That is what God is saying to you and to me. If you have faith, if the object is Jesus Christ, if you are building your faith, now use it. How do I use it? It gets deeper. Here we go. Look at Hebrews 11:8. This chapter is God’s Hall of Faith, it is a list of true risk takers, people who really stepped out there, men and women who had the spirit of adventure. “It was by faith that made Abraham obey when God called him to go out to a country which God had promised to give him.” Now father Abraham was old, he was seventy-five years of age, he was thinking about retirement, Geritol, all those things. And God said, “Abraham, I want you to go.” And Abraham didn’t say yo, he said he was ready to go. He obeyed God. But Ed Young wants you to check this last part out.
“He left his own country, which happened to be Ur of the Chaldees…” Isn’t that a great name. Where are you from? Ur? You ur? Ur of the Chaldees is now where modern day Iraq is located. “He left…without knowing where he was going.” Does that sound like a man, women, without knowing where he was going. We all have a poor sense of direction. I get lost everywhere I go. I will not ask for directions, though, you know that. I let my wife point where to go and follow her lead. So he left without knowing where he was going. Here is the principle here. Everyone of you follow the Lord, even when you can’t figure Him out. That is the way I use my faith. I follow the Lord even when I can’t figure Him out. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
If the only thing you get is, “Wow, I should be thankful for my life because I don’t have to deal with what the Skinner’s have to deal with. Or, wow, my deal is pretty easy compared to theirs.” If that is what you are thinking right now, you have sadly missed the point. It’s all about commitment. That’s the overriding theme. That’s the octane that is driving it all, commitment. So the question hangs out there, how do I ramp up my commitment? Against the backdrop of the life of the Skinners’, what are the criteria of commitment? Let’s run through them in the few moments that remain.
I am talking about how to ramp up your commitment level. Right up front, if we are going to be people of commitment, people like the Skinner’s, people like God has wired us up to be, we have got to contemplate the character and the commitment of Jesus Christ. We’ve got to contemplate his character. God says in Hebrews 13, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” In Luke, chapter 22, Jesus, a few hours after he was arrested falsely accused of a crime, a few hours before he was crucified for your sins and mine, he was on his knees in prayer and here is what he said, “Father, (pick up his commitment now) if you are willing, take this cup from me.” Jesus saw what was going to happen on the horizon of his life and he said, “Lord, if it is your will, let it pass, if there is any other way.” Then he said, “Yet, not my will but yours be done.”
Good morning this morning! The #1 word in 2013 was the word ‘selfie.’ It tells you a lot about our culture, doesn’t it? Selfie. A couple of nights ago Lisa and I went out to eat at an Italian restaurant and we looked around and we were flabbergasted at how many smart phones we saw. It’s almost as if the smart phones were a part of the silverware. When I ordered I almost said, “Hey, I’d like some pasta with some marinara sauce and could you give me a side of smart phone?” You go to a movie and people are checking their phones after the movie before they even look at their date or their spouse. We’re tethered to technology.
Technology, though, I think sometimes people think that it’s just horrible, it’s bad. It’s not bad. Technology is a tool. Now it can become a tail and the tail is affixed to a pit bull if you let it go, and that pit bull <barking!> can mess you up. Technology is neutral. A lot of us have a love/hate relationship with it. We either love it or we loathe it. I think it’s time we face it and embrace it, and understand the power of it and utilize it for some amazing things. And today I’m kicking off this series on technology because I think if the truth were known a lot of us have looked at our iPads and smart phones and we’ve looked at our Xboxes and we’ve said, now and then, “What the hecknology?” Technology works just enough to keep bringing us back, doesn’t it? Just enough to keep bringing us back.
I love technology. I’m not at all, in this series, going to challenge you to burn your technology or throw it away or go back to just one cell phone the size of a shoe box. We’re not gonna go back to sending smoke signals or Morse code, we’re not going back to the Guttenberg press or anything like that. No, no, no. We’re gonna face it and embrace technology, and that’s a good thing. But you have to ask yourself what the hecknology? Because if you’re not careful you can end up being wrecknology. So checknology before you wrecknology. Get it? Got it? I got it, do you got it? Yeah. Ed Young
Parents, know what? If you said to yourself, “You know what, I just want my kids to be happy. I don’t care about obedience. I just want them to be happy.” Man we would have a wild family dynamic, wouldn’t we? Parents, we want our children to obey us. Kids, remember mom and dad know more than you do, and when you obey them you will be joyful and your joy one day will be made full. Because you’ll look back maybe years from now and say, wow, mom was pretty smart. Dad had it pretty together. Now I understand why she told me that. Now I understand why he had that rule.
The same is true with our perfect heavenly parent as well. In the book of Judges, chapter 21, verse 25, it has one of the most penetrating and powerful verses in all of Scripture that talks about where we are as a nation. It talks about relativism, it talks about pragmatism, it talks about subjectivity. Let me read it to you. “There was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Wow, is that where we are or what? There’s no king so everyone does these days what’s right in their own eyes.
As you read the book of Judges, let me give you the cliff notes right quick, it is basically God sending men and women in to warn the children of Israel. Because they were in the spin cycle of sin and these judges would come in and say you’re missing the mark, you need to come back to God, you need to repent. Well, finally, after a while the children of Israel said, “Hey Samuel, I know God is our king but we don’t have a king, an earthly king, like the other neighboring nations. So we want a king. Everybody else is doing it so we’ve got to do it.” Does that sound typical? We want an earthly king.
