Steven Furtick - Surviving A Season Of Separation
This is an excerpt from: Yes You!
I thought if I had doubt in the car I couldn't go anywhere. I found out you can have doubt in the car, just don't let it drive. I'm confiscating your driver's license. All of the lies you've been telling yourself, all of the limitations you've been telling yourself, all of the labels that have been given you, all the sinfulness that is keeping you from seeing… You can ride, Simon, but you can't drive. You can stay around, but you can't tell me how far to go. You can have a word, but not the last word.
See, this is the season some of us have been in. We've been stuck where we started, but God said something very powerful to me. He said, "Remind them: you're not stuck where you started; you're stuck where you stopped". "I'm a sinful man". But Jesus said, "Don't be afraid of what you were. That's what you were before I stepped into your boat, knowing exactly what you are, knowing exactly what you did, knowing exactly where you've been, knowing exactly what you're not". "I want the boat belonging to Simon. Yes, you! Stinky Simon. Yes, you"!
You're not stuck where you started. "I'm a sinful man". Yeah, but you are also the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. What happened on that cross was more than a physical act. It was a new name! You are only stuck where you stopped. "I just have to be me". Well, there's a new me I need to meet. Oh man! Peter has so much potential; Simon has so much baggage. Peter has so much purpose; Simon has so many problems. They're both in the same boat. So, all week I've been telling Simon, "Sit down. Peter needs to pilot this boat".
That's what Jesus called him. It's Peter. Simon said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," and Jesus said, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, Simon son of John. I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I'll build my church". Let's clap that he gave him a new name. All right. Y'all look in Matthew 16 later today. A minute later, Jesus said, "I have to go to Jerusalem. I'm going to need about three days for y'all to think everything went wrong, and then I'm going to get up out of the ground". Peter said, "Never, Lord. This isn't going to happen to you".
Jesus said something really weird. He has already called him Peter just a minute earlier. Then he looked at him and said, "Get behind me, Satan". "O God! We're going backward. This is the wrong direction. I started as Simon. Then I was Peter. Now I'm Satan? Lord, this is going the wrong way". You've been feeling like you've been going backward lately. Right? I'm speaking to somebody. Maybe not everybody, but somebody. "I feel like I've been going backward. O God, I'm feeling more tempted now. O God, I'm feeling like it's harder now. I'm feeling less sure. I'm feeling less certain. I don't know what to do. I used to know. I don't know anymore". You're not going backward. That's called the sifting. When Jesus got into Peter's boat, he not only knew there were fish in that spot where there weren't a little while ago. He knew about the sin that was in Simon. Simon is only speaking about the sin he knows about. Jesus knows the future ones you didn't even think to include on your résumé, and he still got in.
So, I want to take you for a moment to Passover night before Jesus goes to the cross to die for Simon and James and John and Judas and you too…yes, you. "See there, Preacher, I've been going to church since I was about 6 years old. My mama used to take me over there to the vacation Bible school. I'm not really one of these sinners". Have you ever heard of self-righteousness? That's a pretty good sin too. You can't see it on the surface, but if you let down the nets far enough, there's a Simon inside all of us. Don't let anybody make you feel inferior, like you can't praise God, like you can't worship God, like God can't use you. Don't you ever let them do that to you. At the moment you think Peter is so self-aware… He has seen miracles. He has seen blessings. He has seen healings. Jesus healed Peter's own mother-in-law. Did you know that?
That's why many scholars think Peter denied him. Okay. Just joking. Just checking you out. But he really did. He healed his mother-in-law. He saw him heal blind people by spitting on the ground and putting mud on their eyes. Other times, he'd seen Jesus just speak a word. Any way you put it, Peter had seen a lot, because God was drawing out what was there all along. This is a blessing of what God brings up out of you, but here's something I… I never quite saw it like this before until I was studying for this message called Yes, You!
In Luke 22 (I didn't mean to do a whole series on Peter in one week, but that's apparently what we're doing today), Jesus looks at Simon, who has been named Peter but is still Simon, and says… Do you remember last week? "Simon, Simon". Twice is covenant. "Simon, Simon (who you were, your given name, who you were before I got into your boat)…" "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you". That means to tear apart, to separate the useful from the useless, to separate who were truly the followers of Jesus from those who were just the fans.
Now let's be Peter for a moment. Jesus says to you, "Simon, Simon…" First of all, you're like, "Who are you talking to? I'm Peter. Remember you told me…Cephas, Peter? Dwayne Johnson, the Rock"? He's still calling him Simon because he's still Simon. You're still flesh. Strong faith still has weak moments. He said, "Satan asked to sift all of you". He's talking about the cross. He's talking about the testing. He's talking about those crises of faith we all have. Do I really still believe God is with me? Will I really still follow even through the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering? "He asked to sift all of you as wheat". Then I'm thinking, if I'm Peter, "And you told him no. Right"? "No. I didn't tell him no". But look at verse 32. This is beautiful. "But I prayed for you, Simon. I'm going to let you go through this season of sifting, but not alone. Just like I didn't leave your boat, I'm not going to leave you now. You're going to be sifted…all of you. But I prayed for your weak place, Simon".
It's one thing to pray for Peter, but how many thank God that you have a Savior who will pray for Simon? God said you needed to hear this. "I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail". But didn't it? Didn't Peter deny knowing Jesus three times? Didn't Peter look at the servant girl and say, "I don't even know what you're talking about; I'm not one of them"? "Yes, you". "Not me"! "Weren't you one of his followers"? "No! Not me, not me". He has gone from saying to Jesus, "Even if everybody denies you, I won't," to when they ask, "Weren't you following this guy"? saying, "No, not me". "Wasn't it your boat"? "No, it wasn't mine". Yet Jesus says, "I prayed that your faith would survive the sifting".
Receive this word. You will survive this sifting. I'm not playing with you. I'm prophesying to you. You will survive this sifting. God said, "I'm not going to stop it from happening. I'm going to allow it, but you will survive it". I feel like we should just praise God right now for what we're going to survive and who we're going to be on the other side. Jesus said, "After you have turned back, strengthen your brothers". God said, "Not only are you going to survive it; you're going to have strength to show for it, and I'm going to use it". Yes, Lord, I receive that. That's my word. That's just for you.