Steven Furtick - We Are We Label
Last week the message was Keep It 100. I want to go even deeper this week. In order to do that, let's go right back to Romans, chapter 4. I'm excited to teach God's Word to you. God has been speaking to me. Romans 4:16: "Therefore, the promise comes by…" Oh, y'all stand up. Y'all are too sleepy sitting for the Scripture. I thought y'all were mature enough to be enthusiastic sitting down, but I was wrong. Stand up. "Therefore, the promise comes by faith…" So, we know what comes, and we know how it comes. The promise is what comes. Faith is how it comes. We don't know when it comes. That's the hard part: when we're waiting on God by faith to do something he promised by grace. We spoke about that last week from this passage, how Abraham was 100 years old when he finally saw everything God had spoken to him. So it's not too late.
"Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed…" If it's by human effort, then it's going to depend on my behavior on any given day. If it's by grace, then it is dependent on God's character, which never changes. I like what you said during the offering. That was good. He said, "God is not changing, so if you encounter him, you must change". You need to preach that whole thing before the next time I see you. I might preach it today. I might steal that on the spot and act like I prayed about it. "…so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham". Which is a strange faith. He had to set out on a word from God without God giving him a map or a destination. All God said was, "Go to the land that I'll show you".
So, the faith of Abraham is the faith to keep going not knowing. "How is this going to turn out? When's this going to turn around? Is it going to be all right? Is it going to lift? Am I ever going to feel better? Is it going to clear up this time? What's the doctor going to say next Tuesday"? The faith to keep going not knowing. That's the faith of Abraham. It was also the faith to put his son Isaac on the altar and believe that God was able to raise the dead. The faith of Abraham. It was also the faith to make a mistake and still have God move him into the right position. The faith of Abraham. It's a complicated faith, but it's simple. Look at what it says about Abraham.
"He is the father of us all. As it is written: 'I have made you a father of many nations.' He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'" Let's lift right there from that verse: "Abraham in hope believed and so became".
Hey, you all know what? In the spirit of keeping it 100, I need to admit something to you. There was a time about five years ago that I had gotten so obsessed with preaching sermons I thought were impressive I lost my focus on preaching sermons that would be impactful. Through a series of confirmations and impressions God gave me, I realized I needed to spend a little bit more time on preaching from my heart, not just from my head, to really flow with the Holy Spirit. I wanted to be a preacher who was more Spirit-led than mentally dependent. That doesn't mean I don't want to think through what I'm going to say. God knows I don't want to get up here like I'm naked on the first day of school, talking about, "Uh, what do y'all want to preach about today? Anybody got a Scripture? What do y'all think that means? I don't know. Let's pray". But I want to be in the flow in the moment with the Lord so that whatever he speaks, I agree with that, because if I come into agreement with what he speaks, his authority will be behind it. If I say what I think, I have no divine backing.
So, to be in the flow with God means he could give me something to say in the moment that wasn't in my notes. That's why when I'm up here I bring notes, and I don't look at them. I bring them like… What was the character who had the blanket? Was it Linus? I bring these messy little notes up here, and when I tell you these notes are illegible and unusable… I mean, I don't even know what I wrote when I wrote it. It's just therapeutic to write something down. Really, I'm just trusting in God. Can I keep it 100 with you? I need God. I mean, I have a structure. I have an outline. I have a Scripture. In fact, I have more Scriptures than I could preach, but I need God. This is what I want to tell you about that, because I'm not really trying to teach a preaching seminar here today.
How many of you do not want to be a preacher? Right. That's a lot of you who do. I was shocked by that. Trust me. Don't do it. No, it's great. It's the greatest privilege in the world, and it'll give you a stomach ulcer, so there's that. The thing I had to do to become what I wanted to be, which is a more Spirit-led preacher… The last thing I do after all the study preparation and seeking God, whether I go on a walk or take a cold shower or lay on my face or listen to "Jireh" over and over until God speaks, or listen to Metallica if "Jireh" won't get the job done…start preaching about wrath… Whatever it takes, I want to say what God wanted me to say.
I really don't need you to feel good when I get done. I just need to feel like I obeyed God. Even if you left and felt good and I didn't obey God, I wouldn't feel good when you left, and that's not fair that you feel good and I feel bad because I didn't listen to what he told me to say. So, if we pray for Bobby, we pray for Bobby. If I say something crazy, I say something crazy. If they meme me, they meme me. You remember Esther said, "If I perish, I perish". If they cancel me, they cancel me. It has to be that I stay in alignment with God so I feel good about myself when you're not around. So, in wanting to be a more Spirit-led preacher, there's something that began to happen. It was that I spent more time praying, studying, reflecting, and meditating on the Word of God. (I'm going to show you why this is important to your life in a moment.)
