Jentezen Franklin - This is Your Year (Gateway Church)
Thank you so much. Thank you very much. God bless you. You may be seated. The Bible said, if you pray your prayers amiss, He said, I don't answer your prayers because you pray amiss. You missed it on that one, Pastor. You usually hear from God, but that ain't going to happen. And now we're going to see which one's a real prophet and a false prophet. We're about to find out tonight. Lord, back me up while I preach, please. I'm so honored to be back at Gateway Church. I love this place. It's influenced my life, my ministry, my family. I don't know of anybody that I look up more to and respect more. I've never been around Pastor Robert Morris that I didn't hear wisdom in the room. If he speaks, it's wisdom. It's the Word. it's on. And he and his precious wife Debbie.
Cherice is a good judge, my wife, we've been married for 35 years, and, this past year, this will be 36 this year. And the first time she met your pastor's wife, Debbie, She said, "I like her. She's real. She's the real deal". And, you know, they know. And then to see what God is doing with Pastor James and his precious, beautiful wife and family, the transition that God is in, because he's a God of families and he's a God of generations. And I'm so honored, very, very honored always to be here. I know that, you know, there's a saying pilots say: "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots". So, I'm going to flip that around a little bit, and I'm going to say, there are great sermons, and there are long sermons, but there are no great, long sermons. And the church said...
All right, let's go to the Word of God for just a few moments. Lord help me to get it right tonight, but I want to go for just a few moments, I want to go to the Book of Luke, the 13th chapter. Would you turn there with me to Luke 13? Luke 13. And I apologize to anyone that I'm messing up in the tech area there. I am your nightmare. Luke 13. But we prayed backstage a few moments ago, and you say, "Well, that's silly. That's silly". Everybody has what they do. And when God speaks to me, I just I just like for Him to speak to me. I got to feel it if I'm going to preach it. And there were some words that were said in that prayer that just ignited something in my heart, and I want to go with it right now. Luke chapter 13 is where I'm going.
Luke, chapter 13. And I'll begin reading in Luke 13. Let's go to verse 7. "Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years...'" Everybody say, "Three years". Everybody say the number three. "'I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up ground?' But he answered me and said unto me, 'Let it alone this year...'" Everybody shout, "This year". Say it again, please. This year. "...this year also, until I dig around it, and fertilize it.'" Some translations say, "dung it". The King James says "dung it". Most of you are not country people, I can tell you don't know what dung is. Let me give you an example. There's bull dung. There's cow dung. I was raised out in eastern North Carolina in a cornfield. There's horse dung. What else do you need me to say? Do you understand city people, Gateway people, in this beautiful area of the nation? You don't know anything about dung. But he said, I'm going to do two things to it. Give it one more year.
Turn to somebody and say, "We're going to give it one more year". Don't give up this year. After three years, give it one more year. The tree produced no fruit. It had no growth. And the scripture even said, Why is it taking up ground? The frustration of deferred dreams. I've prayed year after year after year. I've fasted. I've believed. It still hasn't happened. My son still isn't saved. My family this, that, and the other. My finances. What do I do? After three years, nothing's happened. The answer was, give it one more year. But wait a minute. He didn't say, give it one more year so we can keep doing the same thing we've been doing. He did not say, go into a new year doing exactly what you've been doing year after year after year and producing no change in your life. He said, "I want you, in this year..." Those words are biblical, right out of the text.
This year, whatever you've been praying for, the dream, the call, the purpose, the mate, the right person, the right steps, and it has not lined up yet. Don't let it become so frustrating that you decide to give up, but give it one more year. But this time we're going to do some things different. I don't want you to give it one more year and cross your fingers and hope it happens. But I'm going to do two things, the text implies, that has not been done in the previous three years. If you want something you've never had, you got to do something you've never done. You can't expect this year to be different if you're going to start it off just like another year.
Some of you aren't taking seriously, watching at home, you aren't taking seriously this First concept that your pastor has a burden about. But there's something about the first of a year that if you will get in alignment with God and seek Him, and let Him interrupt your schedule, let Him interrupt your normal routine. We don't give God any space. We expect Him to move and do great things, and we keep doing the same old thing. I'm a preacher. Teachers tell it, preachers yell it. I'm a preacher. I'm going to get, I can't help it. I got a microphone. You all had Sammy Rodriguez, so you'll be all right. I'm going somewhere, and I know where I'm going. I'm not worried about it. He said, "I'm going to do two things". He said, "I'm going to dig around it. I'm going to dig it". Everybody shout, "Dig it". "And I'm going to dung it. And when I get through with it..."
