Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship”–or you could say masterpiece—“created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are God’s No. 1 pick. I hope you heard that phrase “to do,” “to do.” The Christian life, ministry, is about A-C-T (clap, clap, clap) I-O-N (clap, clap, clap), ACTION, ACTION, God wants ACTION. What kind of action or you giving God? I’ve been drafted. Whether you are outside the family of God or inside the family of God, you have been drafted.
Another reason why I should involve myself in-service–and this is for Christ followers only–is because I’ve been signed. I’ve already signed on the dotted line. Here’s what God did. Our loving God saw a sin that separated us from his love, his plan, and his agenda. God, being the owner, is not like Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones is limited, financially, mentally, compared to God.
First, I should get involved in ministry because I’ve been drafted. I’ve been drafted. Just think about it. You are God’s man. You are God’s woman. He’s watched you. He’s had his eye on you. You’re one-of-a-kind. You’re unique. You are looking at the greatest Ed Young that there’ll ever be in the universe. Just go ahead and check me out now.
Do you know why? I am the only one. When I get to heaven, God’s not going to say, “Hey, Ed, why weren’t you more like Owen Goff? Why weren’t you more like Randall Cunningham? Why what you more like…” He’s going to say, “Ed, why weren’t you more like you?” He’ll say the same thing to you. So, you be you. If you aren’t you, there’s going to be a hole in history, a gap in creativity, a missing link within the body of Christ.
When you checked in, you were served by our hospitality ministry. And when you entered in, you were seated by our ushers ministry. Everything is a ministry here. We have a hunk of us involved in using our skill set on the field of faith. Some of you are saying, “Well, Ed, I am smelling you, man. I am following you. I understand that membership means ministry, that I’m to use my God-given skill set on the field of faith. That’s great. That’s cool. But why?” you ask. “Why should I do this?
Why should I involve myself in that entity which is the greatest entity in the universe, the local church? Why should I play on God’s field in this context?” Well, normally I shy away from giving you long lists. But, today, I’m going to list several things for you, several reasons why all of us should involve ourselves in ministry, why all of us should do the Owen Goff thing, put the uniform on and play.
When Lisa and I were 19 years old, I didn’t realize it then, God was planning the vision and the style of Fellowship Church in our lives. What could have happened in Scott’s life if Fellowship Church had been in Tallahassee, Florida? I don’t know. I think his life would be different than it is today. Why do I live? Because God made me to live.
GOD HAS MOLDED AND SHAPED ME THROUGH A KALEIDOSCOPIC RANGE OF ENVIRONMENTS AND INFLUENCES
Why do I live? Because God has used a kaleidoscopic range of environments and influences in people to give me the impact that I’m having now in my life. From Florida State, I went back to Houston between my sophomore and junior years and I began to speak to a lot of students and do a lot of camps. And God began to tug at my heart. I felt this leading, this pull, this calling, if you will, to go into the ministry.
And I was like, “Okay, wait a minute. I’ve worked my entire life, since I was 8 years old, to play college athletics. And here I am.” I knew I was not going to be a star player, especially at Florida State, but I had a full ride. I asked God, “You mean I should give this stuff up?” And I was beginning to feel that leading. I just felt a disconnect, even from basketball, which was my identity.
I remember walking into my father’s bedroom one night and I said, “Dad, I think I’m feeling led to go into the ministry.”
And here’s what my father told me. He said, “Son, if you can do anything else and be happy, do that. Don’t go into the ministry unless it’s the only thing you know for sure that God wants you to do.”
“Rock a bye believer in the tree top, snoozing will cause your growth to stop. Ignore the alarm; stay in bed. You’ll never reach your potential you sleepy head.” He tells us to just stay asleep. And while we’re asleep we can sleep away opportunity after opportunity; chance after chance; windows open, windows closed; doors open, doors closed. And if we’re not careful, we can look back in the rear view mirrors of our lives and think, “What did I do? I missed it. I was asleep.”
