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Intense – Week 1


January 6, 2019

By Ed Young

It’s a brand-new year, 2019, and this is a time where a lot of us, if you’re like me, we make these intense resolutions.  How many of you like to make resolutions?  If you made a new year’s resolution?  I read some disturbing news, that most of us stop the whole resolution thing by January 12th.  I thought, there’s no way, but some group did this study and they average that most of us mail in our resolutions by January 12, in this brand-new year, 2019.  It’s interesting these intense decisions that we make.  We’re like OK, I’m going to work out.  It takes some intensity to make that decision. Or I’m going to eat clean.  We’ve got to be intense when we do that.  We’ve got to stop doing certain things and do other things.  Or maybe you have a hurtful habit and you’re like, I’m intense about quitting smoking.  Or I’m intense about not going to this particular place or hanging out with that group.  So, the decisions we make oftentimes around this time of year are intense.  And it takes intensity to keep those resolutions.  Intensity.

I like the word intensity because when you say intense it’s like a mindset, it’s a focus.  Also, though, it has to do with – in my mind – past, present, and future.  So, we make these resolutions based on the past, OK, now in the present, and where I want to go in the future, I’m gonna make these intense decisions.  Today I am launching a 21-day spiritual journey called Intense. Intense.  And we’re looking at the past and the present and the future and we’ve built this whole series around one question.  Here it is:  Can you remember a time in your past when you were closer to God than you are now in the present?  Well, if the answer is yes, we’re going to change that, because we want the trajectory for our future to be intense.  God wants you and me to have an intense relationship with him.  God does.  You might be thinking, OK.  I guess you’re going to talk about that and unpack that over the next 21 days and the answer is yes, I am.  I’m going to give you the answer, though, to intensity.  I’m going to give you the answer to what it’s going to take for you and me to have this intense relationship with God.  This answer is going to shock you because it’s so simple.  You’re gonna thing, what?  But just stay with me.  We will see what everything is about once I give you this answer.

OK, so what does it take?  What does it take to live in an intense manner?  I mean, taking all the resolutions off the table, drilling down to the heart of the matter, what does it take?  Stuff.  What?  No, no, no.  That’s the answer.  How can I live an intense life, a life that beats fast, my heart beats fast for the things of God?  How can I do that, Ed?  How can I, thinking about the past and thinking about the future, well the answer is stuff.  Just say it.  Stuff, yeah.  We all have stuff.  Some of us have a small pile of stuff, others have a medium pile of stuff, and others here you might have a monstrous pile of stuff.  We go to school, learn how to get stuff, and then we graduate, and we make stuff.  Then we make stuff and we enjoy the stuff and then we invest the stuff and insure the stuff.  I heard one comedian say a house is simply stuff with a roof over it.  Stuff.  I thought that was kind of funny.  Stuff.  And then we die, because all of us are gonna die.  I’ve checked the stats again and 1:1 die.  And we’re gonna leave our stuff, some of us, for the kids to fight over.  Or maybe someone that we don’t even know is gonna take care of our stuff.  So that’s the answer.  Seems weird, doesn’t it?  What’s the answer?  How do I have this intentional relationship with God?  Well, one of the main things, just to boil it down to one word, is stuff.  Stuff.  Stuff.  We all have stuff.

You know, stuff matters to God, it really does.  Stuff, I would say is neutral, but the way we use our stuff really shows God our heartbeat.  It really shows God the essence of who we are.  It really shows God like our true selves.  What are you doing with your stuff?  Your stuff, your stuff?

Three things I want you to think about, and you can just jot these down.  God owns all the stuff.  I don’t care if you believe it or not, he really does.  God owns all the stuff.  I mean, the air you breathe, the space and place that you’re taking up on planet Earth, your ability, your creativity, your drive, your giftedness, your walk, your talk.  God owns all of the stuff. #2 – God has given us the stuff.   So, God owns the stuff, #1, and #2, God has given us all of the stuff.  So, the stuff you have, God has given to you.  The stuff I have, God has given to me.  That’s why I shouldn’t be jealous of you.  This guy has a unique gift that I don’t have.  How do I know this because I don’t even know this guy?  Because that’s the way God works.  So, who am I to be jealous of him, because you know what?  It’s not your stuff.  God gave you your stuff, so God owns all the stuff.  God gives us all the stuff, and #3, we manage the stuff.  We manage it.

