Steven Furtick - We Protect Our Phones, But Not Our Hearts
This is an excerpt from: Protect The Vessel
I think a lot of my problems in my own psychology come from protecting the wrong thing too much and protecting the right thing not enough. I don't mind admitting that I'm defensive. I was telling a story the other day. Somebody asked me, "Are you confrontational"? I was like, "Let me tell you". This one guy one time was telling me, "Pastors ought to this, and pastors ought to that, and pastors ought to that". The thing is he wasn't doing anything that he said pastors ought to do. So, I said, "Hey, real quick, show me the Scripture (this is my Bible; maybe you have a different one) where it says there's a different standard for a pastor than a regular person". Don't cheer for that. That's stuff God needs to get out of my heart. What's wrong with y'all? This is a confession, not a testimony. But I'm defensive. I sometimes protect my opinion, my preference.
Let me give you a Scripture Paul said. Remember, Paul is writing this Scripture in 2 Timothy 2 at pretty much the time where his ministry is about to close. It's quite possibly right at the same time after the shipwreck, but he's writing this letter to Timothy. This is why I told you to protect the vessel. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:20, "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work". If he purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel God can use.
I was excited… Don't worry about it, because I have a case for my phone, so it's fine. Do you have a case for your phone? I think the cockiest people in the world don't put a case on their phone. "You mean you are that together and that sure of yourself"? Did you hear how they gasped when my phone flew out of my hand? I practiced that 15 times to try to make it believable, because I wanted to show you that we have cases to protect our phones. How much was your phone…$500, $700, $300? We have a case for our phone, which you can get another one of, but they don't make a case for your soul, for your heart, for your faith, for your expectation. You can still use a phone with a cracked screen. It'll still work.
When the Lord started speaking to me about this message, he said, "Tell them they are spending more time protecting things that can be replaced…" I want to use an example. Paul says to Timothy, "These things". "Protect yourself from these things". Do you know what the things he mentions are? You can look it up. He's talking about false teaching. He said it spreads like gangrene. That's disgusting. He said you have to really protect yourself from those things. One thing he calls it is godless chatter. See, this is the thing about it. I didn't know Paul had Twitter until I read him say, "Protect yourself from godless chatter". He said avoid… This is the same passage, 2 Timothy 2. Look it up later and check me out.
See if I'm telling you the truth. It says, "Avoid stupid arguments". The reason I chose to go off Acts 28 today, talking about "Protect the vessel," is even though the boat that was carrying Paul broke into pieces, it wasn't as important what was carrying Paul as it was what Paul was carrying. There are a couple of ships in the passage. One of them is nautical. One of them does what boats do. But the other vessel in the passage, of course, is the apostle Paul, who was going to Rome because he had a case (double meaning) to stand before Caesar for the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, as he's on his way to Rome, of course, there's a shipwreck.
I've preached about this before. It's an amazing story. We don't have time for it today, but there's something in this passage for us to realize. There's something that happens after Paul survives the crash that is even more important than what caused the crash to begin with. I spend a lot of my mental energy trying to figure out why things are the way they are, and a lot of times I can come to conclusions that aren't necessarily accurate. I've noticed this about myself. A lot of times I connect things, and I think the reason this happened is because that happened. Now, I wouldn't consider myself prone to self-pity, necessarily, but I do have my moments. Even Paul did.
As a matter of fact, when he was in the storm… Let me just bring this up to refresh your memory. It became apparent that there was going to be a crash. He tells all of the people who are in charge of the ship, the other prisoners, in verse 21, "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed". Which vessel is God interested in protecting? Read the passage again. He says, "You have to keep your courage even in the midst of really horrible conditions, because the important vessel isn't the one that carried you". The most important vessel, or the most important container isn't something that carries you. It is the heart God has given you, the calling, the assignment, the gift, the ability, the imagination God has given you to carry something to the world.
Now, we're not all Paul, so we're not all carrying what he was carrying, but the significance of this story would apply to anybody in the room. I promise you there is something you are carrying that only you can carry. I don't know if you see yourself this way or not, but it's like Paul knew, "Whatever happens to the boat I'm in, there is something in me that is more significant to God". So, whatever is breaking apart in your life at any given point in time is not as important as what God has put on the inside of you, so protect the vessel. Don't put a case on your phone but then use the same phone to expose your heart… Do y'all want me to preach? I could read a poem and go home. I already got the revelation. As a matter of fact, please do not email me about this. I barely even open emails, so it would be pointless.
