Before becoming a Christ follower, no one really gives you the 4-1-1 on the reality of temptation; the fact that the temperature of temptation ratchets up the moment you are reborn into the family of God. However, we must understand, (this would make a great tweet) God tests us to make us strong and the devil tempts us to make us wrong. Therefore, temptation is a process, not an event. It does not merely fabricate itself out of nowhere. What do you do when temptation strikes? Are you in the midst of it right now?
In the face of all the hypocrisy, rebellion, chicanery, and paganism Daniel remained faithful to God. Despite the danger, he courageously prayed to God and maintained integrity. He easily could have said, “Ok, I’m just going to cool the jets and only pray at night in the cover of darkness”. But he didn’t! He still prayed several times a day. Eventually the group witnessed Daniel on his knees praying to God—busted! “Then they said to the king, ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the decree you put into writing. He still prays three times a day.’” (Verse 13) The palace plotters, delighted with themselves, wasted no time throwing God’s man into the lion’s den and placed a stone over the opening. How horrific! I would bet one of the lions looked at him and said, “Welcome to the jungle. We’ve got fun and games!” It was not fun, but Daniel did have some game because he loved the Lord and lived righteously. He trusted God for deliverance. And due to his great faith, God sent a messenger to shut the mouths of the lions. Many believe the messenger was the preincarnate Christ! When mob madness strikes and the naysayers unjustly throw us into the lion’s den of life, they fail to realize we are under God’s protection, and they too will become lion bait. When we live for the Lord, when we are courageous, when we are Daniel, He will guide us through the lion’s den and we will emerge unscathed.
Crazy people are everywhere….at the grocery store, on the athletic field, in school, at the office, on highways, in the neighborhood, and even sometimes at church. We are often surrounded by people who do and say crazy things. Note: I’m not referring to the mentally ill or those with a chemical imbalance. I’m referring to people who are whack—loco—and wheels off. How do you confront and cope with the crazies? Do you just grin and bear it? Or, do you simply cut them from the herd of your life? The New Testament talks a lot about our very real enemy, the Devil, who is constantly scheming and plotting against us. He strategically places a collection of crazy people all around us, and if we aren’t careful they can stagnate and stymie our lives. We spend too much time with the crazies and not enough time with the normal people in our lives. Our “normal” friends are receptive to us and celebrate us. They encourage us and aren’t afraid to speak God’s truth. The lion’s share of our time should be spent with normal people. But here’s the stress of the situation—how do we spend the majority of our time with them when the crazies are vying for our attention? The enemy wants us to waste decades spending time counseling and encouraging the crazies in person, online, and on the phone. Here’s the bottom line: Twenty years from now most of them will still be crazy, if not crazier, because they aren’t aware of their craziness. However, we cannot simply dismiss them, no—we confront them.
Glasser said the key to joy is relationships. Frankel claimed it was about purpose. Betelheim said hope brings joy. I agree with all three theories. I think these men have served humanity well, but they have all fallen short in a major area. They have identified the problem yet have failed to provide a solution. They stopped short of explaining the origin of joy and how to obtain it. There is one more expert we need to examine. What does this authority have to say on the subject of joy? He understands joy because it is woven into the very fabric and framework of His being. What does God, Author and Creator of life, say about joy?
God created us to be relational beings. The original relationship is the holy Trinity—God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. He created us to love us. Love must have an object and we are the object of His love. The Bible tells us to love God and love others. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” I Thessalonians 5:11 states, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” Relationships are directly related to joy. We were also created to live purpose-driven lives. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and live according to His purpose.” And, Ecclesiastes 12:13 states, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Therefore, we must have purpose but our purpose must be God-given and God-driven. Thus, it is our duty to fulfill our set purpose for God’s glory. Because of God’s love we have hope, not only on earth but in eternity. As sinners we were separated from our holy God. But, He loved us enough to reconcile us to Him through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By faith in the Son we have received justification and been declared righteous before the Father. From this hope we are joyful in all circumstances.
Romans 15:13 is an all-encompassing, broad-based, and God-breathed statement addressed to all believers: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” It is God’s priority to produce joy in our lives and He is totally committed to carrying out this work. In fact, C.S. Lewis wrote: “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” How great is that?
An Intensive Healing Ministry
We don’t bring people on stage and whack them on the head. We do it in a biblical way. It is headed up by Owen Goff. If someone is sick, if someone is in trouble, they call Owen. He has a team of elders who come in, and we have healing services. We do the whole nine yards of laying hands on the person, anointing them with oil, and God has done some phenomenal things.