The last thing I do before I preach is decide what the title of the sermon will be. It used to be the first thing I did. "Okay, I'm going to preach about this. I'm going to preach about grace, and I'm going to call it this, and here are the notes, and here are the points". But as I wanted to be more Spirit-led, I had to change certain procedures and processes. I'm not saying you should do this. Like I said before, this isn't really even about preaching, but this is the method that really helped me. I started deciding what to call it right before I preach it. Here's the reason for that. The moment I decide what the message is called, it determines what the focus is going to be, and everything else I was going to say doesn't apply anymore. So, the moment I label it, I limit it. I don't want to limit it while God is still giving it.
Do you see where I'm going? If I decide too soon "This is what I think it is," I might miss what God intends it to be as it is still unfolding. So, I don't give a title Saturday at 6:00 p.m. I don't give all of my Scriptures Saturday at 8:00 p.m. As a matter of fact, right before we preach, sometimes right as we're singing, the Lord will give me one more Scripture. I'll run back, make sure everything is zipped up, buttoned up, tidied up, pulled up, tightened up, and everything is good. Boom. "And here's another Scripture". I don't want to cut God off while he's still talking, lest I miss his intention because I have my own agenda. I don't want to say too soon, "Okay, God. This is what I'm going to speak on. This is how I'm going to speak on it," and God is like, "That's not even true. That's just what you knew when you sat down to study. What if I want to show you something you don't know when you sit down to study? What if I want to show you something you don't know while you're reading your Scripture to your congregation? What if I want to speak something? What if I want to say something to somebody's soul that you were too stupid to put down in your notes"?
See, the Spirit of God is smarter than I am, so he can give me stuff while I'm preaching if I'm open to it, but if I'm closed to it, if I label it, I will limit it. I have a system for this. Are you ready? This is a really high-tech system. I have a black folder, and I have yellow notes, and then I have some Post-it Notes. I have so many of them so it's cheap to change the title. I don't want to put it on a parchment where it's expensive. I don't want to make somebody design a title that I'm going to change anyway, so I write it myself, and as soon as I get done, I stick it on the folder. Boom! And I preach right there. That's what I do. So, right before I came out today… I do this every week. (I know y'all care a lot about this. This is really interesting stuff. It's fascinating.)
The last thing I do is label it, because the moment I label it, I limit it. Yeah, I might have an idea. I might have a path. I might have a hunch. I might have a lead, but I don't know what it is until God is ready for me to deliver it. That's what I want to call this sermon today: We Are, We Label. I think a lot of our labels God hates. When I say label, you probably think about a label that's on some food or a label that's on some medicine. Labels are great for products. Don't get me wrong. They have ibuprofen in the bathroom, and the way I know it's not Tic Tacs is because of what it says on the label. I appreciate a label when it comes to keeping me from taking the wrong medicine. I appreciate labels… When Holly puts leftovers in the fridge, she'll often make a little note and put a little Post-it on the note with a little heart, and it will say who the food is for.
Elijah pays no attention when that says, "For Dad," so now we specify. "Do not touch. Do not move. Do not look at this food. This is for Steven Furtick". Now, when I say God hates labels, I need to counteract that and balance it by saying that, as humans, we love to label. We can't live without labels. We'll be popping Tic Tacs and wondering why our head still hurts.
This one girl one time came on the van we were traveling with, the ministry team, and she was eating Fritos. She said, "I hate the way these taste". Somebody asked, "Why are you eating them"? She said, "I'm trying to be healthy". We tracked that back. We found out that somebody sometime told her that Fritos are healthier than Doritos. She thought the healthy alternative to Doritos was called Fritos. When she was asked, "How long have you been substituting Doritos, which you love, with Fritos, which you don't like, thinking it was better for you than it really was?" she said, "Since I was 9". She was in college at the time. I thought that was so sad that she forfeited 10 years that she could have been enjoying the nacho cheesy taste of her beloved Doritos for the Frito snack, which actually, when we read the label, had a higher fat content than the Doritos, which she loved.
