Steven Furtick - Faithful With A Few
I feel so excited to preach this word, but I feel settled about it. I don't feel spastic like that. I feel just settled about it. It's so cool, so beautiful what the Lord selected for us to study today, and I'm excited about it. Since they're baptizing half of the county, I have to go a little quicker today. Y'all listen good, would you? If y'all would listen better, I could finish sooner. When I go too long, it's at least half your fault. The Holy Spirit selected a text today. It's really like a song. I'm drawn to it not only because I love music but also because there's a truth in it I want to point out to you. It's found in 1 Chronicles.
Don't have a panic attack trying to find it in your Bible. That's not one of the books you normally look at. If I say "Genesis," you're good. Revelation… "I think that's toward the back". But 1 Chronicles… In the Hebrew Bible, it was kind of considered the whole Old Testament. It recapitulates some of the things you'll read in 1 and 2 Samuel, but it goes further. It starts with Adam, and then, by the time it ends, we're in the exile. In the middle of all that, we read a lot about King David. There's one thing I want to read. I need to read verses 7 through at least 20, maybe 24, just to give you the flow of it. So, let's read this together in 1 Chronicles 16. "There is a message in this for me". Say it out loud. Maybe not for the person next to you, but say, "For me".
I want you to personalize this word today. The Scripture says, "That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the Lord in this manner: Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, you his servants, the descendants of Israel, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made…"
I love that. I might come back and nibble on that a little later. Y'all hold on to that. "…the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant…" Now, that was the neighborhood. Let's pull up to the door now. These verses are the door. "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit". Shout over what God gave you. Nah, y'all aren't grateful. Shout over what God gave you! "'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.' When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: 'Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.' Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples".
Go back to verse 19. "When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it…" I don't know what we'll call this message when we put it online, but for now, let's call it Faithful With a Few. We stepped into a celebration when we opened 1 Chronicles 16. Did you notice? They were glorifying God. They had instruments set up in verses 1-6. I didn't read you that part. Cymbals, harps, lyres, stringed instruments…all these sounds celebrating something. That must have looked really strange if you didn't know the whole story. All this commotion, all this glorifying, and all this praise about something you may have heard of but may not know much about called the ark of the covenant. Not Noah's ark. That's a boat. Not a story arc, like in a movie where there's character development.
The ark of the covenant was a piece of furniture made of acacia wood, only four feet long, two and a half feet wide, and two and a half feet high. (I wish I could do it in meters for our international audience, but we're here in the United States of America, and we will not convert to the metric system until Jesus comes back and makes us do it.) All this celebration over what appeared to be just a piece of furniture. Of course, we understand that it's a symbolic representation of the presence of God. In that acacia wood, which was overlaid with gold with the cherubim on the top of it with the four holes so they could carry it by poles wherever they went, was the manna God gave his people, the law he gave his people, and Aaron's rod, which represented the priesthood. In that ark of the covenant was represented God's provision, God's protection, and God's precepts.
Three things in that ark, yet it symbolized one thing, which was this: "God was with us". They carried it wherever they went. In their mind it was the actual housing place of the presence of God, but really, we understand that God is everywhere. We know that because of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. When Immanuel, God with us, left the earth, he gave us the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, not just to be with us but to be in us. We don't live in the old covenant, but we can learn from it. The presence of God is inside of you. It's inside of me. So, when the Bible says God was with his people and he did all of these things for them, how much more will he do for you if the Spirit of his Son lives inside of you? This is our confidence…in Christ, not in ourselves. It's really not a celebration about furniture; it's a celebration about faithfulness. Not their faithfulness, because that would have been a sorry celebration indeed, but God's faithfulness. Big difference what you praise God for.
Do you praise him for the furniture or for his faithfulness? If you praise him for the furniture, the things you can see, it can be taken away. If you praise him for the furniture, if he moves it to the other side of the room, you might get mad. When things change in your life, your praise goes down. You have to learn what David did here, and I think it's such a good lesson for us. He made them praise God. It reminded me of when I was in college. I was a worship leader before I was a pastor. I preached and led worship all at the beginning of the church. I did all of it. I'm really glad we have so many gifted people who can do it now. But in a pinch, I could still get it done if I had to. I promise you.
