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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - What We Can Do - Part 2

Allen Jackson - What We Can Do - Part 2

Allen Jackson - What We Can Do - Part 2

But the purpose of parenting, it's a sacred trust for a season. Our assignment is do everything we can to prepare them to succeed beyond us. In Proverbs 22, in verse 6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he's old, he will not depart from it". Train up a child in the way he should go. It's impossible to train without effort, without discipline, and without expectations. So when Proverbs says to us, "Train your children," your engagement with them goes beyond friendship, or camaraderie, or mutual appreciation, or the perception that everything you're saying is kind. Inherent in that bargain, in that description is an awareness of a preferred future for them that they might not even understand for themselves, and you will encourage the discipline necessary for them to be their best.

And lest you think I'm just talking about you and us as physical parents, God said he disciplines those he loves. And then if we're not disciplined, we're illegitimate children. You can check. It's Hebrews 12. It's not in your notes, but it really is in the book, which means God has expectations for you and me higher the ones that we would bring for ourselves. We're probably pretty much content to say, "Look, I wanna go to heaven. I don't wanna go to the option". And beyond that, we'll just play it out. And God said, "No, I created you with a purpose. I've sent my Spirit into the earth to work with you, to strive with you, to convict you, to direct you". And the Spirit of God will call you to places that you and I would never go by ourselves. Remember the context: godly men, godly women, godly husbands, godly wives, godly parents.

You see, God will make your life better. If you're a good teacher without God, you're a better one with God. If you're a good surgeon without God, you're a better one with him. God's not gonna diminish your life. God is at work in restoring us, bringing us to better places, and to do that, he puts us into training. Secondly, I would submit that God works through us. I like this one. The biblical term for that is intercession, but I think we frequently think of intercession as a form of prayer, and I think that's far too narrow of an understanding of what the Bible presents to us as intercession. In Matthew 15, there's a story of intercession: "A Canaanite woman comes to Jesus, crying out, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'"

It's an interesting phrase. Demons use that phrase with reference to Jesus. The high priest won't. Most of the religious power brokers won't. This Canaanite woman, she has no covenant connection with him. She doesn't keep kosher. She doesn't keep any of the rules. But she recognizes Jesus in the terms that identify him as a part of that covenant. So it's a bizarre, it's almost unimaginable. "'Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.' But Jesus didn't answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, 'Send her away, she keeps crying out after us.'" She's a nuisance. She's nuts. And Jesus said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel".

You understand that's politically incorrect? Jesus just said, "I'm not here to help her". She does not get an appointment. "And the woman came and knelt before him, 'Lord, help me!' And he replied, 'It's not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs...'" yes, he did. And she's not offended. You see, she's desperate enough to secure help for her daughter that she will overcome a slight. She's not yielding to rejection. Remember we said one of the components of God's restoration is that it requires of us oftentimes desperation? So God at work through us sometimes brings us to desperate places. "'Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table.' And Jesus answered, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed".

Woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted. If she'd been offended, if she'd come in demanding her rights, if she had been unhappy with the circumstances of the discussion, she would have missed everything. A lot of the permissions being handed out right now are permissions to imagine yourself victimized by someone somewhere somehow, and if you accept the permissions, there's a high degree of probability you'll miss what God has for you. I like Hebrews 10. It gives us several ways to imagine intercession, and they're introduced to us with this group invitation, let us do something: "Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds".

That's intercession. How can we encourage one another towards love and good deeds? This is not just my decision or just your decision. The biblical instruction is how can we encourage one another to do the right things? And it's actually a little stronger than just encourage, how we can spur one another on. Have you ever ridden a horse, anybody here? I don't mean a pony tied to a walker. I mean like a thousand pounds plus of angry energy. Did you have spurs on? Did you lean into him? If you did, you will get a reaction. Living horses when spurred respond, dead ones not so much, but if you're alive, they will move. And that's the imagery here to a group of people very familiar with horses as a means of transportation. It says "spur one another on". That's intercession.

See, we're living in a time where I would submit to you it's very important that we practice this. Come on, what are you doing? There's so many ways our faith is waning, and I don't mean it within the community here but in a much broader way. But he's not done there, the author of Hebrews in verse 25: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing". He's acknowledging, that's stepping away from church didn't just start with livestream. It's an issue in the 1st century. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another," encourage one another to what? Community, "All the more as you see the Day approaching," the day of the Lord's return.

