Because if we don’t know God, we don’t really know ourselves. And then we hide God from others. And then on top of that, the enemy hides us from the way we’re really living. In other words, a lot of people think they’re wearing God, they’re clothed in Christ. But in reality, we’re not wearing Christ the way God wants us to wear him. Because the guy who made this suit for me, Habib Ocean, from Silhouette Fashions, he has an intent, a design, a plan for the people he makes clothes for. And if I wear them that way, the garment will go great. If I don’t, it’s going to be… it’s not a pretty sight.
Last time we learned that Jesus did something amazing for us. Jesus lived a sinless life, a 100% righteous life. He died a sacrificial death and rose again. It’s something that no one here deserves. On the cross, the great exchange took place. We can take our sin-stained garment, our garment stitched with sin, ripped with rebellion, and we can put it on the cross. Jesus gives us his garment, his righteousness, his love, his perfection. And we either get dressed; we either cloth ourselves in Christ, or not. We either put on his threads or not. We either make this incredible fashion statement by faith or not. We have a freedom of choice. We either choose Jesus or not.
Here is what he said. “You can’t blame him for that!” Boom. Bit him again. “You can’t blame him for that! Oh, he is just gorgeous.” Wow. I would like to hang out with that guy for a couple of days. But the Crocodile Hunter stops short. He loves nature, he has appreciation of it. But he stops short. He doesn’t realize the fact that nature reflects God. We should never worship nature. We should never bow down to it. That is pantheism. That is saying that God is confined by nature. No, nature points us to God. Take a regular nature walk during your 110 hours of worship.
Number two. Secure some symbols of significance that point you to express your love to God. I brought some from my office which do that in my life. These are replicas of the nails that were used to fasten Christ’s body to the cross.
Then we begin to climb the mountain of worship and while we climb we have got to be producing fruit. Our Lord said that He would know His followers by the fruit they produce.Some people who call themselves Christians produce plastic fruit. Fake fruit. You know those hypocrites; they will say one thing and do another. You look at them and think they must be producing real fruit, but when you look at the fruit you find out that it is plastic. Others that go by the label of believers just produce a bunch of peels. They have rotten apple cores and banana peels just hanging around.
They produce fruit but they don’t share it. They just consume it and they become spiritually obese. They are like Fat Albert! Now if you are not laughing, ask your parents about Fat Albert, an incredible cartoon character by the genius of comedy, Bill Cosby. Well, don’t be a Fat Albert person of faith.
Ed Young Fellowship said well, Simon Peter had a problem. You think twins might be a problem. He had three thousand little infants running around. I am sure that he was wigging out. What does he say to all these little babies? Well, I am sure that he met with some of the leaders and quickly they began to pray a microwave prayer to God and God gave them some infant information. I didn’t say instant, I said infant information. And like that Simon Peter instructed them to do three things. He instructed them to concentrate on nutrition, on talking and on walking. He said to think about feeding, talking and walking, the same three things that parents concentrate on.
Fellowship Church Grapevine says here is what the Bible says about these things. Acts 2:42. “They devoted themselves….” They got serious about it. They devoted themselves like Tiger Woods has devoted himself to golf. “They devoted themselves to teaching, to prayer and to walking and breaking of bread.” Teaching is feeding or nutrition. Prayer is talking and communicating to God. Walking is fellowship. Before we explain all these things, let me tell you what these three thousand infants did. They were so into Peter’s words that they changed the world because of their commitment. People saw what was going on in the church, saw their maturity. Other rebirths occurred because of their commitment. The church was giving like it had never given before. Worship was flowing like it never had before. Lives were being changed.
Dear Heavenly Father, your faithfulness is so great and so awesome. I ask right now that as we open up Your book that You would open up our hearts. As You penetrate our lives, Lord, may we feel Your presence and respond to it. And right now I thank You in advance for what You are going to do in all of our lives during this time of teaching. For Christ’s sake we pray. Amen.
The Old Testament records one of the most graphic accounts of human behavior imaginable when it records Israel’s trek from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Israelites had just watched God part an ocean, allowing them to run from their pursuing enemies on dry land. They had just watched God put a cloud in the sky by day and a fire there by night to guide them in a compass-like fashion through their wilderness-wondering. To top that off, they had watched God cater their every meal with a bread-like substance called manna.
A couple of days ago I gave one of my dogs a bath. Let me back up quickly and tell you about our dogs. Lisa and I have two bullmastiffs. The person we bought them from told us that they are sweet dogs, but that they protect appropriately. I love that. Our oldest male, Apollo, a little over a year old weighs about 140 pounds. His younger friend, appropriately named Brute, is seven months old and is already about 100 pounds. Apollo likes the water and Brute is not into it. Brute doesn’t like water. He will drink it but that is about it.
So I take this little kiddy pool and fill it up with water. I called him over, he looked at me and then trotted off. So I pursued him. I took him by the collar and coaxed him toward the bath. Then I decided to pick him up. Now every time you pick up Brute, it is a hernia risk. I picked him up, took him to the kiddy pool, put him down in the water. I began to bathe him but he eluded me. I had to pursue him again. I tracked him down, picked him up, another hernia risk, walked all they way back to the kiddy pool and began to bathe him. He eluded me again, I pursued him again, picked him up, another hernia risk and at this point I felt like the crocodile hunter.
Have you seen that guy on television who wears the very short shorts from Australia? So when I put Brute in for the third or fourth time, here is what I did. With my clothes on I just got on top of him and held him down. The twins couldn’t believe what I was doing. So I pursued Brute, subdued him and then I gave him a bath. And now he loves the water. Yesterday when I left for work he was actually sitting in the kiddy pool, kind of relaxing.
