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Watch 2022 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - God's Got Your Back - Part 2

Steven Furtick - God's Got Your Back - Part 2

Steven Furtick - God's Got Your Back - Part 2

It's time for me to preach the Word of God. Two weeks ago, I preached God's Got Your Back. I want to revisit that thought. This message is called God's Got Your Back – Part 2. I want to give you the Scripture, and then we'll be seated. I want to share a story I intended to get to the last time I preached, but I didn't quite get there. I'm going to go back and revisit that today. Isaiah 30:21. What a beautiful promise. The Lord says, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you…" That's why I said, "God's got your back". You can't always see what he's doing, but you can always believe he is doing exceedingly, abundantly above all you ask or imagine, according to his power that works mightily on the inside of you.

How many believe that? Shout it. Say, "God's got my back"! "You will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" Holy Spirit, have your way as we preach and teach today. I ask that every heart would be open. I ask that every mind would be attentive. I ask that every devil would be put on notice. "You have no place in the hearts of these people who belong to God today". We evict you now, Satan. We ask you to speak, Lord Jesus. In your name we pray, amen. Oh, stay one second. Chris Brown, come here. I got so mad at him the other day. We were talking about a song we wrote together, and I said, "What's your memory of writing that song"? He goes, "That we stayed really late". That's what you said! Yeah, but… That's all you said. That was my entry. He said, "I remember we stayed really late".

That's not all I said. No, but for me it was such a beautiful memory. I was like, "That's all you remember"? It wasn't my best response. In your defense… Here's what he said. He was like, "You remember everything". That's not true. Well, I remember everything. I just don't remember everything right. See, in my spare time, when I'm not preaching and teaching, I'm a movie editor. I make movies out of memories, clip them, sequence them, put new characters in, and take certain people out. It was worse than that, though. You didn't do the worst thing. The other day… I'm just picking on him because we've been friends since we were 15 years old. So I can pick on him. You're like, "Don't be so mean to this guy. You just read your Scripture. You're over here hating on your worship leader". I'm not hating on him. This is my guy. Trust me on that. But Graham the other day said, "You weren't even at my sixth-grade graduation," and I was.

So Holly… Thank God for her. She goes through her whole photo archive and finds the picture of me, the proof of parenting. She goes back through the Photo Stream. Thank God she had it, because apparently now I need an official record keeper in my house for my kids to even believe I was there for the milestones of their life. That's how they do you. You go to the sixth-grade graduation (which, let me just tell you, is exciting), and they don't even put you in the movie. Okay. I just wanted to point out that. It got me thinking about the stories we tell, which of course took me to Chris' and my favorite musical, Hamilton, by the apostle Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the song "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story".

I thought that was a profound question to ask…Who tells your story? How did he turn the story of a treasury secretary into something I would pay money to watch? How did he do that? He told the story in such a profound, enthralling, entertaining, and heart-wrenching way. I have seen Hamilton now seven times…not on Disney+, in person. I have a whole line item in my budget called "Hamilton". I love it. I saw it with my wife. I saw it with my daughter. I take people. I drag people. I convert people. I'm an evangelist for Hamilton. He did a song, "Who Lives, Who Dies," because he's telling the story of Alexander Hamilton, which we all heard in history class. Nobody paid to hear it. But he told the story in such a way that I've seen it seven times. I didn't repeat history class seven times, but I went to see how he told the same story seven times.

One of the songs he did says, "Who lives, who dies, who tells your story"? I mean, I was telling Chris, "I remember when this and that with the song, and this and that". He was like, "I just remember it was really late". I'm sure he would have said more, but I cut him off. See, I don't really like to sit through long stories, especially if I've heard them before. Even when I'm telling a story, I'm scared to death that the other person has heard it. We had a guest preacher here last week who was amazing. Did you love Dr. E. Dewey Smith? What a great preacher. As I was sharing with him after the service and after he preached… We were getting to know each other he was telling me a story about his life, and he was cutting it short. His wife goes, "Tell him this part, and tell him that part, and tell him that part". So he did, and it was all fascinating and interesting, but to him it was boring because he had been telling that story for 30 years.

