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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - What To Do In A Crisis - Part 1

Allen Jackson - What To Do In A Crisis - Part 1

Allen Jackson - What To Do In A Crisis - Part 1
TOPICS: Crisis

The topic for the session is, "What To Do in a Crisis," "What To Do in a Crisis". There's more than one kind of crisis. A few weeks ago while we were having service, there was a tornado within the vicinity of the campus, and we kind of scrambled to find safe spaces for children and adults. That's one kind of crisis. When I was in elementary school, and that's been a day, we used to do training for what we do in case of a nuclear attack. Guess what they told us to do? You got that training too. We got under our desk, because in the event of a direct nuclear hit, that desk is one protective thing. I'm here to tell you. Don't need no stinking shelter. You got a desk. It's important to know what to do in a crisis, because at that point, it's honestly, it's too late to be figuring out a plan. You need to plan for a crisis before it happens.

So you need to have some understanding of what would cause it, and what the implications would be, and what's being threatened so that, you know how to respond. Well, I'm of the opinion that we're in the midst of a crisis. As plainly put as I know how to, the outcome of our current patterns of behavior will be a complete disruption of our way of life. It's simply not sustainable. We have taken God's principles and set them aside. We have chosen rebellion to Almighty God, not to some government. Now in fairness, this isn't unique to our generation. It has happened many times throughout history. It's why the Bible presents to us a God of redemption, a God of restoration because we need it. Israel, the northern nation of Israel after the civil war, was handed over to the Assyrians in 721 BC. Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 587 BC, about 150 years later. Neither of those tragic collapses were caused initially by military conflict.

Oh, there were armies involved, and sieges, and there were deaths as a result of military actions. But the spiritual failures preceded the political realignment. On the positive side, if you get it right, the American Revolution was made possible by the First Great Awakening. There was a spiritual change amongst the colonists which made it reasonable to overthrow tyranny and launch a new nation. So it isn't just a negative story. The people who turn their hearts towards God, open doors of possibility that only God could orchestrate. The need for American troops to wade ashore on the beaches of France and the islands of the Pacific arose, because the people of God were unprepared, and unwilling to hold the spiritual inheritance which they had received. And the world was plunged into conflict.

In more recent times, 60 million children in this nation have been sacrificed, while people of faith have planned vacations and done Bible studies. Even today, the voices in favor of ending babies' lives seem louder than those seeking their well being. How can this be? In the last few days, you know, something that you couldn't have made up, if you'd have told me this 30 days ago, I would have thought you were just watching your own theater of the absurd. But Harrison Butker, a professional football player, speaking at a Catholic university graduation, a Christian school graduation. Appropriately spoke with gratitude about his wife being willing to be a homemaker, and it's resulted in a storm of upheaval. His job has been called for, many have demanded that his contract be terminated.

Such egregious behavior. He would have been labeled courageous if he'd announced that he was the star in a drag show of professional athletes, encouraging children to explore their sexuality. His willingness to embrace biblical ideas has caused him to be vilified. I don't think it is a stretch or it's an attempt to be in any way dramatic, to say we are in the midst of a crisis. What I want to be certain we understand is that we're not powerless, we're not spectators. We are very much in the arena. And if the church will respond in a way that brings God's redemption, or we will respond in such a way that it brings his judgment. I believe the initiative is ours. I like that, we're not powerless. It isn't about our numbers. We don't have to have a majority. There is an authority in truth. And we have to decide if we'll be people with the courage to become people of the truth, or if we'll continue to hide behind a whole host of things that have seemed more convenient for far too long.

The study for this session really came out of our daily Bible reading. I hope you're engaged with that. If you're not, let me give you a personal invitation. Every year, we read through our Bible. Systematically, day by day, it's about a 10 or 12 minute investment of time a day. And you can read through the Bible from the table of contents to the maps. It's one of the greatest protections against deception that I think you can have, because it removes you from the realm of opinion, pastor's opinions, or churches opinions, or denominations opinions. You actually get to know the character of God. You won't understand everything you read. You won't know how to pronounce every name. I've been studying this book for a day or two now, and I still don't. So don't let that keep you from it. But next up on our reading plan, we're just wrapping up the book of Exodus.

