In the Zone
November 6, 2011
Every one of us is born with an unlimited potential, and an untapped purpose. From the day we are created, God wants us to realize the best for our lives. Yet, so often, we spend far too much time asking questions like:
How do I discover my purpose? When will I reach my potential?
Where is the path that God has for me? Essentially, we’re asking: How do I live in the zone?
What if I told you this: What if I told you under my feet is the secret to life? What if I told you that under my feet is the real deal of living the blessed life. You’d be like, “Are you kidding me? Ed, are you serious? You’re talking about under your feet right now is the secret?” Yes it is. And right now we’re going to reveal the secret. And let’s put our hands together because this secret will freak you out.
Right now we’ll go to the God-Cam. That’s right, God seeing us. Look. Look at the God-Cam. That’s right. In The Zone! Say it with me… In The Zone! Say it again. In The Zone! At all campuses, In The Zone!
That’s what we’re talking about, in the zone. What is the zone? The zone is an area that is distinguished from the rest. A zone is a place that is different than all the other real estate. Our great God wants us to live in the zone. We throw that phrase out a lot in athletics. Oh, he’s in the zone. Someone birdies a couple of holes, this golfer is in the zone. Maybe in the corporate world, you close a couple of deals and make your company a lot of money, “Oh, I’m in the zone.” Relationally you have a couple of dates with that special someone and you’re very, very happy about it and you say, “Girl, I’m in the zone.” We love to use that phrase, in the zone. God, though, wants all of us, in fact we’re designed, we’re hardwired, or live in the zone.
Here’s the question. Are you zoned in or zoned out? Are you in the zone, in the sweet spot of God’s success or are you zoned out? Are you zoned out or zoned in? Living, breathing, in the zone.
The zone, you could say, is the blessed place. That’s another term that we like to say a lot. “I’m blessed.” What does it mean to be blessed? Is it good karma, what does it mean to be blessed? To have a lot of stuff? What does it mean to be blessed?
To be blessed simply means to be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. Let’s say it together. To be blessed means to be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. God blesses tangibly. Stuff you can see, touch, taste, and smell. Matter matters to God. You cannot say that God does not bless us tangibly. I’m on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. The intangible favor of God would be things that you can’t necessarily touch, taste, feel, or smell. You can’t put a price tag on it. It’s intangible.
God wants all of us to live in the blessed place. God is the blesser. When we’re in the zone we realize God is the blesser. We’re blessed once we understand he’s the blesser. And because we’re blessed we should be blessings. God’s the blesser, I’m blessed, and I should be (you should be) a blessing to others.
There was a man in the Bible, the father of our faith, named Abraham. Abraham was a super wealthy rancher. If he were alive today he would be worth billions of dollars. He was 75 years old, living in a very ungodly place called Ur. It’s a good place to be from, isn’t it? Ur. “Starting at guard, from Ur, Abraham!” It’s kinda strange. He’s 75 and God steps into his life and basically tells him,
“Abraham, I want you to be zoned in. I want you to live in the sweet spot of my success. I want you to receive the blessings and to be a blessing, to your family, your friends, and ultimately the whole world. Abraham didn’t realize it but this decision carried with it colossal consequences. So often in all of our lives we make decisions and we don’t realize the results of these decisions. And sometimes we will never realize the full impact of these decisions until we get to heaven. Abraham.
Think about it. The father of our faith. Think about it, Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. Abraham from the Jewish nation, you have Jesus. Abraham, from Jesus you have salvation. So through Abraham the nation of Israel was born. Through the nation of Israel Jesus was born, and through Jesus, we have the opportunity, the Bible says, to be born again. You talking about blessings? You talking about living in the sweet spot of God’s success? You talking about living in the zone? Again, our great God wants us to be zoned in.
Abraham is in Ur. He’s 75 years old, he could have lived off the interest. He didn’t, though. God said something to him, God told him something unusual. God told him something kind of strange. He listened to God and he obeyed. Genesis 12: 1-3. “The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’”
God just said go. Abraham, you’re 75. Yeah, you’re loaded, you could live off the interest, but I’m gonna challenge you to obey me and to go. Go to a land that I haven’t shown you bet, but I’m gonna bless your socks off and back again.
Verse 2 – “I’ll make you into a great nation.” What a promise, man! I’ll bless you. I’ll make your name great. You’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I’ll curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
When God gives us commands they’re usually followed by promises, not reasons. I’ll say it again. When God gives us directives, they’re normally not followed by reasons. Because reasons demand discussion. We don’t have time to discuss the 4-1-1 with God. And what’s so hilarious is we, human beings, think God owes us some reason or some explanation. It’s hilarious! And a lot of churches spend so much time navel-gazing and dissecting the Bible, trying to figure out reasons and the rationale behind the activity of God.