You won’t believe it.  A UPS truck showed up yesterday at my house.  That’s odd.  Walked outside, really nice guy, gave me this box.  Had our address on it.  My wife had ordered something, Lisa.  So, I just took the box in the house.  Now, that guy didn’t take the box, open it up and use whatever Lisa had bought inside the box because he’s simply a middle man.  She ordered it from somewhere else and it was given to this UPS guy through all of these different events, and he drove to our house and delivered it to us because, you know, we bought it.  I’m simply a middle man with my stuff.  I don’t own my stuff.  I’m just there. I steward the stuff, I manage the stuff, and then I just do whatever with the stuff.  But God tells me how to use the stuff.

I remember my first job.  I worked in a formal wear store back in the day, formal wear.  There was a guy in our church who owned a chain of formal wear stores and I worked.  We had this store in a mall and I sort of managed the store for him.  As a manager I just simply did what he wanted me to do because he owned all the stuff in the store.  That’s what you do and that’s what I do.  So, it’s about stuff.

There’s a guy in the Bible, you might have heard about him. He’s the giant-killer, David.  You may remember David was this Hebrew hillbilly who took on Goliath and he took out Goliath, and that catapulted him from the obscure into the limelight.  David became king of Israel and at the writing of this particular text I’m going to read, 1 Chronicles 29:1, Israel was the superpower on planet Earth.  And David was the king over this kingdom.  David understood it wasn’t his kingdom, it was God’s kingdom.  David understood the fact that God owns all the stuff, that God has given him, he’s given you and me, all the stuff and we’re simply managing all the stuff.  David looks around and he goes, wow.  Something’s wrong.  David’s like, I’m living in this palace, yet we worship God in this tent, which was called the Tabernacle.  He said, “We’ve got to build the house of God.”  So, David is intense.  This is the first intense journey that I see in Scripture.  David is intense.  David stood before everyone, everywhere, and they engaged in eternity.  Say that with me.  Everyone, everywhere, engaging in eternity.  So, David goes, man, we’re gonna build the house of God. We’re going to touch eternity.  It starts with me and it segues into the leaders and the others, and we’re going to engage in eternity, because there’s one thing that will last forever – people.  There’s one entity that lasts forever, only one, not a hospital, not a school, the local church.  The church, the body of Christ, lasts forever and ever and ever.  So, David stands up and in 1 Chronicles 29:1 he says, “Then King David stood before the whole assembly and he said, ‘The task is great because this palatial structure is not for man but is for the Lord.’”  That’s what David said.  This building is not for man.  Fellowship Church is not for man, it’s for God.  Our children’s facilities are not for man, they’re for God.  Our campus in Norman, Oklahoma, all the prison campuses, our retreat center, Allaso Ranch, it’s not for man.  It’s for God.  It’s not some memorial for me or to me, it’s God’s.  it’s God’s church, it’s God’s parking lot, it’s God’s.  And this whole thing happened because people were in the past intense, because those of us here are still intent in the present, and we will be intent, I believe, in the future.  I like how David said that.

So, then he says, in this next text 1 Chronicles 29:3, he says, “In my devotion…”  So, you’re going, wait a minute.  Is David going to give an offering?  Yeah, yeah, check this out.  “In my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasure of gold and silver for the temple of my God over and above everything I provided for this holy temple.”  David, himself, gave to the house of God out of his personal finances, $3.3 billion… 3.3 billion big boys!  David.  I did the math and that’s what it equates to in today’s terms.  God, it’s not my stuff!  You own it all!  You’ve given it all.  I’m just a UPS boy.  David gave $3.3 billion and told everybody what he had given.  And then the Bible says after he stood in front of everyone, that everybody joined in.  It says in 1 Chronicles 29:6, “Then the leaders of the families, the officers of the tribes, the commanders of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the officials, all gave willingly.”  They gave $6 billion.  David gave $3.3 and everybody else gave $6 billion!

