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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Do The New You

Steven Furtick - Do The New You

Steven Furtick - Do The New You
TOPICS: Do The New You

Are y'all ready for the Word? Sit down. I'm teaching today from Ephesians 4:14-24. I really will only talk about one verse, but you have to hear all of them or else it'll sound like some kind of Pinterest thing or some cute little quote. I'm not trying to do that today. I want to teach a little bit. I am excited. When you come to church, you get here… I know you leave the house and have to fight and all that. I'm already here for five hours, so the main thing I have to do when I start my sermons is tell myself, "Furtick, slow down. Let the people wake up". So, that's why I had Zeek sing a little bit: so I could slow down and just get ready to preach to you what I have been studying for the last several months. Ephesians, chapter 4. This new series is called Do the New You. Oh, we're going to talk about that a whole lot in the month of January.

I'm happy to see you. I'm happy you're here. Look at you getting in a good church rhythm at the beginning of the year. You have perfect church attendance so far this year. Tell the Devil that. Put a gold star in the Devil's face and tell him, "I showed up for church". Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 14. The apostle Paul says: "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people…" You have to watch out for people. Wouldn't life be wonderful if it wasn't for the people who get in the way? You could do everything God spoke to you if it wasn't for people. It's really easy for me to obey God in church, and then I have to get out there and run what he showed me in the playbook.

So, Paul says here we need to get to a point that we are grown past the opinions of people in their deceitful scheming, whether it's a marketer or a newscast or a political group, or any of that, whether it's something you've been taught in church that's wrong. Paul says, "I want you to grow past that into this". Watch verse 15. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed".

"Boy, Pastor Steven, you picked a cheerful Scripture for the New Year's sermon". Listen to this. It's about to turn. "That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness". When people give you advice that isn't helpful, what do you do? Smile at them. "Yeah, I'll pray about that". A dude was telling me the other day I need to preach a series on Bitcoin. I said, "I'll pray about that. Thank you for the input". Then I went on about my business. But when somebody you respect… Then it's different, even if you don't like what they say.

When my dad was diagnosed with ALS about 12 years ago… He was diagnosed about 12 years ago, and he went to heaven about 10 years ago. We went through a horrible period as a family. Some of it I can laugh about now, but we would get on the phone and try to talk to each other, and we couldn't even speak. It would turn into a shouting match. I'd get up and preach Sunday, and then get in a shouting match on the phone with my dad Tuesday and feel like a hypocrite about it, but I couldn't figure out a way past it. I tried to do all this, that, and the other. The point of this story is this pastor called me, somebody I really loved and respected, and said, "I heard about what you're going through with your dad, and I've been praying about it".

Now, he only talked to my dad about it. He didn't talk to me about it. So, he heard what he heard from who he heard it from. He said, "I heard what happened with your dad, and I just called to ask you one question, Steven. What would Jesus do"? Do you know what I thought? "Jesus would heal him, and I'm not Jesus. I might lay hands on him before it's all said and done. So, you can take your little WWJD wisdom. I had the bracelet too when I was 16. It's not that I don't know what I want in this relationship. I want reconciliation. I want to be by my dad's side. I want us to be able to take care of him". I mean, that's the reason we moved them to Charlotte. I wanted to be a part of that in any way I could, but it wasn't really knowing what to do; it was doing what I knew in the face of something in real time that was complicated.

In the passage I just read you, I don't know how much the apostle Paul sounds like that pastor who called me to you. He's telling you things to do that on the surface sound so simple. The way he starts it is so Paul. In verse 17, he's like, "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord…" Well, now what can I say back to you? Right? "So I tell you this…" "Okay. Tell me". "…and I insist on it…" "Okay". "…in the Lord". "Just say it"! He says the way you have been living that has been limiting you is not a product of the person God has called you to be. It is a product of the patterns of the world that you have copied unconsciously until now. Paul says, "I give you in this moment of your life," to the Ephesian church, and I believe he says it to Elevation Church, as well, at the beginning of a new year… A command, not a suggestion, on the authority of God's Word, not the advice of somebody you follow.

