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Watch 2022 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - It's Your Door

Steven Furtick - It's Your Door

Steven Furtick - It's Your Door

All right! How many are excited about God's Word going into your heart right now? That's what has to happen, y'all. The Word of God has to get in your heart. Up here in your head you just have a history lesson. Maybe you have a little motivational saying. If it gets in your heart, it goes home with you. If it goes home with you, it can help you in your real life, not your church life. Not this little time we share together but the whole expanse of your existence as a human being. That's what I'm after, and I believe that's what God is after today. So, may he speak something life changing in this place. I'm going to let you be seated. I have a few different Scriptures to read, so go ahead and take your seat. Man! It gets hard to hold these sermons all week while I wait for you to get here. It really does.

I feel like these boxes keep coming, and I can't hold all of them. That's what it has been like this week with the Scriptures. The Scriptures I want to make sure we look at today are from Nehemiah 6:1-4 and Nehemiah 7:1-3. Some of y'all might have post-traumatic stress disorder when I say, "Nehemiah". Don't worry; I'm not starting a building project for the church today. It's about the only time Nehemiah gets to come to church: when they're raising money for a fellowship hall or something. "Hand me another brick"! Not to be corny about it, but I believe God is building something in each of us and that God's construction project in your life related to your character, your contentment… That's what I mean when I say the "hard work of happiness".

Holly mentioned it when she made the announcements. That's what I've been working on in my own life, realizing that there's an easy way to get high and feel happy… Not necessarily just off of drugs. It could be food. It could be gossip. It could be a lot of different drugs. You know what I mean? You just have your own little pill bottle, but it might not be something physical. It might be something very internal. Then to realize that to truly, in a sustainable way, know the joy of the Lord… Well, that's going to take work. So, not to bore you with all of the details of how I got here, but in Nehemiah 6:1-4, I want to share with you a really brief glimpse into something I think is going to be so simple that some of y'all won't listen. It'll be so simple that some of you are going to shut me out right now, but sometimes we need practical strategies for spiritual battles. Sometimes we do.

"Go, Naaman, and dip in the Jordan". "What in the world does that have to do with my skin"? What in the world does launching a fishing net on the other side of the boat have to do with being the disciples? But the Lord will give you something practical sometimes. By the way, I haven't even greeted the eFam yet. Hello to our eFam all over the world. Let's thank God for them right here from Ballantyne. Quick question in the chat. What state? What city, if you're in the United States? Shout-out to our pop-up church in California today. Where are they in California today? Riverside. Y'all make some noise for Riverside. Pop-up praise party in Riverside. Amen. So good. So, let me know the city and state you're in right now as we go to the Word of God, Nehemiah, chapter 6. All right. The Lord is going to shift something in your life today.

Nehemiah 6:1: "When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it…" He's not bragging, but he has been through a lot to get to this point. This was a hard project. Here's how hard it was: they couldn't do it for 80 years until Nehemiah got there. They kept trying, and it would stop, and they'd get discouraged, and they'd stop, and they'd be opposed. They're trying to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem because they've been in exile. I'll take you on a little history lesson really quickly. I will not stay in this very long. The background is they've been in Babylon. About 50,000 of the Jewish people came back to Jerusalem, but the city was in bad shape because it was still ravaged.

So, it came in waves. Zerubbabel took a group back, and he helped to rebuild the temple, and then after Zerubbabel… You can always remember that he's the one who built the temple because Zerubbabel…rubble. He had to work with the rubble he had and build what he could, but he couldn't do everything. It came in waves. God sent Ezra after Zerubbabel had been there a little while, and Ezra started preparing the people's hearts. Now that the temple was in position, he had to get the people ready. Quick principle: in the Old Testament, God had a temple for his people; in the New Testament, God has a people for his temple. He lives in you. The challenge of Bible application is we don't want to make it entirely external or entirely internal. If I just take this text and start talking to you and make it mean whatever I want, we can come to some pretty crazy conclusions, as I'll show you in a minute.

At the same time, if I just tell you about Zerubbabel and Ezra and Nehemiah and 536 BC, and all of these things, you're like, "Did I really get up this morning for history? I got my diploma in 1983 so I didn't have to learn any of this anymore," and then you'll be totally checked out. That's not the point of the Bible anyway. All of this is written for examples. It's the living Word of God. It is not a dead history of a people who happened to live in a certain place that we can study from afar. It is meant to get inside of… That's my challenge for Bible preaching. I have to get you to see that while they are rebuilding the city, God is rebuilding your soul. Your soul is like a city. This brings up a question. If your soul is a city, what's the crime rate? Your soul…your mind, your will, your emotions.

Now, your spirit is perfect. When Jesus saves you, he gives you the Holy Spirit. There's nothing wrong with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn't need upgrades. The Holy Spirit doesn't have bugs and glitches. The Holy Spirit doesn't buffer. The truest part of you, if you belong to Jesus, is light and truth, and it is the incorruptible seed of the Word of God. So, that's your new nature. When you do something crazy and say, "I'm just keeping it real…" No, you're not, actually. That's not the real you at all. That's the you that you remember, but to really learn this new way of thinking requires that God does some work, not in our spirits but in our souls. If your soul is a city (I'm just putting this out there before we read all this), how's the economy? Is it a lot of poverty of compassion? Are you in compassion fatigue? That would be poverty of compassion.