Well, then I went to tell him a story, and I told it in two or three sentences. Holly, who has the ability to really tell good stories and doesn't mind taking her time in the process, goes, "Don't cut it short. Tell him the whole story. This is a good one," she said. Every time I would skip something, she'd start putting it back in. By the time we'd sat there, our food was cold, but we knew each other. I want to tell you a story today that kind of illustrates what Isaiah said, where he said, "Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" That's a wonderful promise. The problem is your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it," but that will not be the only voice you will hear. If that was the only voice I heard, I'd be set. If the only voice I heard was, "This is the way; walk in it," I would be good to go.

I could cut my sermon prep time in half because I'd just know, "This is the Scripture". Half my time preparing the sermon is getting to the right Scripture. If the only voice I heard was, "This is the way; walk in it…" Well, I'll just be honest with you. There's some staff I wouldn't have hired, if the only voice I heard was the voice telling me what to do, how to do it, when to do it, why to do it. We all know that as good as that sounds ("Your ears will hear a voice, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'"), that is not the only voice. It's not even the loudest voice you hear. Maybe I should tell you a story from 1 Kings 19 that will illustrate about the power of who tells your story, the voice. If this were English class… We talked about history. Now let's talk about English. If this were English class, we would talk about the point of view. Is it first person, second person, or third person? We would talk about the narrator, the narrative voice.

Now, if you go to 1 Kings, chapter 19, there is a well-known, well-loved Bible story about the prophet Elijah. Not the one you like. Not the story you like where he stands on Mount Carmel and calls down fire from heaven and says, "If the Lord is God, follow him. If Baal is God, follow him. How long will you halt between two opinions"? Not that story. This is a very different story, but I should share it with you. It's going to help you to see that not only do we hear the voice of God in our moments of decision and in those crucial transitions where we have to decide what to do and where to go and whether to quit or whether to stay, but there is another voice. A lot of times, it's not the absence of the voice of God that stops you from fulfilling your calling. It is the presence of other voices that you do not recognize as the Enemy's voice until they lead you off the path of God's purpose for your life. That's exactly what happened to Elijah.

Can I tell you the whole story? "Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done…" We'll come back to that. "…and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel [after hearing how Elijah slaughtered her false prophets] sent a messenger to Elijah to say, 'May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.'" "I'm going to kill you". If there are any police officers in the room at Elevation Ballantyne, stand up. All right. Thank you for your service. Stay standing. I have a question. I'm not an officer. I'm a preacher, so I have a question for you. If you are arresting somebody, do you send a messenger or do you send a bailiff? If you're arresting somebody, do you send a messenger to tell them, "This time tomorrow, I'm going to come back and get you. I'm going to put you on death row, and I'm going to kill you"?

Do you send a messenger or do you send handcuffs? Do you send a messenger or do you send backup? It goes to show me that Jezebel couldn't back up what she was threatening to Elijah that she was going to do. (I guess I didn't need you to answer that question after all. Please be seated.) Right? So, we see from the very beginning that this woman Jezebel, as wicked as she was, as evil as she was, as manipulative as she was, as angry as she was, as petty as she was, as much destruction as she had caused, had no power over God's servant. She had no power over God's prophet. She had no power to do what she said she would do. The only hope she had was to threaten him to the level that he would abandon the place God had put him, because she knew, "If he stays, my gods can't. If he stays, God is with him. If he stays…"

You know, the Enemy knows the same thing about you, that if you ever plant your feet and decide, "This is what God has called me to do. This is what I'm going to do. This is what I'm made to do. This is what I'm created to do. This is what I'm called to do. This is why I came to earth. This is why I was born. This is why God gave me these gifts. This is why he gave me these experiences. This is what I'm here for. I'm going to do it no matter what Jezebel says about it…" If you ever made up your mind about that, you would be unstoppable. Knowing this, the Enemy sends threats, intimidation, and insecurity. Maybe you're familiar with this story, but I want to tell you the story really quickly. She said, "By this time tomorrow I'm going to kill you". She can't do it. The proof that she can't do it is that she hadn't done it yet.

I'm going to say that again. The proof that the Enemy can't do to you what he keeps freaking you out that he is going to do to you is that if he could, he would have by now. Thank you, Jesus! "So, you mean he doesn't have any power over me that my thought patterns don't give him"? That's right. Now, Jezebel is a person in history. She's a Phoenician queen. She brought idols of Baal and Asherah, and she really turned the nation away from God when she married Ahab. Look at verse 3. It is not her threat that is the most significant part of this passage, and it's not Elijah's feelings. Verse 3 says, "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life". The way that is worded gives the indication that he thought she actually could do what she said she would do. I don't believe that. I'll show you why.

