Dr. Ed Young - Keeping Your Eyes on the Goal
You've been around, and you think for a moment everybody needs a life coach. The secular world, you could spend a hunk of money bringing in someone to coach you into life. Everybody needs a life coach. We decided that. And then we decided, "Well, how do you pick a life coach"? And we came to the decision that if you're a secular person or a god-fearing person, you can't find one superior to Jesus of Nazareth. There's not another one. You'd line them all up... nobody can meet the requirements. He is the best life coach anybody can get.
All right, so we pick a life coach, and then we pick him, and we discovered something. He'd already selected you and me. He'd already asked us, invited us, to be on his team. And we didn't get involved in Calvinism and Arminianism; we just know that we need a life coach. Jesus, we decided, "Boy, that's the life coach". And then we discovered he'd already picked us. And so we signed up to be on his team, to be coached to live a life. Then we dealt with a big question. Are you coachable? "Am I coachable"?
And I've talked to a lot of coaches since that time in various fields, tutors in education, people in athletics, those who train people in a lot of different skills. And I asked them, "What do you look for in somebody you will coach? Somebody on your team? Somebody in your classroom? What do you look for? What's the characteristics"? And I summed it all up in two words. Somebody who is humble and somebody who's committed. So, here we are, and now we ask the big overwhelming question, "Well, I'm on this team, what's the goal"? What is the goal? What are we reaching for? Jesus said, "Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men". And they thought that success was catching a lot of fish, being successful in the selling of the fish, having plenty of money because they were big fishermen. But Jesus taught them that, "Hey, there's something bigger than that. That is worldly success. By the way, they caught a lot of fish as well, but I'm gonna move you into a life of fulfillment, and that's fishing for people, building the right stuff in people".
And so we come and ask, "Well, what is the goal? What are we reaching for? We're on the team of Christ, what's the goal out there"? And I submit to you, in John 10:10 we have a series of verses I think will sum up what every single person would like to see. This is my life goal. It's worthy. It's worthy. It's what I would love to have. Now, in this chapter 10 of the Gospel of John, Jesus is talking about he was a shepherd of the sheep. He says, "I'm a shepherd. I'm your coach". And he talks about the kind of coach he was, he is. Verse 2: "But he, Jesus, who entered by the door is a shepherd, the coach of the sheep". We're the sheep. He's our coach. We're on the team. "To him the door keeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice".
Years ago I was in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, and I happened to be there on the day when all the shepherds were bringing their sheep in. Some would be sheered, some would be sold, some would be traded. And I'm tellin' ya, wherever I looked there were sheep and there were shepherds here-there. And I asked the guide, "How in the world do they know this is my sheep, this is my sheep, this is yours? Are they branded"? He said, "Oh, no". He said, "All the sheep know the voice of the shepherd. And the shepherd has a name for every one of his sheep, so they never get confused". That's what Jesus' saying. We're on his team. He is our shepherd. He is our coach. He knows everything about us. Every hair on our head he has counted. He's not counting as high on my head as he used to, but that's how he knows us intimately. He's our shepherd.
And then what does he say? He says in verse 10: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;" other shepherds, other competitors, "I came that they may have Life, and have it abundantly". Jesus says, "I came. I solicited you on my team. You joined my team. I am your coach, so you can have, here's the goal: abundant life". Life is zoe. It is life in infinity. It is a completed life. It is a full life. And the word abundantly there is a word perissos. It is a word that means in excess. It means more than excess. Abounding in success. Abounding in excess in your success. Picture. It's a picture word. Here you are standing on the coast. You look out, the water is emerald clear. In the distance there are magnificent mountains. Over here there is a sunset that you can't even describe. You turn behind you, there's the white sand.
And there's a lake in the distance, and there's a multiplicity of flowers and planting that just takes your breath away. You are surrounded with a superabundance of beauty. Abundance. Overflowing. That's the life that God has for us who are in Christ. That's our goal. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:9: "Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, neither has it entered the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those who love him". For those who are on his team and function, and are humble enough, and committed enough, he promises life overflowing. And we can't even imagine that. It's beyond anybody's ability to comprehend.
So, that's our goal. Now, how do you get there? Well, we're on the team. Let's go back to the operative passages we've revolved around for several weeks, and that is Romans 12, verse 1 and 2. You're familiar with it. "Therefore, I beseech you brethren". Now, Paul has summed up all the doctrine, which we're all Phi Beta Kappa in, right? We went through all that. And all the doctrine, he says, "Now, I get to practicality. This is how you put it together. Therefore, I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, you present your body a living sacrifice". Remember a living killing? "Holy and acceptable unto God". In other words, we died to our self, and our goals, we present our bodies.
That's the first step on being on the team of Christ. That is humility, isn't it? "Lord, I just... here it is. I'm living, but I'm dead. A living killing. I've killed all of myself and my desires". A living sacrifice that's holy and acceptable to him, which is your reasonable service. That's the humility it takes in order for him to coach us, all right? And then the next thing, not only humility, we need to be committed and say, "We present our bodies as living sacrifice".
