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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Proverbs

Allen Jackson - The Proverbs

Allen Jackson - The Proverbs
TOPICS: Protection from Deception

It's good to be with you today. We're gonna look at the Book of Proverbs in this session. It's a how-to guide in avoiding deception, how to find God's blessing, his best. Here's the good news: the Book of Proverbs tells you the outcome at the beginning, so you can know which choice to make, which path to take, which door to choose to get the outcome you want, life doesn't have to be a complete mystery. It doesn't mean we know who's going to win the next baseball game, but we can understand the answers to the difficult choices of life. That's the gift in the Book of Proverbs. Grab your Bible, and get a notepad, but most importantly, let's open our heart to what God has today.

I began a series in a previous session, and this is really an extension of that. If you didn't get to hear that, I would encourage you, when time permits, to go back and listen, because they're really intended to go together. The general theme is "Protection From Deception". In this session, we're gonna look at the Proverbs, the Book of Proverbs, the whole Book of Proverbs. The next service is Wednesday night, so buckle up, okay? But Jesus's most direct and consistent warning when he talked about this point in human history was a warning against deception. He said even the elect, even God's people, could be deceived.

Now, I'm of the opinion if Jesus warned us against something, we should pay attention and that if you imagine you could never be deceived that I would humbly submit you already are. Deception isn't always something that's willful. Deception is when you believe something to be true, which in reality is not true. It has nothing to do with sincerity. You can be sincerely deceived. It isn't always about belligerence. Sometimes doing the best that you know, given the information you're handed, you arrive at a conclusion that is not really based on fact. And Jesus tells us that deception will increase.

I remember reading that as a young person, and it seemed possible to me, but it seemed a bit far reaching, how you could cause so many people to be deceived. But when I was a young person, there were some tools that weren't available to us that are part of our lives now. We have communications tools that simply were, they were just fictional things when I was a boy. I must be old. I'm not. But we have the ability now to communicate globally on an almost an instantaneous way by voice or with picture. I mean, on a regular basis, the services we do in this building in Middle Tennessee are shared with nations throughout the world in real time. That was unthinkable just a few years ago, not all the technology would be available, but that it would be so accessible and so affordable that even churches would have access to it. And with that kind of ability to communicate comes the ability to communicate things that are not helpful, and we're caught up in that now.

One of the things that I think happened in this post-COVID season is that there's questions, and we don't know who to trust, and trust is really almost in free fall. Truth isn't even held in high esteem any longer. We have a whole new set of vocabulary words that describe ways to lie. We don't like to say lie 'cause lie still has kind of a negative connotation. So I don't lie. I just spin the truth, or I speak evangelistically. That's code for "we lie in church". I mean, it's very predominant. And the technology continues to emerge, which has wonderful potential. I told you that now our services are shared across the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic, and they're not subtitled or overdubbed. I speak Arabic.

Now, you know, there's more to that story 'cause I can barely speak Southern. That's made possible because of AI. And those good people watching those messages in North Africa and the Middle East think I speak Arabic. It's a little deceptive. Maybe we need a scroll across the bottom of the screen: "He's not that smart, it's technology". It's kind of like truth in advertising. But AI holds the potential to promote deception in ways that I don't even think we can imagine yet. Somebody in the office told me they put the question. It wrote a sermon in my voice, and they said I read it, and it sounds just like you. I'm headed, if you can get a hologram that goes with that, I'm on the beach.
So the potential for deception is flourishing around us. So now, all of a sudden, what Jesus said takes a little more significance to me. How could you manipulate huge blocks of the population to believe something to be true, which in reality is not true? And it doesn't take much creative imagination any longer to think, imagine that. And if you look around us, there's abundant evidence that it's happening in such proportions already. Some of it has to do with our character. Apart from God, our character is flawed. We are self-dominated, apart from all the things they tell us, apart from the power of God that brings transformation to us, we don't really have the best interest of others at heart. Radical stuff when Jesus said to think of others before you think of yourself. We see the fruit of this. We abort our babies.

