WILD Camel Filter April 22, 2012 Ed Young. Transcript

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1 WILD Camel Filter April 22, 2012 Ed Young One of the hardest sayings of Jesus has to do with a camel, a needle, and money. It s a difficult saying that hits all of us, causing us to consider closely the words and take a hard look at the way we live. In this message, Ed Young shows us how this saying is something that can lead us to a new level of life. Because when we grasp its full meaning, Jesus words can transform everything about us. Transcript < Arabian Nights music > This is the real camel filter. This is the legitimate camel filter. Her name is Marianne, she s 12 years of age, and what a gorgeous camel. Let s give it up for Marianne. Yes! OK, if I can get off of her, whoa. Whoo! All right, thank you! Man, there s nothing like riding a camel. That s a true camel. Camels are big, they don t smell that nice, and they re not the prettiest of animals. I mean I think they kind of are, but most people would not say, Wow, what a gorgeous camel. That camel is hot! No, camels are not the most attractive or beautiful animals. Jesus, though, talked about a camel. It s really strange. Jesus, of all the animals he could have picked, talked about a camel. A big, ugly, smelly camel. It s one of the radical sayings of Jesus. I call it the camel filter saying of Jesus. And here s what he said, let me find it. He said This is a needle. That s a needle right there. You can barely see it. He said it s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, this camel, to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man or rich woman to enter the kingdom of God. That s a hard saying of Jesus. Let that marinate for a second. Let that settle down for a second. It s easier for a camel, for Marianne, to go through this sewing needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Now most of us are saying right now, well, that s pretty cool. I m not rich. Well, if you re thinking that you re totally and completely wrong. If you have more than several changes of clothing, if you have a roof over your head, compared to the backdrop of the world you are rich. Thus, Jesus is talking about you and he s talking about me. It s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to get into the kingdom of God. That s why I call this the real camel filter. It s not a cigarette, it s not a literal camel. It is, though, the true camel filter. The filter of faith. Page 1 of 7 Ed Young

2 Why, I ask, and as I ve studied this text I ve asked myself this question, why would Jesus choose a camel? Big, ugly and smelly. A camel has a hump, maybe two humps, stores water. When it gets in the desert it can tap into the water it s stored. Think about the riches in our lives. Think about the resources that are out there. What do we think? OK, I can ride my resources. I can have a vice grip lock on the reins of my resources and I can ride them and ride them and ride them on my camel, and when life gets touch I will just tap into those resources that will quench my thirst. Yet it doesn t. It doesn t. The rich have one advantage over the poor. At least the rich know that money doesn t satisfy. The poor haven t figured that out yet. So before we look to someone to our right or to our left, before we point the finger of someone, let s look at ourselves. All of us, almost every person hearing my voice at all of our campuses, at all of our environments, there might be some exceptions. But almost all of us in this nation, and those who are logged in and are hooked up to this ministry, all of us are rich. So what Jesus would say to you and me is, Wow. That s a tall order for a self-centered man or self-centered woman. That s a tall order for someone who has been blessed of God. Well, why did Jesus make this statement? To understand the context we ve got to understand this interesting talk, this colloquy he had between himself and a guy known as the rich young ruler. This rich young ruler was a fascinating cat. He came to Jesus, and I want you to notice something. If you have your Bible I want you to turn to the book of Mark, the Gospel of Mark, Mark 10 and we ll be in verses The Gospel of Mark. Here s what s so interesting about the rich young ruler. Because after he had this interchange with the rich young ruler, after this intense conversation, notice how Jesus brought him to a decision. Every time Christ talked to someone he brought them to a decision. That s why when I speak, when I preach, I want to bring people to a decision. Notice after he brought him to a decision, what did he do? He talked about a camel filter. You ve got to love the rich young ruler. We would love him today. He came to Jesus at the right time. He was young, at the apex, at the zenith of his life. We go wild, we go crazy when people come to know Christ personally, when they re ambushed by his grace and love. And it happens every single weekend. Hundreds of people every single weekend make this commitment and that s amazing. We praise God because of it. But, we re even more thrilled when someone who is young makes that decision. Because when you re young you ve got your whole life in front of you. When you re older you don t have that much time. I remember back in the beginning of Fellowship Church we had a guy in his late 60 s, who was a high-roller, womanizer, big partier, totally away from God. He literally was driving down Macarthur Blvd. because we met in an office complex. We rented it. He turned in because he saw the commotion, showed up to church, and several weeks later committed his life to Christ, at 67 years old! And I remember after one of the services he walked up to me with tears in his eyes and he goes, Page 2 of 7 Ed Young

