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Dr. Ed Young - The Idol of Self

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    Dr. Ed Young - The Idol of Self
    Dr. Ed Young - The Idol of Self
TOPICS: idolatry, Selfishness

Luke chapter 15 is something. It can be outlined, all three parables, by lost, found, celebrate. First parable's the story of lost, found, celebrate. Second parable, lost, found, celebrate. Third parable, lost, found, celebrate. And the chapter's all about lostness. It's about people who have lost something. A shepherd counting his sheep, "95, 96, 97, 98, 99. Ninety-four, ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety, you mean, Leroy's missing again"? He lost one sheep. About a shepherd who's lost a sheep. And then the second story is about a woman who lost a coin. Wedding coins around her forehead in all probability. Could be a necklace. Ten coins, a drachma, not in circulation but sort of an older piece, be given to her by her husband at her wedding. It was like a wedding ring. It's about a woman who lost a coin.

And then it's a story of a father who lost a son, right? The prodigal. So there's a story of three people who've lost something. Oh, wait a minute, there's another lostness there. It's the story of a prodigal son, a younger son. He lost his dad and he lost relationship with his brother. There's four losses there. Oh, wait, wait, there's another one there. There's the older brother who didn't have a relationship with his dad, didn't have a relationship with his younger brother. There's five stories of lost... wait. There's another story in there. That's the one of the Pharisee and the scribe and that's who this... these parables were primarily addressing and they were lost and they didn't know they were lost. Let's learn from these parables. Here's a shepherd lost his sheep. Sheep, by the way, are probably the dumbest animals on the earth. Did you know that?

So when Jesus says, "All ye are like sheep who've gone astray," that was not a compliment. 'Cause we're like sheep. Sheep have to be dependent on others to stay alive. Sheep can't swim. They won't even drink water if it's moving at all. They're afraid they'll drown. They know their fleece would be too heavy so they have a hard time even finding water. Sheep have no sense of direction. Sheep are not loyal, generally speaking. They just sort of exist. They can't defend themselves at all. What can they say? "Baa". They don't know offense. They have no defense at all. Dumb, helpless. Sheep can lie down. And they can roll over in just a little indentation in a rock or in the ground and they get tilted over and they're called cast sheep and they can't even get up unless you help 'em. They have no way to flip around to get up when they're on their back. I mean, what a pitiful animal.

And Jerusalem in Israel, the sheep are a different kind of sheep than we're familiar with. They are the big-tailed sheep. In other words, they have tails that weigh 10 to 15 pounds. And sheep were very valuable. The fleece for warmth, for clothing, for food, for sacrifice. The sheep were multipurpose and so therefore sheep was very, very valuable. Here's a man who lost one and he left all the rest of 'em. He said, "I've got on the mountains and find this one". How does sheep get lost? Just run away? No, he just nibbled here and grass looks good over there and walked up there and went around the corner here and where's the rest of the crowd? Well, it doesn't matter. He just wandered off in the mountains and, first of all, he looked around and he says, "You know what? I don't know where I am". How'd he get lost? Through carelessness.

Hebrews, 2nd chapter, powerful little verse. Young's translation would be "Pay attention or you'll slide backwards". My translation, "Pay attention"! The sheep didn't pay attention. "Where's my roommates? Where did all that group go that I run with, you know"? Got lost through carelessness. How do you get lost? How do I get lost? Through carelessness. Isn't that it? Just gradualism. Well, I can remember a few years ago, if we flipped on TV and what we see today we'd say, "Oh, I can't believe that's on TV in prime time". And now we see it and we say, "Ain't no big deal". Gradualism. How'd we get here? How long has it been since you've seen anybody blush? Can anybody say anything or show any of us anything that we'll be ashamed, we'll blush? We've lost that capacity, almost, in our secularist. We don't blush. There's no shame, no sense of shame. How did we get here? This through gradualism, carelessness. This is okay, that's okay. Through carelessness.