This is not TikTok truth. This is not a tip. This is not 19 ways to get it. This is something that God says from his own heart to you through the apostle, echoing through the eons. Right now this word stands in front of you. There comes a point in your life when doing you isn't working, and there comes a challenge to become what you've really been all along that has been buried. I believe this year is my year and your year to see some things manifest in our lives that we don't even have the faith to pray for anymore because it has been one way so long. I believe this is your year in your life to see character development at a level like you thought was only possible for other people before. You're going to become the kind of person you've admired this year. You're going to become someone you can trust in this year. You're going to become someone who keeps commitments they make in secret in public under pressure this year.

How do I know it's possible? Because God would not command it if he would not resource it. If God told me to do it, he'll show me how. All right. I feel good now. I got my preach back now. I've been a couple of weeks just sitting here by myself and hanging out with the family and have been thinking about this thing that people say: "Do you". It usually is a phrase that gives us permission to be different, even if what we're doing… Like this. "Oh, you're going to wear that? Well, do you. You like those? Do you". It means, "I wouldn't". "Hey, man, do you. You want to buy it? Buy it. Yeah, man, do you". Or it can be kind of like, "Man, don't listen to them. Do you. You don't have to do what they're doing over there. Do you".

I wonder, is that advice helpful, and when… This is what we're going to consider for the next four weeks. I'm giving you fair warning should you decide to skip. We are going to evaluate the point at which…check this…we use authenticity as an excuse for immaturity. Nobody in here wore a diaper to church unless they were carried and unless it's covered, I hope, yet at one time that's what you ran around the house in. Should you do you? Nobody in here over the age of 18 that I'm aware of is going to eat their meal only with their hands today unless it's a sandwich and a bag of chips, but at one time you did. Should you do you? Nobody in here today over the age of 21 is going to go home today… Unless there's a physical ailment. I understand that. There are exceptions to everything I say. Nobody is going to go in their lunch today and expect to be spoon fed something that's mashed up, but at one time you needed that.

Should you do you? Should you? Because that's what I hear a lot now. It's like, "Do you". We almost have elevated authenticity to the level of ultimate authority in our lives to give ourselves permission, not to make progress in areas of our lives. I just went through several physical examples that were awkward on purpose. At one time you wore a diaper. At one time you couldn't chew your food, yet people still come to church and say, "I want to be fed when I come to church". That's fine, because Jesus did tell Peter, "Feed my sheep". But guess what? You have to chew. I insist on it in the Lord. It's so funny how many people don't get strong from sermons they hear because you get fed… "I left that church because I wasn't getting fed". Maybe. Or maybe you didn't chew it. Maybe you didn't do it.

The Bible says, "He who comes to me and hears my words and doesn't put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand". Wait a minute. He heard the word. Shouldn't he be stronger from the word that he heard? Not if he didn't do it. One country preacher said, "The Word of God is like a can of paint. The value is in the application". So, I hear Paul in Ephesians 1-3… Holly and Brit and the team did a study that you're going to get January 22 for the eGroups where they go into Ephesians. I didn't even tell her that the Lord gave me a sermon from Ephesians because I wanted to surprise her. So surprise. Here I am all the way in Ephesians, chapter 4. In chapters 1-3, Paul is telling them what God did through the gospel, and then he makes a turn in chapter 4 where he starts talking about, "Now that God did that, you do this, because you can".

Some of the things he says in this passage were interesting to me. Look at verse 14. He says that when we grow up through the unity in our faith by committing ourselves to God's community and his process, we will no longer be (there it is) infants. We will no longer expect to be fed without doing any chewing of our own. We will no longer be immature. When I saw this connection, it kind of surprised me. He said that when you are stuck in spiritual infancy (check this out), you are tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Isn't that true? Haven't you found that to be true? Immaturity always manifests as instability. Haven't you noticed that? Like, in your own life, when there is an area in your life where God is trying to grow you or life is trying to grow you or challenges are trying to move you and you refuse to move past what God is trying to teach you to do, it will always result in instability.