Isn’t it funny, those here who tithe?  A lot of people say, well, you know, I’ll give God 10%.  That’s his cut, that’s his slice in the deal.  And I will do what I want to do with the other 90%.  That’s wrong.  That’s wrong.  It’s all God’s.  Ten percent is just the minimum worship requirement.  Starter generosity doesn’t happen until 11%, 12%, 13%.  What are you doing with your stuff?  Man, this is convicting!  I can look at you and see you going, oh my gosh.  Where are the exits?  Oh my gosh, I wish he would talk about sex.  Because people get freaky when I talk about sex and money.  Hey, chill.  Take a deep breath.  Stuff matters to God.  It’s a test.  I can see your heart for God, and you can see my heart for God, by what we give.  Period.  Yeah, but I have faith!  Fine, show it to me.  Oh, I have trust!  Show it to me.  What if I told Lisa, “Hey Lisa, I love you, baby!” Well, she would love to hear that, and I say that all the time.  But you know what she wants?  Show me.  Oh, I love you, God!  I love you!  I’m telling you I do.  I love you… I love…  Show me the money.  Show me your stuff.  You think you made your stuff?  Are you kidding me?  Who gave you your mind?  Who gave you your drive?  You’re not taking anything with you when you die.  Jeff Bezos is gonna die broke.  Bill Gates, nothing.  Rhianna, zero.  Jay-Z, Beyoncé, nothing.  The Bible says we are born with nothing, we take nothing with us to the other side.  Nothing, zero, zilch.  What are you doing with your stuff?

Jesus said something, I’m talking about up in our grill.  Matthew 6:20-21, “Store up for yourselves,” Jesus said, “treasures in Heaven where moss and rust don’t destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  Let’s say this last verse together.  1-2-3, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  My heart, your heart, the seat of self.  It’s the essence of who we are.  David gave $3.3 billion and as you read the text, his son was standing right there by him, Solomon.  Solomon could have said, “Oh no! There goes the trust fund!  Dad, what are you smoking?  I can’t believe you’re doing that!”

People ask me all the time, “Ed, what’s the best thing I can do for my kids?”  #1 – Introduce them into a personal relationship with Christ.  #2 – Make the house of God your commitment and your place where you go and worship weekly.  #3 – Show them generosity.  That means it starts with mom and dad.  That’s better than any trust fund, any house in the mountains or on the shore you’re gonna give them when you die.  Better than anything.  And I want to give my kids some stuff but not too much stuff.  Because I believe Lisa and I have given them something far greater than stuff, a personal connection with the living Lord, a heart for the house of God, and generosity.  Yeah, we think, oh yeah?  I’ll give God his cut, 10%, and we will do whatever we want to with 90?  Heck to the no.  It’s all God’s.
I helped start Fellowship Church 29 years ago.  My salary was $21,000 a year.  No, I didn’t stutter, $21,000 a year.  One house, one kid, one car, a broken-down rent house in Irving, Texas.  Lisa and I brought at least 10% to Fellowship Church then and more.  It was kind of easy.  Maybe $3,000?  Now I make a lot more than that.  Sometimes I’m like, whoa.  That’s a lot.  What could I do with all of that?  The moment I say that I’m being greedy.  I’m thinking it’s my stuff.  Its’ not my stuff.  Like, I need to give God permission for the 10%?  That’s hilarious!  We think the more money we make the more money we can spend on ourselves.  Man, it’s quiet.  I can hear a pin drop.  I’ll say it again.  We make the assumption that the more we make is for our consumption.  I mean, I deal with that, too.  Nowhere in the Bible… let me just relax a lot of you.  It doesn’t say that we shouldn’t enjoy the fruits of our labors.  I mean, I know Christian people, not to mention names, who have yachts, two to three planes, homes, awesome! That’s great!  God blesses people, God gives certain people the ability to make stupid amounts of money to give stupid amounts of money to the church.   However, don’t ever think, “Oh, I gave God his due and I can do whatever the heck I want with the other 90.”  No, it’s all God’s.  So as your income goes up, and I pray it does, our generosity should go up as well. 3.3 billion David gives! That’s some serious money, man, and the people give 6 billion. Intense!

