Steven Furtick - God's Got Your Back - Part 1
So thanks to all of you who give and pray and serve and believe and show up and invite and invest and do all the stuff that makes it possible. God is using you in a great way. To that end, I believe he has given me a word today that will empower your spirit, encourage your faith, and strengthen your heart. Who's ready for the Word of God? I want to call your attention to Isaiah 30:19-21. In this prophecy there is a promise from God that he spoke to me on a personal level a few months ago. Sometimes I have to hold on to something personally before I can preach it prophetically into your life, but I believe today he has called me to do just that. Let he who has an ear to hear hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Isaiah 30:19. Listen to this awesome, exceedingly great and precious promise from the Word of God. "People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more". Eugene Peterson said, "Your time for tears is over". "How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" The Lord put me up behind this pulpit today to remind you of something very simple but very strong. He wanted me to tell you…God's Got Your Back. He's absolutely committed and connected to whatever is concerning you. God's got your back. Say it. "God's got my back". Receive it. "God's got my back".
I need 13 people to put it in the chat. "God's got my back". I'm learning, at least in this season or stage of my life, how important it is for me to stay in constant communication with the Lord, because I forget that. I can't be one of these "Pray five minutes in the morning and see God again tomorrow morning" Christians, because that's too long for me to get in trouble. You give me 23 hours and 55 minutes between prayer times, I'm a mess. I mean, imagine this, that we would just talk to God in the morning and run off. "See you back here tomorrow". You might not make it back tomorrow if you don't say something to God between that morning and the next morning. How many know I'm right? Has it gotten more that way for you? I used to be a little cockier.
I think I used to be cockier when I was younger, or something like that, but now just little aches and pains in your body will even remind you to talk to the Lord. I don't know if I can pick up my fork unless he helps me do it. I'm not trying to say I'm old and decrepit or anything like that, but just every once in a while, God will give you a little signal, like, "You can't do this without me. I promise you the whole thing will end up in the junkyard, and you'd better talk to me along the way". That's how I keep my heart with God: just to talk to him, in constant conversation. I don't mean I'm walking around talking to God out loud. I do that too.
One trick I learned is put your AirPod in, and that will help you talk to God, and people won't lock you up in a mental institution while you're doing it. That's a little trick I use. I like that. Just put that AirPod in. I just talk to God sometimes. Even if I'm driving down the road, I'll put the AirPod in in case anybody looks over in my window and sees me talking and there's nobody in the passenger seat. There is somebody in the passenger seat. In fact, there's somebody in the driver's seat, and if he stops driving my life, I'm headed off this road so quickly. I'm telling you, I need constant course correction. I was telling my son how your attitude is like that. You don't just get in the car and touch the wheel once (unless you pay extra for your car to do that). You have to sit there and bring it back all the time.
Well, our minds are like that. Our hearts are like that. At least mine is. Like the infomercial used to say, "Set it and forget it". I don't know if y'all ever saw that infomercial. Well, my heart is not a "Set it and forget it" kind of heart. My heart is a "Set it and reset it and reset it and reset it and reset it". It seems like no matter how many things God does for me… It's almost like he's too good at his job. God is so good at his job I almost forget he's doing it. So then I ask God to help me, and then I take off and… Like I discovered in my body the other day. I was talking about aches and pains. My shoulder had been hurting me for a while. It finally got bad enough where I called Dr. Gullickson. I said, "Can you help me"? He came over and helped me with my shoulder. But he asked me, "How long has it been hurting"? I said, "Four months". Because I'm a man. I'm not going to say anything about it until I am only sleeping two hours a night because I'm waking up every 10 minutes.
He was angry with me about that. He said, "Why didn't you say something sooner? Why didn't you call me over here after four days? I would have been happy to help you if you had said something sooner". Or I'll tell Holly, "I've had a headache all day". That woman has a pharmacy in her purse. It comes out like an accordion file when she opens it. Unbelievable. She has all kinds of stuff…with caffeine, without caffeine…just all kinds of different things in her purse. I'll tell her my head has been hurting all day, and she'll say, "Why didn't you say something sooner"? That seems to be it with God. "Why didn't you say something sooner? Why did you run around all day long feeling like a loser and not talk to me so I could remind you who I am"?