And apparently, the lack of these two things is what was hindering the harvest from coming. Just these two things. He said, "When I begin to dig..." when you're going into a new year after three years, and you haven't seen that miracle happen yet, it's time to dig deep. You know, God put everything that we need in this earth. He put coal in the earth. He put oil in the earth. He put gold in the earth. He just put it somewhere where He could keep it away from lazy people, people who are not willing to dig, people who are not willing to break up the fallow ground. Somebody prayed back there, "Break up the fallow ground". And that's what messed me up. Had two other sermons, and then I throw another one in the mix. But when he said, "Break it up," the Lord said, "This is the word for this place. Tell him I'm coming with a shovel and I'm breaking up".
And you've been through, many of you have been through such turmoil. It's like God's been digging up your life, and it's been so pained, with pain and problems, just digging and digging, and you've not understood what in the world is going on. When you go through a season when everything is getting tore up, y'all know what tore up is. When everything, not that kind of tore up. This is when God says, "I'm going to dig and I'm going to tear up". You think you know everything, but God comes along with a shovel, and He says, "If we want fruit, we're going to have to have some digging going on. I'm going to tear some things up. I'm going to take this hardness".
God wants to take the wasted years, and the terrible things that have happened over the last three years. The pandemic started three years ago this coming February. And three years of devastation. Three years where a whole generation of young people have become addicted, have become depressed, have become lost. They don't know who they are. They don't know where they're going. Many of them have become mentally, emotionally so weakened. And marriages, families, all of these things. These three years have devastated my family, your family, in some way. I've not talked to any family yet who has not had major, major loss or pain or something hit their family that tore it up, broke it up, dug it up. And people are stunned, and still not over what's happened the last three years.
Here's what I want you to hear: God, when He allows you to go through digging, that tears things up all around that tree, tearing it up, digging it up. Oh, God. What is He doing? He's preparing the ground. You either have a comfort mindset or a growth mindset. Comfort mindset says, "Leave me alone this year. I'm not going to seek God. I'm not going to fast. I'm not going to pray. I'm not going to spend any time extra in the Word in the beginning of the year". Some of you literally, and I'm not being mean tonight, but I'm here to shake you, I'm here to say to you, this is not another year. This is your year. This is not just another normal little deal. There's something very powerful that God is going to do in this church and in your life and in your family this year, if you will let Him tear you up a little, let Him tear you up again.
How long has it been since you came to church and left a service saying, "I will never be the same again"? I'm talking about the kind of services I used to get in when I was a teenager and the Holy Spirit tore me up, and I forgot about who I was and I forgot about what people were thinking. And tears as a teenager streamed down my face, and I began to pray in a heavenly language, and I didn't care what anybody thought. We need to get in some services that tear us up, that the Holy Spirit begins to dig deep and get the dirt that the Philistines put in the well and we hit water again. Dig, dig into this church this year. Make up your mind. Those of you who haven't gotten back into church, thank God for online and all of that. We all thank God for it. We've all seen miracles happen through it. But there is nothing like digging into a church like this. Getting in a small group, getting in and serving, becoming an usher again, volunteering again, getting involved, taking your little family.
If your children ask you, "Are we going to church this week"? That means you're not doing a good job. The kind of family I came up in, that was almost like cussing in our house. "What do you mean? What do you mean? Yeah, we're going Wednesday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night". And it wasn't legalism. It's just called being a good daddy and a momma and a Christian home and family! The church matters! If you want what you've been having the last few years, just keep on. If you want to change this year, get in church! Everybody take a praise break. And I'll keep on preaching. Oh, I feel this. You got to dig it. You got to dig into this book. You can't play with it. You got to pick it up, and you got to read it. You got to read it again. "I know it. I've already read it through. I checked all the months off".
Read it again. Read it. If you'll read this book, this book will read you, Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives. The more you read it, the more it'll read you. The very things that you need answers to, they await you in this book. But you got to dig it. You got to get in it. You got to listen to it. You got to renew your mind. You got to get it in song in your car, turn the dumb TV off and get something coming into your spirit that is life. Dig it! This is your year! This is not another year!
