Steven Furtick - Been Here Before
Deuteronomy, chapter 9. Do y'all want a little bit of chapter 8 too? You do? Let's do chapter 8 then. Let's do chapter 8, verse 15, through Deuteronomy 9, verse 5. I studied all of it, and I just want to be faithful to share with you what God spoke to me. Hey, congratulations today. You're like, "What are you congratulating me for"? That you made it to the end of another year. Congratulations that you came to church the Sunday before Thanksgiving. What that means is God will give you an automatic calorie deficit. It's going to be amazing, because you're going to eat everything you want at Thanksgiving, and none of it is going to go to the fat cells. It's all going to go to places where it is going to produce a better physique.
Okay. I'm a false prophet. I need to stop this and read the Bible. The Bible doesn't say any of that, but I am glad you're here. I prophesy nobody is going to fight at your Thanksgiving meal because you're going to keep your mouth shut when they say stuff that makes you mad. A little tongue-biting practice today. Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 15. Listen to this, what God did. "He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness…" None of y'all? God never fed any of you? "I thought we were talking about some historic group, Pastor Steven". No, I'm talking about you, what God did for you in seasons of your life that you didn't see a way, but he made a way. Okay. We're on the same page now. We've all been in a wilderness, but we've seen God's provision in those hard places. That's what we're talking about.
"He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God".
Now verse 1, chapter 9. "Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: 'Who can stand up against the Anakites?' But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you. After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, 'The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.' No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". Let's say, "Amen" to the Word of God.
The title of this message is "Been Here Before". Speak your Word, Lord. We're listening. In Jesus' name, amen. Your kids sometimes tend to remember stuff you wish they would forget and forget stuff you really thought they would remember. There's this one thing that happened on vacation eight years ago that my kids will never let me live down. I lost a little… Not an AirPod, but it was called a Jaybird, a little earphone thing. I lost it, and I lost it. I lost my mind because I lost this little thing. So stupid. I was fried and burned out. You know how it is sometimes. You're like, "This is not about the Jaybird. This is about something else". They remember it. I didn't throw any of them across the room, but they remember when Mom had to pull them aside and say, "Let's give Dad some space while he works this out". They remember that. It comes up about once a week. "Remember that time with the Jaybird"? Not the time we went to Singapore…the time with the Jaybird. It's crazy.
Then one of my boys… I don't really remember which one. I would totally call him out if I did. We went to an NFL game, and somebody asked, "Is this your first time going to an NFL game"? He goes, "Yeah. This is my first game". I yank him by the arm. I'm like, "This is your third NFL game". He had been to two NFL games before. He went into the locker room of one and wrestled with a wide receiver and met the quarterback. "Yeah, this is my first NFL game". I'm like, "So this is how it's going to be. I'm going to just do crazy crap for you your whole life, just amazing stuff that kids only dream of, and you're going to talk about the Jaybird I got freaked out about one time and forget about meeting Cam. Okay".
Now, the thing I want to bring to our attention from this text is that God's kids do the same thing. God's kids tend to remember the wrong things, forgetting his faithfulness and focusing on things that really, in the big scheme of things, don't matter much. This Scripture, Deuteronomy 9:1, is to me very bittersweet. You have the man of God Moses, who, of course, has led them this far, and he's preparing them to go into a land God has promised them, but he's not going with them. Two things I want you to notice from Deuteronomy 9:1. "Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan…" In some ways, that's exciting. "You are now about to cross the Jordan". But there's something about this that's very sad too: the word you and the word now.