Do you have a poverty of empathy? You only can see things how you can see things. If your soul is a city, God has given you charge over it. You are elected as the mayor of the city of your soul to develop and defend what God gives you. Give them the Proverbs verse. This will make it clear. The writer of Proverbs… Most people believe Solomon wrote the majority of the Proverbs. "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control". Did that Scripture feel like it should have had your name by it or are you doing really good? If your soul is a city, what's going on inside? I see your sneakers. I see your smile. I see all of that, but I'm asking about the city of your soul…that stuff. Only God really sees that. If Solomon did write Proverbs, he would be the perfect one to tell us that when you don't have self-control, you're like a city with no walls. Anything can get in anytime.

That's exactly what he let happen, not only to his own heart but to the nation. You remember. Saul was the first king of Israel. David came after him. Solomon, David's son, took the throne next, and the Bible says he was the wisest man who ever lived. The only time I can find a sort of contradiction in the Bible is that if he's the wisest man to ever live, how did he have 700 wives? I'm still working on that. That's a mystery of God right there for me. The Bible says he did something crazy. He let the influence of the foreign women he loved turn his heart… This is the literal language of it (2 Kings 11). It says he let them turn his heart from the Lord. So, he started to let things come in, not directly (pay attention), but indirectly. He did not turn toward those gods; he turned toward those people, and those people turned him toward those gods.

We are far more easily influenced than we realize. Like a city without walls, just anybody, anything, any thought, any feeling, any impulse, anything you want to do, anything you want to say, anything you want to look at, anything you want to watch… Anything can get in when you do not see your soul as a city and realize that you have the responsibility to defend it. Now, I wish I could tell you differently. I wish I could tell you that when you turn 25, somebody is going to come into your life and make you happy, and they will help you deal with all of your dysfunctions, and you will meet the right person, and they will make you whole, but if you are half and they come into your life, then they will not make you whole; they will make you go through a living hell as you realize that what you thought was in another person could only be found in God. I have to work on my city. I have to work on myself. I have to work on what's within.

Let's go back to Nehemiah, because now I think you're ready. He said, "When we got the wall built…" They did it in 52 days with the help of their God. So, this is something to celebrate. "…not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates—Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: 'Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.' But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply…" Y'all, I'm glad Nehemiah was skilled as a builder, because he did not have the gift of a preacher. He missed the most obvious layup in the history… Watch this. "Come meet with us on the plains of Ono". Nehemiah said, "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down". Why wouldn't you start the response with "Oh, no"? He missed it. (Come on. Y'all like my humor. You didn't pay anything. It's not like you need a refund for the ticket.)

So, they say, "Meet at the plains of Ono". He says, "Oh, no". He didn't say it. I'm putting it in there. He should have said it. "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you"? This is the part I like, because this gives me an indication. You don't just fight spiritual battles once, and they go away. Look at verse 4. "Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer". So, he's persistent about this because he has priorities. We'll come back to priorities in just a moment.

Skip over to Nehemiah 7, verse 1. They keep trying to get him to come. He won't come. They give him a false prophecy. They try to get him to go in the temple and close the doors. They're like, "Hey, come. Somebody is trying to kill you. You need to hide in the temple". He's like, "If I hide, I lose my credibility. I know what you're trying to do to me. Why should a man like me run and hide after God brought me this far? If God enabled me through letters from Artaxerxes to come here and rebuild this wall and helped me do it in spite of all this opposition, do you think I'm going to go run and hide in somebody's house right now? Not me. Oh no".

He wouldn't do it. He wouldn't quit. Now look at chapter 7, verse 1. I've never heard anybody preach chapter 7, because it lists a bunch of names of everybody who came back after the Babylon captivity. This is a "skip" most of the time in the book of Nehemiah. We just read right past it. But I saw something so important that I thought we should spend this entire sermon on it. Nehemiah said in verse 1, "After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the Levites were appointed. I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity…" That doesn't mean he's perfect. That means he's one person everywhere, the same person here as the same person there…whole. Integer in math. You remember that. That's what he's saying. He had integrity, and he feared God more than most people. I kind of like the shade of meaning behind that.

"More than most people". "He's better than all of these other bums, so I'll take him". But really, when he says he's a man of integrity, we realize he is appointed because of his character. Look at verse 3. "I said to them, 'The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.'" If I could call this study what I really want to call it, I would call it "Self-Awareness as a Form of Spiritual Warfare". But the more I thought about that, I thought, "They will never remember that when they leave". I don't hardly even remember it, and I just said it. It's so clunky. So, instead I'm going to call it… I want you to look at the person next to you and tell them the title I think you probably can remember. Say, "It's your door".

