kind of shut the door and you're not willing to explore or listen or grow, there's a consequence to that in the kingdom. In Hebrews chapter 3, in verse 18, "Just to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter because of their unbelief". It's the Exodus generation he's talking about. Numbers 14, it's the same group of people, very different locations in the Bible, but the same group of people. "The Lord said to Moses, 'How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I performed among them?'" What I would call your attention to is the momentum of unbelief.

You see, if you start that ball rolling down the hill, I don't, that's not how I believe. That's not how we did it. Or you give yourself license to be less faithful, less faithful to worship, less faithful to generosity in giving, less faithful to serving, less faithful, that gains momentum, because it's much easier when you're two or three weeks out of the pattern to be four or five or six weeks out of the pattern. And it takes seven or eight weeks to establish a good pattern. There's a momentum to unbelief and it leads to the forfeiture of God's future. That's what God said. "How long will they refuse to believe"? And the New Testament commentary in Hebrews 3 is, they weren't allowed to enter, they left Egypt. The message came to them as slaves in Egypt. I am here to deliver you to take you to a land that flows with milk and honey.

And God's commentary on them is you are stubborn in your unbelief. So suggestion, let's not do that. Let's decide to become a people willing to be tutored by the Spirit of God. Let's be a people who will grow in our belief, who will grow in our faithfulness. The grand deception that I think has contributed to our paralysis is the idea that you're born again and you're going to heaven and nothing else matters. Now for clarity, I'm an advocate for the new birth, in the same way I celebrate the birth of a child. But I understand when I look at the newborn child that the future is yet before it. It has not lived fully; when I celebrate the new birth in the life of a person, a spiritual birth. I understand that the opportunity is before them, not fully experienced. So the alternative to being less faithful with a diminished belief is to encourage one another, help one another to be believers.

Look at Hebrews 3:12, I've skipped in your notes just a bit. It's under 'B,' "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart". You thought being unfaithful and an unbeliever was value neutral. That's not the biblical description. It's sinful, "that turns away from the living God". The alternative, "encourage one another daily, as long as it's called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness". We need that encouragement, the voices that speak to you, to give you license to be ungodly, to be immoral, to tell you, you can choose your own path, that you're better than most people, that you're not that or that. Those voices are numerous, and loud, and unrelenting. They're in the literature we read, in the media we watch. I mean, they're just almost endless. And there are very few places that will give to you a biblical perspective with clarity.

So if you choose people in your sphere of influence, that will encourage you towards godliness, that is profound. Who love you enough to say, this is a better way. And then you need them to love you enough to say, come walk this way. We need one another. In fact, it says, we have to encourage one another. How often? Daily, we leak, and the adversary, you know, how often do you bathe, occasionally? When I'm in the mood, if I have time, if I recognize the need. Hopefully the only time you bathe isn't when someone does an intervention and says, "Thou stinkest". Well, encourage one another, not just at that point of intervention where it's desperate and the rest of us can't bear it. Encourage one, any good thing you see happening, you blessed me with that. That was helpful for that. I'm going Saturday night to the festival.

Why don't you come, go with me? I don't like to sit outside. Oh, come, help me. I don't like it either. It'll help me stay if you go. Encourage one another. Stop encouraging wickedness. Stop making heroes out of the ungodly. Stop saying wicked people are good people. You can say they're talented people. You can say they have some amazing gifts. They have some abilities that you don't have, but I don't want their future. And if being that is necessary to get to where I see them standing, I'm choosing another path. Encourage one another. Jesus gave us the nuts and bolts of it in a little parable. It's "The Parable of the Sower". You know it. Farmer sowing seed, four kinds of ground. Only one of the four has a good outcome.

Jesus's disciples didn't understand. They weren't the brightest in the box. So they ask for a private explanation and Jesus gives it to them. I gave you two categories, they're germane to our conversation. "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy". Not grumpy, not angry, not stubborn, not with gritted teeth. They receive it with...that was awesome. Spoke to me, ministered to me, tears. "But they have no root and they last only a short time, because when trouble or persecution comes because of the word". The assumption in Jesus explanation is that because of the Word of God, because of your faithfulness, because of your belief system, that trouble and persecution will emerge. If you don't expect it, if you don't anticipate it, you're caught off guard and you're not prepared. Jesus anticipates it as a part of the journey.

You hear the word, you receive the word trouble and persecution will present. Well, I don't like that. Duly noted. When you see the King, have the conversation. In the interim, prepare yourself. So what you and I want to do is become more than accumulators of information. We want our lives to reflect that relationship. It's a change. It's a fruitfulness. I've been talking for two sessions about recognizing what the presence of God brings to a life, or a community, or a group of people. Not language, not religious words, but the fruit of the presence of the Spirit. Because I desperately want myself to be good soil in God's economy, and I desire that for you.

So here's my invitation. Let's take the two primary components we've looked at when God's moving. There's a willingness to repent. There's a growth with that of the fear of God, a respect and a reverence for God. And then there's a willingness to ask God to bring a new effectiveness to our lives. So if you're in either of those two camps, and it may be both. You may need to repent and say, I wanna be more effective. And what I would really ask you to do is give the Holy Spirit permission to say if there's anything in me that is limiting my effectiveness. If there's any place, I've been unfaithful, we're not always unconscious, we're not always willing, stubborn, resistant, rebellious people. But you know, I have learned in my life any endeavor you pick up, if you're gonna move from being a novice to somebody of greater excellence, there is continued refinement.

Right, if you've never exercised at all and you go to the gym and say I wanna exercise, they'll give you one regimen. If you've worked out six days a week for six years, and you go to the gym and say I want to improve, they're gonna give you a completely different regimen. And many of us have not given the Holy Spirit permission to say, is there anything I could do to make a difference in my effectiveness? Because we've been holding up our credentials for the new birth. You with me? So are you willing to give the Holy Spirit that permission today? Go into training? God's moving folks. Let's go with him, huh? Why don't you staying with me:

Father, I thank you for your Word, for its truth and authority and power in our lives. I thank you that you're moving in the earth, that you haven't stepped away from us, that you haven't condemned us, but that you have made a way that we might be restored and reconciled to you, and we come today in humility. Lord, any place where we have been willingly, purposefully living in compromise or tolerating ungodliness. Lord, we repent. We will not call good that which you have called wicked. And we will not bless those things that you have stepped away from. Forgive us. Lord, we all come today to ask it by your Spirit, you would guide us, lead us, show us those places where we can cooperate with you more fully. Where we can align ourselves with you more completely, where we can take our place in your purposes as you're moving in this generation. Lord, we don't want to step back. We don't want to be stubborn in our unbelief. We don't want to excuse our unfaithfulness. We wanna cooperate with you as fully and as completely as we know how. I thank you for it. We praise you for what you will do, and we will be careful to give you the glory and the honor. In Jesus name, Amen.

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