C.S. Lewis wrote a little book, "Screwtape Letters". It's a interesting little book about how there is a Wormwood who's sort of the devil's adversary, I mean, chief supporter, representative on the earth. And has a young little devil he's training how to take this one guy and make sure he goes to hell. And so he's working with him and he has these ideas of leading this guy who was a member of the church, by the way. But this little devil is assigned by Wormwood to make sure he goes to hell. And so the little devil goes to Wormwood, says, "I've got a great idea how we'll get this guy into hell for sure. We'll bring a crisis in his life. You know, a death or a sickness, and, man, that he'll know that God doesn't care about him and he'll be godless and for sure end up in hell". And the devil said, "No! No, no, no. Whatever you do, don't do that. My, my, my, don't bring a crisis. It may turn him away from God, but it may turn him toward God. The best way to lead him into hell is just a nice little declining, slow, slope. Just let him kind of graze all, wander all, easy, quiet music, join the crowd, don't make any waves. Just gradualism. Just nibble his way off. That's the way to lead him to hell".

Sheep, lost, carelessness. We get lost, carelessness. Do we not? Then you got a second story there. Woman who had that wedding band, ten coins around her head. She looked up there and, my goodness, she'd lost one of those wedding coins. Verse 8, "Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends or neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, because I have found the coin which I have lost!'" That's almost like I do when I find my keys when I've lost 'em. I say, "Jo Beth, what did you do with my keys"? And I find 'em where I'd put them down. No, we lose things.

Here's a woman who lost a symbol of her marriage. She was desperate. Somebody might think, you know, she'd broken one of the commandments if that's what those ten coins would represent. She begins to sweep and... why was it such a hard time for her to find the coin? You could understand the shepherd lost his sheep way outside the house but, now, they had little houses, about as big as this platform. They'd have one door, no windows. And what was the floor? Dirt. Packed down dirt. And they would take it and cover it with reeds. And you can imagine, she looked and that coin was gone and, I mean, it's a round. It could have rolled anywhere, in any nook. What a tough time she had finding it in this house that was untidy, that's the word. She lost this coin through untidiness.

And maybe it's a symbol of how sometime, in our marriages, we do not pay attention and we do not keep our marriages in the covenant mode and they get untidy. I'm gonna tell you something. I believe I could eliminate 80% of all divorces, 80%! Whoa, boy! Are you interested in that? Go back to the covenant-making time, "Leave everybody else, cleave to your mate. One flesh, no shame". Practice that and remember one other aspect of the covenant. When you get married, sir, when you get married, ma'am, remember when you get married, you no longer own your body. It's owned by your husband. It's owned by your wife. And if we would use that understanding in intimacy, you would wipe out 75%, 85% of divorces that come through affairs. "Whew! I forgot that one. I don't know about that". No, it's biblical, Christian marriage.

"Well, that's a little..." No, that's God's way. That's God's plan. That's God's formula. And so this lady here, she got lost because of untidiness in her house. But that may be a symbol of untidiness in her relationship with her husband, that lost coin that we have there. And then you got the primary picture of lostness there. And that is the father who lost his son. And it's such a powerful thing. We're perhaps too familiar with the story. It's a powerful story. Verse 11, "And said, 'A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, "Give me..."'" Give me, give me, give me, give me. "'Give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them". Oh, did you get that?

The younger son would get a third. The firstborn son would get two-thirds of the father's estate. And when the young son said, "Dad, looks like you're gonna live too long. I want you dead and I want the inheritance now," and the father agreed to that. So in order to give him his inheritance, he perhaps had to sell a lot of his land to give his son one-third and the older son must says, "Dad, you just keep my share. We're gonna stay in business together. I'm gonna hang with you here. Let that young, crazy, radical, young brother get outta here with that". And so he got his one-third. Probably a lot of stuff, a lot of dough, in that day. And look what happened. "He said, 'Give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together, went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living".

