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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - The Pressure Is Not The Problem

Levi Lusko - The Pressure Is Not The Problem

Levi Lusko - The Pressure Is Not The Problem
TOPICS: Pioneer Series, Pressure

Olivia, my first born and I, were on an airplane this week coming back from this event in Georgia. And I had to pee so bad. But there was turbulence, so they had the seatbelt sign on. And I was agitated. I was really distressed. And the turbulence kept going and going. I mean, we were like in a freefall, I'm not exaggerating, a couple of freefall, some of those like, oh this is a broken elevator moment. I wasn't at all worried. I was like. In fact, I'm kind of hoping we hit a mountain right now because I have to pee. It would quite frankly be a relief. And then finally, we got through the turbulence. And the pilot... but the problem was we had been so long in this hot moment that every single caffeinated person on that plane had the same thinking I did. And so it was like ding. And you just heard the sound of seatbelts. You know, people running. And I ended up third.

I pushed a few children out of the way. I ended up third in line for the bathroom. And it was a good thing I did because the first person got in. The second person got to stand there. And I found my way to the little window. But everybody else, you know what happened next? The flight attendant said, no, back to your seats. Because we can't have you blocking the aisle. And I was so pleased with myself for making it to the moment. And all I had to do was make it through one person, and a person in there, and I'm good. And at that point, I began to do what I always do, kind of try and chat up the flight attendant. And I always say, hey, where are you based out of? And they'll go such and such a place. And have you ever been there? And where are you headed to? And what do you do? And there's been some amazing moments.

You know, I got a chance to tell people about Fresh Life on YouTube. And they'll look it up later and be like, I subscribed. I'm going to watch next Sunday. So anybody from Delta out there, hi, how are you doing? Glad to have you with us here. And more than a few amazing people from airlines over the years have written notes on, handed to me. And thank you for your ministry. And thank you for what you do. And I love, they'll pull out a book and on the sly, have me sign up before we get off. And some great moments. This was not a great moment. So I said, where are you based out of? And she told me. And then she did a double take. I know the double take because it's like, oh, I think someone recognized me. She did this double take and slyly looked again. And she said, I don't know if you've heard this before, you look just like... oh wait, here we go. Here we go. But then she said, it was actually amazing. She said you look just like Jeremy Renner. Got the Holy Spirit. I'm like, this woman is hearing from God.

You know what I'm saying? Jeremy, I got, yeah, like you know, tell me more. It's like, you look just like Jeremy Renner she said to me. And I go, I go, no, that's, I've never heard that before. That's a new one. That's a first for me. But I understand, it makes sense to me now that you say it. It explains a lot, quite frankly, because this is what I'm picturing when she says that. I'm like, yeah, Jeremy Renner, that is what I look like. And I said to her, I said, I've never gotten that before. I said, most people, this is a true story, tell me if I have a celebrity doppelganger out there, it's Sid the Sloth from Ice Age. I have heard that more times than any other thing. You look, it's not nice at all. Just we're all like on the same page. Because in case you haven't seen Ice Age in a hot minute, this is what Sid the Sloth looked like from Ice Age. I said that to this woman. I said, I hear Sid the Sloth. She goes that's not nice. And I go, no it's not. It's actually really hurtful.

I have a lot to talk about in my therapy every week. She goes that's not nice. Kind of tsk, tsk, tsk. And she went back to what she was doing. And then just before I went in the bathroom, she looked up one more time, she goes, but now that you mention it. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. So I get back to my seat. I'm always looking for opportunities to have any shine in the eyes of my children. So I sit down. And Olivia, she says, I saw you talking to the flight attendant. What were you were you gabbing it up with her about? I said actually, you'll never believe this, she mistook me, like embellishing already. She mistook me, I'm saying, I'm telling her nothing about Sid the Sloth. I'm like, she mistook me for Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner. And Olivia, without even skipping a beat, she said is that Jeremy Renner before or after he got run over by a snowplow?

Hebrews chapter 11. There's a phrase out there. And it's this. It's no good deed goes unpunished. And there is a sense, at times, that your reward for doing something selfless will be difficulty or complexity will come your way. Which is, of course, what happened to Jeremy Renner. This unbelievable story, New Year's Day, he gets his snowplow out to help his nephew, who stranded and stuck in the snow. And after pulling him out, he's standing there, chatting up his nephew. And the snow plow begins to move without him realizing it. And he gets run over by this thing, breaking 30 bones. It's unbelievable. It's a miracle he's alive. And of course, all of us saw those news headlines and have seen some of those clips. And it's so inspiring. He's having to learn how to walk again and all the rest. But that's exactly, believe it or not, this idea of no good deed goes unpunished that is the flavor and flair of Hebrews chapter 11, specifically as we round the homestretch towards the conclusion and the finish line.

