You Say You Want A New Year’s Revolution
January 15, 2017
By Ed Young
To experience a revolution in our lives, we must first understand who we are created to be. But it goes far beyond knowledge. We must put that knowledge into action.
Pastor Ed Young builds on the first message from this series and shows us in this message how our God-given identity opens up to experience God-driven change. It’s not just about knowing who we are in Christ; it’s about reaching our full capacity in what He has created us to do!
Well we’ll hear it today over and over. That’s right. When we watch this amazing game, when we see the Cowboys play, well hear this phrase time and time again. Football is a game of inches. Let me say it again, we’ll hear it, and it’s so true. Football is a game of inches. I would argue based on Scripture that being a Christian, living the life that God has for us is a game of inches, a game of inches.
I want to welcome everyone to Fellowship, one church in multiple locations. Last time we kicked off a brand new series and a brand new campus in Celina/Prosper. Both services were jam-packed and they tell us we had nearly 800 people. So man, I’m so, so excited. Also, too, for our prison campuses. I’m gonna talk a little bit today in this message about prison because the apostle Paul wrote the text we’re going to read from prison. And we’ll discuss that in a little while. Also I want to say hi to all our other campuses, whether they’re in Dallas, Fort Worth, Keller, where else? Southlake, Dallas, Miami, yeah all over the place. And also those who are watching online, welcome to Fellowship. Welcome to Fellowship.
It’s very interesting that we’re talking about the fact that Christianity is a game of inches because the apostle Paul wrote the greatest e-mail in the history of the world. That e-mail was a letter to the church at Ephesus. It’s called Ephesians. Paul was writing from prison and what was so cool about Paul was the fact that he was in prison, but notice his identity was in Christ. He sent this letter to a church he had started years earlier with a purpose of encouragement, with a purpose of its readers clicking onto the e-mail and discovering their identity. Paul wanted basically for the church to know how wealthy they were. So, you might not realize this or understand this. If you are a follower of Christ, I’m gonna say it right here, you’re banking. You’re wealthy. You’re rich. Last time we talked about our portfolio. All we have to do is peruse our portfolio and it should cause us to go, “Dang! I am wealthy! Man, I am rich!” That’s why Paul wrote this letter of encouragement, also of engagement, also to show and to tell all the believers that they were rich.
Interestingly enough, this letter was circulated to a number of church in the area. One church in many location, even 2,000 years ago. So this letter, this anointed e-mail, was read to churches all over the place. Thankfully we have technology and right now while I’m speaking, I’m talking to a lot of people in a lot of different locations. So really, what we’re doing is old school. It’s like New Testament old school.
But let me bring you back to what I said earlier. Christianity, like football, is a game of inches. It’s one thing to have it in your head. It’s one thing to have it in your brain. It’s one thing to have it as your IQ. It’s one thing to have this biblical knowledge <garbling>. It’s great to know that. But we’ve gotta move this <garbling> , 12-14 inches into our <heartbeat> hearts. So that’s the sermon in a sentence. How do we move it from head knowledge – I’m talking about Christianity,- to heart knowledge? How do we put shoe leather beneath the word? How do we live out the greatest life in the Universe, this life walking in concert with Christ?
So Paul says don’t miss it! Grasp it now wherever you are, whatever stage or age you find yourself in, make sure to understand what it means to become a Christian and to be a Christian in your head. Understand doctrine, but you’ve got to allow it to captivate your heart, your inner man. You’ve got to allow it to become who you are as you live and walk and talk. And that’s one of the challenging things of Christianity. Every time we open the Bible we should pray this pray: God, speak to me. God, what do you have to say to me? You should pray that prayer every time you walk into Fellowship, here or in one of our many different locations. Or, maybe you’re watching online, you’re over in Europe somewhere. Or maybe you’re in Asia, whatever. Before you log on you should say, “God, you have me here for a reason. Speak to my heart.”
Often in my travels and conversations with Christians they’ll say, “You know, I’m kinda dull. I don’t feel like my life with Christ is really exploding, is really going where it should.” And more often than not they have a heart issue. They’re not saying from the bottom of their heart, “Lord, speak to me. Open my mind. Open my heart so I can live it out.” That’s what Paul was saying.
So last time we discovered our identity. We discovered our identity is in the Trinity. Say it with me. Our identity is in the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. They say, because they are one and also separate, three in one, one in three. Something we’ll never quite comprehend. The Trinity tells you and me that we’re chosen before the foundation of the world, that we’re one of a kind, that we’re unique, that we’re forgiven, that we’re redeemed, that our eternity is locked, that our life is amazing. It’s not amazingly simple or not easy or not problem-free, but our life has a purpose beyond this world. So once we peruse our portfolio, once we know the facts, then we can live it out by faith.