Now this is just the introduction. This is just something I want you to see before we get to the part of the passage the Holy Spirit wants to illuminate for your understanding today. "When he came to Beersheba…" Do you have the picture? He has had a great victory in the name of God. He prophesied a three-year drought. It didn't rain for three years. He said, "It's going to rain". It did rain after he called down fire from heaven and slaughtered all of the false prophets. And he ran for his life. "When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, Lord,' he said. 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'"

It shows me that if he was asking God, who is all-powerful, "Take my life," he wasn't really running for his life, because if he wanted to die and he thought she could kill him, he would have just stayed. Maybe it would be more accurate to say he was running from his life than to say he was running for his life. Somebody knows exactly what I'm talking about, because you've been running from your life too. Not so much that God didn't give you victories. Not so much that you don't believe he's with you. Not so much that you can't point out times in your past where God came through, but it's just that… Weariness can lead to weakness if not interrupted by worship. The prophet said, "Take my life, Lord; I am no better than my ancestors".

I'm going to give you a contrast here, and you're going to find yourself right in it. You're like, "I'm not a prophet. I don't have anybody trying to kill me. I don't even know why I came out here today. This guy is telling me a story about an epic prophet, and I am just trying to get my kid back in school. I am just trying to pay my rent, and this doesn't relate to me at all". You're wrong. You're so wrong. This dynamic that I see in the story of Elijah's life encourages me that even the people with the greatest faith have to deal with the low moments. Don't let these Instagram Christians fool you. They only post the moments they're proud of. If I could follow them around with a camera just for three hours in the right situations, we would see them in this state as well.

Aren't you grateful the Bible didn't take these parts out? It would have been easy for the Holy Spirit to be like, "Nuh-uh. Don't put that on Elijah. It makes him look bad. That's bad PR for the prophet. If we want the prophet to be in the Bible, he has to be up there on the mountain. You can't put him down there by the broom bush". Look at this guy. You would edit this out of your story too. I'm telling you right now, you would edit this out of your story if you were the editor. See, the Bible cares enough about our low moments to tell us that Elijah prayed he might die. "'I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.' Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said…"

Get ready. This is about to be your favorite verse in the Bible. "Get up and eat". I gave you a verse to shout over right there. "Get up and eat". I think I'm going to memorize that one. You know how people have life verses? "My life verse is 1 Kings 19:5, part B. That's the good part". Now look. "He looked around…" The Holy Spirit showed me this. "…there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water". Man, if I had known running from God was this much fun, I would have started sooner. God sends him a personal chef. Not a DoorDash…a personal chef to the broom bush. "…there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, 'Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.' So he got up and ate and drank". "Strengthened by that food, he [went back and did what God told him to do]". No. "…he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night".

Did you see it, how God had his back even while Elijah was running? Did you see how God fed Elijah even when Elijah didn't have faith? Did you see how God carried you through some dark seasons of your life where you denied that he even existed? Did you see that he followed you right there into that hospital room? Did you see that he followed you right there into that divorce court? Did you see that he followed you right there to that broom bush? God's got your back. Spurgeon preached a sermon. He talked about the turned back. He talked about not God having his back to me but me having my back to God and how God will feed you even when you are being led by your feelings away from his will for your life. There by his head was the provision of God…right by his head…yet it wasn't enough to turn him around, because even though the angel dropped off the provision by his head, Jezebel was in his head.

The angel drops off the food by his head. Jezebel is in his head. Life lesson: be very careful who you let in your head. How many people won't let people walk into your house unless they take their shoes off? So what in the world are you doing on Facebook letting people walk all through…? I'm so sorry. That was so confrontational. I'm just trying to help you to see the discrepancy. A lot of times, we will protect everything more than we protect our head space. Everything. "Don't get in my car with…" Don't get in my car? You can't leave trash in my car, but I will go seek out trash on my phone. I can get a new car, but I only have so much head space. I only have so much, and I need it for my family. I need it for my church. I need it for those who count on me. I need it for my future.

So, no, you can't just walk through my mind with muddy shoes. I'm not being mean. I'm being strategic, because I have a call on my life. He went into a cave and spent the night, 40 days away from the northern kingdom where the wicked king Ahab was still reigning, even though Yahweh God had just sent a shower to prove his presence and revival was on the way. Ah, but the Enemy always wants to threaten you to make you run at the time of revival. I never did anything important for God that the intimidation didn't increase right before I did it. I'm talking about breaking down, crying, freaking out, stomach sickness…all of it…just to try to get me to run from what God is doing. He goes into a cave. How many times have you heard me preach about this cave, Holly? She said, "A few".

