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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Lord, We Are Listening

Allen Jackson - Lord, We Are Listening

Allen Jackson - Lord, We Are Listening
TOPICS: The End of this Age

You know, throughout scripture, the two primary characteristics of the people of God in every generation were that they listened and obeyed. Not enough just to listen, to recognize that God had said something, but to be obedient. In John 10, and verse 27, Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me". Listening and obeying. It's the central characteristic of God's people, from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation. In Matthew 11, Jesus is speaking. He said, "If you're willing to accept it," he's speaking of John the Baptist. He said, "he's Elijah who was to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear". It's a bit of an idiom that he used. "He who has ears, let him hear".

The vast majority of us have ears. Everybody, look at the person next to you. How many people see somebody with ears? It's pretty uniform. It kinda comes with the equipment, but Jesus is speaking to something other than our physical hearing. He's saying that we have to pay attention and understand. Listening, in the scriptural sense, the biblical sense, is more about the attributes of your heart than it is your physical ability to hear. We hear spiritual things with our heart, not with the little bones in your ear. So if we're gonna listen to the things of the spirit, it has everything to do with our heart condition. And I don't mean that pump that's in the center of your chest.

In Isaiah chapter 6, and verse 8, the prophet said, "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom will I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" It's Isaiah's commissioning. He's had a vision of the throne room of God. But now listen to the assignment. "God said, 'Go and tell this people: Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; and make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.'"

The objective of Isaiah's ministry from his commissioning, through the end of that Majestic book, was to bring understanding and perception to the people. That they might see, perceive, and understand, and the outcome would be, they would repent and be restored or healed. I would submit to you, we're a generation in desperate need of perceiving what God is doing. We know how to go to church, and we know how to sing the music, and when to sit, and when to stand. And we've got some sense of the dress code that's appropriate, and the other accouterments that go with church. But I'm not sure at all that we're comfortable in perceiving, listening to what God is saying and doing.

In fact, I think we're far more in tune to the media outlets, whichever is your preference. And if we don't guard our hearts, they will fill us with so much junk, we'll lose our faith. In Isaiah 43, in verse 8, he said, "Let those who have eyes but are blind, and those who have ears but are deaf, lead them out". Isaiah said. You can have all your physical tools, and you can have all the trappings of religious activity, and read Bibles, and quote verses, and volunteer time, but you can be unhearing and unseeing in the things of God. Now, I want to ask you a question. It's essential to this discussion.

How do you prepare your heart to listen? It's an important question. How do you prepare your heart to listen? It isn't just about proximity. There were people that listened to Jesus teach, they saw him do miracles, and they couldn't hear. They watched all the drama of Jesus life, and all the fulfillment of the prophets, and had spent their lives preparing to recognize the Messiah. And they couldn't see nor hear. So it has to be more than being a third generation believer. It has to be more than having your initials carved in the wall of the nursery at the church. Don't do that. There's more to it than that.

How do we prepare our hearts to hear? It's a very important question, and candidly, it's beyond the scope of this single talk. But since we've just read Ephesians, I pulled a couple of passages from Ephesians that speak to this topic. In Ephesians 4, and verse 18, it says, "They are darkened in their understanding and they're separated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. They have lost all sensitivity, and they've given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more".

He's describing a group of people who can't hear or see spiritual things. He said they've hardened their hearts. They've lost sensitivity, that they have given themselves over to something other than listening to God. They've given themselves over, it says, to sensuality, not sexuality. What would sensuality be? I would submit to you, it's a commitment to pleasure and convenience. That's become the objective of their lives. Those are their idols. If it's comfortable, and convenient, and it's pleasing, and it makes me happy, that's my life goal. And Paul's writing to a church, and he said, if you choose that pathway, know this, it will harden your heart and you'll lose all sensitivity.

Same chapter. Ephesians 4, verse 22. He said, "You were taught," you were taught something different. "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness". He says, you were taught three responses, first to put off your old self. There's a number of phrases the Bible uses for that, your old nature, your adamic nature, your carnal nature, that part of every one of us that is hardwired towards ungodliness. Being born again doesn't eliminate that part of our personality. We don't have to be coached up on how to sin. Oh, look at the person on your right side. Say, I'm already really good at that.

Now turn to the person on your left. Say, you look like you're pretty good at that. It says, we have to take off that old self. There's something intentional on our part, to put off our old self, and he gives us a motivation for it. He said, it's being corrupted. It's decaying, because of its deceitful desires. You know what deceit is? Deceit is when you believe something to be true that isn't. And those desires promise fulfillment and satisfaction and contentment. And so you pursue them, but it decays before your very eyes. And he's saying, we have to take that off. He said, I told you that.

I'm telling you that again. That's a lesson we need to consistently revisit through our spiritual journey. That's not just a message for new Christians. Every one of us is susceptible to putting on giving place, license, momentum to that old self within us. So step one is to take off that old self. And then he said that we have to be made new in the attitude of our minds. We've got to learn to think and feel differently. We can't afford to allow our old self to dominate our emotions and our thoughts. In Romans, it says, we have to renew our mind, to be changed in potential by that. We have to take every thought captive. You cannot afford the luxury of giving your emotions free reign.