So you know what's coming, that emotional upheaval of Leviticus. And whenever we go to the book of Leviticus, I think it's, if I can provide some momentum. I want to, because I don't want you to read Genesis and Exodus, and then lose your momentum on the Bible reading. I would remind you that God put Leviticus in the book. So there's value. From the thousand foot view, the book of Leviticus is a book of instructions regarding repentance. Hey, that seems pretty appropriate for a group of people that are in almost wholesale rebellion against God. It's a group of displaced people. They've been delivered from the brick pits of Egypt, but they don't yet have a home, and they're surrounded by enemies, and they can't support themselves. It's a group of people, without the sovereign intervention of God, have no hope of a successful outcome. Sounds a whole lot like some of the circumstances we see.

So I don't know how much time we'll take, but a session, or two, or three with Leviticus. And I'll start with just the fundamentals, because the fundamentals matter in any endeavor, whether it's business, healthcare, theology, athletics, the fundamentals make all the difference. The higher the stress, the better you better be at the fundamentals. And that's true in our faith as well. And the beginning point is, there is a God. It's not my opinion, that's the beginning point of the book. In Genesis, one and one, and that's the beginning. If you don't know, it says, in the beginning, God. The opening verses, the opening words of the narrative establishes there's a God. And there's not a picture of me or you there. And it presents God is the creator. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And we've got to grapple with this, folks. There's a God and it isn't us. And if there is a God, then it would be worthwhile to get to know him, to understand his character and his nature.

Well, I wanna just make three statements about God that I think you need tucked in. Before you get into Leviticus, this will be the back story. God is holy. Holy is a word that's a little distant from us. It's not a part of our everyday language. You don't meet one another typically and go, oh my, you look holy today. I doubt you very often get up in the morning, and when you the first glance in the mirror, and go, hah, so holy. And yet the Bible says without holiness, nobody will see the Lord. Now, wait a minute, you've got my attention. If holiness is a requirement, well, I like to think of holy as a different realm of existence. We are not fundamentally, we're not intuitively, we're not instinctive holy creatures. To be holy is a different, completely different kind of being.

So, when the Bible says that God is a holy God, it's a pull back on the curtain of his character. He's not a mammal with better behavior. He's not just like us with a little more patience. Completely different being. See, it requires some humility for us to say that. We prefer to think that lightning struck the primordial ooze, and something washed up on the beach and it moved. And it hung around long enough, voila. The Bible tells us that God is holy, that he's all powerful, that he's all knowing, that he's sovereign.

Look at Leviticus 11. "I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy". You can't hang out with me unless you're holy, because I'm a holy God. You can't hang out with him because you want to, because you like to, because you think it'd be cool. You can't hang out with me because I got the best house, and the best electronics, because my screen is bigger than anybody else in the neighborhood. I've got the best snacks. I mean, the manna wasn't bad. He said, you'll have to be holy because to be with me, I'm holy. It defines my person, my character. "Don't make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. I'm the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy".

Remember what's happening. God is introducing himself to them. It's the beginning of a relationship that will shape the history of a people until today and beyond. And now I'm telling you, you're gonna have to be holy. It's important to know, because he's gonna talk a lot over these next few chapters about what it means to be holy, and the people aren't gonna like it all. And they're gonna have a hard time keeping it between the ditches, and there's gonna be consequences that are gonna seem, oh, so harsh. I can't tell you how many people I've heard, you know, I just don't like to read the Old Testament. God is difficult. No, he's revealing the fact that he's holy. Is it cruel that if you keep your face underwater without a supply of oxygen, you'll drown? Is water cruel? No, you're violating the nature of the environment, and you can't violate God's nature and think you'll flourish.