How many times have you seen me go into that cave in my personal life? Yeah. Yeah, I know this cave well. It's not so much the physical implications of the cave. We call it a "man cave," and that's supposed to be a good thing, but when a man goes in the cave, the cave of your own counsel… Now the Enemy has you right where he wants you. As many times as I've preached about the cave, there's something that's even more important than where Elijah ended up in the cave, because God called him out of the cave. By the time he got there, the Bible says… Have you ever seen this before in verse 8? It says, "He traveled forty days and forty nights".

Now, the last recorded conversation he has had with God happened 40 days ago. You cannot go 40 days on the strength of your last conversation with God. You cannot go four days on the strength… You can't go four hours. You can't go four minutes. Let me tell you a little secret. When I'm preaching, I'm talking to God about you while I'm talking to you about God. If you could see the conversation in my head… In between each sentence is an internal conversation where I'm saying, "What do they need next, Lord? Of what I've studied, of what I've prepared, what do you want to say next, Holy Spirit? Oh, thank you for that, Lord. That's good. No, I'm going to skip that, because that's me; that's not you, God. Oh, I'm going to say this next, because it might be vulnerable, but it might help set somebody free".

That constant conversation with God is not just for preachers. It's for all God's people. Yes, you. Forty days is too long for you to go. I told you last week you can't let every Sunday be the next time you expect God to speak. You really can't. The way people do church now, it's probably, if we're being honest about it, about every three or four Sundays people come. So, when I say what I preached two weeks ago, some of you all are like, "Was that your Easter sermon? That's the last one I heard". I'm not beating up on you. That's fine…we all get busy…just as long as you are talking to God along the way. The last thing he said to God was, "Kill me. I'm done. That's it. I'm finished. I have had enough, Lord".

God follows him all the way to the mountain he wasn't supposed to be at after feeding him on the journey he wasn't supposed to take. Thank God for his grace. This is how intent God is on getting our attention for what he wants to do, not because we're so important but because what he wants to do is so important. "He replied, 'I have been very zealous…'" Oh, sorry. I missed the best part. I almost left out the best part. Verse 9, part B: "And the word of the Lord came to him: 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" I will resist the temptation to preach that question, because I've done it many times before. I want to show you something different this time. "He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'"

I want you to find the lie in what Elijah said. Find the lie. Let's keep going. Let's see if he's right. I just wanted to quiz you real quick so you could hold on to what you think. He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too". Go to verse 11. "The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave".

Isn't that an interesting phrase? I know this isn't what it means, but it almost reminds me that the whole time he's in the cave there's talk going on that doesn't come from God. The mouth of the cave. The whole time he's in that cave, he's playing a conversation. The whole time he's in that cave, there's a conversation happening in the cave. The whole time you withdraw from people, the whole time you pull back from community, the whole time you skip what God gave you to do… The cave keeps talking. It's an echo chamber. It just bounces around. It just goes back and forth and back and forth. Forty days to get to the cave. He spent the night in there, and the Lord asked the question, "What are you doing here"?

Watch his answer in verse 14. "He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'" Y'all, I'm sorry. I think the tech team screwed up. That's the same verse we read in verse 10. Y'all, put verse 14 up real quick. Who brought a paper Bible with you? I'm looking for a rapture-ready Christian with a paper Bible. You got it? Look at verse 14. They messed it up. They had the same verse on 14 they put on verse 10. Give me a new Scripture person back there.

Oh, that's the right verse? But put verse 10 back up. "He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'" Verse 14: "He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'" You mean God just sent an earthquake, a windstorm, and a fire… God just sent earth, wind, and fire, and you're still singing this same little sad song? I just want you to see it for yourself. We can get stuck in a story. God can do crazy things all around you to show you, "I'm still who you thought I was. I'm still who you claimed me to be on the mountain that you forgot in the cave".

