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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Never Stop Knocking

Steven Furtick - Never Stop Knocking

Steven Furtick - Never Stop Knocking
TOPICS: Persistence

I want to turn that around before we get into the sermon. I want to say how thankful I am for you. You are an answer to prayer is what you don't realize. We started praying for you before we ever had our first church service, that the Lord would send us people who… First of all, that he would send people who needed Jesus. Do you qualify? I'm like, "God, send people who need you in their lives as much as I do". Then we prayed that he would send us people… Do you remember the Scripture where Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few"? So, we asked the Lord to send people who would not just want to pull up to the all-you-can-eat crab leg buffet and just consume but would really want to bring to God an offering. That's prayer. That's giving. That's service. That's worship.

You know who you are, the thousands of you who actually make it happen, who don't just come and go, "I wonder if Pastor Steven is preaching today or if it is one of them guests. Some of them are pretty good. I don't like all of them, but they're all right". Some people just show up, and they're like, "It doesn't matter who's preaching…" I know, and you know, it's not about a preacher, a personality. It's about the purpose God has given us to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world. All right. Get it out of your system. Twenty-two seconds of great praise. It's our birthday! Blow out the candles! Make a wish!

The Scripture the Lord gave us for today is from Acts, chapter 12, one of the coolest Bible stories you ever will read. They're all inspired, but some of them are more intriguing than others, at least to me. This passage I preached to you back in 2019. The only reason I know that, because I forget… I'm always on to the next sermon, because Sunday happens every seven days. But I do write down when I preached certain things. The sermon I preached in July 2019 was from this passage called Knock, Knock. Well, this is sort of like a sequel, but I see it differently now in the context of what we're celebrating today and the redefinition the church is going through and the world is going through, so I hope you'll find an admonition. I believe by faith you will find an encouragement for yourself through this today.

Verse 1: "It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each". He must be powerful to be under this much attack. You must be powerful to be up under this much attack. Verse 5: "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell".

It's the last minute, down to the wire, sudden-death overtime, and here comes the angel. "He struck Peter on the side…" What kind of angel hits you while you're asleep? Blindsided. "…and woke him up. 'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.'" "You can't leave naked. Cover up. I have somewhere for you to go".

Touch somebody and say, "Get dressed for what's next". "And Peter did so. 'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,' the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it". That could be about you. How many of you went through it? You don't even have to tell me what it was, but you went through it. The iron gate opened by itself, and they went through it. "When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, 'Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.'" "Everything my enemies thought would happen, but it didn't work". That's what Peter said.

How many of you have the same testimony, that no weapon that was formed against you…? "When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed [and excited] she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, 'Peter is at the door!'" "Y'all, Peter is at the door"! "Shut up, Rhoda! We're praying for Peter". "But Peter is at the door". "'You're out of your mind,' they told her. When she kept insisting…" There's a pattern in this passage. I'm about to show you. "When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, 'It must be his angel [because he's already dead by now].'"

Wow. More faith to believe that his angel came to the door than that God actually answered their prayers for him. This is the verse I'll stop on: "But Peter kept on knocking…" Do y'all like that? I love that. Peter kept on knocking. "…and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished". I'll give you three titles for this message, depending on what kind of sauce level you want. If you want the mild message title, it's called "Waiting for an Answer". That's if you're a first-time guest and you need something kind of appropriate to write down. If you want something with a little bit more attitude on it, it could be called "God is Going to Shock You".

Y'all sound like you want the Tongue Torch sweet 16 anniversary title. All right. Here it is: Never Stop Knocking. If there's one thing I've learned, if there's one thing it taught me getting up here in this pulpit to preach Jesus Christ crucified, buried, risen from the dead, and soon to come again and present in this moment, it's never stop knocking. So, put it in the chat. "Never stop knocking". Put some knuckles in the chat. "I will never stop knocking". You said, Lord, "Ask and it will be given; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened". We're asking in this moment that you would speak, infuse, and impart faith and courage like only you can. We thank you that we're standing in front of an open door this day. We bless you for it. In Jesus' name, amen.