I know why we don't talk to God. Because it is easier to turn to something we can see for immediate relief than it is to trust in a Father we can't see so that he builds our faith. That's the thing. You can't just talk to God when you come here on Sunday. You really can't just listen to a sermon a week, or God forbid you just listen to clips. I mean, some people won't even do the full sermon, just a clip. That's not going to cut it. When you really start facing the challenges of life, clips won't cut it. Cliches won't cut it. Little "Thank you, Lord. Help me as I go today, and bless me along my way…"
You know, a little prayer over dinner is not going to cut it. I'm not saying God will not love you, but you're just not going to feel his love. You're not going to know it's there, and you're going to turn to things that will work for you for a little while, but they will not sustain you. I just want to talk to you about this before we get into the direct passage that we read, because I have to constantly talk with God. The Lord was telling me pretty clearly before I came out today you don't talk to him enough. When you stop talking with God, the Enemy starts working on you. When you stop coming to him, I mean, in just that moment-by-moment way… It's great to come to church. Trust me. I have a lot invested in this.
Imagine if we were sitting together in the morning, and you saw me breathing fast and hard. You let it go for a little while, but finally you get up the courage to ask, "What are you doing"? and I'm like, "Oh, I'm getting my breathing in. The average human takes 20,000 breaths a day. I don't really want to be bothered with breathing later in the day, because I'm really busy later today. I'm going to just get all 20,000 in right now". I don't think it works like that, but we think worship works like that. Three songs. Three days later, you're going to be defeated. I love the language of Isaiah. He's talking to a king, a good king, Hezekiah. He's a good king. Israel had a lot of bad kings. Hezekiah was not one of them. He had a great heart.
The Bible says his heart was turned to the Lord. It was committed to the Lord. But just because you're a good king doesn't mean you don't do dumb things. Just because you're a good parent, a good spouse, a good person doesn't mean you don't do dumb things. Hezekiah did something really dumb. I'll tell you what he did. He made an alliance with the king of Egypt because he was being attacked by the Assyrians. Now, the Assyrians were fierce. So much so that when they went to attack the northern kingdom of Israel, they wiped them out. They laid siege on the city. Hezekiah, after seeing that, decides, "I need some help, so I'll go to Pharaoh".
Pharaoh rings a bell for a lot of us who come to church because we remember hundreds of years earlier when Pharaoh was in charge of Egypt. That wasn't his name; that was his title. Pharaoh was the one who fed the children of Israel for a little while. Then something happened where they became enslaved in the system they had escaped to. Do you remember that? This is a different Pharaoh. This is several centuries later, but there is something in this moment of attack that causes Hezekiah to make an unwise alliance. Lean in. When you're under attack, you make unwise alliances. When you feel tired, when you feel tested, when you feel like you're in trouble, what do you turn to?
Just think about that for a moment. What do you turn to? What do you turn to when you're tired, when you're tested, when you're in trouble? What do you turn to? I'll see a lot of people who will go through something in life, and it'll get so bad, so out of control, so unmanageable… At the end of asking every other person they can think of, "What should I do? How should I do it? Can you help me"? After going through everybody on their phone, so many times that they start getting blocked… After all of that, they'll say, "Well, all we can do now is pray". Isn't that backward? "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God". The Scripture says in Hebrews 11:3 that by faith we understand that everything which was visible was made by something that was invisible, the Word of God. The Word of God created the world and framed the world so that everything you step into in your life is something God spoke before you got to it.
So, everything I'm stepping into in this season of my life is something God has already spoken. If he doesn't speak it, I can't step into it. If he didn't speak it, there would not be ground beneath my feet. If he didn't speak it, there wouldn't be a next step for me to take. If he didn't speak it, it wouldn't be here, so everything I'm stepping into, God has already spoken. Why would I speak to others about something God spoke into existence before I spoke to the one who knows where my path leads? In the text, Isaiah says something very powerful. He says, "You will weep no more". Watch this. I love the time frame reference here, because this really gives me hope.
