Steven Furtick - The Haunted Heart
Psalm 55:1, "Listen to my prayer, oh God. Do not ignore my plea. Hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me. The terrors of death have fallen on me". Within, on. He said they bring down suffering and it causes anguish within me and now it has overwhelmed me. It's come on me. Everything that's on you today is the result of something that you allowed to get in you. We're going to deal with this today. He said, "Fear and trembling have beset me. Horror has overwhelmed me. I said, 'I wish I could get out of here. I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert. I would hurry to my place of shelter far from the tempest and storm.'"
And it kind of goes on and on like this for 22 verses. I want to jump all the way down to verse 23 where he declares definitively, "But You, God, will bring down the wicked". I need the response of people to pipe up and kind of take over the atmosphere now. "But You, God, will bring down," yeah, "You, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay, the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days but as for me, as for me". If this is the chorus of your heart, point to yourself, say, "As for me, I trust in You". Touch ten people. Tell them, "As for me, I trust in God. As for me, as for me". You may be seated. This guy's struggling. Could you tell by what he was saying there in Psalm 55. He's going through something. He doesn't say exactly what. I'm kind of glad he doesn't. Because if he said exactly what he was going through, you might not think that what he's saying pertains to you. But the fact that he didn't tell us exactly who his enemies were but he did tell us how they made him feel, lets us know that whatever enemies we're facing today, it's okay for us to tell God how we feel. Or is it? You know, is it alright to say things like this, to say, "My thoughts trouble me".
Is it okay to start a prayer with, "God, why aren't You listening to me? Where are You? I can't see You. I can't feel You. Trying to believe in You. Apparently, you're busy blessing Bobby, because I am struggling and hurting. My soul and my heart are in aguish within me". This guy probably need to join an E group. Because if he had joined an E group then somebody could have told him, "Hey, man, come on. Have some faith. You know? Let go and let God. Amen. Sometimes you just got to trust His unfailing promise for His word is better than life. The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of the Lord will stand forever". And then he would have had faith in his heart, you know, because if you have a heart of faith then your heart won't be in anguish. You know, if you have a heart of faith, you'll have joy and stuff like that. All these goodies that Jesus comes to bring. Like freshly baked cookies for the soul. You'll be filled with your own. I don't know. I'm just saying, he could have had a better attitude. And I would like to tell him that today that, you know, "Cheer up man. Come on. Count your blessings. Name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done".
He's sitting here talking about, you know, fear and trembling have beset me. Horror has overwhelmed me. This guy must not know God very well. You know, because the God I know, when He comes into your life, He gives you confidence and strength. This guy, this guy needed to come to Elevation Church. We could have told him. We could have told him, "Yeah, man, get happy. Come on. Your best is ahead". We could have told him all that. And this guy, apparently has kind of a weak heart of faith because only a person who doesn't have strong faith says things like, you know when he says, "My heart is in anguish," it literally means, and I wrote this down, because it is so strong, it almost seems melodramatic. It is palpitating like a woman in labor pains. Give you a second to have that image right there and just deal with that. And he's blaming his enemies. He's like, you don't do that either, you know when God is your fortress, when God is your defense. You don't blame others. You take responsibility. This guy needs a heart trans.
Wait a minute. Hold on. I just, could you come here real quick? Just come on, come on, come on, come on. 'Cause I saw this and I should have studied more before I, you see on the Psalm 55 where it tells us that the psalmist for the Director of Music, with string instruments, and then it tells us who wrote it. What does it say? A maskil of... David. That messes up my whole thesis. I'm a close talker buck. That messes up my whole introduction because when God chose David to be king, he said that he was a man after God's own heart. You can sit down now, I just needed somebody to verify. Because when I was reading that, I thought I was reading about somebody who's heart was haunted. But, David, as we learned two weeks ago had a huge heart. Do you remember my sermon with the measuring stick? Anybody, anybody remember my sermon from two weeks ago? Please, God, Jesus, only two weeks ago. And how I said that humans measure height but God measures heart and the reason that God could use David in such a big way is because he had such a big heart. A man after God's own heart. God looks at the heart and now we see the man who was big-hearted enough to fight Goliath in the name of the Lord, expressing an aguish in his heart that makes him feel like God isn't even there.