I don't know all of the songs anymore, but I remember a few of them, and I could get this done. If everybody on the worship team went and ate Mexican food and it was a bad digestive situation… It's kind of gross, right? I'm not saying it would be as good, but I would get it done. I could get it done, because I was doing that in college. When people ask Holly, "When did you first know you wanted to marry Steven"? sometimes she'll mention and reference… She won't say the first time she saw me. The first time she saw me she thought I was crazy. I was wearing a big Superman tee shirt, an XXL Superman tee shirt, running around thinking I was Superman, or something like that, playing in a punk rock band. But then in our college I became the worship leader for a ministry, North Greenville University. Not a big school, but I believe God put me there if for no other reason than to win her.
How I won her was through my leadership. I found out spiritual leadership is sexy to a spiritual woman. Not that I was faking it, but, y'all, I made a praise team, and I put her on my praise team. I didn't audition her for her vocal ability. That really wasn't why she got the job, but it was okay to me if she thought that. And she could sing pretty good. But we had a good time. When I first told her about it, the worship team was just two people. I don't know if y'all were around in the 90s in churches, but everybody was beating on a djembe, a big drum like this. Everybody was beating on djembes in the 1990s. So it was just a djembe and an acoustic guitar.
I told her, "When I take it over next year, it's going to be huge. I'm going to have a choir. There are going to be probably 100 people in the choir by the time I'm done with it. I'm going to have a band, and it's going to be real drums, not percussion. I'm going to have a drum kit. I'm going to have bass guitar. I'm going to have maybe two keyboards, maybe one with a synth and one with a piano sound. Getting wild and crazy, believing God for big things. Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more…" I had a big vision. I did that because God helped me do it. Because he called me, and because he helped me, and because he was with me, there were 100 kids in that choir by the time it was over. The school wasn't that big, but God did it.
I preached two weeks ago about "But God…" I'm telling you, when I told her that, I didn't know how. I didn't know who. I had no idea how I would accomplish it, but I spoke it by faith, and I worked toward it, and God did it. I heard her telling the kids the other day, "I never doubted something your dad told me he was going to do after that, because when he said it, I thought he was crazy. Then guess what? It came to pass". We've seen God do that over and over again now in our ministry in this church. Some of you have been here for a lot of it. Some of you have been here for all of it. You have seen God do that over and over and over again.
So, when the baptisms were happening, why were some people sleeping through it and some people were weeping through it? Why? Why on that screen was somebody crying about somebody getting in water? How many of y'all got in water before you came to church today, or at least in the last 24 hours? Your neighbor hopes so. Watching online, it doesn't really matter, but if you're in the building, please have the consideration, with some water and some soap and some shampoo. Yet none of that really made you cry, did it? Did you cry in the shower? I mean, maybe you did, but that's not the common thing, is it? Sing in the shower, but cry in the shower… Why are they crying? It hit me. I was watching the baptisms. I thought, "We have to be careful where we dump that water. We ought to have a special…"
You know how they have these big containers for radioactive stuff. Not the dirt off the people. I'm not talking about physical. I'm talking about all the shame Jesus washes away, all the bad choices he steps into, all of the things you did that you couldn't get over, but his blood forgave them. There's a lot in that water. When Jesus saved me, he saved me from a lot. I don't even mean I was on drugs and in prison. I mean, even from the people who lived so good… You weren't so good. You were not so good. I know you weren't so good. How do I know that you're not so good? Because Jesus did not die for pretty good people or really bad people. He died for really dead people who needed to be made alive in his name.
So, when we celebrate, we're not celebrating "I got a raise," because tomorrow I might get a drop. When we celebrate in God's presence, we're not celebrating because I got a lot of sleep, because tomorrow we might be tired. Y'all, the dog woke Holly up at 3:30 in the morning this morning. I just had to tell you that. When she was praising God today, she wasn't doing it on much sleep, because she had to have a dog. She has a dog now. When I preach to you, I'm not preaching these things because I always feel them. I'm preaching what I believe by faith. If I could teach you one thing, it would be to celebrate by faith, to praise by faith, to worship by faith, to decree by faith, to rejoice by faith, to walk by faith, to talk by faith, to live by faith, to give by faith, to structure by faith, to establish by faith, to stand, and after you have done all, to stand by faith on the faithfulness of God! This is not about furniture. He's celebrating the faithfulness of God, and he made them praise God.