She could have just been killing Doritos the whole time. Somebody deprived this girl of her Doritos. I pray she worked through it once we told her the truth, because, for me, I would need therapy. A decade without Doritos because one person planted a seed of deception in your mind and said, "This is better for you". You never checked it, and you never read the label. It was on the label! It said on the back of Fritos, "This will make you fat…really fat". It was on the label. So, I appreciate a label when it's by the FDA or something like that. (Please do not send me messages about "The FDA is a conspiracy of the Illuminati and came from Star Wars". I don't want to hear any of it.)
I'm saying a lot of the times in our lives we will label something and limit someone while we are still figuring out what it is. A lot of what God speaks over your life never happens, not because of your limits but because of your labels. There were those in the early church who wanted to limit salvation to those who were circumcised. Paul says, "I hate your labels, because in Christ there is no longer slave nor free, male nor female, Gentile or non-Gentile". God doesn't run around labeling stuff like you label stuff. The difference between you and God is you label things you didn't even make. You try to label stuff that doesn't even belong to you. We try to judge other people. I'm really bothered about it, and I don't want to talk about it much, because I get angry, and I get unfiltered when I think about it. I hate how our culture has become so eager to believe the worst about anybody the first time we hear it. I hate that.
Something somebody says gets taken out of context. Oh, now they're a racist. You didn't even see the whole sentence they said. You just read a headline, and now they're a racist. Are y'all kind of scared to say something to that? We do it all the time. That's not black people, white people. That can go any way you want to put it. We'll call somebody something because we heard a rumor from somebody, and we didn't even verify if that person was the very thing they were calling the other. Especially during political season, when you see how they make these ads… They are preying on our prejudice, trying to get us to believe a snapshot of somebody so we will go out and categorize ourselves as enemies of something we don't even understand. Paul said, "Don't get this twisted".
In Christ, it's not about what it looks like on the outside. It is not about what you can identify somebody by that you can see and you can understand. We love labels because we have limitations on our understanding. The only way we can get through our lives is to safely categorize people, like we try to organize our pantry, so we can know which shelf to put somebody on. "Oh, he's not qualified. She's not qualified. She's from this family. Oh, they are from that background". We love labels, and God hates them. I'm not telling you to go through and peel off everything on your soup and your green beans in your pantry or some superstitious thing like that. I'm saying God hates when we label something in order to limit something, which is why I believe the Holy Spirit chose Romans 4 to talk to us about this today. The greatest limitation on your life right now is not your potential; it's your belief.
When we look at the Bible stories of characters like Abraham, we get into this complicated story. We see one example of his life, and he looks like a man of great faith, but how many know? We could have labeled him a lot of things. We could have labeled him a liar because he lied. We could have labeled him an adulterer because he slept with somebody who wasn't his wife, even though the cultural custom of the time was very different than ours. We could have labeled him a lot of things. We could have labeled him by the fact that he laughed at God. We could have labeled him by a lot of things, but when God labels him, he calls him the father of many nations. In fact, it says something that really got my attention. Are you ready for this? It says, "Abraham believed and so became".
Let's look at that with our own two eyeballs. I don't want you to believe it because I said it. I want you to believe it because God said it. It said in verse 18, "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became…" Say that with me. He believed and so became. I love that. I love it because you would think he became it, so he believed it. Once he saw the evidence that God could do what he promised, then he believed it. That's how human hope works. It needs to see something to believe it. This is a very different kind of faith, this faith of Abraham, the faith by which God justifies us. It's the faith which has an ability to know I can stand in the middle of something I don't understand, waiting on a detail I don't yet have, and still believe in a God I haven't figured out. I can produce a promise that is inside of me that I can't even perceive with my senses. Sometimes I have to believe things I can't see and can't feel but God has called me to be.
Now, often, when we talk about believing, if you go by culture's understanding of belief and faith, we are believing to have something. "I want to have a better job. I want to have a better body. I want to have a wife. I want to have a husband. I want to have a child". That's fine, because God will give you things. He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), and not only will he put the desire in your heart, but he will fulfill the desire. He'll put the desire there, and he will fulfill the desire. He will give you things you didn't even think you were worthy of having. Some of us are standing in a place in life today that we honestly never knew to ask God to bring us to. I mean, I didn't know to ask God that I could pastor this church. I made myself available to him, and he did it, but that doesn't mean I knew it was in me when I asked God to use me. But here you are, and here I am, and here we are.