I need your prayers, as always, because God continues to have to help me to focus my priorities. I am constantly having to deal with the Holy Spirit about my priorities. It's almost like a bath or brushing your teeth. It's like, if I don't do it a couple of times a day, I start to notice in my attitude, in my thoughts, in my conversations. I can be the pettiest person. Last week I told you I'm very protective as a father. When my kids are in the ocean, I turn into "Safety Steve". "Y'all come in. You're too deep". It's really annoying, and I know it while I'm doing it, but I'm just scared. I don't know. I'm getting old. I know I'm getting old, because Elijah went to get five napkins last night, and I freaked out. Just last night. This is recent.

See, even that goes back, because my dad used to tear the paper towel in half and say, "You don't need a whole paper towel. Half a paper towel is all you need. What in the world do you need with a whole paper towel? You need to learn how to manage…" He had a whole system for folding it and getting through with half a paper towel. But he grew up poor. Now you carry all of these things into your adulthood. I don't know where this one came from. I can almost hear my mom's voice in my head. Somewhere along the line, my children all had a meeting and decided, relatively recently, that none of them were ever going to close a door in the house ever again…not a door to a bedroom, not a door to a pantry, definitely not a door going outside. I'm just walking through the house all day… I hear my mom's voice. That's the craziest part about it. I hear my mom's voice.

"You are cooling off the outside". Then she used to yell. She would yell, "You're letting the cool out! Shut the door! You're letting the cool out"! Or, if it wasn't that, "Shut the door! You're letting the flies in". So, I'm either letting the flies in or the cool out. I am so petty. I was walking through the house just the other day, and there's a door, and there's a door, and there's a door. I'm closing the doors, and I'm doing a little speech under my breath. "That's fine. I'll just be the official door closer around here. I've got nothing better to do. It's not like I lead a global ministry. I've got nothing better to do than follow y'all and close the doors so that the dumb dog y'all made me buy won't get out and get hit by a car! That's what I would love to do today, is close the doors behind y'all".

I promise when the Lord speaks to me, sometimes it is so basic. I don't know if it was the Lord. It was a thought that went through my mind. "I wonder what would happen if you were as concerned about what you let in your heart…" No, no, no. I didn't get to the best part yet. "You're talking about letting the flies in, but you let the fear in. You don't seem to be very concerned about that. So, I wonder what would happen if you would be as concerned about what you let in your heart as what's getting in this house because the door is open. I wonder what would happen if you were as concerned about what you let in your heart…" This is the one that got me. "…and what you let out of your mouth". Everybody do this. We're going to talk about that in a minute. That's your door, whether you realize it or not. And that's your door, and that's your door, and that big ol' elephant-sized brain you're carrying around up there that knows all that math and science is your door.

Nehemiah builds the wall, and they have the structure, and the city is spacious and large, but the people aren't back yet. I don't know if you noticed the detail, but it's pretty significant if God put it in the Bible. Anything God put in the Bible, I'm like, "Lord, that seems random, but it must not be. Reveal to me what's in it". He said in chapter 6, verse 1, that when his enemies… "When they heard that I had rebuilt the wall, the whole thing, and didn't leave a gap in it…" Look at verse 1, part B. "…though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates…" We have two things happening in this Scripture. Nehemiah is making progress for God, and he receives an invitation from his enemy all at the same time. He is making progress for God. He's getting this wall built.

"If we can get a wall, we can get an educational system. If we can get a wall, we can worship without being worried that they're going to come and get us. If we can get a wall built…" But he said after the wall was built… That was the first wave. "Now I have to set the doors in place so that in the daily comings and goings, we can have assurance of protection, so that when we do what we do in the course of our lives, whether worship or work, we will be protected. I have to get these doors in place. If I don't get these doors in place, this wall isn't going to do me any good. If I get a wall but no doors, nobody can go out, but if I have a wall without doors, anybody can just get in. So, I have to have a wall, and I have to have some doors, because I'm making progress for God, but I'm receiving an invitation from the enemy".

So, this is the question. I'm bringing it right to 2022: What do you do when you are making progress for God but receive an invitation from an enemy? Not a physical enemy. Remember, we don't wrestle against flesh and blood. Sanballat is over Samaria in the north, and Tobiah is over the Ammonites to the east, and Geshem is over the Arabs to the south, but we're not talking about geography here, are we? We're talking about psychology, theology. We're talking about your Sanballats of self-pity, your Tobiahs of temptation, your Geshems of… What starts with a G? Gluttony! We're not supposed to preach about that sin in church. No, that'll mess the whole… How about we go with grumbling? I like grumbling. He said it was an enemy, and they asked him for a meeting.

The enemy didn't ask Nehemiah, "Can we come in and destroy your credibility"? Why would the enemy do that? You would say, "No". They said, "Let's talk. I'm hearing the rumors about what you built. Let's talk". It's an invitation. "Let's talk". "Hey, get that situation on your mind that you don't see any way out of, and play out every hypothetical scenario of how it could go worse than you ever possibly thought. Let's talk". "Count up everybody in your mind who ever left your life, who were supposed to be there for you and are not, and think about how they failed you and mistreated you, and think about the fact that they're probably off somewhere right now on an island, happy without you, driving a Ferrari. Let's talk". "Think about the fact of everything you don't have, and I want you to go look at everybody else who has everything you don't have, and I want you to put together a perfect conglomerate of all of the people who in your imagination have something you don't have, and then compare your image of them to your reality of yourself. Let's talk".