Well, I don't like that. Duly noted. Well, I don't believe that. I know 1 John talked about that option. I wouldn't choose it. Leviticus is gonna talk to us a great deal about holy versus unclean. See there's nothing unclean in the presence of God. Nothing. And in the category of sin, it's a completely sterile environment. There is no sin there. So you can't drag any in, you can't sneak any in. That lesson is gonna be reiterated over, and over, and over throughout scripture. So the invitation is to consecrate yourself. Gotta have a fancy religious word. To consecrate means to set yourself apart.

In Leviticus, it's gonna talk about all the construction of the Tabernacle, this portable worship site that God's gonna have the people build, because there's still a people on the move, and they can't afford any fixed fortifications. So they're gonna build a traveling place to worship. And God said, the things that you use to worship, you can't use for other things. You can't cook dinner on the altar that's used to offer sacrifices. That's been consecrated for a specific purpose, set apart for God's purpose. And the biblical invitation is to imagine that you and I would consecrate ourselves to the purposes of God. Well, if we get really honest, that's not what most of us really wanted, at least not at the beginning of the journey. We just wanted God's help, because we got a few problems, maybe a diagnosis we don't like, or some difficult people in our lives, or we'd like a better job, or whatever.

And we, maybe if there's a God like, oh, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, little help. Who can teach me the three things I do to get God to do what I want. You can sell those seminars all day long. But the presentation of scripture is God says, listen, if you will set yourself apart for my purposes. If you'll say, listen, I'm more interested in your will being done than mine. He said that all the resources of heaven will be made available to you and through you. You'll be a light in the darkness, but that's not easy, because I'm hardwired to say me do it. And that battle is the stuff of growing up in the Lord, and we gotta stop acting like we don't have that battle folks.

Stop telling me when you were born again. I'm grateful it's necessary, if it's never happened to you, today would be the day. But once you've taken that step, start telling me about how you're learning to yield to the Lord more fully. What's been the challenge this week? 1 Corinthians chapter 1 is not just an Old Testament concept. Says, "It's because of him," he's talking about Jesus, "that you're in Christ, who has become for us wisdom from God, that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption". The words get a little bigger. Righteousness is the ability to stand in the presence of God without fear, guilt or shame. Holiness is this attribute of the nature of God, that is a requirement in order to participate in his eternal kingdom. Righteousness, holiness and redemption. Redemption is to be bought back from a place. To be purchased out of a place where you couldn't extricate yourself. It's like a pawn ticket. You gotta go in and redeem whatever you pawned. And Jesus walked into the slave market of sin, where you and I were being, we were on the auction block.

Can you imagine the humiliation of that? The first century was still a very prevalent thing. In the Roman world, you'd be sold under a spear. They come into a public square and put a spear in a wall or a beam, and stand the person being sold under the spear, typically naked. And the possible purchasers, they want to do a full investigation. That would be awkward. And the image of the New Testament is that Jesus walked into that slave market, and he redeemed us. I'll take that one. Remember I said God loves you?

Now, the price was going to be his life, but he said, I'll pay the price, I will redeem them. So it's in Christ that we have righteousness, the ability to stand in the presence of God. Holiness, that attribute of the character of God can be imputed to us through Christ Jesus in redemption, set free from the kingdom of darkness. No, there's not multiple ways into the kingdom of God. It's not like a smorgasbord where you can choose what you want and cobble it together. Well, that's not very inclusive. It's not my narrative. There is a God. I don't believe that. John talked about you. Well, I'm a pretty good person. I'm kind and generous from time to time, and I'll listen and I'm open minded, and John talked about you too. We read those things, remember?

1 Thessalonians 4:7, "God didn't call us to be impure, but to live a holy life". God didn't bring us out of the darkness of the bondage to sin so we could continue to indulge our carnal selves in impure, ungodly things. He called us so that we would become interested, committed to living a holy life. There's a second attribute of God you should know. It's important. It's a defining thing. It's a game changer. If you'll believe it, that God is almighty, almighty. There is nothing more powerful. There's no force available to a human being that represents greater power, greater authority than the Almighty God. There are things that are powerful. Economic forces are powerful, military force is powerful. There's a lot of expressions of power and authority in our world, but nothing is greater than God. He is almighty.