Sometimes you have to make yourself… You don't believe me? David made Asaph praise God, and he wrote the song, and he said, "Praise him like this. I don't want you praising him just any way you can. Talk about his glory, his name, his strength, his face. Don't start talking about how good you did". Oh, they just got the ark back to Jerusalem, and he didn't want them celebrating their strength when they did it. They did a good job, but that's not what they glorified: the good job they did. I'm not saying don't pat yourself on the back or get yourself a cupcake or a Crumbl cookie or whatever you do. Do it, but don't forget to praise God (Can I say it this way?) for the few. Every day is not going to be an amazing day. Every day is not going to be a special event. Every day is not field day, but every day needs to be faith day. (That's kind of corny, but I'm trying to help you remember it when you get out of here.) They got the ark back.
Now, the ark of the covenant had been in Shiloh for a long time. The Philistines, the enemies of God, got the ark of the covenant, and then God started cursing everything because they weren't supposed to have it. It is always a curse to carry what God did not call you to. Remember that the next time you start comparing yourself. "I wish I had theirs" or "I wish I did that" or "I wish I did this". It is a curse to carry what God did not call you to. God spoke to the Jewish people. He said to Abraham… Remember? "I will bless you, and you will be a blessing". Remember, they were meant to carry the blessing, not to contain it. God said, "I'm going to bless all the earth through you".
So, what you're carrying is not meant for you to contain. That's why David said, "You need to praise God for what just happened". They go get the ark. They try to bring it back on a cart, because that makes sense, because it's heavy. While they're busy making sense, not doing what God told them to do, which was carry it on their shoulders… The Levites, the priests, were supposed to be the only ones who could carry it, and nobody could touch it. You couldn't just walk around looking at it, because it was too special for that. So, when they tried to put on a cart what God called them to carry, something terrible happened. The oxen stumbled. When the oxen stumbled, a man named Uzzah reached out trying to help God.
Have you ever tried to help God? Have you ever manipulated somebody trying to help God? Have you ever held on to something you were supposed to take your hands off of because you were trying to help God? When he went to help God, he died, and David was angry. He was mad because "I need the presence of God back," because he had just been anointed king of the whole kingdom. Saul is dead. He's not fighting Saul anymore. The kingdom is united for now. There had been a civil war when he was rising to the kingship, but now he's settling into Jerusalem, yet he doesn't want to be there in the seat of his power without the ark of the covenant, which represents God's power. "I don't want it without you, God. I can't do it without you, God. It's impossible for me to do it without you, God".
About every time I try to prepare a message, I come to a point where I say, "I can't do it"! The Lord usually says, "Finally. Would you like me to do it through you"? God is just waiting for you to get to the point where you take your hands off of some stuff. I'm not talking about being irresponsible. This does not apply to your steering wheel unless you drive a Tesla. Keep your hands on that. At the same time, we have to understand that the glory goes to God. It has to. It's too heavy for you. It must have seemed strange to see all this celebrating. David's wife, Michal, was so appalled that David was dancing, because he was happy when they finally got the ark back, because they did it God's way, not the logical way…not the way that made sense, but the way that takes faith… Two different ways: the way that makes sense and the way that takes faith. One is called self-sufficiency, and it's a sin.
The other one, the faith way, is when you understand that for you to carry what God has given you to carry in this life, you will have to do it his way, even when his way seems strange, even when it makes no sense. Do you know what David did that must have seemed strange? Every time they got the ark six steps, he stopped and sacrificed a bull. Every six steps. I want you to think about this. This is the representation of the presence of God. We already had it start to fall one time, and now you're making a stop every six steps. Every time we stop, it increases the chances that we'll have another stumble. But David said, "I have faith that if we do it like this, and we take only six steps and then stop and praise God and offer to him the sacrifice of praise, he will give us the strength, the wisdom, the protection, and the direction. God will sustain us if we stop and celebrate every six steps, because if we wait until we get to Jerusalem to do it, we might not make it".