The greatest thing God will give you faith for, though, is not something he wants you to have but someone he wants you to be. Not "What does God want me to have"? although that is a very important thing to your Father. I'll prove it to you. Jesus said the birds don't store up, yet they're never far from the worm, because your Father knows they need them. So, he'll give you a worm, but he is more concerned…infinitely more concerned…about who you are becoming in the process of receiving. I don't know who this is for, but if you get it and God doesn't get you, you will not be able to sustain what you obtain, because it's going to take the same grace and the same faith to keep it that it takes to come into it. I want to lay this foundation. This is so important.
In the passage I read it said, "Abraham believed and so became". Against all hope, when it was so far past his time, when it seemed like there was no way it would work, when there was nothing pointing to the fact that he had the potential to bring forth this nation, he believed it and so became it. Certain Scriptures are not prescriptive. Meaning, they don't tell us what to do; they tell us what the character did. That's called descriptive. Not all Bible verses are telling you what to do. For instance, "Jonah ran from the Lord". That doesn't mean you go and run from the Lord because you read that Jonah ran from the Lord. It's telling you what he did. I'll give you a better one. "Judas went and hanged himself".
Don't do that. Did you all read about the man who started opening his Bible? He said, "God, speak to me. Give me a word. Show me what to do". He pointed, and it said, "Judas went and hanged himself". He said, "O God, let me try that again". He flipped again, put his finger right down on the Bible, and it said, "Whatever thou doest, do quickly". Don't do that. (That's an old preacher joke.) Look at this. I wonder if this dynamic… I know I'm not Abraham. I know you're not Abraham. I know you're not the father of many nations. I'm not the father of many nations. I'm the father of three kids, and I've got my hands full and my quiver full. My quiver is overflowing, and my cup is flowing over, and everything is running over. I'm grateful, and I don't want any more. I'm saying…Does the dynamic apply that we all become what we believe? Not what God says.
If everybody became what God said, then everybody would be the righteousness of God. If everybody became what God said, we wouldn't live a day of our lives defeated, because we wouldn't be addicted, because we are more than conquerors through him who loved us, because that's what God said. It is not what God said over your life that determines the limit of what you will be. That limit is determined by your belief. I just want to stand here and tell you I want to be all that God called me to be…all of it. I want to do everything he called me to do. I want to walk in everything he called me to walk in. I want to give everything he called me to give. I want to say everything he called me to say. I want to write everything he called me to write…every song, every sermon, every conversation. I want to put it all out here while I'm here, as long as I'm here. I want to see what God can do through me.
I don't want to get to heaven and God show me a whole warehouse of who I would have been if I had listened to him rather than listening to the labels of people whose own minds were limited. I don't want to get to heaven and God show me the church I could have pastored if I would have had the faith to stand flat-footed and say what he told me to say. I don't want to get there and regret that God would speak something that I would refuse to believe. I don't want to go 10 years not eating Doritos because you told me Fritos were health food.
Now, I want you to get something in your mind. Let's make this a seminar today, because that's all wonderful. Oh, Abraham had faith, and that's wonderful. Abraham set out, and that's wonderful. Abraham received the promise, and that's awesome, and that's terrific, and that's spectacular, but if we just do that, this is a fantasy football service where none of us do anything but watch somebody do something and loosely associate with what they did and call ourselves a coach. The Lord said a lot of people's faith is a fantasy realm. We don't know how to do this…believe God. "Yeah, I believe God". That's great. "I believe in God. He's directing my paths". But what does it mean to believe until you become? In order to do this… We're going to all do this…everybody in the room, everybody on eFam.
I want you to get one thing. Write it down. Put it online if you're online. Put it in your notebook if you're on a notebook. Put it in your phone if you can open your phone and not be distracted by the people who have been texting you who should be in church right now but are busy distracting you, trying to snatch this word while God is preaching it. I want you to get one thing on your mind. We're going to make this so simple. You can't leave here today and be like, "Okay, Abraham is the man". We're going to talk about you…your label, your limits, your faith, your belief. He said we are all the offspring of Abraham who believed. God doesn't look through the room and be like, "Okay. This sermon is good for her. She's at an eleventh-grade Christianity level. He's at the fifth grade. She's at the third grade. He's going to need some summer school".