See, when he says you, he's not saying we, because he can't go. He had the opportunity to go, but he didn't have the faith to go. He had the chance to step into it, but he didn't believe God enough to step into it. "You are going". He's telling the next generation, "You're going into this land God promised. You're going into this land that's flowing with milk and honey. You're about to see God do amazing things. You're about to witness miracle after miracle. You're about to settle into something that God spoke centuries before you were even born. You're about to go into the land now". That word is sad to me too, the word now, because they could have been in the land 40 years earlier. Isn't it a terrible thing to get to a place in your life where you say, "You know, I had the chance to do that. I had the opportunity to do that…"
I remember talking to a man who fell into deep sexual sin, and he said, "I remember the moment God spoke the word to me. I was standing right on the edge, and God was trying to snatch me from it, but I stepped into it anyway". It was 12 years later, after wrecking much of his life and family, that he stood at the place of regret, realizing, "God gave me that chance, and I didn't take it. God gave me that word, but I wouldn't hear it. God opened that door, but I wouldn't go through it". The Bible says God will make a way of escape for you, but he won't push you through the hatch. God will send people. God will send provision. God will send promises. I'm thankful for the promises God has spoken over my life. It's not just about land and territory and geographical things, like it is here in the Old Testament, but for me, I'm thankful that God has promised me some things and that whatever he speaks he intends to accomplish, and nothing can stop it. I mean, nothing…nobody, no devil, no genetics…nothing can stop it. No cancer cell. Nothing can stop it. Nothing. Not even the dumb thing I did can stop it from coming to pass if God promised that he will perform it. If God promised, he will bring it to pass.
David said, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart". Now what does that mean? Sometimes God has to show us that not everything we want is something he promised. A lot of us lose our confidence in God because we confuse our want with his promise. This won't take long, but let me teach this part, and then I'll preach. I'll preach so good you'll be so inspired, but let me dig into this for just a moment. I said something last week. I said it so quickly, and I moved so fast. I was talking about weasels, and I was talking about the weasel and the Word and the seed and the dead thing and "You're not dead yet, and God's seeds are still in you. Don't give up on it just because something died on you. It doesn't mean God isn't real in you".
I was preaching all that last week, and I said something like a flash. I don't know if you heard it, but I thought it was really good. Confidence in God's promise… How many of you are confident in God's promise? I am setting you up. Dude, I am about to knock you out with this hook. Confidence in God's promise without commitment to his process is not dependence; it is delusion. Write it down, because I want that to be ringing in your head the next time you think, "Why didn't God do it? Why didn't he answer? Why didn't he do it? Why don't I have it"? Confidence in God's promise. Moses in Deuteronomy is really reliving some of his own regrets. He is reminding the people not only what God did while they were in the wilderness but how they disobeyed him. He is warning them. "When God brings you into this land, be careful that the you he brings into this land doesn't think you are the reason you're there, because you'll become arrogant and prideful. The moment you forget, you will lose the war, not because God isn't great but because you forgot how to fight your battles and you did it in your own strength".
The promises of God are sure. The promises of God are yes and amen. No matter how many of them he has spoken, he will bring them to pass. The promise of God can come from a barren womb. The promise of God can come from a stable in Bethlehem. The promise of God can come in the darkest season of your life. Yet there is so much of what God has promised me that I don't possess yet. There's so much more God has promised me that I don't possess yet. I could make you a list. Let's do it as an exercise. Do you believe God has promised to give you peace? Wave at me if you believe God has promised to give you peace. So how are you going to get it? That's the question, right? God promised them this land. How are you going to get it? Are you going to start chanting? "Peace. Peace. Peace. Give me peace. Give me peace, Lord. Give me peace. Give me peace. Pretty please, give me peace. Give me peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace".
There is a process by which God gives me peace, and it's found in Philippians, chapter 4. Look at this. I want to bring this into the New Testament from the Old Testament. The apostle Paul says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God…" Wait a minute. That's the verse I like. I don't like the first one because I don't really feel like praying. I don't really feel like being thankful. I don't really feel like asking God. Okay. You do realize that in the original manuscripts of the Bible there was not a verse 7 and a verse 6. It was all one thing. So, what he says in verse 7 follows from what he said in verse 6. I know that sounds basic, but I think sometimes we forget that. He says, "The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus".