Sometimes I need God quickly. How many of you came here to church today, and you need God to do something quick in your life? You don't always have time. I know; wait on the Lord. I know; be of good courage. I know; he will strengthen your heart, but some things in your life you need God to do for you quickly. Well, this is your verse. Get ready to shout. If you need God to do it and do it quickly, watch this. This is verse 19. "How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as [you get your act together]…" As soon as you clean up your act. As soon as you learn these seven principles from the Word of God. As soon as you memorize Isaiah 30. As soon as you go back and repair every relationship you screwed up. As soon as we get through this recession. As soon as you get married. As soon as you get kids. No, it said, "As soon as he hears, he will help you".
Come quickly, Lord! You have to have those "Come quickly" prayers. "Come quickly, Lord. Come quickly, Holy Spirit. Come quickly before I slip. Come quickly before I fall. Come quickly before I lose my mind. Come quickly before I lose my testimony. Come quickly before I relapse. Come quickly before I backslide. Come quickly before I go off. Come quickly, Lord! I need you quick"! Why did he go to Egypt for help when he knew the God of Elijah? It's because we reach for what's immediate, not always what's helpful. One of the attendants of the Assyrian army came out and said, "You went to the king of Egypt"? This is in 2 Kings, around chapter 19. He said, "You went to that splintered staff? Everyone who leans on him gets pierced. This isn't going to work. This isn't going to work at all".
Where do you turn when you're tired? Where do you turn when you're in trouble, and why don't you do it sooner? Why didn't I go to God…? I know it's easier for us to go with what we can see. This is the challenge: to depend on an invisible God who you can't see when you're facing challenges that are so big they are all you can see. Come here, Ty. This is the one I told the story about a few months ago, but I need you to visualize it. Since he's here today, we're going to take our opportunity. He does so many things well. He's so gifted. He's so talented. Y'all see my fade every week? That's "Fly Ty" Jacobs, the one and only. I always tell him in my chair everything I'm going to preach before I preach it, and then I preach none of it, because God always changes it between Saturday and Sunday. He was going to give somebody a haircut recently.
You know this is, like, crazy sponsorship right here what I'm doing for you. Right? Oh man. I'm telling you. You owe me seven free haircuts off of this. There are a lot of people who watch. But this will be worth it for the illustration. He said, "I went to cut somebody's hair the other day, and when I was going in, I got intimidated because their house was crazy. I started thinking, first of all, about 'Why do they get this house and I don't get it?'" Because he's petty, so y'all pray for him. Secondly, he said, "It started to get in my head. I got distracted by how nice the house was. I started getting intimidated". He said, "But when I went in and started doing what I do, what God gifted me to do…" He said, "It was amazing, because when I left, I got a text from everybody who was in the house that said, 'Man! It changed our lives having you in our house today.'"
Did you make that up or is that true? He said this is a true story. I only have his word to go off of. He is an exaggerator, but I believe him. I looked at him and said, "It sounds like you got so distracted by what you were walking into that you forgot what you were walking in with". Won't that preach? Isn't that like the children of Israel going into Canaan to spy out the land, carrying the promise of a covenant-keeping God, talking about "The giants are big"? What happened? They got so distracted by what they were walking into they forgot the promise they were walking in with. I just wanted to use that illustration, because I saw him there and it came to my heart. I think it might be for somebody. When you are not in constant communication with God, and I mean just throughout the day… "God, there I go. I get offtrack. God, there I go. I get offtrack. God, there I go. I get offtrack".
You will be all the way through the whole bag of Fritos before you realize, "Oh, I need the Holy Spirit to fill me. These Fritos are filling me, but it doesn't feel very good now that they've filled me. I'm not less stressed. I just got three more pounds to carry when I get off this couch. Now I don't feel like doing anything, and now I'm going to take a nap, and now I'm going to miss my job, and now I'm going to get fired, and then my wife is going to leave me. Everything fell apart because I ate Fritos". What I'm saying is…say something sooner. Catch yourself quicker. Instead of running to pills, say something to God. Instead of running to porn, say something to God. Instead of running to pessimism, say something to God. Instead of crying out for help… Everybody has a different way they yell for help.
