To Receive the Blessings
Let’s do one more. Number five: I’m graded. Talk to any NFL football player and they’ll tell you that they spend hour after hour watching film, watching guys go this way and that way, slow motion. They’re grading, watching, holding each other accountable. They get in rooms and say, “Hey, man, you missed that block.
A good illustration of this is in the game of football. I love football. We are in football season. Do you realize that on an offensive football team, the center is always submissive to the quarterback. In other words, the center has a particular role. His job is to hike the ball, to get the ball to the quarterback.
The quarterback’s role is to make something happen once he gets the ball. Now suppose the center calls timeout. He goes up to the quarterback and says, “Man, I am tired of being the center. I’m tired of squatting down in front of you for like sixty plays. I’m tired of hiking the ball to you. I’m tired of blocking for you. Every time the play is over, I am always at the bottom of the pile. I’m getting tired of it. It’s time that we switch ranks. I’ll be the quarterback and you, Mr. Quarterback, you are the center.”
Well, don’t ever say that to God. Don’t ever say that. There were 30 families that were starting a church in Irving and I met several people who were on a committee to find the pastor of a church. This church was in rented facilities and everything was projected. They didn’t have any staff members; not even a typewriter, to show you how long ago it was. It was 15 years ago.
So Lisa and I began to talk to these people. We really felt a connection and affinity with them. We prayed about it. I came up here, and there was a hill overlooking the TPC golf course in Irving and I prayed. And God just spoke to me and said, “I want you to do this. I want you to help this church. I want you to take this position.”
It seemed odd, again, a contrast. I was leaving the largest church in America and moving to Irving. Irving was a horrible place to start a church. I didn’t know it. 80% of church-starts fail. And you would not want to start a church in Irving, because Irving was a flat-lined community. There was no residential growth. Any time you hear about growing churches, 99.9% of the time they’re around growing communities. I call it dumb growth. Here’s the church, there’s the steeple, open the door and see all the people. They just show up.
Well, in Irving, the people on this committee were great. The location, in my view, was horrible. But the facilities were awesome. We had a little office complex. And once we met there for a while and outgrew that, we moved to a fine arts complex right across the street. Once we outgrew that, we went to MacArthur High School and we had all this ample parking. So the facilities were great.
Obviously, in the covenant of marriage, I’m reflecting the love and the grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ as I work. As I work and as I toil and as I labor it’s an act of worship.
Romans 12:1 says “I should present my body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable this is your spiritual act of worship.”
When I give my life to God; when I give my body to Lisa; when she gives me her body; when we become one flesh, that’s worship. So as a marriage, as a work, as a worship, people should look and see the orbit of the marriage around God. My marriage should reflect the nature and character of God. It’s the only covenant that mirrors God’s relationship to his people. Worship.
Now, I have to say the best worship going on right now has to be going on at Texas Motor Speedway. I mean, there is some worship happening there. And I have been to Miami when NASCAR invades Miami. People worship NASCAR. I’m not into NASCAR. I mean, what is NASCAR? It’s watching a bunch of white boys turn left. That’s about what it is. What is that? It’s worship. Great worship; wrong object. We worship all the time. We’re made to worship. Everybody worships.
Once we bow the knee to Jesus, we’re worshipping him. Everything we do, say, touch and feel should be an act of worship to the Lord himself. I have to worship God. And one of the ways I worship him is the way I treat my spouse.
The greatest sermon I will ever preach is not from this stage; it is the way I treat Lisa. Marriage is about worship. See, again, our culture has decaffeinated marriage.
I want to welcome our campuses today in Miami, Dallas, Fort Worth, also Plano and here in Grapevine. And then our television audience. This will be seen all over the world, so give everybody a shout out. You might be wondering right now why we have a toilet center stage. That’s a pretty good question. It’s a toilet and it’s right here, front and center. That reminds me of a story. Lisa and I got invited to this beautiful resort by a friend of ours and we hung out there for several hours. We were lying out in the sun and the beautiful people were at this resort with the yachts. It was the jet set club. And I had these sunglasses on, these wraparound black sunglasses. No one could see my eyes.
Well, this friend wanted Lisa and I to meet some of her friends so she called for a lady who was walking way down the beach. And this lady turned and began to walk toward us. And guys, this girl was a show stopper! I’m talking about unbelievable. She would embarrass any Victoria’s Secret model. She had on a bikini, and I have seen more cotton in an aspirin bottle than the bathing suit she had on. Anyway.
You might be going, “Ed, what were you thinking? What was going through your mind when you saw this woman approaching?” Because again, Lisa couldn’t see my eyes. This girl couldn’t see my eyes. It was the perfect setup, because I’m a normal guy, a normal red blooded guy like all of you. And we’re regular people. So I was thinking to myself, “Wow! Unbelievable!” I didn’t articulate those words, but I was thinking ‑‑ guys, I’m pretty smart ‑‑ I was thinking those words.
I think about my time with God everyday. When I spend time with God everyday—just 5 minutes, 15 minutes or an hour, in prayer and study—he blesses the rest of the day. He multiplies my time. My days aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty cool. The same is true as we look at this year. We give God a chunk during the first month of the year, 21 days of fasting, and I’m telling you, he is going to bless this year. We might be walking around in March and go, “Wow! Thank you! Wow, it’s already June and I’m still being blessed!” It’s the principal of the firsts. Scripture says in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
That’s all about the blessed life. Blessing will accrue in our lives. In Romans 12:1 the apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices.” Here’s something that’s really off the chain. My fasting and your fasting is an act of worship. Worship feeds God. I’ll talk more about that next time. Worship feeds God. So, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Well, how to I do that? Matthew 6. When I pray, when I give, when I fast. I redirect my food source. So, as you look at your life, where are you? Are you just pounding on one key? Going through the same ritual and routine and regimen 24/7 week after week, month after month, year after year? Or are you ready to play beautiful music and redirect your appetite toward God?