And I want to preach to you from this passage, a message Title: "The Pressure Is Not The Problem", that I'm calling the pressure is not the problem. The pressure is not the problem. And if you don't mind standing with me, I'd love to have you take your feet out of honor and appreciation for these that we are about to read about here in this text, just our way of acknowledging that from our oftentimes comfortable vantage point, we are about to read of the accounts of these who were willing to give their life to believe in and build what we today get to be benefited by. And so we read starting in verse 32. And what more shall I say?

Hebrews 11:32-40, "For the time would fail for me to tell of Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, and Jepthah, David, and Samuel, and the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword. Out of weakness, were made strong, became valiant in battle, turn to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better Resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourging. Yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned. They were sawn in two. They were tempted or slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goat skins being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the Earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony, how do you get such a thing? Through faith. Did not receive the promise God having provided something better, here's the part that should cause our hearts to swell with gratitude. Having provided better something for say it with me, us. They suffered for you. They fought so that you might be blessed. That they should not be made perfect apart from us, God keep us grateful". Amen.

You may be seated in God's presence. What a wonderful thing it is to study His word. And in this passage, what we find predominantly, the majority of what I just read to you is one sentence. In the original Greek, verse 32 through 38 is one sentence, which just shows you that having talked about Abel's faith, and Enoch's faith, and Noah's faith, and Joshua's faith, having gone through, from the book of Genesis on forward, the accounts of men and women who believed God, all making his case that following Jesus is greater than anything you can do. Because none of these people did something great. What made them great, what caused God to want to have their portrait hanging in his picture gallery, is that they lived lives of faith. Because the author of Hebrews, we said week one, is making the point to those who think Jesus, and we're being told Jesus is good to get you going. But it's not enough. You've got to add to that circumcision. You've got to add to that, this that you do this, this that you'll accomplish.

And then God will really be impressed. And they were tempted to go back to the Old Testament system of sacrifice and priesthood. And he's trying to say, are you kidding me? Jesus is better than religion. Y'all, it doesn't give you a big ego boost, but I'm telling you, it delivers where it counts the most. And to make his point, he goes back through all of those singular people throughout the Old Testament that the Jewish system would look to, oh yes, these are the jam. And he's saying, hey, how did they get there? By faith. And faith is only good if you have an object. And so the summary of Hebrews is Jesus is better, period. Better, period. And he's making this point that each of these lived a life of faith, even without knowing the language to use, in Jesus. Like Abraham, who rejoiced to see Jesus's day. He saw it and was glad. How did he see it? The eye of faith.

So each of these, he has spent some time on. Some got a sentence. Some got a couple sentences. Abraham got paragraphs. Of course, the father of faith is going to get a lot of shine, a lot of play. But now, he comes to the end. And he just sort of realizes, time would fail me to go into that detail on every single one of them. And so there's just this enormous, cascading explosion of men and women who have just come before us. And look how many there are. And I could go at length in each of them. But I'm writing on an actual physical scroll. And he realizes how much stationery he has left. And he's like I can't give as much time to each of the beginning ones as I did to get through them all. I've only gotten to the book of Joshua. I'm only to Rahab. There's a bunch of Old Testament left. And I would have to, I'd be here all day talking about Isaiah and Malachi. I'd be here all day if I want to talk about Ruth and Naomi. I'd be here all day if I wanted to talk about Deborah and Esther, every single person who's come, they're all amazing.

So it's just, he sort of uses this tool of the longest flowing sentence ever. It's just sort of like they're all amazing. Here's what they all did. Here's the kind of stuff that's possible if you live by faith in Jesus. And the common denominator is courage. By faith, they did valiant, courageous things. Translation, they performed well under pressure. Pressure, that thing that irritates you when you feel it, that thing that makes you feel like maybe something's gone wrong when you sense it. Nobody likes the feeling of pressure, but we all, to some degree or another, must face it. Financial pressure, some of it just because the economy is crazy, and things are tight, and cost of living increases, some of it because we make bad decisions. And we live above our means. And we want to live at the level of what we perceive this needs to be.

And so we can, at times, be for sure accomplices party to, guilty to, playing a part in our own suffering. So some of the pressure we feel is self-imposed, but not all of it. There's pressure for the future. I just have resolved to not ask juniors and seniors in high school, what's next for you? What's next for you? Because all those affiliates, all you get asked. It's everyone just wants to just talk about. The pressure to have a great answer for that. The pressure to have some amazing plan. We feel some of that, some of it external, some of it internal. There's relationship pressure. If you're married, you feel pressure. Paul said if you're unmarried, yippee. You get to care for the things of God. Go down in a hail of bullets. Go to Afghanistan, preach the gospel to the Taliban, and then see you all in heaven, if you're unmarried, you can do that. But if you're married, bro, you got responsibilities. You gotta take care of your spouse.