If I wait until I get there to thank God, I may not make it, because there is a long way. "When I get to heaven, I'm going to fall at his feet". You'd better fall at his feet before this Friday, because the Devil won't be in heaven, and you won't have to fight him there, but you have to fight him now. If you don't stop, you might stumble. So let's do it. Six steps. Praise him. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Oh, wait. That's six days. This is Sunday. Let's praise him right now! You took six steps this week. He was with you six steps this week. He was with you on the job this week. He gave you your daily bread this week, manna from heaven and a rod and a staff. I praise him every six! They get the ark, the presence of God, and they get six steps, and David says, "Stop". "Do you know how far we have to go? We just took a few". David says, "But he was faithful for those few".
He was faithful in those few. He was faithful with a few. I was meeting with a pastor one time, and Chunks and Buck were with me. Do y'all know Chunks and Buck? They sound like a WWF tag team from 1993. They sound like they fought the Legion of Doom, but they didn't. They're just church staff members. That's all. The man was going on and on about everything he had done, and he is a great man, so it was a long list. The In-N-Out burger was getting cold, and we don't have those in North Carolina, and I wanted to eat mine. Anyway, the man says, "How do we do this"? He was talking about world peace or something like that. He said, "How do we do this? Well, there are 19 ways". I thought, "Nineteen"?
There's a fly buzzing around the burger by this point, because we can't eat because he's still talking. He has already been going two hours. He said, "There are 19 ways. I won't list them all". I thought, "Phew"! He said, "But let me name a few". An hour later, he was on number 19. He stopped, and he said, "I think I should stop now. It looks like I put your guys to sleep". My back was turned to them. These two jokers were sleeping on the other end of the table with their heads on the table. Not like nodding off. Like, I am a second grader in class playing Heads Up, Seven Up…drooling all over the table. "I can't list all of the ways, but let me name a few". I'm just going to give you a little pro tip here for praising God. You have to just list a few. You know what? I don't know everything God is calling me to, but I do know a few things. God has called me to love and honor my wife. God has called me to be there for my kids.
Sometimes that's all I know about being a dad: be there. It is the science of showing up that produces, in my mind, the experiment of good kids, and it is an experiment. Fatherhood is not a formula. A few. You know, anytime you want to, you can make yourself praise God. You don't think you can. You associate praise with a feeling. I didn't see anything in 1 Chronicles 16 about feelings. I heard about God's sovereignty. I heard about God's shepherding. I heard about God's glory. I heard about his strength. I heard about his face. Nothing about feelings. That's why it's not dependent on feelings. So, in any bad mood, you can pivot to praise. David knew how to do this. That's what David knew how to do. That's why the Bible called him a man after God's own heart, not because he was perfect. You think that means he was perfect.
Then what's Bathsheba all about? Why did he sleep with a woman while he was supposed to be at war if he was a man after God's own heart? It is not about his perfection. It was about his praise. He gave God glory in all of those things. If you don't learn how to pivot to praise in situations, two things will happen. When times are good, you'll run into pride if you don't pivot to praise. Then when times are bad, if you don't pivot to praise, you'll be in a prison of your circumstance. Pride or prison if you don't learn to pivot. David made them praise God. He said, "Asaph, get me 12 men. Station and appoint them, and this is what I want them to say. I want them to start talking about the glory of God and the great things he has done. I want us to get our attention off of how we stumbled, and I want us to get our attention off of even how we succeeded. I want us to start singing about and thinking about all of the things God did, all of the ways God made, even the strange ways God made".
The praise only seems strange if you don't understand the process they went through to get there. The praise only seems strange if you don't understand the process you went through to get there. It only seems strange because you didn't see the struggle that led to the praise. It only seems strange from the outside. When you have been without the ark, and when you've tried to do it without God, and when you've ended up on your own bathroom floor… I remember when my dad came to me when I was a teenager and he gave his life to Christ. He said, "You don't know how I would stand in the shower and cry every morning, wondering, 'How am I going to fake it another day because I'm so low?' But this poor man cried to the Lord, and he heard me from heaven, and he reached down and saved me. You don't know".
Stop trying to make sense to people who don't even know your story. Stop trying to conform, Christians. It's not supposed to make sense to people who don't know God. Most of us don't even worship God. We say Jesus is Lord, but we live like logic is lord. Every time we get in a situation, the first thing we consult is our circumstance. The first thing we consult is our energy. The first thing we consult is our feelings. The first thing we consult is our mood. The first thing we consult is something somebody told us on some God-forsaken news channel. I rebuke the spirit of fear that's running your life today because you keep running to the wrong place. I rebuke it! I tell it to dry up! For that to happen, you have to do it like David. David said, "Y'all have to praise God".
