September 10, 2017
We all want to know, deep down, who we truly are. Yet so many people have a misconception of their true identity, because they look to the wrong source of that identity. In other words, we are self-unaware. But through this message by Pastor Ed Young, we realize that the true source of our identity is the One who made us. And when we tap into God’s power of self-awareness, we discover the power and potential we were truly meant to have.
I’ve got a question for you today. Do you know yourself? Do you know yourself? Most people are like, “oh yeah, I know myself because after all, Ed, I spend more time with myself than anyone else.”
I would argue that the majority of us don’t now ourselves like we think we know ourselves. That’s why I’m doing this series called “Know Thyself”. Socrates said it. “Man,” he said, “know thyself.”
What does it mean to know yourself? Have you ever thought about that? What does it mean to really assess your strengths and weaknesses? The context in which you find yourself. What does it mean to understand the people and their perception of you?
Well, self-awareness, that’s a phrase that we us a lot. Self-aware. Are you self-aware? Do you know yourself? Do you know yourself?
I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve studying that. So I came up with something that hopefully you’ll understand because in a message like this that kicks off this entire series, a lot of you are saying, “I’m not going to come back for the next couple of weeks because I know myself. I mean, I’m totally self-aware. I understand my strengths and weaknesses and the context and other people.”
If that’s you, you’re self-unaware. If you think it’s for someone else, maybe your spouse, your friend, your neighbor, someone that you see across the aisle, then man, I’m telling you. It is for you. Because a series like this will sneak up on you. You’ll think it’s for someone else, but it’s for you.
So just for a second, think about yourself. You’re self-unaware if you’re a story topper. Any story toppers here? Someone says “I just got back from a cruise. I just traveled here. I just did this.” And you always, click, raise the bar and tell a story to dominate and shame the other person. You might be thinking that’s someone else.
I talked to a story topper recently. I confronted a story topper in a nice way, and this person goes, “I hate people that do that.”
I said, “Friend, you do that all the time.”
He said, “I do?”
I said, “You do.”
“I was not aware of that.”
Self-unawareness. Maybe you post a lot of selfies. Your social media feed is full of selfies. You are, my friend, self-unaware. It got quiet on that one. Very quiet. You’re self-unaware.
Oh, if you humble brag, you’re self-unaware. You know what it means to be humble and to brag? Well, let me give you an example from my life. What if I posted on my social media feed, “Just spoke to 15,000 in New Zealand at a conference #humbled?” Self-unaware. It’s funny, we think these days we can brag and do all this stuff, and if we put #blessed or #humbled then it’s okay. Well, you’re self-unaware.
You’re never wrong. You’re never really wrong. You’re self-unaware.
Maybe you’re thinking about your spouse. You’re goin’ like “woah.” No, don’t think about your spouse. It’s for you, see? It’ll sneak up on you.
You don’t take advice. If you don’t take advice, you’re self-unaware. How many times in the history of this church have I sat down with people? Maybe their marriage is hanging from a balance, and I’ve said to them, “Here are three things you need to do that will change your marriage. I’ve been doing them for 35 years. Lisa and I have a great marriage. You do these three things, and your marriage will recover, and you’ll have solidarity, man. You’ll have a difference in this relationship. If not, you’re signing up for some serious heartache.” I’ve watched so many do the exact opposite, opposite of what I said. Self-unaware.
Here’s one of my favorites. You know you’re self-unaware when you think people are thinking about you. No, they’re not. I remember Lisa and I talking to a lady. And she told us, “Whenever I walk in a room, I think everyone is looking at me.” Self-unaware.
You don’t have a filter. “You know I just say what comes to my mind. I just tell it like it is. To be honest with you,” self-unaware.
Whenever you have an issue, it’s someone else’s fault. It’s always someone else. “I’m the victim. It’s always their fault. It’s my parents’ fault. It’s my friend’s fault. I blew that knee out in college. It’s my knee’s fault. Whatever, whatever, it’s always someone else’s fault.”
Here’s another person who’s self-unaware, an over-talker. Do you know any over-talkers? When you see them coming, you’re like, “Woah!” They just talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. And they have all these transitional statements. You think they’re finished. And they keep talking. And you’re trying to break in. You’re trying to say, “I’ve got to go.” Here’s how I deal with over-talkers. I just go, “Hey, see ya.” And I just walk off. And we have some over-talkers right now, and you don’t know you’re an over-talker, but you are. You’re self-unaware.
