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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Let's Join Him - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Let's Join Him - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Let's Join Him - Part 1
TOPICS: God Is Moving

My intent is to get to a stopping point with this little series we've been doing on God is Moving. And this is really a session about an invitation. Let's join him. You know, I don't like to be complicated, whenever possible. You can always tell if I don't know what I'm talking about, I'll use bigger words. Because the things I truly understand, I can explain to a third grader, and we don't have to use big words. But, if you have a sense that God is moving, and by that I mean he's initiating, that there are changes coming, and they're God initiated, my simple desire and my suggestion to you is raise your hand and say, "I wanna move, too".

Peter, in the boat with the disciples when they decide it's Jesus actually walking on the water, and Peter, alone amongst the others, says, "Lord, if it's you, I wanna walk, too". Now, Peter got a little bit more water than he wanted, but he got out of the boat. And I would submit to you that we want to cultivate that heart. "Lord, if you're moving, I wanna move, too". We live in a season of tremendous shaking, and I find comfort in it because I believe God is the one initiating the shaking. Certainly, there was a big tremor with COVID not too many years ago. I think we had another tremor in October with the Hamas attack on Israel. I didn't recognize it at the time. I thought it was another terrorist event of murderous hatred in the Middle East. But, since then, I have seen, it's not too difficult to see if you're paying any attention at all, that it would, it became a day of separation. Another parting.

I never imagined, on October the 8th, that tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or large numbers of people would decide to support the murderous behavior of Hamas. And yet we see it. And it's God shaking. He's bringing back these choices that we have to choose which path we're going to go. When you recognize that God is moving, understand the significance of saying, "No". We're gonna talk about some characteristics of God in motion. But, as you watch October the 7th, we're closer to it than COVID. COVID is in the rearview mirror now, and our memories get a little hazy, and we forget the anxiety that was there those days and how much division it brought to people, depending on how you chose to sit and what you wore and where you went.

But the October 7th is still very relevant. It's still very much in the news. It's indefensible; it's inexcusable. there's no moral equivalence. It's absurd to me that our nation would insist on a cease fire for humanitarian purposes in Gaza when they don't demand the same in the Ukraine. It's irrational. It can't be understood simply in humanitarian terms. I can explain it in terms of geopolitical issues or petroleum dollars or upcoming elections. But it's not about humanitarian reasons. The kind of attention being turned to express hatred towards the Jewish people is truly remarkable, not news; it's a repetition of history that we have seen many times, but I didn't imagine we would ever see it in America to the degree and the extent we're seeing it at places that are thought leaders, that are incubators in shaping values and societal responses. God is shaking the earth.

I was very surprised. We were in Israel for just a couple of days a week or two ago, and we were having lunch with some friends, just simple Israelis, not sophisticated, down in their homes, very near Gaza. And we're having lunch. And one of my friends whose English was, his English is much better than my Hebrew, but his English, it was broken. But he made the sign. He said, "God is shaking Israel". And I thought, "No, God is shaking the whole earth, and Israel is being included". And that shaking brings about separation; that's what shaking does. So, when you recognize God is moving, here's the suggestion: Let's go with him. Let's just go with him. Let's go with him. You know, how many invitations do we have to have? So I've just built some characteristics of God in motion, and we've been working on this a little bit.

If you can understand the characteristics, it helps you understand that it's the Lord. Because it's not always simple. I didn't understand, when we first heard about a virus from Wuhan, what the Lord was doing, any more than I understood on October the 7th exactly what was happening. I'm not suggesting that I, in anticipation of these events, have this clarity. But what I wanna develop is the ability in the midst of the changes to say, "Well, I think God's at work here. I wanna cooperate with him". And our previous experiences are only modestly helpful in doing this. So I built a list of some characteristics. I started with Gideon in the book of Judges, but I wanna step into the New Testament some because some of you will value it more if we add the New Testament.

You know, the New Testament makes no sense apart from the Old Testament? It's an indecipherable book without the Old Testament. They're not really separate; it's the same presentation. But the first thing I suggested to you is that, when you recognize God's moving, you wanna watch, listen, think, and act. I believe that. I know it makes you uncomfortable because, in the church world, we're not used to acting. We're used to watching and listening and thinking, considering and pondering, maybe we'll pray, and we'll seek the Lord, and we'll listen some more. And I'm an advocate for all of those things. But those first three are intended to inform your actions, and, what we should all understand is that to make no decision is to make a decision.

