Steven Furtick — The Great Emoti-Con
We're going to be studying from one verse primarily today, and I have several other verses I'll mention. But I want to put on the screen John 15. You ever heard of this scripture? We can't let it go. I'm just saying I want to drain a little bit more out of John 15. Such a rich passage.
We've been concentrating on Jesus is speaking to His disciples, preparing them to face great sorrow, but to keep their joy. And that's our goal of the series. In fact, you might say this is not a theme verse, what I'm going to show you, for our series; it's our goal verse. It's our statement of intention of what we want to happen in our lives over the next four weeks, where Jesus said, John 15:11, and I'm going to put it in a different translation than we usually read, but He said: "I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy."
Jesus and joy are not opposites. In fact, they are intertwined. Jesus and joy are not opposites. God and happiness are not opposites. He said, "I told you these things, the commands that I gave you, so that you will be filled with My joy; yes, your joy will overflow." Tell somebody next to you, "I'm going to spill on you. I've overflowing." "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord." I was glad. I didn't go begrudgingly. I went gladly.
That's why I like to have fun in church, even if my humor is corny sometimes. I figure if I'm going to endure in ministry, I've got to enjoy my ministry. You can't endure what you never enjoy. It's true. You can't endure what you... I know it because the writer of Hebrews, when he was talking about how Jesus endured the cross, he said, "He endured the cross for the joy set before Him."
How about that? In order to endure what He didn't want to go through, because Jesus prayed, "If there's any other way, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done," and it was because He set joy before Him that He was able to endure what He suffered. You can't just endure a marriage year after year if you never learn how to enjoy one another.
That's why I'm building a church that hopefully our children will enjoy coming to. I want them to not just endure it until they hit college and then split. But I figure for them to keep coming when it's their choice, they've got to enjoy it. They've got to look forward to it. Amen. And so you ought to bring joy with you to church because Jesus said your joy should be overflowing.
Now, transitionally speaking, how many of you remember your first time that you used an emoticon in a conversation on text messaging? How many of you remember the first time that you... How many of you have never used an emoticon in conversation on text... you know, the little symbols that you use; how many of you have never used it? Raise your hand. Okay.
How many of you are silently judging my masculinity and calling in the... Yeah, 'cause the first time I used an emoticon, I remember, it was like a big deal. I wouldn't say I was an early adopter, but I saw all these people using all these cool symbols, texting me, so I went to London Gatch and asked her, "How do you get those stupid little things on your phone that you always have and the little stupid cats that you send out; I don't want the cats but I just want like the smiley faces and stuff".
And so she was like, "Oh yeah," and she showed me how. And I thought the first test market to use one, somebody who wouldn't judge me for it, I sent it to Holly. And so my first emoticon text was to Holly, and I figured she's appreciate it. And she said (for all of you that are judging me) when you said that she sent me back one of these, and I was like, "Oh yeah... emoti-come on."
Try to enjoy my job. But then it was like, "Well, I want to branch out. I don't just want to send these to Holly. I want to see if I can send them to like one of my guy friends." And so I sent one to my pastor, Pastor Craig Groeschel. He was the first man that I sent an emoticon to, because I'm very emoti-comfortable in our relationship. I've got a lot of these. And so I was like, "I'll send him one; he won't judge me either."
But I wanted to send him something safe. I didn't want to send him that guy. So I found this and I was like, "Well, that's totally acceptable for one man to send to another man," so I sent him that. And it was weird, 'cause he sent me that back. Not really; just kidding. That would have been... tragic. But I found out, you know, after you practice a little bit, you can actually have an entire, let's see, emoti-conversation.
You can actually now communicate without being bothered by those pesky words in the English language if you are creative enough. You can have an entire emoti-conversation. Sometimes it's a little emoti-confusing to figure out exactly what's going on in the emoti-conversation, but it can be done. And if you follow me just a little bit longer, I only have a few more of these little screens.