God doesn't look at the class like that. We all need the same grace. None of us need mini grace, bitty grace, itty bitty little grace. We all need the same grace. So, here's what I want you to get on your mind: What is one thing you want to be that you don't feel like you are right now? "I want to be…" Not what I want to have. And don't put "rich," don't put "skinny," and don't put "ripped". Put something we can't pull up on TikTok or YouTube Shorts right now. Put something deeper down. "I want to be more…" What is it? Put it in the chat if you're watching online. "I believe God is calling me to be more…" Somebody got one? Shout it out. Okay, okay, I heard one. Confident. That's a good one. Loving. You said that kind of angrily. "Loving"! You really seem like you need it. I'm just kidding. I just thought that was funny. "Loving, by God"! Confident. Loving. I want to be more…what? No, no. You can't pray for that one. He said, "Comfortable". Nuh-uh. I'm going to tell you why.
A lot of times, your comfort zone is what kills you. If God makes you more comfortable, he's going to make you more complacent, because if you get comfortable you get complacent. God is never going to design a life for you that doesn't require him. He's always going to give you something in your life where you feel like, "Oh, I don't deserve this. I'm not worthy of this. I can't do this". The moment that stops happening, you stop growing. The moment you stop growing, you start dying spiritually. God isn't like that, so he'll say, "I know that at this point in your life you've gotten pretty comfortable, Abraham. I know you're rich, Abraham. I know you're settled, Abraham, but I'm going to give you a place in your life where you don't have it yet that you still need me so that you can see me for who I am, not who you thought I was when you labeled me when you first met me".
So, let's get another one. Available. Whole. Wise. I wish I could hear every campus right now. Okay, it sounds like the Tower of Babel now, so I'm going to stop and do a few. I made my own list before I came, somewhere on this yellow legal pad full of notes. It said "Joyful". I believe God wants me to be more joyful. I do. I see myself sometimes, and I'm like, "What do you have to be so mad about"? Another thing I want to be… I'm stressed a lot, so I think God wants me to be more peaceful. I do. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, so I believe God wants me to be more peaceful. I do. I don't think God wants me to get my heart rate up every time somebody doesn't know how to drive. I know it's not me who's a bad driver. Isn't it funny we label somebody else a bad driver? "They're a bad driver". It couldn't have been you. No, no, no. Confident. Peaceful. Joyful. Loving. Generous. Patient.
Oh, you'd better be careful asking God for patience. When you pray for patience, God sends problems and people. I used to think every annoying person I met was the answer to a prayer for patience I prayed in a season before I met them. All right. Here's the second question. If I'm believing God wants me to be more joyful, patient, confident… I'm taking the principle. It said, "Abraham believed and so became," not he became and then believed. He didn't go take a personality test that said, "Oh, you're the father of many nations" and then backed into that from his… God gave him a promise and a purpose. He believed that and became it.
So here's the second part: What would I need to believe to become it? If I want to be more joyful (and I do) or if I want to be more confident (and I do) or if I want to be more loving (and I do) or if I want to be more patient (and I do), what would I need to believe to be it? Isn't that a good question? If we say, "How do I need to behave"? then we're trying to do it by our own works, and then we forgot about grace. Any change you try to make to be what God called you to be that's not empowered by his grace, you're not going to sustain it. It's just going to be a fad or a phase. A lot of you are here, and you are frustrated because you can't change. You bought every book. You can't change. You subscribed to every email list. You can't change. You got an accountability partner. You can't change. You did every Bible reading plan they have on the Bible.
Now you're doing Spanish Bible reading plans, and you're from Kansas, and you never even took Spanish in high school. You can't change. You threw everything away. You bought it again. You went out and threw out all the stuff that was causing you problems, and it found its way back in. You can't change. Any modification in behavior that is not matched by a change in belief will eventually hit its limit. I'm just telling you, you might be able to do it for a month. You might be able to do it for a year. You might be able to do it for five years. But you're just going to be trying to see, "How long can I hold my breath"? The answer is you're eventually going to have to come up for air unless you change what you believe.
So, if I want to be more joyful and I'm currently not, what do I need to believe to have more joy? Well, first, I don't need to believe it's a sin for me to be down, because then I'm going to beat myself up because I'm down, and now how am I going to have joy when I'm beating myself up for being down? How am I going to experience the joy of the Lord when all I'm doing is wallowing in my own weakness? When I want to be more joyful, what do I need to believe to be it? Abraham believed and so became. What do I need to believe to become what I just said God is calling me to be? So, if I want to be more joyful, maybe I need to believe joy doesn't come from circumstances. That's what a lot of us believe. When a situation turns a certain way… We betray our belief in our language. "They stole my joy". They stole it? Where's your safe? Where are your locks? Where are your protective mechanisms to see to it that people don't get to take from you what Christ paid for? Joy comes from Jesus, not people. Joy comes from Jesus, not events.