And then what's the next part that we have in there? It said, "We're not conformed to the world, we're transformed by the renewal of our mind". And that is a commitment. Our minds are renewed. I don't usually get super pious with you, but I can tell you I spent several hours this week just asking, working, seeking for the Holy Spirit to renew my mind. You see, we get those grooves in there. We get those responses in there. We get all this stuff in there, and those voices, and what to go, and what to do. Our mind needs to be renewed. That's what a coach does. We see things differently. We view things differently. He's coaching us up to have this overflowing life. Coaching us up. And then he says, "Why"? We have this renewed mind so that we can prove what? The will of God.
Now, the will of God, for most people, is far too spooky. We have the idea God has hidden his will. Oh, where is it? Maybe it's under that chair, oh. And sometimes you play like... remember a kid's game "I Spy"? I spy. We're looking for God's will. It is so mysterious. Should I go there? Should I do this? Listen, ladies and gentlemen, God's will is about decisions we make, but if you wanna begin to find out God's plan and purpose for your life, guess where you start? The Bible. The Bible says, "It's God's will we'll be saved". We know Christ. We're on his team. That's first. Number two, it says "It's God's will that we'd be filled with his Spirit as he leads us in our life".
That's second. And third, "It's God's will we'll be growing and maturing in our faith". The third is God's will that we submissive to one another. We be submissive. The last thing, we are to be serving. Now, these are five things the Bible clearly states it is the will of God for you and for me. When these things are operative in your life and my life, not perfect, but they're operating in your life and my life, guess what God's will is about the multiplicity of the decision we make about vocation, or going, or buying, or selling, or whatever? Guess how that comes out? We don't have to put out a fleece. We just have to say what the psalmist said, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart," in Proverbs, "lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and," oh, "he'll direct your life". In other words, God's will becomes, "That's what I feel. That's what I know".
It's not a mysterious thing. It's an automatic thing, flowing from a light that leads us to abundance. A lot of people think God's will, "Oh, it's a bad thing. It's a terrible thing. It's a heinous thing. No, I won't have any fun anymore," no, no. God's will, you have life overflowing. Abundant life. And then you have three little words there in the second verse of Romans 12. It says, "God's will is good, it's acceptable, and it's perfect". God's will is like this coat I have on. This coat was given to me by a man who may be here today. He was traveling. He saw it. He bought it. It does not have a label. It really doesn't. It's not tailor made. I think it, you know, does all right. And God's will is good.
So a lot of you think, "Well, God's will is good". Let's see how this works. Y'all think this is good for me? I'll bring it back to you, Keith, don't worry. Y'all don't think this... nuh, uh, uh. This doesn't work for me. That's not good. But God's will, he says, "We'll, it's good and it's acceptable". Oh, goodness. Can't even find the arms in this thing. I don't see how you wear this, Bob. I really don't. Y'all think this is acceptable? No, no, no. Oh. God's will is perfect. A lot of people think God's will is just like this coat. "Oh, it's so narrow, it's so binding. Oh, if I'm in God's will, I'll miss out on everything. Oh, what a horrible is God's will". No, no, no, no. God's will... how we doing? No, no, no, no. God's will... how we doing?
Thank you, Reuben. It's perfect. It's perfect. And that's how we realize our goal is abundant living. And we discover God's will. And it's good. It's acceptable. Some translations say, "pleasurable". And it's perfect. It just fits. It's just designed for you and for me to have this excessive life of overflowing. There's a story that I read years and years ago, and I just can't forget it. It's just a... it's a super story. It's about a man who got on a bus. He wanted to go to Detroit. He bought a ticket to Detroit, and he got on the bus, and he took a long trip. And when he arrived and got off the bus, he discovered that he was in Kansas City, yeah. And he started asking people about different things in Detroit. He said, "Where's Woodward Avenue"? And they said, "We don't know of a Woodward Avenue". "What"? he said, "What about Cobo Hall"? "No, no, no".
And, finally, they convinced him he wasn't in Detroit, he was in Kansas City. What happened? He got on the wrong bus. When you get where you're going, where would you end up? Where will you be? There's a lot of busses running in our town, is it not? A lot of destinations, a lot of roads, a lot of causes. A lot of things we can get on, and follow, and be a part. A lot of paths. And the question is, "When you get where you're going, where will you be"? "Where will I be"? It's a matter of destination. It's not, "We'll, I intend to get there". The prodigal son didn't think he'd end up feeding pigs, of all things. He was Jewish. Man, never that. That was not his goal, but he took improper means to reach his goal.
