Steven Furtick - The Power of Precision
The Scripture I want to use for this series as a window into the principles I believe God wants to teach us is in 2 Kings 13. I don't know if you've ever heard this Bible story. It's a little bit obscure, but sometimes it's in the stuff you skip over in the Bible that God can speak to you in a fresh way, because you don't think you know it already. This would be a little story that I bet a lot of us have never really studied, and it's going to give us, as I said, a window into the way God works in our lives over the next few weeks. I'm excited about it. I preached this passage in the year 2013 around the world. I never preached it in our church. I'm glad I didn't, because when I was preaching it in other places I was skimming the surface, but as I've been studying it, I've been seeing some things that are very significant and relevant to our lives and the season we're in and the opportunities God is calling us to seize.
So I want to share this Scripture with you in 2 Kings 13, verse 14. Rock Hill, are y'all doing okay today? Matthews. I saw our University City location; Lake Norman; Melbourne, Florida; Roanoke, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto, Canada; Uptown; Charlotte; Gaston County; Concord; Blakeney; and Ballantyne. We have a full house at Ballantyne, and when I say "full house," I don't just mean no empty seats; I mean this place is full of expectation. "Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him..." He went down to see him because he wouldn't be around much longer. The window was closing. Elisha was the seer for the nation of Israel, and it was his sight, his divine insight, that gave them their victories, and he's dying. The king, who has just newly been crowned, wants to see the prophet, to see the seer one more time before the window of opportunity closes.
How many know all opportunities are not created equal, and every opportunity has an expiration date? He wants to hear the word of the Lord from Elisha one time before the window closes. So he went down to see him, which was uncommon for kings to do, but he was in a desperate situation. Sometimes it takes a desperate situation to drive you to God for guidance. We haven't heard from Elisha the prophet in a couple of decades, but the window is closing. He's weeping over the loss of this great prophetic figure. He cries out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel"! "What are we going to do without you"? he seems to be saying. "It wasn't our troops that won the battles; it was the Word of God through you that brought us the victory, and we don't know what we'll do without you". Elisha said, "Get a bow and some arrows".
God is about to teach you how to fight, how to fight battles on a spiritual level. You've been fighting on a physical level. That's why you've been losing. That's why you've been tired. The prophet said, "Get a bow and some arrows," and he did so. Then he told him, "Take the bow in your hands". He said to the king of Israel to take a bow and some arrows. "When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands". He gave him guidance, divine guidance from the man of God. Verse 17 is our key verse for the series. He said, "Open the east window..." There's our word. Notice the prophet didn't open it for him. He told him to open it. We've been asking God to give us opportunities. God is waiting for us to seize the opportunities that are right in front of our own eyes. "'Open the east window,' he said, and he opened it. 'Shoot!' Elisha said, and he shot. 'The Lord's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!' Elisha declared".
The arrow of victory over depression. The arrow of victory over addiction. The arrow of victory over rebellion. The arrow of victory over doubt. The arrow of victory over bitterness. The arrow of victory. I see a victory in this house! "You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek". I want to use The Power of Precision for installment one of this Work Your Window series. On your way to your seat, touch your neighbor and say, "I'm aiming at something this year". The power of precision. I feel really sorry for King Jehoash, because I understand his predicament. I was studying what would bring him to Elisha in such a desperate state. To really understand his plight, you have to understand the patterns he inherited. All of the kings that had gone before him... The examples he had seen set in his lifetime were negative examples of half-hearted kings who tried to fulfill their God-given role their own way.
When you're stuck in a predictable pattern, defeat becomes automatic and victory is a strange sight. Now so much oppression has besieged God's people that not only is Jehoash, the king I mentioned in 2 Kings 13, trying to deal with this transitional responsibility shift... Now he's wearing a crown that's a little big for his head. Have you ever had to step into a situation you didn't feel quite prepared for? If you are a father or a mother, you ought to raise your hand. You were so cocky when you were reading baby books. Not only is he transitioning into a new role, but he's going to have to do it without Elisha, because the window is closing. Before the window closes, he goes to the prophet and receives some final instructions. He wants to know what to do next. He's weeping, probably because of Elisha's loss, but also because of the pressure he was under. It wasn't just pressure coming from one enemy. It was pressure coming from the north and the south and the east and the west.