Now, notice that he talks about the waves and the wind, which are both external metaphors for the things that happen to us in our lives. What he says in the passage is not that our spiritual maturity guarantees the elimination of wind and waves. He says your spiritual growth and maturity will guarantee that because God is your strength, your source, and your firm foundation, you will have a stable place in any storm. When I prophesy over your life that God is going to do great things this year, I am not prophesying the absence of any external challenge, for that is above and beyond my pay grade. What I am prophesying in the name of Jesus is that there is a seed of the Word of God inside of you, trying to come up out of the soil, that will enable you to see life everywhere you look this year, and you will not be moved anymore by all of the happenings of life like you were in the past.

So, I want to ask a question for you to consider. How has your instability in life been caused by an area of immaturity in your life? What waves are you blaming for the way you are right now when the real problem is within? What wind are you cursing because you avoided dealing with the storms inside? This is how the Lord led me to start the year: to tell you that you get to choose this year whether to grow into what God has called you or continue to be stuck in the rut of what was because of what you saw, because of what you've been through, and because of what you've known. One reason I don't believe in the saying "Do you" as a general piece of advice is because it assumes you know you, and you don't. Find one of these church people who's in here today lifting their hands praising God. Follow them to their kid's sporting event and see if they are the same they were on Sunday.

See, I've met some of y'all in other locations than church, and I was surprised what I saw. You were lifting your whole hands in here, and then you were lifting individual fingers when I saw you at your kid's basketball game. So, if I tell you, "Do you," I don't know which one is going to show up for the audition for the role and maybe clear the room. That's bad advice. One time a preacher told me, "Hey, man. Come preach for us". I said, "Okay". He said, "And just be you". I said, "Oh, no. That's the last thing you want to tell me. I need to get with God. If I show up me without God, your church will split". I'm not saying I have multiple personalities, but I'm saying I'm affected by things. I'm affected by moods. Oh, the me in the morning is not the me I want to send into my week.

Let me talk a little bit about this topic: how to defy your default setting. I'm just setting y'all up this week. I hope you're going to stick with me for January. A lot of us accept our default setting in a situation as our destiny. When I wake up in the morning, my first thought isn't, "Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father". One man said, "I don't wake up in the morning and say, 'Good morning, Lord.' I wake up and say, 'Good Lord, it's morning.'" That's me. That's morning me. Not only is my breath bad in the morning, but my beliefs are bad too. Y'all brush your teeth? I have to brush my beliefs in the morning. I have to. I promise you I have to. If I don't do that in the morning, there's going to be a meltdown by 10:00 a.m., maybe two in the best-case scenario.

What I'm learning not only from my life but from this passage as I study it is that the awareness of how I start doesn't have to become indicative of where I end, and I cannot use authenticity as permission to sin. I can't just wake up and think a certain way and act a certain way if I belong to God and just call it being real. He didn't say, "Be real". He said, "Be righteous". "Oh, no. I'm just saying what I feel". Who told you to do that? "I'm just speaking my mind". What a horrible book to be speaking from. The book of your mind? The book of your brain, which has been, what the Scripture says, corrupted by deceitful desires? That's the problem.

"Do you". Which me? The me that wants to be happy right now at all costs or the me that will thank me in 10 years for the decisions I made right now? Which one? "Do you". Which one? The one that's going to kick my butt if I keep acting like this for the next five years? The me I don't want to see reproduced in my kids? That one? Just do that? "Yeah, just do you". Just do me, just like my dad did him? No. I believe there is a power in Christ for you to decide, "I don't want to be like what I came from. I want to be like I was created for". So, I wake up in the morning. I have to get some of God's Word. I can't start responding to texts first thing in the morning. I can't touch the screen and start telling people what I think and what I feel first thing in the morning.

I have to get to Deuteronomy, chapter 7, and see what God says. Then maybe I can say something. I have a little gratitude journal. I have to write some things down I'm thankful for in the morning so I don't just start thinking about what I need today, because I'll start the whole day in a deficit, all day running around thinking like I don't have enough strength, I don't have enough energy, unless I start somewhere else. "No, just do you". I'm not doing that anymore. I did me. It almost killed me. I did me, but I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live. I did me. That's too small of an apartment for me to live in. That apartment has roaches. That apartment doesn't have any electricity. That thing is corrupted, corroded, and deceived by sin.