So there it is: the promise, the peace, the process. Prayer, petition, and thanksgiving, not sitting around thinking about everything that could go wrong, would go wrong, did go wrong, might go wrong, possibly could go wrong, went wrong 23 years ago. That process will not get you peace. You can't cancel out a bad thought life with a good prayer life and get peace just because you really, really want it. Okay. How many of you have been praying for God to give you peace? Are you doing the process that brings the peace? That's the question. Go to verse 8. I'm going to really hammer this home. I'm not playing with y'all today. "Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 such things".
Then what happens? "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you". "Wait. I thought God was going to be with me no matter what. That's a promise". Yeah, he'll be with you, but you will not receive his peace if you don't want to think his thoughts. You just won't. You can't fill your head with whatever and then faith your way out of what you filled your head with. You can't just binge whatever and then quote a Bible verse on top of stuff you binged and ask God to cancel it out, because he can't, because it's a promise. It's not automatic. "But God promised". But it's not automatic.
One time… I like to tell stories about my kids. They had their hands under this faucet. This was when they were really little. I think it was Graham. He was waiting for the water to come on, and there was a knob. I stood there and watched him for a good 30 seconds, because I wanted to see, "How long will you stand there and wait for something to come out and not do anything to produce it"? He could have concluded, "There's no water," because a 5-year-old boy doesn't want to wash his hands anyway. So he could have walked away. "The water doesn't work". I see people all the time who come to church and go, "That didn't work. That didn't work. You know what? There's no water. That didn't work. I tried. I tried to do it".
You didn't try to do it. You took the promise out of context and popped it like a pain pill. It made you feel better for four hours, but it didn't produce what it could have produced in your life, because the Word of God is not a pill to be ingested. It is a seed to be planted. If you plant it, the process will begin of producing the potential of the seed. But we give up too easily. The first time we feel fear, we let go of faith. The first time we get rejected, we start expecting more rejection. So now we don't want to go. Now we don't want to try. Now we don't want to do it. Now it's just too hard. "I guess God didn't really say that. I guess God didn't really mean for me to have it. I guess I'm just never going to come into it".
That's one way of looking at it, but maybe another way of looking it is you have not fully allowed the process to complete its perfect work in your life, and if you get back in the process, you'll see the promise come to pass. What's crazy about it is nothing has changed about the promise in the 40 years since Moses last spoke it. He has been here before. He has been in this exact spot, but now, because he struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it like God told him to… God said, "You don't trust me enough for me to take you in". It wasn't that he wasn't enough to go in. He did not trust God enough to go in. Do you see the difference? One is "I just don't have it" and the other is "I just won't do it".
Now, we're living in a time… This Scripture is not good for snowflake culture where everybody wants God to bring everything he spoke to them. This is why the generational correction is appropriate in the Scripture. This Scripture is generationally appropriate because only those who were 20 years of age or younger get to go into the Promised Land. Everybody else either died off in the wilderness or is staying there. So, Moses (this is so sad to me) is preparing them for something he won't get to participate in. As he's doing it… You can hear that he's giving them words of faith, but I hear the tone of regret and resentment. He's mad at them.
There are three different speeches recorded in Deuteronomy, and he said all this stuff before, but he's saying it again, and now he's saying it to them to let them know, "Even though you've been at this place before, it's going to be different this time. You are going to do what we couldn't do because you're going to believe what we wouldn't believe, so you're going to see what we didn't see. But we had the same promise. You're going to do with the promise what we could not do with the promise, what we would not do with the promise, if you keep your eyes on God. If you go forward believing that God is with you, you're going to see it". In fact, he basically assumes they're going to take the land. He just cautions them that when they do, they need to remember who brought them into it. I love it. He said, "You've been in the wilderness for a long time".
It's funny about the wilderness. A wilderness is a place, like I said last week, between places where God teaches you things that you need to know for where you're going. The wilderness. The wilderness is the place where God gets you ready for what he has next for you. The wilderness, where he brings you manna to your tent every morning because you don't have farmland yet. The wilderness, where he brings you water out of a rock, and there's not even a knob for the faucet. It just starts flowing out. The wilderness. There are wonderful things about the wilderness. There are wonderful things about loneliness. When you're lonely, God will feel closer to you, if you'll call on him, than when you're really busy. There are wonderful things about when people tell you no, because when people tell you no, God has this way of putting a yes in your spirit that you can't even explain.