If you've never felt that kind of pressure, maybe you won't relate to Jehoash's predicament, but he feels it closing in from every side. It seems like he's being attacked over here and attacked over there. He's having a hard time at work, and then he goes home and it's hard at home. Sometimes it would be easier to be at work than it would be to be at home. It's one thing when you have pressure coming from one direction, but when it's coming from every side it can get a little overwhelming, to be pressured from every side, to be pressured from every direction. No wonder he's weeping. No wonder he has made the trek, as uncommon as it would be for a king to condescend to a dying prophet. No wonder he showed up to kneel down at his bedside and cry, "My father! My father! What do I do"? "I'm attacked on the right. I'm attacked on the left. I'm attacked in my finances. I'm attacked in my family. I'm under attack internally, externally. It seems like I can't get any relief. What do I do"?
He needs some comfort, but Elisha doesn't give him any comfort. He gives him an instruction, because God is a God of action. He doesn't tell him everything is going to be all right or sing him the fourth stanza of "Amazing Grace". "When we've been there ten thousand years..." Instead he gives him a simple instruction. "Get a bow. Get an arrow". You are not going to experience victory weeping over what is dying. You are not going to see victory in this season if you are stuck in a memory of the last one. Who am I preaching to today? Get your bow and your arrows, because everything you need for victory in this season is within your reach. You have a window of opportunity. Leonard Ravenhill said that the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity. Trouble doesn't last always, and neither does opportunity. I'm trying to teach this to my children. I'm trying to teach them that their brain has plasticity right now, and there are things they can learn while they're young that will be difficult if they wait until they're older.
That's why you have to go to piano lessons. I know you hate it, but you will thank your mom one day, because your fingers will memorize it better with your brain right now than they will later. So seize this opportunity. Learn stuff in school so you won't be stupid later on, Googling stuff you could have found out in fifth grade. You have a window. That's why I don't understand any of y'all who are texting while I'm preaching. Can't you give God 50 solid minutes to speak to you out of a whole 24/7/365? This is your window. He comes to the prophet now. It's an old prophet and a young king, and he says, "Show me what to do". The prophet put his hands on his hands, and he showed him three things that will set the course I want this series to go. I pray to the Lord of heaven and earth that you will give me more than one week to preach this word to you, because as it unfolds it's going to become very practical, but before we get to the practicality I want to show you the power in it. There are three things. It's a very simple parable in action that we see here. It is highly symbolic.
In Eastern literature, you'll see this often. We as Western minds like lists, but God is a God of action. Often when the prophets would prophesy, they would work the word rather than just speaking the word. So it's not a surprise to me that Elisha says, "Get a bow. Get some arrows. Stop crying. Take action". You are not blessed according to the Word of God you hear but according to the Word of God you apply and act upon. Take action. God doesn't give a biology lesson about healing; he heals. He's not just a God of instruction; he is a God of implementation, and execution is everything. So instead of instructing him about what to do, he shows him how to do it. That's what my mom used to say. She would say, "I can show you better than I can tell you". That's what God is saying. He's saying, "Get your bow. Get your arrow. Let's get to work".
I want to work on this word for the next six weeks, and the first thing I want to encourage you to do in accordance with this little pericope... (That's a seminary word. You have to bust out that education every once in a while. It's just a fancy word that means story.) This little story is highly symbolic, but it's highly instructive. The first thing God told me to tell you is view the victory. He told him to open the window. You've been staring at your walls long enough. Open the window. You've been looking at your limitations long enough. Open the window. After he had opened the window, he told him to do something strange. He told him to shoot an arrow in the direction of Aram. Aram was a loose confederation of nations that would only assemble together to fight a common enemy. You might know it better as Syria. You've probably never heard of King Hazael, but he would be similar to Hitler. The way he had oppressed God's people, the way he had decimated the fighting forces of Israel, he seemed unbeatable. The man of God tells the newly minted king, "Open the window, the one that faces your enemy, and get your bow, get your arrow, and shoot your arrow over Aram".
This is important, because the battle hasn't even begun yet, but the prophet wants the king to see the victory before the fight starts. This is why I love being a Christian. I don't fight for victory; I fight from victory. I need you to see this here. The arrow of victory over Aram before you fight the battle. I certainly, as a pastor, want to encourage you to review your victories as regularly as possible. I told Graham on Monday night, "You watch all of the highlights you can of this Clemson national championship, because they might not beat 'Bama like this again. This might be once in a lifetime". The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity. In fact, my son Graham has no frame of reference. Last year the Clemson Tigers and the Carolina Panthers were in the championship, and I had to explain to him, "This is not normal. This is like a lunar eclipse, man. This might not happen much, so enjoy it while you can".