So, I came with a New Year's series to tell you…not me, but in the Lord…that you are being called this year to do the new you. You are not supposed to like new when you first start doing it, and you don't have to like it at first to do it. I went up, Buck, and counted. I've done 2,100-and-something workouts since we built the Pound. That's the little workout room at my house. When we met, I was so inconsistent in working out I was like, "You know, man, I'm just really not one of these guys who comes in and works out consistently. I do it when I can get around to it". I told him that. I was doing me. I told him how I would and wouldn't exercise, but you know what? They got in there and helped me and kept me accountable, and then I counted. It has been eight years now that I've done my workouts, like, five times a week. Y'all don't even care. I'm not bragging.

You're like, "Why are you bragging? If you work out, work out. Don't come up here bragging about it. Preach the Word, man. I don't need to hear all this". I'm telling you, I saw myself as a certain kind of person for all my life. Even the other day, I was telling somebody, "I'm not one of these people who just likes to work out". Then I thought, "Yes, you are". I did the math. If I've been doing that for, like, eight years… You're not supposed to really start working out until you're… How old, Matt? Fourteen, probably, is about the earliest you want to lift weights. That is a good 30 percent of my life that I've been doing it. So I am a person who likes to work out. Imagine that. My default wasn't to do that, but my default is not my destiny. My decisions are. How about that?

Paul says to put off the old way of seeing yourself and put on what he calls the attitude of Christ. What does that mean to put on the new self? I can't see it like a jacket. I can't see it like a hat. I can't see it like a raincoat. I can't see it like New Balances. I can't see it like it's in my wardrobe. It lives within me, but I have the decision to make every day of my life which one I will choose. Every day, every hour, every moment I am deciding, and you are deciding, which you you will do this year. Do you, the one who was made new in the attitude of your mind. Put on the new self. Now we're going to do some study in the text here. In verse 24, he says the new self was created to be like God, and then in verse 23, he says the old self is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.

Let's really look at both of those verses. This is the nexus of Christian praxis. In order to see ourselves as God sees us is not a matter of abstract, ethereal, and philosophical debate. It's a matter of practice. So watch this. He said (verse 23) the old self is being corrupted by the deceitful desires…what you think you want, what you want right now, what the world tells you you should want, what people spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns to get you to think if you had it you would be happy, all of the images you see of the life you imagine that would actually make you happy that is really empty at the bottom of it if it doesn't have God in the middle of it… He says that self is being corrupted and to put on (verse 24) the new self, which was created. Oh, I like that, that they both start with the same letter. I can preach this. One is being corrupted and one was created.

So, when you have an outburst of anger or when you reach for the pills because that's the only way you know how to escape your pain or when you manipulate situations or when you spend until 3:30 a.m. looking at porn and then can't connect in real life or when you find yourself holding on to grudges and trying to pay people back… When you do those things, which are very common in the world, and you say, "That's just how I am," and then Paul says in Ephesians 4:24 that at the heart of the New Testament is the fact that you were created to be like God, and then in verse 22, that the old self, the former way of life, is being corrupted… That means my daily decision is "Corrupted me or created me"? You got it? Why this blesses me so much is that it lets me know that at my core I'm a child of God, that at my core I'm a new creation in Christ.

If you cut me open, Christ would be there. If you ripped open this frame, if you ripped open this body, if you ripped open this physical appearance that you see, at the core of that would be Christ, because I was created to be like God. In true righteousness, not self-righteousness, not the appearance of righteousness. Created to be like God. Not to be god. That's a whole different thing. That's what some of us have been trying to do that keeps us so stressed out. We keep trying to be god over our lives. We keep trying to decide, "What can I do? What should I do"? Then when it doesn't work and when we're weary, we come running. But God said you weren't created to be god. You were created to be conformed to the image of God who made you. You were created to be new, but you are being corrupted by the patterns of the world.

