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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Power To Change The Future - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Power To Change The Future - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Power To Change The Future - Part 1

Hey, it's always an honor to have a little bit of time together. Our topic today is the power to change the future. You know, we live in a world of really unprecedented change. It's coming at us so rapidly in significant magnitude that sometimes I think we imagine we're being swept along and we're just kind of innocent bystanders. That's not really a biblical perspective. Christ in you changes the world around us. And if we can listen to the voice of God and cooperate with him, I believe God will use your life, mine, to change our future. We're gonna explore that together. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, just open your heart.

The title for the session is "The Power to Change the Future," the power to change the future. I'm gonna suggest that you have the power to change your future. Wow. Didn't know that. Don't often feel like that. Typically, I don't feel like I have the power to get through the day or to solve the problems that are before me. I just have the energy and the strength to get through the to-do list. The power to change the future. I wanna start with just a brief reminder of the God that we worship. It's easy to lose sight of that. It isn't reinforced by very many of our centers that create messaging that cascades towards us, that Almighty God is sovereign over all. And there's multiple expressions of it through scripture. We could spend almost unlimited amount of time processing it. But I just wanna start there in a brief way. We can start in Jude.

So the doxology, the conclusion of the book of Jude, "To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy". That's an amazing statement. There is one who can keep you from falling. Now, we're gonna do our best to fall. We'll even take a few dives, we'll trip one another. But there is one who is able to keep us from falling and to present us before his glorious presence without fault. Can you imagine the ability to stand before the Creator of heaven and earth without fault? Not lying about it, not denying it, not painting it over, not hiding it behind the curtain, no fault. Holy, righteous, pure, spotless. That would take some power. Because I know some of you, some of you know me, and we all know we're not holy, righteous, pure, and spotless.

We're a bunch of cracked pots, but there's a power that can do that, "To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen". Why don't we read that 25 verse together? Let's make it as a proclamation over our lives, a declaration of our future. Can we do that? Let's read it. "To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen". Hallelujah. We get messed up. We treat God like it's the same as going to church. That's not the same. It really isn't. Look at Revelation 5. It's a scene of the throne room of God. It's such a beautiful, beautiful scene.

"In a loud voice the elders gathered in the throne room, began to sing: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, everyone singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'" That's an amazing scenario. There is a throne and the one seated there rules over everything in heaven and earth and under the earth. You need to meditate on that. You need to think about that a little bit. For he has all power. All power, all authority for all ages, now and forever.

Now, I know I grew up in a barn in Tennessee, but if there is such a being, and I believe there is, may I suggest it would be worth knowing him and being in his good graces? We have a reluctance that is irrational. In Daniel chapter 2, Daniel, very different time frame, very different place, very different circumstances. Daniel is a slave. He's not living an easy life. I want you to understand, we can honor the Lord and choose to serve the Lord and give glory to the Lord even when life is not easy. We've got kind of a perverted sense of the gospel that, you know, we'll be thankful and grateful and appreciative when it's all going our way. There's very little going Daniel's way. His life is a steady stream of persecutions and attacks. God delivers him for many of them, not all of them.

Daniel in chapter 2, in verse 20 says, "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him". I love that sentence. God knows what they're trying to hide in the dark. He doesn't need a FISA warrant. He doesn't have to pay Google for the data they've harvested from you and me. He knows what's hidden in the darkness. And then Daniel says in verse 23, "I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you've made known to me what we ask of you, you've made known to us the dream of the king".

Daniel is scheduled to be executed at sunrise and the only way to avoid that outcome is if God would reveal to him a dream that the king had and has forgotten, and God showed it to Daniel. So, Daniel says what he knows to be true, that God knows what lies in darkness. In Isaiah 45 God said through the prophet, "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things". Again, we have diminished God. We think he's kind of like us, he's just cuter. He has better days. He don't get quite as tired as quick. God's not like us. The Bible says in the very introduction, the way we're introduced, is, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". And he goes on to explain to us that everything in all Creation came from God, that he is God of all. That needs to get established in us. It'll clarify so many, many things.

If you will accept the notion that God created everything, he created you and me, he created the world in which we live. If you understand we are God's creation, it will change your life. If you work in the health care professions, you would not intentionally harm the creation of Almighty God. You wouldn't do that if you feared God. If you believe that God creates us in the womb, you would not abort a child because you would be terrified. You wouldn't mutilate a child because you would understand Almighty God. We have so diminished God. You wouldn't teach children ungodly things. You wouldn't parent sloppily because you understand they're on a loan and release basis. They're not really your, I mean, they got a little bit of your DNA, but they don't belong to you. God knew them before you did. It changes everything if we'll think about the power and the majesty and honor of God.