And so there's pressure that comes from being married. You have children, there's pressure. The Bible says if you don't take care of your family, you are worse than an unbeliever. So that pressure is real to some extent. And then there's just like the other, the everyday pressure. Summer comes with pressure. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I got to get 12 months of sunshine. And it's like all I'm going to get, right. February is coming. You can see the whites of everybody's eyes. Oh, pressure, pressure, pressure. I want to see every sunrise. I want to see every sunset. I want to do every hiking trail. I got to do them all. Such pressure, pressure that we feel. Well, the people celebrated on this list dealt with pressure. None of it was imagined. And it was not the pressure about do I go whitewater rafting or do I go hike a mountain. I mean, this was real pressure. I made a little list, some of the pressure we just read about, it's mockery.

1: Mockery It literally, the word mockery is used. They were made fun of. For what? For what? What did they get made fun of? For doing what God told them to do, for preaching the sermons God told them to preach. They were ridiculed. Abraham, and some of this is on God. Who's going to go ahead and change the Father of many, exalted father was Abraham's name. And God changes his name to father of many nations with no kids still. Imagine you're at the court. I come here for a name change. What's your name? Exalted father. Oh wow, exalted father. Wow, how many kids you have? Well, none. But we're believing. What are you changing your name to? Father many nations. God bless you. Good luck. Good luck with that. It's like that sense of ridicule. There was mockery. There's smirking. There was laughter. You're building a boat, it's never rained before.

You see what I'm saying? They were mocked. Why? For doing what God called them to do. Why would you think it would be any different for you? When your old friends call, when your old boyfriend DMs you, when they're all going to do this, oh, Holy Roller, oh, Goody Two Shoes, oh, you got Jesus on us. Why would you think it would be any different for doing what God called you to do? I remember when Jennie and I felt like we were supposed to move to Montana and start something that we were going to call Fresh Life Church. And a man I respected asked me to go to breakfast with him. And he looked me in the eyes over pancakes, and I normally love pancakes, and he ruined them for me because over macadamia nut pancakes, he looked me in the eyes and said, it's not God's will for you to go to Montana. Those are hardcore words to use to somebody. And that gets my attention because I've wanted nothing since I was 14 more than I wanted God's will for my life.

Jesus touched me at summer camp. And I raised my hands up. And I said, here, my God, send me whatever you want, wherever you want me to go. And so my whole life has been imperfectly, Jennie and I's life has been imperfectly pointing towards God's will. So for someone to say it's not God's will for you to leave California because people are coming to Christ in California for you to leave is basically letting them all go to hell. So you can't go to Montana because you have a call in your life to reach a lot of people, don't you? And I said, I do. He goes there's not a lot of people in Montana. So it doesn't make any sense. And then he said there's more cows in Montana than people. So you can't abandon the millions of California to reach a few farmers and cows in Montana. And then another man I respected. He said to me, Levi, if you go to Montana and it goes really well, in a couple of years, you may have a couple hundred people that you get to preach God's word to. But here, you're already preaching to thousands.

So that's just not good math. You know what I wrote in my journal that night? I wrote this sentence. God, you are able to send me to Montana and to reach thousands of people because you fed 5,000 with a little boy's lunchbox. And it gives all the glory to God, I think, for him to do it in a way that doesn't make sense. So we have to have thick skin to handle mockery. Jeremiah, how many of you love you some Jeremiah 29:11. No hands, no takers? I have never ever seen more verses that have been cross stitched in bathrooms than that verse. You know your grandma had some crocheted Jeremiah 29:11 hanging on that hoop up in her... I know the plans God has for me. I have relieved myself to that verse more than any other, I think, over the years. And whenever I see it, it's two pee stories in one sermon. This is more than normal.

If you're here for the first time, I usually sprinkle them out over the year with greater frequency between references. And yet, Jeremiah 29:11, when he wrote it, we all love it. No one loved it. He was made fun of for his ministry. He was put into a pit. And he was eventually stoned to death by the people he preached to. Never had one convert his entire life. Oh, you love Jeremiah. He was called the weeping prophet because that's how he spent most of his days. Because he was mocked. And this text lifts up Jeremiah and says homie was awesome because he endured mockery. And many people will face the reality, as they do what God called them to do, that it's not accepted, not celebrated, not embraced in their day. True pioneers are oftentimes ahead of their time. You see? And so some of you, this explains the tension because you're wanting to pull back your greatness to the level of the quotient of those around you today. I say to you, don't do it.