Somebody shout, "This is my year"! That's the title of this sermon. This is my year! Oh, you don't believe that. You're looking at me partly cloudy right now. I said, this is your year for a breakthrough! Believe it! Believe it and dig in! Dig in to worship! I don't know! I just think we've become too tame in our worship. And there's no church that's got greater worship than Gateway. But sometimes I yearn to get in a service where the Holy Spirit breaks out even in the music, and we don't even get to preach, and we don't even get to, we go to, some of you, "Oh, is this one of those kind of churches"? Not all the time. But sometimes we need the inspiration of a divine interruption. Let's dig deep this year. Let's dig deep into prayer. Let's dig deep. You're not a nut. You're not a fanatic.
If you're praying in these days, these first days of a new year, you're not crazy. You've heard God. You're not crazy. Look at this crowd on a Monday night. It's unbelievable. I don't think there's any other church in the nation that would have a crowd like this when both teams, the preacher and the people are represented, and both of us ought to be watching that game. But we've all decided, God first! Shout louder than they'll shout at the ball game tonight. God first! Dig deep! Dig deep, and give Him a praise! 'Til you feel life coming back. I need to smile more.
My wife said, "You need to calm down, and you need to smile more". You know, Job was a fruitful guy. He was a successful guy. He was the richest man in the east. He had a beautiful family, ten children, beautiful marriage, barns. What was it? 600? 600 donkeys or something? 800 camels? That's like semi-tractor-trailers, and I don't know what all, skyscrapers? He had it all. And God looked at him, and He said, "You think you're fruitful? I see more fruit in you". The Book of Job was the oldest book of the Bible. And God says, I'm going to dig. I'm going to turn your life upside down, Job. Actually, God didn't do it. He let the devil do it. But God started digging, and he lost his children. And God started digging, and his business went bad. And God started digging, and everything went crazy. His health, all kind of attacks, his multiple attacks.
And all through it he says, "Though He slay me yet, will I trust Him". Keep on digging. Keep on digging. Keep on digging. God let him go through life-altering situations, life-altering situations. Make sure when God is digging, you don't backslide. Make sure when the things turn on your life, you don't start coming less; you start coming more. Make sure you don't start blaming God and cursing church and people and all that. Don't let that bitterness get in your spirit. Even if something happens that you didn't think, When God is digging, it's always because He's got a plan. And in the end, God blessed him with double. So He's digging. And then watch this, Luke 13, in verse 8, he said, "and dung it" or fertilize it, manure it. I'm going to not just tear up your life for a season.
And how many of you, I'm just curious, how many of you over the last three years have gone through something that you thought you had fought your greatest battles, you really did? But the last three, let me see your hand, you could truly say God has been tearing, separating, tearing... That's what you're doing when you're digging around a dead tree. And then he said, if that's not enough, I'm going to dung it. I'm going to get fertilizer. I'm going to get manure, and I'm going to throw it on that fresh, broken ground. He said, Everything you've been through, I'm going to turn it into fertilizer. All the pain, all the problems, that's what He did for Job, all the attacks of the enemy, I'm going to turn it into fertilizer. God can use horrible things to soften us. God can use smelly things that stink, that are embarrassing, and humiliating to soften us, to break us, to cause us to absolutely come to an end to ourself.
About 100 years ago in New York City, horses were the primary means of transportation. New York City, 100 years ago had 150,000 horses a day on its streets, 150,000 horses a day on its streets. The average horse passes 56 pounds of manure a day. That's ten tons a year. That's 150,000 horses on the streets every day. That's 3 million pounds of manure a day on the streets of New York City. So deep was the manure... Y'all didn't know y'all were going to hear this tonight, did you? If you're mad at somebody, turn to somebody and say, you really need this message because you're full. Nine feet, the streets of New York were compacted, nine feet of manure. Something as obnoxious as manure would become the catalyst for the growth of the city, but under the foundation.