You can stand and you can rise above the verbal flamethrowers. I play a video game sometimes and the object of this game is to rescue the damsel in distress
Easter is about marriage; marriage is about Easter. You’ve got the gospel, Jesus loving us, Jesus romancing us and wooing us and drawing us to himself. Some of us here realize it; others don’t. You’ve been brought here; you’ve been sought by the living Lord. He has put it all on the line. He loves you. You matter to him. He loves you and he loves me unconditionally. He loves you and he loves me in spite of ourselves. And he loved us so much that he died on the cross for our sins and rose again.
Now, when I say that—the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus—some of you who have been around the church before know what I’m talking about. You think I just described the gospel. You’re right. But I only described part of the gospel. The resurrection was the completion of the gospel process. The gospel process, yes, is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Also, though, we have to realize the reason for the resurrection. Why, I ask you, did Jesus rise again? That’s a pretty good question. Why did the Son of God conquer death? The reason he was able to conquer death was the simple fact that Jesus lived a perfect life. He was holy. He was pure. The word holiness means to be set apart. He was 100 percent righteous. So when I come to a point in my life where I say I do to Jesus, what happens? I receive Him into my life and his righteousness and his holiness is imputed into my very existence. So when God sees me, God sees Jesus.
You’re talking about a difference maker? He turns into a walking disaster area and the mistake that moses made was much greater than cheating in the byron nelson classic or buying a boa constrictor behind your parents’ back. He took the life of someone. I’m in the second segment of a series entitled, “becoming a difference maker”. God wants all of us to become difference makers.
He wants us to make an impact, to make a trail, to make a difference in this life, and moses is one of the greatest difference makers of all times. But today, it doesn’t look that way. And i believe if we’re totally transparent, we can look back at our lives and see where we went through areas and maybe even right now where it looks like for all practical purposes, that guy or that girl will never become a difference maker.
No big deal! My parents come home. “how are you doing, mom, dad?” They did see me with a couple of mice but they thought, “well, that’s just ed.” Then, though, i started feeling really guilty and after guilt, i felt fear. “what if the snake gets out? Oh boy, what will i do?” Finally, i walked in with the snake, “mom, dad, i bought this boa constrictor.” I came clean. I told the truth about what I’d done. It was not a pretty sight. I was grounded, but still i felt good because i had hidden something and then i revealed it.
Today we’re going to look at a brief segment in the life of moses because moses made a major error at a crucial moment in his journey and he had the audacity, here this great difference maker, to try to cover the mistake up and it looks like, for all practical purposes, it’s over for moses.
Well, after Lisa and I honeymooned, we came back and rented a small place in Houston, which is where we lived at the time. And very quickly, very rapidly, romance segued into reality. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Reality. There were bills to pay. We were both in school. There were the stresses and the pressures of working and also being married.
And some of you right now are thinking, “Wait a minute. You mean the romance ended that quickly? I’m going to be different. When I get married it is going to be romance 24/7. It is going to be love, love, love, love, love.” Well, you just get married for a couple of weeks and watch the romance erode. It happens like that. It just happens. And all the married people are thinking, “Ed I feel you man. You’re right on target.”
Marriage is not the easiest thing; it’s the hardest thing. It’s challenging to be married. But I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. It’s worth the work. Now, about now some of you are saying, “Ed, did you show up at the wrong time and place? This is Easter weekend. We’re celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every song we’ve done has been about the resurrection; the video, the resurrection; the paintings were about the resurrection; the drama, it’s about the resurrection. The resurrection and marriage? There’s like a disconnect. It doesn’t make sense. Where is the common thread?”
Why do you pray? Jesus was driving at the motivation, because in this chapter, Matthew 6, we’ve been talking about it for the last several weeks, Jesus said, “When you pray…” He also says, “When you fast…” A lot of us are on a fast. We’ve redirected our food source heavenward. And he talks about when you give. Three foundations of a follower of Christ—when you pray, when you fast, when you give. Not if, but when.
When we build our lives on those spiritual disciples, great things will occur. We will receive, Jesus said, an incredible reward—knowing that we’re living right in the middle of the will of God; knowing we’re in the sweet spot of God’s success; knowing that we’re on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. That’s what Jesus wants.
And this whole thing is about our motives. Why do we give? Why do we pray? Why do we fast? Why, why, why, why, why… Motives. Well, you’re probably thinking, I never come to God with totally pure motives! Wait a minute, Ed, you’re telling me that Jesus is telling me that I should come to him with pure motives? No. He’s not doing that, because we can never come to God with pure motives on this side of the grave. It’s impossible. Never! But just do this with me… Ahhhh… Isn’t that a relief? I’ve heard some people teach on prayer and I’m thinking, “I could never pray, because I don’t have pure motives all the time when I pray!”
What if Mariah Carrey walked up and said I want to talk to you about singing. We’d be like, “Whoa. Mariah Carrey is here singing. This is great!” And everyone who likes music, and especially parents who have these dreams about their kid becoming some mega superstar singer, would be like, “That’s Mariah Carrey.”
Well, there was something about the way Jesus prayed that snapped the heads of the disciples. The disciples were good Jewish boys. They’d heard the prayers; they knew the score. Yet, the way Jesus prayed was so unique, so different, so attractive, that one day they said, “Jesus, teach us to pray.”
So Jesus began to talk about prayer in Matthew 6. And he slammed prayers like I prayed that day. Matthew 6:5, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”Jesus said, “I can see right through the hype of the hypocrites.”
What’s their reward? To be seen by men. That’s it? That’s it. To be seen by men. Wow, that’s something else. When I prayed that prayer, my first prayer, that Morning Prayer, I wasn’t really thinking about God. I was thinking about others. I was wondering, “How do I sound, how do I look before others? I want to be seen by men.” And I got my reward didn’t I? Ha ha! In full.