Love you, Christian. Good man. He has been with me almost all 16. I met him when I was 16. I've known him that long. Isn't that crazy? I asked him to start a church with me. He said, "Nope". He did. Actually not to start. We were kind of already started. I said, "Chris, come out here and be my worship leader". When the church started… I'm going to tell y'all a few old man stories today. Just once a year. I was the worship leader, singing songs like, "These are the days of Elijah, declaring the word of the Lord. These are the days of [somebody else in the Bible]…" It was too much, though, trying to lead worship. Plus, I knew God would send people. I asked Chris. He said, "Nope. I'm going to Nashville". I told him, "Why don't you come here, build the church, and make Nashville come to us"? It's true, isn't it? They're looking at me like I'm some kind of liar up here. "You didn't say that". I did. I said, "You can go to Nashville, and maybe you make it or maybe you're a roofer in three years. You can come here and build a church and write songs for people that they can sing that will make them…"

The first songs we wrote here sucked, but they've gotten better and better and better. Never stop knocking. He told me "No," but I have techniques. Here we are now. That dude has been nominated for multiple Grammys. You know what I'm saying? He said, "Can I change my answer"? I said, "Yeah, I'm desperate. I'll still take you. I have no pride". Everybody I started… Well, it's kind of a contrast. Where's Skinner? I had him on standby. I told him to be on standby. I told him, "Be ready to preach today". I'm going to use him to preach, but he's not going to have to say anything. I asked him… I said, "I'm going to start a church, and here's the kicker: I don't know where". Here's what he said: "I'm going with". Not "I'm going with you". Just some Minnesota grammar. I guess that's how they talk in Minnesota. Bad grammar, great faith. "I'm going with".

Now this guy… Chunks, come here. Can you make it up the stairs? Y'all, he's only like 45, but he has so many injuries. This is like my hero, man. I love him so much. He's my guy. If he ever told me he would stop doing it, I would tie him up and not let him leave. I'd put him in a trunk. But he was different. I said, "I want you to start the church with me," and he was like, "I'll pray about it". Do you remember that list? You pulled me into that Sunday school room, and you had a list. "How about this, and how about that, and how about that"? He wanted answers. "I need some answers. What about this, and what about that"? It was amazing because, even though I couldn't give him any of the answers he wanted, in the absence of answers he chose faith. At the last minute, like in the passage where the angel showed up on the night… "Couldn't you have shown up three nights before I was about to get my head cut off, angel"?

But sometimes at the last minute… I had already given up on you. Holly said, "Wait for him. He's worth waiting for. He's supposed to be your guy. He's worth waiting for". I said, "I need an answer". How many of you have been in a position lately where you said, "I need an answer"? "I need an answer from God. I need an answer from someone". He said, "I'm praying about it". I said, "I need an answer by noon on Thursday. I have to have an answer, because I have to move on, because God has called me to do this. If you want to do it with me… I really want you to do it with me, but if you don't do it with me, I have to find somebody else. They'll be my second choice, but I have to do it, because God told me to do it. You have till noon Thursday". At 11:57 a.m. on that Thursday my Motorola rang. This is an anniversary, so we're just telling old stories. I said, "Hey". He said, "I'm in. We're in". And he and Amy have been with us ever since.

That's cool. Y'all give him a little bigger hand than that for all the faith it took to do that. Pretend like y'all are those two guards Peter was chained to for a moment. Just go with me here. Think about what kind of faith it took for Peter in the passage to sleep while they were deciding whether or not he would live. Think about who Peter was and the kind of personality he had in other passages of Scripture. Realize what a miracle it is for the same disciple who ran down into the stern of the ship one time in a storm and said, "Jesus, why are you sleeping? We're about to die, and you don't care…"

Think about the transformation that has happened in these years and the Spirit that has empowered Peter to be able to sleep between two guards. Actually, it was 16 guards, wasn't it? Did I read that right? It wasn't a sweet 16; it was four squads of four soldiers. That's 16 guards…16 people for one Peter. What kind of power was in Peter? What kind of power is in you? You've been through some things, and you've been asking God for answers. Faith is the ability, sometimes, to lay down and sleep and let faith answer the questions.