When your mind has been corrupted long enough with patterns of thinking and patterns of speaking, which Ephesians 4 addresses very clearly, you begin to identify with the issues you struggle with more than the image of the God you were made in. So now when you act up and sin and miss it, you think, "That's just me". Now you are using self-awareness as a permission slip to stay stuck in sin. Paul gets right up in the middle of it, and he's like, "I have one question. What would Jesus do"? I'm like, "Paul, I am not Jesus. Jesus is the pure, spotless Lamb of God, Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. I'm not even a letter in the alphabet. He's the first one, the last one, the omicron…he's all of it. I can't do it without Jesus". He's like, "Exactly".

So, that's where I want you to go to get your truth, the truth that is in Jesus. I am sending back to the pit of hell this phrase that got popular in our culture a few years ago: "Live your truth". To hell with your truth. The truth is in Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. You can't come to the Father without him. You can't be right with God without him. You can't be cleansed without him. You can't make it without him. It is his breath in your lungs. It is his hand on your life. It is his grace that justifies. It is he who raises up one and brings down another. The truth is in Jesus, not me. I don't speak my mind; I speak Jesus. I don't speak my fear; I speak Jesus. I don't live by what I see; I live by faith in the Son of God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live.

So, I'm doing me, but it's not the "me" you see. It's the "me" that's kicking on the inside. It's the "me" that's coming up alive. It's the "me" that trauma couldn't kill. It's the "me" that drama can't distract. It's the "me" that this world can't corrupt. So do you…the new you. Yeah, the new you, the one that apologizes when you're wrong. That one. Not the one that takes three weeks to come around and see it either. The one that says in the middle of my sentence, "Oh, I'm sorry. I don't talk like this. I'm sorry, y'all. That's not me. That's not the me I want to be. That's not what God is calling me into in 2023. It's a new me, 2023". Yeah, it rhymes. It's good. I'm going to preach it. I'm flowing in it. This is your year to break away with everything you told yourself was true.

There is a new you, and guess what? The new you is the one God knows. Imagine yourself free. God knows that you. Imagine yourself whole. God knows that you. Imagine yourself able to wait and be patient and not respond to every feeling that passes through your central nervous system. God knows that you. When I see myself how God sees me and come into alignment with the word he spoke over me, it's new to me, but not to God. It's new to me, but not to him. One time, he was calling this prophet named Jeremiah, and the prophet Jeremiah was full of excuses, just like you and just like me. I met this fellow last year on Elevation Nights named Brendon Burchard. He does a great group for growth online. Look him up. He was saying these three things we say to ourselves all the time, and I identified with every single one of them. Are you ready? These are the excuses you use to do you at the lower level.

First, you say, "I don't know how". Second, "I don't have it". Third, "I'm not like them". Let's break it down. First, "I don't know how". How many of you had a challenge in 2022 and excused yourself from embracing it, that God was calling you higher, but you didn't go because you didn't know how? Raise your hand. My hand was the first one up, and the rest of y'all are hypocrites, because you either didn't listen or you just want to lie about it. "I don't know how to do that". Second one: "I don't have that". Raise your hand if you made that last year. "I don't have that". Yeah. You could say that about money, time, energy, health, education. What else? Y'all probably have something I haven't thought of. Y'all are way more dysfunctional than me. Give me some material here. No, I promise you that's not true. That's very sarcastic. What is it? I don't know how to resist it? Oh, be consistent.

I liked "resist it" better, because that's what I think. Like, "'Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.' I don't know how to fight this". When you've been giving in to something… You can just nod like you don't know what I'm talking about. When you've been giving in to something since you were 10, it's really hard for you to believe you can overcome that. Listen. You don't have to admit that what I just said struck a chord. Just do you. Pretend like you don't struggle with that. You're such an angel, and I respect you and admire you. "I don't know how to resist it. I don't know how to be consistent".