Nehemiah is like, "Oh, no," which gave me a lesson. When the Enemy speaks to me, Satan doesn't get to give me a command; he can only make a suggestion. I see it like this. A lot of us, in making progress in our walk with God or in the ways God is working in us… I hear a lot of sermons, by the way, about "God will work it out". Those are great sermons for shouting and clapping and celebrating, but what about what God is working in? It is him who works in you to will and to do according to his good pleasure. So, when God is working in you and actually making progress, and then you receive that invitation from the Enemy, what do you do with it? The first thing is to realize that just because he invites you doesn't mean you have to go.

Now, if you don't belong to Jesus, then you have to go, because you're a slave to sin. The Enemy can just lob any accusation at you that he wants to, bring you down, pull you down, and beat you to death, but if you belong to Jesus, you are not under the jurisdiction of Sanballat or Tobiah or Geshem or any of the enemies that threaten the stability of your soul. What I'm trying to say is if Jesus purchased you with his blood, Satan doesn't get to invite you out of that state of being seated with Jesus into a state of feeling sorry for yourself. You don't have to go.

I feel the spirit of Ono coming on me today. Oh, no! It's your door. It's your decision. "Hey, Nehemiah, they want to meet with you". "No". "Nehemiah, they want to meet with you". "No". "Nehemiah, they want to meet with you". "No". "Nehemiah, they want to meet with you". "No". Four times no, because I have something greater; because I have something higher; because I'm working on something important; because if I come down and talk to you, it will invite me into the sabotage of the self-destructive patterns this conversation will initiate. I'll be discouraged. I'll be discredited.

How well do you know yourself in order to realize, "Oh, this is an invitation from the Enemy"? How many of you got an invitation from the Enemy this week? The rest of you just got an invitation from the Enemy to lie in church. I hate it when they do that. "I don't know. I've actually been praising him this weekend, rejoicing in him. He is my Rock". I get these invitations at the strangest times: when I'm making progress, when I get the wall built, get a little win. I'm feeling pretty good, getting ready to go forward. "Okay. Maybe I will forgive them". Then I see them. I notice that all through Scripture. You know, right when they get to the Red Sea, Pharaoh is like, "I'm not so sure I want to let them go". That's because they are almost gone. Sometimes when the Enemy starts talking to you crazy stuff, discouraging stuff, worthless stuff, distracting stuff, that's how close you are. He's inviting you back. The wall is built.

So, Sanballat knows, "If they get the wall built, all the trade is going to start going through Jerusalem, not through Samaria. I'm going to lose money if I let them go". "Come on down and talk to me a little bit. Let's just talk about it. No big deal. Just talk a little bit about it". The Devil isn't dumb enough to show up at your door with face paint on, looking like the Joker, laughing all crazy, to talk to you about destroying your life. Just to get you to crack the door. "I don't know if I want to hear this today, Pastor Steven, because when you said the door, I thought you were saying about, like, the door of the opportunities God has for me. You know, like, God has opened a door nobody can shut. I'm looking for God to open a door for me. I'm an entrepreneur is what it is, and I just need the Lord to open a door for me, because people don't really see my giftedness.

At work, they really don't understand what I'm capable of, but I'm anointed. I'm annotated. I'm anointed from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, but nobody… I just need the Lord to open a door. I just need the opportunity. I've been wanting to sing up there on that stage, Pastor Steven, but I need a place to try out. I really am a good singer, better than some of the people you have up there right now. I'll tell you that right now. Pastor Steven, if I could just get an open door, if I could just get a chance, if I could just get a meeting…" That's fine. God opens doors. Okay. Let's all shout that God opens doors. Let's get it out of our system. God opens doors! Now shout about it. Y'all are the most Episcopal non-denominational church I've ever preached at in my life. Y'all are Presbyterian today. I don't know. Sometimes I think y'all meet in the lobby. "Today let's give him Pentecostal. Today Presbyterian. We're going to be Catholic today". I don't know what y'all do out there.

Watch this. Because you belong to the light, not the darkness, when the Enemy invites you, you don't have to go. If you belong to Jesus, there are some Scriptures that apply to you that do not apply to those who don't call on his name. So, you get to say, "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world". So, the Devil says, "Come on down here, and let's talk about how weak you are". "Oh, no. Greater is he that is in me than… I'm doing a great work for God. God is doing a great work in me. I can't be distracted right now by that". You have that power because of the Spirit. Not your own self-power, self-will. None of that. I'm not talking about that. That will put you in the fetal position, sucking your thumb, eating macaroni and cheese for the next 16 days. I'm talking about what Nehemiah knew. "I'm doing a great work for God, and God is doing a great work in me".

So, the Enemy's invitation… One way the Lord showed it to me… He said, "It's an invitation, not a subpoena". Satan can't subpoena you. He can't tell you you have to do anything. "The Devil made me do it". I don't think he did. I think you went to Trader Joe's. I think you bought the chips. I think you bought two bags. I think you ate both of them. I didn't see the Devil put anything in the cart or pay for it. I'm keeping it PG. That's why I'm talking about food. We could go way deeper with this if this was a men's conference. Delilah… We could talk about all kinds of stuff if it was a men's conference. It's too early in the morning for me to do that kind of stuff. But think about it. While he's making progress for God, the Enemy gives him an invitation. The way he responds to that invitation, not reacts to his feelings, is going to be the most important thing about what happens next.