Does that sound familiar to anybody? "Oh," you say, "boy, Jesus made up a great story". Oh no, I can tell you that story time and time and time again with name, rank, and serial number. I can do it. But I like the little phrase, "Not many days later". He got his inheritance. He didn't leave immediately. He had time to stay at home and dream. Dream about the far country. Dream about the choice he'd made to get all the goods upfront. Dream, dream, dream, about that choice. Let me tell you something. God allows you and me to make whatever choices we want to make but you gotta remember one thing. We pay for every choice we make. Don't ever forget that. We pay for every choice we make. You make a good choice, a moral choice, and guess what? You pay for it upfront. You make a wrong choice, a selfish choice, an ego choice, and you don't pay for it upfront usually. But you pay for it down the road.

You say, "Well, you know, exactly how does that work"? You see it in the prodigal. But we see it in so many, many areas of life. You see, you make a right choice, there's a whole lot of time you spend in delayed gratification. There's the whole time you spent saying, "No," to that party, "Yes," to this discipline. It takes a while to get from here to here. The means to the end. Oh, we can all get, grand, glorious, great. But it's the means to the end. You make a choice. If it's a big choice, usually there's not a lot of self-gratification, hoo-hoo-hoorah upfront. There's a lot of discipline, there's a lot of things we say, "Yes," to, we say, "No," to in order to reach that goal. "Oh, I wanna have a loving marriage and family". But there's immorality operating in your life as a young person. Man, that's not the way to have a joyful family. That's not the path in which we wanna be on.

See what I'm saying? God says, "Whatever choice you want, you're free to make a choice". But we pay for every choice we make. Now, there is a givenness to life, make no mistake about it. We had no choice about our parents. We had no choice about our DNA. We had no choice about those first years in which we had these authorities over our lives. There was no choice to be a male or female. Therefore, we had no choices about things. But once we get through the givenness, then we choose. We make good choices, worthy choices, lofty choices. Don't get a lot of thrill upfront but, boy, the reward's the end. We make bad choices like the prodigal. Man, the prodigal had money in his pocket, his daddy wasn't gonna buzzá, his older brother wasn't gonna try to make him feel like a nobody.

Boy, he's goin' out. He's got the world by the tail. Man, he's handsome. He's got cash. He makes investments. The business community love him. Buy you know, something happened. Something happened. His life of pleasure, of decadence, hedonism, doin' my own thing, pleasure, joy, oh man. We say, "Boy, that's..." Something happened. He ran out of wherewithal. And everybody who thought he was so wonderful, "You know, you better stay away from him". All the, "Boy, I wanna do a business deal with him". Now they were saying, "Pay up". "Well, I did... I'm good for it, well..." "Just pay me now. Pay me now". See, we make poor choices, we pay for them. Not upfront usually, but we pay for them. In different degrees, in every one of our lives. That's true. That's the irrevocable law of life. That's what we learn from this. That's what we glean from this.

And so he got so bottomed out that he had to feed pigs. That's as low as a Jew can get. Verse 16, "And he would have gladly filled the stomach with the pods," the husks, the corncobs, "that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him". Before, they said, "Man, you're popular. Make sure you invite Abraham to the party. Man, make sure Abe comes. Make sure..." Now nobody invited him. Nobody included him. Nobody wanted to be around him. He owed everybody. He'd exploited everybody. He'd run out of bullets, he'd run out of charm. He wasn't near as cute as he was when he arrived. And now he's feeding pigs to stay alive. The husks, the leftovers. And then I want you to see what happened. "But when he came to his senses". What led to that? A hungry stomach, sickness, a dissipated life. You know, hunger is the best preacher in the world. Hunger outpreaches anybody you've ever heard stand and try to give the truth of God, does it? Desperation, endlessness, loneliness, bottomed out, no relationships.

Boy, that'll be a kind of a... he came to himself. But he came to himself... what does it take for us to come to ourself? It takes the Holy Spirit. Where's the Holy Spirit in this story? We have the story of the shepherd and the sheep. The shepherd is Jesus. You gotta have Jesus's salvation. And you have the father, the waiting father, that's God, in the story of the prodigal. Where's the Holy Spirit? It's in the story of the woman with the lamp that's looking for the coin. In the Bible, you see, the lamp in revelation, the light in the church, that is the Holy Spirit. So see, the Holy Spirit here led him, dealt with him, convicted him, and that's when he came to himself. That's when he came to himself. To be saved, it takes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So he came to himself.

