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Steven Furtick - What Comes After


Steven Furtick - What Comes After

It's an honor to minister to you right now wherever you are, whether you're in your home or your car. Some people listen to me while they work out, so that's good. Get another rep! That's your sign. You were praying for a sign that you should work out today. This is it. Go work out. Thus saith the Lord. I want to share with you today… Let's go to Acts, chapter 3. As you're turning there, just to give a moment for everybody to turn, put in the chat right now where you're joining us from…YouTube or Facebook or wherever you're joining us from. Where are you joining us from? We want to know. And what's your name, what's your favorite band, and what's your favorite flavor of ice cream, or whatever you want to say in the chat.

Don't let the chat distract you, because God has a word for you today. Tell your neighbor, "Don't distract me today. God is going to speak to me today". Look at them and say, "You look so good you're distracting me right now, but stop distracting me". God is going to speak to us today. Acts, chapter 3, verse 13. I really want to go to verse 19, so I will. I said that like it was something I really wanted, but we can do it. Let's just do it.

"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…" Starting off strong. "…the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this [what you did in ignorance] is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, [change your mind, change your direction,] and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…"

Go back to verse 15. It's the nucleus of this message. "You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this". Today I want to talk to you about What Comes After. That's what the Lord wants me to talk to you about. You know how you've been stressing out about stuff that's out there somewhere? The Lord said, "Let's talk about what comes after". You know how you've been stuck in some things that happened, and you keep tripping on stuff that's behind you? How do you even trip on something that's behind you? But the Lord said, "Let's talk today for just a few moments about what comes after". Thank you for your Word, God. In Jesus' name, amen.

While you're getting situated, quick plug. Holly has a book club. You have two fans, babe. It sounds like you need a new marketing department. No, it's awesome. She has a book club, and it is called the Holly Furtick Book Club. Very creative title. I love it, because when I asked her why she was doing it, she said, "Because I want to". Nothing deep about it. They don't always study books about "Seven Ways to Pray Your Way into a Greater Day". They just study books she likes. They don't really even study them. Why am I saying "study"? They just talk about them. It's cool because she'll often get the author on. She's so excited when she gets the author. She'll call me into the room or come running in. She'll be like, "I got the author"! I'm like, "That's great, babe". Then I pick on her. I'm like, "But, you know, I have a book club too". She's always trying to get me to read the books. I'm like, "No, babe. I'm sorry. I have a book club, and the Author lives in my heart".

You have to feel so sorry for my family. They get dad jokes and preacher jokes and both of them combined. It's unbearable, let me tell you right now. But I joke with her. I don't know. It's probably not because I'm studying the Bible. I'm probably just lazy. I always intend to read the books that she does, and I never get around to it. So she'll usually take me to go see the movie, if there is a movie, and I will do that. She took me to see one recently. I won't tell you what the movie is so it won't be like a spoiler alert if you want to go see that movie. I hated it. I thought the movie was terrible. It was kind of a last-minute decision. We snuck some low-carb candy into the movie theater, and I sat there and watched that movie. Within five minutes, she turns to me and goes, "I'm so sorry". Then you know what she's going to say next. "I promise the book was so much better".

About every five minutes, she would turn to me and say, "I promise the book was better". I didn't read the book, so I'm like, "Yeah, right. How would I know if you're telling me the truth"? One day I'm going to preach a Scripture that says, "You are living epistles" and talk about how God wants to put his Word through our lives living, and then I'm going to ask, "Was the book better? Are you living out…"? So, I'm going to do that one day. She said, "I promise the book was better". After two hours of me thinking, "I really love you to sit through this movie…" I didn't like it at all. It did something I didn't expect it to do. The last scene of the movie, I was literally getting my keys, getting my wallet, literally thinking, "Let's just go ahead and go. I don't need this long last scene".

What happened in the last two minutes… I looked at her and said, "That was a pretty good movie. I did not see that coming". The last two minutes changed the whole movie, from me wanting a refund to me wanting to re-watch it. I'm like, "Maybe we should come back and see that again, because I need to watch everything that I thought was stupid and slow and corny through the lens of the last thing that happened". What I saw in the last two minutes made me rethink the whole last two hours because of what I saw at the end that I didn't know in the beginning, and I didn't know in the middle, but then when I saw the end, it changed the middle, it changed the beginning, and it made me think, "Maybe you are a good book picker. Maybe this movie wasn't so bad after all".