Remember, he has built a wall, but there are no doors. The Lord said I was going to be speaking to somebody today who loves Jesus and is making progress. You've seen some freedom in your life. When you came to Jesus, you gave up the things you didn't like, and now he's working on the stuff you do. You keep waiting on God to take struggles away out of your life…any addiction, any pattern. That's between you and God. I won't sit here and name everything and start listing it. But I want to show you today what Nehemiah did at a vulnerable time. Now, nothing is vulnerable unless it's valuable. When did they start the attacks? When the wall started going up. Nobody messed with Jerusalem when it was lying in ruins, and the Devil will never mess with you as long as you're serving him. He'll bring you water.

The Devil will rub sunscreen on you if you go out there and serve him. Oh no? Oh, yes, he will. He absolutely will. The Devil won't tell you "No". The Devil won't tell your flesh "No". The Devil won't mess with you at all, but it's when the resistance kicks in in your life, when you really start getting to a different level and really start pursuing something different than just satisfying your own flesh… That's when it kicks in. Progress for God… The wall is built, but the doors aren't in yet. He said, "I was vulnerable to the attack in that moment because the doors weren't there". How about your doors? Wide open or tightly shut? The doors of your heart…what you let in, what you let out. I'm going to need to move this from the metaphorical level. How about your social media intake levels? Wide open or tightly shut? Give me a visual. This is wide open; this is tightly shut.

How are you doing with the doors? Show me how you're doing with your doors. We'll start with the social media doors. All right. Let's do the diet doors. How are the diet doors? All right. How about the "Judge not, lest ye be also judged" doors? How are those doors doing? I had a weird door the other day that the Lord was dealing with me about. I'm talking about doors. I know it sounds so boring, but some of the biggest breakthroughs in your life will be from boring stuff that you don't want to do. I could pick 5,000 Scriptures people would shout over when I read them, and Nehemiah 7 isn't one of them, because I was preaching about doors. Nobody ever shouted over a door. If I preached on the walls of Jericho… "And they shouted, and they fell"! We would all shout over walls that fall down, but what do I do after they fall? I still have to fight.

We shout over all the wrong stuff. You should be shouting that they got the doors in. Shout because they got the doors in! You are going to be so happy when you get your doors in place. I could almost see it this week when I was praying. I wasn't just studying with books out. I was praying. "God, show me why these people are so vulnerable to the Enemy's attack. Show me why I am". He said, "Because you always focus on the attack. You never do anything about it before it comes". You have no doors, no priorities, no order. Everything is important. "Do you want to go to church today"? "Well, yeah, I guess so. The boat is in the shop, and there are no kids having any games. The weather is kind of too hot to be outside or the weather is too cold to be…"

The weather has to be perfectly mediocre to get people in the South to come to church. No priority to it. I'm not fussing. Yes, I am. I'm fussing at you, because I am tired of the Devil just coming in picking off you, picking off your kids, just stripping you of everything God gave you because you left the door open. Because you don't know what time it is; because you don't know what you have inside of you; because you don't know how valuable it is; because you don't know who you are! "I'm doing a great work". It's the doors. It's not the Devil. It's the same Devil somebody else isn't giving in to. Same Devil, but they have doors.

I asked Amy one time, "How do you not be negative? I need to learn how. How do you do it"? Chunks was like, "She just doesn't pay any attention to what anybody else is doing". Huh. That's kind of cool. She has a closed-door policy on judging what somebody else ought to be doing with their life. That might help me. I told Holly the other day in a moment of vulnerability something that I needed. Not from her. She's amazing. Something I felt like I needed from God. This woman is so bold. Oh, man. She's always saying nice stuff. If she was always saying stuff like this, I wouldn't be able to hear it. It was like a different tone. She just shifted the tone all of a sudden. She said, "Well, if God gave you that, you wouldn't do anything with it".

I could close my heart in that moment or I could realize, "She is so exactly right that the way I receive this correction…" Or I could say, "Get behind me, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. I'm doing a great work". What good is that going to do? Just close the door on the person who's closest to me, who's telling me, "I'm watching your life, and you have a pattern. You're not going to get any power until you change the pattern". So I tested it. Did you ever read about Gideon in the Bible? He put a fleece out before the Lord. He said, "Lord, if it's really you," and he put it through a series of tests. They call it fleecing the Lord. Fleece, testing, to see if this is really God or not. So I put out a fleece. I said, "Give me an example of one time I had the chance to do that". You're like, "You're being really obscure. We don't know what you're talking about". Exactly. It's personal. I said, "Give me an example". She said the exact one that had just happened the day before.