If you choose not to act, you have made a choice. If you choose to be silent in the face of evil, you have made a choice. If you choose not to use your voice when you recognize that evil is shouting in the streets, you have made a choice. So, the watching and listening and thinking; throughout the scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, one of the single most important characteristics of the people of God is that they listen to him. They listened to him. When we used Gideon as example, there were multiple places in Gideon's journey between his recruitment and the battle with the Midianites where Gideon had listening experiences, from prophetic visits to angelic visits to opportunities for God to confirm or affirm the assignment to him.

Folks, we wanna get better at listening. I'm not even sure we've imagined it was necessary. We've talked about that previously, I'm not gonna stop. Then we talked in a previous session that we need new kinds of heroes, that, when God is moving, it's gonna bring a realignment to your life, and the places and the things you've championed, that the places you've looked at always with steadfastness, there will be some realignment. And we used Paul as an example of that. God recruited Saul of Tarsus. He's the champion of the Pharisees, the bright rising star, trusted by them, not only in Jerusalem, to be their enforcer, but they give him papers to travel beyond Jerusalem as an enforcer.

And, on the way to Damascus, he has an encounter with Jesus. And, when he returns to Jerusalem a few days later, he doesn't go seek out the high priest, nor the Sanhedrin, nor his Pharisees, none of his friends. He goes and tries to find Peter and Paul and John, the crew. They're afraid of him. They know who he is. It takes an intermediary, but Paul is establishing some new heroes in his life. And one of the challenges that we face, one of the reasons I think there's such weakness and impotence in the church is we have made heroes out of ungodly things, out of ungodly people and immoral people. I'm not saying you can't say they're talented or gifted or remarkable. But, if you teach your children to make heroes out of ungodly people, why are we surprised when they cultivate ungodly habits?

The third principle we'll pick up now is I believe that, when God begins to move, there's a separation that comes, and it happens with enough consistency that I think of it as a principle. When God begins to move, there's a group of people that move, and there's a group of people who choose not to. There's a decision made. I assure you that not all the Hebrew slaves left Egypt because I promise you that not all of them put the blood on the door post, not everybody received Jesus's message. Jesus didn't treat all 12 disciples the same. He had three that were given unique opportunities. I mean, there is just, we have had this kind of homogeneous notion that, if we all recite a simple prayer and we do this, we're all gonna go get the same thing. I don't know where that imagination comes from; it isn't biblical.

The first chapters of Genesis introduced to us the big rock ideas of the Bible, the ideas that are unfolded throughout the remaining pages of scripture. And, in those early chapters, we meet Cain and Abel, two brothers given instructions by God on how to present a sacrifice. One is obedient, and one is disobedient. It's a principle; when God is moving, not everybody chooses to move, not a threat; I'm not trying to incite you to figure out who isn't moving. It's an invitation. In Judges chapter 7, in verse 7, "The Lord said to Gideon, 'With three hundred men that lapped I'll save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.' So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred; they took the provisions of the others".

Gideon started with a volunteer force of thousands, and God said, "You've got too many men. I can't do what I intend to do with all the people you have. We need to lose some people". Remember the story? So the first thing he said, "Listen, if you're afraid, go home". Well, they're outnumbered about 10 to 1 by an enemy. If you have the IQ of a rock, that's frightening. So, before they even got started, all the smart people left. Gideon is left to the people that are too stupid to be afraid. And then God says to him, "You still got too many people. So tell them to go get a drink, and the ones that drink the way I show you, you choose them". He was winnowing down the crew to 300 people. Again, it's a consistent idea.

In Luke chapter 13, "Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, 'Lord are only a few people going to be saved?' And he said to them, 'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.'" You don't hear that passage discussed a lot. Jesus said, "Make every effort". Make every effort. Don't leave any stone unturned. Don't be casual. Don't be lackadaisical. Don't be part-time. Make every effort, do everything you know how to do. It frightens me; it frightens me for the church. I'm not trying to raise the bar. I'm not moving the tithe to 12%. There's no commitment cards taped under your chair. But please don't live presumptively with the Lord.