Two things I want you to consider when I talk about being rich, because some of you are like, I’m rich? Are you kidding me? Yeah, yeah, you’re really rich. I’m talking about spiritually rich. #1 – you might want to jot these down – we have an inheritance in Christ. We have an inheritance in Christ. When I become a follower of Jesus I can tap into the amazing riches that he has for me. And so often we don’t realize who we are. We think, oh, here’s my ID. Here’s my Social. No, no, it’s much more than that. Our true identity is found in the Trinity, and understand that we have an inheritance in Christ, so we draw on him. In other words, you’re living your life, you’re doing life. And we’re going to find out even the mundane is miraculous. We have an opportunity to draw on Jesus. But here’s the second thing I want to tell you that you need to understand before we delve into this little outline today. We ARE an inheritance of Christ. So first of all we have an inheritance in Christ, and we draw on him. But notice too, we are an inheritance of Christ, and he draws on us.
Wait a minute. You’re telling me I am part of Jesus Christ’s inheritance? Yes, the Bible says this. So that means whatever I’m doing, whatever you’re doing, God has you there, God has me there, for a reason. And we can become, as it attacks our minds and heart, we can become in any situation the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears, the taste, and the smell of Jesus. Isn’t that awesome to think about? So you can’t say, well, if I lived in a better neighborhood, or went to a different school… I mean, you can say that. Or if I did this, or if I was married to him or her, or if I was from that family, or if I had that education… No, no, no. We really can’t say that. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be goal oriented. What I’m saying to you, based on Scripture that is, God has you where you are for a reason. So wake up, smell the coffee, get it in your mind and make sure it travels the 12-14 inches to your heart so you can live it out and you can go, wow. Jesus, I’m drawing on him, but Jesus is drawing on me!
That’s why the better we know Jesus, the better we know ourselves. Let me say that again. The better I know the Lord, the better I know myself. We talk so often about being self-aware. We’ll say, “Oh, that person is totally self-unaware. They’re clueless. It’s a spiritual issue. Those are the deepest issues out there. So let’s jump into Paul, because Paul tells us how to have some handles in the Christian life.
The first thing I want you to notice is our incredible identity. Let me read Ephesians 1:15-17. So this letter, once again, was written to the Christians to the church at Ephesus. It was a circular letter. Ephesus was the bank of Asia. Again, you talk about people. Oh man, she’s banking. He’s banking. Well, Paul is using Ephesus, this wealthy city, as an illustration to say hey, are you in Christ? You’re banking, man. You’re banking!
“For this reason our identity (verse 15), having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints…” Faith and love. You might want to highlight those. If you’re reading, maybe just underline those, faith and love. Those are the two major players in the Christian life. One of the texts that Fellowship Church is founded on, Matthew 22, Jesus said these words. “Love God with the totality of who you are, then love your neighbor as yourself.” In fact, they asked Jesus, what is the net effect of what you’re talking about? Love God, love others.
Think about the cross. You’ve got the vertical aspect of the cross, God. And you have the horizontal aspect of the cross, others. So you show me your faith. Hey man, show me your love. Show me your real love, show me your faith. They go hand in hand. We’re saved by grace through faith, we understand that, but Jesus recognizes his followers by our love. They will know they are Christians (I sang as a little kid) by our love. And here is Paul’s prayer. So Paul’s praying. This is one of Paul’s prison prayers. He had several prison prayers. So he’s not again doing the Johnny Cash thing, “Stuck in Folsom Prison as the time keeps draggin’ on…”
ILLUS: I’ve told you this before but let me name drop again. When Johnny Cash was in his prime I sat on a stage and he was 5 feet away from me singing Folsom Prison Blues. I was in the Superdome and again, #humbled, Johnny Cash was there. To my left was President George Bush. That was in another life but it was crazy. The only reason I was there was because my father put the whole gig on. It’s not that I was important or anything, he just allowed me to sit on stage. I didn’t realize it. I was such an idiot back then. I’m like, yeah. Johnny Cash. I mean, Johnny Cash! Johnny Cash!
So, Paul was not, like, singing the blues. He wasn’t singing some song about Folsom Prison like Johnny Cash sang so beautifully, might I add. He was like, yeah I’m in prison but I’m in Christ. Paul is praying for the Ephesians. And his prayers aren’t general. Sometimes I mess up. I will just kinda do a blanket prayer. He didn’t say, “Lord, bless the Ephesians. Amen.” No, he was specific. When it comes to prayer, when we’re specific we’ll be prolific. Paul said, “I don’t cease giving thanks for you.” So again, think about the backdrop. He’s talking about the content in the first 14 verses, we talked about that last time, that long run-on sentence in the Koine Greek.