Someone said to Henry Ford, why do you never do surveys, ask people what they want in your cars? He said if I had to ask them what they wanted, they would have said they wanted a faster horse. I was giving them what they didn't know they needed. And he was ridiculed in his day. He was mocked in his day. And so what do we have to do in order to navigate the mockery? We have to believe this. That if we're demonized following God, that's OK because in time, like this text shows to us, there will be a lionizing that happens. But that's in God's hands. So they're lionized now. But they were demonized then. All right, secondly, we're going to have to deal with agony.

2: Agony Agony, there's actual, physical discomfort in this text. These in Hebrews 11 dealt with extraordinary pain, brutality, torture, suffering. And across the world, let me tell you, friends, this is still something people are enduring. There's more physical persecution for following Jesus happening on the earth today, it's estimated, than at any point in church history. So when I say we, I don't mean we, me. I mean we, the body of Christ. And we must suffer with those who are suffering and do what we can to send aid. Do what we can to help. And that's prayer. And that's giving. And that's finding nonprofits. And as we will continue to do, sending scripture into parts of the world that do not have God's word in their own tongue. And so we must do what we can to help people to be able to say I cannot help but to speak what I've seen and heard, regardless of the pain that comes my way. And that's what we believe for.

Acts 5:41, the disciples departed Acts 5.41 from the presence of the council, where they were beaten for following Jesus. And what did they do? They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And so we feel bad for those who are dealing with these actual things. But they would say, we're the lucky ones. We're lucky that we would be counted worthy to suffer for King Jesus, who suffered for us. And don't forget that at any point, these who suffer for Jesus could have made it stop because the text tells us. They did not accept deliverance. They could have made the antagonism, the hostility, the brutality go away.

Isaiah could have. You know what happened to him? He was sawn in two. His adversaries, including a King of Israel in Manassa put him inside a hollowed out tree and brought over a lumberjack with a large saw and said, why don't you just stop preaching and this will stop? And Isaiah, to his last breath, pointed people to God. Isaiah chapter 6, I saw the Lord seated on the throne. And a train of his robe filled the temple with glory. And I saw the seraphim crying out, holy, holy, holy. This is his message that he had to preach. It's called the Bible in miniature because there are 66 chapters to Isaiah's book that line up pretty beautifully with the 66 books the Bible. And it has this whole arc to it.

And there's a halfway point where a John the Baptist like figure shows up. It's unbelievable. And he has this message, calling the nation to repentance, calling the nation to trust God and accept the judgment that's coming because of the way they've turned from him. And to the last, he would not recant. He could have made it stop had he just been silent. He could have continued to live a long, happy, plush life had he just turned from what God called him to. But he would not. He did not accept deliverance because he knew it was an honor to suffer for Jesus's name. We're going to have to deal with mockery. We, the body of Christ, are going to have to endure agony. And then thirdly, maybe the most difficult test for us in the year 2023 today, anonymity.

3: Anonymity It's one thing, oh I would... oh, you kidding me? I pity the fool who tells me to recant. They can have my Bible when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Right, awesome, you're very tough. Would you die for Jesus? Maybe you would. Perhaps the better question is would you live for him? Would I if what he called me to was obscurity, where no one would know what I did or didn't do in my time? Where no one would read the book that God called me to write. Would I keep reading it and writing it as he told me to? Anonymity, there was an author who wrote a book that very few people read. It got published by a small publisher. But it only sold 900 copies, which is very anticlimactic for a publisher who puts all the time, energy, and attention into a book being sent out into the world. Expectations were high for this book. And as it was released, they were very disappointed with it.

And so when the opportunity came in the refresh cycle to choose whether or not they would reprint the book, they declined the opportunity to reprint this book. The book's title is The Alchemist. Anybody has read this book by the author Paulo Coelho? It's one of the best-selling books period, 65 million copies in circulation, an international bestseller. But it did not go as far as it's gone until he wrote his second book. They said, no, they shelved it. It's done. But he kept writing anyway. And his second book, a book called Breida somehow resonated with people, who said, well, that book was good.

So let me go back and read anything else he's written. And when they read The Alchemist, it so far exceeded any expectation you could possibly imagine for it. But what if he would have stopped when it didn't work the first time? When no one wanted to read what he had written, he would have failed the anonymity test that he wasn't writing because there was greatness within him and a creative thing he wanted. He was writing to be successful. And so many in our day in the kingdom of God, all too often, have the wrong motivation in our heart. That we're not serving to be seen by Him. But that we're serving to be successful, to have influence, to have a big platform, to have a big reach, to have our name in lights. These motives show up and lurk in all of our hearts.