My father was a veterinarian. I grew up around animals. Animals's behavior is better than that. It is. Now, I know that's harsh, and it seems a little abrupt, but it's because we're so far down that dark place. We've grown so accustomed to it. Millions and millions and millions, tens of millions of lives lost. We have all kinds of justifications. We chirp about it. We say it's, you know, "My body, my choice," until it wasn't. Or we say, you know, "It's because of rape, and incest, and the life of the mother". And even if you're willing to make that concession, that represents about 2%, maybe a little less than that, of the abortions committed. It's deception. We don't even care about our children. That's our reality. It's not something that's going to happen.

This last week, one of the major denominatio, one of the largest evangelical denominations in our nation, and in reality, in the world made a formal policy change. Their practice had changed some time ago, but the United Methodist formally changed their policy to ordain same-sex couples and perform same-sex marriages as a part of their official policy, and they celebrated it broadly, and widely, and loudly, it was carried in the media. They were hailed as being forward-thinking. What's lost in all of that is that it's a broad step away from biblical orthodoxy, the practice, the practice of the church, the authority of scripture, and the practice of God's people over hundreds and hundreds of years. Deception, it's flourishing almost everywhere we look in our own community, we don't have to go to Washington, D.C. Don't get heated up about Washington.

In our own community, we've had a great deal of difficulty just unifying around the idea that drag shows for children are not a good idea, and just for the record, they're not a good idea. That's just not a good thing. And I mean, we're happy for somebody else to stand up, and maybe somebody else should say something, but we don't intend to go stand in that light for ourselves, and we don't put anything at risk with that, and it could get expensive. Do you know there's going to be a cost to seeing godliness flourish, and righteousness be exalted, and the truth told? Those positions will not grow, and expand, and extend to influence more people without a focused investment of time, energy, and resources. It's gonna take some courage from God's people.

Just about any bucket you pick up, I picked on theology. I talked a bit about our community, the medical community, and I'm an advocate. If I weren't doing this, that would be where I would hope to be. But they have difficulty refusing to stop the physical mutilation of our children, I mean, as an industry. I know there are outlying voices, and there are those who resist it, but as an industry, there is no will to say that the mutilation of our children should be stopped. Instead, they see the profit potential of gender-affirming care, and so they spin it in all sorts of deceptive language and try to tell us that they're doing something good for those minors. It's a lie on a national scale.
You don't have to have a degree in economics or be particularly clever or even observant to understand we're bankrupt, $30 trillion and growing on a daily basis, and we're passing out money like we got it out of a Monopoly box. I mean, we are handing out billions of dollars continuing while we ignore the flashing red lights that are staring us in the face signaling a collapse if we continue this momentum. We do bizarre things. It's just it's difficult to even explain. In fact, we don't really want to have a public discussion about it, it's so illogical and irrational. It reflects such a level of deception that public discourse really isn't sustainable, so we just shout ugly names at people who would challenge it. Giving away billions of dollars to people who chose to go to college and choosing to fund it by people who may not have gone but at least taking money from others to pay for those who didn't have enough sense to go to college and find a way to pay for it, that's not a formula for strength.

So we don't talk about it in the public square. You know, if you step away from it all, it's as if we're staggering, careening, as if we're drunk, stumbling from one catastrophe to the next. Well, I believe there's a solution. I don't believe this is necessary. I don't believe it's political. I truly don't. I think the challenges we see have a spiritual foundation and a spiritual root, and for that, I have tremendous hope. Because the God I worship is a God of mercy, and grace, and power, and he has a track record of redemption, and renewal, and deliverance. And if his people will turn to him, I believe we'll see God move. So I wanna go to the Book of Proverbs. The real issue and what we started in this previous session is how we move away from simply knowing the Word of God, or knowing about the Word of God, or having the Word of God available.

How do we choose to embrace it? We have to put our faith in it. We don't stand apart from it and make decisions as to its veracity. We allow it to speak to us as if it were authoritative. And so, today is really a practical lesson in that. The previous session was a bit more theoretical, using Jesus's language and his parables to try to give us the underpinning for why we could take the step we'll take today. But the Book of Proverbs is a practical book. King Solomon is credited with writing some and accumulating the rest, the third king of Israel, arguably the wisest king to ever sit on the throne, certainly the most financially successful for the majority of his life. During his life, it's said that gold and silver were as plentiful in Jerusalem as rocks, and one thing Jerusalem has an abundance of is rock.