God pursues and He subdues. Genesis 3:9, God said, “Adam, where are you?” God pursued a stuttering, stumbling man named Moses.
The Midianites had amassed this huge army and they were going to take on the Israelites. So Gideon amassed a big army, 32,000 people. Gideon thought, “Maybe we can take them. Maybe we can do it. God’s given me the vision. I’m the leader.”
Well, God does some weird subtraction. He says, “Gideon, I want you to subtract 22,000 guys from the army, guys who are fearful, guys who are scared.” So, they were gone. Gideon is now left with 10,000 to fight these crazy, mean-spirited Midianites. He only had 10,000.
God said, “Gideon, I’m not through with my math. We’re still working the problem, brother. I want you to take the 10,000 down to the river and watch them drink water, and put them into two separate groups. Put the dog lappers in one group—those soldiers who cup the water in their hand, and lap it like a dog and look around at the horizon line. You put them in group one. And group two, you put the soldiers who kind of just stick their head in the water. They don’t look up. They just drink. Put them in group two. Group one is the dog lappers. Group two is those who just dive in.”
Only three hundred men were dog lappers. Gideon was probably thinking, “Oh, I see where God is going with equation. He’s going to send these three hundred packing.”
Ninety-seven hundred put their head down in the water and drank. God said, “Gideon, I’ve got some new math for you. Send the 9700 home, back to the caves, back to the wine presses. Send them home.”
Gideon’s probably going, “God, I’ve got a question. I don’t understand this math. I need some help, God. I need a tutor, God.”
God said, “Stay with me now.”
I have never been to New York but they say it is a wild city. The two men are walking down the street and it is just jammed, as it always is.
Here’s the struggle, the pastoral struggle that I have as far as spending time with Jesus. As I’m journaling, I’ll sometimes write, “Lord, am I talking to you today, am I listening to you today just because I want to crank out another talk, another sermon? Or am I talking to you because I really hunger and thirst for you?”
That’s why it’s so important to draw away, to have times of silence and solitude, to get away from the racket and the ruckus of life and to sit at the feet of Jesus.
We need a strategy also. We need time, we need a place, we need a strategy as well. If you are a brand new believer, take your Bible and turn to Psalm 139. Its right in the middle of the Bible, pretty much. And Psalm 139 talks about who we are before God. It says we’re a poem. It says we’re a piece of art. It says we’re made in God’s image. Read that chapter for 14 days. And ask, “God, who is saying it? What’s the deal? And how can I apply these words to my life?”
Maybe you’ve been a believer for a long time. Go to the book of Romans as you read and listen to God. Maybe you’re saying, “Well, man, I don’t really know how to read the Bible and I would like to know more.” We have a class called “Cracking the Code”. Go on Fellowshipchurch.com or look in the worship guide and you can show up for this class. It teaches you how to read, how to study, how to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Taste the grace of silence. In those moments, in those meaningful moments, God will leverage our time and sync up our priorities.
And these guys are walking along and they are talking about this and talking about that, and all of a sudden the native American stops.
Once you leave the cocoon of safety and venture out into the real world, once those gray hairs start popping up and you begin to get knocked around, you find out that home takes on a different meaning, a different angle. The sense of belonging that you once had from your home changes. You know what I am talking about? Relationships that you thought were permanent begin to waver. And in some of our lives, the unthinkable happens, our parents split up, relatives get sick. We ask ourselves in our heart of hearts, can any human relationship ever capture and bring to me a sense of belonging like the one I had in my childhood? Is that possible?
Our security also takes a hit. The real world has a way of taking security and ripping it right out of our dictionary. We thought this Christmas would be like the last five, the last ten. For many here, this Christmas is different. Your father is not going to be there this Christmas. Your parents are going to have some problems. Maybe someone close to you will have an illness. It is going to be different. Maybe you received the pink slip at the wrong time. Maybe financially something negative has happened. And security, well, it is not what it used to be.
I talked to someone a couple of weeks ago who said in no uncertain terms, “I’m just a pessimistic, realistic guy, Ed. This world is falling apart. It is a scary place to live. Don’t you agree, Ed? The crime rate. The wars. The economy. What is happening? It is horrible, I don’t know what I am going to do.” And, yes, in a real way the world is a scary place to live and as you grow up, you tend not to be so optimistic as you used to be.
After God sent a wind, the sailors go below and say “Jonah, wake up, something is wrong.” Jonah says, “I know why, I am running from God. Throw me overboard.”
Valentine’s Day is the time we set aside in order to communicate to others how we feel. So we buy presents and candy and cards to show in a tangible way what love is all about. We try to get a handle on this illusive thing called love during this time of year. It is kind of difficult to do. So, today we thought we would embark on a brand new series we call LOVE STORIES in order to find what true love, true passion and true romance are all about. Love, passion and romance go much deeper than the mindless maze of major television movies, magazine articles and romance novels. Tragically, this shallow and superficial stuff never hits the depths of where true love actually looms.
So with my apologies to Danielle Steele, Sandra Brown and a host of Harlequin novel readers, here goes. We push off on the maiden voyage of this series. This series is for everyone. I believe the truth will be timeless, the principles penetrating and the accounts life-changing. So whether you are a student just entering the dating scene or a single just considering the engagement thing or a spouse just wearing the wedding ring, this topic will mark you, impact you and can change your life.
We have over 2,000 singles who attend our four services every weekend. People tell us from across the country that we have one of the largest singles ministries in the United States of America. We thank God for what He is doing in the singles area. Singles, I have got some wonderful news for you today.
Research reflects that over 90% of you will get married in the future. That’s good news, isn’t it, on a Valentine’s weekend? We have a bunch of married folks who attend Fellowship.