It's a wonderful thing about certain tears we cry, because God dries them, and you feel his touch like you never did before. It's a wonderful thing sometimes about when you've done all you can do, and you can't figure anything out, and God just says, "I've got this one". "Watch this manna. Open your tent. Every morning it's going to be there, brand-new mercies with every rising of the sun". It's a wonderful thing. Have you ever been fed by the hand of God, where God just dropped something off for you, and you said, "Oh, this is wonderful. I didn't even know how, but God did that for me. I didn't even know that person. They paid for my gas at the pump. I didn't even know that person. They stopped me and encouraged me". It's some wonderful things that happen in the wilderness. God just drops stuff on you in the wilderness. God just does stuff for you in the wilderness. God just makes sure you have clothes to wear in the wilderness.
You don't outgrow it. It just keeps stretching with you in the wilderness. He makes sure your feet don't swell in the wilderness. It is a place of supernatural provision. But if you stay there too long, you will become passive, waiting for a promise that God wants to give you the power to possess by faith. I am going to break that down, but first I need your help. Shout this: "God is bringing me into my promise".
"Oh, that sounds selfish. I don't like talking about what God is doing for me. See, because, Pastor Steven, I think the Bible says that it's not about me. It's not about my desires. You were just saying a moment ago it's not what I want that God promised, so I would refer you back to earlier in your sermon around 9 minutes and 32 seconds in. You're preaching really good, but you've gone off course now, because now you're saying God is bringing me into my promise. I'm not comfortable with that, because, after all, it is all for his glory. And I don't really like all of these worship songs that are like 'Me, me, me' and 'God is going to do it for me.' I just want to sing about God, how great he is and how awesome he is, and all of the wonderful things he has done in an abstract way so that I don't have to bring the historical context into my life and make application and get better so I can go forward".
(I kind of zoned out for a minute. I don't know what I just said.) It's a thing you need to believe. God is bringing me into my promise, not her promise. She has a different color hair. She has a different family situation. She has a different set of struggles she does not show anybody on TikTok. God is bringing me into my promise, so I'm good with whatever God does for other people. I'm not jealous. I'm not envious. I'm not in a hurry. I am not going to break my neck running in lanes that God did not clear for me. I just want to teach you this so you can know that God is bringing you through the wilderness season, through the hard parts.
The wilderness is important, because that's where God sifts you. The wilderness is where God sifts the wheat of his promise from the chaff of what I want. The wilderness is a threshing floor where God gets me really clear about what really matters. The wilderness is a place that he teaches me that I can do without a lot of the things I think I need. The wilderness is there to teach me that if my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. The wilderness is there to teach me that there might not be a fountain, but there's a rock, and God can bring water out of hard places. God can bring blessings out of barren places. The wilderness is wonderful, but there is one problem with the wilderness. If you stay there too long, you will get so used to God bringing it to you that you might be tempted to forget that sometimes God brings it to you, and sometimes he brings you to it.
This is for the five people who have been wondering, "What in the world is going on in my life right now? I don't have the same friends I used to have. I don't feel the same I used to feel. I can't depend on what I used to depend on. It's not working like it used to work". You've been tempted to lose confidence in God, but don't lose your faith over this. No. Just switch your focus. It isn't that God left. He's just sifting you so when he brings you into the next thing he wants you to do, you will be ready for it. It's preparation, baby! This is my training camp. This is my "getting ready" word. This is my "getting ready" season. This is my foundation-building season, so I have something strong to stand on. O God, I feel it! I'm getting ready.