When I would lead the choir back in college, I used to get real… My hero at the time was Kirk Franklin. Most of the people at the college were white. That was interesting. I have always believed… I don't mind telling you to praise God. "You don't have to tell me to praise God". Yes, I do. "I don't need you to scream at me". Yes, you do…sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. This man came over to the praise service one night. I used to get down off the stage. Y'all, I was wild. I was trying to turn the Baptist school into a Pentecostal worship service. I didn't know what to do, so I had to make them. I'd get down off the stage. I'd start walking over chairs and stuff.
This one guy who was there… He had been at the school forever. He was an administrator, not a student. He came one night. I could tell he didn't like it. I went to him next day and said, "I don't think you liked it". He said, "I didn't like it at all". I said, "What didn't you like? Did the speaker say something"? He said, "I didn't like you. I don't like you". I said, "Well, was it something I said"? He said, "It's about everything you said and what you did". At the time, I was 19 with some Old Navy turtlenecks. He said, "I don't need some 19-year-old with a turtleneck coming down…" He was real country too. "I don't need some 19-year-old with a turtleneck coming down there off the stage and telling me to praise the Lord, telling me, 'Y'all don't want to praise him.' I do want to praise him. That's why I came. I don't need you to make me".
I think you do sometimes. In fact, I think one better than that. You need to awaken your inner David, like he did in Psalm 103, so when we're not here to do it… We're going to lead you to worship God. I'm not going to get up here and preach like this: "Turn in your Bible to…" I'm going to tell you, "Clap your hands". I'm going to remind you to do some stuff you know. I'm not one of these lifeguards who smokes weed and lies there and doesn't watch. If I see you drowning in doubt, I'm going to pull you out, because that's my job, dude! By the way, I don't even preach for everybody, just a few. If I can find five people in the room who don't care and are not ashamed and who know it was the Lord… The real secret is… Can you say, "Bless the Lord, O my soul"? David did that. He didn't just make them praise God; he made himself praise God.
Why are you so much better telling everybody else what to do than you are telling you what to do? I never saw a service go from so high to so low in one sentence. Look at it. Look at the Scripture. He says, "Glory to God. Praise God". He gets Shemiramoth and Jehiel and Mattithiah and Eliab and all of these guys, but it's not so many. When he went to get the ark, he took 30,000 with him. David didn't always have 30,000. At one point, after God had anointed him to be king, he had 600. The Bible describes them…men who were in crippling debt. That's the only reason they came to David: what they needed from him. That's who he had. They were ruffians. Yeah, that's who he had. God has gathered to David all of these armies, and he takes them all down to get the ark, 30,000, and they can't do it because they don't do it God's way.
Sometimes you start thinking you need more of something. You get smarter than God. Hagar. That was Abraham's wife. She thought if she helped God out having a baby, it would help. Look. Can we admit it was a strange way for God to start a nation to pick a woman with a barren womb? If you're going to need a nation, you need a son, so you find somebody with a son, and you start there. No. God is going to do it in a strange way so it can be his strength. God has a strange way. The next time you sing "Way Maker," make sure you understand that the way he makes will seem strange as he's making it. You'll look back and say, "…miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness. …that is who you are". The only thing you'll be thinking while you're going through it is "This is weird".
How many of y'all have been there the last couple of weeks in your life, just going, "This is weird. This is crazy. This is heavy. This is dark"? When David gets to the other side of this journey with the ark, he does something really fantastic, really beautiful. He says, "God remembers his covenant and the promise he made". Now, a lot of times, we are trying to hold God to our preferences, not his promises. That's where the disappointment is. A lot of times, what we are trying to get God to do in our lives, he never said he would do it. Do you need an example of that? Take your stress away. He didn't say, "I'll take your stress". He said, "I'll give you strength". In order for God to take your stress away, he has to take your breath away. Nice way of saying he has to kill you.