Well, for me, when I started my workouts (this is so corny), I put a chart on my wall where I could put stars every time I worked out because I thought that would reinforce the behavior. I looked like I was 7 years old down there. I'm a grown man with a beard putting stars on a chart, and I still do it. I filled that sucker up this year. I ran out of blue stars and had to start using the gold ones this year. That's how good I did it, because I'm changing. I'm changing. "Oh, I'm not one of these workout people". Well, maybe I am. Maybe I can be one. Maybe I can get a chart. Maybe I am consistent. I'm consistent in this area. Why can't I be consistent in that area? I'm growing up in every respect. I control my tongue in this situation. Why can't I control it in that situation? I made a good decision Monday. Why can't I do it again Tuesday? Why can't I do it again Wednesday? It looks like you know how to be consistent. You're here at church on the first Sunday of the year.

That's how you do it! Now do it again and do it again! I just taught you a whole seminar on consistency. That wasn't true. You know how to be consistent. You know how to do it. It is not knowing what to do; it is doing what you knew that you didn't do last time. I'm not fussing at you. I'm just saying I don't know how to be consistent in some areas of my life either. I struggle with it, but by showing up, God's strength is released. "I don't know how. I don't have it. I don't have that intellectual ability. I can't do that like that". Don't you think I felt like that trying to teach each of my kids about sports? "I don't know how to teach you how to do this. I got to the basic level in all of the sports I played and nothing beyond that, so if you get good, I'm done. I don't know how, but I know how to support you. I know how to show up. I know how to demonstrate in my area of competency the discipline you need to demonstrate in your area of competency and giftedness and calling".

So I do know how, and if I don't know how and I need to do it, I'll learn. I'll look it up on YouTube. I could look up anything. I'll ask a friend. I have a lot more friends. Then the biggest lie of all: "I'm not like them". "Man, they have a good marriage because their parents had a good marriage. I can't do that. My dad wasn't around". "I'm not like those people who grew up there. They know how to deal with money because they grew up around money. I don't know how to deal with money". "They know how to pray because they grew up in church. I don't know all of these Bible stories". Some of you are here for the first Sunday of this year, and the whole time you've been here you've been feeling like, "I don't fit in. I don't know these words. I don't know these songs. Why are people standing up and sitting down and standing up and sitting down and standing up and sitting down? And how long does this sermon last anyway? I'm not like these church people".

Oh, we are all corrupted. Go with them in the parking lot. You might catch them cussing before they even get off the church property if I preach long enough and let the traffic get backed up. Don't let anybody intimidate you and make you insecure. You just have to grow into what God gave you. We're all struggling. We'll talk about it sometime. One time I'll tell you all my stuff and you can tell me all yours, and then we'll cry over it, and then we will say, "Okay. That's where we're starting. That's not where we're staying". So, God wanted Jeremiah to go preach, and the Bible says in Jeremiah 1:4, "The word of the Lord came to me". The word of the Lord existed before the world existed. "In the beginning was the Word".

You know how the book of Genesis says, "In the beginning God…" The book of John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". So, when Jeremiah says, "The word of the Lord came to me," it wasn't just advice he got. It wasn't just an instruction he got. It wasn't just something he thought he would try for his New Year's goal. It was God himself showing up and saying, "Jeremiah, I've given you an assignment. There are invaders coming from the north, and I want you to preach to my people and warn them and instruct them, and do it through your tears. There's going to be crying involved, and there are going to be challenges involved, and there's going to be self-doubt involved". He said, "Before you were born, before I formed you in the womb, I knew you".

Before this world got ahold of you, before depression set in and put you in the bed, before you got in this state, this emergency situation that you don't know how you're going to get out of, before you were molested, before you were abused, before you were left, before any of that happened to you, before the mistake, before the failure, before the dumb idea, before the addiction gripped you, God said, "I knew you". He knew you. He knew you'd be in trouble. He knew you'd be 36 and single. He knew you'd be struggling. He knew you'd be sad. He knew you'd be melancholy. He knew you'd need a job. He knew you'd be behind financially. He knew they'd walk away. He knew you. You didn't know it; God knew it. You didn't see it coming; he saw it coming. He said, "I know the plans I have for you".