Okay. I'll tell you what it was…not specifically, but enough where you can get the taste of it. It was letting new people in my life. I don't trust anybody. I have a closed-door policy from anybody I didn't know back when my hair was platinum blond or buzzed off. That's what we were talking about. She said, "You keep asking this and that, for God to show you new things and do new things. Even if God sent them, you wouldn't trust them and let them in". She's saying, "It's your door. It's locked so tight that God can send answers and you won't open. It's your door". I said, "Give me an example". She named the person who had texted me the day before who I didn't text back because I don't trust them yet. She named them. She didn't know they texted me. I don't think she went through my phone and found it. She just said it like a prophet.

Do you see what I'm saying? It's your door. It's not that God didn't give the opportunity. I didn't open the door to it. That happens. God works in waves. See? First came back Zerubbabel, then came Ezra, then came Nehemiah. He did all of these things in waves. He works in waves in your life, and you have to be open to what God is doing now. You have to. At the same time that Nehemiah is celebrating this awesome victory with the exiles who have come back… I mean, even that… He could have been so discouraged that only 10 percent of the people came back from Babylon. I don't know if you knew that or not. They didn't all come back after 70 years. Some died. Some had already built nice homes. Some of them had never even really heard that much about Jerusalem. So, now he's working with the remnant of what's left, but he's not discouraged. He builds. He's attacked, but he's not discouraged. He builds. He refuses to let the door of discouragement lead him into the depths of despair.

I think the way he was able to do that is in chapter 7, verses 1-3. It's very clearly enunciated. He calls a meeting. He's like, "Let me tell you what we're going to do. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem are not going to stop". I say that over you. These thoughts of insecurity, these pangs of worry, these problems that go on in your head… They are not going to stop. Okay? They will daily, sometimes in certain seasons, sometimes in your high moments, sometimes in your low moments… What I'm basically trying to say is the Enemy is going to attack you at all times. You're not going to make it through the season. "I'm just going through an attack right now". Well, I knew that, because you're breathing. Do you know how I knew you were under attack? You are above ground. We are not at your funeral.

So, I assume the attack, but the question is…What are you doing about the attack to make sure you don't have to fight the Devil hand to hand? It's harder to fight him once you let him right there in your living room. It's harder to fight him once you let him so close. I'm telling you, the Devil is a grappler. What he wants is to get you by your throat. What he wants is to get you in isolation. What he wants is to get you saying, "Well, I just do church online now. I don't go anymore. I stopped going in the pandemic. I really don't pay attention while he's on there because there are 50 things going on, but I don't come anymore". Everybody who came to church physically, clap. I am applauding you for being here. Can I come down here? I want to make sure. I don't want to scare you all.

Can I come over here? Y'all aren't used to seeing me this close. I look shorter like this, don't I? I look bigger on the screen, that's for sure. I'm going to these doors real quick. Come with me, you mighty man of God. I need Hanani and Hananiah. Yeah, this is going to be good. I got the right guys. Do you think I got the right guys? You got me? If they mess this illustration up, I'll come back for you. Put up Nehemiah 7:1-3, because this is what we have to do. The Bible says, "Guard your heart. Everything you do flows from it". "Above all else guard your heart". Above all else. So, here's a door. We'll just use it to illustrate. Hanani and Hananiah. Nehemiah said, "Look". I don't know why I picked the door farthest away for us to come all the way up to. That's just the one I picked. That was kind of dumb, but here we are.

How are y'all doing? Did I come to the right side of the church? How are your doors? Has the Devil been knocking at your door, trying to discourage you, trying to tell you you're crap? But he says it stronger than that. If I said what he really said in church, you would turn it off. "Come on. Meet with us on the plains of Ono, so I can keep you from doing what you're going to do; so I can keep you from raising your daughter," because you keep thinking you can't. That's an invitation from the Enemy. You have the wall built, but I just have to wonder about your doors. The Lord has been speaking to me about my doors. He said, "It's your doors. That's the issue". Nehemiah said, "I have the gatekeepers, the musicians, and the Levites". Are you a singer? Okay. That's good. That's self-awareness. He knows his doors. He's like, "Nuh-uh. This door right here… You don't want to hear me sing".

I'll tell you one thing, though. The Levites… "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his courts with praise". This is a unique move, because the Levites were supposed to sing in front of the temple, but drastic times call for drastic measures. Nehemiah knows, "We're very vulnerable right now". So, the Levites, who led the praise service, who led the people in praise… He moved them out to the gates of the city to set a tone, that we need God's help, that we need God's glory, that we need God's protection. We need God's wisdom. We need God's perspective. So, he moves the Levites out. He's like, "I know y'all normally sing at the temple, but for now, I need y'all at the gate".

You have to set praise at the gate in your life sometimes. To just get up and almost… If you even have to fake it, fake it. Sometimes driving to church… It's really early when I get here, and I won't feel my sermon, but I'll just start driving down the road like I do. I'm thinking about my sermon. I'm not feeling it. I'll just start going, "Woo! Woo! Woo"! My car is not self-driving, so I'm taking my hands off the wheel every time I clap, so I have to be careful, start slapping my leg or something. I have to put the Levites, or the praise, at the gate. I can't get here and wait to see how y'all feel to see how I'm going to preach and do my job. I have to put praise at the gate. "Enter his gates…" Do you see what I'm saying? But these guys weren't Levites. These were guards. And he didn't just put them at the gate; he gave instructions.