Touch somebody and say, "Your heart is complicated". If I could see inside your heart, I wish I could. You would leave real quick if I started calling out the contents of all the stuff in your heart. Because whether you want to admit it or not, and I know you have the Holy Ghost. I know you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. I know your heart is holy, but it's also haunted. It's also haunted. The haunted heart. What makes it perplexing is that the same person who would write a psalm like this, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want". That's how he opened Psalm 23. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil". Now hold on. That was David one day. But it depends on which day you catch me on, what's going on inside of me. In fact, I want to be brutally honest. It depends on what hour of what day you catch me on. In fact, I want to back it up and really zoom out and tell you how it is. It depends what minute. What second. My heart has some stuff going on inside. I will fear no evil. Fear and trembling have beset me. Horror has overwhelmed me. Same heart. Same dude. Same God. Same promises. Same calling. Holy on one hand and haunted on the other.
So, you all work on that this week and figure it out and I'll see you next week for a brand-new series. It's true. It's true that this stuff happens in our hearts and I just want to pose a question today only you can answer and I don't want you to answer it out loud because if you answer it out loud, you won't say the real thing, you'll say something that's similar to the real thing. It might be in the same family of the real thing, but it won't be specific enough to get the job done. I want to ask you a question. What's haunting your heart in this season late at night, first thing you wake up? What haunts your heart? Is it something that already happened? Is it something that might happen? Is it something that you wish would happen that hasn't? What haunts your heart? I don't know if you need a little help prompting to think about this. I think you do. I really do. I think you need some help. Because sometimes we just live in such a state of denial that we can't kind of admit things that we're going through so I just need a little help.
Would you go to this stage, please? And, let's see I need. Would you go to this stage, please? I just need some guys to help me with this. Would you mind going to the stage for me? Yeah, I appreciate it. Would you go? I appreciate that. Would you come? Alright, that's five. I just need five. If you all could all come up, everybody I pointed to. Just five. And I know there's a lot of stuff and I'm hesitant to name it, because sometimes if I label it, you'll disassociate if you don't find the exact label but I just figured you might need some help locating what's haunting your heart because what makes a heart haunted is what's hidden. We used to run a haunted house for my youth group. Work that out theologically but we did. And it was a fundraiser for the youth choir trip. I wasn't the youth pastor or anything like that. I was just a youth and we all had our hiding places, you know? If we were running a haunted house and we met everybody at the door. "Hello, I have a chainsaw. I'll be right around the first corner". It wouldn't work.
So, what's hidden in your heart? And just for visualization, listen, I mean, I know that this is a little silly and all of that but just for visualization, I wondered, would you each, would you each represent a different thing. And move over here a little bit if you would and just back up a little bit and just stand in. There you go, stand in line. That's good, that's good. If you would just, if you'll put that on if you don't mind. I got a whole box here. Let's see. I wonder. Would you wear this? Thank you. And I think you need this guy. You know you've always wanted, wanted to try it. That's great. And see if you can be him just for about the next 20 minutes, that's all. And this is kind of cute, just to round it out if you don't mind, man. That one made me think of you. And let's say that you each represent a different component again. I know that we could all name different things, different, different perversions that exist in our hearts and different proclivities that exist in our hearts and different incidents that happened that are still happening because we keep replaying them but I just thought for the sake of illustration, just to help you answer that question, what's haunting your heart.
If the psalmist could get honest enough, if David, a man after God's own heart could get to a point that was tough enough and rough enough and dark enough that he would say, "My heart is overwhelmed with horror". If the king could get to that point, I gotta believe that this house might be haunted, too. This house. Haunted with what? Haunted with guilt. Maybe you could be guilt over what you did or what you didn't do. I think a lot of dads and moms deal with guilt over how they couldn't be there for everything, you know? Couldn't do everything and it's tremendous the weight of guilt that people carry. You can be guilt because some people's hearts today are haunted by guilt. Some people are haunted by hopelessness. Did you hear the psalmist's words? The same psalmist who declared, "Put your hope in the Lord," had reached a breaking point of saying, "I don't see any hope left. Not in my heart. Not in my heart. I don't have any hope left. Just a way of looking at situations I can't imagine they would possibly improve".
