IN THE ZONE
After the Victory
November 13, 2011
A zoned in life is about being on the receiving end of God’s blessings. It’s about being in a position of blessability. But living in the zone doesn’t stop there.
In this message, Ed Young unpacks a powerful truth that will take all of us to a new level of understanding God’s zone. And as we reflect on a powerful story of Abraham, we discover that the zone isn’t just about receiving the blessings; oftentimes it’s about what we do with those blessings after the victory.
Hey, welcome to Fellowship Church. I’m Ed Young, pastor. We’re one church in many different locations. If you’re in Miami, Downtown Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, or right here in beautiful Grapevine, OR you’re watching online, welcome. We have a great time here and we’re talking about some really, really cool stuff.
What do you do when you’ve closed the deal? What do you do when you’ve received a windfall? What do you do when the operation is done? What do you do when you’ve finished the lesson plan? What do you do when you put a W in the Win column? What do you do after victory? On the heels of being blessed, what do you do?
Because the choices that are before us are profound ones. You can tell a lot about someone after something good has happened to them… after they’ve been blessed. I’m in a series of talks called In the Zone.
Basically, we’ve been saying our great God is for us, not against us. God is the blesser. He wants us to live in the zone, in this position of power to receive the blessings of God. Because we realize in the zone God is the blesser, we understand we’re blessed, then we can become blessings. What happens, though, when you’re blessed? What happens when you look tangibly and intangibly and go, wow! That’s a victory! That’s a great time in my life! What happens after that? What choices do you make?
Abraham is the guy in the Bible we’ve been talking about recently, Abraham the father of our faith. Abraham lived in a very ungodly place, a place that was totally zoned out. He was in a place called Ur. God told him to leave Ur with just his family and go to a land that God was gonna show him. God promised him that he was gonna bless him and that he (Abraham) was going to be the father of a new nation. So, Abraham, by faith, did what God wanted him to do. Well, he did it almost.
The Bible says that a man named Lot, one of Abraham’s relatives, his nephew, so to speak, went with Abraham on this journey. Lot and his lot caused a lot of drama and trauma. I think we can all think about people in our lives who sort of have the character qualities of Lot. As you’re living your life, who are you doing life with? Who is attached to you? Who is sort of following you? Here’s another question. Who is dragging you down? Because Lot caused a lot of drama and trauma to Abraham and his mighty company.
So often, people can be like scaffolding. There’s a building being built and to build a tall building you’ve gotta have scaffolding around it to do some of the tricky and tenuous work. One day, though, you come to a point where you tear the scaffolding down so the building can be all it should be. We need to understand that sometimes people in our lives are like scaffolding. I’m not saying they don’t matter. I’m not saying they’re no-counts. I’m saying for us to go to the level and to live in the blessed spot that God has for our lives, we are going to have to separate from the Lots and their lots that cause lots and lots of trouble, drama and trauma, in your life and mine. So don’t tell me who you’re hanging out with; tell me who you’re separating from. Tell me who you’re moving away from. That’s what happened to Abraham.
Abraham was with Lot, there was trouble. He didn’t fully obey God because of he had been full-on for God he and just his family would have left, yet he allowed Lot to sort of surf in his wake, which he shouldn’t have done.
They came to a point where Abraham said, “Hey, Lot, we need to separate. We need to part ways.”
Here’s what’s so interesting about the situation. Abraham, being the senior… Abraham, being the man… gave Lot first choice. Here Abraham was definitely a “Zoney,” he was in the zone, he understood God was the blesser, he was blessed, he was a blessing, he was a blessing to Lot, giving him first choice. So Lot looked one way and he saw the beautiful, fertile areas around the Jordan River. Then he looked the other and he saw this ugly land, this land that was barren and pretty rugged. Lot didn’t pray. Lot did not defer to Abraham.
Lot said, “You know what, I will take the area, the fertile region by the Jordan River. Thank you very much.” And he went that way.
You can tell a lot about people and their lot by how they respond to opportunities, how they respond to blessings. Lot went one way. He didn’t talk to God about it, didn’t defer to the man about it, didn’t say, “You know, Abraham, I’m here because of you, bro! I mean, I am here because you have blessed me and allowed me to travel with you. You made me a multi-billionaire!”
He didn’t say that. He just said, “It’s all about me. I’m going to do what I want to do,” and that’s what he did. And the Bible says he moved toward the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two of the most wicked cities in the history of the world. He didn’t really move into the cities, just on the outskirts of the cities. He moved toward those areas.