And these people in this chapter that I've just read, well, I'm just going to say it, I think I would be disappointed if I was David. I mean, kind of the man after God's own heart. I don't know, if you guys are aware, I killed Goliath. That didn't even make it in here? He just gets like, dude, you know there's some stiff competition, by the way, when David, and Samuel, and Samson get honorable mentions? Because he wasted all his energy on Abel, and Enoch, and Abraham, and Rahab. And then he's like, all right running out of time, yeah, there was some other people who did awesome stuff too, David, and Samuel, and Jepthah, and Samson, and then he doesn't even use names anymore. And for all of the Old Testament from Rahab until J the B, that's John the Baptist for my Bieber fans who were confused, he just sort of like summarizes them. And doesn't even use their names.

Would that chafe you? If what you did for God didn't get talked about, didn't get reported, didn't get bragged on? Would it make you want to get frustrated? I've been serving longer, why does that person get that opportunity? Why does that person get, why are they in that meeting? Don't you see, I've been overlooked. I've been buried or planted? How are we going to translate and interpret what we're seeing in front of us? Well, I can say for all of these people, they, the text says, kept their eyes on Him who rewards who can give them a good testimony. He can give them a good testimony. That's what the text says. It says that verse 39, they obtained a good testimony Hebrews 11.39 through faith. That's kind of the big theme of this chapter. That they did so in such a way that made God up in heaven give them a standing ovation. They were not looking for a trophy from any person on Earth. No one on this planet has the trophy to give you for what your soul actually craves, which is the recognition and appreciation from almighty God.

So we've got to get to a place and find our way to a place where we can handle the pressure of anonymity, where we realize people don't need to know because God knows. And he's the one who sees in secret. And he's the one who can reward openly. And just because I haven't been singled out doesn't mean I haven't been seen by God. Just because I don't have prominence in a list doesn't mean I don't have importance in God's Kingdom. And to the degree that we need the @ mention. To the degree that we're like, oh, but Rahab actually technically did less, hey, author of Hebrews, which is an interesting point that we don't even know who wrote this book. But they are today, at this moment as we preach and you get blessed, getting a reward in heaven. Because they didn't write it to be recognized. They wrote it because God gripped them.

You see, so the author of Hebrews, whoever he or she may be, praise God that you didn't need the plug at the beginning because they wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. So Paul when he said I'm Paul, an apostle, he didn't do so because he wanted the shine that would come from that. He did so because God called him to. And the author of Hebrews, God said, I want you to stay obscure. I want you to stay hidden. I want you to stay in the shadows. Hey, and by the way, we're just going to talk about people who got killed by the sword. And the commentaries trip over themselves, this is so fun, I read this week 30 or 40 commentaries. And it was sort of like a Bible scavenger hunt. They spent so much energy, and praise God for each commentary, that's what they say about commentaries, some taters are more common than others. They spent so much energy trying to figure out who was who. They're like, oh well, they stopped him on some lions.

That's got to be Daniel. They escaped through fire. Oh, Rac, Shac, and Benny. Oh, they out of weakness were made strong, that's got to be Gideon. And then Clement of Rome was like, well no, that actually sounds like Esther because she was afraid at first to go into the throne room. But then she got strong. That's got to be Esther. But then John Calvin was like, no, sounds to me more like Hezekiah because Hezekiah was dying, but prayed, and the God turned the shadow backwards. And he got some more time added to the clock. And I'm like, it doesn't matter. God's trying to say they did so to please an audience of one. And may heaven help us to serve whether people see it and recognize it. May we get over this FOMO and this sense of but I need sort of like my time in the limelight. And we can say, God, I want to do what you're going to reward because my eyes are on you. Because I got news for you, Hebrews 4:13 Hebrews 4.13 says there is no creature hidden from his sight. But all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Now, don't hear what I'm saying. God is so good, he'll even use you when your motives are bad. He'll get his work done. There is sermons and things I've done that I guarantee you I am not getting any reward for in heaven because my motives were wrong and there's flesh in it. And God's so good, he'll still use his gospel, even if you don't get blessed for it because you were corrupt in the moment. But he'll still flow his living water through those... and that's why every time, the media loves to run, oh, the church is so broken and flawed, look at this broken pastor who did bad things. Yeah, guess what? God uses bad people. And at times, he'll draw a straight line, even with a crooked stick. And he's still going to build his church. And he's still going to save the loss. And so whether or not we get rewarded for it is irrelative. Can we survive the anonymity test?