Intercession means we use our voice, our energy, our influence to help one another do the things that we've agreed on are healthy for our lives and our faith. We have been coached to become passive. You don't wanna be judgy. "Well, just who do they think they are? I went to church last week. I endured that. He talked for 45 minutes. I grew up, we had 20 minute sermons, so I think I'm good for 2 1/2 weeks, no more church". It says, "Spur one another on towards love and good" "Nobody's gonna tell me what I'm supposed to". We gotta help one another. Intercession. We've made it into this fuzzy kind of a, "Well, I have a spirit of intercession". Well, bless you. I believe in that. I believe God gives people a spirit to pray for other people, but intercession isn't just about prayers in your private, isolated prayer closet. Intercession says, "Come on, we're gonna do the best, Barry".

I've watched you build ramps for lots of people that needed a ramp in their home, and I've seen you take some other young men and help them learn to do that and show them the value of that. We're talking about what can we do in the face of blatant expressions of evil, and darkness, and dishonesty, and manipulation, and propaganda. We can start to live our faith and say to one another, "We will not be silent". We have been silent in the face of wickedness, and darkness, and dishonesty. We're gonna have to change. I'm stunned at Christians, and I say "Christian" in the generic term of that.

Christian churches that will declare themselves to be Orthodox and then blatantly push forward worldviews and practices that have nothing to do with Orthodox Christianity. It's deceptive. It's deceitful. It's dishonest. It's a lie. Don't be a part of that. But you need the next verse. In the context of spurring one another on, of continuing to meet together, of encouraging one another, verse 26 says, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have the knowledge of the truth, there is no sacrifice for sins left, but only the fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God".

You see, we have advocated kind of a sloppy grace, this God of infinite grace and infinite mercy. Folks, if God had infinite grace, if his grace was without end, if his mercy was without end, there would be no hell. And so, the encouragement we're given is to intercede with one another. Come on, we know the way to go. We know the right place to stand up. We know the thing to say. We know that's wrong. Now, let's go do the right thing. Why? Because if we persist in going that way, if we deliberately keep on sinning, we will face judgment. You cannot practice sin as a matter of habit and imagine you will escape the consequence.

I brought you three examples, and they're really examples of intercession. And I began pulling these together when I was still thinking about Mother's Day. I'll pull some more together for dad's when we get to Father's Day. In Matthew 20, "The mother of Zebedee's sons," she has two sons that are Jesus's disciples, "came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, and asked a favor of him. And Jesus said, 'What do you want?' 'Grant that one of these sons of mine may sit on your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.'" Wow. How about mom just go big or go home? I mean, helicopter parents didn't start in the 21st century.

"James and John get over here! We're going to see J-man. I have a request. Let my boys sit on either side of you on thrones in your kingdom". Don't you know that played well with the other, right? Don't you know. Can you see the eye rolls? Jesus's response to me is really stunning. He said, "You don't know what you're asking. Can you drink the cup I'm going to drink"? And they're not just innocent bystanders in this. They said, "Oh yeah, we can do that". I'm sure, I mean, in the context, it certainly seems they think by giving the affirmative answer that they've got a shot at getting what's been asked. They're not going like, "Please forgive us. Our mom's just a little overly enthusiastic today". They said, "We can do that". And Jesus said, "Then you will".

Do you understand what just happened? Intercession. It's very important to consider what you're interceding for. These are Jesus's disciples. I'm assuming their mother was a godly woman. I'm willing to call her a godly mom, and yet, she's interceding for something that is driven by a completely carnal impulse. Jesus says, "You don't know what you're talking about". With any wisdom, at that point, you could have said, "Well, please allow me to withdraw the request". It's worth asking the Holy Spirit if you are giving yourself to interceding for things that God would not have. There's another example in Mark 6, this is about John the Baptist and Herod who's the governor of the region.

"And when the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guest. And the king said to the girl, 'Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you.' And she went out and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask for?' To which she said, 'The head of John the Baptist.'" John the Baptist was saying in public that it's not right for you to be married. You're immoral. You understand fundamentally that if John the Baptist had kept his mouth shut about current events, he could've lived longer, and yet, Jesus had nothing but praise for John. You have a really hard time making a biblical case that God's people should not be engaged in current events and challenging ungodly behavior. But this young woman's mother provides the intercession that cost John his life. Be careful what you intercede for.

