Steven Furtick - Focus On The Promise, Not The Problem
This is an excerpt from: The Power Of A Better Question
I want to speak that over every area of your life right now that God has promised. The question isn't… Has God given it? Joy, peace… all the fruit of the Spirit… love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That's the fruit of the Spirit. That's what grows from knowing God in the spirit of a believer. It's called the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and it's all yours. That's not the question about the fruit. It's the question… Will you go forward into it? Now we're going to see what happens when God is bringing you into something and the Devil is pulling you back to something at the same time.
The Power of a Better Question. Let's go to verse 17. "When Moses sent them to explore Canaan… " All of the leaders of the tribes. Just remember the leaders. I won't list them all. Just the leaders of the tribes, 12 of them. "… to explore Canaan… " That's what God had promised Abraham, and now he's bringing them into it. They are right on the cusp of it. You don't know how close you are. Y'all are looking at me in shock and disbelief. Tell the person next to you so they'll believe you, "You don't know how close you are". You don't know. They're coming into Canaan, but you'll remember, they just got out of Egypt. He told them, "Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many". It's an exploration. "What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not"?
It's like, "Moses, slow down. One thing at a time. Okay. I'm making my list. Good or bad? Unwalled or fortified? Trees or no trees? Fertile or poor soil"? Then he says, "'Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.' (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)" Say it: "It's eating season". I cancel every carbohydrate you're going to eat on Thursday. It's eating season. I hope you brought your elastic pants to church at Elevation Church, because it's eating season. I'm going to need a little room to grow, because it's eating season. I've been in starving season long enough. I've been in scavenger scrap season long enough. I've been in leftover living long enough. Now I'm coming to where the grapes are growing. It's time to eat! Verse 21: "So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak… " The giants.
You know this little Bible story. I promise you know it. You heard it one time. They have grapes (the promise). They have giants (the problem). This is really powerful. Watch this. Verse 23: "When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there". Eshkol means cluster in Hebrew. They're like, "It's a cluster of grapes. What do you want to call it"? "How about Cluster"? "Cool. Let's go back". Verse 25: "At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert… " They're still in the desert.
When you're in the desert, you ask desert-level questions. It's survival based. When you're in the desert, it's like, "How am I going to get through this day"? Let me back up a little bit. "How am I going to make it to 10:00 a.m".? Let me back it up a little bit. "How am I going to get out of the bed this morning"? Let me back it up a little bit more than that. "How am I going to get to sleep tonight with everything I have on my mind"? Those are desert questions. They are focused on limitation. They originate with Satan. "Did God really say you must not eat of any tree"? It's a limitation-based question, but God wants me to teach you on the power of a better question, a loaded question. Do you know the phrase? A loaded question. It contains more than appears on the surface. When Jesus asks, "What do you want"? he's not saying it like your kids just walked into your room and you're trying to have some married people time. "What do you want? Get out of here". He says, "What do you want? Let's start there, and let's move toward the deeper desire I created you for". It's a better question.
When you are in the desert, you let the Devil do all the question asking. "Who do you think you are dreaming like that? Who do you think you are putting yourself out there like that? What makes you think you can accomplish that? Well, if it was going to work, wouldn't it have worked by now"? Those are desert questions. It's when you've been used to not having enough or you've been used to somebody else oppressing you or something else oppressing you. Let's say it's an addiction. An addiction has been calling the shots. The only question you've been asking if you've been stuck in the throes of addiction is, "When can I get another hit of that"? By the way, it can be cocaine or it can be shopping. It can be Amazon just as easily as it can be heroin. We are not talking about one substance here. I'm coming for you today. God spoke to me. He said those are desert questions.
When you ask desert questions, you get dead-end answers. It doesn't open anything up. When you pick up your kids for school, don't ask, "How was your day"? because it gives them the option for a one-word answer: "Good" or "Bad". You have to ask them something more open. If you want to be creative, if you want to get your teenager to talk, you have to ask something different. I don't even know what the question would be yet, because I still haven't figured out how to get Graham to talk to me on the way home from school, but I'm working on it. I know what doesn't work is a "Yes or no," "Good or bad" answer. So, let's journey on in the text. "They [the spies] came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There [in the desert] they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: 'We went into the land [what God promised] to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!'" News flash: God is right. "Here is its fruit". "You wanted some grapes. We brought you some grapes".
Now, only the ones Joshua and Caleb would carry, because the rest of them wouldn't carry any fruit. Joshua and Caleb, the two spies they didn't name… They had a different spirit. They asked better questions. Instead of looking at how hard it was in the land and asking, "How in the world are we possibly going to do this"? they looked at the same situation… This is what I want you to see: God can give you the ability to look at a situation you were looking at as an impossibility and see it as an opportunity. There's a cluster of fruit… You know, the pomegranates, the figs, and the grapes. There's a cluster from Eshkol, but there's also a cluster happening between what God has called his people to do and the conflict they feel about it inside of themselves. It's a cluster. That's a negative word to me. I don't hear that usually about fruit. I usually hear it about stuff that goes wrong. "Man, it was a cluster". People say that. It's a cluster at Kadesh Barnea, because you have these 12 spies, and you have two of them who have faith to say, "Oh yeah. Taste this fruit. Get a little taste of this". At the same time they are getting a taste of tomorrow, they are being dragged back to a past that is beneath them.
Watch this. Verse 28: "But… " The fruit is just like God said it would be. "But the people… " The promise and the people. It's a cluster. The promise and the problems. It's a cluster. God told me to preach to somebody today who has a cluster right now in their life, in their mind, in their marriage, in their family. It's a cluster of fear and faith. It's a cluster of thoughts. You can't get it untangled. You can't really figure out if it has been a good year or a bad year. You don't really know what to think about it anymore. You don't know to think, "Is this my friend? Is this my enemy"? It's a cluster.
That's what's happening at Kadesh Barnea. The man of God, Moses, sent these spies out, and he asked them three simple questions, but they came back with a but. "'But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.' Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.'"
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and Philippians 4:13 hasn't even been written yet. "But the men… " There's another but. There's a promise. There's a problem. There's a but in between. "But God… " That's my favorite but in the Bible: "But God… " You don't understand. "But God, who is rich in mercy… " "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". I don't know if this sounds right, but you need another but. You need a new leader. You keep being led by your feelings. You keep being led by your frustrations. You keep being led by your limits. You need a new leader or you're going to die in the desert, in the wilderness of "What if"?