Some people yell for help through anger. They're really not mad. They're scared. So they get angry. It's a way of saying, "Help me. I'm afraid, but I don't know how to ask for help, so I get angry, because I'm yelling for help, because I never learned how to ask for help". If you would say something sooner, maybe it wouldn't get to this point. Maybe it wouldn't get this ridiculous. Maybe it wouldn't come to the point where you blow up. Maybe it wouldn't get to the point where it crushes you. Maybe it wouldn't get to the point where you're carrying it so long and the load weighs so much you don't see any other way out. Why didn't you say something sooner, when your God has medicines of all descriptions, when your God has healing for everything that hurts you, when your God says, "I'll answer you as soon as I hear you"? Not as soon as you hurt, but as soon as you pray about it. You can hurt a long time and not get help, because hurting does not attract help. Faith does. Prayer does. Praise does.
When you are prayerless, you are paralyzed. A lot of the paralysis in our lives… "Oh, I don't know what to do. Oh, I don't know how to handle it. Oh, I can't go forward". It's because prayerlessness leads to paralysis. It keeps you focused on what you're walking into. How many are walking into a season right now that you just don't see any way it's going to turn out okay? It may be 5 or it may be 500 or it may be 50,000, but raise your hand right now. "I'm walking into something". Okay. That isn't enough. Let me try another way in. How many of y'all are going back to school this week? Okay. Stand up. Look at me. God's got your back. Look at me. Stand up straight. God's got your back. Everybody say it out loud. "God's got my back".
I need you to go back to school knowing that God is behind you. You can't afford to go back to school alone. You're not ready to go back to school just because you got new shoes for it. We all get new shoes to go back to school. I got my Reebok Pumps, but my Reebok Pumps weren't enough. If God doesn't have my back, I can't make it through the temptation. If God doesn't have my back… But if God be for me, who can be against me? Come on. Slap yourself on the chest and say, "God's got my back". I'm telling you, you can call on God. Now don't call on God when you didn't study for the test and ask him to help you pass it. The Lord doesn't really work like that. You have to pray for God when you feel like playing video games instead of studying and involve him at that point. If you involve him sooner, maybe you won't get to the test sweating and having to wonder, "Am I going to make it"?
If you will come to God sooner… Anybody wish they would have started living for God when they were in the eighth grade, learned how to talk to God sooner? Running around trying to fulfill all of these desires you didn't understand in sexual ways and in social ways; trying to climb the ladder of status to only realize there's no substance in status if you don't know who you are in the Spirit. God's got your back. We get so distracted by what we're walking into and what other people have and what they look like. Come on, man. They didn't even buy that Gucci bag with cash. They put it on a credit card that's maxed out, and it's the fourth one.
Now you feel insecure because you don't have what they have. I'm just talking from my heart, y'all. I told the Lord after last week's sermon, "I will never…" After how God convicted me about David taking the census. I will never go by how many views a sermon gets to verify and validate whether or not it was the word of God. I will never do it again. When I get up here to preach, I only need to know one thing. Did God say it? Is it true? If he did, that means what he begins he backs. What God begins he backs. The Bible says that before you were born in your mother's womb, God fashioned you. That's right. Before you got here, God spoke it. You stepped into this world, but God spoke you before you stepped into it.
So, at the moments you feel too weak to walk on, you have to remember this truth that the preacher gave you on this Sunday morning, on this Tuesday night, on this Wednesday afternoon. Whenever you are listening to it, God is speaking it, but he is going to speak it now for when you step into it later, that you remember he backs what he begins. He finishes what he starts. He does not procrastinate. He's right on time. He's not running behind. He didn't forget about you. He said, "As soon as I hear you, I'll help you. As soon as you call, I'll answer you. In the day of trouble, I'll reach down and do it". "Come quickly, Lord! Come quick and help me. Come quick and do it. Come quick with a Red Sea miracle. Come quick move a mountain. Come quick make me strong. Come quick break these chains". He said, "I'll do it".