There are at least three of you who have been on a beach at a time in your life and been sad on the beach, so you found out really quickly you can move places but still feel the same way (or worse) you did when you left, because joy doesn't come from a place. Joy doesn't come from a possession. Joy comes from God. That's the first belief I have to have if I'm going to be more joyful. If I have to go to you to get the joy, you might not have any either. So, now I'm coming to you asking you for something that you don't have. "Make me feel good. Make me happy. Oh, you've got to make me happy". "I left them because they weren't making me happy. I left that church because I wasn't happy. I left that job because I wasn't happy".
Your joy is your job. (I don't care if y'all like me. I'm going to Phoenix. I'll be on the other side of the country by the time you get mad at this message and tweet at me.) It's your job, and if you don't believe that, you cannot access what you don't have the rightful permission to perceive. If you don't think you're supposed to be joyful in God's presence, at his right hand is the fullness of joy. At his right hand are pleasures forevermore. So, maybe I would need to believe God wants to give me joy that the world can't take away. What would you need to believe to become more joyful? Maybe I would believe that joy isn't an effect of circumstance but is a product of my perspective. Y'all don't want me to teach today.
Abraham! I'll just talk about him, because that'll be easy, and we'll be like, "Oh, Abraham. He was a great man. He believed and so became". What are you becoming? Whatever it is, it's because of something you're believing. Eating Fritos. It doesn't have to be a truth to be a belief. A lot of people confuse the two. "Well, that's my truth. I'm just living my truth". That's so stupid. If it's truth, it's not yours. It's God's. There's one truth. It's his. "Oh, see, that person…they're a this. They're a that". God hates those labels, because the moment you label it, you limit it. It made me so mad one time. Somebody told me something about our church. I know they meant it in the nicest possible way, and I know they were probably trying to be constructive, but they said, "Elevation is the church where you catch the fish, but you don't clean them up".
This brother in Christ… I'm going to say it like that. The label…it's important. He was saying it to me as if "Oh, because people come in this church and their lifestyle doesn't immediately change…" You know, "You catch them, and we'll clean them". That's what he was saying. He was saying, "I'll preach the Word of God that helps them grow. You preach the grace that gets them saved". That is the dumbest distinction in the history of humanity. It really is. That's like saying, "Okay. You eat, and I'll drink". It takes both to live. I want to declare to you today that nobody really changes to become what God made them without the grace of God. We don't get grace to become Christians, and "Oh, now I'm saved by grace, and I'll try really hard to earn it from God in the future". That is not how we change, not God's way, not in a lasting way, not in a sustainable way. That's ridiculous. That's our label that we want to do.
"Oh, he's a baby Christian. Oh, he's a mature Christian". We measure that by how much Scripture they know. That is not how God labels faith. I'd rather you know one Bible verse and do it. Old Preacher James used to say, "You can have your Bible so marked up it looks like a coloring book, and it won't get you into heaven". You have to come into heaven by the door. You have to come into heaven by the grace of God. You have to grow by the grace of God, the same grace you were saved in. Don't categorize people so quickly. You don't even know if they really said that. You don't even know if they really did that. You don't even know if that's really how it is. You never even really talked to them. You never even really asked them how they grew up. You never really asked them why they do that. You never really asked them why they dress like that. You never even asked them.
Do you remember the lady who came into the church, and she'd never been to church before? She didn't have any church clothes. She was dressed wearing what she had, and it wasn't very modest. When she was in there, everybody was staring at her, and everybody was judging her, and everybody was whispering about her. So afterward, the pastor met her at the door and said, "You've got to ask God before you come back here what you should wear to church. Don't come back here until you've prayed about what you're wearing". So she came back the next week, and she was wearing the same thing. The pastor said, "Didn't I tell you to ask God what to wear before you came back to this church"? She said, "I did". He said, "Well, what did God say"? She said, "God said he didn't know what I should wear to this church because he'd never been here before".