I'm picturing Peter sleeping, and I'm realizing in Scripture that this is not the first time we've seen Peter asleep in the Bible. In the garden of Gethsemane, that place before Jesus went to the cross where he gave his Father an unqualified… Remember, he asked God, "If it's possible, take this cup away from me" as he went to pay the price for your sin and my sin, as he went to take on the punishment we rightly deserved, as he went to be the sacrifice to atone for our sins. I'm not trying to use a bunch of fancy words, just to let you know that he canceled the debt that was stood against us, but it cost him. As he considered and counted that cost, he prayed, and he asked God, "If there's any other way, take this cup from me".

God did not answer by removing the cup of suffering. He answered by filling Jesus with the strength to endure what he had to do. So, for the joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising its shame, and then sat down at the right hand of God. If Jesus is seated, I can sleep. I can sleep through anything when I know he's seated. I can sleep through anything. I can rest through anything. In the garden of Gethsemane, while Jesus prayed, Peter slept, and he said, "Wake up! My soul is in anguish". He was sweating like drops of blood, and Peter was sleeping. He said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". Peter was sleeping out of weakness in the garden, but he's not sleeping out of weakness in Acts, chapter 12. He's sleeping from a place of knowing, "I am seated in heavenly places with Jesus, and if I'm seated with him, it doesn't matter what Herod has planned. It matters what God has purposed for my life".

That's how he slept. No matter what we come to this text in Acts, chapter 12, looking for, we certainly find an incredible picture of persistence. On one hand, the passage is about peace, that Peter has peace to sleep on the worst night of his life. Y'all, they didn't have Lunesta in Acts, chapter 12. Peter didn't even have a white noise app on his iPhone to put on. I'm thinking that this is a passage about peace and persistence. Remember it said the church was earnestly praying. I think the word earnestly is important. Let's be honest. I know there are, like, five prayer warriors in this room, but for the other thousands of us, we passively pray. Okay. I'm going to say it stronger, because y'all are really fake right now. We worry out loud and call it prayer. (Too strong. Back it off. Back it off. It's a day of celebration.) We give God our grocery list like he's Instacart.

Holly said last time she preached… It was such a good thing she said. She said, "Telling God what to do is not praying". I was like, "Who are you? I like what you just said, and you are right, and I have done that". It's exactly right. The church is praying for Peter, but it doesn't say what they were praying about for Peter. Remember, although the passage gets kind of funny, it doesn't start funny. It not only takes place in a time of famine (there was a famine in Acts, chapter 11, you can read about), but if this is chronologically the next thing in sequence, then at the same time that the church in Jerusalem is recovering from famine, Herod is persecuting the church, and he has just killed James. Do you think the church prayed for James? So, understand. When it says they are earnestly praying for Peter… That takes more faith when you've just lost James.

Have you ever had to pray and ask God and believe God and trust God when he didn't answer the last thing you prayed for? That's hard. Whether we will admit it or not, our faith deteriorates when our expectations are not met. I wrote a book called Sun Stand Still early in the church. Go get that book, and you will hear my version of faith before I lost my dad to ALS. I don't take it back. I believe God can do anything. I haven't changed what I believe about God. It's just that on the other side of some unanswered prayers… You don't think I asked God to heal my dad? You don't think I asked him for a miracle and sat by his bed and watched him breathe his last breath anyway? It becomes a challenge. Next time you're faced with something that seems impossible, you are tasked with having to believe God on the other side of your last unanswered prayer.

