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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Ways To Protect Yourself

Allen Jackson - Ways To Protect Yourself

Allen Jackson - Ways To Protect Yourself
TOPICS: Do Not Be Deceived

It's good to be with you again. We're continuing our study on how to avoid deception. We can't avoid being in a world that's filled with deception, that's our reality. In fact, we've almost made it a virtue. You know, in business, if you're deceitful and you improve your outcome, we call it good business. In sports we call it hiding your game plan. We've come up with a whole new vocabulary that enables us to kinda sanctify deception. But in the end it's not a good thing. We want to be champions for the truth. We want to be advocates for the truth. We want to be people who learn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We don't have to be frightened. Jesus told us this was a characteristic of this season in human history. So we've been forewarned. And if Jesus warned us he'll help us be prepared. We're gonna open our bibles and see if we can understand how to find stability and to find our pathway through a season when deception is the norm. It's an exciting time, you and I have, to put our faith and trust in a living God and be ambassadors for Jesus of Nazareth, to prepare for the return of the king and the expansion of his kingdom. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, most of all, open your heart. I trust God has something for us today. Enjoy the lesson.

All right, I want to continue a theme we began on, when was that, this past week, on "Do Not Be Deceived". And I'd just like to pick up where I left that off, so if you didn't have an opportunity to hear that particular talk it lives out there somewhere in the clouds. Thank God for that. We have friends that we share ministry and we are standing with quite literally around the world, it's amazing how technology has enabled us to shrink the globe. And even in this season when we don't have the freedom to travel, we have the freedom to stand together in prayer. And it is a tremendous gift. So I make a bit of light of that but... So this is really a continuation of that. You know the truth is in Ephesians, it says, having done everything to stand, stand therefore. And you're more stable this way, but you also can't make any progress.

If you're gonna move. if you're gonna walk just in your person, you have to break equilibrium, you have to get a little bit off balance. And then you've got all these internal things that start firing and making decisions, it's how you get to a stable place before you fall. And the only way to make progress forward is to be destabilized enough that all of those instincts will fire to help you move yourself forward. And you accelerate as you run, but once you get your momentum going forward you're much easier to redirect in whatever direction. And I think what we're watching is an unprecedented, I've been saying for months now, spiritual conflict, a battle for the heart and soul of our nation. And so we have to know what it is that gives us stability. Because Jesus told us, and many other of our friends in the New Testament told us, and the Bible told us, the deception is a part of this season.

1 Timothy 4, in verse 1, says, the Spirit clearly says that in latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits. And then Proverbs 23:23 gives us the alternative, it says, buy the truth and don't sell it. Buy the truth. It's very clear. It's so plain you could walk past it. There's a price to be paid for the truth. If you're going to know the truth, it's gonna require something of you. Well, I don't like that. Okay, pay the price anyway. Well, I wish it were free. Okay, pay the price. Well, I don't think that's fair. Okay, when you create your own world you can make your rules. The counsel we're given by the creator is, buy the truth. So I want to give you a handful of, I guess we can call 'em principles, to help you stay free of deception.

Now the best news I have is that Jesus gave us the warning, and if he gave us the warning then we don't have to succumb to deception. If Jesus said, don't be afraid, I know I can tell you one thing for sure, you don't have to be afraid. When he said, do not worry, I can tell you for certain you don't have to lead a life plagued by worry. And when he said, don't be deceived, there's good news thundering through the heavens, you don't have to be overcome by deception. That's good! But it's equally true that you know what it is to battle fear, and you know what it is to wrestle with anxiety and worry. And so it's highly probable that we're gonna have a little wrestling match or some challenges with deception. Don't be frightened by it.

So these are simple, this is not rocket science, this is plain language, this is mine, it's where I live. The first is, it's only by God's mercy that we can be faithful. Just settle it in your heart. You're not going to out-think evil, you're not gonna out-work evil. At the end of the day, it's only by God's mercy that you and I can remain faithful. There's such freedom in that. God, I'm yours, I trust you. I don't mean that in a passive way, in a resigned away. I don't mean that in an attitude of surrender. In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, in verse 25, it says, I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. Paul is writing to a church that he has helped birth. And he said, I'm giving you an opinion, but it's only by God's mercy that I can stand. And if you will establish that in your heart...

See, one of the challenges that we religious folk have is self-righteousness and pride. We belong to the right group, we read the right Bible, you know, we believe the right things. And I'm grateful for the struggle to know the truth and the effort you invest in that, but understand it's God's mercy that enables us to stand. He called us out of darkness, he redeemed us. We did not save ourselves. He called us long before we responded to him. Amen. You know, as a younger person I thought me joining God's team was probably a huge relief to him. And from where I stand today, I understand a little bit about the enormous liability they accepted when they allowed me in. And it's only by the grace of God.