And then number four, maybe the most, 4: Uncertainty hard to navigate in the moment is the uncertainty test. This is the... God, I've been doing this for a hot minute. But it doesn't seem to be working. It doesn't seem, so maybe I heard you wrong. Maybe I heard you wrong. This is where, in uncertainty, we make mistakes. Like going into Hagar. I want to help God out a little bit. I'm going to make it happen. I'm going to human it a little bit. Because we get uncertain. Because a lot of times, God calls us to things that aren't going to seem like they're working. Because it's not a good battle strategy to march around a city, like architecturally. That's not a good plan. I don't know, maybe there's something in the schematics that we can trip if we just get that seventh walk on.

So God says, hey, I want you to do this with a straight face, knowing full well it's nonsense, because he loves to turn the wisdom of this world on its head and use the foolishness of God. That's the gospel. There are better ways to save people than Jesus dying on the cross, I'm sure of it. But God said, I intentionally picked the foolishness of the gospel. So that it wouldn't be about some excellent noble thing, like oh, if you can survive the quest to get the Holy Grail, you must first endure the pit of snakes. We would all be like, oh, game on. You know what I'm saying? It would give us an ego boost. But God picked something called the Gospel, where you just got to kneel before that old, rugged cross. And no one looks sexy kneeling before a cross. And if you believe, you can receive what you can never earn.

So uncertainty doesn't stop the day you get saved. It continues on. Where the whole way til heaven, we feel like we're limping on because God's calling us to do things. And we're like, I don't know. But are you sure? And at best, we're going to give them like a medium faith. And a lot of times, there's going to be difficulty in there and times where we try and quit. Jeremiah tried to quit. There was one time he's so frustrated, he said, God, I am sick of this. I am burnt out. I'm never preaching again. And he tried to walk away. He didn't even get out the door when the Holy Ghost began to burn his heart like a consuming fire. And he's like, all right, I'm on it again. And that's what we need to continue to do. Let that fire burn on the inside of us to give us a strength to deal with the pressure, the pressure of uncertainty, the pressure of did we make a mistake.

Did we hear it wrong? And if God hasn't spoken anything new to you in a while, what do you do? Just keep doing the last thing he told you to do. And you let him worry about it. That got a weak amen. You know why? Because it sucks when you're in the midst of it. Stops, and starts, and fits, and where are you? God is famous for telling us to do something then seemingly pulling back. Why do so many of the Psalms talk about God? My prayers have bouncing off the ceiling here. Because he's trying to coax out faith in us. And he knows that we need the pressure of uncertainty in order to have faith. Do you know why we get this so wrong? Because we have been sold a lie that doubt is somehow a sin and doubt is somehow the enemy, which is only partially true. And when something's partially true, it's got enough of a lie mixed in to make it lethal.

So let me clear up the confusion. Faith has an opposite. But it ain't doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty. The opposite, hear me, of faith isn't doubt. It's certainty. What does doubt then become? The occasion where faith can shine, but only if we use our doubts as nouns and don't let them become verbs. Doubt as a noun is natural, normal, human. It's where we hear God tell us something that doesn't make any sense. And we feel, there's some doubt to that because what he's telling me doesn't make any sense. I'm supposed to have a baby. I'm a virgin. I'm going to feel some doubt on that one, Mary.

Now, you have a critical choice, though. In your doubt as a noun that you feel, do you choose to doubt as a verb or faith as a verb, believe. And if you do, your doubt becomes the springboard and catalyst of faith. So don't be put out by your doubts. I believe. I got my doubts. But I'm going to stand on those doubts and say what I know is contradicting of what I know about God, I'm picking God. I'm trusting Him. I'm with Him. God, help my unbelief. I'm not going to choose to doubt as a verb, which the Bible says causes me to be an unstable man in all of his ways who should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

So I'm going to feel doubt, but then choose faith. I hope that helps you. Because the Enemy opposes you. Oh, look at you with your doubts. You're right, I suck. We feel like doubt's a sin. But it's not until you choose to walk in it, until you choose to believe it over God. But when in the midst of your doubts, you raise up a flag of faith, that's where faith shines like never before. All right, Levi, what are we to take away from this? We need some takeaway truths for our doggy bag. All right, five of them, jot them down. Number one, pressure's a privilege. This is how we're going to speak about pressure. Oh, I'm under so much pressure at work. I'm under so much pressure.