Look at verse 2. It's so powerful. Wow! I never saw Nehemiah 7 before. "I put Hanani and Hananiah…" Because he had integrity and feared God. Verse 3 says, "I told them, 'The gates are not to be opened until the sun is hot.'" That's unorthodox, because you're supposed to open the gates when the sun comes up. He said, "We're under attack right now, so I need you to keep the gates shut until we have full light and until everybody is wide awake, because I know where we're vulnerable. I can't just open the gates right now, because the enemies are threatened because we're making progress".

Hear me. Your Enemy is threatened because you're making progress. That's what the attack is about. That's what it has been about. "Oh, the Devil is just picking on me". No, he's not just picking on you. He has actually studied you. He is more aware of you than you are aware of you…your proclivities, your patterns, your past. He knows all of that because he is after your purpose. If the wall isn't built, he doesn't come to wage war. That's what it has been about. Listen to me. That's what this is about. That's what the attack is about. So, Nehemiah is like, "Okay. This is an unusual time. We're going to do an unusual thing. Keep these gates shut until the sun is hot". He's basically saying, "Until noon, keep the gates shut. Keep them shut a little while longer".

Let me ask you something. In this season of your life, where you've been struggling with depression… Some of you have been having panic attacks. Some of you have been having waves of anxiety. I mean, who doesn't? Some of you have been having suicidal thoughts. Some of you are not suicidal, but it's just hard to explain. It's like a low-flying, low-grade sense that you can't get any victory and sustain it. I want to tell you something you can do. Keep the doors shut while it's dark. Put a time frame on it. I don't care…seven days. "I'm not looking at anything on social media until I read a Scripture". All the applause just stopped. Y'all act like I told you to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. You act like I told you to die on the cross. I'm not talking about a crown of thorns; I'm talking about keeping the gates shut until you have light. That's why you have to start your day with God. That's your door. I don't care.

How many of y'all wake up at crazy times of the night thinking crazy thoughts? Put a sermon on your phone, and put it in your ear until you go back to sleep. Keep the doors closed in the dark. That's not the time for you to be alone. You don't even have to. I will preach to you. I will do pillow talk with you through the phone, through the app, on YouTube. I'll talk you through it. Or another preacher you like better who doesn't scream so much. But keep the doors shut when it's dark. You need light to fight the Enemy. Holly, do you hear me down there, baby? I'm telling them it's the door. Your thoughts are the door. Your eyes are the door. Your ears are the door. Dude, I do not just let anybody talk to me about anything. I don't rebuke them, but I pivot. People always want to come up to me and talk about other churches and other ministers and how this person fell and that and the other. I'm like, "Hold up, man".

Look at Nehemiah 7:3. This is me. He said, "Put some of them on the posts…" Look at the end of the verse. "…and some near their own houses". That's my verse. I have to guard my own house. I have to guard my own heart. I'm not letting that door come in. You know, the door to feeling really horrible about yourself is through judging others, because now you're going to become a victim of your own judgments. Can y'all handle a little bit more? I mean, here's the door if you have to go, if you just have to go. You have to go through Hananiah and Hanani, but you… I think we should put some real bodyguards at the doors for people who leave in the invitation of my sermon. I mean, some real bodyguards who are barely saved.

Think about this door. This may not be the best door to do it, but I'll ask you a question. Is this door closed? Is it open? Hanani… He said it's cracked, and cracked isn't closed. For the season you're in right now… I'm not telling you to go home and only watch Disney movies. That's not what I'm preaching about today. I'm saying for some of the attacks you've been under, the ones that really matter because they concern your purpose… He said make sure not only that they don't open the doors until it's noon, so we can fight in the light, not in the darkness… Because the Enemy wants to fight you in the darkness. He wants to fight you alone. He wants to fight you in ignorance. He wants to fight you in despair.

Look at verse 3. It also says before the guards go off duty… "Fellows, before you go off duty, have them shut the doors and bar them". To bar them means put your hand on it and make sure it's shut. God is going to put some of you in a season of "Shut up". I probably shouldn't say that, but I was reading Joshua 6:1 when they went in the walls of Jericho, and look at what Joshua 6:1 said in the King James English. "Now [the city of] Jericho was straitly shut up…" "Come on, Pastor. That's not what it means. It means nobody was coming and going". I know, but look at verse 10, what Joshua told them to do while they marched around those walls. "And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout".

I'm concerned if you just say what you feel in this season, you are going to speak yourself right into Satan's attack. I'm in a season of "Shut up," because what God has for me is too great. Right? He brought me to Jericho. This is the first city in the Promised Land. God said, "I need you to just take a sabbatical right now from other people's opinions". That's your door. You can't stop them from posting. You can't stop them from talking. You can't stop them from hating. You can't stop them from disliking. You can't stop them from being idiots. But it's your door that lets their voice in. Even if they talk around you, it doesn't have to get in you. Come on. You know I'm preaching the truth. This is why you're quiet. Okay. Let's do it. Don't shout. Just everybody, close your door.