God hates labels. He hates it. He hates it when we think we're righteous because we don't do this bad behavior. Well, you have some other bad behaviors, some bad beliefs. We can't just judge somebody based on a snapshot we saw. We become what we believe. The problem with a lot of us is our basis of belief is in the wrong thing, so our faith is weak because we started with a weak belief. Who said, "I want to be more confident"? I love that one. I was thinking, "What would I need to believe to be more confident"? I'd probably need to believe what the Bible says: he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. I would be more confident if I believed God started it. If I think I started it, I have to sustain it. I didn't ask to be born. I didn't ask to be 5'9-1/2" with a pretty good beard. I didn't ask for any of that, but God put me here. I want to see what I can be, but I don't want to label myself too soon, because I'm not done becoming yet.
So, when I sit in the presence of God, I don't just want to tell him what I am, because what I think I am is what I label myself, and when I label myself I limit myself. "Oh, I'm not good at that. Oh, I'm not that kind of person. Oh, I'm not a morning person. Oh, I'm not a worship person". I'm so tired of you telling God who made you what label you need to wear. If you didn't make it, you can't name it. You don't get to label what you didn't make. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That's who I am. God doesn't label me based on what I am loyal to.
Why are you loyal to a lie? Why would you be loyal to something someone said about you over something God spoke about you? We become what we believe. We are, we label. We label our lives on where we are. God labels your life based on where he knows he's taking you. So, God does not label you by what you struggle with right now. People will. That's fine. Let them. Don't even try to change their minds. The Devil will. He'll say, "You're down this far. Look at you; you're grumpy. Look at you; you're broke. Look at you; you're living on the street. Look at you; you're in prison. Look at you; you're in recovery. Look at you; you lost it again. Look at you; you can't make it. Look at you; you're still in debt. Look at you; you can't get up". God doesn't label me based on where I am right now. He stands in eternity past and reaches into eternity future and says, "I made you a father of many nations. I made you more than a conqueror".
Believe that! Why do you believe the Devil so easily and believe God so hard? If he said you're his child, you're his child! If he said you're forgiven, you're forgiven! I don't care what shame has been crawling up on you. I break it right now in the mighty name of Jesus! So, does God hate your labels? Maybe he does. If you're walking around saying stuff about yourself that contradicts what he put inside of you, I think God hates your label. I think God hates some of our labels. As a matter of fact, I believe he hates it so much he will do whatever he has to do to peel that label off of you so you can see what's really inside. Sometimes we label too quickly, and we miss what was given. You remember how God told Abraham, "You're the father of many nations," and then he said, "I have given you this land for your descendants".
Do you know what's so sad? They never got to go into it until a whole generation had died because of what they labeled themselves in the wilderness. When you're in a wilderness, you're not there yet. When you're in a wilderness, you have left Egypt, but just because you leave Egypt doesn't mean you believe yet in what God sees you to be. So, here they are, and I want you to picture yourself. This is not the faith of Abraham. This is the faith of Caleb. I don't know if you remember Caleb, but Caleb was that one spy who, when they got to the edge of what God had spoken to them… I don't know who this is for, but you are right on the verge of becoming your best version. I'm going to say it again. You are on the verge of your best version. Why are you so loyal to the worst version of you? Why do you go off on people and say, "Well, I'm just keeping it real"? You're not keeping it real. You are keeping yourself in a rut. You are keeping yourself in the first version when God says you're a new creation.
People give stupid advice. "Oh, just do you". Do you? Okay, that's fine, but do the new you, not the old you. Not the you that was labeled by the experiences of your life up to this point, not the you that's all selfish all the time, just trying to figure out how it makes you look…do the new you. Maybe that should be the title of this sermon. Do the new you, the one that's full of faith. Do the new you, the one that's accepted in the beloved. Do the new you, the one that knows "The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want". Do the new you, the one that is transformed by the renewing of your mind. So, they get right up to the edge of the Promised Land, just like you right now. You've been fighting. You've been frustrated. You've been back and forth, one step, two steps, two steps, and one step.
"Why can't I change"? God brought you into this moment to change your label. What you call an end he calls a beginning. What you call over he calls just getting started. What you call breakdown he calls breakthrough. What you call a closed door he calls an open window. I believe God is about to rip the roof off of somebody's life today and change your label. Watch this. I'm almost done. Can I have five more minutes…five more minutes to set somebody free, five more minutes to break somebody's chain, five more minutes to preach down the glory, five more minutes to connect with your faith like a jumper cable and get you started and back on the road to believe that you're going to be everything God made you to be. You're not going to die in what you started in, and you're not going to stay down forever, because this isn't even really you. This is not really you. You are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath! You want to call me something? Call me blessed. You want to call me something? Call me saved. You want to call me something? Numbers 13:30.