Conversely, Abraham, who was living in the zone, now found himself in the barren place. He found himself in a place where he had to move regularly, just to find sustenance for all of his stuff. Because remember, now, we’re talking about two Fortune 500 guys. The only reason Lot was a Fortune 500 guy was because of Abraham. But it’s so interesting how quickly people forget the blessings and the source. You move toward Sodom and Gomorrah, you separate, stuff’s gonna happen. It’s gonna hit the fan. An alliance of kings get together, they take Sodom and Gomorrah, then they take Lot and his family hostage and off they go. Ancient terrorists, if you will.
Abraham, he’s like, “Man, they’re messing with my boy, Lot?” Abraham got together 318 people, chased them down, dominated them, secured them, and now we come to the victory.
Abraham had just come off the heels of a victory, just come off this W in the Win column. He’d just come off making more and more money. He had more and more stuff to add to his billions, and now we want to talk about living in the zone.
Because after the victory, after the windfall, after the high point, after the marriage, after the promotion, that is when we have a choice. We have a decision to make. Because our source determines our course. Our source determines our course. So the king of Sodom, who had been dominated (you won’t believe this) by Abraham, who had been captured with Lot and the other kings by this other coalition of kings, the king of Sodom, the Bible says (in the book of Genesis 14) the king of Sodom comes up to Abraham and congratulates him and gives him like a high five.
“Way to go, Abraham! Man that was great! That was really something else.”
And this guy’s name was Bera. The name Bera is an interesting one. It means ‘gift.’ So here’s this guy, king of Sodom, one of the most wicked cities in the history of the world, and the guy’s name is Bera, which means gift. Say Bera with me? Bera. Say gift with me? Gift. He’s from Sodom. Sodom means ‘burning.’ Say burning with me. Burning. This name, gift, suggests a bargaining. It suggests a wooing of the worldly system to come into its mix. What happened to Sodom? It was burned to the ground. We go the way of the world; we begin to negotiate with the Bera, with the king of Sodom, what’s going to happen? It’s going to burn up.
So we have the king of Sodom giving Abraham a high five. It’s wacky! Now we have the king of Salem, Melchizedek (I love that name), coming on the scene. Melchizedek also gives Abraham a high five. What does the word ‘Salem’ mean? Salem (think Jerusalem) means peace. Melchizedek, that name means king of righteousness.
Most Bible scholars and theologians, against the backdrop of Hebrews 7, believe that this is a theophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. Many scholars believe, and of course the Bible substantiates this, I believe this, that Melchizedek was a type of Christ.
And today you’re going to have to put your thinking caps on. Just, just for a second. We’re going somewhere. The teacher, back in the day, “Ed, put your thinking cap on.” We got those caps on, thinking caps on.
Well the Bible says Melchizedek blesses Abraham. And now we have Abraham doing something that it’s the first time it’s ever mentioned in scripture.
Now when something is mentioned for the first time in Scripture go, “Whoa!” because that context, that first usage of it sets the stage for the usage of this principle throughout the pages of scripture. Are you feeling me? Are you smelling what I’m stepping in? I thought you were.
Genesis 14:17-20: “After Abraham returned from defeating <hard word #1> and the king’s allies with him the king of Sodom (Sodom means what? Burning… fi-yah!) came out to meet him in the valley of <hard word #2>. Then Melchizedek, king of righteousness, of Salem, which means peace brought out bread and wine.”
Are you smelling what I’m stepping in? Hebrews 7, bread and wine, theophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus, a type of Christ, we’ve got some communion foreshadowing going on. Do you see it? OK. I thought you did. Bread and wine. The Baptists would say bread and grape juice. Bread and wine.
Illus: I spoke at a church the other day (this is hilarious), they had communion and on the table they had a little sign that said “juice” and the other sign “wine.” I like that. You can laugh.
He was the priest of God the most high (look at verse 9), and he blessed. What does it mean to be blessed? The word is thrown around a lot these days. I’m blessed. I’m blessed. I’m blessed. No, no. To be blessed means to be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. To be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. Usually when you see the word trust or faith in scripture, there is something tangible tied to it. We’re tied to the tangible. Also, too, we’re blessed intangibly as well.
“He blessed Abraham by saying, ‘Blessed be Abraham by God most high, creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be God most high who delivered your enemies into your hand.’” Then, here we go.. it’s the first time it’s mentioned in scripture, 400 years before the Law… “Then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.”
This is the first time we have the tithe mentioned in scripture. Abraham’s response to Melchizedek, a type of Christ, was to bring him, to give him, the tithe. I’m blessed. You’re the blesser. I’m blessable because I’m in the zone. When I tithe it gives me a perspective on living. I can be a blessing. That’s what was happening here.