What did he do? "He said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, and I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and say to him'", I love this speech. "Father, I have sinned against heaven," against God, "and in your sight; am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me", boy, he's come a long way. He started off saying, "Give me". Now he goes back to his father, he says, "Make me". "Make me as one of your hired servants", is the kind of servant. They had a bondservant over all those other servants. They had those servants who worked for the bondservant. Then they had a day slave. They'd hire and work by the hour and then they would leave. He said, "I wanna be the bottom of the line, your servant in my father's house. I wanna be a mishtaph, just a hired hand. You could dismiss me in a moment. Work for a short period of time. Just a hired hand". So then it says, "He got up".

Boy, that's big. There's some people right here. You've lost your way. God knows it. You know it. Maybe nobody else knows it. Maybe other people know it. The first step of the longest journey in you'll ever take is that first step. That's the most important step. You have to get up. He knew all this. He got up. He prepared his speech. He started to retrace his tracks, emaciated, hungry, smelling like pigs. He makes his way back home. Makes his way back home. He got up. And his father saw him. The father didn't recognize him at a distance. Father, elderly, too far away, anybody to recognize him. He looked different and thin, emaciated, broken. But he recognized his walk. That's how we recognize people that we know well. Their walk, just how they walk. I can see one of my boys. I have no idea it's one of my boys but I can see how they walk. I know that's my boy. I know which one it is. Their walk.

That old guy saw that son and he picked up his robe. He ran. Picture of God running, picture of God seeking us. He's seeking all of us we get away from him. And when he got him, he embraced him, kissed him. Be sure he wept. And then the prodigal started to make his little speech. "Father, I have sinned against heaven in thy sight; I'm no longer worthy to be called thy son". Bang! And the father interrupted him. He didn't finish his speech. He never said, "Make me as a hired servant". He said, "I'm no longer worthy to be called thy son". The father stopped him and said, "Oh, time out! Wait"! And then he dealt with that prodigal on a spiritual basis. Now, if it had been my boy, I would have said, "Hey, you look bad. Come on in, I wanna get you something to eat. Let's get some water for him. Let's give him a bath. Let's clean him up".

You know, I would have dealt with the physical stuff first. Wouldn't you? I mean, your boy comes home, he's been away, he's beat up. This father, representing God, didn't. He dealt with spiritual stuff. He said, "Quick, go get the robe. Go get my robe and cover him with my robe". A picture of the covering of God, of Christ, the Father. "Cover this son. Reinstate him. Cover him with my robe, my festival garment that I wear at celebrations". He said, "Now, go get a signet ring and put him on him. Put on a ring that's a seal of the family, a ring that when you show that ring, you have all the power, the authority, the money, that my estate and my prestige and my reputation is based on. Give him a family ring". He said, "And I don't want him to go bare-footed any longer. That's what slaves wear. I want you to put sandals on my boy". Put sandals on him. This is spiritual stuff. Reinstated.

You know, we'd have said, "Okay, son, I'm gonna put you in probation here. And if you'll do this and do this and get up early in the morning, work like this, and study and read this, go to bed at 7:30, let me tell you what, if you'll deny..." We would have put all kind of contingencies down, would we not, parents, most of the time? Doesn't mean we don't need to do that. Don't misunderstand this. But here, the father, God, when we return to him, I want you to notice something. When God forgives, he always gives. When God forgives, he always gives. And his gifts are spiritual things. The robe, the ring, the shoes. Member of the family. Then, let's have a party. Let's celebrate. And in the first, they said, "Rejoice, rejoice". Then he said, "Celebrate". And it says in that Scripture earlier that the angels dance and celebrate when one somebody who is lost is found and somebody who is dead comes back to life. That's the miracle of God, ladies and gentlemen.
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