Everyone, that’s what David said to everybody, everywhere all the leaders engaging, they gave willingly. In eternity, the house of God lasts forever and ever. This is unbelievable, isn’t it? They took one offering for the house of God and boom, raised it in one day. I think that’s the first intense campaign ever.

What are you doing with your stuff? The first thing I want you to think about is give, give, give. Now this also, what I’m going to tell you now, relates to Matthew chapter 6 in the New Testament, because Jesus said when you give, Jesus said that, when you give. In other words, it should be your lifestyle. Then he said, when you pray. Did you realize the best prayers you can pray are in the Bible? We’re going to begin to pray a Bible prayer for the next 21 days in this spiritual journey.

When you give, Jesus said, and that’s what David’s doing, right? Nod your heads. Right? Okay, okay. Then when you pray, David’s going to pray this awesome prayer. Then the third thing, when you fast. We’re going to fast. It’s not going to be too long of a fast. I’m just going to challenge you to have your last meal tonight, and then for 24 hours just drink liquids and juice or whatever, and then break the fast 24 hours from then, which will be an evening meal on Monday.

We fast because Jesus fast, the major matriarchs and patriarchs in the Bible fast. We fast because it moves our appetite toward food, and it gives us a greater focus to have this appetite toward God as we take this 21-day journey.

It’s about our stuff, man. It’s about our stuff. When you give, when you pray, and when you fast. Well, how did David do it? How did this happen? How did David do this, man? I mean, this is crazy.

Well, you know, I’m glad you’re thinking that. David prays some amazing, amazing prayers, but I want to just kind of hit on some of the principles of this prayer. In 1 Chronicles 29:10-11, that’s when David begins this prayer, but let me just kind of fly through this real quick and do a literal flyover. Here’s what David says in the middle of the prayer, verse 11. “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.”

I’m a guy, and I have a tendency to think that I have this little kingdom, and every guy here is that way. I don’t have a kingdom. It’s not my kingdom. Everything is God’s. If you want the lights to come on, if you want your life to have meaning and purpose, if you want to mark people, your family, your spouse like you’ve never seen, you get in on God’s currency, on this flow. You’ll not believe the faith adventure that will occur.

The Bible continues in this prayer. David says, (1 Chronicles 29:15) “We’re foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all of our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow without a home.” Your life is gone. My life is gone. We only have a few times, church, to gather together and do something so significant, so powerful, so amazing that it’s just a thing of God, and I’m talking about where we are right now.

It’s our goal in fact, are at a point where we need $40 million that we don’t have to buy this campus in Frisco, the fastest growing county I think in America. That’s what they tell me. To retrofit and to update every one of our campuses, to build other cabins and other facilities at Allaso Ranch, it’s going to take about $40 million to do it. Here’s the good news. We have the money. Oh, yeah. We have the money. Now, you’ve not brought the money yet, but we have it. There’s no doubt, because I talked to an expert who did a wealth analysis. This is scary, I’m telling you, what we can find out about people, and we have more than enough to easily do 40 million. But this is going to take everybody everywhere engaging in eternity.

If you think this message is about stuff, you are totally missing it. You think God needs your stuff? Are you kidding me? It’s not about that. It’s about a heart issue. Yet, our heart and treasure are tethered together. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is.”

My father pastors, you know this, many of you do, but if you’re here for the first time, you don’t, one of the largest churches in America. It’s been a massive church for, I don’t know, 20, 30 years. Growing up, I can’t tell you how many times I heard dad say this. Someone would complain, because you know people complain. I understand. Someone would write a negative letter. Dad would always say, “Check their giving. Check their giving. I guarantee it, they don’t give a thing.” Every single time, that’s true.

