Steven Furtick — Coming Out of the Drought
As we begin this series, I want to take you on a little bit of a journey, and I've kind of committed myself today, if it's okay with you, I want to get in a little bit of a more of a teaching mode because there is something about the nature of faith that God has been dealing with me about, and if I start preaching and hollering and all that stuff that I do sometimes, and all that wild stuff, I won't get my content across, and I really feel like the content of this is what is most important about the nature of faith.
Now, there is something about the nature of faith that is illustrated by the rain in 1 Kings 18, and so we see it when Elijah says to Ahab, "There is the sound of the heavy rain." There's the sound of the heavy rain, that often when it comes to the realm of faith, we hear things that we cannot see yet. That is when a word of God comes forth into your life, you will not immediately see a change in your situation, it will first produce a change within you.
I just feel like teaching a little bit today, because there are a few stages that you're going to have to go through if you're going to come out of the drought. Now, when I say the drought, I mean the dry season that you have been experiencing inside of yourself. When I say the drought I don't necessarily mean that you're on the verge of bankruptcy, or losing your marriage even, because one thing I've found out about dry seasons is that often, my situation can be doing a whole lot better than my soul.
I found out that everybody else can look at my life and see evidence of success, but if my soul is dry, if my heart is empty, if my motivations are not aligned, I can be winning outside and weeping inside.
So I want to speak to you today about coming out of the drought, but I want to do it a little differently. What I want to do is I want to talk about the enemies that will keep you in a dry place. I believe that there are at least three, and they're all illustrated in the text I just read you. And really, I'm using this text as a picture of the creative process.
There is a creative aspect of faith, when I grew up in the Baptist church I heard about saving faith, and it was almost like that was all that faith was for. Just to get saved, go to Heaven, but I found out that while I'm here on earth I need my faith in the meantime. I won't need my faith when I get to Heaven. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
So when I see Jesus, I won't need to believe in Jesus, He will be right there. I need faith now. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for. Y'all gonna mess up and make me preach. I told you I just want to stay here with my notes. Y'all act right, sit down. I'm living in this stage where I have not seen Him, but I love Him, and there are some things that I know in my soul that I don't see in my situation yet, and that's what faith is for.
I guess I consider myself at the core, if you cut me, I'm a faith preacher. Not a fake preacher, where we all have to act like everything's all right, but a faith preacher. A need faith preacher, a nothing's happening but I believe something's happening when nothing's happening, because beneath the surface my faith is rising in hard times, fallow ground... I got faith.
Sometimes it's invisible, because there will always be a stage of invisibility. There are three stages I want to mention, and you can see where you find yourself today, but I believe our faith must survive the invisibility stage. The stage where you maybe like Elijah, have heard something, sensed something, perceived something, believed something that you do not yet see.
I spent like $70,000 on my seminary education so every once in a while I like to say stuff I learned there. They talk about the already, not yet, eschatological tension. That is a $70,000 word, eschatological. It just means that as things unfold, there are certain realities of your new nature in Christ that you will experience already, but there is a part of it that is not yet fulfilled.
So watch this, Elijah said to Ahab, "Go eat and drink for there is the sound of a heavy rain." Which isn't good news if you just washed your car, or if you have an outdoor wedding, or if you're a pastor. I can tell how stupid my staff members are by how they act when it snows on Sunday.
If they're posting stuff on Instagram, "The snow is so beautiful." No, snow sucks on Sunday if you're a pastor. Okay, it's pretty for people who don't go to church, but if you're a preacher, that is the worst thing you can see on Sunday is a snow.
Which means that, the conditions of the weather and how they affect you depend on your expectation. So if you've been in a famine like the nation of Israel had for three and a half years, and you hear the sound of rain, it is not inconvenient.
See, this is where people sometimes they'll go, While I'm preaching, they are not desperate enough yet for the word of God. So while I'm preaching they're like. But if you get in a situation where you really need God to speak to you, if you get in a situation where you know that you, that you need every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, that you cannot live on bread alone, you won't be like.