In life, wouldn't it be nice if we could see the last two minutes, the last two months, the last two years, just to know how to watch everything that is happening in real time? Something can happen at the end that makes you go back and rethink the entire thing that went before it. You know I'm right. You can have experiences in life that make you go from "Thank you, Lord, for bringing this person into my life, for this relationship," to "Lord, why didn't you protect me from this relationship? Why didn't I listen to all of the people who told me…"? You know I'm right. There are things that can happen later. Here's what it is. I was thinking. Did the last two minutes change the first two hours? Can you change the past?

Before you say, "No," reconsider my illustration in light of this book club we've chosen to attend today. We're in a book club. Right? We read something that happened not at the beginning of the ministry of Peter and John and not at the end. We read something that happened right there in the middle that was so powerful, this miracle that was so powerful. I love it. I've been studying this all week. I know what comes before, I know what comes after, and right in the middle of it, Peter is preaching. He says something, and there's a word from God. Actually, there are two words from God. Usually I get up to give you a word from God, but you picked "Double Portion Sunday" today. There are two words from God in this text.

Now, before we get there, let's back out one more time and consider the premise. Can you change the past? Certainly, we can't redo the events. That's a waste of time. I think all regret is a misappropriation of imagination. It's you taking the wisdom God wants you to use for your future and applying it toward a situation that is already behind you. So, can you change the past? Apparently, Peter thinks you can. Not change the events. By the way, we're always changing the past when we tell somebody else what happened. You are the senior editor of your story, and you make all kinds of changes and alterations. You switch stuff around. You add dialogue…internal dialogue, external dialogue. You are an unreliable narrator, to put it in book terms, because this is a book club. Right?

Now, the Bible is not a book like we say it's a book. It has 62 separate books, different types of literature, everything from poetry to historical narrative to letters that were written to the church to instruct them how to live. Then you have the Gospels, which give the record of the account of what Jesus did while he was here. The book of Acts is awesome because it tells us what happened after Jesus left. Now we know that this movement that was beginning here in Acts, chapter 3, is something that will still occupy a space in time in 2022 (2023 if you watch it later or 2025 if you watch it later). God knows all of that. God knows when you're going to watch this message. What Peter didn't know is that I was going to be bringing his words that he had to say on the spot to you today for your situation and that you would be in a situation today where you don't know what's next and you can't figure out what's happening.

The challenge of it is we don't get to see the last scene. The disciples didn't get to see the last scene. They didn't get to see that this would work, that the gospel would indeed go from Jerusalem (that's where they started) to Judea (the surrounding area) to Samaria (where they tended to avoid) and to the ends of the earth (Ballantyne, Gaston, Riverwalk, Columbia). The ends of the earth…Kentucky. Peter didn't know about Kentucky when he preached this, but I guarantee there's somebody right now who's watching us from Kentucky. They weren't paying attention, and all of a sudden, I just got their attention because I said "Kentucky". Yeah, the Lord wanted me to say, "Kentucky," because he knew you'd need this word right now. God is like that.

My challenge is…How do I live through this story when I don't know the last scene that may make it all make sense? That's why I have to live by faith. By faith. We walk by faith, not by sight. So, it means that even though I haven't seen the last scene… "Is my kid going to come back home"? I haven't seen the last scene. "Is my marriage going to make it"? I haven't seen the last scene. "Am I ever going to get through this"? I haven't seen the last scene. "Am I going to get another job while I keep getting all of these other bills? I keep getting other bills, but I haven't got another job. If I get the other job, am I going to make enough in the other job to pay all of the other bills, because all of the other bills didn't stop coming while I was waiting on the other job"?

Even though I haven't seen that scene, by faith I can believe that if God said he was with me… He knows what's next, and I can trust him. Selah. Pause and think about it. In this scene of your life, you can believe that what God is working in your life, in your family, in your career, in my ministry, in my heart, in my character… Even though I don't get to see the last scene, I can turn to Holly and say, "This is going to be good," because I trust who wrote the screenplay. Peter is coming on kind of strong in this sermon, you have to admit, but he's fired up. You know how you get fired up? You get on a spiritual high. Have you ever been on a spiritual high? No? Certainly, it's a lot different than what you just demonstrated. Maybe today is not the day. Peter had done something pretty amazing.

Jesus used to help them do miracles, but now he's no longer here in human form, and he sent his Spirit. He was always telling them while he walked the earth, "I'm going to leave, but after I do, I'll send something that will give you a power I can't give you while I'm here, so wait for that. Don't get discouraged. I'm going to die. I'll be there three days, but don't give up in three days. Don't give up in 10 days, 20 days, 30 days, or 50 days. When they're persecuting you, know that they persecuted me. I'm giving you a spirit, the Spirit of God". On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came. They were all together in one place, and the Spirit came. That's where your strength comes from: the Spirit of God. It doesn't come from you. It doesn't come from situations. It doesn't come from earthly things. It doesn't come from creatine. I have some strength that comes from Jesus Christ who sent the Spirit in his name from the Father and lives forever to make intercession. I have his Spirit, see.

