Are You a Chicken or an Eagle?

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In his book, The Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom opens with a folk tale gleaned from the North American High Plains Indians. The story tells of a warrior who found an eagle’s egg that had tumbled out of its nest. Curious about what would happen, he took the egg and placed it in the next of a Prairie Chicken. The Eaglet hatched with the brood of Prairie Chicken chicks, and grew up with them. All his life, the foundling eagle, thinking he was a Prairie Chicken, did what Prairie Chickens do. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled. And when he flew, he flew with a brief thrashing of wings and a flurry of feathers no more than a few dozen yards at a time and never more than three or four feet off the ground. After all, that’s how Prairie Chickens fly so that’s how he flew. Years passed. And the foundling eagle grew very large and very powerful, and though he certainly didn’t look like a Prairie Chicken he acted like one. One day, he happened to look up and saw a magnificent bird far above the prairie grass. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. “What a beautiful bird!” exclaimed the foundling eagle to a fellow Prairie Chicken. “What is it?”

“That’s an eagle – the greatest of birds,” clucked the Prairie Chicken in reply. “But don’t give him a second thought. You could never be like him.” So the foundling eagle when back to scratching for seeds and bugs and never gave the eagle a second thought. And he died thinking he was a Prairie Chicken. The moral of the story is that you become what you believe you are.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a Prairie Chicken, or do you see an Eagle? How do you believe God sees you?

How you live the Christian life depends on how you answer those two questions. Your concept of God, and your concept of yourself fundamentally determines whether you will go scratching through life like a Prairie Chicken or soar on Eagle’s wings.


          1. over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to share the gospel with many people
              1. on several occasions, I’ve had a lost person say to me, “Preacher, if I could just start over, I’d live differently.”
                  1. what an opening that is
              2. my response to them has always been, “You can start over!”
                  1. God has made it possible for sinners to have a brand new life through His son Jesus, who is the Christ
          2. the Apostle Paul wrote that if we are in Christ then we are a new creation
            • "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17,NASB95)
          3. what does the Apostle mean when he says we are a new creature?
              1. do we change physically?
                  1. do we suddenly get taller?
                  2. do we suddenly get thinner?
                  3. do we become better looking
                  4. obviously this is not what the Apostle meant
              2. do we change intellectually?
                  1. do we suddenly become smarter?
                  2. are we suddenly nominees for the National Honor Society or MENSA?
                  3. obviously this is not what the Apostle meant
              3. do we change philosophically?
                  1. do we suddenly become a conservative Southern Baptist?
                  2. do we suddenly become a right-wing Republican?
                  3. do we suddenly become a Rush Limbaugh fan?
                  4. well – as factual as these might be, no, this is not what the Apostle means either
          4. the Apostle Paul is not talking about any outward physical change, or an intellectual change, nor a philosophical change
          5. the Apostle Paul is referring to a dynamic encounter with the living God that resurrects our soul from the dead
              1. the lost person may be alive physically, but their soul is dead
                • "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, "in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." (Ephesians 2:1-3,NASB95)
              2. in his letter to the Ephesian Christians, the Apostle Paul reminds them of their spiritual condition before coming to Christ
                  1. he reminds them that they were dead in your trespasses and sins
                  2. he reminds them that they walked according to the course of this world
                  3. he reminds them that their god was the prince of the power of the air
                  4. he reminds them that they were sons of disobedience
                  5. he reminds them that they lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind
              3. he then immediately reminds them of the great work that God has accomplished in their lives by making them alive in Christ
                • "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, "even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), "and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, "so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7,NASB95)
                  1. who made us new creatures? – But God, being rich in mercy
                    • ILLUS. v. 18 tells us that it is God who took the initiative to make us new creatures
                  2. why are we new creatures? – because of His great love with which He love us
                    • ILLUS. Here is God’s great motivation for making you a new creation.
                  3. how are we new creatures? – when we were dead in our transgressions, [he] made us alive together with Christ
                    • ILLUS. v. 19 tells us that in reconciling us, He does not count our trespasses against us
                  4. what for are we new creature? – in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us
                    • ILLUS. Examine the lives of believers in ages past and see God’s kindness toward them.
          6. in Christ, your soul has been made alive and the Spirit of God has given you a heart of flesh to replace your old stoney heart that was unresponsive to God
              1. the transformation wrought by the new birth is not only an instantaneous miracle but also a lifelong process of sanctification
              2. for those so transformed, everything changes ...
                  1. old things have passed away – old values, old ideas, old plans, old loves, old desires, and old beliefs vanish
                  2. new things have come – God plants new desires, new loves, new inclinations, and new truths in the redeemed