Now he’s into the convo. So the content to the convo. Now he’s giving us handles. He’s saying, “I do not cease giving thanks for you while making mention of you specifically in my prayers.” See? A game of inches. It’s going now to the heart. He’s talked about the head knowledge that we’ve got to have, don’t get me wrong. We need to study the Bible. We live right here in the land of the Bible study. Do we not? People call this. I’m not sure it’s that way anymore but people call this the belt buckle of the Bible belt. I think it is in a way, and I’m talking about Dallas/Fort Worth, and in a way it’s not. Over the last 10 years we’ve had some demographic shifts and it’s a little bit different. But, everybody and their iguana seems to be involved in a Bible study. I love Bible study. We’ve got to study the Bible, but rarely do we allow the Bible to study us. So, again, we can have all of this <garbled> all the facts, you know? All the doctrine, all the theology, but it’s gotta move from there to <heartbeat> our heart. And that’s what Paul is praying for.
“I don’t cease giving thanks for you while making mention of you in my prayers (look at verse 17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ (that’s who Jesus prayed to, correct?) the father of glory.”
What does glory mean? People say, “I want to live for the glory of God. It’s about the glory of God. I want to glorify God.” You might have heard that. What does it mean, glory? You might want to jot this down. Glory is living not for my name, not for my fame, but for his name, God’s name, and his fame. That’s the glory of God. So everything I do, say, touch, and feel should be about pleasing God, making his name famous. That’s why we’re here and that’s what it means to glorify God.
“So the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, might give to you a spirit of wisdom.”
Wisdom, I like that. We need wisdom, do we not? So the beginning of wisdom obviously is knowing God. I said earlier. I said it for a reason. The better I know Jesus, the better I know myself. The better I know Jesus, the better I have wisdom. I have that common sense, which quite frankly is uncommon. Wisdom. What is wisdom. Here’s another definition: understanding life from God’s perspective. I see life from God’s perspective. That’s wisdom. When I do that, if you’re single and you’re dating, you see it from God’s perspective, that’s on a whole ‘notha level. You’re married and you see the marriage from God’s perspective, whole ‘notha level. You steward your finances from God’s perspective, whole ‘notha level. You have that conversation with a friend from God’s perspective, whole ‘notha level. You’ve got wisdom.
I know people who are so smart, who have so much wisdom, worldly wisdom, man-centered wisdom, yet they don’t really have it. What is it? It is not just it, it is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, who gives us wisdom. Because man-centered wisdom goes something like this: I feel… You know in my opinion… I read this article and this guy said… That’s go with just your heart. No, no. That’s man-centered wisdom. God-centered wisdom is, “God, everything is from your perspective.”
ILLUS: I will never forget when I got my first pair of glasses. You know, I am nearsighted. I had LASIK years ago. A friend of mine, in fact, a brilliant surgeon, he performed LASIK for me for free-99 (ya gotta love free) and while he was performing LASIK, the LASIK machine broke and it really concerned him. He was right in the middle of the cut and I was freaking out. It did work, though. However, the first time I got glasses I was like,
“Mom, I know something’s wrong. I just can’t really see. I can’t really see well.” So we got my eyes checked and everything. So I put these glasses on. They were super goofy but I was so happy to have them. When I put the glasses on, my mother and I walk out of the little store, and I looked and I said, “Mom! I can see the leaves on the trees!” That was an epiphany! That was a defining moment!
How do you live your life? God’s glasses. I can see the leaves on the trees! I can see the leaves on the trees in my friendships and in my family and at work and at school with my teammates. God’s perspective. Do you pray for that? God, speak to me. Do you pray for others at Fellowship Church. God, speak to them. Do you pray for the thousands of children in children’s church? God, speak to them. Illuminate their lives. Not just head knowledge, I don’t care if someone can parrot back facts, how about faith? How about living the life? We should be a church that prays for ourselves, we pray for one another, we pray regularly. God, you have a word for me. Speak to me. And also pray that over everybody at Fellowship Church. Man, what would happen? So that’s our identity. He’s just praying, I want you guys to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation and the knowledge of him.