When God gives you a victory... You have to celebrate your wins where you can get them. Even if God does small things in your life, don't just climb to the top of the mountain and climb back down. Do a little dance while you're there. If you're going to climb, why not celebrate? Graham has been watching all of the highlights of Dabo Swinney's Clemson Tigers and Deshaun Watson's championship game. I'm glad he's doing it. I want my son to learn how to review victories, because there's going to be enough hard stuff in life for you to replay your regrets and not review your victories. I have to do this. Occasionally, something good will happen to me, and if I'm not quick to celebrate it, I'll forget it. We released a song this week on iTunes. Quick little plug. I want to take a moment and tell you about There Is a Cloud, releasing March 17, 2017. You can download it on iTunes or wherever music is sold. (Sorry about that. I had to work my window.)
We released the single this week, "There Is a Cloud," and I logged on to iTunes and saw it was number one on the Christian charts. I'll tell you what I did. I took my phone, and as quickly as I could I took a screenshot of that chart position, because I might not be number one for long, but I was number one for a minute. Every once in a while, you have to take a screenshot and say, "I don't know what I have to fight next, but right now I'm happy". I have that screenshot. I don't know. Hillsong might knock us off the top, but I have a screenshot. You have to take a screenshot. Your next battle might be tough, so you have to get your victories really embedded in your spirit to give you the strength and the courage to fight. Elisha was not telling the king to look back on a battle; he was telling him to look forward to a battle as if it had already been won. View your victory. You have to see it before you can seize it. To see it before you can seize it, you have to see it before you see it. That sounded kind of confusing, didn't it?
Hebrews 11 says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen". Close your eyes real quick. I promise nobody is going to take your purse. This is a safe place. We have great security. I know this concept has been abused, and people use it for all kinds of purposes, but I want you to visualize your victory this year. I want you to see yourself according to what God has spoken over your life. I want you to see yourself healed, see your heart whole, see yourself passionate, see yourself fulfilling your purpose, see yourself powerful and mighty in God, see yourself pulling down strongholds, see yourself free from pornography, free from drugs, free from alcohol, see yourself loving, see yourself kind, see your marriage in a different light. You have to see it before you see it. We should understand as Christians how to see the unseen. We should understand more than anybody the hope of an empty grave.
Sometimes you have to see resurrection while you're still hanging on a cross. Sometimes you have to see liberty while you're still in bondage. Sometimes you have to see joy while you're still weeping over the dying body of Elisha. My faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. I see an arrow flying over Aram. I am more than a conqueror through him who loved me. Why don't you take 17 seconds and give God a pre-praise for every victory he's going to bring to pass in your life this year by his Word? This is called a preview praise. This is when you see yourself in the future stronger than you've ever been, wiser than you've ever been, and you rejoice in advance like it's already done. I got a preview. I win. I see an arrow flying over Aram. Everybody has an arrow. Everybody has something oppressing you, a state of mind, a situation in life, emotional dysfunction. I could spend three minutes with you and guess your Aram.
I've been pastoring people a long time. I know I look 23, but I have experience. I've met crazy people, rich crazy people, skinny crazy people, poor crazy people, fat crazy people, black crazy people, white crazy people, Latino crazy people. I know crazy when I see it, and I'm looking at 27,000 crazies in the church today. Everybody has an Aram. Why are you cheering about that? It's awkward. You're cheering because you're crazy. It's that thing... View the victory, but focus the fight. He told him which window to open, which signified which battle he needed to fight. A lot of us aren't winning anywhere because we're trying to win everywhere. Y'all don't remember this scene, but Rocky told Paulie... He said, "I see three of them out there". He was fighting Drago in Russia on Christmas Day. You need to know your history. Paulie told him... I think it's a word for somebody. He said, "Hit the one in the middle". I've got it coming from the north and the south and the east and the west, and I don't know where to fight first. Any IT department will tell you that you can't do any work if you have too many windows open. Open one window at a time. View your victory, but clarify the conflict.
Here's a prayer to pray. Pray this prayer. "God, show me where to shoot". Because action without aim leads to exhaustion. A lot of people go into a new year not with a sense of apathy but with a sense of activity that is aimless, and they are out of arrows before February starts. Seventeen resolutions. Can't keep one. Too many windows. I could preach on the power of priority. It's not just that the prophet showed him the victory; he showed him which one needed to be next. God wants to speak to you if you will get with him. The king went down to the prophet, and the prophet pointed not only at the victory, the arrow flying over Aram. Everybody in here has an Aram, and everyone has an arrow. Are you more focused on your Aram or your arrow? A lot of us get so focused on the Aram we're facing we lose sight of the arrow of victory. We become discouraged in the fight because we have no focus. Watch the arrow.