Hebrews 4:13, somebody will prefer the New Testament, so here you go. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account". Nothing is hidden from God. Okay. That's not a threat. That's such a wonderful invitation. Go stand close to him. He knows everything. He knows the future. He knows our vulnerabilities. He knows our weaknesses. He created us, he knows the limits of our strengths. He knows the limits of our intellect. He knows our emotional capacity to process whatever, he made us. He's not mad at us. He wants to help us. We're the reluctant part of the equation. We think he's trying to take something away from us. It's unfortunate.

I got to go to a conference this week. I don't get to do that as much as I once did. Once upon a time, I was a conference junkie. I knew there was so much I wanted to learn and if I could get help, I was on the road. My schedule is a little different these days and, typically, if I go to a conference, I'm pretty busy. But this conference I wasn't so busy, so I got to listen to nine or ten hours of counsel for some smart people that are really working hard to strengthen the kingdom of God and the people of God. And I found that as I was listening, some things began to settle in my own heart, and I'll share a bit of that with you. It seems to me, when I look across the landscape, I've spent my adult life working in the church. And so, that's the arena I know the best. And I always enjoy the perspectives from people who live in other arenas and realms because they have vantage points.

But if I were gonna speak to that, I'd have to say that my analysis, my diagnosis, if I could do it that way, is that Christians, basically, those of us that kind of stand under the umbrella of Christianity, all the labels and denominations and sections and...Christians don't really take sin seriously. We don't consider disobedience to God to be particularly problematic. We prefer to think of God as the God of love. We just don't meditate on the portions which reveal a just God, and certainly we don't wanna think or even talk about the sections of scripture that present a God who exacts revenge on his enemies. We embrace disobedience. We do, but we don't consider ourselves God's enemies.

See, we have this mistaken notion that we can walk away from God, behave any way we want, but oh, we're still on his team. We're just his spoiled children and he really, really, really loves us. Because of that attitude there's a whole menu of things that are prevalent in the midst of the people of God. And I haven't found it to be unique to any city or any denomination or any location. It doesn't matter whether the state is red or blue, these things seem to flourish amongst the people of God. We practice and tolerate sexual immorality. We do. We ignore fundamental biblical principles, not complicated, things like tithing. We just don't. I mean, some do, but as a general statement, the overwhelming majority don't.

Now, we got all, "You know, preachers and churches have too much money anyway. Be a burden to them if I gave them mine". We will overlook evil. It's our preferred response, rather than overcome evil. After all, it's business and I'm doing business. If I bring up the notion of good and evil and right and wrong or moral and immoral, I could diminish my opportunity in business. It's just business. We'll tolerate or even choose abortion. We don't wanna push our faith on others, while 60 million children are lost. Far too frequently we're just silent in the face of evil. Even when our professions of choice encourage gender confusion or the mutilation of children, we remain mute. I mean, after all, God didn't really expect me to say anything.

I've stepped back from that. I've been thinking about it a good bit as I've been listening, and it seems to me that for several generations we have lived as if physical laws and the social sciences are more real than spiritual laws and principles. You know this. It doesn't take a lot of thought. You don't have to be deep to get here. It's given rise to terms like, "follow the science". If you follow God, you're a fanatical. If you follow the science, you're a good person, well oriented, balanced. I'm not opposed to science or terms like ROI, the return on investment. "Well, I can't do that. That wouldn't be a good return on investment. I'd be giving my time away too cheap. I'm way too valuable to do that. I can't spend time and energy and effort, that's not a good ROI, I've been trained, I'm educated, I'm an achiever. I've been coached up or my family is my first priority. Therefore, it excuses almost everything else I would ignore, any godly principle I would break, because I put my family in the first position and they're sacred".

These and several other we could add have become the guiding principles of our lives and our society. They are the rails on which the world we're watching are driven on, and we're part of it. Spiritual ideas, things like, "Lead us not into temptation". Don't wanna go anywhere near temptation, don't wanna be around temptation, don't wanna be a part of temptation. Or statements like, "repent and believe" or biblical phrases like, "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" or biblical reports of demons being cast out or biblical assignments like, go into all the world. Well, those kind of ideas, they're for debate and study. We don't imagine that they have a significance that's as equal to "follow the science" or return on investment. "I can't go into all the world, that's not a good a return on the investment of my education. I mean, I'm not gonna believe in demons. I can't do that and follow the science".

Well, the result of that, the outcome of this imbalance, is a spiritually emaciated and often entrapped group of people who have confused faith. And the evidence of that isn't in our church attendance, we can attend church in that emaciated condition. We drag ourselves in mirthlessly. We walk through the stages of life doing our best to fulfill our selfish carnal impulses. That's the fruit of it. We're not really in the pursuit of God. It's not hard to see. And I will probably agitate almost everybody before I'm done, but I wrote myself into it, so I'm not ignoring that. But if we can't get to a reasonable diagnosis, we can't get to a reasonable prescription for a better place. And it seems to me like as teens and college students, we wanted to explore our adolescence and our newfound strength and abilities and discover what life was about.