The second thing I would add to that is, cultivate, which means purposefully, intentionally do anything you can to increase the harvest of humility and the fear of the Lord. Psalm 25 says, good and upright is the Lord, therefore, he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. How do you enlist God to guide you? By cultivating humility. As I understand Scripture, you have two choices. You can humble yourself, or you can face humiliation. I've been in both lines. It's better if we humble ourselves. Humility is not something you can acquire directly. You can't order it on Amazon. I'm sure that annoys them to no end. Humility comes to you through engaging in other behaviors, when you serve other people, when you don't think of yourself more highly than you ought.

Number three goes right along with that. Base everything on the Scriptures. If you want to be free from deception, spend time putting the Word of God in your heart. First we have general revelation, what you learn from studying the Scripture about the character of God and how he interacts with his people and his perspective on human behavior and the boundaries he set around us and that when he said, thou shalt not, he meant that. First we have general revelation, then we can seek for personal revelation. You know, years ago somebody said to me, well, the Bible doesn't say go to Little Rock and turn left. And there's times we need direction and the Bible doesn't give us the specificity with which we would like it. But in my life experience, in my ministry experience, there is no personal revelation if you're not living within the general revelation of the truth of God's Word.

Why should God help you clarify the decision points before you if you're ignoring the clear truth that you know? Again, the topic is how do we avoid deception. And the real invitation as I understand this season, church, is God is asking us to be different. I'm not concerned about the darkness, I'm concerned about the hearts of God's people. We've been a little smug, we've been born again and we've checked most of the boxes and we're not living in gross blatant sin so, you know, a little bit here and a little bit there, it's okay, it's like God's gonna grade on a curve, none of us are perfect. Absolutely right, we're not perfect, but that's not an excuse for sloppiness. We have no right to anticipate God's direction if we're not living in the revealed will of God.

So it's very helpful to have a consistent dialogue with the Lord. If it's not a matter of your weekly spiritual disciplines, it should be. Lord, if there's any place where the momentum of my life or the trajectory of my life is taking me away from your best, help me to see it. If I'm watching anything, if I'm meditating on anything, if there are any relationships in my life that are damaging that, if I'm not... Help me, Lord, I want to get this right. You gotta care as much about your spiritual hygiene as you do your physical presentation.

Again, not a burden, not a threat. The outcomes are so amazing. We need God's help. God is not a burden. Is there any place in your life you've gotten to know the Lord and he has diminished you? He certainly hasn't me. Now at the time I was choosing the Lord I went, oh, I'm gonna have to give this up for the Lord. You ever felt like that? Well I guess I'm gonna have to turn loose of this relationship. Oh! You look back on it in six months and say, oh, God, thank you! All right? But in the moment you're making the decision you think, ah! I mean, that's the emotion of maturing and growing up. And where do you see it and your little people?

Base everything on the Word of God. Number four is, focus on Jesus. Focus on Jesus. Revelation 19, I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, don't do it! I'm a fellow servant with you. It's an angel that's showing John this revelation. I'm a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Every true prophecy points us towards and exalts Jesus. There's gonna be more prophecy, more prophets, more false prophets. And don't just think of prophets in terms of religious characters. Biblical prophecy is God's perspective on where we are. False prophets are people that try to define truth for you and it's not really true. They may be religious characters and they may use Scriptures and they may say, thus saith the Lord, they may be totally secular characters, but they're trying to define truth for you.

If it doesn't line up with the Scripture, if it doesn't create in you the fear of the Lord, if it doesn't bring you back to the dependence upon the redemptive work of Jesus, it's not true. Focus on Jesus. John 16, Jesus is speaking, verse 13, when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he'll guide you into all truth. And he'll not speak on his own, he'll speak only to what he hears, and he'll tell you what is yet to come. He'll bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. The supreme purpose of the Holy Spirit is not to let us run the aisles. I'm okay with that, but that's not the goal. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus. And if you desire a greater presence of the Spirit of God in your life, I can tell you, the short course.

Begin to honor Jesus with your words and your attitudes or the conversations you have, with how you interact with people. You will attract the presence of the Spirit of God. He comes where Jesus is being lifted up. You watch sometime when we're together with the community of faith and we begin to talk about the person of Jesus and celebrate who he is and what he's done for us, and the magnificence of his sacrifice and his great love for his people and what he revealed to us about God the Father. As we start through that, whether it's his names or the titles attributed to him, or we start to read the verses of Scripture, pay attention to the Spirit that fills the room when we do that. You can do that same thing at home. You start to thank him for who he is and what he's done for you. The Spirit of God will meet you.