God is strengthening me. Watch verse 20. He said sometimes you get the bread of adversity and the water of affliction. He calls a fight food. Isaiah 30:20: the bread of adversity and the water of affliction. Adversity, affliction… That's the fight. God said, "That's the food. That's how I'm building you. I'm bringing you through things right now, and even the things that are coming against you are going to work for you". Because God's got my back. You don't need the king of Egypt for this fight. When Hezekiah got serious and prayed to God (look it up), God sent angels into the tents of the enemy and slew 185,000 of them. All you get when you lean on Pharaoh's staff is a splinter. So why didn't you say something sooner? Why don't you say something, not after they ruined your day. Stop letting people ruin your five minutes. Say something to God.
"Okay. I'm off track now. Do you see how they looked at me, Lord"? I will do it to an extreme. You may not need this extreme, but maybe God sent you an extreme preacher because you are extremely dysfunctional. I don't know. I can tell you how I do it. I have to drop on my knees sometimes just right in the middle of stuff, just sneak off and get on my knees. I think that's better than to fall flat on my face because I didn't get on my knees. You have to get a style that works for you, but God said you're not talking to him enough. That's why the Enemy is busy… That's what worry is. It's the substitute for the prayers you didn't pray. That's how the Enemy fills the space with the things you won't pray about. He gets your faith in reverse so it starts working against you, starts tearing you apart. He's got you now. But the Lord said, "As soon as you cry… I hear you, and I'll help you". You can't make that stuff happen.
You know what? That was an illustration. We didn't work that out, but God's got my back. God said, "You need an illustration? I'll make a baby cry at that moment. I'll set it up. I'll make it work. I'll bring it together. I'll connect it. I'll hook it up". Just like that, you can trust in the knowledge and the wisdom of God. I can quit right here or we can keep going. It's up to you. That was the setup. We did a little who, what, when, where. Right? We did who. The Lord said, "I want to help you". We did a what will he do. He said he will hear you. We did a when: as soon as you cry. As soon as you cry, the Lord will quickly deliver you, but then he will also direct you. Now this is what I had to meditate on, because verse 21 upended a lot of my understanding. It messed with me.
In verse 21, he says, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" It sounds like wherever you go, whatever you do, God will be with you to tell you when to turn, if you're not stubborn. If you're stubborn and you won't pray and you just stuff it all down all the time and you won't join an eGroup (that's called a callback), then the Lord can't direct you. Look. I'm not a bad driver as long as I don't have to find where to turn. Holly is much better, and usually I listen to her, but the other night I didn't. We were coming home from my mom's. I'm going in a traffic circle. She said, "Nuh-uh. Not this one. The third one, the third one, the third one".
Watch what she didn't do. She didn't grab the wheel. She didn't yell at me. She didn't reprimand me. She just said very softly, which is usually not Holly's normal gear for talking… She said, "Not this one, not this one, not this one. The third one, the third one, the third one". I was like, "Woman, do you know how many times I've come back from my mom's house? It's the second one. It's the second one". She said, "Okay. This is not the same circle. This is the one they put in since the last six months, since we've been going the other way to go to your mom's house on Wednesday night to eat dinner and watch Wheel of Fortune". (We do that every Wednesday night. I love it. It's one of the highlights of my week. She cooks so good. It's so nostalgic.) She said, "This is the new circle. This is not the same circle".
Your challenge in your life is going to be that you are going to try to memorize the miracles God does for you and the ways he takes you, not to realize that things are always changing, and the way you raise your kids or approach your life in one season may not produce success in the next season because this is not the same circle. If you don't have the voice of the Holly spirit or the Holy Spirit (either one will do) to tell you where to turn, you miss it. Sometimes even when the Lord tells you… My friend the other day said, "I had a really bad marriage, but God tried to tell me so many times not to marry that person, it was crazy". I said, "What kind of little signs did he give you"? He said, "Not little signs. She cocked a gun and pointed it at me. I still married her. That was the first sign".