How many of y'all want God to take your stress away? Don't raise it. I don't want you to die like Uzzah right here in front of me. God is good, but the ways he shows his goodness seem strange. It seems strange what you're going through right now, doesn't it? It certainly seemed strange to me. The Lord told me in 2013 or 2014, "You're going to reach 100,000 people every week when you preach". That didn't happen until COVID hit and the buildings closed. I am not saying God sent COVID so I could hit a number I made up in my mind. Don't hear it like that. But the first day we ever reached that number of people live in service, not through podcast and later stuff… The first day we reached that number of people in service, there were five people in the room. I thought, "This is strange". When we were standing there in it, it just looked like we went backward.
To your senses it's strange, and to your feelings it's strange, and to your rational mind it's strange, and to those watching you carry the ark it's strange. "Why don't you put it on a cart? Why don't you do it the easy way? Why don't you just sell out to this? Why don't you just give up on that"? Some people in your life think you're strange for coming to this church. I know y'all don't want to hurt my feelings, so you just kind of… "What are you talking about? It's completely normal". Holly said something funny the other day. One time they did a parody article of us. They said we put a waterslide on our stage for baptisms. Well, I didn't see it. I just had people texting me, "What's up with the waterslide"?
Now, that's a weird text to get if you don't know the context. "What's up with the waterslide? Are you in my backyard? What's going on? I don't have a slide". "You mean in the church? You think I have a waterslide in the church"? People were saying that. She said something the other day, because we were reflecting on God's faithfulness to our ministry. She said, "Now that I look back on it, I kind of like that this church is crazy enough that when they said we would put a waterslide in the church for people to get baptized, it was believable".
Don't y'all love Holly Furtick? I'm sitting there wanting to sue somebody. "You can't say that about me". She took the insult as a compliment, that they thought we were just that crazy that if God said put a waterslide, or if God said feed a crowd with five loaves and two fish… I'm not announcing the waterslide. Don't get the illustration twisted. It's just an illustration. I'm just saying it's a weird way to make a nation to pick a barren womb. It's a weird way to deliver a nation with a staff over a sea. It's a weird way to feed a crowd with a little boy's lunch. It's a weird way to attend a funeral four days late and then tell a man to get up. It's a weird way to stop a storm to sleep through it and wait until the last watch of the night, but sometimes weird works. Sometimes when I start praising God for the few I have, he adds unto me! I was so weird when I was in college. I was so weird.
I used to go to the bathroom between classes sometimes so I could get my Bible reading in, because I wasn't disciplined enough to wake up early. I'd say, "If I get five minutes in the bathroom, nobody will bother me in this bathroom". If I had had a phone, I probably wouldn't have done it. I would have scrolled something, but I would take just a few… I think the Enemy wants you to think you don't have enough of stuff. David not only said, "It was God who gave you Canaan…" That's the Promised Land. We're not talking about land. We're talking about the lives God has given us. You are living in what God has given you. That's the difference between me and the person who says, "I'm a self-made man".
I don't claim that. Everything I have is the result of something God gave me. Everything. So, I don't want to apologize for it, but I don't want to be proud about it, because God gave it to me. You are living in something that was given. If you don't believe that, you will be prideful, and if you don't believe that long enough, you'll be powerless, because you'll lean on your own understanding. You will say, "Jesus is Lord," but you will live like logic is lord. You'll always be counting. "We only have five. We only have two. This won't go very far; it's too few". I've been studying the Bible for over half my life seriously to teach it, not just to learn it, and I've been studying the Bible over half my life not just to preach it but to live it.
One thing I found out in the Bible is that, generally speaking… You can find some exceptions, but as a general principle, God never looks at your life and says, "I can't do it because you have too few," of anything. I can't find in the Bible very many times… There are a few, but this is one of those cases where the exception proves the rule. Mostly, the Bible is about a 75-year-old man named Abraham who became a great nation. When you're 75, you only have a few years left. I could go on and on with this. When you're making a plan to save the world, and you start at 30, and you're going to the cross… Why didn't Jesus die at age 75? Why did he do everything he was sent to do in three years? Even better, why didn't he run a big campaign so he could get a big number of disciples so he could have a lot of followers? If he was leaving, why did he spend so much time with 12 men, and one of them was Judas? Why did he do it in three years with 12 men and change the world?