In John chapter 2, it's another intercession story, very different: "On the third day a wedding took place in Cana in Galilee, and Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, 'They have no more wine.' And Jesus said, 'Why are you bothering me?'" Living Bible: "Why do you involve me? It's not my time". And you know the answer. We talked about it. "Mary says to the servants that are standing there, 'Just do whatever he tells you.'" She's interceding. She went to Jesus, and then she used whatever influence she had to give permissions to the servants, "Whatever he tells you to do".

You see, I would submit to you that on a routine basis, you are interceding for something. You're either interceding for godliness and the purposes of God and the kingdom of God, or you're interceding for something carnal or something evil. And I wanna submit to you that you have the courage to say to the Holy Spirit, "Help me. I don't want to intercede for things that will bring destruction. I don't want to intercede for evil. Give me the courage to intercede for righteousness, the things that will bring the purposes of the kingdom of God forward". Intercession is not a passive response, folks. How long will we be passive in the face of wickedness and evil? We're the salt and the light. We cannot be quiet while evil is called good and good is called evil and imagine that we are without a responsibility. We've been called as intercessors.

If that mother hadn't interceded on behalf of her daughter, she would have spent her life in demonic torment. If Herodias's mother had been more godly, she wouldn't have demanded the murder of a man who was telling the truth. There's a third way I would submit to you God is at work, and that's that he's at work with us. The word for this is cooperation. In plain language, you just wanna cooperate with God. You want to practice saying "yes" to him. In Luke chapter 1 and verse 35, a familiar story, it's the birth narrative with Mary: "The angel said, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Nothing is impossible with God.' And Mary answers, 'I'm the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said,'" what did she say? "I'll cooperate".

Did she understand? No. How many friends did Mary have that had been through an Immaculate Conception? Any of her aunts? Anybody in the family tree? Do you think she was a microbiologist? An expert on human reproductivity? I doubt it in Nazareth. Her answer was, "I'll cooperate. It's impossible. I can't explain it. I won't be able to explain it. I'll cooperate", Matthew 1 may be just as dramatic: Joseph wakes up from a dream, and it says, "He did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and he took Mary home as his wife," pregnant Mary. Not his. Yeah, I know Mary said she had an angelic visit too and God did it, but Joseph, you know, there wasn't anybody on the ball team with him that had an experience where their girlfriend was conceived immaculately, and he has a dream, and an angel says, "This is righteous and this is good". And when he woke up, he went and got Mary and said, "I'm in this with you".

See, we have this notion that cooperating with God is gonna be fun and easy, and it's kinda like a parade invitation, and you're gonna get free refreshments. They're gonna supersize your meal. "Oh, let's go cooperate with God". My life hadn't been like that. When God's invitations come up, they're gonna take time, and energy, and effort, and you're gonna feel vulnerable. Oftentimes, there's a financial cost with them. Typically there's gonna be some critics going, "What are you thinkin'? What are you doin'"?

Questioning your motives. When you could be quiet on all of those things, pretend like you didn't understand the invitation, and there would really be no criticism. You're born-again. You're baptized. You go to church. I stand up, and I sing the choruses, and I sit down. Cooperating with God, yielding to the intercession of the Holy Spirit, spurring one another, all of these things are countercultural. They're counterintuitive. They require discipline. You would live as a person under training. You're getting outcomes you would not get without intercessions, without God moving on your behalf, but it requires us to cooperate.

We gotta be salt and light. Otherwise, there's no invitation to restoration. There is no good news. You just live in your sin. Muddle along. God's good. Do what you wanna do. Pick any path you wanna pick. They're all the same. We're all going to the same place. No, we're not. If you cooperate with the Lord, he'll realign your dreams. He'll ask you to make a sacrifice before you see the success. But it's worth it. There's a sacrifice in parenting. You and I want to cultivate an intention to cooperate with God. If you will give him your dreams, he will give you a better one.

I brought you a prayer. It's not really mine. I borrowed it from Ephesians. It seemed to work really well for the church in Ephesus. I changed the pronouns to make it a bit more personal, but I gave you the reference so you can check it. If you'll stand with me, we'll pray together. It's an invitation. Folks, we're gonna leave here with a new assignment as intercessors. It's what we can do. We can do something. We're not powerless. We are not powerless. Stop looking at the wickedness and going, "I feel so defeated". No! Greater is he who's in you than any expression of evil in this world. Let's pray together:

Heavenly Father, I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen us with power through your Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. May we be rooted and established in love, having power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In Jesus' name, amen.

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