So this is Peter. Watch. I divide Peter's life into two separate things. I call him "Before Spirit Peter," or "BS Peter," and then "After Spirit Peter". This is AS Peter, not BS Peter. BS Peter, before the Spirit came in him, was saying all kinds of stuff he couldn't back up. "I've got you, Jesus. I don't care about anything. Give me that sword! Give me that ear"! He was doing Mr. Potato Head preaching before he got filled with the Spirit. Now Jesus is gone, but the Spirit came, and he's bold. This must be a different dude. This can't be the same dude who sat down at the fire and, when a little servant girl asked, "Were you one of them?" said, "I don't know him" and started cussing. Now he's preaching. That's who spoke these words. I didn't tell you that. I wanted to save it, because I wanted you to see the words, and then I wanted you to think about who said them and when he said them and why he said them.

Look at it again. He goes all the way back. "The God of Abraham…" He hits rewind all the way back to the beginning of the book, to the beginning of the movie, because something happened in this moment that made him rethink the whole thing. He's speaking to the Jewish people. They're familiar with this God, but as he rewinds to that first frame and says, "The God of Abraham," he reminds you and me that it starts with God. It didn't start when your mom and dad decided it was time to try and succeeded. It didn't start when the fastest swimmer made it all the way. (Just waking y'all up.) It didn't start with any of that. It starts with God. Everybody is running, because here's what happened. I cannot preach this whole text. Just read it this week. Just promise me you'll try to read it this week. They're going to the temple at the hour of prayer. There are three times of prayer. They're at this particular time of prayer.

The word hour literally means a divine appointment. They didn't know that. They're going to the temple. This man is at the gate, and he can't walk, and he asks for money. Peter is like, "I don't have what you asked for, but I have what you need that you wouldn't even know to ask for because it's a name. Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give you". This is what Peter said to the man. "In the name of Jesus, get up and walk". He reaches down. His hand becomes a jumper cable. The man jumps up to his feet. He starts going to church, but not like everybody else. He's high-stepping to church. He's walking, jumping, praising God.

How many of y'all came in this morning jumping and praising God? You know you're lying. You came in dragging and fighting and cussing and fussing, and then when you saw the greeters, you said, "Praise the Lord". "How are you"? "I'm blessed and highly favored". Anyway, there's so much we could say about this miracle. He didn't leave the way he came, and all of that. Today I want to do what Peter did, and I want to go back. This man gets healed, and all of the people don't know what to think about it, so Peter takes the opportunity. You know, a lot of times, God does something in our lives on a physical level, but we don't stop to reflect on it and break it down on a spiritual level, so we don't get the full benefit of what he did. Peter sees this man who gets healed, and he sees, "This would make an excellent opportunity to preach".

There's a man whose name is not known or mentioned who is healed by a name that is above every name, and the vessel for it is a man who really was an unlikely candidate. I would call the book of Acts, if I gave it a subtitle, "The Unfolding Plan of an Unstoppable God Through Unlikely People". Like Peter. Like me. Like you. The unfolding plan. They didn't know it when they were in it. You don't know it when you're in it. You can't see it when you're in it. You'll be grabbing your keys and grabbing your wallet and getting up to leave and starting to give up and thinking about quitting and thinking about walking away and turning to the person next to you and saying, "This is ridiculous. I wasted my money. I wasted my time. I wasted my prayers. I wasted my faith. I'm wasting my life. What was it all for? It keeps hurting, and it won't go away. I keep trying, and I can't get up".

But in this moment, Peter is taking the opportunity to remind you of Jesus who is, Hebrews 12:2 says, the author and the finisher of our faith. So, here's the challenge. Philip Yancey said faith is believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse. Faith for what you can't figure out; faith for what frustrates you; faith for what has you tied up in knots; faith for what wakes you up in the middle of the night; faith for what makes you think you're losing your mind; faith for what makes you wonder, "Am I going crazy?"; faith for what you've given up on the possibility of change for. That kind of faith, he says… We have to go all the way back. Watch this. This man has just been healed, and Peter starts talking about history. What does this man's healing have to do with the Jewish people's history? What does healing have to do with history? Everything. Do you understand?