God created you with emotions. They're a wonderful gift, but they're a lousy guide. The weather can impact your emotions greatly. A ten degree drop in temperature would bring a cheer from me. And then finally, he says we have to put on a new self. Again, there's an intentionality in that, something you do on purpose. So how do you prepare your heart to listen? That's the question. You have to take off the old self. You have to be willing to accept responsibility for your emotions and your thoughts.

You can't blame your emotions and thoughts on somebody else. Nobody can make you angry or unforgiving or embittered. Nobody else has the power to make you hateful. You choose it. And we can be mistreated. We can suffer, we can encounter evil things from evil people, but we still choose our emotions and our thoughts. Why would we choose to honor God with our thoughts and our emotions? Why would we take off an old self and put on a new self, so that our hearts can remain tender and we can recognize what God is doing and we can participate with him. It's a better way to live.

There's more that's happening here and the church has to be spiritually aware. There's a spiritual conflict unfolding before our eyes. But I would say to you what Jesus said to his generation. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear". Let it not be said of us that we were ever seeing, but not understanding. Well, in Acts chapter 19, we have a story about the emerging church in Ephesus. And I think it's on point with what we're watching. There was a remarkable moving of the Spirit of God.

It's Acts 19. I'm gonna begin in verse 18. It said, "Many of those who had believed kept coming, and confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began to burn them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and they found that it was fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing". Now, that's the big picture. What was happening in the city of Ephesus and the region around it, there were remarkable miracles, Paul said, being done by the hands of Paul. And it uses an example of an exorcism.

It says seven sons of the Jewish high priest had seen Paul casting demons out of people. A spiritual conflict. We're gonna talk more about the hierarchy of the kingdom of Satan. But Paul had been casting demons out of people, and these seven sons of the high priest, they were comfortable in that arena. They thought so. They said, we'll try it. And they said to a demonized man, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, come out". Remember what the demon said to him? Said, "Jesus I know. And Paul, I know. But who are you"? And that one man beat those seven men, stripped them of their clothing, and they ran naked through the streets. That will launch a revival. And it says the fear of the Lord came on the whole region and the people began to repent and to bring the things with which they had practiced, the occult, and to burn them in the public square. It says 50,000 pieces of silver.

In the NIV, it says a drachma. It was roughly the equivalent of one day's wage. Let's say a day's wage is $100. If that's the case, 50,000 drachmas would be $5 million. They made a pretty significant sacrifice to separate themselves from their sin, right? Would you call that revival? I would. Standing in the public square, the whole region turning to Jesus, in a pagan city. And then it says in verse 23, "About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerting the Way of Jesus. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made shrines of Artemis". Artemis was the the city God of Ephesus, "was bringing in no little business to the craftsmen; and he gathered together the workmen of similar trades, and said, 'You know that our prosperity depends upon this business... And this Paul has were persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all".

I believe Paul said that, don't you? And there was enough repentance and enough change. They burned $5 million worth of goods and services in the public square. I can believe that would threaten those business people. So Demetrius begins to stir up the people and say, if we let this Paul keep going. "When they heard this they were filled with rage, and they began crying out, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!' And the city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Paul's traveling friends from Macedonia".

There's a revival in Ephesus. The entire region is being influenced by the proclamation of the Gospel. We've prayed more prayers in the last 90 days I suspect, than in the last, what? Two years? We spent more time with our Bibles, more times with our families, we spent more times with our Bibles open. Why are we surprised that there's a stirring? There's a push back. That we've deteriorated into deception and manipulation. Why would we be surprised at that? If we're reading our Bibles and paying the slightest attention, we would expect it. Not everybody in Ephesus was gonna participate with the move of the Spirit of God. Some are gonna cling to their false idols. They wanted to maintain their power, their economic revenue, the authority that it gave them, and they wanted to discourage others from choosing the truth.

So they chose anger and confusion and chaos. We can't afford just to look at our world with an evaluation like people in a secular perspective do. We have to look and see with God's heart. Look, there is no justice for us from any government in the world. Governments don't distribute justice. There's nothing in human history that suggests that. Only the transformation of a human heart will bring justice to us. And to the extent that our government is filled with people that fear God and revere Him and honor Him and make Godly choices, we will flourish. And to the extent that we separate that from the state, it will become increasingly oppressive. We need eyes to see and ears to hear. God is moving in our midst. We've become so self conscious, so self aware, so self absorbed. We actually had conversations.

Well, is the church too large? If more people came to church, would I have to sit someplace other than my favorite seat? I mean, if more people came, they might ask me to volunteer in the nursery. I love kids, if they're on the other side of the building. God is stirring our hearts. I wanna wrap this up. I just wanna walk you through Ephesians. I wanna give you a note of triumph. I don't want you to look at the turmoil and the confusion and the chaos, and imagine that's what's driving this. It's a response to the initiative of the spirit of God. When the babies were killed in Bethlehem after Jesus was born, it was a response to the arrival of Messiah. And the demonic stirring we see, and the stirring of hearts and the manipulation and the deception, is a response to a moving of the Spirit of God. And we want to see and hear so we can cooperate.