I think what really draws me into this text for our anniversary on this day, because I've prayed a lot about it… I mean, I think I have sermons for the next year that I went through looking for this one for today. I wanted to see God. "What do you want me to say to our church? What do you want me to say to them as individuals? What do you want me to say about the moment we're in kind of on the other side, maybe, of a pandemic…maybe"? My favorite word of 2020 and 2021 and 2022 is maybe. Now I have that "maybe" faith, that it may be this or it may be that. The problem is, as a leader, people want answers, and we don't have any right now. In the absence of answers, what grows? It could be either one for you. It could be cynicism. Some of you have gotten really, really mean over the last two years. In the absence of answers, you have allowed anger to grow.

"I'm mad that I can't control it. I'm mad that nobody will tell me what to do. I'm mad that I'm wearing a mask and they're not or they're wearing a mask and I'm not. I'm mad that I don't know whether to wear a mask. I'm mad that you're looking at me because I'm wearing a mask. I'm mad that you're looking at me because I'm not. I'm mad because I can't figure out… Would somebody tell me what to do? I need answers"! "When is the church going to open back up"? I heard that for a year. I was like, "It's still open". I said that all through the pandemic. "What do you mean"? Oh! "We've never been through anything like this before".

Herod was cutting off heads and the church prevailed! We are so silly. We think it's the first time there has ever been unanswered questions in the history of the Christian faith. That's one reason I like this passage. They're still praying in the face of a prayer that God just didn't answer. The miscarriage, the end of the relationship, the addiction they went back to, the relapse… It gives it a little different shade of meaning when I said, "The church is earnestly praying" to know that James just had his head cut off and there's no expectation that anything different will happen to Peter. That's a dangerous place, because in that place… If the Devil knocks in that place and tries to tell you, "This is how it will always be. You can't really believe all that stuff you were singing about mountains moving and chains breaking. God doesn't really do that stuff, or he does it for other people, but not for you," it can deteriorate your faith.

I am impressed by how this church in Acts 12 and how this global body of believers I'm speaking to around the world never stop knocking in the midst of a global pandemic. That's amazing to me. It might not be amazing to you, but I have other friends who pastor churches, and they're not pastors anymore, because while they were pastoring in the pandemic, their church wasn't supporting them. I don't have that testimony. That's why I can cry if I think about it. Y'all kept knocking. That blesses my heart. Do you know what that means to me? To know we'll go online, we'll go in the building, we'll do whatever we have to do, we'll do whatever needs to be done. What can the Devil do with a church that won't stop knocking even if James' head gets cut off? Question: What can the Devil do with a believer who won't stop believing even when the worst-case scenario is on your doorstep? What can the Devil do with a faith that can sleep between 16 soldiers?

Never stop… Sometimes you have to knock and say, "God, it's me again. Remember me"? Sometimes you have to get on God's nerves. Sometimes you have to call God until you think he's about to block your number. Sometimes you have to stalk the Holy Spirit. "Don't take your joy from me". I'll prove it to you with the Bible. Jacob said, "I will not let go unless you bless me". If I wrestle all night, if it costs me my popularity, if I have to let go of some things… I want to see God's kingdom come in my life. Never stop knocking. Never stop believing that it can still happen. I said still. That means you have a reason to believe it can't now. Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened".

Here's the problem with Matthew 7:7: you read that like it's a one-time thing. You read that like he said, "Tap". I didn't come to preach about a soft knock. This is a message for the hard knocks. When you have had the crap beat out of you, when you have had the mess beat out, when you have had your faith tried… (I'm just trying to bring everybody together. I don't want to be divisive.) When you have been through it, don't try to get God to explain it. What blew my mind about this text is that if Peter had been me, I don't think he would have gotten out of prison. If Peter had been some of us, he would have stood at the door for three days. The 16 soldiers would have tracked him down and cut off his head even though God set him free. But it said Peter kept on knocking. When it really matters to you, you knock even through the no. When it matters. Peter had been with Jesus. He had been filled with the Spirit. He preached on the day of Pentecost. He had come too far to just knock three times. Peter was knocking. I know he was yelling too, because it said she recognized his voice. "Hey! Let me in"!