Now, here's what I learned. When you don't get what you want from God… How many of you had that happen at some point in 2022? Everybody else, come pray for me. You didn't raise your hand. You come pray for me. I need that anointing you have of everything happens right, sells right, goes on sale when you want to buy it. But I'll tell you this. You have a choice to make, like they had a choice to make, when it doesn't happen like you wanted. Raise your hand again if there was something you wanted God to do, something you wanted God to give. Here are your options. You can either lose confidence or (door number two)… I love to play "Would you rather?" games with people. My rule of thumb is when I say, "Would you rather…" and I say the first thing, if they go with that before they hear what was coming next, I will make the second thing so horrible. It'll be R rated. I will take it as far as I need to.
So, would you rather lose confidence in what God promised or gain clarity to really see, "Oh, this is what matters"? And a lot of people do it. They just… "There's no water. I'm out of here. Oh, I don't have peace. I'm just going back". I chose this text because of a very unusual line in verse 2. He says, "You're about to cross over. They're going to be greater and stronger than you". Look at how bad of a motivational speech Moses gave. No wonder he didn't go into the Promised Land. This speech sucks. Let's do the whole speech. Let's at least do the first three verses. Go to verse 1. Listen to how bad this is. Moses is not a motivator. He's not. He's a liberator. God used him, but he's always doubting himself. He's always mad at them. He's always like, "God, these people you gave me won't do what you want them to do". God is like, "That's because I gave them you as a leader, so go get them to do it". And he doesn't do it.
That's why he's not going in. You have that option. So, now he's telling them what they're going to do. "Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations…" "I thought we were going to eat grapes". "You are, but before you eat grapes, you're going to have to fight giants". No shouts. Lord, did I pick the wrong verse? This is the process. "You are about to cross over (promise), and you will dispossess nations (process)". That's where God has you right now. It doesn't mean he isn't good. It doesn't mean he didn't call you. It doesn't mean he isn't with you. It doesn't mean you don't have it. It just means there are some problems that come with the promise, and God saw them all. "See, I can't do it because, see, I have this thing in my life". And God didn't know that? So, God didn't know you struggled with that. God did not know you would succumb to that addiction. God didn't know that about you? You trust him or you don't? He knew it or he didn't? He's sovereign or he's not? He's God or he's not? "Hear, Israel: you are about to go in and dispossess nations…" Watch what he said. "They are greater and stronger than you".
Wow! Imagine telling your team this before you went out. "…large cities that have walls up to the sky". That's a little foreshadowing of Jericho. We're about to shout those walls down after seven days, but that's not yet. Verse 2: "The people are strong and tall…" Here's the message: "…Anakites"! Just the name alone strikes fear into every Israelite's heart. Like when they used to say, "Mufasa"! in The Lion King. That's what that sounded like to them. They came from the Nephilim. Genesis 6. Look it up. It's creepy. It's weird. It's strange. It's twisted. It said the sons of God came to the daughters of men and the Nephilim were born. The Nephilim had descendants called the Anakites. When they went into the land to spy it out 40 years earlier, they came back saying, "There are Anakites".
So, as Moses says it, it is an accusation against his generation for what kept them out of what God was bringing them into. He said, "They're still there". Isn't that a shame? "Those Anakites should be long gone. You should have killed them 40 years ago. God would have helped you. He wanted to help you. He was helping you, but you wouldn't do it. You got in that moment. You got the wrong voices and the 10 spies who said, 'We can't do it,' and you stayed in the wilderness". But look at this. This is the good part. Everything I said was so I could say this. Don't you hate when a preacher says that? You're like, "Did you just waste 35 minutes of my life saying stuff you didn't mean"? No, no, no. I want you to hear what they said. "Anakites". Lions and tigers and bears and Anakites. "You know about them". That's what Moses said. "You know about them and have heard it said: 'Who can stand up against the Anakites?'"