OK, that’s cool, that’s fine, that’s dandy. First time tithe is mentioned. It’s one of the central themes in Scripture, we understand that. But now this is so whack-a-doodle-do I can’t even believe it. And when I read it I was laughing out loud. And then I thought about my own life and my laughter turned to tears. Because this next part is very convicting.
So after this, after this tithe thing, after being blessed and all that with Melchizedek, now we have Bera (gift), king of Sodom, burning, trying to negotiate with Abraham. Just say “ha-ha” with me. 1-2-3… Ha-ha. Turn to your neighbor and say, “That’s whack-a-doodle-do.” All right, are you with me?
Bera had just been dominated by Abraham. Now he is coming onto the scene, high fiving Abraham and trying to negotiate with Abraham. He didn’t jack to negotiate with! Are you feeling me? He had nothing! No skin in the game, no bargaining chip. He’s trying to negotiate with Abraham. He had everything to take and nothing to give. He had everything to take, nothing to give. It reminds me of the enemy. John 10, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.”
The devil owns nothing. Nothing! Yet what does he do? He negotiates with me and you after the blessing. It’s this optical illusion. Smoke and mirrors. Yeah, it looks one way, it looks awesome. Wow! There’s a lot in the showcase but there’s nothing in the stockroom. This optical illusion. Negotiating with Abraham.
Look at verses 21 and 23. “The King of Sodom (who had everything to take) said to Abraham, ‘Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.’”
What? Hahaha! “But Abraham said to the king of Sodom, “I’ve raised my hand to the Lord God most high, creator of heaven and earth and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal so that you’ll never be able to say, ‘I made Abraham rich.’”
You might want to underline Lord God most high, that’s El Elyon in the Hebrew, which means ‘God is the possessor of heaven and earth.’ He’s the possessor, he’s the blesser.
Who am I? I don’t have a thing, I don’t have jack to give to God. He’s all-sufficient. I’m totally and completely insufficient, yet I’m gonna bargain? I’m gonna bargain with God? And we do that over the tithe, don’t we?
“When I get rich, then I will start to pay the tithe.”
“Well, tithing is (some of the smart people), tithing is an Old Testament thing.”
This is 400 years before the Law, brotha, sista! Every time you’ve got Jesus talking about issues, principles… click! The bar is raised. Under the law, for example, “Do not commit adultery.” Jesus – click! – raises the bar in the New Testament. “If you look at someone and you think about sleeping with them, you’ve committed adultery.”
So in reality, don’t even go down that path. You might want to go, “Hey, I will just live in the Old Testament. I like 10%.” Because if you really start thinking about it, 10% is just the minimum worship requirement! We try to negotiate with God!
“Yeah, when I make it, then…” or, “I will just keep my money myself, the tangible stuff myself, and I’ll give my time.”
Who are you? Who am I to negotiate with God, the blesser? I’m blessed, I can be a blessing. When Abraham gave the tithe it was a perspective thing.
You want perspective in your life? Perspective in choices? You want perspective on your relationships? Perspective with those people and their lot who give you a lot of drama and trauma, you begin to honor God with the totality of who you are, tangibly and intangibly, and you watch and see what happens in your life. It’s about trust.
Others try to play this deal with God. They go, “OK, God, when I have everything in order, then I will start tangibly….” No, no, no, no, no. The Bible (I don’t have time to get into this) is a book of the firsts. We don’t wait until everything is in order, we bring the firsts to God. God’s a God of the firsts.
Illus: Last week before our offering someone mentioned the word tithe and a woman behind one of my friends said, “What’s a tithe?”
That’s a great question. What is a tithe? Tithe is 10. It’s the first 10% of everything we make. It goes to the house as a minimum worship requirement. But that’s just one of many things that God wants us to do as we live in the zone.
Let’s go back to the big picture. The victory, the blessings, the windfall. We either go the way of Sodom or the way of Salem. It’s either a bargaining thing or a blessing thing. What’s it going to be? What’s it going to be? The enemy has nothing to give. Smoke and mirrors, an optical illusion in your marriage, in your friendships, in your career, in your finances, an optical illusion! He has nothing to give. Jesus has everything, EVERYTHING to give. The choice is up to you and me.
And when I really think about victory, help me think here, when I think about the cross. Think about the cross! We’re not victims, we’re victors! The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we’re winners! We’re living off of a victory.
What’s your response? Zoned in, in the sweet spot of God’s success, on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God, reminding myself regularly that my source determines my course, through obedience? Or am I going to be zoned out living in the land of the optical illusion? The response is up to you and it’s up to me. Let’s do what Abraham did, because he lived in the zone.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]