So the church should not be a place of slumber. It should not be a place of comfort. It should be a place of challenge, a place where we’re uncomfortable enough to get up and to get out there and to minister for Christ, to seize those opportunities for him. So it’s time for us to wake up. And speaking of waking up, do you remember the story that Jesus told in Matthew 25 about the wedding? People love weddings. I mean, there are whole channels dedicated to weddings and Bride-zilla and all this crazy stuff. And we love weddings, especially women. Women freak over weddings. Ladies, admit it. It will be good. Say, “I’m a lady and I’m addicted to weddings.” Women love weddings.
Jesus told this story about the wedding and don’t you know that all of the women were just leaning in listening. And he told this parable. A parable is basically an illustration. And before I tell you this let me give you the background of the ancient wedding. Back in the day the groom would come to the bride’s house for the ceremony. And after the ceremony they would have this processional all the way back to the groom’s house.
A lot of us guys keep score financially. “Money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money. “God, it’s your will and everything. My marriage and my career and my recreational pursuits. But money? That’s mine, God. This money is mine.” God says, “Give it up. Give it up. It’s my will, son. It’s not your will. It’s mine.” And for many guys here, that’s the last piece of your heart to give up. Give it to God and say, “God, not my will, but your will.” Prayer is not just asking for what I want. That’s part of it. But true prayer is coming to a point where we want what God wants. His desires are our desires.
“God, your will be done. I want ‘there’ to occur ‘here.’” Do you pray like that? Do you spend time in adoration? Do you realize who it is you’re talking to? Do you put God’s interest before your own? Or do you just say, “Oh God, help me, bless me, protect me. And also bless me, protect me, and me, me, me; I, I, I”? The Lord’s Prayer is interesting, because there are no singular pronouns. You won’t find one. How long should I pray? People ask me, “Well, how long should I spend time in this prayer closet, in this place, in this location? How long?”
I answer by saying, “As long as it takes you to surrender your will to God’s will. Sometimes that can be five minutes. Other times it might be 45 minutes.”
In John 11, Jesus showed up late. People were all in his face, “Jesus, why did you show up late? Your close friend Lazarus is dead. You could have saved him. You could have healed him. Now he’s dead. He’s dead!”
Now the second piece of this prayer is found in Matthew 6:10 (NKJV). Jesus said, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
So we need to say, “God, it’s not my thing-dom, but your kingdom.” Give me some love on that; that was funny.
“God, it’s not my thing-dom, but your kingdom.”
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God, I want ‘there’ to happen ‘here.’ That’s what I desire.”
So part of prayer is adoration. The second part is alignment. It’s not just asking. It’s getting under those things God has put over us, so we can get over those things God has put under us. And so often we never know what’s under us because we never get under the authority of God. We’ve never gotten under the will of God.
So as I pray, I say, “God, not my will for my relationships, but your will. Not my will for my marriage, but your will. Not my will for my career, but your will. Not my will for my fiancés, but your will.”
Maybe you’re a single woman and you’re thinking, “Okay, I think he’s the one. I’m not really sure, but he’s the one. This could be my last train, you know, to jump on. I mean, it’s a guy. I can get married. So I’m just going to hold onto him. God, I’ll give you everything. It’s just your will for my life—except now my dating relationship. I have got to get married.”
Give him to God, too. Because when you give him to God, you’re giving the last piece of your heart to God. You’re not really giving just him to God. You’re giving everything to God.
You show me a spouse, you show me a teacher, you show me a pastor, whoever it is. We all deal with bitterness. And in marriage, we got to watch out for the bitterness quotient. So many marriages are ruined because of bitterness, resentment turned inward.