A lot of people get mad at the church. Beautiful young couples. Oh, they're in love. A part of the covenant-making with God and with each other. And they have dreams of a wonderful life together, love-making together, children together, a good vocation, a life that's filled with significance. They want a Christian home. But somehow that picture of Utopia ends up in Reno. What happened? They got on the wrong bus. They wanted this Christian home with Christian kids, but they made improper choices. They had their priorities right, but somehow the commitments didn't match their priorities. And how many people, how many of us are here, when we stop and look around we may realize that we want to end up there, but we're ending up over here.
You say, "The guy on the bus going to Detroit, he thought, ended up in Kansas City. What was he thinking on a long trip? Didn't he see any signs by the side of the road? Didn't they stop and eat some meals? Wasn't there other people on the bus? I mean, what's the matter with him? He didn't figure out before he got all the way to St. Louis that he wasn't headed for Detroit. What happened"? That happens to us. So we need to take a timeout. Coaches take timeouts, you know that? We need to take a timeout. Everybody here needs a timeout and say, "All right. At the end, as I move along, am I experiencing this abundance, this joy, this life"?
Let's take a timeout. And maybe we need a Socrates to run around in the congregation and come up to us ask you and me some questions. That's what Socrates did, remember? He asked everybody questions. They didn't like it. They hated him. He'd ask questions like, "Who are you? No, no, no. Who are you"? Oh. He's asked questions like, "Why are you here? What is your purpose in life"? He'd asked these big, simple, gigantic, questions, and people got mad at him. And Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living". And it's not. An unexamined life is not worth living. And sometimes we need to take a timeout and see if we are indeed on the right bus.
Well, what are our choices, here? There's really just two. Jesus tells about 'em in the Gospel according to Matthew. He just sits down. He says, Matthew 7, 13 and 14. "Enter through the narrow gate". Get on the right bus. "For the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter therein". That's the wrong bus. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life". There's our word, zoe. That's where you wanna go, isn't it? That's the abundance we're talking about. It said, "It's a narrow way and few there be that go that way". Not many get on that bus. A lot of people get on the broad bus.
So there's just two choices. There's the broad way. Man, everybody's following around that way. The flow of culture, the flow of influence, the flow of pleasure. Man, everybody wants to be healthy, wealthy, wise, and have a good time in the process, right? We just get caught up. That's the broad, broad way. So a lot of people are on the broad way. Man, it's inhabited. And there moving down their broad way, but Jesus says, "The broad way leads to destruction, to emptiness". It leads not to Detroit, it leads to Kansas City. And who in the world wants to go to Kansas City when you're tryin' to get to Detroit? The broad way, you're on the wrong bus. And this is a matter of means and ends. Ends and means.
Sometimes we have big means to small goals, to small ends. In other words, we just spend a lot of time, and money, and effort, and blood, and sweat, and tears to reach this goal. And the goal is not worthy of all the effort we put into it in order to get there. You know, we have big means, little goal out there. Not worthy of all that we put into it. And let's flip that over. Sometimes we have a worthy goal, high goal, worthy goal. We use shabby, immoral means to get there. You see it all the time. There's a revolution in this nation. And in this nation, this revolution takes place, and there are people who say, "We're gonna get the bad guys out, and we're gonna let the people rule".
And they go down there, they throw out the bad guys, and they begin to rule. And give 'em 5, 6, 10 years, maybe less; all of a sudden they have the same problem that they bad guys got. "I got the bad guys out, the good guys in. The good guys become bad guys". In other words, what is happening? They had a worthy goal, but they got corrupted with the means they used to get there. We can have high goals, and we can have shabby, immoral means to reach those goals. "Oh, it's justified that I did that, because I wanted to," fill in the blanks. "I wanted our company to succeed. Oh, I cheated a lot, but the main thing was I passed that test, and I graduate. Oh, that justifies all the cheating I did".
You know, sure. Shabby means. Worthy goal. The other end is elaborate means to reach a flimsy goal. That's the broad way that leads to destruction, ladies and gentlemen. And you're not gonna find abundant life on that broad way. You find abundant life on what? The narrow way. The broad way is a wrong bus. Our bus is... a narrow way is a right bus. And it's an amazing thing how God has built this world. God has built this world if you and I get on the wrong bus, we'll never end up in the right place no matter how much we pray or how much magic we want, or we want forgiveness for all the wasted choices and years. You get on the wrong bus; you don't end up in the right place. God's built this world like that. Every single time.
So when you get where you're going, where will you be? Our goal, abundant life, how do we get there? We see it through humility. That is worship. We see it. We find the will of God, and it fits us, and it's beautiful, it's magnificent. And then we see it. The abundance takes place where we get our means and ends together. We use the right means to reach the lofty goals. A Christian home. You have to say "no" to a lot of things in order to say "yes" to Christ. A moral life. You have to say, "no" to a lot of things in order to say "yes" to Christ. A good night's sleep. Have to say "no" to a lot of things in order to say "yes" to Christ. I weigh 400 pounds. It's a good goal. I wanna lose weight. But, you see, you have to take steps in order to do it, in order to get there. Have to use the means to get to the desired end, the abundant life.