It sounds like to me Elijah has rehearsed this so much he actually can't get out of the conversation even when he comes out of the cave. God can bring you out of a situation, but if it's in your spirit what you rehearsed, you will take a bad spirit into a blessed situation. After all, he had 40 days to practice this speech. He has it down now. With every step he took away from the will of God for his life, away from the purpose of God for the prophet, away from where God showed him miracles… Every step he took away in isolation, Jezebel's voice got louder. Then he just starts leaving out the best stuff in the story. I don't think this is the story he was telling 40 days ago, fresh off the encounter on Carmel.

I think when he started walking away from where God called him he was probably saying some other stuff too. "You know, this is really hard, I'm really tired, and I want to die. I mean, I saw God do great things on Mount Carmel, and I do believe there's hope now that God has sent the rain". With every step he took, rehearsing the wrong story, it reinforced how big his enemy was, how intense his loneliness felt, and it diminished what God had done. That's exactly what Jezebel intended with her threat. This is what the Devil does too. If he can get you to rehearse the wrong story, you will literally think it's true by the time you get to the cave, and then you cave. You don't have the strength to stand. You're not weak; you're weary. With every step he took by himself without talking to the God who brought him this far, the Devil was able to delete different things that could have been in his story. It said Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, and that's why she threatened him.

Ahab goes home and tells Jezebel, "This dude… Don't mess with this dude. You'd better do something about him. He's going to yank your whole idol-worshiping kingdom out of your hands. He's going to send you back packing to Phoenicia. This dude is crazy. He had them cutting up bulls. This dude told them to take water in a drought, four jars of water, pour the water on the wood three times, and then called for fire. This is not exactly a strategic mastermind, but he is a spiritual giant. He was wetting wood and praying for fire". That's what Ahab said. His enemy was doing a better job telling his story than he was. I mean, Ahab wouldn't shut up. He told Jezebel everything Elijah had done. He didn't leave out any details. "And then he got the bulls, then he started taunting them, and then he was like, 'Hey, maybe you should call louder. Maybe Baal is in the bathroom.'"

He told everything Elijah had done. He told how Elijah had told him, in chapter 18, where he said, "There's a cloud the size of a man's hand," then his servant said, "I don't see anything," and Elijah said, "Well, the problem isn't with God's word; it's with your eyes. Go look again". He sent that poor servant… Remember when I had you running up and down the stairs one time preaching this passage? I sent him back and forth seven times, the most cardio he had ever done in his life. I sent him back and forth and talked about the frustration of faith. He told Jezebel all that…Ahab did. The Enemy did, because the Enemy is a better storyteller than most of God's children. He'll tell you stories… Here's how good he is. He will just make up stuff that might happen, and then he will emphasize the hypothetical as you forget the historical.

All Elijah really had to do was give the Devil a history lesson. All Elijah really had to do to stop himself from going in the wrong direction, from sinking into the depths of despair and saying, "I'm suicidal. I don't want to live. I don't want to do this. They're trying to kill me…" All he had to do while he was walking was stop for one moment and tell the story like it really happened. "I thought I was the only one, but my God is Yahweh. I stood on that mountain all alone. I called down fire. I wet that wood, and God came through. I went to the brook called Cherith, and the birds brought me food. I went to the widow's house, and I multiplied her oil".

Why do you keep deleting all the stuff God did and adding stuff the Enemy might do and running from your purpose? That's Jezebel. You can have Jesus in your heart and Jezebel in your head. "Oh, yeah, I'm saved and going to heaven. I have Jesus in my heart". I believe you. I really do. All you have to do is ask him, and he'll come in. That's not the hard part. The hard part isn't getting Jesus in your heart. That's by grace anyway. It isn't like you did so much good stuff he's like, "Okay. Cool. This is a five-star hotel. I'll come live in your heart". No, no, no. Your heart is nasty. Your heart is filthy. Your heart looks like a college dorm room. It looks like a frat house. It has been torn apart. Your house looks terrible, and he came in anyway. That's not the hard part.

If you believe and repent and turn to him, he'll come into your heart, but if Jesus is in your heart and Jezebel is in your head, you won't follow him; you'll follow fear. Fear makes you forget. Every step he takes away, he's telling himself this same story. With every step he takes away from what God has brought him into… Do you know what I mean when I say that or do I need to break it down? It's when God has called you to be really present, really invested, really faithful, really take the next step. Don't be afraid to look like a fool. Just do what he gave you to do. God has called you. He has given you a gift. Every step he takes away from that and rehearses the wrong story, it becomes so solidified that by the time he gets to the cave, he has this story down. Not even the earthquake, the windstorm, or the fire can reverse what he has rehearsed…not even the greatest act of God.