If you are in the history only, then you won't experience your destiny, but if you are only focused on your destiny and have no frame of your history, you will give up too soon and miss the point of what God is doing in your life. The God of Abraham. We're going all the way back to Abraham, Peter? Peter is like, "Yeah. I'm going all the way back". This is like when you ask somebody how they're doing, and they're like, "When I was 3…" You're like, "Whoa. How are you doing right now"? All they want to see is "Is this real? Did that man…"? Let's give him a name. "That's Rob. Rob is not supposed to be walking". Let's call him Jimmy. "Jimmy is not supposed to be jumping. Is Jimmy jumping? I heard Jimmy was out here jumping. Jimmy can't be jumping. We walked right over him".

Now, this is something awesome. God can shift things so quickly. The one everybody stepped over is now the center of the story. God can shift it like that. So, don't worry when people say something about you or don't worry when people don't give you an opportunity or don't worry when they don't text you back. You needed that space on your phone for what's coming after. I love the Word of God. The man is healed, and Peter is like, "The God of Abraham…" Because it starts with God. Look. Your story, whatever scene you're in right now…divorce, heartbreak, victory, success, promotion, termination…any of it… Your story is a story in a story in a story in a story in a story. I should do this 41 times…in a story, in a story.

Put it in the chat: "In a story". Say it out loud: "In a story". That's how many generations back Peter goes to explain what happened. "The God of Abraham…" That's 41 generations before Jesus. "Peter, can you kind of tell us what's just going on right now? Give me the CliffsNotes, Peter. I'm not sure I want a whole history lesson". No, no, no. You have to understand history or you'll look at this man and think it's his story. Peter has to show him it's not just his story, and it's not just your story. It's his story, the God of Abraham. I'm living in the middle of his story. That encourages me. I don't know why. When it's all my story, it's all my drama. When it's all my story, it's all on my budget. If he's the director, he has to pay the bills. If he's the director, he has to figure out the script. If it's his story, he has to figure out how to make all this chaos and all this crazy and all of these world events and all of these hurts and all of these mistakes work together to serve the purpose of the Author who created me from my mother's womb.

So, stepping right into the middle of his story, this man at the gate, Peter recalls his story. It's a story within a story within a story. You hang around here long enough, I'm going to teach you the Bible. Abraham is 75. His story is coming to a close at 75. Right? You haven't talked to the Author yet, Abraham. The Author showed up to Abraham. He didn't even have an H in his name. Vanna didn't even put an H in his name yet. I watch Wheel of Fortune every Wednesday night with my mom. I'm wild and crazy every Wednesday night. It's called "Wednesdays for the Wheel," and I pray for Pat Sajak every Wednesday. Pat, if you ever watch this, I would love to have you at Elevation. I think you're amazing. (I'm just putting it out there in case God wants to answer a dumb prayer.) "Abram, start counting stars".

This is what the Author told him. "Start counting the stars, Lord? Yeah, you did good on those stars. That's cool, man". He's in Ur of the Chaldeans, and God says, "Go to the land I will show you and count the stars, and if you can count them, that's how numerous your descendants are going to be". That's what comes after. "Count the sand of the seashore". This is a collision of history and destiny, because there's what God did (the stars) long before Abram got here, and there's what God is doing through Abram. History…destiny. If you stay stuck in one and don't focus on the other, you're done. If you stay just focused on the history… You're walking around talking about how much you bench pressed in 1947. "I was the man back then, y'all. I see these kids these days. They don't know how we used to do it back in the day".

Now you're stuck in your history. You start talking about what you're going to do one day when nobody is bothering you and there's no traffic and they make flying Teslas and you don't have to wait to get to work. Well, that's just you hypothetically avoiding this present moment. Wow! Thank you, God, that I'm not stuck where I started. Lord, I thank you for that Scripture that says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, neither has it entered into the heart of a man what God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit". Nobody ever says the next verse. I always heard the first verse. "No eye has seen, and no ear has heard what has entered into the hearts of men". The next verse says, "But God…" Abraham was 75 years old, and his wife's womb was as good as dead, but God wanted a baby named Isaac.

Abraham even got in the way and messed it up by having Ishmael with Hagar, but God had a plan for Isaac and Ishmael. But God. "But God has revealed them by his Spirit". That's what his Spirit does. That's what time with God does. That's why coming to church is a better investment than the stock market. That's why coming to church is a better investment than washing your raggedy car, which is going to be dirty again in three days. That's why coming to church and listening to the Word of God… Because that Word gets in you, and when it mixes with the Spirit that was in you, and the soil of the Spirit and the seed of the Word get together… God said, "So shall your seed be". At the same time he's speaking to old Abe… "Are you sure about that"? The Lord is like, "I'm sure about that, because I'm the Author".