For more inspiring sermon series from Pastor Ed Young, visit this site http://edyoung.net
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This man came to Christ at the right time. He also came to Christ with the right posture. He was doing the Donovan Bailey thing, he ran to him, knelt before him. He had the morals and manners but he knew that there was something out of whack. He knew that he had something that wasn’t fulfilling about his life, so he came with the right posture.
He also went to the right person, didn’t he? Us about Jesus. God, in flesh. The Messiah. The Son of God. The lifechanger. The one who could give him eternity. He came to the right person. He also was a man who lived the right lifestyle. He probably coached Israeli soccer, gave to the United Way, attended the temple as much as possible. He was a guy you would like. He was a guy you would like your daughter to date. He was rich, he was young, he was a ruler. Hey, hey, hey. He would be really popular in a singles area here in our church.
He also did something else right. He asked the right questions. You know, we have got to ask the right questions. He ran, he hit his knees and asked, “Jesus, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? At the feet of Jesus, he asks a question. But, from this question, we can see that this young man had a superficial view of spiritual things. Here is where the wheels start to fall off. He thought that he could earn his way into heaven. That idea was very popular during that day, especially in the Jewish mind and in the Jewish culture. They thought that if they kept all the given rules and regulations, jumped through this hoop and that hoop, that one day such action would merit them eternity. People think the same thing today, don’t they? People believe that God is sitting up in heaven with His giant cosmic ledger sheet, checking off our good deeds and bad deeds. They think that at the end of our lives, if we are in the black instead of in the red, spiritually speaking, He will kind tussle our hair and say, “Welcome to eternity. You performed your way in. Come on in. Here are the streets of gold. There is your mansion.” Yet the Bible says that we are not saved by works. Defined religion is a do thing. Christianity is a done thing. I don’t deserve spending eternity with Christ, nor do you, nor does anyone on the planet. But, if we bow the knee and turn to Christ and receive Him, that is all that it takes.
Every great man or woman of God I have ever known has struggled before with the doubt issue, with the thought of quitting.
Dedo Mitchell: Well, our Home Team first found out that Pam had a need. We knew that she was ill. We just wanted to be able to do something. We found out that she wanted to have somebody just to come and visit her. So our Home Team decided that a great thing for us to do is to just take some women everyday of the week, one day a week, and just go over and read and just visit with her. We joke and laugh a lot, give facials, paint nails.
Debby Wade: I think God just spoke to my heart to be there. There is something to be gained in this but you can also do some giving. It was amazing how I would speak to the women and they would just talk about the way Pam had blessed their life. To see the desire and the pleasure on her face, it’s just a wonderful blessing, a real neat experience.
Dedo: Every time I call Mark, he is here in an instant. I mean, if we have ever needed him when I have been here, he talks to me, asks me if there is a problem, what he needs to do and then he is here.
Ed: I will never forget the time, Mark, when I was fortunate enough to participate in your son’s baptism. Pam could not come up to the church due to her physical limitations, so we baptized out in your swimming pool and they wheeled Pam out there.
Last night I met a friend of mine from this church who does extremely well financially. He is one of the most generous people I know.
What the Bible says about itself in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching (that means what is right) for reproof (that means what is not right) or correction (that’s how to get right) and for training and righteousness (that’s how to stay right).)
Now, I want you to do a little exercise for me. On the count of three I want you to breathe out. Don’t turn to your neighbor because you probably have coffee breath, but I want you to do it for me. Are you ready? One, two, three, (exhale). The Bible says, I’ll read it again, 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is (exhaling) inspired by God.
The word inspired in the Greek is “theopneustos,” which means God breathed. Now sometimes I have bad breath. I’ll just confess it right here. And when I have bad breath and I’m not near a restroom where I can brush my teeth, do you know what I’ll do? I’ll just pop an Altoid. Every time I taste an Altoid, I say to myself, “Mmm, curiously strong.”
God doesn’t need an Altoid. God does not have bad breath. The Bible is (exhale), God breathed. God used the personalities and the world views of 40 different authors, man and women, on four different continents, over fourteen hundred years to write the book. This book has been scrutinized, it’s been picked apart, and it’s still the best seller. The Bible is the word of God. It comes from God. It reflects his character and his nature. It’s his revelation to us.
Let’s say for example, hypothetical situation, let’s just say that you went to see the Dallas Stars play. And let’s just say that you had the best seat in the house. You’re sitting back, living large, watching this hockey team play. Let’s say that you decide to have a cheat day on your diet. You order an ice cold Coco-Cola.