You'll be like, "Please God, let him hold me two hours." "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." I hear the sound of the abundance of rain, as a matter of fact, I got seed in the ground and unless it rains they can't come forth so bring the storm, bring the rain.
The storm will only serve to reveal the foundation. I built my house on the rock, and the rain comes down, and streams rise, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Somebody shout "I'm ready for rain."
So Ahab goes off to eat and drink and the famine is over, and the drought is over, but Elijah climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel. Now, I love you guys, and I like to demonstrate the Bible where appropriate, but it does not seem to me to be appropriate to demonstrate what he did here physically, so you'll just have to imagine it. He bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
Now, I don't do that yoga preaching stuff, okay. The hot yoga, cold yoga, none of it. I don't do any of that yoga. Alright. So watch, everything's in motion right? This refugee, I don't know if you know about Elijah, he was a rain maker, but he was also a refugee, okay. And everybody in there is a little bit of both as well, by the way, kay?
He's been hiding for three and half years because he called for the drought because the people had started depending on sources other than God. And anytime you depend on a source that is not God He will cut you off, because He will not allow your life to be sourced by something that cannot sustain your life.
So He will cut you off for a little while so you will come back to what you needed all along, because He loves you that much. And Elijah is like hiding the whole time, because if Jezebel, who is in charge of all of the rain gods, they serve this god called Baal, who wasn't really a god, he didn't have all power, you know, like politicians who say things, but they don't really have the power to change all the stuff they make promises about.
I'm not saying politicians are bad, we have politicians in our church and I love the politicians in the church, and there's great politicians, and there's politicians, there's other politicians. And there's all of that, but God being the true and living God, will not be corralled or confined by human need. He's not corralled or confined by human expectation, He will not be manipulated by the mechanics of humanity.
And so now the rain has stopped falling, and you will come into a season of your life where God will cut you off. He won't stop loving you, He won't stop providing for you, it's just that God will allow situations to get your attention. And you can pray and ask Him to change all that you want, but until you allow Him to change you, nothing is going to change in the situation.
When the time came for Elijah to come forth and present himself before Ahab and Jezebel, that king and queen who's wickedness was responsible for the nations famine. He comes before them boldly, calls for a summit, and by this time he's survived so much, did you ever see that show Survivor, I think it might still be on the air, I'm not sure. Does anybody still watch Survivor? No? Is it still on?
If everybody over 73 is raising their hand, they still watch Survivor. We watched it for a couple of seasons. Holly used to tell me all the time, isn't this a mean thing to say to your husband, she was like, "You would be the first one voted off of Survivor."
But I couldn't argue with her, she's right. I have no survival skills, none. All I can do is talk, and sometimes I'm not even that good at that. This is the only thing I do. That's why I hold the mic so tight cause I don't know what I would do if I couldn't talk, cause I have no survival skills, none.
Elijah, the prophet, he had the skills to survive the drought, and he did. He survived in the drought, he survived the dry season, and he did it really well. He did it by obeying the voice of the Lord so when the voice of the Lord told him to go to the brook and "I'll have birds there that will drop your breakfast off."
"I'll have birds dropping off biscuits, I'll have birds dropping off Bojangles biscuits. I'll have birds dropping off Bojangles spicy Cajun filet biscuits."
I'm gonna say it till you get hungry. God will provide for you in some strange ways if you haven't noticed. God had ravens, which is a dirty bird, I mean the only people who like ravens live in Baltimore. God used a dirty bird to feed his man in a time of famine.
Stop telling God how He can and can't bless you. Stop telling God how He can and can't feed you. Stop telling God what style He can and can not use. Stop waiting on a song you like in church to worship God. What if God wants to bless you in a different style, bless you in a different way. He's very creative, and so He's supplying for Elijah at the brook, the brook dries up and God sends Elijah to a widow.
"Why would you send me to a widow to provide me with food?" Because sometimes God will show you how great His supply is by sending you to someone with a greater need than you had to begin with. And sometimes you will realize in the course of meeting someone else's need, how great God's supply already is in your life. So he does all that, and for three and a half years he is a refugee until it comes time for the refugee to become a rain maker.