God gives us a promise and when he gives us a promise, and he gives us a command, we bank on the promise. It takes faith and trust to be zoned in, to live based on the promises of God. The Bible is jam-packed full of the promises of God. If God gave us every reason, every rationale, behind every decision there wouldn’t be much faith.
And the Bible says Abraham heard God, got out of his comfort zone at 75 years old. At 75 years old he was willing to change! That’s what’s so amazing about Fellowship. We have so many people in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s who are willing to change. You have the sweet spot, you’re in the zenith of your life. When God speaks, go for it! He will give you a promise and we can claim those promises. And we’re gonna talk about the promises of God when we’re living in the zone. Those promises are off the hook. They’re off the chain. They’re great, but they’re not always easy.
Some of the promises of God are difficult. Some of the promises of God take perseverance. I laugh when people say, “Well, God is anti-wealth.” Are you kidding me? The father of our faith, Abraham, was a multi-squillionaire. Read about his story. His servants were like, “Man, you’re loaded! You’ve got cattle and all this gold and silver and you’ve got some serious, serious bank!” He left that, he took this Fortune 500 company with him, another Fortune 500 company with him, his relative Lot, and they left Ur of the Chaldees and went out to this land. I’ll say it again. God is not anti-wealth. God wants to build his church. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” How can he build his church if he doesn’t bless people to bless the church?
Some of us are blessed tangibly. Now I’m not saying that God wants everybody to be wealthy. I’m not talking about the prosperity gospel. Sometimes you hear people say, “Well, if you live in the zone that means God wants to make everybody rich. It’s all about being in the flow of stuff, of things.” That’s not Biblical. Some people talk about God like being a Genie or an ATM machine. We exhibit faith and we make God give us what we want. That’s bogus. That’s heresy. God is a God, though, who blesses tangibly. If you say he doesn’t you don’t know your Bible.
On the other hand, God is a God who blesses intangibly with stuff that money can’t even touch. Power, purpose, and a clear conscience and strength during times of weakness. He gives us patience and this supernatural vibe that only God can bring. When we trust him, when we exhibit faith, when we step into his zone, God will bless our lives. Yet, no one here can be blessable, we’re not gonna be blessable, unless we live in the zone. The blessed place. The sweet spot of God’s success. God’s the blesser. I understand that when I’m in the zone everything I have is from God, tangibly and intangibly. It’s from God. God’s the blesser. I receive that, I’m blessed. Wow. I’m blessed with these aptitudes and abilities. I’m blessed tangibly and intangibly. I’m blessed. Now, God wants me to do something to be a blessing to others.
If you’re in this psychedelic area you’re living in a land of Ing. Earn-ing, own-ing, procreat-ing, party-ing, that’s what you do. When you move from the land of Ing into the land of Bless-ing, God puts his bless on your –ing. You’re incomplete here (and I’m even talking to believers now), you’re complete here.
Now you’re like, “OK, earning – God you have given it all to me. Owning – I don’t’ really own jack. I’m just managing. Procreating – It is all from you, God.”
And we see the source of living. This is the way we’re supposed to live in the zone. Is it the perfect place? No, because we’re fallen and fallible. Is it the easiest place? No way! It’s the way we were designed to live. It’s the way of true success. It’s the way to be a blessing. It’s the way to change the world.
Abraham and just a few people rocked the world. Abraham changed history. Why did he change history? Obedience. That’s the key to being zoned in. Obedience. God says go. We don’t say, “Yo!” we say, “God I’m gonna go.” We don’t always know the future but we know who holds the future. We rest and trust on God’s promises.
God is for us. Romans 8 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he GAVE.”
God is all about generosity. Here we were totally zoned out, I mean we’re way out here. We don’t deserve a thing. God blessed us by sending his best, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins, to rise again, thereby giving us an opportunity to do what? To be zoned in! To receive Christ.
Well if we’re in this psychedelic area things begin to get crazy and we don’t really understand what everything’s about. It’s really about “me”. But once I move to this sweet spot of God’s success, once I’ve zoned in and once I realize I’m not an owner, I’m a manager, then everything starts popping and everything starts coming together. I understand earning and clothing and housing and loving and procreating because I see it all comes from the blesser. I’m blessed and I can be a blessing.
Are you in the zone? Are you living in the zone? The Bible says in Hebrews 11:8, “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went. Even though he did not know where he was going.”
Time and time again we don’t know where God is leading. We trust him because in John 10:10 he says, “I’ve come that you might have life and have an abundant life.” The Bible says that God causes all things, good things and bad things, great things and hellacious things, to work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose, for those of us who are in the zone. We can trust God. I’m on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God.
But again, there’s no way, it’s a pipe dream, to understand and process the blessings of God if you’re here, or especially if you’re here. It’s not gonna happen. It’s just not. Are you an owner or a manager? It’s my creativity. It’s my ingenuity. It’s my vision. It’s my endurance. No, no, no. It’s God’s. It’s Gods and it will totally change everything about you. Something will shift inside of you that will never shift back once you move into the zone.