So, that might be God saying, "There are other fish in the sea". Even if there are not other fish in the sea, go kill a deer. Eat that. Get out of the sea. But the passage was so powerful to me. It said whether you turn to the right or to the left, whether you go to Elon or Chapel Hill… I was thinking of a college student right now. You are so stressed about if you made the right decision to go to school here. It's your freshman year, and you're thinking, "Is this the right school"? It really doesn't matter right now. What you have to do is find the right people. We can get paralyzed in decision-making about things that don't matter as much. I was telling them one time in church how in the town I grew up in, there weren't so many schools to choose from where to put your kids. I mean, there weren't so many schools like that, so you just did it, and you got along with it, and you made peace with it.
Sometimes our options are the enemy of our peace. "Oh, I should have done this. Oh, I should have done that. Oh, I could have done that". The Lord said, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left…" The important thing isn't necessarily the road you take. The important thing isn't necessarily… I'll be honest with you. I don't think you have to come to church here for God to bless you. You can go to another church, and God will speak to you there. You can go to another church, and God will have a word for you there. That's fine. The important thing is not necessarily about that initial decision, is it? The important thing is not necessarily which way you go but how you walk on that path. The important thing isn't necessarily which church you go to.
Y'all, I think this is an amazing church. As a matter of fact, this is my favorite church in the world. As a matter of fact, if y'all run me out of this church, I don't think I will go find another one to preach in, because what could I ever do after pastoring Elevation Church that would live up? All I'd spend my whole time doing was comparing it to this. I mean, if God told me to, I'd have to do it, but I wouldn't want to. I would do it with a bad attitude if the Lord made me pastor another church. Yet the important thing isn't what church you go to. You could sit in the back of this church and never get involved and never get helped and never get hooked up and never get connected and never be successful and never be set free, and it's a great church. You came to the right church. You turned to the right. Okay. Good job. But how are you walking on that path? Whether you turn to the right or the left… Give me verse 21. It's so anointed.
The Lord said, "You will hear a voice". God will speak to you there. God will speak to you in your rebellion. Even when you turn your back on him, he'll still speak. Even when you walk away from him, he'll still speak. He is always speaking. He's still speaking. He's still talking. He's still directing. God didn't stop talking when you graduated. God didn't stop talking when you got the job. God didn't stop talking when you got saved. He's still talking. Are you still stepping? Are you still growing? Are you still going? Are you still maturing? Are you still changing? Or are you going around in the same circle, missing your turn, because there's something God is speaking, but you can't see it? The Bible said something crazy. "You will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"
We found a video of some of Graham's first steps the other day. I'll show it to you. It was only 30 seconds. It was too cute. Watch it. Graham and I were watching it together.
Look what all he just did, and she wasn't clapping. I mean, that was a much more complicated journey than the one that was on that video. No "Yay, Graham"! He just did that. That even involved steps. He didn't even trip like he did on the video. Now he's just doing it. Y'all were just as bad. None of y'all clapped for him. He came all the way up here. I wish I could have told him, "That is about as much encouragement as you're ever going to get for doing so little. From this point forward in your life, you have to do crazy stuff to get that level of applause. You have to win, like, at least a state championship before your mom is ever going to be that proud of you again for that".
See, that's where it shifts. In the picture, you couldn't see her. You couldn't see Holly in that video, but she was right there in front of him, saying, "Yay, Graham! Please don't crawl". Please? She's begging him to do something he just did, and she was barely even aware he did it. I watched her. She was so bored while he walked up here. He just did it. Early in your walk, it'll be like God will be like, "Yay"! Okay. If you get baptized at Elevation, we'll cheer for you. "Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that awesome"? I want some of you to get baptized. That would be great. We'll be there to cheer for you. They'll be around that tank going, "Yay, Graham! That's amazing that you gave your life to Christ. That's amazing that you did that. That's so great that you put your faith in Christ".