Is your heart hopeless. Or maybe we, maybe we have a heart that is haunted with offense. Offense. You can be offense. The things that people said you. Not the things that you did to others but the things they did to you. Or maybe not the things you didn't do for others but the things that others didn't do for you. The dad that wasn't there. The mom who wasn't kind. The friend who wasn't friendly. The man who didn't stay. It can, it can be, it can be a little thing. It could be the way they looked at me. The way they treated me. The way they didn't recognize me. What's haunting your heart? I see, let me look at you. You look like sorrow. You look like sorry. Not really. This mask doesn't match my illustration too well. Why don't you switch with, yeah, okay. There we go. Put that on. Now you, you look like, you look like sorrow. And I don't get it. Because Jesus is my joy and when He comes into my heart, He brings His joy. Now how can a heart that's full of joy also still have sorrow. And you can be, I know what you are. You're the threat. He's saying, he's saying. He said, "The threats of the wicked trouble me".
You know, sometimes nothing bad even had to happen in your life. It's just the threat that it might that keeps you up at night. There doesn't even have to be a bullet in the chamber. It's just the fact of feeling steel to your skull that lets you know. You can be succeeding and afraid of failure because the higher you climb the farther you have to fall. It's the threat. They might leave me. They might not like me. They might not accept me. The threat, the sorrow, the offense, and the hopelessness, and the guilt of a haunted heart. Guilt, G. Hopelessness, H. Offense, O. Sorrow, S. Threat, T. That's the, huh? Huh? That's the ghosts you're living with. I thought you would clap for my spelling skills. I spell stuff so much y'all take it for granted. I'm like Rain Man with the spelling thing. You know I am. Living with ghosts. And so, the psalmist thought if he called on God, that God would chase them away. That's what we want him to do. That's what we expect Him to do because we know he's capable of that. That's how I thought it worked, honestly. You know, give your life to Jesus Christ. He'll come in and when He comes in, everything else has to go.
So, I expected you know, "Dear Jesus, I accept you as my personal Lord and Savior. Come in my heart, forgive me, and cleanse me of all my sins and forgive me of all unrighteousness. In Jesus name, amen". I thought I'd say amen, they'd all vacate the Premesis. I said amen, and they all stayed. So, I stomped my foot and said it again, amen. In Jesus name, amen. In Jesus name, amen. In Jesus name, amen. Amen. Still there. Please don't sit there looking like the moment that you prayed and gave your life to God all this stuff left your heart. I know that what I'm teaching is a little bit theologically controversial because some would teach that if anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation, you get a new heart. And that's true. You get a new heart. You get a new capacity to love. But that doesn't mean that all the tenants who took up residence are going to evacuate immediately. Not in my case. How about yours?
In fact, the only people who will argue that theologically the moment you give your life to God all this stuff goes away, are the people who are really good at hiding it. There's nobody is in this church that got rid of all their ghosts. There's just some people who have stuck them in some corners and put them in some bathrooms and shut them in some closets. Come on clap, man. I'm telling the truth. I even got my ghosts clapping, I'm preaching so honestly. Touch somebody and say, "It's still there". It's still there. That's the thing that confuses me. I thought that if I worshipped God, I could chase it away. Boom. Fear, go. Boom, depression, go. Boom, sorrow, go. Boom, guilt, go. And for a minute, it felt like it did. But you're still, you're still reminding me even though that the blood of Jesus paid for all my sins? Even though that He nailed it to the cross, even though I don't have to bear it anymore? Even though my shame was trampled on by the finished work of Christ and you're still here? If you don't believe it's still here, how can you still remember what you did when you were seven? How can a man still remember the first time he saw a pornographic image? Because the guilt doesn't just go away.
