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Watch 2022 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Don't Let Your Past Define You

Steven Furtick - Don't Let Your Past Define You


Steven Furtick - Don't Let Your Past Define You

This is an excerpt from: Making Headlines

I think the Devil's job is to try to figure out in your life and in my life and in the lives of these students, "What can I put in big, bold letters across the top of their story that will mislead them away from their ministry and away from their purpose and away from the real meaning of life"? I believe that if you let him, the Enemy will sit at the editor's desk of your life, and he'll take the facts of what happens to you and the facts of what you've been through, and what he'll do (he's really good at it too) is he'll suggest all of this in your mind.

By the way, you're not looking for a guy with a pitchfork. You're looking for a guy who looks an awful lot and sounds an awful lot like you. This is how he does it. He gets inside because they're both running the same organization, you understand. It's your brain, and then it's the Enemy. If you let him, the Enemy will take everything that happened to you, and he won't necessarily tell you stuff that didn't happen. He'll arrange it in such a way to get you to click through. He'll hit you with such a thought that seems so conclusive. He'll hit you with such a thought that is so gripping. See, that's what they're trying to do. That's what they're trying to do on the bottom of CNN, the bottom of Fox News, the top of whatever paper you want to read.

"What is the thing we can say at the top that will keep them from reading on to find out the real story, that will cause them to click through it? What can I tell them? Maybe I can tell them that because they were abused, they're worthless. Maybe I can tell them that because they struggle in this one subject that they're learning disabled. Yeah, that's what I'll tell them. I'll put a headline over their life when they're young. It will say, 'Tina Has a Learning Disability.' When Tina thinks of herself, she'll think of herself in terms of one limitation in one area, but I won't let her see that it's just one area and she really has gifts in other areas that can shine if she can stick with it and if she can focus on what she's good at. I don't want her to see that. I want her to read the rest of my story instead of knowing the real story. Maybe if I convince Lauren that nobody loves her, there will in fact be a lot of people in her life who love her, but if I can put her loneliness as the headline over her life, I can get her to do things to try to experience the semblance of love that will keep her from ever really understanding the substance of it".

I just said a whole lot with just a little… The semblance can keep you from the substance. "Maybe I can convince them they're an addict. Then maybe they'll think they have no control. Then maybe they'll think they're not accountable for their actions because it's just who they are because it's who their dad was. Maybe then I can convince him that he'll be a good dad because he never had a good dad. Maybe I can take the fact that his dad walked out when he was 7, and if I print that big enough and say it often enough and drop it off at his doorstep every day as a reminder, maybe I…" The Devil is a liar.

See, here's what I found out. Here's what the Charlotte Observer taught me. Here's what I learned from Huffington Post, and here's what I learned from Joseph. You don't get to control your story, but you do get to choose your headlines. You don't get to select the script of your story. Ask Joseph. He wouldn't have chosen to be thrown into a pit by his brothers when he was 17 years old. He wouldn't have chosen to be falsely accused of rape and thrown into a prison as a reward for his excellent, strategic management of Potiphar's house, yet all these things happened, and all of these things were traumatic, but they were not defining. Just because it happened doesn't mean it has to make the headlines.

The one who writes the story is not the one who chooses the headlines, and you know, life is going to put some stuff in your story you wish you could change and some stuff in your story you didn't choose. Yet Joseph, with the rape charge, false imprisonment, near death at the hands of his brothers, at the end of it all, as he is publishing the proclamation of what his life has been all about, has the editorial authority to look at everything he has been through and see all of those events that could have marked him and in many ways probably did shape him and I'm sure pained him greatly, but what he said at the end of it all, "You meant it for evil. If you were writing my story, you would have had me as a slave, but I'm not a slave. If you were writing my story, you would have had me as an arrogant 17-year-old who didn't know any better than to keep his dreams to himself, but I've changed from that. If you were writing my story, and if life were writing my story, I would be a victim. But I refuse to let what happened to me when I was 17 be the headline of my life when I'm 30. I refuse to let the divorce I went through when I was 30 define me when I'm 40, and I refuse to let the parenting mistake I made when I was 40 define me when I'm 50. In other words, I'm not just allowing life to write my headlines. Things can happen to me, but there's a big difference between what happens to me and what I headline".

I'm trying to say it. Maybe I should just say it because I'm afraid it won't come across if I don't put it this plainly. You are not the author, but you are the editor. Now that's a different relationship. I write books. I just finished my fourth book. Guess what the editor does not do in the role he has. He doesn't determine what the book is about. In the same way, I don't believe God has really called us to determine what our life is about. I think he has already given us that. I think Joseph illustrates it clearly. He says, "I was put here…" He uses a word. He says, "I was sent here to save lives". What kind of way would that be to go back to school next week?