Before any of the crap happened, God said, "I have intimate knowledge of your intellect. I see your integrity even when it falters. I see the man you're going to be if you don't leave and walk away. I see, if you submit to the process, how strong you're going to be. I see the testimony you're going to be telling your kids 10 years from now, talking about, 'Here's what God did in our home.'" "Here's what I almost did, but God brought me back in 2023, and he brought me to church to tell me 'Do it…the new you.'" "I knew you. I created you before you were corrupted. So I want you to take off what happened to you. Take off the way you've been thinking about it. Take off the story you've been telling yourself. Take off that guilt. Take off that shame. Put it all at the foot of the cross and cast it all on the back of the Christ who paid the price for your sins to be forgiven. It's under the blood now. We're going forward now. We're not talking about that for the rest of your life. We're turning it into something miraculous. It's time to bring it out of the oven, baby. It's ready to rise. That's why I brought you to Elevation. I'm bringing you up! Come up!"

Come up and build it! Come up and establish it! Come up and start it! Come up and change it! Come up and break it! Come up! Do it! Do it until it's second nature. Do it until it's how you think. Do it until it naturally comes out of your mouth. Do it until it's not so hard anymore. Do it awkward. Do it clumsy. Do it over. "Sorry, I messed that up. Let me try again". Do it. Do the new you, the one God knew, the one people don't always see. You're a good person. You have a better heart than you have habits. What you've been calling your personality is just your patterns. If we change your patterns… God is about to release potential in your life this year that you didn't even think was possible. This is what the Lord said. "Before you were born, before I formed you in the womb, I knew you".

You think you know you? You don't know you. God knows you. You know what you've experienced. You don't know you. How many of you don't know the person you're sitting next to? Raise your hand. Every hand better go up. You don't know what they would do. They don't know what they would do in a situation they haven't been through yet. You don't know what they could be. You've only ever seen them in the shackles of their past. You don't know them. God knows them. That's the one I want to do this year, and it's going to be hard for me because…I'm not going to lie…I'm pretty opinionated about myself. "This is how I am. I don't do that". Somebody asked me for a meeting the other day. It was important. They said, "I can only meet at 6:15 a.m". I said, "I'm not a morning…" But I never read in the book of Ephesians about the morning people and the night people. I only read about the old self and the new self. I cut myself off midsentence.

I said, "I'm not a mor… I'll see you at 6:15," because it's important to me. I got up 45 minutes early, did a lot of coffee, and then did it. Imagine that. You could just do that. It would be amazing. It would shock you. Now, the thing I have to get you to see is we're going to have to really work on this and work through this, because your first instinct is going to be always to hold tight to what feels the most familiar. If that's anger, if that's complaining, if that's blaming, if that's diminishing yourself, if that's criticizing others… If that's how you always bond, then that's what you're going to naturally think you should do, but what feels the most natural isn't the truest thing about you. What God has put within you and spoken over you, the truth that is in Jesus…that's you.

Then when you find yourself outside of that, you go, "Oh, that's not me. That's not how I want to respond". "Oh, I'm just a late person". No, you're not. You're a person who doesn't know how to calculate how long a task will actually take and tries to get too much done before you leave. You are actually a very efficient person who just hasn't learned to be realistic in their efficiency. Give God a praise, all of the formerly late people. That's all that is. So, I'm going to break it down, but watch what Jeremiah said when the Lord said, "I've called you. I've chosen you. I created you to do it. I have a job for you". Now watch Jeremiah's response. This is what we must move past. In verse 6 he says, "Alas, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am too young". He did all three of the things in one sentence. "I don't know how, I don't have the experience, and I'm not like these people who have wisdom and can speak".

That's what has been going through your mind all of last year that kept you stuck. His answer was in his excuse if he had stopped talking. Verse 6: "Alas, Sovereign Lord…" That word means he's in charge, not you. That word means he knows what's in you. You don't. That word means his assignment is always accompanied by his enablement. Sovereign Lord. His plan, his purpose. Sovereign Lord. Then the Lord told Jeremiah (verse 7), "Don't say, 'I'm too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them…" This is the word of the Lord. Receive it. "…for I am with you". That's what you need to know at the beginning of this year. The truest thing about you is that God is with you. "I am with you".