I want my marriage protected. I think you do, too. I want my kids protected. The Bible says that God is a God who loves us and he wants to protect our marriage. But to do that, we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to get under the stuff that God has put over us so we can get over the stuff that God puts under us.
You might be saying, “Well, Ed, that sounds kind of cute. But what does it mean ‘the stuff under us?’ What does God put under us? What are you talking about?”
Well, I’ll answer that later.
But think about the right position. Think about the protection. That’s the sweet spot of God’s success. Also, think about the perfection that takes place when I’m under the authority of God in marriage. I’m a diamond in the rough. So are you. A diamond in the rough is “U – g – l – y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly.” It is horrendous looking. But someone who knows what they are doing can cut away the access and make that blob and glob of stuff into a beautiful diamond.
That’s what God does. Marriage is not the easiest thing. I hate to rain on your romantic parade. I hate to rain on your fantasy land. Marriage is not the easiest thing. Marriage is the hardest thing. But, it can become the greatest thing when we do what? Stand under the authority of God. If we have a problem with the authority of God, we’ve got a problem in marriage. If we’ve got a problem with the authority of God, we’ve got a problem in this one and only life.
A lot of people have this mentality that God just wants me to be happy. They’re the, “God just wants me to be happy people.” They pretty much live the way they want to live. They behave the way they want to behave. They sleep in any bed they want to. Then they sign God on as a junior partner. And, when they’re confronted by the truth they say, “Well, I’ll play the God card. God just wants me to be happy. Oh yeah, God wants me to be happy and peppy, and bursting with love, yeah. That’s what God wants for my life. It’s all about happiness.”
I told you last time about a friend of mine that took me out to lunch several years ago and he said, “Ed, I’ll put the cards on the table. I’m in love with another woman; I’m going to leave my wife and my kids because God just wants me to be happy.”
That is what he told me. Well, let’s just play out that scenario for a second. Let’s say that God did want this guy to be happy. So, God wanted him to be happy and he slept in another bed. He had sex with another woman. So, God wanted him to be happy. I guess he was happy when he was doing that.
Well, how about the spouse and the two kids that he left? So, I guess God wanted him to be happy; yet, God wanted his spouse and his kids to be unhappy. It falls apart. It collapses.
A lot of people live life in the shallow end. They have their floaties on and they’re splashing around in the shallows, “Oh, this is fun! I’m in the pool.
You’re that close from playing beautiful music. That close. What happens when I fast, though? Beautiful music. Some of you may be saying, “Well okay, Ed, I understand this. And I’m going to get this incredible perspective like Jehoshaphat. I’m going to have the potential and power of God released. And I see that through what Jesus went through and Daniel with is breakthrough. And, man, I need a breakthrough!” But here’s what else will happen. When you fast, it is like you’re on a 21-day prayer, because we’re going to fast for 21 days. It’s like you’re completely and totally worshiping God for 21 days! It’s a constant prayer. It also will carve out a phenomenal course for the year. Think about it. Think about the principal of the firsts.
If you have your Bible, turn to Matthew 6:33. “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.”
That’s what Scripture says. It’s about the first. So if you want to live that out, and I do, we’ve got to be into the firsts. What does Scripture say? Scripture says that my stuff is not my stuff. The first 10% is God’s. I bring it to the house of worship. When I bring the first 10% of what I make to God, he blesses the 90%. I don’t know about you, but I’m not big enough, bad enough, rich enough, or smart enough to handle my finances alone. I’ve got to have the supernatural help and anointing and blessing of God. And if you’re big enough and bad enough and smart enough to do that away from God, good luck.
Scripture also tells me, when I give God one day a week of corporate worship, one day a week, then God’s going to bless the rest of the week.
Number 1, is time to manifest our maturity. To do that, and I just said it, we have to submit our lives to God’s authority, submit our autonomy to God’s authority. Did you hear that? Submit our autonomy to God’s authority. God has placed people in our lives, parents in our lives, pastors in our lives, coaches, teaches, etc., to mold and make us into the kind of people that he desires us to become. If we get out from underneath that covering, we will never go up because to go up we’ve to get under. Say it with me, to go up we have to get under.
Second thing, it is time to break camp and to begin to climb the mountain of maturity. You begin to mountain climb, you begin to go where God wants you to go and it is going to cost you something. A relational cost, a time cost, a financial cost, all sorts of costs. But the cost is worth it.
So come on teenagers, it is time to move ahead. Don’t be Jim and press the pause button. Press the play button and move from boy to man, from girl to woman. Because when you do, you’ll discover what the delicious life is all about.
There was this guard gate out front. I remember driving up to this guard gate, and all I would do is look at the guard, and he would always do this: he would nod, wink, and just wave me on through. It happened all the time. I would look at him; he would nod, wink, and just wave me on through.
We want a guard gate God, don’t we? Our culture does. We hear, “If you’re sincere, whatever you’re driving, whatever you’re doing, it doesn’t matter who you’re following; just drive up to God and he’ll just nod and wink and wave you on through.”