Holly got one author on the phone one time on the Instagram, on her book club… Hollyfurtick.com. You can look it up. She told me to plug the website. I forgot to do that, so I'm going to do that. Maybe she'll pay me back in a sponsorship. You can sponsor me when we get home. All right? This will be a sponsored ad. Y'all quit looking at me. I'm uncomfortable. I shouldn't have said it. What comes after. That's a whole other sermon. That's a marriage seminar. Yeah, do the dishes. You might get a kiss. All right. What comes after. She was interviewing this author who wrote a true story about her life. She gave up a baby for adoption, teenage pregnancy. When she got the author on the interview, she said, "You left the story off right there at the end, and you never told us if you met the kid". She goes, "Oh yeah. That's what my next book is about". Holly said, "Good. I can't wait to read it".

Y'all, when we read the book of Acts, we're reading the sequel. It was written by Luke, who was a doctor who traveled with Paul. He wrote it while Paul was in prison in Rome. He wrote it to a man named Theophilus. He calls him "Most excellent Theophilus". I want y'all to start calling me that, by the way: "Most excellent Pastor Steven". All right? Get on it. Twenty-six percent of the New Testament was written by Luke to Theophilus. Who was Theophilus? I mean, Luke is writing to him. Luke isn't even one of the original twelve disciples. He's a Gentile who came later. He writes his first book, self-titled debut EP, Luke. Then he puts out the book of Acts as a follow-up, the sequel. The disciples (I never saw it this way before) are living in the sequel. Jesus is gone in bodily form. What they knew is no longer available. What was normal for them for three years has been upended.

The cross has happened. The resurrection has happened. The Spirit has come. There's persecution ahead, but there's progress ahead. There is always persecution with progress. If it's not from the outside, it's going to be from your lower nature and your flesh on the inside. There's always persecution with progress. I told y'all last week the Devil will step right out of your way if you're headed in the wrong direction. Try it. Any football players in here? I heard there were basketball players in here today. Is that right? All right. Do it when you get back when the season starts. Turn around and run toward the other goal and see if anybody stops you. They'll let you do it all day long. They'll hand you a Gatorade. "Yeah, do that again". If you're putting points on the board for the Devil, he'll assist you. He'll alley-oop you, but if you ever make up your mind… "I'm following Jesus. No turning back. I'm going forward into the future. I have a father named Abraham who had a son named Isaac who had a son named Jacob, and now his servant Jesus is being glorified".

The unfolding plan. Corrie ten Boom said something like, "Heaven has no panic, only plans". Think about what she went through, and she still said that, not before it happened, but after. She's still standing there saying stuff like, "Heaven has no panic, only plans". But it's an unfolding plan. You get the picture. You don't see the scene. So, by faith, I have to find out what God can do, and I have to apply that to the area where I'm the most anxious right now and believe by faith going forward based on the foundation of who God is, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Isaac was tied up on an altar. Just at the moment where he thought he was going to be sacrificed, he heard a rustling of a ram in a bush, because God never intended to kill Isaac. God always had a ram. The Bible says Jesus is the Lamb of God who was slain from the foundation of the earth.

When Peter stood at the cross… I have news for y'all. He didn't call it Good Friday. We call it that because we know what came after. Question: What if it's good? We all know from broccoli that it can be good and not taste good. We know that. What if it's good? Flip side: What if it's not? What if it makes you feel good, but it's not good? I'm not calling anybody out or putting you on the spot, but is there anybody watching online or at one of our campuses right now who would raise your hand (if you want to raise your hand; you don't have to) who struggled with addiction and went through recovery at some point in your life? Thank you for raising your hand. We're proud of you. You want to snatch people back now when you see them going down that path, don't you? Because you know that after the high comes the lowest low, and you know what it takes to break free from those chains.

You know how hard it still is for you every day. You just want to scream, like y'all want to scream for me. "Don't keep walking, Pastor". You see what comes after. That's why Peter said, "Repent". Did you notice that word in the text? He said, "Repent. Turn around. You're going the wrong way. You have your faith in the law. You listened to the prophets, but you missed the Messiah. Repent". You're trusting in your works, but you have to receive this gospel by grace. Repent. You're living your life for sinful pleasures, and sin is fun for a season. I said, "Sin is fun for a season," emphasis on season, but after that season comes another season. Some people who are trying to warn you right now… You tune them out. You tell them no. You don't want to repent. You don't want to hear that. But how can the refreshing come if the repentance doesn't? Repent! Turn around. You have time. You're not dead. You're still breathing. You're not in this forever.