(Come here, Holly.) So God is like, "I know what to do. Since I've got your back, you know… Since I know you, since I made you, since I called you, I'm going to whisper it, because I'm right here. What are you doing here, Elijah"? Elijah is like, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty". Here's why I think Elijah's speech sucks. This is why I think his story is trash. Put it back up, verse 10 or 14. It doesn't matter. They're both the same stupid story, the same stuff over and over again. You know how you get when you get stuck in a story. We used to say in my house, "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it". All right. Let me tell you something new. Your mama didn't tell you this one. That's your story, and you're stuck in it. Even when God blasts the cave apart.

Now there's no real cave for you to stand in, but you're still trapped in that conversation in your head, what Jezebel said. Anyway, he's like, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I…" That is why the story stopped: because of what he started with: I. "I…" Wherever this story goes next, it is going to be confined by the point of view of the narrator. You can't narrate by faith in first person. In fiction they have what's called a third-person narrator. It's when the character isn't saying, "I did this, and I did that, and I went here, and I went there".

So, basically, the way we live our lives. "What do they think of me? What are they saying about me? Why didn't they invite me? Why don't they like me? What's wrong with me? I…I…I…I". Third-person narrator is different. It describes the event. (Remember, Holly has a book club.) Then they have third-person omniscient. This is a narrator that knows stuff they have no business knowing. They say stuff the characters in the story can't see. God said you have been stuck in first-person frustration, but when the third person… You missed it. The Father, the Son, and the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit speaks, when the Spirit tells your story, when the Spirit interprets your situation, when the Spirit quickens you, when the Spirit of God shows you what's up, when the Spirit of God tells you, "I've still got something for you to do," when the Spirit of God speaks… When you speak to God through Spirit and he speaks to you through Spirit, something happens and the angels come.

So, Holly, I'm not going to holler at you. I'm just going to let you know I'm right here with you, and we can talk. We can talk about this. Talk to him. Talk to him about it. Talk to him about what you're afraid about. Don't you go 40 days trying to figure it out in your own strength, starving your soul, starving your spirit, eating junk food, wondering why you're weak. I'll tell you why you're weak. You can't go 40 days telling yourself stuff that starts with I. I'm going to tell you what the kids taught me. They taught me that in video games you have an NPC. Do y'all know this term? The non-playable character. Those are the people who are just there over to the side. They don't do anything. They're just there. Then, of course, you're the main character. Y'all, that's a boring game when everything else in your life is an NPC and you are the only character that matters.

What about what God wants? What about what he wants to do through you? "I have been very zealous…" True. "…for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites…" I know what's wrong with us now. I saw it in the text. I saw what's wrong with me. I saw why I'm stuck in my story. It says I and them. "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. They have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword". Wait a minute, Elijah. You killed 850 of them. "Yeah, I'm not going to tell that part. I'm leaving that part out". Oh! Be very suspicious of any story that has self-pity. Be very suspicious of it. Anytime that little voice inside you starts saying stuff like, "Nobody appreciates you," call it into question. That's probably not true. She's getting fired up now. I'm getting her ready for Reflect.

I want you to know when you go to prepare to preach to the ladies on Friday, God's voice won't be the only voice speaking to you. Jezebel will be telling you stuff too. "Who do you think you are to preach this? You don't have anything to say. Nobody wants to hear from you. You struggle with all the same stuff too, you hypocrite". By the way, Jezebel will be the loudest voice you'll hear, because Jesus will whisper. Watch this. Jezebel is trying to attack you from the outside. Jesus is empowering you from the inside. I feel somebody getting set free today! You will hear a voice behind you, saying… "This is what I gave you to do. This is how I want you to raise those kids. This is how I want you to do great stuff for your husband. Be really nice to him. He's wonderful".

The Lord says stuff like this, just for example. I want you to understand the power of the story you tell yourself. If the story you tell yourself starts with I, it's going to end in insecurity. If the story you tell yourself starts with I, it's going to end in inadequacy. By the way, if the story you tell yourself starts with I, it's going to end in idolatry. You will find yourself leaning on a god that cannot prop you up. I wish Elijah would have said, "Tell Jezebel…" Oh, I can't say it like I want to. If I could say it like I wanted to… "Jezebel, please". That's what I want to say. I can't say it like I want to say it. "Don't you remember what God did the last time you challenged me? You filthy Devil, get your hands off my house! Get your muddy feet out of my mouth! Don't you remember the blood of Jesus, the Lamb that was slain"? This is the best part. "The Lamb that was slain from the foundations of the world".