All right, here’s the second thing. We’re moving along quickly now, our incredible identity. But notice the second thing. Our colossal, that’s right, colossal, or you might say our crazy capacity. We have crazy capacity as a follower of Christ. You might not realize it but you do. I love the word capacity, because capacity is the maximum amount something can hold. We talk about capacity all the time and the reason we talk about it so much is because of Starbucks. What do we do? What do we do? “I will have a tall, grande, vente. Tall, grande, vente.” When we say those words, what are we saying? Capacity, capacity, capacity. There’s a capacity for the tall, capacity for the grande, and capacity for the vente. We have crazy, colossal capacity. Ed, what are you talking about? Well, let’s let the apostle Paul tell us.
Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened (here we go, illumination) so that you will know what is the hope of his calling.”
Now this hope is not like fingers crossed. No, no. It’s Godfidence, man. The hope of his calling. God has a calling for your life. His calling is amazing. When you think about God, because again we’re finite, he’s infinite, he deals with us in the future tense.
Gideon, a mighty warrior. He became a mighty warrior. Here’s what God told him, “Gideon, you’re gonna be the man, Gideon!” and he was shaking in his boots. He was scared. He was hiding. “Gideon, you’re gonna be the man!” and I’m sure everybody was like, “Pffffth! Gideon? Are you kidding me?” Read about him, an amazing guy.
Simon Peter. Simon Peter, he was here, he was there, floundering. He’s cursing one moment, praising God the next. Jesus looked at this type A personality and said, “I’ve got a nickname for you… the Rock!” Not this, wrong rock. No, I’m talking about the rock. Simon Peter, and I know his posse, his squad, they like did the eye roll like, “Oh wow, Jesus. That’s a little much. Calling this guy, this unstable guy, the rock?” Read about Simon Peter. You talk about a foundation? What’s Christ’s nickname for you? I bet he has one and it’s awesome.
“So I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened that you’ll know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches…” There’s the word again. Riches, we’re rich. I will say it again. We’re wealthy, we’re banking. Check out your portfolio. “…what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance (we’ve studied that already) in the saints.”
I had this jotted down in my margin, and I’ve really thought about this a lot. Truth known never changes anybody, it’s all about truth done. Truth done. So we’ve got an incredible identity, right? Say identity. You sound very excited about that. Our crazy capacity. Say capacity. Go Cowboys! Anyway, that got them fired up. We have enormous energy, enormous what? Energy! Oh, we’ve got power, man! Power!
You know, back when I went to high school this was the popular phrase. All the cool people said this. You’d come up to somebody and they’d go, “What it is?” I love that phrase. That’s like how’re you doing? And probably, I was thinking about this, this phrase kind of drives me crazy. “You know it is what it is.” I bet we got “it is what it is” from “what it is.” Let’s bring that back. You see someone… “What it is?” That’s what Paul is saying. What it is? What it is? Your identity is in the Trinity. What it is? But I don’t think he said it is what it is. Energy, energy. Well, I guess energy, you know what? The energy of God, it is what it is. I take back that comment. It is what it is.
Now this is cool. I’m gonna run through this very, very quickly, give you a quick Koine Greek lesson. Are you ready to learn some Greek? And again, you were probably thinking about this when you made your way to Fellowship today. You were like, man, I didn’t realize four out of the six Greek words for power were used in Ephesians 1:19, man I hope Ed breaks that down. I really want to understand that! But I’m telling you, let’s check it out, Ephesians 1:19.
So Paul is going, he’s praying, he’s coaching, he’s encouraging. This is an anointed e-mail. You’re rich, right? The portfolio. Now here’s your purpose. He’s praying, “and what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward (who?) us!”
Now, I’ve got to tell you a story about what happened at Dairy Queen Thursday night. Remind me. If I get off into Greek and I forget to tell you, please let me tell you what happened at Dairy Queen. I thought it was, I don’t know. I thought it was fun.
“And what is the surpassing greatness of his (what?) power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of his might.”
Four of the six Greek words for power. We need to know these words because we need to know our power.
The first one is dunamis. We get the word dynamite from it. That’s Jimmy Walker. The inherent power of God, that’s what it means, dunamis. The inherent power of God. You have that, I have that.
#2 – energeia. The supernatural working of God. We work out what God has supernaturally worked in. We don’t have just power. We don’t have some kind of just Anthony Robbins personal power. No, no, no. We’ve got the supernatural power of God, energeia. Energeia.
Then we have kratos. What’s that? That’s the third Greek word. You were probably thinking about kratos last week. The force and strength of God, and that’s strong. The force and strength of God.
Then ischus is the ability and might. We have that kind of power on tap in our lives. When it moves from head knowledge to heart knowledge, we can walk with that kind of power. Like what do you mean? What do you mean, that kind of power?