I know some here who have a real heart for generosity. And I want to just stop here and thank the Fellowship Church for something.
Just your team. According to Ed Young Blog that you’ve got multiple weeks that you can invite someone in but do it alone. See we mess up; we try to double date all the time or bring other couples in to this spouse vacation; other families, come on, come on, come on into our family outing vacation. Do it alone. Do it alone. You reconnect and get to know. Well, man, I don’t know what to say to my spouse. I, I, don’t know what to say to my kids. Just try it! And don’t get hung up on the place. I don’t care if it’s in Corsicana or the Caribbean. In Plano or Paris. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.
There’s some vacation vandals though out there. VOOOM! They’ll come up behind you and take you out. They’ll rob you of the stuff. Like the desperation vacation. A lot of people wait until they’re totally fried. Oh, I’m fried man. I can’t go another day at the office. I gotta have a vacation. Please, please I’m – don’t do that! It will take you three months and two years of counseling to get over where you are right now. (audience laughter) Plan it and stay with it. Another vacation vandal. The regimentation vacation. We wake up at 7:31 a.m. and we go down to the lobby, drink hot coco and cheerios; 8:10 we go on a tour (audience laughter); because at 11:15 we got a horseback ride. (audience laughter) (Ed Young gestures) Hi, Ho Silver! Away! Because at 4:00 we go parasailing. MOMMY! (Ed Young Ministries gesturing) UGH! The regimentation vacation! Talk about wearing you out! It’s fine to do stuff and to have activities, but lets just chill and have a balance. Then we have the perfection vacation. It’s gotta be perfect! It’s gotta be perfect man! Perfect place. Perfect combinations. Perfect trial. Perfect. It’s not going to be perfect. My family and I have had an incredible opportunity to travel to some cool places. Been to Hawaii several times. Been to the Bahamas. And California; and New York, and that stuff is cool and all that, but you talk to our kids about their favorite memories; you talk to them about the magical times; it’s not on the beach; on Green Turtle Key. It’s not in Maui; it’s not in, in, in, ugh, Pebble Beach. You know what their best trips are?
Sometimes the husband will try to coerce and even shame his morning spouse into flying into his time zone. “Come to my time zone. That is when I am alert. That is when I am hitting on all cylinders.”
And right before my senior year, my father walks in says, “Ed, Ben, JoBeth, we’re moving to Houston”. Well, I lived in South Carolina at the time, a thousand and three miles away from Houston, Texas and I’ll never forget driving with my parents that long journey to Houston, thinking, “Oh, it’s over, my love, Lisa, is back there at that high school”. One of those guys flirting with her. I began to cry. I was upset. There was no doubt about it. I had elevated Lisa, a person, to the number one priority in my life. And God gave me a wake-up call. And that was a crisis because God gives us a crisis too in the Christian’s life. He said, “Pastor Ed Young, not a person, not a possession, not a pleasure, should ever take top priority. That position is only for me because when I’m in that position, that’s when your life is going to click. It’s going to cruise”. Because Satan wants all of us here to snooze, but God wants us to cruise like a Lamborghini. So don’t ever sit back and say, “Well, the Christian life will make me into some kind of spiritual snoozer or just kind of calm me down”. Just the opposite is true. If you know the resurrection power, you’re talking about excitement, adventure, challenge, fun! You’re gonna be in on it! If your life is very predictable, blase, I want to tell you, you’re not living personally with Jesus like He wants you to. So God gives us a crisis even in a Christian’s life. But then also, He’ll use another Christian, like He does with the non-Christian. He’ll put something in your life to say, “This is what I want you to do”.
A couple of years ago, God placed a gentleman in my life. His name was Ortis Gideon. He died recently of a heart attack.. .one of my spiritual mentors. And God miraculously brought us together and God used him in my life to wake me up to what it means to pray and what it means to really get into God’s Word. Before that you know, I was kind of floating around, going through he motions. I’d been to seminary, I was a pastor. But this man challenged me and I say, “God, I thank you for that wake-up call in my life”. Ed Young asks, can I be your wake-up call this morning? Could the person seated beside you be your wake-up call? Could Al Densen be your wake-up call? Could Russ Kidwell be your wake-up call? Could the choir be your wake-up call? God will use anything, anything to get our attention because God painfully perfects who He royally elects. He does and He’ll use everything to say “I want you to know”.
So before the service, we meet together and they say, “After the solo, the organ will play softly and you walk up to the pulpit, take your Bible with you and you begin to pray”.