If you look at Aram, you'll always be intimidated. If you look at how big the enemy is, you will always lose strength, heart, and courage, but if you'll watch the arrow, if you'll look for the activity of God, he will show you where to shoot. He will show you what to work on. You can't win everywhere at once. I've had to learn this the hard way. I can be a very arrogant person. I can think I can handle stuff I can't handle and do more than I can do...until I collapse. It was in a ministerial meltdown that Pastor Craig taught me the most valuable lesson he ever taught me, and he has taught me a lot. He said, "You've spent your whole life trying to figure out how to win. Now you need to decide where to win. Where does God want you to win"?
I'm asking you where, Concord; where, Lake Norman; where, Blakeney... Where does God want you to win? Because you can't win every battle at once. Aram wasn't the only enemy; it was the next one. I can't win everywhere at once, and I'm going to tell you something else. I can't please everybody. I have to let some people down in order to aim my life in the direction of my destiny. I can't please everybody. Can you imagine what kind of pastor I would be if I tried to please everybody? How many times would I have to change clothes during one sermon if I wanted to please everybody? I can't please everybody. I'm not aiming to. If I please God (and Holly) I'm good. (Did you notice the footnote?) I'm aiming at something. I'm not just shooting every direction this year. I'm aiming at something. That means I have to be realistic not only about where I want to win but where I might have to lose. I don't want to hurt your feelings, but you might not get around to all of it this year. Okay? You might lose some this year. You might not get to eat organic and get out of debt this year. You might have to save a little bit so you can afford to shop at Whole Foods.
So get the money, then get the apples. Are you following me? You might not get to take the promotion while your kids are young and be at the house like you want to. You might need to make a little less, because the window of more money will be there in 10 years, but the window of childhood is closing. You might have to make some decisions to win, to aim. You might not get to take Tina to every dance competition. You might have to teach her that we go to church on the weekend. He said, "Shoot out the east window". God, show me the right direction to aim my arrows this year. I don't want to waste my time. I don't want to waste my money. I don't want to waste my thoughts. I don't want to waste my pain. I want to apply myself in the direction of my destiny. I believe God is going to show us some stuff in this series. He's going to show you how to point your life in the direction of your purpose. That's going to be a good week when we get to that. People, please.
This is just the introduction. I have some stuff to show you from the Word of God. I hope you're going to be here every week of this series. Make it your aim. You show up to other stuff consistently. I don't feel angry when I'm saying this. I just feel accurate. I just feel like this is exactly what you need to hear. Take the bow, open the window, shoot. Let's go through the passage one more time. He said, "Get a bow. Take the bow. Open the window". When he shot the arrow out the window, he promised him victory. The progression of the text is a little unsettling at this point. What happens next is what happens in a lot of our lives when church is over and we have to apply what we have heard. My first point was view your victory, and I want you to see it and shout about it. That's important.
My second point was focus the fight, because you can't win everywhere at once, and you have to decide what God has called you to do. You don't have to raise your kids like they raise their kids. You raise your kids the way God shows you to raise your kids. You have to focus the fight for your fight, for your battle, for your calling. It might not look like everybody else's. But can I tell you something? Jehoash's real fight was not against Aram. Even though they were his external enemy, his biggest fight was not out the east window. Your biggest fight is never out there. After the prophet told him to open the window and get a victory in view, shoot the arrow in the direction of his next battle, focus his attention, focus his energy, focus his effort, the next thing he tells him to do is what you must do if you're going to move past intention into implementation and go from seeing it to seizing it. "Then he said, 'Take the arrows...'" The same ones that were just flying. "...and the king took them. Elisha told him, 'Strike the ground.' He struck it three times and stopped".
I heard the prophet say, "Get". I heard the prophet say, "Take". I heard him say, "Open". I heard him say, "Shoot," and I heard him say, "Strike," but I didn't hear him say, "Stop". I hear God saying to someone, someone who has taken the arrow in your hand and you've kind of half- heartedly done it and kind of messed around with it and kind of tried at it and stopped short... This is what I used to preach. I had this sermon, and when I would get to this point I would take my microphone. I preached this all over the world. I preached it in Australia; London, England; and South America. I would get to this point, and I would demonstrate. I'd take the microphone and start pounding it on my Bible. I'd pound that microphone. I was the most feared preacher for every sound technician in the world. I'm not going to do that illustration here, because this microphone is expensive, and I pay for it. He stopped short, and he stopped striking, and the prophet... Verse 19: "The man of God was angry with him and said, 'You should have struck the ground five or six times.'" In other words, "I didn't say stop".