Let me show you how I know. Can I show you how I know it's not forever? Can I show you how I know you still have time? Can I show you how I know it's not too late? Can I show you how I know it's going to turn around? Can I show you why I have faith to preach this word to you today? Because of what Peter said in verse 15. Verse 15 is so anointed. If you need to share Jesus with somebody, but you only have five seconds, read them Acts 3:15. Don't start with Abraham. You'll mess it up. You'll be putting Abraham on the ark and Moses and all that, but don't do that. Just say Acts 3:15 and show them this. He said, "You killed the author of life…" Remember, this is AS Peter, not BS Peter. Peter was cussing while Jesus was dying, but now he has been forgiven, and he has repented, and he knows that wasn't the end. He's looking right at these people and saying, "When you handed him over to the Romans, you killed him. When you wanted to give up Barabbas, as was the custom, instead of the author of life, you killed the author". You're like, "Pastor, I really want to go here with you, but this does not feel to me like the best verse I should share with my friends like you just said".

Why are you stopping at the comma? Any English teachers in the room? English teachers make some noise! Y'all don't get shouted out much, do you? I shouted out the basketball players. Everybody was happy. English teachers! I need both of y'all to preach this message. This is an all-inclusive gospel. I need everybody's help here. Tell me what a comma means. Stop? It means stop? Hold on. I'm confused, because it sounds like you're saying, "Pause," but what I see people do all the time is get a divorce and stop. What I see people do all the time is fail and stop. What I see people do all the time is come up short and stop. What I see people do all the time is try to change and stop. What I see people do all the time is give it three days and stop. Don't ever let that Devil put a period where God put a comma, because that comma doesn't mean it's over! It means take a breath and keep going, because whatever is on the other side of that problem…

I feel it in my spirit. I'm not preaching from my head; I'm preaching from my heart. "This is emotionalism". No, it's grammar. It is grammar. Professor Furtick is in the house. Put it back up. I'm not done with it yet. This sentence is so anointed. No, not that…the verse. The same verse, y'all. Put it up. Put it on the screen, please. Please! This is like us waiting on God. You know what I'm saying? This is like Abraham…25 years between when God gave him the promise and he saw it come to pass. But just because I had to pause doesn't mean I stop preaching. I'm going to stay right here until that word comes! Spirit of the Nature Boys…Charlotte, North Carolina, where we speak English, Southern English. I failed Greek. I never passed Hebrew. They just sent me the degree to get me off the books.

That's true. I made friends with the professor. I said, "Do you really want me to keep taking your class"? I had a degree a couple of weeks later. I don't know what happened in between, but I know what came after. I got that cemetery degree. "You killed the author". I normally give you one word from God. Today I give you two. You don't need to know Hebrew. You don't need to know Greek. You don't need to remember Theophilus. You don't have to go back to Abraham. You don't have to do any of that. Those two words that come after the comma… That's what I want you to remember for every battle in your life in this season, for every cross in your life in this season, for every struggle in your life in this season, for every setback in your life, for every question in your life, for every unanswered prayer in your life in this season, for every thorn in your flesh in this season, for every limp in your hip this season.

I want you to remember what comes after the comma. "But God…" The only two words you need to whip the Devil's butt. Tell him, "But…" Stop being so reactive to the Enemy's attack. I told you last week, "Close your doors". Now I'm telling you this week, "Cover your butt". Can y'all believe I think about stuff like this while you're at work? "But God…" You could do a whole study on every time it says, "But God" in the Bible, and you'd be blessed. You'd find out that very rarely will one die for even a righteous person, but God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners… Not at the end of the movie when we get our act together. Not when we get to heaven one day and we are given our wings and our trumpets, but while I'm still in my sin.

I need somebody to hear that. It is in the midst of the sin that the love is revealed. Don't keep sinning just because of that, but don't you stop because you're caught up in a comma. That is a comma. It does not mean stop, and it means what's coming next you need to pay attention to. But… Tell me if I'm right, English teacher. But can be an adverb. But can be a preposition. In this particular instance, but is not a noun, so you don't have to get off your butt, not in this instance. That's a different thing. This but (this is important) is a conjunction. I remember it because of the song "Conjunction junction, what's your…" Right, right. Y'all don't know the Bible, but y'all knew that. I love it. Right there in that but is your breakthrough. Right there in that but is your freedom. Right there in that but is you knowing how to calm yourself down when you feel like you're going crazy. But. It is a conjunction. It is an adversative conjunction.

What that means is whatever comes after this but… I'm preaching to you today about what comes after. A conjunction that is after this comma means that whatever comes after this but is going to make whatever came before it wish it had never even happened. Let me say it again. This is where the deep Christians are. Let me say it on this side. Or maybe I should say it to this side. Or maybe I should say it to this side. Or maybe I should say it to the people who got here early and got a seat right there on the floor. Okay. Maybe it's over here. Watch this. Whatever comes after this but is going to cancel out whatever happened before it. You didn't hear me. It's not going to make it that it never happened. It's going to make it that even though it happened, something greater happened after that made what happened before the but… I'm preaching on my punctuation marks today!