Number five, leave the initiative with God. And again, these are practical. This is, don't worry God for revelation. You know, it says in Deuteronomy that the secret things belong to the Lord but the revealed things belong to us. And there's some things God didn't intend for us to know. Again, I'm an advocate for study, I like the fine print, I've given a lot of time and energy to it, I think language studies are helpful in some ways. I'm not diminishing that, but folks there's things God hasn't told us. What do you think happened before Genesis? What? I don't know, he didn't tell us. Well, don't you want to know? No, I'm good.

Well, you're not very inquisitive. That's because I can't keep up with the truth I've got. Loving my neighbor as myself is just about a full-time job. And I've moved a few times, 'cause I thought it had to be the neighbors I had. But you know, after a handful of moves, you realize, it's not them! So Psalm 131. It says, my heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty, I don't concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Now I have participated in thousands of worship services, and healthy babies make noise. Okay? Don't pinch them 'cause the sermon's dull and you wanna leave, that's not good. But there comes a point in their life when they're weaned and their routine and their development grows, and there's a different level of demeanor that comes with them. And that's, when I read that passage, that's the image it brings to me. He said, I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother. It says, my heart is not proud, Lord, I'm not haughty, I don't concern myself with matters that are too wonderful for me. And again, I'm not coaching you towards passively, I'm telling you, you can leave the initiative with God. Be faithful in the place he has put you, with the diligence that you would want somebody to have if you had given them an assignment.

Number six, beware of fantasy. Or maybe you said a different way, limit your exposure to fantasy. There seems to me to be a spirit of fantasy that has just multiplied over us. There are so many that don't even recognize the difference any longer between what they're absorbing, whether it's real or fantasy. Now some of our digital tools have contributed to that. The amount of programming that is available contributes to that. Our affluence and abundance contributes to that. The connectivity of our world contributes to that. We used to lead much more isolated lives and we didn't have exposure to so much.

Now we see so many things and that fantasy makes you dissatisfied and discontent. And it will lead you to places that are destructive, makes you more easily deceived, more easily dissatisfied, more easily many things. Don't give your thoughts or your focused attention to things that aren't grounded by the boundaries of Scripture. Fantasy comes from, the root of it is a Latin word that means to be bewitched. And too much fantasy will bewitch you. Again, our objective here is, what can we do, what are the practices that we can build into our lives that will help us stay free of deception in a season when deception is going to be increasing?

Number seven, and my last one in this little list, is just keep it simple and plain. Don't be so spiritual. I've told this story before, years ago I was a young man and I was asked to take a visiting minister to the airport. And on the way we were supposed to stop and he was gonna pray for somebody and I had an address, this was before Google, or before GPS. We used to do this quaint thing, somebody would hand you an address and we had these paper things that unfolded. And so I had a street name and number and I couldn't find the house. And I was embarrassed, and we had a flight to catch, and I wanted to be a good host, and I finally said, well I guess the devil didn't want us to pray for that person. And this guy was retired army, had this huge, deep voice, he said, devil nothin', you just had lousy direction, son. Sir, yes, sir.

And sometimes in our shortcomings we over-spiritualize things. And keep it simple and plain. Corrie ten Boom, do you know her? If you've never read "The Hiding Place," I recommend it to you. It's not a new book, but it's worth the read. She's a hero in my life. But I don't think she originated it but I heard her use it, the KISS principle, just Keep It Simple Stupid. Works for me. 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 3, I'm sorry, he says, therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, we're not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel wouldn't look intently at the end of what was fading away. In the Old Testament, the presentation is veiled to a degree. We see God through types and signs and patterns. But in the New Testament, there's great plainness of speech.

And that's what Paul is saying. I have a hope for great boldness in our speech. It's not hidden any longer, it's been made plain. And God isn't...I'm always a bit intrigued at the way we title sermons. You know, The Seven Hidden Keys To, and The 12 Great Secrets, and The Four Mysteries. I'm like, no, it seems to me like God said it about as plainly as he knows how. No man comes to the Father except through me. I mean, it's a very plain presentation, the simplest amongst us can understand it. I want to close with a proclamation. Putting God's word in our mouths is one of the most powerful tools that we have. If you're not in the habit of memorizing Scripture, it's a great habit to cultivate.

You say, well, that's hard for me. Okay, do it anyway. Well, I'm not as good at it as I used to be. Okay, start where you are. Well, I forget. Okay, put the Scripture in your heart, it will help you. It will help you, and you're gonna need the help. You're gonna need the help. Okay? It's from Psalm 31, I think they're gonna put it on the screens, we could read it together. Why don't you stand with me? This is our conclusion, you should smile. Okay?

Psalm 31, we're gonna read the first five verses, this is the declaration over our lives of what God says about us, not how I feel, not how I think, maybe not even what my circumstances look like tonight, but this is God's declaration over my life. I trust him. All right? Psalm 31, 1-5. "In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge, let me never be put to shame, deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue, be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit, redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth". Amen.
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