You're good at starting stuff, but the moment your hands get tired and the ground gets hard, you stop. What a terrible place to end your year. "You should have kept striking; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times". Look at verse 20. "Elisha died and was buried". The window closed. "You should have". I don't know about you, but I don't want to look back on any more seasons of my life thinking about what I should have and what could have. This year, I will work my window. Let me tell you how I know. I have determined the decision in advance. Quitting is not an option. It's not an option. It's not an option for me to stop short. It's not optional. I have determined the decision. I don't wait until I get tired to decide if I'm going to do it.
I decided it in advance. I pre-decided it. I pre-cided, pre-decision. Before I get into temptation, I determine my response. Before I get discouraged, I determine to keep going. It's the power of pre-cision. I have aimed in the direction of completion, and I will not stop until it comes to pass. Somebody give him 17 seconds of praise! I'm aiming at it. Take aim; take action. Come on, the arrow is flying. Take aim; take action. Tell your neighbor, "Take aim; take action". My God is fighting for me. I cannot be defeated. Take aim! Stand to your feet. It is not what happened in the air that determined the outcome of the battle; it's what happened on the ground. The arrow flew over Aram. The victory was his, but because he stopped, he lost. Over the next... What do you think we should do? Four weeks? Five weeks? Six weeks? We can't stop on six. Shall we do seven weeks? I'm going to tell you what.
I'm going to preach this until your window is open, if I have to bust it open with a rock. We're going to get this thing open this year. We're going to get your focus off of your wishes and put the Word to work in your life. Many of us already know enough to do it. If we would do what we knew, we could win the battle. It wasn't what you don't know. He told him the window, and he told him what to do, but when the prophet took his old hands... Some think Elisha could have been 110 years old at this point. When he took his hands, his old tired hands, his calloused hands that had worked miracles... Remember Elisha was an action man. He's the one who told the kings to dig the ditches in the valley where they saw no rain, because if you will do it, if you will do what you can do, God will do what you can't do.
Listen to me. I've never felt so strong and so clear in my spirit about what to say. God said it's his arrow, but it's your effort. It's his victory, but it starts with your vision. So we're going to drive it down. He said you should strike five or six times. That's what we're going to do over the next several weeks. Every week you come, it's going to be a principle. I'm going to call them my six power windows. None of this. Come on, somebody. Roll it down. Six power windows. I want you to come, and I want you to tune in online. I want some of you to make a trip and come be with us live. Make a road trip out of it. Make a weekend out of it, because this is our open season. Precision. Take aim. "God, what is it you want me to focus on this year"? We're going to sort that out. Take action.
"What do you want me to do"? Do it like it's already done. Mom, is it true? I used to walk around with my Walkman all around the neighborhood listening to cassette tapes of Pentecostal preachers. I went to a Baptist church, so I had to pull out my cassette tapes to get some real preaching. (I'm just kidding. That was a joke. I went to a Baptist school. Leave me alone.) I would envision the day I could preach to people. They found a tweet from Deshaun Watson. (I'm sorry to keep talking about Clemson, but I have to work my window.) Four years ago, as a high school junior... Google this. I promise you it's the truth. Google will verify what I'm saying to you. He tweeted as a junior in high school, "Me. In a National Championship game. I'm just waiting on that moment".
Graham is reviewing the victory, because he previewed the victory. He didn't just wait for it; he worked on it. We're going to get to work this year. Hands lifted all over this place. The Spirit of God is here. Pray it out loud. "Lord, show me where to shoot. Show me where to focus". Now let's make some declarations. "I declare the victory of God over every weakness in my life. I declare the arrow of victory over Aram, over fear, over anxiety, over my past. I declare my potential shall come to pass. This is my year"!
High-five somebody and tell them, "Take the shot"! You'll make it if you take it! What the enemies of Jesus didn't know as he was hanging on the cross is that the cross was always pointing toward the empty tomb. Every crucifixion points to resurrection. Every defeat points toward victory. Lift your hands one more time. Why don't you point your praise in the direction of your promise? Come on, point at it. Call it out. Call your shot this year. "This year I will. This year I win. I declare it in advance. I am a victor. I am an overcomer. I am, I am, I am, I am! I will, I will, I will, I will"!