Oh, this is kind of interesting. You know you’re self-unaware when you wear something that doesn’t complement your age, body type, or profession. Have you ever been to the beach before? Seriously, I want to walk up to some people and go, “What were you thinking when you put on that outfit?” You’re self-unaware.
Okay, here’s someone else who’s self-unaware. You’re watching sports on TV, and you say to yourself, “That could have been me.” That’ll probably happen tonight.
You know you’re self-unaware, too, if you think this is for someone else. I’m telling you. Self-awareness versus self-unawareness, it’s amazing.
Most people who think they know themselves don’t. We can only know ourselves when we know the one who knows us better than ourselves. And we allow this one, I’m talking about the one, the Lord, to know us. It only happens when we say, “God, you’re sovereign. I’m not. I admit to you, your sovereignty generally and also personally.” So we only know ourselves when we know the one, when we open our lives to know the one who knows us like we’ll never know ourselves. You’ll go through your entire life without knowing yourself, your entire existence without really knowing who you are, without really understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your perception, your context, without really understanding other people. That’s what you’re signing up for.
So this series has massive, massive implications. Do you know yourself? Are you self-aware or self-unaware? Do you know the one who knows you better than you know yourself? Because when I know the one who knows me better than I know myself, all of a sudden, I know myself. But knowing yourself is simply a benefit of being a believer. I mean, my purpose in life is not just, “Oh, I want to know myself. I want to examine my navel,” no, no, no. That’s not the purpose. The purpose is to love God with the totality of who you are, Matthew 22. Jesus said this, and love your neighbor as yourself. It’s to glorify God. It’s to reflect him. And to do that, we have to know who we are. But most of us don’t.
T.S. Today, I’m talking about a very tough subject, and I’m going to talk to you about a person who went absolutely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. I’m going to talk to you about a person who was two cans short of a six pack. I’m going to talk to you about a person who was insane in the membrane. I’m going to talk to you about a person who was straight jacket crazy. He didn’t start off that way, but because he was so self-unaware he ended up that way.
Yet, we’re going to find out he had an amazing transformation in his life. He saw the sovereignty of God through a strange set of circumstances, through a cadre of committed people. Because he saw the sovereignty of God, the fact that God is in control, he made a decision after going through some very, very difficult times to get God on the throne of his life and to personally experience the sovereignty of God.
So I want to ask you this question. Is God sovereign in your life? Yeah, most of us would say, “God is sovereign. He’s in control.”
Is God sovereign in your life personally? Is he in control? Is he calling the shots? Here’s the sneaky thing about the subject matter I’m going to talk about today. No one in here would say, “Oh, I am on the throne of my life. I’m calling the shots. I’m sovereign.”
No one’s going to say that really. But you live like that.
Nebuchadnezzar, the all name team. “Starting at guard, Nebuchadnezzar.” I love that name, Nebuchadnezzar. His name means judgment and tears. Nebuchadnezzar, a brilliant guy, no doubt a type A personality. He led the nation of Babylon. And he had some really smart things that he did as you study him in history. One of the things he would do is he would conquer neighboring nations. He would conquer these countries. He would adopt and adapt their gods, lowercase G, bring them back to Babylon. He would also deport the best and the brightest with him, give them important positions in his kingdom, and kind of worship the gods kind of cafeteria style. “Yeah, I’ll have a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Everything is cool.”
And his empire just blew up. Nebuchadnezzar, and obviously he’s going to be this way, was totally self-unaware. Why? Well, I’m going to bring up the negative subject. Why? Why, why? Pride. Pride. You have to start with pride when you talk about self-awareness. Pride, the ride of pride. Pride is the precursor of all sins. You can’t even talk about being self-aware or being self-unaware without talking about pride.
Say pride with me. Pride is something I see in you but I don’t see in myself. Pride is blinding. Pride goes before all sin. I can’t have a burst of anger. I can’t lust. I can’t go on a greed patrol unless first of all what? Prideful.