Illus: Over the last couple of days I’ve talked to four young guys who are in various stages in this zone. I’ve talked to one way out here. He told me basically over coffee just three days ago with tears streaming down his face, he said, “Ed, you know what I said to people? I said, ‘I’m god.’ I got my company. I got my friends. I will do what I want to do. I have nothing.” He said, “I’ve hit rock-bottom.” I said,
“Man, God will allow all of us to hit rock-bottom because once we hit rock-bottom we will realize that Jesus is the Rock at the bottom. God loves you and me so much he will allow us to be zoned out and to go for and to do what we want to do. And in our search for freedom we will end up being enslaved to that thing that we thought would give us true liberation. When we run from God we run right into God. I had the opportunity to pray with this man, this young guy, only 39 years old. I watched him step into the zone. It was amazing.
Illus: I talked to another young man who has been blessed in incredible ways: opportunities, finances, relationships, connections. He looked at me with teary eyes and said,
“Ed, it’s meaningless.” And I said, “It’s crazy you call it meaningless because Solomon said the same thing.” Solomon, the wealthiest guy who has ever lived, after a 40-year free-fall into the abyss of rebellion, into the abyss of narcissism, sex, and money and building, he said, “It’s all meaningless.” And I had the opportunity to pray with him as he stepped in the zone.
Illus: Then I talked to other people on the same day, young guys, in the sweet spot of God’s success. One is going through a family crisis yet because of his zoned in mentality, because he realizes he’s on the receiving end of the intangible and tangible favor of God, he’s not fumbling the favor of God, God has given him strength and is giving him strength to diesel through this family crisis. If he were out here, wow. The whole thing would be up for grabs.
Illus: I talked to someone else, in the zone, who has been betrayed on a level that very few of us can comprehend.
“The people I trusted, Ed, have busted me. They’ve stabbed me in the back. What do I do? What do I do?” Then he would say, “You know, I know God is in control. I’m just trusting him. I’m clinging to his promises.” I said,
“Let me tell you something. Your best days are ahead of you. God’s brought us together for a reason and maybe the reason is for me to tell you the reason you’re attacked is because the enemy sees the potential in your life.” Zoned in.
Are you zoned in or zoned out? Are you living in the land of Ing or the land of Bless-ing? Are you totally zoned out? I mean are you way out here? Today you can step into the zone. And when you step into the zone then you can say, wow, there’s another level here. I can move from an owner to a manger.
Illus: Several years ago Lisa and I met a young woman and as we got to know her we found out that she was a really interesting lady, a lady of great wealth. She said,
“You know, Ed and Lisa, you guys have little kids at this time and I know you guys need a break. I have an estate on the Pacific and I would love for you to use the house. I’d love for you to borrow the house any time you’d like. It’s open. I rarely go there so if you want to use it just tell me. You can use it for a week, two weeks, three weeks, whatever. It’s yours. Treat it like it’s your own.” I didn’t have to pray about that. So, several months later we flew out to this area, walked into this beautiful home, right on the Pacific Ocean. I’m talking about waves crashing in the back yard. Albino seals being born on the rocks in the back yard. A ridiculously, over-the-top, beautiful place! So we’re looking at this like, this is crazy! Can you believe we’re here? This is unbelievable! Wow!
So we walk into the kitchen and on the refrigerator was a list of just several things, maybe 8-10 things.
‘Welcome, Ed and Lisa. Thank you for blessing us through Fellowship Church. Here are some things I’d like for you guys to do with the house while you’re here.’ So it was like, turn the lights off, and the yard guy comes every day at 7:00 a.m., open the gate, you know all those things. And I’m like, these are no-brainers! I did, Lisa and I did those things. How stupid would it have been for us not to do those things? If we’d said, oh, I’m just gonna disregard those things. Are you kidding me? She was giving us her house! We were managing her house. We obeyed those simple rules, those simple requests and it made the whole thing come together.
God has given you a mansion. He says, “Manage my house. Check out the refrigerator. There are like 8, 9, maybe 10 things, 10 commandments, that I want you to follow. I want you to be zoned in, I mean you don’t own it. Come on, man, you know you don’t own it. I told you to manage it for me. Manage it. The gifts I’ve given you. Manage it. The ingenuity I’ve given you, manage it. The relationships I’ve given you. Manage it. The family I’ve given you. Manage it. The stuff I’ve given you. Manage it. The money I’ve given you. Manage it. All of the things I have given you tangibly and intangibly, manage it and you’ll live in the zone. Decisions you make today will have colossal consequences in the future.”
Living in the zone. The sweet spot of God’s success. Are you zoned in? Or zoned out? That’s a question that only you can answer. It happens when we move from ownership to management.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]