How, how can, how can somebody who has been forgiven of all of their sins, still be offended by the sins of others? What's haunting your heart? It's just a question and I can't chase it away. Come to church. I clap my hands. And my tithe and my heart is still haunted so if I can't chase it away, David said, maybe I can escape it. Put verse 6 on the screen. "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove. I would fly away and be at rest". I can't chase it away. So, maybe I can escape it. Only problem with that is, I'm trying to escape something that I'm carrying with me, wherever I go. I changed relationships but all these jokers showed up with me in the next one too. I changed jobs. I moved to Charlotte, but all these jokers came to Charlotte with me. And I would run, but how can I outrun what's happening within? Escape mentality. What's happening in my heart is so hard for me to deal with that maybe instead of living from my heart, I'll just live from my head. 'Cause I don't want to deal with what's happening within.
So, I don't really love anymore. I don't really laugh anymore. I don't really live anymore. Because to live and to love and to laugh, I have to be at home in my heart. But when the home of my heart is haunted, where can I go? If it were an enemy, I could run. If it were a bomb, I could step away. But what about when the detonation is within? I can't chase it. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Okay. I can't escape it. Where can I go from your presence if I ascend to the mountains, you're there. If I make my bed in hell, they'll hold you there. Wherever I go, there I am. Touch somebody and say, "Where you go, there you are and all your crazy dysfunction, too". Can't chase it, can't escape it, but maybe, maybe I can expect it and expose it. Can I preach this, please? Can I preach this? The Lord told me to tell you that fear only operates effectively by the element of surprise. I'm going to say that again. Fear only operates effectively by the element of surprise. And this is where I'm smarter than Holly, because when we go to a movie, I have the good sense to discern the genre of the movie before the viewing experience begins.
There are many areas of life, in fact, one could argue most, where she is superior in her intelligence to me, and her skill, and her ability, and her goodness as a human being, and her virtue. But when it comes to movies, I don't understand how she can be in a movie that we knew was about somebody getting killed, and they can be playing music. Can you play something scary, Brian? Just anything scary, just really like terrifying. That's kind of scary, it's church scary. But, how can we be in this movie? It's dark, they're coming around the corner, and you're still, "Aah," jumping! I don't get it. When we were dating, I kind of liked it because it gave me an opportunity, you know what I'm saying? I've got you. Don't worry about no killers, baby. I'll slash a slasher for you. I'm not even worried about this. Now I'm married and you know, that's not cute anymore, every time being in a movie, you know, jump, fingernails on my arms and stuff. Get off me! I'm saying we've been married a little while now. God! But you can also have some fun with it. I found out you can also have some fun with it.
Husbands, don't try this at home, but the other day I really wanted to scare my kids. I wanted to scare my kids, and I'm doing it because the boys are scaring Abby all the time. Now, Abby's four, Graham's eight, Elijah's ten. Abby is scared of everything right now. Everything. Like, she could not be in this sermon right now. You would know she was on the front row if she had to look at these guys while I preached. Everything is scary, and her brothers seize that opportunity to enjoy this season of her life when they can torment her without regard for how it might scar her, and put her on a therapist's couch in the future. They have no regard for this, they're just enjoying the season. And I'll be honest with you, because I believe in full disclosure. If I look back on the history of their childhood, they may have learned that from their dad. Oh, yeah, because, I mean, I don't think, for me personally, I don't think there are enough perks for being a parent.
Can we be honest? There are not many perks to being a parent. You can say, "Oh, well they're more of a blessing". No, they're not. They're more of a burden than anything, and an occasional blessing. So, you know, you've got to take the joy of parenting when you can get it. And yes, I may have invented a character called Old Man Simmons, and yes, I may have come in their room late at night a few times, banging on walls. What was the song? Old Man Simmons is coming to drink your blood, Old Man, or something like that. I don't remember exactly how it went. But, since they're now scaring Abby because their dad scared them, because my dad scared me! You remember, some of you all won't know. I'm going to turn away from the student section. Do you remember when your phone had a party line? A party line, and you would dial the number, and hang up, and make the phone ring. My dad would call the party line at 10:00 at night, when I was eight, and he had invented a character. Black Bart. Not Black Bart, like ethnicity. I don't want anybody to put this on YouTube taking me out of context. It was like a professional wrestler, Black Bart. Black Bart, Old Man Simmons, and now it's passed on to my sons. Now, they want to scare Abby.