And when I think about this, I think about how that God wants to take... forgive me, Pastor. God wants to take the crap, and re-crap it. God wants to take the attacks, the pain, the sorrow, the shame, the disgrace, the brokenness, the addictions, and all the stuff that we went through. And He says, "I want to recycle it, and I'm going to turn it into fertilizer. And what the enemy thought would destroy you, it's actually going to cause you to come up where you never would have gotten had you not come through that digging and through that pain and through that mess and through that stench and through that humiliation".
Take a moment and give Him a mighty praise! Come on, give Him a mighty praise! This is what Paul was talking about in Philippians 3:8, when he said, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things... as dung". I've lost so much, he was saying. I've been through so many storms. I've been beaten, I've been accused wrongly, I've been snake-bitten, I've been persecuted, I've been stoned and left for dead, But I count it all as fertilizer. I tell you, that's why you can praise God in your valleys. That's why you can praise God when you get bad reports, not just mountaintop experiences, but when you understand, whatever the enemy meant for my evil, God is going to turn it around for my good. And weeping may endure for the night, somebody believe this tonight, but joy is coming! Joy is coming this year! This year, He's going to take the stuff that you've been through and He's going to cause a miracle to come out of it!
Turn to somebody and say, "Get ready for miracle growth". Doors to open no man can shut. This church is fixing to hit another cycle of miracle growth. Just when the enemy thinks you're finished, just when the enemy thinks you've peaked, just when the enemy says, "Well, after three years, the church will never come back". They told us to shut them down. They told us to shut up our praise. But I've come to announce something. Now, I'm going to preach. I was doing all that to get to my message. How many of you watched Monday Night Football about a week ago, the second day of this year? Everybody say this year. Oh, and by the way, number three, Hamlin. Number three, Hamlin. Three years, number three Hamlin.
A 24-year-old young man playing football gets hit in the chest. He takes a hard hit to the heart, and he drops down, and he stops breathing, and he's dead. And suddenly NBC, CNN, ABC, Fox. Nobody was saying, "No praying. No praying, no praying". Nobody was firing the coach from getting down on his knees with his team because this year it's a different year. This year, prayer is going to bust us out of the walls of the church. Sit down a minute. You shout on your own time. And here's the deal. Here's the deal. The whole world, the whole stadium. I watched professional football players, the bodies I'm going to have when I get to heaven one day. But I watched big old men with tears streaming down their face, humble themselves at the beginning, it's like God made an announcement to America.
"This is God, and I interrupt regularly-scheduled program, and since I can't get My church to take me serious, I'm going to come in a coliseum and I'm going to tell people, if you'll pray, I'll raise your dead sons and your dead daughters up! If you'll pray, I'll restore what the enemy has stolen! Your hopes, your dreams! I'll turn it, the attack, into fertilizer". Oh, somebody's shout with me, right now! At every campus, shout! And quit minimizing that. If I were the devil, I'd minimize praise to. I'd tell people to, "Be quiet, and praise Him in your spirit". I guarantee you, they're not quiet in that stadium tonight, as Georgia is already ahead, probably. Don't interrupt me in the middle of my sermon if I'm wrong. Listen, let me finish this. Here's the whole deal. They had to decide last Monday night. Are we going to play, on the second day of a new year? Are we going to play, or are we going to pray? Are we going to play games with God this year? We're just going to kind of come to church and go through the routine?
"Here, here's my money. God bless you. Hey, hey, hey. Bye. Bye". Grinning and gripping. "Hi, how are you? Good to see you, Hey, hey". You know, I'm working on, I was thinking about it the other day. Most of our sermons don't even get out of the parking lot. I want to preach one sermon that gets beyond the parking lot because people have become so hardened; they need some digging, and some of it needs to be not by a preacher or something. Quit blaming everybody for your own condition. Get into this book for yourself. Get on your knees. Say, as for me and my house, we will serve, reach over and grab that wife's hand in the beginning of a new year and say, hey, we don't have to sit back and let hell take our teenagers! We've got blood! We've got a name! We've got power! We've got the church! We can fight and win! Are you going to play or are you going to pray? Brand new year.
Watch. The devil messed with the wrong one on that field. He should have left number three alone, because when millions of people started praying. I remember another number three. I remember when they crucified Him, and they buried Him in a tomb. But on the third day, He rose from the dead. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, I don't know what to tell you. This is what I feel like saying tonight. This is your year. Favor is going to find you this year. I see favor rising like the dawn of the sunshine coming up on this place and on this people. Favor is going to find you this year. Grace is going to find you this year. This is my year.