God is waiting to hear your voice. He's waiting for you to call on him. Your grandmother's prayers can only take you so far. God wants to hear your voice. May 2022 be the year you stop standing there during worship, thinking it's a concert. I don't care who's up here singing. God wants to hear your voice, off-key. "Jireh"! One note. "You are enough! Jireh, you are enough"! One note. How many one-note knockers do I have? God is not looking for my melody. God wants to see me move. Let me pretend like I'm the angel for a minute. They were the guards. I was Peter. Now I'm the angel. This is the only time in the whole week that I would compare myself to an angel. Trust me about that. "Get up"! That's what the angel did. Do you know that picture of the angel you have up in your house, that little precious angel? This angel looks like a UFC fighter. "Get up. Get dressed".

I want to show you this verse, because I want to show you why most of us stay in prison. We stay in prison to ourselves. We stay in prison to our past. We stay in prison to our preferences. We stay in prison to our pain. I read through what the angel told Peter, and I noticed something about the interaction that's different than how I relate to God. This angel, by the way… I want to be serious about the angel for a moment. It represents an appearance of God, but Peter doesn't know that yet. That's important to point out. You won't always know that it's God. In fact, sometimes you'll think the opposite. If somebody hits me, I don't think it's an angel. Isn't that crazy? God shows up, and the first thing he does… Bap! Some of us have been through the "Bap". What if that's not the Devil? What if that's the angel? What if that slap across the face, lovingly, is from your good, good Abba Father? What if he loves you enough that he would rather strike you than allow the Enemy to slay you?

Now, don't try this at home, but this is an aggressive angel. This is an aggressive attempt to get Peter free. The angel doesn't have time to explain to Peter, so Peter just has to move forward by faith without explanations. Here's what it says: "He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. 'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did so. 'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,' the angel told him". I wrote some notes about that. Here's what I would have said to each of those commands. There are three. "Quick, get up"! I would have said, "How? I'm chained to these guards. How do you expect me to get up when I'm chained to something bigger than me"? Have you ever felt like that? "How do you expect me to get up when I'm chained to something bigger than me"? So, I would have said, "How"?

Notice this. Peter got up, and then the chains fell off, not the other way around. Do you know how I want it to work? The chains fall off, and then I'll get up. "God, just give me the desire and I'll obey". No, no. You obey, and you develop the desire as you obey. That's why you can't say things like, "I'm just not one of those kinds of people" and limit yourself to your current state of progress. The freedom comes through obedience. How many of you have been delivered from something in your life that one time you thought, "A stronger me… I'll never be free of this," and now, by the grace of God, you're free.

You didn't get free by asking more questions. You got free by taking action. True? You reached out to somebody. You knocked. You went to God with it. You prayed. You knocked, but you did more than that. There was something you did, and there is something God is giving you to do right now. Not an explanation, because Peter could have said, "How am I supposed to get up? I'm half asleep. The guards are here". No. He got up and the chains fell. He didn't get an answer. He just took an action. How good is that? He could have waited for an answer until his head was rolling on the floor next to James, but he acted.

I don't know what that means to you, but I know I never get anywhere by waiting for God to explain everything. Never. Oh, I do actually get somewhere. It's a nice little town called "Depression, USA. Anxiety, North America". That's where I end up. That's the only place it ever takes me. Then the angel says something else. It makes no sense. He said, "Put on your clothes and sandals". Now I'm going to ask, "Why? For what? So I can look good for my execution"? So, then we ask, "Why? What's the point"? Well, Peter has learned a lot, because he used to be that "Why"? guy. He used to be the one always questioning and confronting Jesus. This passage is so much richer if you know Peter's natural personality, because it gives you hope that anybody can change. He was the craziest one of all of these disciples. He was the dumbest one too sometimes. He was telling Jesus stuff like, "You can't go to Jerusalem; they're going to kill you," and Jesus was like, "News flash. I told you three times I have to die. That's why I came: because you're a sinner and I have to save you. If I don't bleed, you don't get a breakthrough, so you'd better let me go".