So the other day, I decided, and I heard them pulling up in the garage, and I decided to give them a little something, and I had the presence of mind to pull out my phone. Thank God for video capability in your pocket. Amen, and I captured the result. I was waiting on them, because my kids always run in so fast from the garage, go tearing through the house, chasing each other and stuff like that. I was waiting on them. I want you to see what happened next. I was, I promise. I was, I mean, 99 times out of 100, she's not the first one in the door. It just so happened this time. Let's watch that again, just so we can appreciate it now that you know what's coming. Just maybe one more time? One more time. I want you to appreciate the nuance of the look on her face. One more time, just one more time. I put that on Instagram, with permission, as a demonstration of my amazing abilities. But, if you think about that scenario, the only reason it worked, only reason that created the response it did, is because I was hidden behind the door. Had I texted her, when you come up the steps, I'm going to be behind the door, and my objective and aim is whoever comes through the door next, I'm going to terrify them within an inch of their life. I'm also going to video it, and show it to 20.000 people at some point in the future, and on television as well to hundreds of thousands around the globe. Her response would have been different.
Now, my action could have been exactly the same. I'm going to get you to see something. It's simple. But the reason that stuff keeps defeating you is because stuff keeps surprising you. Watch this. If she had known I was behind the door, she could have had something ready for me when I jumped out. Talk to me. She could have had something ready. They could have turned it on me. Those were glass milk jugs Elijah was carrying into the house. You know what they could have done to me, had they known I was behind the door? It only worked because I was hidden. And the Lord wanted me to tell you something about all of these ghosts you've been living with, about all of this guilt you've been living with, about all of this hopelessness you've been living with, about all of this offense you've been living with, all of this sorrow you've been living with, all of these threats you've been living with, Telling you, you can't. Telling you, you won't. Telling you, you'll never. Telling you, you're not. God said now you know they're there, you've got something for them. Oh! I've got something for you, guilt. I've got something for you, hopelessness. I've got something for you.
Tell somebody, say, "I've got something for you. "But as for me, I trust in you". How can you say that, David, after 22 verses of despair? See, I've walked through the house enough. Now I know where everything is hidden. So, when it jumps out at me, I know exactly what to do with it, because I expected it, and since I expected it, I can expose it. I can expose it. I can't chase it. I tried to. I can't escape it. I wish I had wings, I'd leave. But since I have to live with all of this stuff, I might as well, here's what it said on one haunted house I drove by this week. It said, prepare to be scared. I thought, that's a message for the church. Prepare to be scared. Arm yourself. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Expect it, and expose it. David said, "I don't have wings". But remember, David, in Psalm 27, you said, "The Lord is my light and my salvation". Didn't he say that? Didn't he say that? So, I don't have wings to escape it. I don't have the power to chase it. But I've got the light to expose it. The Lord is my light and my salvation. I'm not scared of you anymore. I see you there, but I see you for what you really are.
Yeah, you don't look so scary like this. You don't look so scary, now that I've got the light on it. Oh, man, up under that mask, God was speaking to you, wasn't He? That's what happens when the mask comes off. Everything that you were dealing with in your heart becomes exposed in the presence of God, and every fear that held you captive has to release you and let you go when you get the light on it. Come on, get the light on it. Get the light on offense. Before I put the light on you, you looked like guilt, but now you look like an opportunity for grace. It's not that the guilt went away, it's just that now I see my guilt as an opportunity to receive His grace. Talk to me, somebody. We're unmasking things in the presence of God today. You still look hopeless, not you. You still look like hopelessness, but I see you now as an opportunity for greater faith, because faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, but I can see it in the light. Everybody say light. God wants to shine light in your heart today. "Search me, O God, know my heart. Try me, know my ways".
See if there's any offensive way in me. Put your light on it, God. Show me what it really is. Take the mask off of offense. You're not my father. And every offense that comes in my life is also an opportunity for forgiveness. Now I see you for what you are. I still feel offended, but I don't have to be offended just because I feel offended, because I've been forgiven. Shout, somebody! You look like sorrow, but I also see that my greatest sorrow can become my greatest strength. Don't you understand that what you're going through right now is making you stronger for where you're going? You don't look sorrowful. You look strong in your Dickies plaid. You look strong clapping those hands. You look like strength in the light. You don't even look scary in the mask, because I realize that no weapon, no threat, that is formed against me. Watch this. You can stay here. You can stay here and talk all you want, but you can't scare me anymore, because I realize the threat is empty. I realize that the devil roars about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, but I found out he doesn't have any teeth. All he can do is roar, because even if he kills me, I get to reign with Christ.