I heard one person one time who talked about how they eat clean, eat clean, eat clean, and all of that. Granted, I have my own certain way I eat, and I am very, very picky, and I am very, very disciplined in my own way, but the only thing is I get to eat unlimited bacon on the eating lifestyle I have chosen that God has given me and foreordained through Dr. Atkins. Don't email me. I'm not going to read it. But the person who was eating clean… They didn't eat this. They didn't eat that. We went to the thing. They had bean sprouts. That's what I remember. What I remember is they were saying all this stuff. They were like, "Because if you eat this, you get killed with that, and then if you eat fish, then you have mercury poisoning, and then if you don't eat fish…"
So I sat there, and I thought, "Huh. This is funny". It was an example to me of you are so careful about what you will put in your body… And it's great. Study it all. I know; you know science. That's great. But it wasn't coming from just a place of wisdom. It was all fear based. "I read this study, and I saw this, and I Googled this disease, and I YouTubed that disease," and all this stuff. I thought, "It's funny, because you eat clean, but you think crap". This is what I thought. I didn't say this. You eat clean, but you think crap. So you live long, but you hate life. You are protecting the shed, but you're not maintaining the equipment. You're managing your profile, your image, your appearance, this physical body. It's going to break. Take care of it, but the real vessel has nothing to do with anything that can be counted in calories or carbohydrates.
That's why Paul says, "Let go of the boat and keep up your courage". It's okay. I have a case. It's all right. Then they get to the island, and Paul is like, "I told you. I told you God was good". "This is my testimony"! He's singing worship songs and stuff. "Jireh"! He had the bootleg YouTube version. He had learned it a long time ago. But he said, "Here, let me help". These islanders are being nice, so he's like, "I don't want to just sit over here and not help. If you're nice enough to build a fire, I'm nice enough to help". Just to read the Scripture again… He said, "Here, let me help," and when he was putting the wood on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.
Have you ever been trying to help somebody and in the process of helping you got hurt? This is one of the main things you have to look out for. I've been in the process before where I thought I was doing something… It's awesome, because he's only trying to be useful and he gets bit by a snake. So, at this point, when I was reading the Scripture, I had to stop and ask the question, "Why did the snake bite Paul"? I'm going to see what you think about it. You're not going to just sit there and make me do all the work. Put it in the chat. Why did the snake bite Paul? On three. One, two, three! I don't know what they're saying online, but… Are y'all speaking in tongues? Is this the tower of Babel? What happened at Elevation Church?
"It was the Devil! That's how the Devil is. He's always picking on Paul at his weakest moment. He wants to take him out so he can't preach. This is the Devil"! Right? "The Devil is the snake… Genesis 3, the Serpent, the symbolism. Revelations"! Maybe it was the Devil. A snake bite… I guess that's the Devil. "No, it was God. It was God who let the snake bite Paul, because everything happens for a reason". People will say, "That's why you're single: because the Lord is preparing your ship in the harbor". It's like, "Shut up! I want somebody to watch Netflix with. Shut up"! "It was God who let that snake bite Paul, because, well, then Paul got to show that 'That snake can't hurt me. God is greater than the snake.' Graves into gardens, you know. So it was God". But it's not that deep, y'all. It says it in the text.
It's crazy how many somersaults we will do just to get around what the text actually said. It says the viper was driven out by the heat. It was nothing but a natural consequence of the fire. But watch what everybody was so quick to do. Watch what God wanted me to show you. While Paul has a snake hanging from his hand… This is unbelievable. I can't believe this. This reminds me of church people. Everybody is standing around talking about why he has a snake on his hand. Did you see it in the text? These kinds of people get on my nerves. "That's why you're going through that. If you would have raised your kids on the books I read, then your kids wouldn't be struggling with this". "Well, when I raised my kids, we had prayer times at 8:30 for Matthew 8:30". I don't even know what Matthew 8:30 says. "And we would sit around… If you would train them up, that would have been…"
Now, it says the islanders were kind. They built a fire. These were not evil people, even though they were strange people, but something in even the nicest human heart has a tendency to want to do this. In the Scripture it says that while a snake was hanging from Paul's hand, while a snake was hanging from the man of God's hand… This could have killed him. Verse 4. We would never get to verse 5 if Paul would have listened to what they said in verse 4. This could have killed Paul. This. "When the islanders saw the snake, they said, 'This man must be a murderer.'"
They are interpreting his identity through the lens of an event. "If this is happening, then you must be…" "This man". The pointer finger. It's like the logo for a lot of Christianity. Those people. That lifestyle. "If this man was a good man, he wouldn't be going through this". "If you had not wasted that season of your life, then God could have blessed you like that. If you would have listened, if you would have been in church, if you would have…" I never saw any power released through a pointing finger. Personally, I never saw it. When you read in the Bible, you read a lot about the hand of God much more than the finger of God. This kills. This heals.