When people say to you stuff like, "No offense, but…" Whatever they're getting ready to say on the other side of that but is going to make you forget and disbelieve whatever they said before it. "No offense, but you can't dance, and your tattoo is crooked, and I don't like your jewelry, and you smell weird around your neck". You know, whatever they tell you. It's going to be so crazy. "No offense, but…" You get it. "Don't take this personally, but…" A lady told Holly one time, "Don't take this personally, but we're leaving the church. We don't think Pastor Steven preaches sound doctrine or the gospel of Jesus Christ. We're just tired of seeing people come into church who are coming in high from the night before". I couldn't understand. If they can't come to church high from the night before, how are we going to lead them to the Most High God they don't even know about?

If I can't preach to them… How am I going to preach if they don't hear? She had the unmitigated nerve, gall, and audacity to say, "Don't take it personally". "Nothing personal, but your church sucks and you're leading people to hell. But it's not personal". No, of course not. What you said after but… "You killed the author…" But you can't do that, can you? The author is the one who gets to decide when it's over. You can't really kill the author, can you? If you kill the author, they can write a sequel. If you kill the author, they can put a comma. If you kill the author, they can write another chapter. I wasn't shouting over the comma. I wasn't shouting over the but. I was shouting over what came after. I wasn't shouting over the pain. I wasn't shouting over the shame. I was shouting over what came after.

If whatever comes after that comma and that but is bigger than what came before it, and what came after that but was God… We're talking about the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. I wish Peter would have kept going. I wish he would have started talking about Joseph, because Joseph talked just like this. This is how Joseph talked. Remember? Sold into slavery, left in a pit, taken to a prison, falsely accused, forgotten in a prison, standing before his brothers 39 years later… Forty years of interval. That's what you live in. You live in the interval, the interval between what God spoke and what you see. You have to believe it in the interval. Joseph, after all that time… I have to show you what he said. Peter stopped one character short. He should have talked about Joseph who said, "As for you, you intended to harm me…" You'll hear Joseph as Peter is preaching about Jesus. Remember what Peter just said. "You killed him, but the grave couldn't keep him".

Let me be explicit. Your faith can't be in the miracle. It has to be in the man. It has to be in Jesus. It has to be in what he did. I'm talking about the fact that he got up out of the grave. That's the basis of our faith. His name is Jesus. His name will still be Jesus if I have a job. His name will still be Jesus if I don't have a job. His name will still be Jesus if I'm crying. His name will still be Jesus if I lose 20 or if I gain 20. His name will still be Jesus if you like me. His name will still be Jesus. That's not changing, so neither is my faith. He got up. It was cross versus Creator, and guess who won. It was God versus grave, and guess who gave up. Guess who tapped out. Not God. So why would you? Joseph, looking at all his pain and all his trauma, said something so powerful, and you will recognize it. You will wonder if Peter was plagiarizing Joseph when he said, "You killed the author, but God…"

Look at this Scripture. This is amazing. "You intended to harm me, but God…" Do you recognize those two words? Do you recognize that conjunction? The same one Jesus was doing on the cross Joseph was doing in his relationships. That's what you have to do. He said, "You intended to harm me…" Harm me. I can't change that. "…but God intended it for what is now being done". He lived 55 more years to see his children's children's children brought to his knees. That's amazing. All because of what happened after the comma. The Lord sent me prophetically to speak to somebody who's at the comma right now. "What am I going to do next? How am I going to handle this? Can I get up from the fall? Are we going to try it again? Are we going to believe again? Am I going to get out of the bed before 11:00 a.m. this week? What am I going to do next"?

Joseph shows us that you don't need a deep revelation. You just need to disrupt the Devil with a but, because what comes after that but… It doesn't change the past. No, you can't change it, but what comes after can change the very nature of the whole first two hours of the movie, of the whole first 20 years of your life, of the last 20 years of your life. What comes after. You'll be turning around, saying, "Now wait a minute. Maybe God allowed some of that. Maybe it wasn't bad. Maybe God put me through that test so I would have a testimony". Maybe God let Joseph be in that pit so he could be standing in that position to be a provider. You have to believe that by faith. "But God…" Don't tell me you don't know how to fight the Devil this week, and don't tell me you don't have any weapons. You don't need a big one if it's loaded. That is a loaded statement, because that but God… Anything. Loneliness. "I feel alone".