I found out that it's very... I trip myself up sometimes. It's very emoti-convenient when you communicate this way because you can actually express more emotion than you really feel. It's awesome. So a friend can send me something they think is funny, and if I'm on my game, I can send 'em one of these guys back.
Now, for the record, I've probably only laughed until I cried twice in my life, but I send these out daily because it makes the other person feel so good about themselves and it costs me so little. Come on. You know when you send these out, you do it with a straight face. You're not even smiling. But they don't know.
So I want to speak to you today for a few moments on the subject "The Great Emoti-Con". Hello. Hello. "The Great Emoti-Con". And on a more serious level, I want to talk about how your emotions play tricks on you, how your mind plays tricks on you, how your heart plays tricks on you.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said "the heart is deceitfully wicked above all else; who can trust it," he said. And yet, the scripture gives us this promise that in Jesus our joy should overflow.
In this series, I believe God wants us to go from a state of emoti-confusion to emoti-control, and we're going to do it with some help from the wisdom writer in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 4 gives us some instruction for how to get control of our emotions, how to...
You know, somebody was telling me that this sermon series title didn't sound very deep. It sounds gimmicky. What do moods have to do with God? Well, if what you believe about God doesn't affect the way you feel about life, do you really believe in God? If what you believe about God doesn't start to affect the internal hard drive, do you really even have the program? It's important. Moods matter. Moods matter.
You can do something that's completely contrary to your goals because you were in a mood. You can do something that you spend the next 18 years paying for because of a mood you were in. Now, I won't be any more specific than that. Fill in the blanks, bro, "'cause I was in the mood." And yet, the writer of Proverbs says, look at verse 18. It's not supposed to be that way. He says, Proverbs 4:18, "The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day."
It says that God's word will give you a sense of inner illumination. It says that it will light up the path. Now, it doesn't say that it will always light up the finish line; it says it will light up the path, which means that happiness is not a destination but happiness is a path that is connected to God's word, and convergent with God's word. He said the path grows brighter.
On the contrary though, he says, "The way of the wicked is like deep darkness: they do not know what makes them stumble." See, when I read that verse, everybody's like, "Yeah, the Christians have the light and the non-Christians don't." It says "the way of the wicked". You know, you can be a righteous person but take the wrong route and go down the way of the wicked. So you can have a position that I'm in Christ, but you can be on a path that leads you away from His joy.
I'm preaching. I'm preaching in my introductory remarks. This is just the introduction. And he says, he says it's supposed to grow brighter. In other words, your moods aren't supposed to be so mysterious that they lead you around. And he goes on, he gives some sound teaching, some sound advice, like a father to a son.
He says, "My son, pay attention to what I say. Turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight. Keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to one's whole body. Our God is a holistic God. He's not only interested in saving you spiritually; He wants the new life in your spirit to give you a new lease on life in your body and your mind, in your countenance. He wants it to spread to every part of you from your spirit when He touches you in your soul".
And so he says, and this may be one of the most, I think it's the most profound verse in all of the Proverbs; there's 31 of 'em and I think this is the skeleton key to the whole book of Proverbs, and maybe to life. Wisdom for life. He says, "Above all else" — that's why I think it's important, because he started it like that; I want to hear what comes next — "above all else" — if all else fails...
Sometimes a preacher will say, "If you don't hear anything else I say today..." Why'd you say all the other stuff, idiot? But he's saying, "Look, supreme importance, top priority, get this right. Above all else, guard your heart." Guard your heart.
How do I go from emoti-confusion to emoti-control? Above all else, guard your heart. Why? Why is this the most important thing? For everything you do flows from it. Above all else, guard your heart. He could have said, "Above all else, watch your money; above all else, take care of your body," but he said, "Above those things — they're important — but above that, guard this." And see, I think we get it backwards and that's why we're so confused in our emotions and are led by our feelings, because instead of "above all else, guarding our heart," we guard all else above our heart.