So, we relinquished ourselves to things like drunkenness and immorality and the pursuit of our preferred hobbies and in general, just general rebellion against authority. We're gonna go check out the boundaries. Now, they can explain that psychologically and I can put all sorts of secular answers around that, but that's the reality of the behavior. Some of us chose to go to college and we found organizations that would help us do this, so we joined fraternities or sororities. Because we found it in groupthink, ungodliness was somehow nullified. The consequences weren't so real if we did it as a group because, after all, we're friends for life and we'll kind of wink and nod and just remember back in the day. Those who did not or could not pursue the license of college life, well, we were just good, old, hard working people trying to figure out how to have a better life.

And if we indulge in a little bit of carnal satisfaction, who could blame us? Life's hard and we're young. There were some amongst us, they made us uncomfortable. They were a bit more driven and they pursued success. Now, we may not have been the Wolf of Wall Street, but we were going out to get what we wanted, and God help anybody that got in the way. We were all pursuing similar objectives. We wanted to experience life. To travel, to have relationships, at some point to be married, to begin to get our part of the affluence and the good life that others experience. If it was too slow in appearing, we were frustrated and got resentful. Then, we decided we wanted children and if, for any reason, they were delayed or it seemed, it just seemed overwhelming. It's our dream and we've been told we have a right to our dream and we want our dream now.

When the children arrive, they're our fulfillment. They're gonna complete us. So, we become indulgent parents. We don't want the kids to struggle in the ways that we imagined we'd had to struggle, so helicopter parents emerge. We vote for participation trophies. We deliver an endless stream of affirming messages, "You can do anything you want to. You can become anything you can imagine". And we launch a whole new generation into full scale pursuit of self and carnal indulgence. And if we're fortunate, we become empty nesters. "Now it's really time to experience life. It's my time, my calendar, my money, I've worked hard for this. Let's travel, recreate, live a more indulgent life than ever". I mean, we're not gonna challenge our adult children with spiritual disciplines, but we didn't really adhere to them ourselves.

And then the grandkids arrive. Woo-hoo, the joy of children without the obligation of parenting. This is a God idea. So now we can be truly indulgent. After all, no grandparent should expect a grandchild to lead a godly life, a life of sacrifice, a life of perseverance, or a life of spiritual discipline. I mean, if we got really honest, we didn't want to live that way. We've done the best we could to live that way the least we could. We want the privilege of introducing our grandchildren to a less disciplined life. We want to show them what license looks like. Stay up late, eat whatever your parents won't allow you. Greater rewards with less expectation, the joy of grandparenting. It feels a little godlike. We can bless without any real consequence for bad behavior.

"Oh, it's okay," because we've imagined God as some sort of a heavenly grandparent. After all, they're just our grandkids. What are the spiritual lessons, the God lessons, we embrace and relay to the next generation? What is it we've really been telling them? What have we been coaching them on? This isn't a single generation, folks. We're several generations into this now. It only takes three generations to completely lose an idea and we are perilously close to completely losing the imagination of what a life led for the glory of God even looks like. So, what we've been coached up on is, "Just go to church," principally at times when it's convenient, "Say the sinner's prayer. Churches and God, they're always gonna be available. Don't be dogmatic and don't be fanatical. Don't get too committed. God is chill. You can work it out with him later in life. No rush. Get on with what you wanna do".

Well, if God is real, and I happen to believe he is, I would submit to you, we have sowed the wind and we're going to need a dramatic and new response from God's people. I've said it often and I've said it pretty widely, I don't believe the problems we face are the result of the ungodly. I think the problems we face are completely rooted in the ambivalence, the indifference, of the people of God. And I know when we hear that we think, well, that's not me. That's the other people of God. If you're Protestant, it's the Catholics. If you're Catholic, it's the Protestants. If you're Pentecostal, it's the Baptist. If you're Baptist, it's the Pentecostals. It's not us. Well, it's not a helpful imagination, because at the end of the day the only person I have ultimate authority over is myself. And I want to submit, we're gonna have to begin to say to God, "God, if I were different, would you do something differently"?

Hey, let me make a suggestion. Don't spend your life torqued up about what other people are doing. Let's decide to seek the Lord for ourselves, humble ourselves, and just see what God will do in the world. Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, we choose you today. We don't wanna be religious, we don't wanna be churched, we don't wanna be rule followers. We wanna be men and women with hearts yielded fully to the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Spirit, help us. We're listening. In Jesus's name, amen.

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