Maybe he wanted to set the model so you could see what he can do through a few. He knew you would be in this situation in life, and you'd be saying, "I don't have enough. I don't know enough. I don't have enough time. I don't have enough talent. I don't have a big enough team. That song, 'I've got a really big team…' I didn't make that song. I have a really small team". In fact, some of you are here today being like, "I have nobody". That's not true, but the Enemy always seeks to diminish what you've been given. That's his strategy over and over. How many times will he do it? As many times as you'll believe it. He'll take what you have given and diminish it and shrink it and diminish it and shrink it until you can't focus on it, until all you see in your life is what others carry. Until all you see in your life is the things you don't have; until you forget the few that you do.
I want to preach to you today about the few you do have. If that's finances, I'm talking about the few dollars you have. If that's years you have with your kids left in the house, I want to speak about the few you do have. If that's friends you have who really love you, really believe in you, I want to talk about the few you do have. If that's the things you're good at versus the things you're not, I want to talk about the few you do have. That's why God used David. He knew what to do with a few. Do you? Or are you always waiting for something else? "More, more, more. God, give me more wisdom". Sometimes God says, "The problem is not that you have too few. You have too much". "God, give me more wisdom, more wisdom, more wisdom". God says, "The problem isn't the absence of wisdom. The problem is that you have too many opinions".
Sometimes you have too much information. "God, I just need to know more. Then I can do it". No, you don't need to know more. I had somebody leave our church one time. They said, "I knew all that today before I came". Some of y'all here are like, "I knew all about the ark of the covenant. You didn't even get to the good part about the tabernacle they made for it. That was awesome. You didn't talk about Obed-Edom who received the blessing. You didn't talk about that. That was good. I knew all that". You knew it already, but do you do it already? It's what you do with the few. I've learned this over and over and over and over again. Sometimes I had more faith with a few than I have with more. What's that about? As few went to many, faith went from big to little. What's that about? Because I started depending on the cart. I think I need more.
So, I'm just challenging you this week to take what David said to your own heart when he said that God gave it to them… Look at verse 19 again. I gave them so many Scriptures today. Y'all, my fear in preaching is running out of stuff. You should see all of the Scriptures we don't get to. It would give you heart palpitations to know what all they're looking through back there, because the last thing I want is to get up here and 15 minutes in go, "And, uh…well, uh…I guess, uh…" So, I'm always thinking that I don't have enough to say. Sometimes my biggest mistake in preaching is I try to say too much. I do too much. "It's the ark of the covenant, it's the book of Revelation, and it's the temple of Dagon". And you're like, "Whoa, whoa. I just had my first cup of coffee". It can be just as bad to do too much.
Here's David, from a shepherd to a king, and what does he go back to? Verse 19. He said God spoke it when they were but few. Then he emphasizes it. Watch this. "…few indeed". Just in case you think he's overstating it, he's like, "Nah. It was nothing, but Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the patriarchs… God did all this out of that. Don't get it twisted to think I'm so great as a king…" David said, "No, no, no. He did it when they were but few so he could prove that he was faithful". He couldn't prove that he was faithful if he didn't do it through a few. If he did it through a lot, you would consult the lot of your logic and the lot of your resources.
So, God has you in a season right now where he is stripping away some things and subtracting some things. Some people are leaving, and some things are disappearing, and some certainties are evaporating, and some things you depended on all your life are no longer able to hold you up, so God can show you what he can do through a few. It is almost like Gideon in the Old Testament where he had 32,000 warriors, and the Lord said, "I can't use you yet to deliver my people". Look at Judges 7:2. Why? Because you're not strong enough? Because you're not smart enough? Because you're not experienced enough? No, no. He said, "You have too many". Why are you praying about too few when God is talking about too many? God said, "Take them down to the water. I'll thin them out. I'll send home who needs to be sent home, and you'll deliver the people with 300 men".
I'm not good at math, but that's backward. I went from 32,000 to 300, and it feels bad to go backward. You've been going backward, and you've been feeling bad about it, but praise the Lord, because praise paves the way for the provision of God to be revealed in your life through the few. "I don't have that much". You don't need that much. You don't need what you think you need. I promise you don't need what you think you need to do what God has called you to do. If you needed what you think you need to do what God has called you to do and he's the one who called you to do it, he would have given you what you think you need to do what he has called you to do, because he's the one who called you to do it. He doesn't promise stuff he doesn't provide for. "Oh, if I was more even-tempered…" No, no, no. You need a little bit of that "Mm". All right?