There's a separation that comes when God is moving; go with him. There's a fourth characteristic: I believe, when God moves, there's a very visible expression of his grace. Grace is the merit, the kindness of God that comes to our life apart from anything we have done. It's just God overrides all of the reasons he should be something other than kind, and he expresses kindness to us. We see it over and over and over in the scripture, God responding to the needs and the oppression of his people, when it has been, the oppression or the need has emerged because of their own ungodliness. And yet God responds. And I believe now we see God moving in his grace in the earth. As devastating as COVID was, and for all the loss of life that it brought and the disruption it brought, it has brought an awakening.

We're aware of things that we were not aware of. We weren't aware of what was happening in our schools to the extent that we are now. We weren't aware of the lack of integrity in some of the institutions around us. Unfortunately, some of those include even churches. But God in his mercy began to awaken us. We could have spent decades sliding further into the abyss with no awareness whatsoever. Then God began to turn the lights on. I didn't understand until recent weeks the depth of the anti-Semitism around us. It seems simple to me. It seemed like a pretty straightforward biblical principle. It's informed my journey as a Christ follower since I was a boy. It's stunning to me to see people side with evil.

As we, as Kathy and I were walking through the streets along, near Gaza, it was the evil felt physical to me. I understood that it wasn't about governments or ideologies or peoples, that evil exists and its intent is the destruction of human beings, that it's driven by a spirit, and that spirit may manifest itself through all sorts of labels. You can call them fascist or communist, you can call it whatever, but it's a spirit that intends to destroy humanity. Jesus said it, it's in John 10:10. It's not in your notes, but it is in the book. He said, "I'm come that you might have life and have it abundantly. But the thief comes to steal, to kill, and destroy".

Evil exists. And God, in his expressions of grace, intervenes. Judges 6, in verse 6, "Midian so impoverished the Israelites", this is Gideon's generation, "that they cried out to the Lord for help. When the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet". And, if you prefer the new covenant, Romans chapter 5, in verse 8, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us". You see the great expression of the mercy of God, the grace of God, the kindness of God. He sent Jesus when we didn't care. We weren't asking; we didn't know we needed something; we didn't want an intervention. And God intervened on our behalf. It's amazing to me. I hear people angry at God. They say, "I can't believe God would judge". I was like, "God has done, made every provision possible that nobody would stand before him and receive wrath".

If you stand in that place, you have chosen it, heart open, intentionally. Don't do that. It's not a prudent choice. God's grace is tangible around us. On the fifth characteristic I could tag, it seems to me, when God is moving, that there is a high value on discipline. The Gideon story helped me with that. I spent days walking around; you know, my habit, when I take a passage like that, is I try to insert myself into it and imagine that, you know, you went to ball games with Gideon. How would I've felt when Gideon rolled up and said, "I had a visitor yesterday"? Or how would I have felt when Gideon started recruiting people to go fight the Midianites? Would I have gone home when he said, "Listen, if you're afraid, really, you get a free pass".

How would I've felt that morning when the townspeople woke up and said, "Who tore down the altars? I wanna kill him". Would I have said, "Oh, I know Gideon," or would I have just been quiet, or would I have gone along with the crowd because, after all, I needed those people to do business. I mean, I live with all of that. And so, when I think about the high value to a discipline, when I get to with Gideon and these 300 men, I mean, it is go time. Gideon's crept down to the edge of camp, and he's heard the Midianites discussing that somebody named Gideon is coming, and he leaves that with the confidence to complete what God has asked him to do. And he divides the 300 men into individual companies. But he gives them specific instructions that, at the appointed time, this is what you're to do. It wasn't like he said, "Listen, you all just charge".

It was a very disciplined environment because, by this time, there's been a winnowing down. They've lost the majority of their force, thousands and thousands have withdrawn. And the last cut was made simply by how you chose to drink water. And now it's go time, and there's very specific instructions. There's a discipline. God didn't just say, "Listen, whenever you're ready, go get them, sic 'em". And I think we've lost, to a unfortunate extent, the notion of discipline in the Body of Christ. And I'm not talking about passing judgment on one another. I'm talking about the self-discipline. You know, self discipline is a fruit of the Spirit. Yielding to the Holy Spirit means a different kind of discipline in our lives. We should be different from the world. We should; we should be different from our secular friends, more discipline in our lives.

