Steven Furtick - How To Become Joyful
This is an excerpt from: The X Factor
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!