    • "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation," (2 Corinthians 5:18,NASB95)
          1. if you’ve been reconciled to God through Christ God sees you in a totally different way
              1. He sees you as sons
                • "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12,NASB95)
                • "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”" (Romans 8:14-15,NASB95)
                • "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26,NASB95)
              2. in Christ you are no longer lost sinners doomed for destruction, but saved sons destined for glory
              3. you are no longer Prairie Chickens, but Eagles!
                • "Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, "Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." (Isaiah 40:30-31,NASB95)
          2. an important dynamic in living the victorious Christian life is your spiritual self image
          3. let me ask you a diagnostic questions: When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see, and do you like what you see?
              1. most people live their lives according to what they think of themselves
                  1. this is especially true if what they think of themselves is affirmed by others around them
                  2. this affirmation can make us feel like Prairie Chickens, or it can make us feel like Eagles
                    • ILLUS. In Thomas Wilson’s comic strip, Ziggy his cartoon character by that name is plagued by an endless stream of misfortune. In one cartoon, Ziggy is lying on the couch in his psychologist’s office and his analyst is telling him, “Ziggy, I wouldn’t worry about low self-esteem if I were you. It’s common to all losers.”
              2. the world looks at you and cries out LOSER
                  1. if you don’t dress right ... you’re a LOSER
                  2. if you don’t look right ... you’re a LOSER
                  3. if you don’t have the right friends ... you’re a LOSER
                1. if you don’t have a prestigious job ... you’re a LOSER
          4. the believer – in God’s sight – is a winner
              1. God sees you as reconciled ... to Himself through Christ
              2. the question is, Who are you going to believe?
                  1. what the world thinks about you is unimportant
                    • ILLUS. Besides, if you’re a Bible-believing, Church-going, Spirit-filled Christian, the world ain’t gonna think much of you anyway.
                    • "“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man." (Luke 6:22,NASB95)
                    • ILLUS. Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.”
              3. let me ask you a question: “If God right now, were describing you to one of HIs angels, what five adjectives or nouns would he use to describe you?”
                  1. I’m trying to help you find out how you think God thinks of you
                  2. this quiz is one of the most important tests you’ll ever take
                  3. if your answers do not match God’s answers, you need to go back and open the Book again
              4. here are some of the possible answers to the question How would God describe you to one of His angels?
                  1. He would say, “There is one of my saints ... “
                  2. He would say, “There is a son or a daughter of mine ... “
                  3. He would say, “There is a priest ... “
                  4. He would say, “There goes a child of the most High God ... “
                  5. He would say, “There is one of my disciples ... “
                  6. He would say, “There is a Kingdom citizen ... “
                  7. He would say, “There is a follower of my dear Son ... “
              5. if you did not write down words like these, you do not fully understand your salvation, and you do not fully understand your relationship with God, and how He sees you


          1. that means that God see you as righteous as His Son is righteous
              1. now some of you are going to say, “Wait a minute Pastor. That’s an awfully bold statement.”
              2. you’re right – that’s a bold statement – but it’s also Scriptural
          2. let’s listen to the Word of God on this
            • "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become therighteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21,NASB95)
            • "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24,NASB95)
            • "For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17,NASB95)
            • "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith," (Philippians 3:7-9, NASB95)
              1. through our Savior’s sacrificial atonement for our sin, God has provided us the perfect garment of righteousness that we need
                • ILLUS. The great 16th century reformer Martin Luther was a man in spiritual agony. The text of Romans 5:18 kept going around and around in his mind: “ ... just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” He referred to the great theological works of previous Catholic Divines, but there were of no help to him. He cried out in his prayers to the saints, but they gave no answers. His friends in the monastery tried to comfort him, but they could not assuage his angst. Luther again sat down and once again read the text, slowly pouring over each word. Suddenly his theological vision cleared. He felt like a veil of spiritual blindness had been lifted, and he understood what the Scriptures were saying. The righteousness which the Apostle Paul spoke of was not the righteousness of God seeking retribution upon sinners, but a righteousness which was conferred upon sinners when they believed on Christ. Here was the profound expression of God’s grace: God imputes the righteousness of His only begotten Son to the sinner who repents and believes. By His grace, God regards us as if we were as righteous as His only Son is righteous. It was at that moment that Luther was converted. He would write years later, “It seemed to me as if I had been born again and as if I had entered paradise through newly opened doors.”
          3. the next time you pray – perhaps during the invitation time – ask the Holy Spirit to show you what God thinks of you
              1. you’ll be so surprised, you’ll look into the mirror the next morning and wonder if you’re the one God’s really talking about
              2. I am convinced that one of the reasons that too many professing Christians are unable to develop a meaningful faith, is because they have either no understanding or no appreciation for who they are in Christ
              3. you’re scratching in the dirt with Prairie Chickens when you ought to be soaring on Eagle’s wings!

If you are a Christian this morning, you are an eagle. God intended you to soar through life on eagle’s wings. He did not intend for you to scratch around in the dirt with Prairie Chickens.

That’s a metaphoric way of saying you have a choice as a Christian: You can see yourself as God sees you and choose to live the victorious life in Christ. Or you can focus your attention on the things of this world and live like the lost sinner even though you are a child of God.

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