Verse 20, “…which he brought about in Christ.” So you’ve got the description of the power, now you’ve got the demonstration of the power. Paul’s saying, “I’m talking about the power that brought Jesus back from the grave.” <singing> Here comes the Son….” Oh yeah. Here comes the Son. Is that what happened? He died, he rose again, he ascended, he’s seated beside the father. Guess what? You and me are right there with him. We’re right there with him!
So why? You know, the power raising Jesus from the dead, two things. #1 – payment for sin. #2 – death defeated. So “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Don’t waste your wealth.
ILLUS: Dairy Queen! I didn’t forget. Thursday night I’m with some friends and one of my friends said,
“Oh man, I sure would like a hot fudge sundae from Dairy Queen. So sure enough, we drove and found the Dairy Queen and you know I love Dairy Queen, I do. And I wanted a chocolate malt. We pull up and a very rude person. <over microphone sound effect>
“Welcome to Dairy Queen, can I help you?” so I order and you know I always play a joke. I didn’t do it this time, but I love to do this at Dairy Queen for some reason. I’ll go something like this,
“Yeah, do you have hunger busters?”
“I’d like a hunger buster.” And then the lady will go,
“Would you like something to drink with that?” I said,
“Yes, I will have an ice-cold <laughter> coke!” I do that. And then I will drive around to pay for it and it’s funny to see the expressions on the people’s faces. I only do it at Dairy Queen. Anyway, I did not do that here.
So we’re driving up and so I order a couple things and this woman, I’m talking is rude, like mean.
“I can’t understand you. Just drive to the window.” And I’m thinking to myself, man, I want to <squeaking> open up a can. You know what I’m saying? I mean, like that rude. So we pull up the window. She’s, like, glaring. I said,
“Well, we have some more people here…” and we order some different things. So you know. I wanted to say,
“Ma’am, I want to talk to your manager.” And I wanted to look at the manager and say,
“You know, I would not have someone like that working at a restaurant,” but I didn’t. I thought about it. Then I thought about how things that are so mundane can turn into the miraculous. Because I’ve been reading Ephesians 1 every day, and that’s your homework. I really felt the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve never heard an audible voice. People say, “God talked to me.” I’ve never heard an audible voice. I’m not that good. Yet, so often when God deals with us, when he speaks to us, it’s more profound than words. And I just felt the Holy Spirit say just be nice. This lady has probably had a brutal day. I mean, she looks… who knows what she was going through. So I just started talking to her a little bit. She was still rude.
“Yeah. I don’t know.” I said,
“You know, I love Dairy Queen.”
“Really?” I said,
“Do you take tips?”
“Yeah.” I said,
“You know what? I want to bless you. Here you go.”
“Huh. Well, thanks. I appreciate that. You know, I know I was rude. I’m sorry.” So then we start talking and she got one order wrong, put the wrong kind of nuts on the hot fudge sundae and we had to send that back. She started smiling. And then it just kind of flowed. I had some invites with me to Fellowship. Always carry invites with you. Always carry invites with you. So I said,
“Hey, I want to invite you to Fellowship.”
“Is that a cult?”
“No! It’s not a cult! We’re a Christian church. Look us up online.”
“OK, OK. Thank you.” And she was so kind. And I drove away. I was like… hmmm. Thank you, Lord.
So even in the mundane we have opportunities to serve our spouse, to open the door for someone instead of always walking through first. To like and to encourage someone through social media, to complement a person in the office, a sincere one that you just <grrr!> don’t really like. That’s what the apostle Paul is driving at. Small things are big things. Big things are small things. And we have an opportunity, do we not? To change the world.
ILLUS: I was looking online about New Year’s resolutions and they’re really funny, some of them. Kind of depressing, too, only 8% of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. And then I was talking to a friend about it and he said,
“Have you seen this new study?” All these new studies come out in January. The average lifespan is now 78.8 years. So we average, I mean that’s pretty old, 78.8. That is. It’s pretty good. So we have that opportunity to do so. And then my friend was telling me about another thing he saw where a writer had compared age to the days of the week. So check this out. And find your age. If you’re on Sunday, you’re birth through 11. Maybe you’re a Monday, all right, Monday! You’re 12-22. Tuesday, I’m 23-33. Wednesday is 34-44. Thursday is 45-55, ouch. Friday, 56-66. Saturday, that should be encouraging.
Also, it should be a wakeup call, like whoa! Man, that puts it into perspective! Now is the time for you to get this stuff. Now is the time for you to understand your incredible identity, your colossal capacity, your enormous energy so you can be the hands and the feet of Jesus. So you can be about that journey moving from the head to the heart. Because it’s a game of inches. Let’s pray.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]