I know you do, but God is with me. And if God is with me, he's going to bring everything I need. I can't do it, but God is in me. But God's Spirit… Peter couldn't preach until the Spirit came. It was what came after. I declare a shift in your life. I declare a shift in your self-image. I declare a shift in your insecurities. I declare a shift in your adversity. I declare a shift in your perspective. You cannot change the past, but God can change your perspective. "You tried to harm me. It came to harm me. I even harmed myself". The word harm… It says, "Harm". Can I change it? I don't want to erase it, but can I change it? I can't erase it. It's up there. Can I change it? Of course you can…by what comes after. I feel like David Blaine up here, y'all. That was magic. How we took something so ugly… What came after? Three letters. Three days. "You killed the author. You killed the composer, but it didn't stop the symphony".

God is the one who brings it all into harmony. Harmony. That's a musical term. Holly has a book club, but I have a songwriting team. Harmony. The author, the composer… They get to write the notes, see. Y'all, I don't play piano. I play guitar pretty good, not as good as Joey. Who does play guitar as good as Joey? But I'll tell you right now I know how to find middle C on this piano. I wanted to show you what Joseph meant when he said, "You meant to harm me, but God used all of it to bring us to this moment". I will not let what happened before regulate what I believe God for going forward. I use that as an illustration, church, just to talk to you about the fact that this note, this single note in isolation… Is it a good note? Anybody who thinks it's a good note, make some noise for middle C. Or is it a bad note? Everybody who thinks it's a bad note, make some noise. "Boo, middle C".

Come on. You know intuitively what I'm trying to teach you. You know intuitively what Miles Davis said. He said, "It is not the note you play that is wrong. It is the next note you play that makes it wrong or right". There's nothing wrong with that note. There's nothing right with that note. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it neither? It's neither until I hear what comes after. Bad note. Same note. Next note. Not a bad note, but it's a dissonant note because the interval is dissonant. There's nothing wrong with this note. Don't start running around all of your pianos in your house and taking out middle C. "Oh, it's a bad note".

This is what we want to do. Something happens in our life. "I've got to get rid of that stress. I've got to get rid of that challenge. I've got to get rid of that thing. This is bad. This is horrible". No, no, no. You don't know yet until you hear… It sounds like Jaws in here right now. God brought us here to talk about your next note, because you can't control so much of what happens. You can't erase what you did. Peter said, "You killed the author, but God…" Do you really think anything you've done is greater than who God is? Do you really think any mistake you've made is greater than who God is? Joseph said, "You meant to harm me, but God who works all things together for his good will take what was meant to harm me and bring it into harmony".

Next note. It's your next note that God wants to speak about. That sounds good. Middle C has been redeemed. All I had to do was put it with F. That interval is called a perfect fourth. English, music theory, therapy… Y'all ought to start paying me. When I put that together… We could do a lot with that. "This is my story…" It's the same note I started with and did this to you, but where I took it next… What is your next note? Or are you going to stay stuck on middle C forever? Now we need a next note. "This is my story…" Within a story. God is the author. The Devil is a liar. He is defeated. He killed the author, but God has raised him. Oh, what's your next note going to be? "This is my story…" The Devil is not the author. You're not the author. God is the author. Don't you want to see what's on the other side of this but? Or are you going to die at the comma? Are you going to die at the gate? Are you going to die in the disappointment?

Yes, people broke your heart. That's what brokenhearted people do. They meant to harm you, but God… What is your next note? God says you get to choose. "Are you going to play the one I wrote for you? Are you going to play the one I destined for you? Are you going to play the one I created you for so that you have a story"? You could be telling a different story this time next year. It's about the next note. Come off that cross. Come out of that grave. Come out of that failure. Repent and turn to the Lord. He brought you here for this moment to tell you he is the author and the finisher, and the next note is yours to sing. "Amazing grace…" See? "…how sweet…" No. No. "Amazing grace…" It's your note. "…how sweet the sound that saved…" Next note. "…a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now…" Next note. "…I'm found, was blind…" Next note. "…but now I see". Come on. Let's keep going. What's your next note? I know mine.

Praise God, praise God, praise God, praise God, Praise God, praise God, praise God… I can't sing it for you. You have to open your mouth and let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise God, praise God, praise God, praise God, Praise God, praise God, praise God. It's the next note. You shall live and not die. God kept you alive for a reason. It's the next note. That's what the Devil is fighting you over: what comes after the comma. It is your next note. What will it be? I know what mine is. I thought about giving up. I thought about quitting. I thought about throwing in the towel. I thought I wouldn't make it. I thought I wasn't worthy. I thought he couldn't forgive me. I thought I couldn't do it. I thought my best was behind me until I found out what my next note needed to be. But God, but God, but God, but God But God, but God, but God…
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