That's about as good as it's ever going to get. If you raise your hand in a minute when I give the invitation… "Who wants to give their life to Christ? Who wants to turn their life over to Jesus? Who wants to receive the gift of his salvation, the forgiveness of sins, the remission of sins by the shedding of his blood"? When your hand goes up, everybody will start clapping, and the angels in heaven will start rejoicing. It'll be amazing, and it's our way of saying, "Come on. Walk. Walk. Do it. Do it". It's amazing, but watch Isaiah 30:21 for the revelation. "Then you will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. Do you trust me? This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. Turn to the left. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way. Do it again. Turn to the left. This is the way; walk in it. Y'all, he could have walked right off the edge, and it wouldn't have been my fault. This is the way.
Notice that God's word comes as you walk. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. Now, we've come a long way from "Yay, Graham! Yay"! It wasn't that awesome what he did on that video. It was basic. But then God calls you to walk by faith, not by sight. God has got my back. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way…go slow…walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. And he doesn't even have to touch me to turn me. This is the way; walk in it. Turn left. This is the way; walk in it. This is the way. It assumes that I will stay close enough. If you get too far ahead, maybe you can't hear him anymore. If you get too far in the future… Somebody asked me the other day, "Do you plan on pastoring Elevation Church when you're 80"?
If I even start thinking about having to have a new sermon 38 years from now, y'all will watch me have a panic attack on YouTube in front of the world. I can't think that far out. All I know is today he told me to tell you, "God's got your back". God's got your back. This is the way. Yeah, that's good. This is the way. You can't see me, but you believe me. This is the way; walk in it. We walk by faith, not by sight. I'm not looking at what I'm walking into. I know what I'm walking in with. I got a word from almighty God over my shoulder to fight every devil and to tell every Jezebel, "I am that prophet. I will stand up on the mountain of the Lord. I will proclaim. I will declare the works of the Lord. This giant will go down".
This is the way; walk in it. One word from God is all you need to walk into this day. "This is the way; walk in it. This is the way; walk in it. When you get to the next day, I'll give you the next word. When you get to the next turn, I'll give you the next word. When you get to the next decision, I'll give you the next word. When you get to the next challenge, I'll give you the next word, because I've got your back, see. Because I'm right back here, see. Because I'm fighting stuff behind you that you don't even know about. That's why I've got your back. That's why you can't see me: because I'm dealing with every Pharaoh in the Red Sea behind you, so you don't go back. I've got your back".
God's got your back! Let Pharaoh know, "I don't need you anymore! God's got my back"! "I'm not just going back to school; I'm going backed. God's got my back. I don't care if you like me. God loves me. I don't care if you notice me. God knows me. I don't care if you recognize me. What God has revealed… He's got my back, and I can trust him, because when I was in the ninth grade, he went into ninth grade". Ninth grade. Trying to be taller than me in the ninth grade. I'm still stronger than him, at least psychologically. (Don't look back here. I'm talking to them.)
I'll tell you something, man. You don't know how good you have it. At the school Uncle Eric and I went to, when you were a freshman, they'd throw you in the trash can as an initiation. It was a lot of rednecks, so they'd be spitting dip in the trash can, and they'd throw you in there headfirst. He goes to a bougie school. They don't throw you in the trash can at his school. But now his brother is a senior, and the funny thing is it reminds me of the exact age gap between my brother and me. I was a senior; he was a freshman. By that time… I don't mean to brag, but I was the man at Berkeley High School. Why are you laughing?
Watch this. My brother was a freshman; I was a senior. I said, "Oh, on the first day of school, when they go to throw you in that trash can, come find me, because I won't let them". And he did. I was standing out there in the courtyard talking to Eric, and he was running. He was running. He said, "Tell them they can't do it". I said, "All right. Y'all can't do it". And they didn't do it. He never went in the trash can, because I had his back. There comes a point where you've done all you can do and it's bigger than you. But my confidence isn't because I'm big; my confidence is because I'm backed. You have an elder brother named Jesus. You have a big brother, and you can't see him. He's invisible, so it's hard to depend on him, but I just need you to get this picture before you go into whatever you're going into this week that God has got your back. I want us to confess it. I want you to confess it like you have a big brother who can keep you out of the trash can.