A remarkable person, and he collected these Proverbs. And I'll start in Proverbs chapter 1, it's this grand invitation, big rock idea. I chose the message because I like the contemporary language. Says, "These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David's son, Israel's king, written down so we'll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it's going," he has my attention. He's gonna give us some coaching on how to live well and live the right way, "to understand what life means and where it's going". Unfortunately, we don't usually ask those questions until we've spent most of ours, and that's a pretty desperate place to arrive at. You wanna know what life means and what it's about when you still have a significant portion of it before you. Verse 3, he said, "It's a manual for living, for learning what's right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and to give our young people a grasp on reality".

See, I believe we have to begin to encourage our young people to come back to the Word of God, to understand what justice is, and to understand what reality is. I'm tired of relinquishing that to secular voices or people who manipulate the scripture. "There's something here also for seasoned men and women". I think that's a nice way of saying those of us who are no longer young. I'm not old. I'm seasoned. Not sure I like that so much either, but. "Still a thing or two for the experienced to learn: Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women".
I think it's a safe goal. If you're not sure about righteousness, or purity, or holiness, I think almost all of us would like to be included from God's perspective in the groups that are labeled wise, maybe like for God to look at you and go, "Now, that's a wise person. Look at that person, the wisdom with which they have navigated life". I'd like to be in that category, wouldn't you? About four of you. The alternative, as I understand it, is foolish. So if God's gonna put you in one line, the fools or the wise, how many of you prefer the wise line? Getting better, okay. Some of you are gonna think about that.

Well, the Book of Proverbs gives us the conclusion to life choices so we can know before the door opens what's behind it. It's like playing "Let's Make a Deal" but you've got a camera backstage. You understand the outcome at the beginning so you can make an informed decision. That's remarkable. But Proverbs does it in the plainest of language. It tells us which doors to choose. The great myth is exposed, and the real myth, the fundamentals, they're not hidden in scripture. There are no easy choices. There's always gonna be stairs to climb. It's not a downhill path. Stop parenting trying to put your children on the level, easy, downhill path. It doesn't exist. Downhill is something destructive. It is! Just the exercise that's required to stay physically healthy takes work. I would prefer to eat ice cream and become cardiovascularly fit. Wouldn't you?

The more hot fudge, the healthier. I mean, I would like that, but you laugh 'cause you understand fundamentally it's messed up. You gotta eat a rice cake. That's just wrong. There are no easy choices. It's easier to go along with the crowd. Jesus told us where the crowd is headed. He said there's a broad path that leads to a broad gate, and it leads to destruction, but there's a more narrow path and a small gate that leads to life. So Proverbs is gonna help us identify the doorways to give us some momentum on this road less traveled, and it isn't gonna be easy. I don't like that. Duly noted. For too long, for far too long, we have willingly gone with the crowd, and then we thought we could step out on Sunday morning and say "Jesus" for a few minutes, and step back into the flow of the mainstream, and we were good to go. It's deception.

Godliness is a different way to live. It's a different set of values. It's a different set of priorities. It's a different set of objectives. And if you're measuring yourself against the secular culture that hasn't chosen that pathway, you're evaluating yourself incorrectly. There's no easy choices. It's difficult to stand for the right thing. I need to say that. We all need to hear it. It's difficult to stand for the right thing. It really is, people say, "Well, you know, I knew I should have stood up, but that was gonna be difficult". Duh! That's why when people volunteer for the military, they go to training, boot camp, hard work, drill sergeants, grumpy people. They're not sensitive. I don't think you've ever seen that movie where the drill sergeant gets all the new marine recruits there. Day one doesn't, "Listen, if anybody's tired, just go back in and have a nap".

Standing up's difficult, church! Have you read the book? You know what they did to our boss? I had an invitation to go speak at a seminary, and I had been, I'd just been kicking it down the road for a couple of weeks. I really didn't want to think about it, and I got done a little early with the outline I needed yesterday so I was working on my calendar, and I got the invitation out again, and I read it, and I looked at it, and they wanted me to watch a video, So I went and watched the video, and I'm still thinking, "No, I've never heard of it. I don't know where they are".
You know, and I thought, "Well,". And I got my phone chirped with a text, which is, on Saturday afternoon, nobody wants me. I'm not available. It was a friend of mine in another state. Somebody I respected. And he asked me a question, and I answered the question, and I said, "And oh, by the way, have you ever heard of this seminary"? He said, "Yeah, it's my alma mater". He said, "If you go speak, I'll meet you there". I didn't even tell him I was on the list. And so I said, "Maybe I should consider this".