I’ve had people in the past come up to me and go, “Oh, well I give at Fellowship Church, and I’ve got a problem!” Let me check your giving and I’ll come back and go, “Hey, my man, you’ve not given enough money to buy a doorknob on the front of our worship center. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?”

There’s something joyful, there’s something exhilarating about being generous. I’ll say it again. God owns all the stuff! Some of you might not believe it until you die.

Number two, God has given all of us our stuff. Number three, we manage our stuff, and I’m going to be held accountable regarding what I did with God’s stuff. I’m a UPS boy. You’re a UPS boy. You’re a UPS girl. You’re the middleman. What are you doing with your stuff?

It’s going to take everybody. I don’t care if you’re on welfare or a billionaire, it’s going to take everybody to do this, and this spiritual journey will deepen our heart and give us this intense relationship like we’ve never, ever, ever seen before. David says in this prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:17, he says, “I know, my God, that you test the heart.” Every time I’m paid every time you’re paid, it’s just a test. It’s a test.

People sometimes tell me, “I’m just not sure that, I have the faith, you know?” Yet they’ll have all this faith in investing, or faith in the stock market, or faith in a real estate deal. Yet we don’t trust God. It’s just interesting, this whole thing, greed.

That’s a sin that I’ve never admitted to, greed, and you haven’t either. Don’t look at me like … No, no, no. You won’t tell me you’re greedy. You’ll tell me you’re lustful. You’ll tell me you deal with anger. You’ll tell me you’re gluttonous, even prideful, but I’ve never heard a person never say, “I’m greedy.” So interesting, isn’t it?

I know some people who don’t have much who are greedier than someone I know in another state that has a Super Yacht and a Boeing Business Jet. I also know some people who have a lot of stuff who are very wealthy who are greedy, and I know people that don’t have very much who aren’t. But whenever you have that hesitation, “Wow, that’s a lot of money,” you’re dealing with greed.

When you’re generous with it, it releases in my life the grip of greed, and that’s where I have freedom, because I’m telling you, there’s such a freedom. It sounds so simple, but it’s so deep. God, you own it all. Think about that. Marinate on that. You’ve given me everything. I’m here as a manager. What are you doing with your stuff?

We’re going to give over the next 21 days. Number two, we’re going to pray. I’ve listed a prayer from the Message Bible, and I’m going to challenge you to pray this prayer that I’m going to read to you at 10:27 AM every day. I said, what, 10-27.

You’re thinking, “Ed, why 10:27?” Mark 10:27, let’s read it together. “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” He makes the impossible possible, because with God it’s him-possible. 10:27 AM, we’re going to pray this prayer, and this prayer is going to be on your app. What’s an app? Well, if you have a phone, like a cellular phone, right, just go to the app store and type in Fellowship Church, click on get. It’s free of charge. We’re going to have this prayer, and here’s the prayer. Listen to this prayer. Let’s put it up right here.

It says, “But me.” This is David praying out of 1 Chronicles 29:14,16, “Who am I… that we should presume to be giving something to you?” I mean, what? Everything is yours. “Everything comes from you. All we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand.”

“God, all these materials.” What? Let’s read that. What? This is in the Bible. “God, all these materials…” Ed, you’ve got to be kidding me. Let’s read it together. One, two, three. “…these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you…” Man, how powerful is that? “…honoring your Holy Name – it all came from you. It was all yours in the first place! I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface. You want us…” See, here’s the deal. “…our true selves – and so, I have given from the heart honestly and happily.”

Jesus said in Matthew 6 when you give, when you pray, when you fast. Simple question, what are you doing with your stuff? God owns all the stuff. We’ve been given all the stuff, and we manage all the stuff.

Lord Jesus, thank you for this message that we all need to hear. I thank you for being so direct, and so loving, and so generous, God, that you have given it all. Father, I thank you for so many lives here that understand this fact and directive. I pray, God, over the next 21 days during this spiritual journey as we give, as we pray, and as we fast, that just amazing things happen in our heart of hearts. We ask all these things in Jesus’ name, amen. Amen.