"Well, Pastor, I'm saved". Stop already. It's a false gospel to suggest to someone you can recite a prayer and then lead your life apart from the influence of God and be at peace with him. Now, I'm an overwhelming advocate for the new birth, but, when God is moving, Hebrews chapter 5, in verse 7, I think we could agree that, in Jesus, the days of Jesus's life on earth, God was moving. Is that one of those seasons when we could say, "Hey, God was up to something"? Right, the virgin birth, the incarnate Son of God, miracles pretty liberally sprinkled around. God was moving. So it's a noteworthy time for this conversation.

In verse 7, it says, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth", I love that phrase because the implication is that Jesus had a life when he wasn't on earth. But for a while he was on earth, and, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death". But Jesus didn't pray polite prayers and simple prayers and just rational prayers. He prayed prayers that elicited significant emotion, "to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard". Wow, how do you process that? He died on a cross. He was tortured to death, brutally, inhumanely. It was an expression of evil directed at Jesus. And the author of Hebrews says, "He prayed about that with tears and loud cries, and God heard him and said, 'I need you to walk this path.'"

I don't believe God asks very many of us to be martyrs. But I do believe God will ask us to do difficult things, to stand in unpleasant places, to persevere, to overcome. Those are all biblical words and biblical mandates, and to do that requires discipline. Let's finish what it says about Jesus; it's important, "he was heard because of his reverent submission. And although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him". There was a fruitfulness to his choices. But, even though he was a son, he learned obedience from enduring, from suffering, from difficulty, from something that was unfair and illegitimate and unjust.

And, if he was the only example of that in scripture, we might cut that out as an anomaly because he was the Messiah, perhaps that was his path. But we could go to passage after passage and individual after individual who had to deal with difficulty and things that were unjust and unfair and that had to be overcome and had to be negotiated. Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave. David was hunted as a fugitive for many years. I mean, the list goes on and on and on, the discipline to serve the Lord. In Matthew 8, in Luke 7, there's a story of a man who comes to Jesus; he's a Roman Centurion. Some of you will remember it. He needed Jesus to, he was pursuing a miracle; he needed healing for someone he cared about. And he met Jesus, and Jesus said, "I'll come to your home," which fried the circuits of everybody in the crowd. "He's going to a Roman Centurion"?

And the Centurion said something that the Bible, it says that Jesus was astonished. He said, "Lord, I don't deserve to have you come to my home. I'm a man under authority. I can say to a servant, 'Do this and do that,' or to a soldier, 'Do that,' and they'll do it". And he said, "I recognize an authority in you, an authority that I don't have. And, if you'll just say the word, my servant will be healed". And it says that Jesus turned and addressed the crowd, a crowd of Jewish people who are already annoyed with Jesus for agreeing to help a Roman Centurion. And he said to them this, "I haven't found faith this great in all of Israel". I'm a man under authority. What I'm suggesting to you is that, when God begins to move, one of the things you wanna do is submit to the authority of God in your life in a new way, with fresh eyes, with a purposefulness, with an intentionality.

Eliminate the places you've been sloppy. Maybe change your prayer habits. Maybe you begin to fast with a bit of regularity. Begin to seek the Lord. God is moving, and you wanna be able to hear; you wanna recognize what he's doing. You wanna be sure you're in the group that's moving with him. And often, before you understand all of those components, you begin the process of responding. "Lord, I, it seems to me you're moving". Let's say you're wrong, and all you did was change your prayer schedule and up your fasting schedule and spend more time in the Word of God. That's not a bad thing. But, if your inclination, if your sense, if your discernment was right, and God was moving, you've already got some momentum.

Hey God is moving in our earth. He's moving in our nation. And I pray he's moving in your family. So often, I feel like the Apostle Paul when he said, "I only know I don't know everything completely". I have a limited viewpoint, but I know that God is moving. I wanna pray for you, that you'll complete the course that God has called you to. Often times we have an incomplete perspective, but the faithfulness of God gives us all we need to know.

Lord, I thank you for the honor of serving you in this most unique season. And I pray for those listening today, that they will have the courage and the boldness to say yes to you. May not one person turn back or be turned aside or be distracted, but may we complete our course, in Jesus's name, amen.

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