All of the voices are saying, "We went into the land God gave us". There are some things God gave you you're not going into. There are some things God has given you, he has promised you, he has spoken to you, and you won't become it because you won't believe it. You say, "I want to be more disciplined". Well, do you believe that greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world? If you believe that, you can become whatever you need to be. Don't say, "I'm lazy". Don't say, "I'm a procrastinator". "I was that, but I'm not doing that version of me anymore. I got an upgrade from the manufacturer. My phone just buzzed. There's a download"! Caleb silenced the people, standing on the edge of the blessing. He said to Moses, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are…" Hold on. We are… I came today to change your label.
God said today is the day you change your label. See, we are weak, but he is strong. We are, we label, but if you know God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask… Don't label it yet. God is not through with you yet! Who receives it? "I'm one of those Christians. I'm not done becoming. I plead the blood"! We are well able! I'm going in. I'm going forward. I'm moving in it. I'm walking in it. I'm flowing in it. We are well able. I'm little, but I'm able. I'm crazy, but I'm able. I have his Spirit. I have his promise. That's what I believe. If he called me, he'll complete it. I am well able, and I am finished. Stand up on your feet and clap your hands for the Word. Hallelujah! Put a praise on it. Don't slip out the back. Put a praise on this word!
We are well able. You don't want to die out here in this wilderness of what you think you are, do you? So, we're going to believe better, baby. We're going to eat Doritos. I'm going to lick the cheese off this Dorito now that I found out I can eat it. They say you are what you eat. A lot of us have weak faith because we eat weak information, weak data, weak beliefs. You have to eat better, baby. Fritos are making you fat, and it's not FDA approved. The "Faith and Destiny Administration" does not approve all of your doubts and condemnation.
God, in this place today and all over the world, I just see you walking around with Post-it Notes, Lord, just giving new labels to people for the rest of their life…new labels, no limits. I only chose Abraham to preach this message because he was so old. I thought if God could do it through him after a century on this earth, he could do it for you and me too. Don't label it yet, even the situation you're going through. Don't tell people yet that it was a betrayal. It might be right now, but it might also be an upgrade in the making. Don't label it. When you were telling me how you felt the other day, I was like, "Stop right now. This story is to be continued. That's how we see it right now. That's not how God sees it". Your labels are limits, and God wants to redeem some things that you will not release to him.
So, right now, I want you to bow your head and close your eyes all over the room. Let's just have one minute of ministry by the Holy Spirit, not by me. Lord, show me something about me where I need to change the label. Show me something about me that I don't like but you intend to use. Show me something I need to believe to become who I really am. Show me that, Lord. Only the Lord gets to label you. It is he who made us, not we ourselves, for we are the clay; he's the potter. Abraham didn't look like the father of many nations. He didn't feel like the father of many nations. It doesn't mean he wasn't. Sometimes I know you don't feel like the best dad, the best mom, the best person, the best Christian. Just because you don't feel like that doesn't mean God has become frustrated with you. He's not casting you off, so why would you? He's not through, so why would you be? Lift your hands.
Lord, I receive what you speak over me. That's what I receive. What you say about my situation, I come into agreement with you right now. What would it take for me to be more peaceful? What would I have to believe?
Somebody said, "I want to be more peaceful". Well, what would you need to believe? You would need to believe that all things work together for the good of them who love God. If I focus on loving God and being called according to his purpose, nothing shall be able to stop me. We are well able. Christ lives in us. We are well able. Put that label on your life. God is able to do anything he wants to do. There's somebody in this place, and God wants to change you today and make you a new creation in Jesus Christ. This is my favorite moment I ever have of doing ministry, because now this isn't about you writing down something in a notebook. This is about you having an eternal change.
There is at least one person watching me online or here in this room that today is the day God wants to change your name and change your life and give you his grace. So, right now in this moment, I'm going to pray a prayer. The whole church is going to pray this prayer with me in agreement, and it's for the benefit of those who want to give their life to Christ. This is not a magic prayer. This is not an incantation. It's a confession of faith to tell God that you know you're a sinner and that you receive his grace to save you. The Bible says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Right now in this moment, heads bowed, eyes closed, if that's you, I want you to repeat this prayer after me.
Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and today I receive Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I believe Jesus died so I could be forgiven and rose again to give me new life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning. I am a child of God.
On the count of three, shoot your hand up if you prayed that. One, two, three. Shoot them up. Shoot them up online. Let us know in the chat. God bless you. Amazing.