Nebuchadnezzar was on the ride of pride, and the ride of pride is a wicked, wicked, wicked ride. He would take these neighboring nations, bring the best and the brightest to Babylon. He would bring their gods and everything was kind of rolling. He had no idea, no clue, when he captured Judah, when he dominated Jerusalem, when he brought back with him Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fateful firemen, and Daniel; he had no idea that as he conquered them that he was bringing back Jehovah God who would one day conquer his life and live on the throne of his life.
Here is an application point. You might be here, and you’re like, “You know, I believe there’s a God.” Maybe you’re like Nebuchadnezzar. “Yeah, I believe, you know. Yeah, I sort of intellectually agree that, you know, Jesus was a real person.”
Well, if you’re in that mindset, maybe just maybe through the sovereignty of God, some people in your life have been placed in your life for you to hear the message of the Lord. Because Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and Daniel shared with Nebuchadnezzar the message of God. So the people that invited you here today or someone in your life somewhere, they’re probably here. Maybe you have a cadre of committed people in your life. Lean into them. Listen to them. Because they’re going to share with you the sovereignty of God, and then you can see how God is personally sovereign in their lives, and it’s my prayer that you’ll make the same decision that old Nebulizer made at the end of his life when he bowed the knee and said, “God you’re sovereign. And I’m not.”
But man, this guy was a major player. Well, Nebuchadnezzar brought back these people, and he had some sleep problems. I don’t know if it was sleep apnea, maybe so, but he had a sleep study done. He was having all these crazy dreams. Daniel, this Jew from Jerusalem, interpreted the dreams. And if you have your Bibles, turn to the book of Daniel.
Daniel 2:38. So this nefarious Nebuchadnezzar had a sleep study. I call this sleep study one. So here’s what Daniel said after he heard his dream, his first of a series of dreams. He said, “In your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. “
So he’s just kind of floating out, Daniel is, the concept of God to this nefarious personality. He’s just kind of saying, “Okay, God. Have you thought about God? Have you thought about Jehovah? God is sovereign.”
Then as he introduces this concept, Nebuchadnezzar does something really, really crazy. You would think he would go, “Wow. God, you know, God is sovereign, but wow, I’m not.” No. You know what he does? He goes out, Nebuchadnezzar, and he builds a 90-foot-tall by nine-foot-wide statue of himself out of gold. Let me say that again. He just goes out after this sleep study, and he goes, “You know, man, Daniel, it’s great that you’re talking about God and all that, but you know what? I love me some me.”
And he builds a 90, do you know how tall 90 feet is? It’s up there. A 90-foot gold statue of himself. And he tells everybody, “Okay, now, when the music starts,” because he brought in the Babylonian band. “When the music starts, everybody better hit their face in worship of me. Yeah, I know we got a cafeteria of gods, but everybody’s going to worship me. I love me some me. I’m the man. I’m sovereign. I’m the ruler. So when the band starts, hit the deck. Hit it, guys.”
Who was that? Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. How many people recognize that? Herb Alpert, I can’t do all of my jokes and illustrations for young people. Only about 10 people lifted their hand. Google Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Man, those people could do it, man. They could do it.
So the Babylonian band began to play. And everybody hit the deck. Because see, this guy was, yeah, this guy was bad. He said, “You know, you better hit the deck. If you don’t, I’m going to turn you into a human marshmallow, and we’ll do a human marshmallow roast in the fiery furnace.” So that gave a lot of people the desire to fall on their face and worship. “If you don’t worship the golden image, if you don’t worship me, I’ll throw you in the fiery furnace.” What motivation.
Well, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they did not bow. They were tossed into the furnace. Yet, they emerged unscathed. You couldn’t even smell smoke on them.
Oh, and now Nebuchadnezzar has a revival. Well, a small one. He goes, “Well, man, Jehovah’s something else. If anyone ever speaks against Jehovah, I’ll tear them to pieces and burn their houses down.”
Really? I mean, that’s it, Nebuchadnezzar? You’re that self-unaware? I mean, dude, listen. Daniel has interpreted your dream in the first sleep study. He’s introduced the sovereignty of God. And now, you see this miracle, and there was a fourth person in there, too. A lot of people think it was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus in the furnace. That’s a whole other message. You look in the furnace. You throw three people in there. And there’s a fourth person in there. And they emerge, and all you’re going to say is, “Well, if you speak against him, we’ll tear you in pieces and burn your house down.”