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah, I'm going to get you fired up about Jesus today. Yeah, He is my light! Yeah, He is my salvation! "Who shall I fear? I am persuaded neither life nor death, nor anything else". What I'm trying to say is, you can't run a haunted house with the lights on. Can you imagine how stupid it would look if they brought you in the haunted house and here comes the chain saw? Your chain saw sounds scary, but I happen to notice in the light, you don't have a chain! What the light of God does in my heart is it shines to every darkened place, every horrible place, and once I've been through this house a few times, you don't scare me anymore. It's not that I don't have fear, it's that fear doesn't have me. Jump up on your feet if that's your declaration. Fear doesn't have me. Not anymore. As for me, I trust in God. Thank you, ghosts. You can leave now. You've got to go now. Give it up for the ghosts as they make their way off this stage, and maybe their exit off this stage is a symbol of some stuff that's leaving your heart today that's been holding you back for too long! It's here, but it doesn't have me. It's here, but it doesn't hold me. It's here, but I see it. I expect it. I expose it. I expect it. I expose it. I'm not trying to get out of here anymore. I'm going to live in this place. I'm going to live from my heart, because I do have wings. David had wings, he just forgot how to use them for a minute. Not the kind of wings that make you fly away, but the kind of wings that help you get above. You've got wings.
Touch somebody and say, "You've got wings". No wonder you're tired. You know, the Scripture says in Isaiah that, "Those who trust in the Lord will walk and not grow weary, run and not faint. They will mount up on wings like eagles". What does that mean? What does it mean to mount up on wings like eagles? What wings was he speaking of? It can't mean that I get to leave every uncomfortable, every horrible, every hard, every horror-filled, every haunted situation. I've got to live in my own heart. You know, I've got to live with the memories I have. I can't get rid of them. I've got to live with the disadvantages that were handed to me. So, I've got to live here, but I don't have to live here at this altitude. I don't have to live here on this level. I've got wings. I've got wings. I've got wings. I've got one wing called the Word. That's one wing. I've got a Word from God, and no Word from God will ever fail. His Word is seated above His name. I've got wings. I've got wings.
Touch somebody and remind them, "You've got wings". I've got one wing called the Word, and I've got one wing called worship. "O, that I had wings". Oh, but you do. You do. You've just got to use them. You've got to get a Word from God. You've got to get worship in your heart! You've got to start singing when you get scared. In fact, right now I believe this message was so specifically for so many of you, that I'm going to boldly ask you to lift both your hands in the air if this message hits you in your heart today. Boldly lift your hands. Boldly lift your hands. Use your wings, lift your hands. Lift them up, high, high, high, high, high. Lift them up, lift them up, lift them up. We declare over your life today that your heart belongs to God. Say it out loud: "My heart belongs to God".
That's right, that's right. Give it back to Him, so He can take up residence. But understand that just because the other stuff didn't leave doesn't mean He's not there. Just because you're in a storm doesn't mean that God is gone. Ask Peter. Woke Jesus up on the boat, said it's storming so bad. Don't you care that we're in this situation? And Jesus said, "Yeah, I care so much, I'm in it with you". That's how much I care. I see what's going on in your heart, and the proof of my presence is that I never left you through it all. Lift your hands, He's here. Lift your hands, He's here. And so, we break the spirit of fear in your life today. And we declare that in every storm, Christ Jesus is Lord. He is Lord. He is Lord. I wonder, will you confess it? He is Lord. Hands lifted high. He is Lord. Say it. He is Lord. That's how I know I'm going to get through this. He is Lord. That's how I know I'm going to make it. He is Lord. He's going to see me through, just like He always has. He is Lord! He is Lord! Not fear, not guilt, not hopelessness, not depression, not despair. He is Lord!