3 If only, Ed! If only I would have done this when I was younger! I ve wasted most of my life. And I had the opportunity to hold his hand moments before he died, as he was gasping for breath. We talked about Jesus and we talked about the other side, but you could see even then the regret that he had for not making this decision earlier. So, the rich young ruler came to Jesus at the right time. He also had the right posture. The Scriptures say he knelt before him. You can t beat that. I mean, this guy would be like holding his hands up in worship, he would be dressed up, looking cool, looking sweet, skinny jeans on, the shoes, the hair, whatever. We would go, man, this guy has got it! He has the right posture. He came to Christ with the right posture. He knelt before Jesus. He also had something else right about him. He had the right morality. Check it out. Mark 10:18 and following. He said, What do I have to do, Jesus, to inherit eternal life? That s another right question. That s another right thing. He asked the right question. Why do you call me good? Jesus said. In other words, Christ was saying no one is good but God. You throw the word good around? You can t be good. Only God is good and you re talking to him. Why do you call me good? he answered. No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments He goes through them. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. He goes on and on and on. And then the guys says in verse 20, I ve lived by the commandments. So we have the good morality. The right morality. He came at the right time. He came with the right morality. He had the right posture, the right questions. I mean, this guy had it goin on! It s fascinating to study the 10 commandments. I don t have time to get into it too much but the first four commandments have to do with man s relationship to God. The last six have to do with man s relationship to our fellow man. You don t break the 10 commandments, the 10 commandments break you. Christ was saying to this guy, Hey, you ve not kept the 10 commandments! The law is the teacher. The law is the mirror that brings you to Christ. That s why this guy was running, kneeling, and asking the right question to Jesus. He had a lot of stuff. This guy was wealthy. He was riding on the back of the camel of commerce. The reins were tightly grasped. His resources, his stuff, and he asks Jesus, What must I do (that s a great question) to be saved? and we know riches will not save us. We know good works will not save us. Jesus looked at that one thing, didn t he, that kept this man from eternal life. He put the camel through the filter of faith. What s the camel? It s materialism. What s the camel? Riches. What s the camel? Resources. We ve got to constantly put the camel through the filter of faith. When he looked at the Page 3 of 7 Ed Young