Unbelievable. And maybe you’ve known people like that. Totally self-unaware. Totally ruling their life. Totally on the ride of pride. And they have these opportunities, do they not, to bow the knee, to follow the Lord, yet they don’t.
So this guy has another dream. This guy was a dreamer. I call it sleep study two, sleep study two. Anybody here, have you ever had a sleep study before done? Lift your hand. Okay. A lot of people, yes, God bless you. Hands are going up everywhere. I just wondered.
Well, he has another dream, and this dream is really crazy. He dreams of a giant tree reaching to the heavens. This is the Nebulizer. And he dreams that the tree fed all of these people, all of the wildlife, all of the beams, and then he dreamed a man of God came down, chopped the tree. It left a stump. Say stump. Turn to your neighbor. Say I’m stumped.
Hopefully, this message is not stumping you. But yeah, left a stump, and then, he dreamed that he became like an animal. This stuff is crazy. So he calls in Daniel. “Daniel, Daniel, interpret the dream.”
Daniel goes, “Well, I got to tell you this. I mean, I’ve got to be honest with you.”
And here’s something that we need to do if we’re self-unaware. All of us are self-unaware in certain areas. Listen to what people say to you about your issues, about your junk, about your craziness, about your anger, about your pride, about you interrupting, about you talking too much about yourself, about these risqué selfies, about, listen to people. But listen to the right people. Don’t surround yourself with sinful sympathizers. Listen to the Daniels in your life because they’re there.
So Daniel goes “Nebuchadnezzar, my man, you’re the tree. You’re going to be chopped down. And you’re going to be driven out away from everybody,” and I love this, “your hair will be like feathers of an eagle. Your claws, well, I mean, your fingernails and toenails will look like claws.”
And let me read this to you real quick. Daniel 4:24-25, “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Woah. So Nebuchadnezzar’s probably like, “Are you kidding me? Me? A wild animal, me? Isolated, me?”
Well, think of the progression. When you have idolatry, self-worship, which self-worship is the number one worship in the world today. We worship ourselves. So before we point the finger at the 90 foot by nine foot golden statue of Nebuchadnezzar, we need to think about our own lives, self-worship. Idolatry, self-worship, putting anything in place of God leads to isolation.
You want to sign up for loneliness? You just jump on the ride of pride. And from isolation it always leads to insanity.
As I said, and I’ll say it again, if Jesus is not Lord of your life, you have a form of insanity. How can I say that? Because you, my friend, were not made to be God. I’m not made to run my life. I’m not made to be sovereign. God is.
So Nebuchadnezzar, you would think, come on, Nebuchadnezzar. Listen. Come on, my brother. Pay attention. Do something. And he has an opportunity to get his life right, but he doesn’t. He just, you know, doesn’t. And you can feel the angst in Daniel 4:27. “Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
A year passes. 12 months pass. He does nothing. Nothing. How long have you tested the patience of God? How long? God has a fuse link. I don’t know how long that is for you. I don’t know. This is an opportunity that you have to get your life right, to respond to the general sovereignty of God and to make it personal, for the Lord to sit on the throne of your life. You have an opportunity right now, and I beg you to make the decision now before you do what Nebuchadnezzar did, before you get into the situation that Nebuchadnezzar did. But he didn’t.
12 months. “No, no, no, everything’s cool. That’s fine. That was kind of convicting. Jehovah, I’m thinking more and more about it, but you know, I’m the man.”
And then we have him, the prince of personal pronouns. He’s in one of his mansions, and here’s what he says in Daniel 4:30. This is so funny. 12 months pass. “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Woah, and then right after that, you have something called the Bat Ḳol. The Bat Ḳol is the voice of God. It drove him into the wilderness, and that’s where he went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, two cans short of a six pack, straight jacket crazy. Thank you for that.
When we live on auto pilot like he was, when we allow pride to get the best of us, it’ll lead to some bad places and spaces.
ILLUS: One time, Lisa and I were flying in a private plane with someone from the church, a couple of pilots. We were on our way to the East coast for a meeting, and we were just, you know, flying. Had some coffee. All of a sudden, the plane dropped 1,000 feet. Then, it was like someone kicked it. Bing, straight up it rose 1,000 feet. The pilots were freaking out. They were turning green. I looked up, and I said, after they regained control, “Are you guys okay?”