We're going to subdue it and submit it, and we're going to train it to the Holy Spirit, but you need some of that. You're going to get some self-control, but you need some of that. "Oh, if I could do this, if I could do that, if I could be more like this…" When I first went to Shelby, I went to a music director. This guy was a legend. He was the best musician that, at that point in my life, I had ever met. He played in studios. He played on people's albums. Here I was asking him to come be my keyboard player at a church of just a few hundred people. Everybody around me told me, "He won't do it. He doesn't need to be on some church band. He won't play on a church stage". I said, "Well, let me just go talk to him". I said, "I know that you probably won't do it…"
By the way, you'll never get a date if you come up with this kind of confidence. I was like, "I know you probably don't want to do it…" Before I finished, he said, "Yeah, I'll do it". I said, "I can only pay you this much," and it was just a few. I was going to pay him for a week what he could get in an hour. He said, "I'll do it. I've been praying about that". I went, "Oh, okay". So he started doing it. Every week, I'd go over to his house, and it was such a trip, y'all. I would teach him the songs. Now let me explain to you. I don't have much musical training. Just the chords I learned on my guitar when I was a boy, and that's it.
Now, I know those four chords really well, but I learned to play guitar off Green Day. Not Bach…Hootie & the Blowfish. That's how I learned to play guitar. But I know what I know. So I'd go over to his house. He had a little studio in his house. I would sit down with him. His name is Richard. I'd sit down with Richard, and I'd take the little chord charts over. I'd say, "Let's go over these songs for the week". Not because he needed to learn them. Just we were getting it all charted out. He would chart it for me and everything. I would always apologize to him. I always felt bad, because he's such a great musician. I mean, he knows jazz. He knows rock. He knows country. He can play anything by ear or by sight, and here I am with a G and a C and a D and an A, and that's the whole song. I would say, "I'm so sorry, Richard. I know this is so simple. This is so stupid, me sitting here with a great musician like you. I don't even know all of the chords you know".
One day he stopped me. He said, "Steven, you don't need to know more chords. You know the right four". Then he gave me a tutorial. He started playing songs with the four chords I used over and over again. He showed me at least 20 songs that used those four chords only. Every time he would do it, it would drive the message home a little bit more. "You only need four. You only need four". Then he'd play it again. It was just a 1, 5, 6, and 4. That's the notation, the Nashville Number System. It's the 1, the 5, the 6, and the 4. He showed me that with those four chords you can write a number-one hit.
It's not how many chords you know. It's how you use the ones you know. I'm not preaching to everybody today. Just the few. Just the few who have been going around saying, "God, I don't know enough. I don't have enough. I haven't been trained enough. I'm not good enough. I'm not sleeping enough". That must be a parent of a newborn or a dog. "God, I don't have enough". Richard showed me you only need four chords. You only need four. I'll prove it. When God got ready to turn on the lights of the solar system, he said four words: "Let there be light". Four words, and the lights came on. Four words, and the world was illuminated. Four words, and the darkness had to back up. You only need four. You only need four. You could do more with four. You could be faithful with a few. He taught me four chords can do so much.
So follow me. I'm going to do it on the spot, and then I'm going to close, but I'm going to show you before I close what you can do with four. If everybody on the worship team went out and got salmonella (I just keep making up horrible stuff to happen to the worship team) and I knew four chords, what could I do? I could say… 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take him at his word, Just to rest upon his promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord. Four chords. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, How I've proved him o'er and o'er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, Oh, for grace to trust him more. You don't need more stuff; you need more faith.
Four chords. One man. My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine, For thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou, If ever I loved thee, my Jesus 'tis now. See? Four chords. We could go, "What a friend…" We haven't changed keys. Four chords. You don't need more chords; you need more faith. You don't need more time; you need more focus. You might not even need more money. You might just need better priorities. What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear, What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer.
Here's the problem. Listen. Oh, what peace we often forfeit, And, oh, what needless pain we bear… And here's why we've been stressed out. All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer. I know a few. I know a few chords. I know a few truths. I know a few things. I know what to do with a few. He who is faithful with a few, God will give you what you need. Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you're my God. You're altogether lovely, Altogether worthy, Altogether wonderful to me. I need a few of you to stand and sing it.