So I'm happy to go speak at someplace I've never heard of. You know, the choices I have made and the things I have stood up for make it highly improbable I'm going to be invited to Harvard's Divinity School. I don't think Princeton's gonna call or the University of Chicago or Yale. I think those bridges have pretty much been addressed. And you know what? I'm okay with that. But as I sat and thought about it for a few minutes yesterday, you know, the privilege is to whatever is necessary, whatever is required, whatever it takes, you wanna be found standing amidst the people of God, and that's not always easy, and it may affect choices that would seem to affect the prestige of your life or your aspirations for your children.

There is no greater prestige or no greater thing to strive for than to be pleasing in the sight of God. And it's unfortunate. It's unrealistic. It's deception to think that the goal is to get the church when it's convenient and kind of do our God business, but the rest of the landscape of our lives, we're gonna pull that into a separate space. Because we did well with that little thing we were supposed to do at church, the rest of this, we can drag it over here on the side and it doesn't matter. That's not the message of the Book of Proverbs. There's no easy choices. And then in the great search that is our lives for meaning, and fulfillment, and satisfaction, and joy, and happiness, and all those things that we tend to put on those lists, I would submit to you that the choice you wanna make first and foremost is to be a God-learner. Be a person who wants to learn about the Lord.

It could be the single greatest choice of our lives. It's not a one-time decision. It's not punctiliar. It's not something you do, and it's complete, and finished, and you're done. It's a lifestyle. It's a choice. It's a daily investment. And I wanna know more about God at the end of the day than I knew at the beginning of the day. It's not beyond you. I'm not asking you to be weird. Godly is not weird. I know a lot of weird people, and they're not godly. They're just weird. Okay, if you know somebody that's weird and they're trying to convince you they're godly, just smile, turn around, and run the other way. Okay, God can withstand the scrutiny of your intellect. Make peace with that.

You see, if the academic process is ungodly, it's not because they have gone beyond the wisdom of the Creator. It's because they're intentionally hiding his reality. I've been told many things in some very fine institutions of learning that had very little, I was in a Christian University, completing a degree in history, an advanced course, upper level course, with a professor who spoke multiple languages, and I'll never forget, we did a series of lectures where he explained to us that the Holocaust didn't happen. He would play recordings for us of Hitler making his speeches and celebrate his brilliant verbal skills in a Christian University. We're gonna have to have the courage to sort out what's true and what's false.
Completely different setting, in a doctoral program, working on with some of the most brilliant scholars in the world, I sat in a lecture where they spent the entire lecture explaining to us that God didn't part the Red Sea. And they were using language, and original language, and a lot of in-depth academic stuff that would put you to sleep. And they were counting on the ignorance of the students in the class. Because when they were all said and done, you know, they said it all hinged on Yam Suph, the words used to reference Red Sea, and they said it means Reed Sea, and it wasn't the sea.

It was a marsh, and maybe the chariots got stuck in the mud, but there was no waves, and there was no water, and yada yada yada. But they failed to tell about the dozens and dozens of places in the Hebrew Bible where Yams Suph says it's the ships sailed on the Red Sea. They manipulated the language. They hid the facts. And that was in a theology school with celebrated people, with papers in the finest journals and peer reviewed and all those things. See, we're gonna have to have the courage to decide if we believe in God, what we're going to choose to put our faith in.

If we choose to set aside God's wisdom and imagine that we're gonna get a great outcome, we're delusional. Lot of voices coming at us these days, inviting us towards ungodly paths. The challenge, the discipline that's required is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and choose God's best. That's my prayer for you today. Let's pray:

Father, I pray that you'll give us the wisdom and the clarity to choose your outcomes in our lives so we might say "no" to ungodliness and "yes" to you, in Jesus's name, amen.
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