I was sent here. I know. I know, Devil. You're trying to tell me that the reason I'm at this new school is because my parents suck, and they never should have moved, and I was happier in Ohio, and I know you're trying to tell me that. That's fine. You can try to tell me that. You can suggest that, but I ultimately get to decide the reason I'm here, and I choose to see it that I was sent. You need a dream to drive your decisions. You need a dream to drive you toward your destiny. What you don't need at this point in your life is the details of that dream. Joseph was 17 when he saw a vision he didn't understand. He saw something that was beyond his maturity to comprehend or really even handle in that he saw himself surrounded by 11 sheaves of grain bowing down to his sheave of grain. He was seeing a picture of how one day, his brothers would come and bow down before him. It was followed up by a second dream, because when God is doing something in your life, he'll reinforce it in various ways.

You'll see a little here and there and do a little and read this and see that, and the pastor will say this, and your friend will say that, and your mom will say that, and God will start to speak, and you'll start to feel something. You won't really know the details. You'll just know that your dream is in development. In the second dream he sees, he sees the stars and the sun and the moon bowing down to him. This time it's not only his brothers but his parents who are going to be dependent on him. He almost sees it in a way that is very ambitious. At the end of his life (where we met him at the beginning of this sermon), where he's speaking with his brothers who hated him so much that instead of leaving him for dead, which would have actually been a kindness, they sold him out.

Now, I was reading something, and I want to go a little deeper into this. Is this good preaching? I want to go to this real quick and get a little more insight into how Joseph refused to let the Enemy be his editor. Why in the world would you let your Enemy be your editor? Why would you let your doubt and your cynicism and you're negativity and your past tell you where you're going? Joseph is explaining to his brothers the point of view because everybody writes from their point of view, right? That's one of the things you have to decide if you're writing a story. "What's my point of view"? Joseph is explaining to his brothers his point of view that allowed him to come to this place where he could say, "I know the story should be that they sold Joseph out, but that's not what I'm going to call these chapters of my life". It says in Genesis 45:4, "Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'Come close to me.'"

Now, I would have called them close so I could get my hands around their necks after what they had done to me, but he understands that he is only responsible for his response. You are not responsible for all of the events that occur, only your response to those events. Your parents' divorce is not your fault. The Devil is a liar. If he has been telling you that, kick him off the editor's desk and tell him, "I refuse to see it that way. That's the wrong lens. That can't be true. That's not God". He said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one…" Watch this. "…you sold into Egypt"! Got it? "You sold". That's the headline. "Joseph's Brothers Sell Him as a Slave".

"Cruel Brothers Sell Cocky Kid with a Colorful Coat as a Slave into Egypt". That's the headline. That's the click bait. That's how most of us in the room would have written it, by the way, from Joseph's point of view. "You sold me". He says it. It happened. "You sold me. It did it. It happened. You sold me into Egypt. And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me…" Now, we have two possible headlines we can choose from. Remember that Bible your parents used to have, and it was some inductive method study Bible. I went to seminary, and I don't even know what that means.

One thing I remember is it was a big old thick Bible. I'm telling you the Bible was like that. The Bible was big print. I think that's why your parents had it. It was this big, thick Bible, and it was cool because it had all of the same chapters in the Bible, but you know how in this Bible, before each chapter, it has a heading that tells you what the chapter was about? This Bible was cool because it had a blank space where normally the heading would be. The idea of it was… It had big old margins where you could write in the margins, but my favorite part was that you got to choose your own heading.

Let's play a game right now. Let's choose our heading for Genesis 45. We're just going to do two verses. We can't do a whole chapter right now, but I'll just get you started. Maybe this will give you a new way to look at your life. Maybe this will get you a new way to look at bankruptcy. Maybe this will get you a new way to look at the child you didn't plan to have, but you had them, and you're a little older than you thought you were going to be. Maybe this will give you a new way to plan for the thing you flunked and the thing you failed at and the thing that embarrassed you. Maybe, just maybe.

In Genesis 45:4, it said, "You sold me". In Genesis 45:5, it said, "God sent me". Same event, different headline. The headline you choose about an event determines whether you stay stuck in what happened or if you move forward to where you're headed. Wow! I don't write my headlines about what happened; I write my headline based on where I'm headed. That's why it's called a headline, because I'm headed somewhere. I have a dream, and I'm going toward it.
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