So we can take our rightful place and see healing come and wholeness come. Listen to what Ephesians says about you. It's our victory in Christ. Ephesians 1:4, "He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight". In him we are holy and blameless. Yes, we've failed. Yes, we've made mistakes. Paul was a murderer, and he became the greatest advocate for Jesus's generation knew. So can you and so can I. Ephesians 1:7, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins".

In him we have been redeemed. We have been bought out of an empty way of life. We didn't rescue ourselves. God rescued us through his Son Jesus. It's in him we've been forgiven. God is not holding your sins against you. I have an announcement tonight. You may have failed, but you're not a failure. Through the blood of Jesus, you have been redeemed out of an empty way of life. It's a message we have to the world. It doesn't matter about your family of origin or the circumstances of your past or the boneheaded things you've done. Through the blood of Jesus, you can be delivered. We have good news. We've apologized for Jesus too long.

There's no government program, there's no global form of cooperation that can replace what the blood of Jesus Christ can do for us. The church alive and aware of the redemptive work of Jesus, is the most powerful institution for change on planet earth. Ephesians 2, and verse 6, "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come he might show his incomparable riches of his grace to us". In him we are blessed. In Jesus, we're blessed for ages to come.

People say, well, how much do I have to give? How much time do I have to volunteer? As much as you're clever enough to invest in the ages to come. God will be no man's debtor. Don't get stuck in the pettiness of your old self. Live generously for the kingdom of God. Open your heart to him. Become one of those people. I'm having more fun than you, but it's okay. Ephesians 2, and verse 8, "It's by grace you've been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it's a gift of God".

Faith in Jesus brings salvation. Saved from what? Saved from God's judgment upon this present world order. This present world system is going to come under the judgment of God. His judgment will come upon evil and his rewards will come to the righteous. But in Jesus Christ, we have been saved from that judgment on this present world order. In Ephesians 2:10, it says, "We're God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works". In Christ Jesus, we were created to serve God. God created you to worship him, to honor him. In Ephesians 3, "In him, we're triumphant over all the power of the enemy". In verse 12, "In him we can approach the Creator of all things".

It is in him and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence. We've had trouble going to the grocery store with confidence lately. And we can approach the creator of heaven and earth with freedom and confidence because we stand in Jesus Christ. Yes, I'm grateful to bear his name. And finally, in him, we can make the most of every circumstance, of every circumstance. There may not be circumstances of our choosing. They may not be our preference. They may seem like disruptions or even intrusions, that may cause you to respond initially with discouragement and disappointment. But in the midst of every one of those things, God has a way.

In Ephesians 5:15, "Be careful, then, how you live; not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil". Make the most of every opportunity, every opportunity. I've got a good friend. He never tells me he has a problem. All he ever has is opportunities. Now, I've adopted his bad habit. It changes the perspective on the challenges that come to you. God is watching over us. He is moving before our very eyes. What we're watching today will change.

In a couple of weeks, there'll be another expression of disruption, because the root of it goes beyond the things that are being reported and talked about. The root of it is spiritual. The Spirit of God is moving in our generation, to establish the Jewish people where God said he would, and to purify his church. And those who have ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts to receive are being changed. We're not hurrying back to some place we were. We are being transformed more completely into the image of Jesus. Amen. Let's pray:

Father, thank you. I thank you for your Word, for its truth, for its authority in our lives. And Holy Spirit, you're our teacher. You are the one that instructs and leads and guides. And we stand in your presence tonight to ask for your mercy and your forgiveness. Forgive us for the callousness of our hearts. Forgive us when we have chosen our old carnal self. We have indulged in sensuality and given ourselves license. Well, Lord, we excused it. We had words and reasons and causes, but the reality was, we ignored you. And tonight we come in humility to repent.

Forgive us, but we choose you, to honor you. May the fear of the Lord grow in our hearts. May a new respect and reverence for you begin to well up within us. But I ask that you would soften our hearts, that the scales would fall away. But we've been more concerned about the opinions of others. We've been more aware of our appearance, or our resources, or our plans, or our dreams, or our objectives, than we have about your purposes before us.

Forgive us. Give us hearts that are sensitive to you, sensitive to your purposes and your will, that we begin to see the people around us as you see them. And we begin to see the people that we work with and live in the neighborhoods with us and that we interact with. May we see them with your eyes and not our own. May we hear the reports of what's happening and not see it from the perspective of the media or the outlet that we choose. But may we understand it with your perspective.

Father, I pray that we'll have the boldness to begin to say through my life, that your will be done. Through my life, let your will be done in the earth as it is in heaven. But here we are. Just as you sent Isaiah, we ask you now to send us to this generation. Will you be pleased with us, that we honor you. We thank you for what you'll do. For we ask it in Jesus name.

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