Look at this. After he gave him the promise, he gave him the provision. This is so beautiful. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for showing me this. "'I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said, 'I have put my words in your mouth.'" Now speak it. Now decree it. Now do it. Now go for it. Now begin it. God is going to give it to you as you go. He's going to show you how to do this. I know you don't know how. I know you don't have it. He touches your mouth after he gives you the command. It is in obedience that potential is realized. Right now, all over this room, there are new beginnings trying to crack through the cement of layers and layers of corruption. What we want to do right now is set the atmosphere in our hearts and our homes for whatever God wants to do this year. I want you to join hands or make contact on the shoulder of the person on either side of you. I want you to span the aisles.

I don't want anybody untouched on either side unless you're at the end of the row. I want everybody joining up at every location. Now look at me, every location…Elevation Matthews, Elevation Uptown, Blakeney, Riverwalk, University City, Gaston, Toronto, Concord, Lake Norman, Raleigh, Roanoke, Melbourne, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Morrisville, Columbia, Greenville, Durham, Orlando, Ballantyne, and eFam online all over the world. Where are y'all from? Look at that. Can I tell you something really quick? I want to close my sermon this way. I was going to open it this way, but for some reason the Lord wouldn't let me, and it must be because of now. I hope you like their hand, because you're going to be holding it for about two more minutes. I hope their palms aren't too sweaty.

Look at me. Yesterday, I went to watch Graham wrestle at Porter Ridge High School. That was our first second campus of Elevation Church. We were meeting at Providence High School. It got full. A man came to meet with me named John Butler. John Butler was a Baptist minister, so I always called him "John the Baptist," and he thought that was funny. He was attending the church at the time. He was also employed by the Baptist Convention. He said, "The church is full. That's amazing, but you need to keep growing". He said, "You can't just contain it. If you tell people to invite their friends, but there's nowhere for their friends to sit, that's a problem, so you need to open another campus".

I said, "Cool". He said, "I've got $300,000 in the Baptist Convention account that I will give you to start a campus". I said, "Great. I've got a friend named Travis. I'll call him and tell him that you're looking for a church planter". He said, "No, you". I said, "But I can't do… I'm preaching at one. I can't preach at the other". He goes, "I'm talking about you on video preaching". I looked at him and said, "That's not me". Elevation Matthews, Elevation Uptown, Elevation Blakeney, Elevation Riverwalk, Elevation University City, Elevation Gaston, Elevation Toronto, Elevation Concord, Elevation Lake Norman, Raleigh, Roanoke, Melbourne, Elevation Winston-Salem, Elevation Asheville, Elevation Morrisville, Columbia, Greenville, Durham, Orlando, Ballantyne, eFam, Argentina, Seattle, Arizona… I didn't know we could reach this many people. He knew.

That man looked at me and said, "Pastor, you can do this two ways. If you try to follow God and get ahead of him, he'll shut the door. If God says, 'Follow me' and you won't, he'll pick somebody else. Do you want to do it"? Do you want to break the curse in your family line? Do you want to be in a position five years from now where you can help somebody else through the same dang thing that has been tormenting you? Let's do it then. Let's do it. Every week God gives me strength I'll be up here helping you. Drag your tired butt in here in slippers if you have to, and I'll preach to you. Log on when you're not here.

Father, in the name of Jesus, I release the potential of your children in Jesus' name to become everything they were called to be, until we grow up, until we grow out of our guilt, until we grow out of our grief, until we grow past it and become vessels of honor fit for the Master's use. I thank you that addictions will be broken under the power of your word this year. I thank you that poverty will be eliminated from the cycle of families this year by your word. I thank you that lost children who aren't living for Jesus are coming home quoting Scripture this Christmas, in Jesus' name. I thank you no wind and no wave will be possible to destabilize your children. I thank you our church is growing into new communities, your kingdom expanding. Recession, you can do what you've got to do, but Jehovah-Jireh is looking over his children.

We trust in God! We trust in the Almighty! He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or think or imagine. Give God 23 seconds of great praise! Come on, that's not good enough! Lift up a shout of praise!
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