1: Pressure is a Privilege. So we're going to start speaking about it and go hold on, hold on, hold on, pressure's a privilege. First of all, to have any pressure means you're alive, alive. I had written this sermon title down and was beginning to prepare for it. And then I was at a conference and my friend DawnChere Wilkerson was talking. And she said, you realize that the thing you complain about oftentimes is pressure, if you didn't have any, you'd be dead. The cuff says you got some blood pressure. Praise God for some pressure. You couldn't see without pressure in your eye. You couldn't drive without pressure in your tires.

So what are we going to start to do? We're going to re-frame things and remind ourselves, pressure's a privilege. And we're going to remember we prayed for this. Pressure in my marriage, you prayed for a wife. I got pressure my kids, my kids, my kids. Weren't you struggling through infertility when you believed for children? So don't be angry when the answer to your prayer is now causing you consternation. He's just causing the cycle to repeat. You've got now something new to pray for. But let's frame it correctly. This is a privilege. Pressure is a privilege. It's an honor to be trusted with a trial. Philippians 1.29 Philippians 1, for to you it has been granted, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. So you wanted this. Pressure is a privilege.

Number two, it's an opportunity for preparation. 2: Pressure is an Opportunity for Preparation It's an opportunity to prepare. I heard an interview with Tony Robbins a while back, who talked about the chance that he had to meet Nelson Mandela before he went into the next life. Nelson Mandella Photo And he, in this interview, said the only question he wanted to ask him was how did you endure. How did you survive 27 years of prison? I remember staying at the Nelson Mandela hotel in Johannesburg, Africa. And I was like that's pretty cool to get a hotel named after you. Yeah, of course, Nobel Prize winner, president, first Black president of South Africa. But Tony was saying, before all that, when you were incarcerated for 27 years, 18 of them on Robben Island, in a tiny cell, you can see a recreation of it. It is unbelievable to think, smaller than your powder room, that he lived 18 years in this tiny cell.

And when he asked Nelson Mandela, how did you how did you survive all that. He said no. No, no, I'm assuming he didn't understand the question. No, I mean, how did you survive all that time in prison? he goes no. No, what I'm trying to say, he goes, I understood the question. I didn't survive. I prepared. I didn't survive my pressure, I prepared. That's how Joseph came out of the pit and the prison and was ready for the platform of being prime minister of Egypt. Some of us missed the opportunity to prepare in the midst of our pressure because of the pain and the pinch that we feel. But what is God trying to do? He's trying to shape you. He's trying to prepare you. And he knows what you need to know.

Pressure is a part of a process. 3: Pressure is a Part of the Process And that process is Christ's likeness. And that's the goal and the aim of life, as Christians, to become more like Him. And what does that mean? He needs to get the chisel out. He needs to get Him the hammer out. Michelangelo said of David, how did you make it? He goes, well, it was a giant block of marble and all I simply had to do was remove everything that was not David. God sees what needs to be removed from your life. And it's unpleasant. But the process of pruning, the process of purifying, the process of stripping us back and helping us become who He knows deep down we have in the image of God inside of us the opportunity to be, it takes work. It takes difficulty. It takes pain. Then last... or second to last, we need to know that navigating pressure requires perseverance. Perseverance, it's not a one-off moment. It's the series of events that culminate in what God wants to do.

Jeremy Renner was asked how did you learn to walk again? He said one step at a time. One step at a time. And then he said this. And this is the words of a man who's grateful to be alive. I've lost a lot of flesh and a lot of bone in this experience. But I've been refueled and refilled with both love and titanium. He says, I'm like an X-Man now. You see what I'm saying? He's like, he's choosing to look at it differently. How easy would it be to be bitter? How easy would it be to be a victim? How easy would it be to be, I don't deserve this. I was just trying to help somebody. Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. But he's got that grateful spirit. And he knows that if one step at a time, just like you, can get stronger. You can become better. You can become more grateful. You can become ready to help other people in the midst of the things that life has thrown at you. Come on, I'm speaking freedom from the victim mentality in Jesus' name.

And then lastly, perspective is key to not, 4: Perspective is Key to Not Being Crushed by Pressure being crushed by pressure. And yes, I realize, and I almost wrote a different talk after the events of this last week. Five people being crushed in a submarine, trying to see the ship that God couldn't sink. And I had written this talk already. It was already prepared and ready to go. And I just felt like it was just the perfect reminder with prayers for the families, and no sense of trying to exploit a horrible tragedy, but an implosion of a submarine takes place only when there is not an equal pressure on the inside pushing out for the pressure on the outside being exerted within. We need, if we're not going to be crushed by the pressure we will face in this world, an equal and opposite pressure on the inside pushing out. And if you read Hebrews 11 and go, how did they not get crushed by the pressure that they were in? It's because they had an internal pressure equalizing, pushing on the outside. And that pressure was called perspective.

