Steven Furtick - A Strategy To Win The Battle Within
Part of this being brave is about learning to discern in your life between a genuine concern and a needless anxiety. I would say to you that sometimes you can interpret the same event in both of those ways. You can turn a genuine concern into a needless anxiety by the way you approach it, because it's the same word. Sometimes you go through a situation, and you deal with it, and you handle it with strength. You're brave about it. That's a genuine concern. Sometimes you go through a situation, and you're tied all up in knots about stuff you can't do much about anyway. That's a needless anxiety. Wisdom will show you the difference…the difference between needless anxiety and genuine concern. Here's how you can do it. Be anxious for no thing.
I was talking to a friend one time. (This was many years ago.) He spilled orange juice on his computer while he was on the phone with me one morning, but he was so calm about it. He said, "Oh, hang on a second". He was gone a long time on the phone. I said, "What happened"? He said, "I just spilled a whole glass of orange juice on my computer. It's not working anymore". I said, "And you're not using profanity"? He said, "No, it's nothing but a thing". This guy isn't a billionaire. He said, "It's nothing but a thing. If they can fix it, they fix it. If they can't, they can't. It's nothing but a thing". I thought, "I want that". Do you remember that phrase? We used to say it a lot when I was coming up. We used to say, "Ain't nothing but a thing". I think Paul is trying to get us to see here in Philippians 4, "Be anxious for no thing".
Be concerned about the state of your soul. Be concerned about the state of your children's souls. Be concerned about God's work in the world. That's a genuine concern. But when it comes to the things, you have to learn to look at some things in your life and just say, "That ain't nothing but a thing. It's nothing but a thing". Let me show you this in Romans. Paul is talking in Romans about some pretty heavy stuff. He says in verse 31 of Romans, chapter 8, "What, then, shall we say in response to these…"? Say it out loud. Every location, say it out loud. "…in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us"? That's what gives me courage sometimes when I feel opposed.
Well, if God is on my side, I'm good. If he is not, I'm in trouble. It really doesn't matter what they're saying about me. It just matters what God sees in me, because if he is for me, who can be against me? Take a number. Line up. It won't matter, because I'll still be standing. You can have that confidence as God's child. It's not cocky; it's just confident. That's what Paul is saying. He said, "It's just a thing". Look at the next verse. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things"? It's nothing but a thing. Skip to verse 37. He starts listing some things. He says, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us". "What kind of things are you talking about, Paul? Spilling orange juice on the computer? Big deal". No. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons…"
This is heavy stuff! "…neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor…" Paul says, "Let me just put a blank here so you can fill it in". "…nor anything else in all creation…" Bankruptcy. Joblessness. Homelessness. Addiction. Whatever. "…will be able to separate us…" Oh I love it! "…nor anything else…" Do you see it? "…nor anything else…" Nor anything else! Reach everybody you can reach and tell them, "It ain't nothing but a thing. It's just a thing". Be anxious for no thing. I want you to do that this week now when you're faced with something. If it doesn't fit in Paul's list, that's what the blank is for. That's what the "anything" is for. It's nothing but a thing. Shift over from needless anxiety to genuine concern, controlling what you can and trusting God where you can't.
Now if you have thoughts that torment you…thoughts of insecurity, thoughts of shame, thoughts of ridicule, thoughts of your past, thoughts of regret…this is the verse I'll tell you to memorize right here, because it will obliterate some of the opponents you've been losing to all your life if you activate this verse and act on it. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul says something about thoughts. He says, "We demolish arguments…" What's that? Anything that contradicts what God says. That's the kind of argument he is talking about here. When God says you're one thing but you feel like another, demolish that argument. When God has promised you one thing but another thing is happening in your circumstance or your situation or your peripheral vision, demolish that argument. But not just the arguments. He says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension…" Do you see it? "…that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ". "…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ".
Back to Philippians. Is it cool if we jump around? Just back and forth really quickly. You don't even have to flip. They're doing all the work for you. This is like somebody cracking the crab legs for you and dipping it in butter and putting it in your mouth. Look at this. Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8. "Finally, brothers and sisters…" This is going to be very important. "…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about [reckon, calculate, and evaluate] such things". If I were to ask you a question today…What is holding you back from being what God has called you to be, from accomplishing the dreams he has given you, from changing the parts about you that you don't like and he doesn't either? If I were to ask you what is holding you back, no doubt about it, you would begin to list things, people, events, financial situations, health conditions. Things!
Here's what I've learned. It's really not the things that are holding you back, because somebody on your same row is dealing with the same thing you're dealing with, only they're doing it with courage, and they're doing it with faith, and they're doing it with victory, and they're doing it with an overcoming spirit. You're doing it in fear, and you're doing it in weakness. It's not the thing that makes a difference. You could list the same things two different people. It's not the thing that holds you back. Quit making excuses for your apathy. Quit making excuses for the broken places in your life. It's never the thing that holds you back; it's how you think about the thing that holds you back. Now I'm getting there. Paul says if you will think about the right things, you can go through some hard stuff, but you'll still be standing.
Now here it is. Here it is. Most of us never stop to think about what we're thinking about. We never stop to think about the things we're thinking about. Paul says if you want to live a life that is characterized by faith and courage and steadfastness, and if you want your children to see something in you that makes them want to love God, and if you want to make some kind of difference in the world, if you want to stand firm, you have to think about such things. What things? Whatever is true. Whatever is noble. Whatever is lovely. You have to pick the things that bring God praise and pick the things that empower your spirit and pick the things that give you a perspective of gratitude and think about such things. I need you to touch everybody around you and tell them, "Hold that thought".