They were like, “Wow. That was so powerful, this turbulence was so intense. It knocked the autopilot off.”
In this series, I pray the autopilot is knocked off of maybe anger, maybe pride, maybe greed, maybe envy. The autopilot is not off of being that one who’s always right, that person who has no filter. So we’re going to see in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, the autopilot was knocked off, and here’s something interesting.
In Daniel 4:33, I don’t have time to go into all of it, but immediately after he heard the voice of God, boom, he was driven out into the wilderness. And he was there for a time.
And then remember I told you that stump earlier? The stump began to grow. Isn’t that great? The stump began to grow. I’m glad that God is the God of the stump. Pride will knock the props out of your life and mine every single time, and here’s what’s so funny about pride. Pride blinds us of its presence. Pride is something we see in others that we don’t see in ourselves.
And here’s what we think about pride. I know, because here’s what I think. “Oh, that person’s prideful, so loud and proud and ostentatious.” Not necessarily. Some of the quiet people I’ve known, some of the humble people I know, are the most prideful. Some of you right now are going, “Man, I’m humble.” If you’re saying that, that’s a prideful statement. Oh, you can be humble, yeah, when you humble yourself before the mighty hand of God, but the moment you start thinking, “Man, I’m humble #humbled, #blessed.” You’re prideful.
So you got to worry about your own junk, your own life, your own issues, before you start pointing out in others, and I’m great at pointing pride out in others. Yet, Nebuchadnezzar, I’m so proud of him, but he didn’t have to go through all this. But I’m so proud of him. Look at Daniel 4:34, 36-37, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation … At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
So isn’t that great? So Nebuchadnezzar got it right because generally, he saw the sovereignty of God through this cadre of committed people, through going into this situation and that situation, realizing that he does not rule jack, realizing that everything he has is from God, realizing that he really doesn’t sit on the throne, that God does, and his life was changed. That’s great.
Three things, and then we’re going to go. You ready for this? Number one, because we’re talking about self-awareness. Practice the awareness of God. Say that with me, one, two, three. Practice the awareness of God. My first step to self-awareness is practicing the awareness of God.
Have you checked out our app with our devotions that we’re writing for every single day? If you’ve not done it, there is, if you’re not having a devotional time with God, there is no way you’re ever going to know yourself, no way, no way. I’m not throwing that out to heap guilt on you. I’m saying we’ve made it easy. We have some amazing people here, pastors and leaders, who are writing these devotionals. It takes maybe five minutes a day. Just go to the app store. Type in Fellowship Church. You’ll see a little icon. It says get. Bing, and then you’ll have it. And then tomorrow morning, bing, and you can do the devotional.
Practice the awareness of God. Just think about him. Pray for people, for example, you meet. Pray, think about God. Think about his goodness. Think about his sovereignty generally and personally. Think about what you’re saying. Think about what you’re thinking. Practice the awareness of God.
Number two. Practice the awareness of the moment. We need to live in the moment, people. Say, yeah. Live in the moment. We can only really grasp the moment when we grasp the concept of God and we invite the Lord to take control of our lives and when he’s sovereign. That’s the only way we’ll milk that moment. That’s the only way. So God wants us to maybe see moments and to experience time in a unique way, and it’s because of him.
Number three, practice the awareness of listening. Listening. Are you listening? Do you listen to advice? Do you listen to the Daniels in your life? Do you listen to the worship? Do you listen to messages? Do you listen? Listen. Listen to God. Listen to others because when we do that, we’ll know God and a benefit of that is knowing ourselves.
But again, you’ll never know yourself until you know God. But the main thing is to know God. I want to understand my bandwidth, my potential. I won’t understand my purpose, my plan. I won’t understand it until I say, “God, you know what? Everything is yours. I humble myself before your mighty hand.”
That is what it means to be self-aware. God is sovereign. Generally, God is sovereign. Specifically, he’s on the throne of my life. I can assess my strengths and weaknesses, my context, and the context of others as I walk in humility. But it all begins with pride. Let’s pray.
[Ed ends in closing prayer.]