In fact, the text tells us clearly we don't have to wonder. How did they make it through this? It's verse 35. They did all these things, the mouth of a lion, the edge of the sword, being sawn in two because they had their eyes on a better Resurrection. Oh, they knew if they just said, I don't believe anymore. And they cursed Christ like every martyr has ever since Christ ascended to heaven, if we just denounce the name of Jesus, going back to Columbine, Cassie Bernall, I believe in God. She could have lived that day. But she chose to not deny the name of her Savior. She could have lived on that day. You see what I'm saying? Had they said uncle, any one of them could made the trial stop.

The text tells us they could have accepted deliverance. And it would have been like a Resurrection in the trial. But they denied that opportunity. They had their eyes on a better Resurrection, the Resurrection where Christ returns and our bodies are remade gloriously to live on a brand new Earth with Christ that we will rule and reign with. They had their eyes on a future hope. And that gave them pressure on the inside to handle the difficulty that was squeezing on them from the outside. Do you have an internal pressure? That long sightedness of hope, our eyes on Jesus and His coming kingdom and His promises. We're left with some challenging, penetrating questions. These three are what I wrote down as a way to respond to this all. Can you and I suffer well? Can we joyfully pick up our cross to follow Him? Or are we fair weather worshippers? Will we throw up our hands and call it quits when being a part of His church hurts? Number two, do you need recognition in order to give your best contribution? Or are you willing to say, God, you see in secret.

So I'm going to keep doing what you've called me to do, no matter whether anybody else ever sees it. And number three, will the exploits of your journey following God inspire coming generations? Because we get to read this and go, heaven yeah, heaven yeah, heaven yeah. I'm ready to do what I'm going to do because of the way they did what they're going to do. Will, 100 years from now, and 500 years from now, if Jesus has not returned, will people be reading the story of you, the gospel of you? Will it be about how by faith, you did all this. Or will it be about how about your wound? You got angry and got bitter, you turned to a substance. You got mad at other people. Will it be a small story or a big gospel, big glory story? What can rescue us from such a fate?

Four things, they're on the screen all at once, Four Things: Inspiration, Elimination, Adoration, Concentration inspiration, elimination, adoration, and concentration. Because I got a word for somebody. Hebrews 12 comes after Hebrews 11. You're like, oh, I did not know that. I will write that down. And after all this time on these dope men and women of old, how does he round the corner? By having us look at the race of faith and knowing that we are surrounded by Esther, surrounded by David, surrounded by Jonah, surrounded by Moses. And then he says so run so run, so run, so cut weight and run. Come on, don't run with a blender in your arms. I love protein shakes that are blended good. That's going to stop you.

Come on, there's good things you need to let go of. There's things that you're doing that are the enemy of the best things that you could be doing. And they're sins. So drop those sins. Those things that are holding you back from a race of faith, and whatever you do, whatever you do, whatever you do, don't take your eyes off of Jesus. Adore him. He endured the cross, despising the shame for the joy set before him. What was that joy? You and you. And hardest for me to believe, it was me. I'll preach all day long that God loves you, but sometimes, I can't believe he loves me. It's so much easier for me to tell the world God loves you. But I know how small I can be. And it's hard for me to believe he loves me. But then I remember that there's some broken people in Hebrews 11. Samson, prostitutes, bro?

By faith, Samson. God's teaching us how to look at ourselves covered in Jesus. The religious spirit sneaks in. I got to earn that love. That's my problem. Performance Levi says I've got to earn that love. And if I'm crushing it, I'm going to be like, yep. But when in my brokenness I accept that love anyway and I believe it's not about me, it's about Jesus, that makes me want to even have more desire to do things for Him because it's no longer about me. You see what I'm saying? So we need to adore the process that He saved us by, the punishment of the cross. And concentrate on Him. Run your race, looking unto Jesus.

Hear me: if this was my last sermon I ever preached at this church or in this life, I would want to tell you, don't take your eyes off Jesus. Run looking unto Him. Run looking unto Him. Run looking unto Him. So that should, God forbid, something happened in this life ends and you're all of a sudden you wake up in heaven, may it be the smoothest transition you've ever experienced because you were looking at Him, looking at Him, looking at Him, looking at Him, looking at Him, looking at Him, looking at Him. And then one day, you're like, oh my gosh, he's right there. Hopefully saying to you, well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.

We recognize there are some things we need to cut so we can run. There's some addictions. There's some grudges. There's some wounds. There's some stuff, God. We need your touch. And we welcome you here, Holy Spirit. Move in our midst. Oh give your gifts, we pray, God. Heal bodies, and minds, and hearts. Tear down strongholds in the mighty name of Jesus.

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