4 rich young ruler he saw his stumbling block. In the Greek it s pronounced scandalon. The stumbling block. What was the stumbling block the rich young ruler had? Riches! The Bible says he had wealth. Yeah, he had wealth and wealth had him. So it keeps going. Jesus looked at him and loved him. Do you feel the compassion of Jesus? One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor and you ll have treasures in Heaven. Then come and follow me. And at this the man s face fell. He went away because he had great wealth. Read the word had. Read in the original language held tightly. If we were at the beach and I said, OK, grasp as much sand as you can with one hand. What would we do? We would scoop it up and hold it right like this, loosely. Then what if I said, OK, I want you to tightly grasp sand. Get some sand and just grip it as hard as you can. If you grip it as hard as you could it wouldn t be as much. We scoop it up, we hold it loosely, we have more. We grasp it tightly, we have less. God s blessed us, we hold it loosely and he s gonna give us more and more and more. We have it tightly grasped, we re not gonna have as much. There s a whole vibe out there these days in Christianity, it s been around a long, long time. It goes back to the Catholic church. It goes back to self-deprecation. There s this whole poverty vibe out there. A lot of books have been written about it. It sounds so sexy and cool and Biblical. Fact: They re not Biblical. Fact: They re heretical. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell me as a follower of Christ I m to take an oath of poverty. Where is that in the Bible? Where is that in the Bible that I should feel guilty if I m blessed of God? You cannot make that argument. Think about the patriarchs and matriarchs of our faith. Many of these men and women were loaded financially! The only time Jesus ever asked someone to liquidate was in this circumstance and situation. Keep on reading in Mark 10. He didn t ask Bartimaeus to do it. He didn t Simon Peter to do it. The only time. So for some reason we have this guilt-ridden, it s wrong if I own anything mentality. It s not Biblical. And some people go to church and they go, OK, I ve not really gone to church, I ve not really worshiped unless I feel guilty regarding what I have so I ve got to move to another continent and I ve got to spend my life cradling babies with swollen bellies or giving out water to people who need it, and that means I m a true Christian, if I don t have anything. Granted, those things are good. Granted, those things are well and fine and we re about that at Fellowship Church. But, you should not feel guilty, nor anyone should feel guilty, when they re blessed of God. It s not how much you have, it s how much you give. It s not how much you have, it s not how much you make, it s how much you give. The Bible says, To whom much is given much is required. Question: How in the world can we build the church, can we move the ball upfield, if people are not blessed with resources? But, when you re blessed with resources you ve got to go through the filter of faith regularly and ask yourself this question. Do I have wealth or does my wealth have me? The rich, young ruler couldn t get through the camel filter. Wealth had him. That s why so many people who are blessed just like we are will not enter the kingdom of God. Page 4 of 7 Ed Young

5 Jesus said, Many on that day will say, Lord, Lord, I did this. I did that. Depart from me. I never knew you. If Jesus is not Lord of all, he s not Lord AT all. We ve heard that for a long, long time, those of us who have grown up in church. But it s so, so true today in God has blessed us. He s enabled us to have life, to have creativity, to have vision, to have ingenuity, to think and plan, yet we re to be a part of that camel filter regularly. Let me share with you a couple of things. God carries the title to all of our stuff. God owns it all. Everything we have is God s. I ve got to be reminded of that regularly. If not I will find myself riding on the back of the camel of commerce, grasping tightly the reins of resources. So many people that I know who are wealthy are extremely selfish. One of the reasons they re wealthy is because they re selfish. I also know people who are wealthy who are very, very generous. What is wealth? Wealth is relative. I heard it said years ago, materialism begins where our income ends where your income ends. That s so, so true. So who am I to look at someone, living a certain lifestyle, driving a certain boat, having a certain house, or whatever, who am I to judge them? I don t know their heart. I don t see their finances. I don't see what they re doing, how they re blessing others. How they re giving, what they re doing with the church. We need to understand that God carries the title to everything. We only have it, what we manage it 30, 40, 50 years, maybe, then it goes to someone else. There s not a U-Haul trailer behind any hearse. You can t take it with you but you can send it on ahead. And we do that through investing in that thing that Christ constructed, the local church. One of the reasons we have so many church hoppers and shoppers and boppers these days around the world is because of this issue. People are afraid of the camel filter. Because when you get serious about the camel filter, it s gonna cause you to be generous to the church because you realize God is generous to you, and you ll invest in the church. And because you re invested in the church you ll have a vested interest in her! Can you imagine getting married, guys, and not spending any resources on your bride? That s why it s so popular, so cool, so hip! God carries the title to all of our stuff. Also, God wants us to enjoy our stuff. Don t feel guilty when you re blessed. Don t! But, it s how much you give, it s not how much you make. To whom much is given much is required. So whatever you make (uh-oh, it happens, doesn t it) whatever you make it happens. Whatever you make, God has blessed you with it. So if it s 10 thousand or 10 million, what are you doing with it? Are you bringing it to the house? If you re not regularly going through the camel filter your life will never have meaning. It s gonna be big and stinky and smelly and yeah you ll step in it. And smell like it your whole, whole life. You know what wealth means? Wealth means options, that s all it means. If someone s wealthy they have options. They can stuff their lives with all of this stuff, with all of this superfluous stuff, and yet they stuff it so much and it s so easy for all of us to stuff our lives with so much stuff Page 5 of 7 Ed Young