That's a weird saying when he says, "You have heard it said". That means it was in their vernacular. That doesn't mean, "You heard it once or twice". That means it's a common saying. My dad had a bunch of sayings growing up. My mom had a bunch of sayings growing up. In the South, we have a bunch of sayings that we really can't explain to you exactly what they mean, but we've been hearing them all of our lives. My dad used to say… When he saw somebody stuck up, he'd go, "I wish I could buy them for what they're worth and sell them for what they think they're worth". Oh, that's cold. My mom used to… We'd watch the news, and they'd be talking about injustice or murder or something. She'd say, "God is going to cut a hole in the middle of the earth and swallow this whole world up, and he's going to start in California".
Why are y'all clapping? That's so funny. You said that all the time. "God is going to cut a hole…" That's terrifying for a 6-year-old. The first time I went to California, I had a little PTSD. I was 30 years old, and I was still scared. I heard it all my life. Now, isn't that a weird thing to have as a saying? "Who can stand up against the Anakites"? I guess you had to kind of be from there to get it. This doesn't sound like something you just say unprovoked. You know, like we say, "What's up"? or "How are you doing"? which doesn't mean, "How are you doing"? I really don't want you to answer that question. I'm just saying something polite. I'm just saying, "How are you doing"? but if you actually answer me, I'm going to be bored. So I don't really mean, "How are you"? This is not casual, and this is not unprovoked. This is an answer to a question that must have been asked at some point. It's so important. I must have you see this.
"Who can stand up against the Anakites"? You don't just say that randomly. You know, "How are you doing"? "Who can stand up against the Anakites"? That's not something you say unprovoked. Like, something came before that. What was it? Why is this such a common saying, that before Moses dies…? Y'all, he's weeks away from dying. Well, he's going to be buried. God is going to take him up and hide him from the Israelites so they won't go back to where Moses was so that they'll move forward, because God will do whatever he has to do in your life to get you to move forward into what he is bringing you into. He'll do that. Moses says, "You have heard it said, 'Who can stand up against the Anakites?'" Why would you say that unless you were asked? "Hey, why didn't we go into the Promised Land"?
You have to imagine that a conversation happened at some point between these children who were very little when they originally had the opportunity and the generation that died in the wilderness because they did not have the faith to enter. Maybe your kid asks you one day, "Hey, didn't God tell Abraham and Isaac and Jacob that he was going to bring us into a land flowing with milk and honey"? "Yes, he did, son". "Then why aren't we there"? "Anakites". "Why didn't you fight the Anakites? Isn't God greater than any other enemy"? And maybe they would have said, "Who can stand up against the Anakites"? It had become an ingrained answer for a faithless generation. It had become such an embedded excuse it was now a popular saying. "Well, I mean, who can stand up against the Anakites? Who can stand up against these giants? It's too big. It's too strong. It's too crazy. Nobody can do it".
Y'all, I want to say something from a pastoral heart, so lean in when I say this like if we were talking one on one. I'm very concerned that we slap labels on things to avoid having to work toward overcoming them, especially in this day we live in. It's like just because we give it a name or a diagnosis, we give it permission to stop us from becoming the person God made us to be. I apologize to you, because many times in this pulpit I have refrained from saying things like what I'm about to say because of people who would say, "Well, you don't know what I'm struggling with". "You preach about this, but you don't know that I'm going through that, so don't tell me this when I'm going through that".
That's fine. There's no place in the family of God to shame people for what they struggle with. You know me better than that. I am not one of these preachers who teaches you that if you have a dark day it's because there's an unconfessed sin in your life. If I would preach that to you, God would smack me. I'd fall off this stage and die. I'd have a cracked-open skull on the floor, because God knows I've had dark days. God knows I've had seasons I couldn't figure out. God knows sometimes I've done exactly what I thought he wanted me to do, and it failed, and I wondered why. So I will never do that to you. I will never accuse you, like, "If you struggle with anxiety, you don't trust God".