See, they can't throw you away because God's got you back. You'll hear a word behind you. You won't see him. I'm not looking for proof. That's how you stood up at your mom's funeral. Buck preached. He did a thing at his mom's funeral. It was so beautiful. He did such a beautiful tribute to his mom at the end of a long battle with ALS. It was incredible. I was in tears. I told him afterward, "That was so beautiful, Buck". Because he doesn't preach. He's not a preacher. He's had my back for 17 years, but I didn't know he could preach like that. I said, "You should have never showed me you could preach like that. I'm going to have you do a series". It was so beautiful. Man, I'm telling you the truth. He got up there. He said, "If my mom could see all of you here today, she would say what she always said when she was surprised. 'Really? For me?'"
His mom was Taiwanese, and he showed when she would get really surprised, she would say, "Really? For me"? He went on and told about her hard life but her faith in God. Every time he was talking about it, it was a situation where "Wow! It doesn't really look like God was with her in that. Wow! It didn't look like God lifted a finger to help her during the abuse. Wow! It didn't look like God provided for her while she was working three jobs and still having to stretch". But it's not about what you can see. It's about what you can hear. God has your back. Say it. "God's got my back". I'm not pointing to something I can prove it with. No, I'm not showing the Devil my bank balance right now. No, I'm not showing the Devil the medical report right now, because if I look at that, I'm going to get more focused on what I'm walking into than who I'm walking in with.
I have a big brother named Jesus. Walk in it! Walk in the confidence of God. Walk in the favor of the Lord. Walk in the strength he gives. When Buck finished talking about that amazing life she lived, he said, "I know my mom is watching right now, and I know she's singing in the choir in heaven loudly, even though she's not the best singer. I know that she saw her mansion, and I know what she said when she saw it. 'Really? For me?'" I lost it, sitting right there in the pew, because I knew what it meant. He told me, "I almost didn't even get up and do it because I thought it was trash," but God had your back.
That's how you did it. That's how he did it. That's how you're going to make it, son: because God has your back. Don't get too far out ahead of him, and never stop walking toward what he called you to be. Don't get paralyzed. You talk to him. You walk with him. You get in the rhythm with him. You let him lead you. He'll get you back on track. God will say, "Oh, no, turn around, dummy". The Lord will talk to you like that sometimes. But if we don't let there be this distance… The next time you hear from God can't be next Sunday when we get together. That's too far apart. God has your back. Now walk right off that stage and go take your seat.
Everybody stand up. Come on, let's give the Lord a praise that he has my back. God has my back. He'll tell Hezekiah, "I'll send an angel into the tent of your enemy. I've got your kids. I've got your future. I've got your finances. I've got it in my hands, but you've got to walk in this word". Now, Father, you said in your Word that if you began a good work in us, you'd be faithful to complete it. Here we are today again, heavenly Father, asking you for your help to hear your voice, saying, "This is the way; walk in it".
I want you to lift your hands. We're going to sing, "This Is How I Fight My Battles". We're just going to remember that God can do more. He can do more sneaking into the tent of your enemy than you can relying on the splintered staff of Pharaoh. I want you to lift those hands so high, because it has been too long since you asked God for his help. He said, "As quickly as you can say it, I can do it. It may take some time for you to walk it out, but I'll help you so quick. I'll hold you so quick. I'll grab you as quickly as any parent would grab a child going out into the street".
Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your heart. Don't wander around in the wilderness because you won't ask for help. Ask him. Say it out loud:
I need your help, Lord. I have some hard things up ahead. I'm carrying some heavy things in my heart. I have some history I'm not proud of. Lord, I need your help with that. I've made some decisions, like Hezekiah, that were really dumb, some unwise alliances, but when I see that you're behind me and remember that you've gone before me…
Now, remember, our faith is not in what we see ahead of us or how clear that path is. Our faith is in how great our God is who fights our battles behind us. I know I said, "Lift your hands," but I want you to clap them now. Begin to celebrate the victory.