Now he's just doing what God is telling him to in the absence of answers. The angel didn't say, "Good news! We're getting out of jail". He just said, "Get up". He doesn't show you everything all at once. One guy asked me the other day (this is funny), "So, what's the 10-year plan for Elevation Church"? I wanted to say back, "I'm looking for a 10-minute plan for Elevation Church," because it's crazy right now, and none of us really know all of the outcomes of how things are going to be. It takes faith to stand up here and preach to you people every week, because you want answers, and all I have to give you is commands from God's Word, not from my mouth, but the promises of God are not automatic either. So, he acts on the first one. He acts on the second one. I think that's a beautiful Scripture. "Put on your clothes and sandals". Verse 8: "And Peter did so". I would have said, "Why"? He just did so.

This is how we can take as a model for our unanswered questions. It could be anything. "God, when am I going to have somebody"? or "God, when is this going to turn around"? or "God, when is it going to happen"? But you'll get your head cut off if you stay stuck in how and why. This is the third thing. This might be the hardest one of all. Verse 8: "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me". Now, what would you have asked? "Where"? He said, "I'm going with". I would have been like, "As long as the temperature is good and the job market is solid and the cost of living is low". I love LB, because he just said, "I'm going with". That's what reminded me of Peter, LB. You remind me of Peter, because you do dumb stuff sometimes… This man almost drove through the gate of a storage unit to get a prop I needed one Sunday because he couldn't get the code in. He was backing up the truck to run into the gate. So, you're kind of dumb, but I like you because you will do it. He said, "I'm going with". Where? With. Peter is going with the angel.

So, you have to let God know, "I'm going with," even if Psalm 23 becomes a reality. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because you are with me". Say it out loud: "God is with me". That's my confidence, and that's what I know, and that's how I hold on in this season, and that's why I'm not going to let my head hang low. That's why I'm not going to have a panic attack about this. That's why I'm not going to control the situation by human means and flesh. That's why I'm not going to send in Abraham to sleep with Hagar and try to produce a promise from God in human strength: because God is with me. The angel took him out of the gate… Let's not even stop and preach about the gate opening by itself, how it was motion activated. I wonder if some of the things… I'm not going to preach this point, but I could. You're standing there waiting for an answer, and God is waiting for an action.

It's like, the church is praying, knocking… That's how prayer is described in Matthew 7. "Ask and it will be given; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened". They're praying, which is a kind of knocking. While they are knocking on God's door, God is knocking on theirs. Now Peter is at the door, and he knocks, and there's no answer. They have no idea that what they're praying for actually happened. I'll tell you why I really was crying when I came up here for the little opening song. I don't want to talk about it, but I will. It was because I'm standing in an answered prayer. Not only this church that the Lord Jesus allows us to pastor, but all of the times I stood in this church with you and I needed God too. Preachers have prisons. Peter is not the only one. You're not the only one. I've stood and had to sing songs of lyrics that I wrote while I was laughing at the reality that they could even be true. It's almost laughable that they're praying for the one who's standing at the door, and they don't want to interrupt their prayer meeting to praise God for the answer.

The Lord said to me today… You know, I have a sermon to preach, and I have another one to preach after that, and another one to preach… He said, "Pause for a moment in between knocks about what's next and take a moment to notice what I've already done". In other words, "Open the door". I've prayed for Holly while she was going through things, and I was standing next to her holding her hand today while we were singing "Do It Again," and we sang that song all different times. We sang it when the media was saying we were a cult and that we were putting liquor in the Communion cups, or whatever people said about us through the years…putting water slides in the church…all kinds of crap people have said. Really, y'all, if they can pray through that, surely we can make it through anything together if we don't stop knocking. Some things you need to sleep through; other things you need to act on. Some things you need to pray about; other things you need to act on.