That's what we need to learn to do. It's hold that thought. I want you to think about the spies inside of you, these thoughts that go out and survey, even as I'm preaching, what God could do through you and what God is calling you to do and the dream God put inside of you and all this promise God has given us in Christ, for Ephesians says, "He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ". Your thoughts are the spies that determine whether or not you take a step. I love Caleb. "Then Caleb silenced the people…" "Shut up, y'all. Shut up. Shut up". That's an inside joke. "Shut up, y'all". "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it". We should, for we can. We should, for we can. They saw the same reality as the other 10 spies, but they believed a different report. We should because we can. The other spies were talking about, "We can't, so we won't," but the same spies who went on the mission to say, "We can't, so we won't," ended up dying in the desert.
Your faith is dying in deserts, not because of your enemy but because of the way you're looking at your enemy. You're looking at it wrong. That's the problem. You're looking at it wrong. If you are afraid, the thing you fear will come to pass. If you feel weak, you'll be weak. If you feel small, you'll be small. We can because we should. "I would if I could". No, no, no. You could if you would. You could if you would. The men who had gone up with them said, "We can't attack those people. They're stronger than we are". Wait a minute. Stronger? When did God or Moses command you, Mr. Investigative Reporter, to give your opinion and use your measuring stick? Your scale is broken. When you start weighing yourself rather than weighing God's Word, you'll always stop in weakness and doubt. Verse 32. "And they spread among the Israelites a bad report…"
See it? A bad report. I can't find anywhere in the passage where they got bad news, but here is what fear will do. Fear will turn good news into a bad report. "Congratulations on your new job". "Yeah, it's just real stressful, man. I didn't plan on working on the weekends". "Wait a minute. I was congratulating you. I thought it was good news that you got a promotion". "Well, it is, but the people who work for me… Man, it's just crazy. I just never knew he was overseeing so many people. I have my kid over there in school, and I don't know… Now we can afford to keep him in, but I can't go to any of his soccer games". "Never mind. I'll never congratulate you again". What kind of report do you bring into people's lives? It says they spread a bad report. Some of y'all… I'm going to solve the problem. This is why nobody wants to go on a second date with you. Too much. They don't need to know all about your chronic back pain on the first date.
For some of y'all, this is why nobody asks you how you're doing anymore. The last time they asked you, it took two hours, and they had to be somewhere. They didn't really mean, "How are you doing"? They were just being polite. The report. Ask the person next to you, "Do you have a good report? Because I need one". There is enough bad news in the world, y'all. What I need is somebody who will not turn good news into a bad report, but I need a believer with the kind of faith that can turn bad news into a good report. Say it. I want to clear it up. The news is not the report. The news is what happened, but the report is what you make of what happened. My God. The news is the issue. The report is your interpretation of the issue, and I don't always have to have good news to have a good report. God wanted me to tell you that he is surrounding whatever is surrounding you. Oh God. They don't get it yet. They don't get it yet. We want God's help to keep us from hardship, so we want God to surround us from the inside out. "God, don't ever let anything bad happen to me. God, don't let any need ever come into my life. God, don't ever let me go through anything".
See, we think faith is supposed to insulate us. We think faith just stands around us, and God stands there and never lets any hardship hit our lives. See, that wouldn't make sense because if he surrounded you from the inside out, you would think it was you who was strong. You would think it was you who was unlimited. You would think it was you who had what it took. You would think it was you who was holding your life together. You would think it was you who knew. You would think it was you who was smart. You would think it was you. Psalm 121 says, "I lift my eyes to the hills from which cometh my help". Are you getting this, buddy? "My help comes from the Lord, the maker…" Oh my God. "…of heaven and earth". Y'all ought to be clapping right now. I know I told you to hold hands, but you ought to clap.
See, I'm preaching so good even my enemies are clapping because this is truth, y'all. Jesus. Jesus. He said, "I'm surrounding…" There are the angels. "…what is surrounding you". Everybody say, "See it through". See, if I tell you God's help is here, some of y'all are going, "Yeah, but I don't see it". Do you ever feel like that? "I don't see it. It sounds good, but I don't see it. I don't see it". I feel this way all the time. People will tell me something is awesome, but I don't see it, like in an art gallery. Holly likes to go see… We've been all over the world, and she'll take me to these art galleries to tour and stuff. They'll be talking about all the impressionists and the different symbolism and all that. I'll stand there and nod. I want to look sophisticated. I don't want to look like I came from the country, but the fact is I don't see it.
Do you remember those Magic Eye posters they used to have? You don't remember. You're too young for all that. Do any of y'all remember those Magic Eye posters they used to have that had the 3D image? You stared at it, and now all of a sudden, fairies pop out from the thing, or rainbows or dolphins pop out from the thing. I stared at those things I think for probably about a period of 18 months. I would stare at them. I think I did permanent vision damage to myself trying to stare at them, but I never saw it, and I think if you did see it, I don't think you did. I think you're a liar. I'm not trying to judge you. I'm just trying to say sometimes you don't see it.
People tell me all the time, for instance, that soccer is an exciting sport. "Oh, it's fantastic. It's exciting". I tried to watch it. I don't see it because I think you have to score more than two points or goals or whatever they call it in soccer. I just don't see it. Get your hands back together. Come on. Join hands. See, I'm telling you that God wants to show you his strength and that he wants to show you his supply, but you might have to see it through your weakness. That's the revelation. Your help comes from the hills. The hills surround the city. God is in the hills. He wants you to look past your hardship to see his help. See it through. God's help is here, but you have to see it through.