Do you know how many times I had to do this this week while the Holy Spirit was giving me this message? I mean, I started to complain. And I'm just letting it out. Right? No. You're letting it in, because your words have power. You keep describing the same problem. "These stupid walls of Jericho. Oh, this stupid situation. Oh, this inflation. Oh, these gas prices". That's a good icebreaker for, like, three weeks, but come on. Is that all we're ever going to talk to each other about, is what's wrong? Maybe God wants to put you in a season of "Shut up" so he can bring you into a season of shouting. Listen. It's not the Devil defeating you. He doesn't have any power over you that you don't give him, not with Jesus inside of you. So, we have to get serious about our joy. We have to get serious about our peace. We have to get serious about our mind. We have to get serious about our sanity. We have to get serious about our mental health. We have to get serious about all this stuff, and God is bringing a prophet to you today.

Like Holly said to me… What would you do with it even if God gave it to you? If God gave you peace, would you protect it? If God gave you a relationship, would you defend it? How is the city of your soul? I'm walking around today just wondering: How's it going in there? Do you have those doors up yet? I want to see you next week. I'll probably be here next week. How about you? I just want to be like, "Where did you close the door this week"? You know what, man? You don't even have to offend anybody. You do not need to go up to people this week… It's LOVE Week, for crying out loud. Don't go up to people like, "I'm sorry. I'm in a season of 'Shut up.' You shut up. I can't talk to you anymore. You're toxic". But I'm saying, are we praying for God to deliver us from devils that he has given us the power to defend ourselves from? It's your door.

I wonder, if I was as concerned about what's getting in and coming out, would I be having to pray to God about half the stuff I'm praying to him about? Stand up. I'm done. Clap those hands. Give God praise. Was that good teaching today? Did you receive something? Come on. If God spoke to you, give him a praise. Don't praise me. If he brought you a word, that was him, not me. Amen. I want us to get better about one thing in this church. I think this is the most amazing church in the world. I love being your pastor. One thing I want y'all to stop doing so much is running right when I get ready to dismiss like it's over. If the sermon doesn't even make it out this door, it is not going to give you victory in your life this week.

So, every location… Y'all stop where you are. Just stand up for a minute. Let me pray with you. Let me pray that what you heard today… The Holy Spirit was speaking to you. I could see it in some of your eyes. You looked like a deer in the headlights of the Word of God. You're looking at your spouse… "Did you talk to Pastor Steven this week and tell him what I was doing? Get a restraining order on this preacher. I think he has been sneaking around my house. I think he has some cameras up".

That's my new goal. I want to preach so full of the Holy Spirit that you put a restraining order on me because you think I'm stalking you during the week. How cool will it be that you will have a reminder of this sermon even when you leave today? You go through a door, and then through another door, and then you get in a car, I guess. I don't think you're getting on a camel. This isn't Jerusalem. This is the city of your soul, and every door you open and every door you close, I want you to begin to think about how you're defending what God gave you. I want you to do for the city of your soul what Nehemiah did for the city of Jerusalem. He said, "I put the doors in place, and I gave orders. I didn't just assume we're going to be okay because God is with us. I put the doors in place, and I said you can open them then. You can't open them now".

Y'all, even in my daily disciplines, I am so unfocused. When I go to do a physical workout, I can't take my phone in the room to do a workout. I know myself. I have to put my phone in another room. Did y'all know the new iPhone has an off button? That's a special feature. I'll show you how to use it sometime. It's amazing. Then a lot of times, when I shut that off and just do my workout and focus, the Lord will give me my sermon because I closed the door. He'll just give it to me. But you have to close the door. What did Jesus say? Matthew 6:6: "When you pray, go in and close the door". You can't pray and ask God to defend you from the Devil for stuff you left the door wide open to. He'll help you. He'll give you grace, but don't you want victory too? I want victory and grace. One way we let God in… We just lift our hands.

So do that right now. That's not a charismatic thing. Stop it. People do that at football games when they're excited. People do it in a war when they surrender. So, you can throw your hands up. I love what Revelation 3:20 said. Jesus was speaking to the church, and he said, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open it, I'll come in and eat with you". You've been sitting at the wrong table all week. You've been sitting feasting on the wrong thoughts, worrying about the wrong stuff. For some of us, it's obsessively checking our bank balance. It doesn't always come through something that's so evil, but once we open that door, the Devil just has his way.

But not today, Lord. Today we hear your voice, and we hear your knock, and we're opening the door to you. Come, Lord Jesus, into every heart that's open to you. Some hearts are hardened, but a lot of these hearts today, Lord, are really serious. They're sincere. They want your presence. So come, Lord.

Just say it if you mean it. Say, "Come, Lord". He will hear that invitation. He'll respond to that invitation. Say it again. Say, "Come, Lord".

Come, Lord Jesus. The doors of our hearts are open to you. We invite your presence, your peace, your joy, your wisdom. Show us this week where we need to put our hand on the door and make sure it's shut, conversations we need to have, conversations we need to discontinue. We want to be right with you. We want to be in a peaceful place. I bless you and thank you for the privilege of sharing your Word today. I thank you that it won't return void. It will accomplish that which you sent it to do. In Jesus' name, amen.

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