6 that we don t have room for God. That s why Jesus said it s about the camel filter, baby! Camel! It s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (it s really Hebrew humor) than it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of Heaven. It s all about the investment. It s all about the generosity. That s why there are more promises over finances in the Bible than almost any other subject. So if you have a problem with it, as I always say, you have a problem with God. God knew how personal and how powerful and potent that the resources are and will be! That s why he said this. God carries the title to our stuff. He wants us to enjoy our stuff. Also, too, I would add he wants us to invest our stuff. The Bible says, Go to the ant, check him out, check her out. Ants are always storing up stuff. We should save money. At least 10%, we should save at least 10%. That should be the goal. Some of us aren t there yet but that s the goal. We should save 10%. We get our money working for us. We bring the first 10 to the house. There s really no use to pray about that. God s a God of the first. First day of the week, he blesses the rest. First part of the income, he blesses the rest. First part of the day, he blesses the rest. The first, the first, the first. He gave his first, Jesus. The first, the first. It s all about the first. God says bring the first and I will bless the rest. We understand that. We know that. We live that out within the context of being followers of Christ. We do that, we have a heart for the house, we have loyalty, we have it built in. We see lives that are changed. Generosity, though, keeps this camel in check. Generosity keeps the camel in check. So we re saving 10%, we re giving our first 10%, then we re living on 80%. So the other 80 you can do what you want to do with it. Now I would challenge you to begin to give generously, which is over and above your tithe. That s what Lisa and I have been doing. We give at least 10, we ve done it for 30 years. Now we give over and above 10% to the house. That s the HNL of giving. The Holy Notha Level of it. Generosity, though, keeps the camel in check. So that s why I ve said many times, if you re living by this principle you can shop for the glory of God. You can go to Cabo for the glory of God. You can buy a new outfit for the glory of God. You can do for the glory of God! That s between you and God. Who am I to look at you and judge you based on what I see? I don t really know you, I m not God. Keep the camel in check with a life of generosity. Generosity to the church, generosity to others. That s why regularly (and I ve written about this), one of my favorite books I wrote was the first book I ever wrote entitled Fatal Distractions Obstacles to Overcome in Your Life. In one of the chapters I talk about the importance of generosity, the importance of strategically and regularly giving stuff away. Not junky junk, not crapola. We love to give crapola to people, stuff that s kind of broken, worn out, busted, cracked, OK you can have it. And we love to do that to the church. People give the church more crap Here s this, let me donate this to the church. Some brokendown car. Shag carpet, stinks like the rear of a camel, let me give it to the church! What? We don t want it. Give the best! When you give something away regularly to someone from your stuff, Page 6 of 7 Ed Young

7 stuff you like, give them a new suit, not an old one! Give them a new belt, not an old one! A new pair of glasses! One of the great things about Fellowship Church is we have this spirit of generosity. You can feel it, you can just taste it, you can smell it. It doesn t stink like the back end of a camel. There s a perfume, an aroma, a fragrance of generosity. As I speak in churches all over the world, I can walk into a church and tell you if it has the heart of generosity of not. I can see it on the countenance and faces of the people. It s amazing. And folks we have that, and we ve got to continue doing that. It s who God is. It s in his very nature and character. God is a God of generosity. So it s time to put our stuff, today, through the camel filter, the filter of faith. What matters? What doesn t? There s gonna be a test. We know it, yet we can pass the test with flying colors when we do it God s way. Don t let anyone ever guilt trip you for being blessed. We re blessed to be a blessing. We re not here to have a vice grip on the reins of our resources. We re not to ride the camel of commerce, we are to ride the horse that God has for us, and that s a white horse. It s an awesome horse, a horse of generosity. You know, Jesus talked to this young man about eternal life. He saw that one thing that was keeping him from eternal life. What s that one thing that you re holding onto? It could be resources. It could be reputation. It could be a habit. It could be an addiction. What is that thing you re holding onto? What s that thing that you have a white-knuckle grip on? I want to challenge you right now to release the reins and to give control of your camel, whatever it is, to Jesus. Won t you pray with me? [Ed leads in closing prayer.] Page 7 of 7 Ed Young

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