That's just not what I believe. I don't believe that if you struggle with anxiety you don't trust God. But I am concerned that you will accept anxiety as the norm of your life just because you can name it that. It's becoming really popular for us to just say, "Oh, I have anxiety. I can't go there". Well, if you do have anxiety, let's get treatment. Let's get help. Let's get therapy. Let's learn mechanisms. Let's start studying. Let's get through it little by little, bit by bit. I'll be here for you. I'll talk you through it. You can cry to me about it, but that's not going to stop me from possessing the peace God promised me just because I can say I struggle with it. Struggle is not surrender. Struggle means I'm coming up out of this. I'm moving forward from this. I'm going to do this for my kids, for their kids. I'm going to break it in the name of Jesus!
That's where the power is: in that process, where you get down in it and say, "No! I won't die in this. If God didn't bring it to me, he must want to bring me to it. In the name of the living God, go down, Goliath! Anakites"! You're anointed for the Anakites. That's what the Spirit is for. That's what the grace is for. That's what the prophecy is for. That's what the Word is for. Surrender to something just because you struggle with it. I talked to a guy one time. He said, "I just like porn". Who wouldn't begin to love something that was planted in their life that short-circuited their brain to a pleasure center tapped into dopamine, unknown amounts of dopamine, and flooded with hormones? Who wouldn't… "I just like it". That does not give you permission to lose to it for the rest of your life. You can beat it. You can do it. There are certain things we just give ourselves permission.
A young couple was telling me… (I'll just tell you what people tell me, but I won't tell you who they are, so it'll be all right. I'll change the names to protect the guilty.) They said, "Preaching like this is old fashioned (sexual purity). You can't stay sexually pure in this day and age. It's too much. We see too much on TikTok and this and that. These values don't even apply anymore". Anakites. Who can stand up against the Anakites? "I mean, come on. You can't possibly expect me to stay sexually pure, can you"? Well, that depends. Whose power are we tapping into? Is it you or is it him? Is he God or is he not? Is he faithful or is he not? Does he break face or did he get tired? Does he make ways or does he stand still? He is still God! I don't care what culture says. You can do it. I don't care what your parents said. You can do it. I don't care what your friends said. You can do it. I don't care what you've been saying to yourself.
Sometimes you have to stand up to yourself. Anakites. "Who can stand against the Anakites"? I asked Abbey one time… (You won't remember this. You were very small, precocious as you are now.) I said, "How did you get so beautiful"? She goes, "Uh, God". I almost wanted to call this message, "Uh, God," because I was trying to answer that question they had. "Who can stand up against the Anakites"? Uh, God. Try it real quick. Who can set you free from this body of death? Uh, God! Who can take the prejudices that have been in you all your life and show you a new way to be human? Uh, God! Who can make sure no matter what recession, depression, or oppression is coming next that God's people always have a place to eat?
Uh, God! I feel the spirit of a breakthrough coming through this room! You've been looking at Anakites, but you need to get back to the promise. "God can do that for me. God can do that for me. God can do it through me". Yes, he can! You know, as a matter of fact, that's the wrong question, "Who can stand up against the Anakites"? especially when we have Romans 8:31. The apostle Paul suggests an infinitely superior question. If God is for us, who can be against us? Who can stand against God? Who can fight against God? So that's why I'm going toward it. That's why I'm moving through it. That's why I'm progressing through this season: because I have a better question. Not "Who can stand against the Anakites"?
Who can stand against the purpose of a mighty God who spoke nothing into something, who multiplied something into something else, and who is touching and redeeming every life that is surrendered to him today? Who can take five loaves and two fish and feed an entire smorgasbord in the wilderness? Who can bring manna to the tent? Who can bring water from the rock? Uh, God. Here's what he said I'm going to do. Are you ready? You've been intimidated. You've been insecure. You've been going around and around in this wilderness, talking about, "Who can possibly overcome this? How could I possibly do it"? He said, "It's not your righteousness that brought you here to begin with. It has never been about you. I didn't choose you. I didn't put my hand on you because of something good in you. I put my hand on you because of something I purposed for your life that you didn't even understand".