"What do you mean? Don't be so fanatical. You going church again? You went Sunday. Now you're going on Monday"? And that's that voice. If the church won't get it done, God says, I'll start miracles. I'll start them in a coliseum. I'll have them at Walmart. I'll have them at the mall. I'm going to do something. And here's what I want to finish with, and I'm done. I've got a minute and 36 seconds, and I'm preaching every bit of it. Elijah prayed for three years. It was a drought. Three years. February will be three years. The Pandemic COVID-19 hit this nation and the world. He prayed for three years, and it was dry, dry, dry. The tree went unproductive for three years. Dry, dry, dry. Number three. Hamlin was number three. "Why you got, I don't like that kind of preach". I don't care.
One thing about it. It's the Word of God. And watch this. He gets in the prayer position. He said, I ain't playing this year. It's been three years. And he said, I'm praying. And the servant came back saying, I see a cloud the size of a man's hand. And he said, "Oh, my God". The Bible said, they started running off, and he outran the horses of Ahab. You know, that's fast. He outran the horses of Ahab. Just when Satan thinks, "I'm going to take a whole generation, I'm going to mess up a whole generation," God says, listen, listen, The Holy Spirit will not be outdone by demons and devils. He's going to outrun the power of the enemy. And God's going to restart the heart of our young people. God's going to restart the dreams of our young people. God's going to restart the heart of our young people for God. It's gotten out of rhythm, and they've lost themselves.
But here's what Elijah said, "I hear the sound of an abundance of rain". And Joel said, Joel said, Joel said that when the church fasts and prays and calls a solemn assembly, blow the trumpet, because the next thing that's going to happen is a visitation to the sons and the daughters, I will pour out of my Spirit upon your sons and upon your daughter's. Shout, this is my year for that, Say, my sons. Say, my daughters. Say, my grandchildren. Say, my husband, my wife. Say it if you have it or you don't have it. Say it! Say it! Get on your feet at every campus! Get on your feet and lift up your hands! Now, the Lord is in this place, and many of you need healing. The Lord spoke to me not too long ago, and He said, "Make room for healing in the church again. Take a moment and speak healing in the church again. Take time. Make room for healing". So raise your hands high, and say these words:
Lord, 2023. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all of these things will be added unto you. I surrender my family. I surrender my home. I surrender my life. I surrender my body. I surrender ungodly relationships. I give up it all. I turn it all over to You. I give You everything. This year, be Lord. This year, be Savior. This year, be Deliverer. This year, restart my heart.
And I want everybody to say this bold, big and take up the notch three times:
This year, pour out Your Spirit on the sons and on the daughters of this house like we have never seen!
Now, shout with the voice of triumph! Shout with the voice of triumph! Restart their hearts! That boy walked out of the hospital today. He walked out of the hospital this afternoon because the church early, first of the year, prayed. Walk over to somebody beside you. Get in a group of two or three, two or three, find somebody and begin to pray one for another at every campus. Lay your hands on somebody. Ask God to heal them. Ask God to save and pour out His Spirit on their sons and their daughters. Give them a prophetic word if God gives you one. But just pray. Take a moment, pray. Dig, dig, dig. Dig into worship right now. Dig in the prayer right now. Let Him take the pain. Let Him take the trouble. Let Him take the problems you've been going through and turn it into fertilizer, turn it into miracle growth. He can do it. Lazarus, by now he stinks. Jesus said, Oh, that sounds like, that sounds like fertilizer for a miracle. In Jesus' name.
If you don't know Jesus, just say, "Jesus saved me". Say it right where you're standing. If you don't know, you're right. If your backslid and far from God, just right where you're standing, say: "Jesus, forgive me. Jesus, come into this home". Those of you online, "Lord, we're going to put You first this year. We're going to get back in church. We're going to dig in. They're going to see me there Sunday morning. I can't keep myself away no more. I'm dying. My tree is dying. I'm withering. I'm not what I used to... If I don't feel what I used to feel". Dig in! When you get like Jacob and you say, "I will not let You go until You bless me," look out. Everybody say, "Favor is going to find me in my house in 2023." Pastor James is coming. Give God a mighty praise in this room right now.