The Lord said, "I heard your story. It sucks". Verse 15. Let's change the main character. "The Lord said to him…" I prophesy: dry bones hear the word of the Lord. So, now we're switching point of view. Elijah said, "I did… They…" Hey, hey. You decide what part of the story you emphasize. Go back to verse 14. I'm going to make it better. I'm going to fix it up. "I've been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I'm the only one left, and now they are trying…" First of all, everybody isn't trying to kill you, Elijah. One woman is. So stop exaggerating. Who is that word for? Raise your hand. Be honest. Don't lie. God will strike you right now. Exaggerating stuff.

"The whole nation… They're all after me. I have been very zealous". They. I…they. I…they. Where is God in your story? They are trying, but they can't. Quit misquoting Isaiah 54:17. "No weapon will be formed against you". No. "No weapon formed against you will prosper". It will always be formed. It won't work. It won't win. It won't prevail. It will not be the end of you. You'd better sit down, babe. I feel like preaching. I feel like coming for everybody who has been under the spell of Jezebel. Get her out of your head. Get it out of your head. Get it out of your mind. Get it out of your thoughts. Get it out of your meditation. Get it out of your phone. Get it out of your head so you can hear the whisper, and then you will hear a voice behind you.

Watch what God said to Elijah. Verse 15: "Go back the way you came…" God will send certain words in your life that will be turning words. The Lord said I'm preaching to somebody today who might not even be in this room and may not even see this message for years. This is a turning word for you. Go back the way you came, but stop telling the story you've been telling. Some of your suffering is not because of your situation; it's because of your story. "This is why this happened. This is why they did that". No, no, no. Go back the way you came. Here's the brilliance of it. God says, "When you get to the Desert of Damascus, anoint Hazael king over Aram".

That's right. Start walking, and as you go, you'll hear a voice saying, "This is the way". Verse 16: "Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu". You mean God has already worked out what I'm worried about? Spoiler alert: Jezebel is trampled by horses at the end of her life. Elijah is taken up by horses and chariots of fire. Who tells your story? Come on, Lin-Manuel, help me preach. Who tells your story? "I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. I'm standing by the grace of God. I'm going over, not under"!

This is the word of the Lord. Jezebel can't or she would have. Anxiety can't or it would have. Depression can't or it would have. Sin was strong. Jesus was stronger. Greater is he who is in me…

Whisper, Holy Spirit. Whisper the wind words. Whisper to your servants. They're tired, Lord. They want to quit. They want to give up. They're stuck in a story. "Oh, everybody left me because I'm defective. Everybody walked away from me". They can't even see what's in front of them. You already had 7,000 who had not bowed their knee to Baal or whose mouths had not kissed him. O God, we thank you for what we can't see when we're stuck in our own stories. We thank you for being the third person, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who gives life, the Spirit who raises dead, the Spirit who speaks truth, the Spirit who confirms, the Spirit who answers the door when condemnation knocks, the Spirit who sets us free, the Spirit who leads and guides into truth.

The Spirit of God is here. Speak, Holy Spirit. Speak, Lord. Guide them back to the place they belong. They don't belong in a bottle. They don't belong in any kind of bottle…not a bottle of pills, not a bottle of too many drinks, not a bottle of their own battles they can't get out of. No, God. I call them out of the cave right now. Holy Spirit, call them out of the cave. You sent the earthquake. They didn't listen. You sent the fire. They didn't see it. You sent the wind. They still went back inside. Oh, but, Holy Spirit, if you whisper like only you can, "I've already worked out what you're worried about…"

It took Elijah 40 days to get back, just the amount of time it took him to get there, but I have to imagine that with every step he took back to God's assignment he told himself the real story. As you step into a new week, as you step into a new season, as you step into a new challenge, with every step I want you to tell the story of a God who brought you this far and did not bring you this far to leave you. Of the sustaining God, the saving God, the keeping God, the covenant God, the loving God, the kind God. Every step tells a story. "You can't believe what God brought me through. You can't believe where he brought me from. You can't believe how much he delivered me out of. He has been so faithful". So, instead of starting your story with how zealous you've been, why don't you start with how faithful God is.
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