And the outcome of that means nothing is too difficult for him. There's nothing that we can experience in our journey under the sun that will cause God to go, well, I never thought of that. What should we do? He is almighty. In Jeremiah 32, the prophet says, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you made the heavens and the earth by your great power and your outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you". Now, does that mean God does everything we want, the way we want, in the time we would like him to do it? Hardly. He wouldn't be God. He'd be a puppet. Even parents won't do that, no matter how hard you throw a fit, if they're good parents. God disciplines us as children. He said, if I don't love you, I won't discipline of you. Discipline is an expression of my love. And the journey under the sun is more difficult than we would like. That's the reality. Knowing God, believing in God, does not remove you from the arena of human suffering.

Stop that nonsense. But neither does it diminish the power and the might of God. There's a third thing you should know, that this God is all knowing. Nothing is hidden from God. And he has the power to reveal whatever seems to be hidden. It's not just about intellect. It's not just that he has the highest IQ in the room. Nothing is hidden from him. There are no mysteries which he doesn't know, or he can't fathom. In Daniel chapter 2, and it's worth noting, Daniel spent his entire adult life as a slave, more than likely a eunuch. Not an easy assignment. This is Daniel's commentary. "God reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him".

Jesus had a commentary on this in Matthew 10. He said, "Don't be afraid of them". He's talking about people who threaten you physically. He said, "Don't be afraid of them. There's nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known". I find it interesting, when the Bible talks about God being omniscient, all knowing, that it introduces that statement often by saying, don't be afraid. I think that's helpful for us right now, because in the midst of this crisis, there is tremendous fear. I don't know that I ever recall seeing the general public around me as afraid as we are in this season. We don't talk about it a great deal. You'll whisper to me quite frequently in the lobby after services. Thank you. Or you'll express to me concern for my well being.

I'm a preacher, I'm not a professional bull rider. I'm not a linebacker in the NFL. I'm not a ski jumper. You know, I don't go up to the top of a mountain and find the steepest possible slope and say, well, I think I'll jump off that. In the Israeli army, the paratroopers wear red boots. I don't even like red boots. I see those people, I think, that person is not smart enough to stay in a perfectly good plane. But the fear is so pervasive that if someone stands up in public and says, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, or that God created us male and female, and we are different, not greater or lesser, better and inferior.

You're just different. We all understand intuitively. There's a, if we say the CDC has not been on the up and up, you don't have to have a PhD in Biology to sort that little nugget out. We're afraid. We should not be afraid of our government. So just as a foundation for this, there is a God. He loves you. We have a problem with sin. It will destroy you. God has a resolution but to, in benefit of the resolution, you'll have to cooperate with God, and it's not a democracy. He's not waiting for your opinion.

I wanna close today by asking you to join me in a prayer of repentance. Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God. Now I know what he said, then I would tell you that that's important that we wanna do everything that Jesus said. But I also would probably have to tell you that in my life, I typically seek the solutions that I know how to get to first. If I've got a friend, if I've got the strength, if I know how to accomplish it, if I know how to organize it, I'll go to all those things that are under my influence first. If I fail in those places, then I go to the Lord. Well, I'm ignoring him. I'm not taking his counsel. He said, if I would see first his kingdom, he would bring to me what I need to live, a place to live, the clothing, the shelter, all those material needs that fill our lives. So I wanna tell him, I'm sorry. And I wanna invite you to join me in that. Repentance is the doorway to the best things that God has for us. Let's pray:

Jesus, I thank you for the wisdom that you shared with us, with the counsel that you've given us. And we come today to humble ourselves and to say, we're sorry for seeking first our own kingdom, to establish our own excellence, or our own opportunity. We didn't come to you first, forgive us. And now we come to give you a new place, a new priority, and a new authority in all we do. In Jesus name, amen.

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