How many people are married here? If you’re married lift both of your hands. I tell people this all the time: Marriage is not the easiest thing. Singles, listen to me. It’s not the easiest thing. It is so often the hardest thing. Yet, in my marriage, it’s the greatest thing. So, it’s the hardest thing and the greatest thing. I see the best in me in my marriage. I also see the worst in me. Marriage brings out the worst in me, my selfishness. I can smell like hell sometimes. My pride. Bitterness. And if I don’t see it, Lisa will bring it up to me.
All these singles out here thinking, “Well, I don’t know, Ed. When I get married it’s not going to be that way.”
Oh, I think God keeps you stupid until you get married. Then you wake up and you smell the fish. We’ve got to deal with bitterness. We have to keep short accounts. Something bugs you about your spouse? Get it right. Reconcile it. We spend so much time and energy with resentment, being cold. Why not funnel that energy toward reconciliation and love and forgiveness and warmth and connectivity?
Let’s go to Hebrews 12:15. The Living Bible says this, “Watch out….”
Now, that’s an interesting phrase, because in the original language it means “Watch out!”
“Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.”
You know my friend I talked about earlier who bolted from his marriage and his kids, who slept in the wrong bed? He was all about bitterness. He was all about resentment turned inward. So, we need to focus on being a healer, not a hurter.
Come on man, you want some of me? I mean, look at his back up. Look who is with him. Who is going to fight him? Two Dobermans and an English Mastiff. No one would. I thought you know what, that’s me. And that’s you. We’re a little dog because God is with us. 3 in 1, 1 in 3, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. He is with us. He is walking with us. He is protecting us. God is with us so we can live his dream.
Illus: Have you ever been on a cruise before? A cruise? I never have. I don’t know why, I just have never gone on a cruise. I was in Miami about a week ago and I saw people on these cruise ships. I was like wow, you know. I saw people loading onto these big ships. I have talked to a lot of people who have cruised before. You can do this rock climbing wall on the boat, play basketball on the boat, and see a movie on the boat.
You can do all this stuff on the boat. The boat stops to port, you can shop, moped, fish, dive, whatever you want to do on the cruise. You have a captain and the captain has this destination in mind but you have the freedom to do what you want to do within the confines of the cruise. That’s a picture of God’s dream. God’s the captain and we’re under his authority. He is taking us to this ultimate destination. Sometimes the seas will be rough. Sometimes we’ll get a little queasy, a little seasick. Sometimes we’re like wait a minute, I’m not sure what to do.
But we have this freedom to live God’s dream. (Making boat horn noise) Do you hear that? (Making boat horn noise) Are you on the cruise? (Making boat horn noise) Are you living the dream? (Making boat horn noise) God’s dream is huge and he wants you and me to stick to it because when we do we are going to live in the Promise Land.
I called a friend of mine last night. He was cheating on the fast; he was eating tacos, and I happened to call him on my cell phone. I said, “Busted! You got 24 hours left, my brother.”
“But these tacos are good, man!”
You don’t have to confess your sins to me. I don’t have to confess my sins to you. You don’t have to go to a priest. I don’t have to go to a priest. You don’t have to go to a pastor.
Jesus is our High Priest. So 24/7, anytime day or night, I can get to God the Father through the Son. In Jesus’ name; that’s how I’ll get to God. Isn’t that great? That’s just really freeing. Jesus is our High Priest.
Do you think God wants you to succeed in life? Do you think God wants you to live larger than life?
I’ve never met a father who said, “You know, I hate it because my son scored the winning touchdown. It makes me sick, Ed. My daughter was elected to student council. My son has started a real estate company and he made his first million last year. That’s just ridiculous.”
I’ve never had a parent say that to me. God wants you and me to succeed. He wants us to live larger than life. He wants us to walk in his will. When we do his will; when we activate his will in our lives through his power and grace, we will succeed. He’s a proud heavenly parent. He wants to hear your voice.
So the first part of any prayer where we have real time to pray should be the adoration piece. We adore God. We express our love to God. We worship God. We basically say, “God, you’re God and I’m not. You’re in charge; I’m not. It’s your agenda, not mine.”