Now, what if the Lord…? This is my final question. I really could preach all day, because I get excited. Maybe when I finish preaching today, you could take a moment in between all the knocking you've been doing, all of the changes you need God to make, all of the things you're asking God… You know, maybe you're not even asking God for it. I personally think the church wasn't even asking God to keep Peter alive. I think they were asking that he would give Peter peace, and that's why Peter was sleeping. My favorite verse, y'all… It has been for years. This is the one I put in… Remember, J.J., when I signed your book? He's the campus pastor of Ballantyne. He stood in the back of a book line at Liberty University where I was speaking because he wanted to say "Thank you" for the ministry of Elevation Church. He stood there for I don't know how long until everybody was gone, and I put Ephesians 3:20. He said he was from Toronto, "GTA". I took that as "Greater Things Ahead," GTA, because I'm corny. I put "GTA: Greater Things Ahead (Ephesians 3:20)".

"Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask…" All right. Let he who has ears and she who has ears to hear hear what I'm about to say next. Exceedingly more is at the door right now. Let he who has an ear to hear hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. They're praying on this level, "God, help Peter before he dies to feel your presence," and God is like, "Nah. I'm going to one up you on that. I'm going to give you what you didn't even think to ask me for because you didn't think it was possible". If you don't stop knocking, if you will be like Peter in this season of your life… You can't be like one of these little weak Christians, that the first time something happens and you have to park at the back of the parking lot at Target you say, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? This is my Gethsemane. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done".

You can't go out of this church and the first time you feel a bad feeling or think a bad thought or get a temptation you just give into it. You have to be one of those who won't stop knocking. By the grace of God, something more is at the door. I will live and not die! And the gates of hell will not prevail! Come on, let's give him 16 seconds of praise! Give him a great praise! Let's knock on the door of heaven! Come on, get your fists in the air like this. God said, "Never stop knocking". Hey, Rhoda, answer the door! Peter is alive! "I declare by the grace of God that upon this rock God will build his church". And guess who Jesus said that to? Peter. Every time Peter knocked on that door, it let the Devil know, "God is still building".

Now, I'm preaching to people today who are not perfect but are persistent, and that's how I feel about this church. Maybe we can make a tee shirt that says this: "Not perfect but persistent". Actually, don't make that. That sounded better in my head, but it's good for a sermon. Peter kept knocking. God might shock you with some of the things you thought were as good as dead. I know sometimes you have to let it go. James did lose his head, but God wanted to give us a side-by-side example. Whether it ends the way you didn't want it to or whether you have unanswered questions and you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow morning, never stop knocking, no matter what you feel. Through mental illness, never stop knocking. Get a doctor. Get new friends. Get a new pattern. Take some time, but don't stop praying just because you've been through pain. In the absence of answers, sometimes the greatest faith grows. I want to sing "Build Your Church" one time on our anniversary again across all of our locations. I want us to sing it in defiance of everything the Devil did to try to take you out to let him know we're still knocking. Wow, Lord, you blessed me today. I don't know who else the word was for, but I receive it.

Father, I thank you for moms and dads and sons and daughters who although, like Peter, might be sleeping between some situations that make them really scared right now and make them really sad right now, that between that place where the church was praying and the place where Peter was in prison, your grace made the difference. I just declare your grace over every home, over every person who's joining right now online. I speak your peace into their home. God, I speak your power in our soul, that we would be strengthened in our inner man. I thank you, Lord, that strength is rising up by faith through the preached Word of God today. We can say it like Peter said to the angel. We're going to say it like LB said it to me: we're going with. We thank you that there are angels all around us right now. We thank you that your Spirit is inside of us, and we declare what Jesus said. Lift those hands high.

Say it out loud. "The gates of hell will not prevail. Upon this rock you build your church". Let's sing it one time like it's our birthday. Come on, church! Lift a mighty shout of praise!
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