See, this is your first time being here, but this is not God's. For the Bible said that God will go before you. So, when I wake up tomorrow morning… I have a lot of stuff I'm stressed about. I'm going to be honest with you. I have some challenges I can't figure out. I have some questions I can't answer. I have some difficulties I haven't overcome yet. But God says, "When you wake up tomorrow morning, don't think I'm waking up when you do". The Bible says he who watches Israel does not sleep nor slumber. So, when you wake up, God has been awake. God goes before you. Say it. "God goes before me". God doesn't follow me into challenges. God doesn't follow me into situations. God doesn't follow me into seasons. He says, "When you get there, I've been waiting for you. I've been preparing a place for you. I will prepare the table for you in the presence of your enemies, even if you walk through the valley of the shadow of death".
When you got to church this morning, God was already here. You don't have to ask him to show up. He was waiting to hover and break like a wave and move like a wind and speak like a voice from the mountain. God was already here. When you get to this next season that you keep trying to plan, but you're worried about tomorrow, so you're not trusting today, realize God is already in your tomorrow. God is already in it. He said, "I'm going to go before you, and I'm going to take those Anakites and, like a devouring fire, I'm going to subdue them". Verse 3 is the juice. I have to give you this juice right here. God said, "I'm going to go before you across ahead of you like a devouring fire". Watch what God will do. "He will destroy them…" Who? He! "…he will subdue them before you". Who? He! "And you will drive them out…" "I thought you were going to do it". The word of the Lord says he will go before you, but he won't do it for you. You will drive them out, not in your own strength and not in your own power, but in his process.
I decree and declare today… God said, "I'm not going to always bring it to you. I will bring you to it". Now you must decide whether to go forward. When your kids ask you about your Anakites, how will you answer? When your kids ask, "How did you stay alive and keep trusting God through what you went through"? how will you answer the question about your Anakites? "Well, you know, I just gave up. It was too hard. I just quit going to church because they hurt me at that church. I just quit trying because I felt so unworthy. I just quit trying because everybody else was stronger and taller and better than me".
Or are you going to tell them a story that "He brought me manna in the wilderness and water from a rock. He led me to a promise, and I had to fight for it. I had to fight every day to have joy. I had to fight to put food on the table. I had to fight to overcome what was spoken about me. I had to fight to overcome the diagnosis. I had to fight by the hospital bed. I had to fight for every inch we got, but we're living in it, because if God is for you, who can be against you"? For the giants you're facing, there is a God who is greater.
I impart the faith of the living God to your soul today. Lift your hands and receive it. Who can stand against depression? Who can stand against the record of sin and shame? Who can stand against the grave? Who can stand against defeat? Who can stand? God can, and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. You've been here before, baby. You've had to trust God before. You've wondered if it would work out before. You've felt this before, and your faith only got stronger. You're not dying in this. You've been here before, and when you get to your future, God is going to say, "I got here before you did". For he knows the plans he has for you. The Lord is directing me to pray for those who are in a wilderness season. It is a time of sifting from what you thought you wanted and what God really promised. It is a time that you learn to trust. It is a time that God gets you ready or, as one preacher said, he prepares you for what he is preparing for you.
Thank you, Lord, for the tables you've set. Thank you, Lord, for the victories you've planned. You said you're going to drive them out quickly. Oh, it has been a long time since some of us quickened our faith, God. Today, I thank you that you gave me a word that you will go before him. You will go before her.
Put your hand on the shoulder of the person on either side of you and just say very softly, "God will go before you". Say it again. "God will go before you". Tell them, "Don't worry. He's already there".
Oh, to believe this, God, to believe it, to receive it, to live like it, to step in it, to walk in it. If I delight myself in you, you will give me the desires of my heart. That means you'll put the new desires in, the you desires in. We thank you for the wilderness where you sifted some stuff. You sifted relationships. You sifted priorities. You sifted beliefs. We thank you for that, because if we didn't go through it, we wouldn't be ready. Now, Lord, as we stand on the precipice of the promises you've made that we have not yet possessed in our lives, we want you to have your good and perfect work in us, that we may trust you. Your promise, your word…it shall come to pass.