Steven Furtick - Destiny Is Not A Drive-Thru
This is an excerpt from: #HarvestProblems
I think the hardest part about preaching is certain things that we understand at a conceptual level we don't really understand on a practical level. Our spirituality can often be so abstract it doesn't really make a difference in our day-to-day lives. That would make me feel like a failure if all I did was make you feel okay for 45 minutes while you were here, because my job is to give you something that will strengthen you, and I take that job seriously. It's a challenge because… Take the two verses we just read. Verse 35 is the one I'm thinking about. Jesus is quoting a proverb. It's a farming proverb, a Middle Eastern proverb. It's ancient. It's not something we walk around saying. He says to his audience, "Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'"?
We don't have that saying, so now I'm trying to take a saying that they said that we never say… Most of us don't walk around saying that. Maybe you do. "It's four months till harvest". It's not exactly a part of our modern vernacular. It's doubly hard, because this is an agricultural culture, and most of us don't have a lot of familiarity with farming. Any farmers in the house? See, not that many. It's hard for me to use an agricultural example in an app store world. Context is so important. Context is how you have compassion for someone. You can talk about what "they" ought to do, but you are not them, and if you were them you might not be doing as well as they are doing with the situation they're living up under. Without understanding someone's context, it's very hard to have compassion for them.
That's why I make Holly preach a couple of times a year: so she can put up with me better. She's really nice to me after she preaches, because once she understands what it's like to have to stand up and look at you, try to get you excited… Some of y'all are sitting there, "Bless me if you can, big boy". So I make her do it a couple of times a year, and maybe that's why she leaves the kids with me a couple of times a year without any help, just so we can understand one another's context. Every concept needs a context, and context is what brings clarity. They text you something, you get offended, and then you find out they had the worst day of their life and they were at the hospital and it really wasn't that they were trying to be short with you. It's just that their world doesn't revolve around you, so it turns out you were mad at them for nothing, but you wouldn't have known that unless you got the full context.
Maybe you've thought a certain thing about black people or white people or people who are in the medical profession, and then you have a family member who's in the medical profession or you have somebody come into your family who's black or white, and now all of a sudden you have to take what was a concept, which is "All people are created equal," and you have to work it into the context of practical application. It becomes more difficult than to shout about unity when everybody in the church is white or black. Concepts are sometimes sexy.
Do you want an example? I can tell you want an example. You've heard of "first world problems". You might have heard of "white girl problems". One time, one of my friends said he was going to make a hashtag, because I was telling him about our parking situation at the church. I was telling it to him like it was a problem, and he said, "I'm going to make a hashtag for you: #blessedchurchproblems". The concept of a growing church sounds good until you have to find a parking space in a growing church…in the rain…on the week after Easter. Just hypothetically speaking here. Isn't it funny how many things are hypothetically really fun to talk about?
To talk about a harvest… I have been in this game for a little while now. I've been preaching since I was 16. That's 21 years. Whoa. I've been all over the world and preached. Praise the Lord for it. Sometimes when you get to preaching it doesn't go too well, so you have these little things as a preacher that you can go to to help you if the crowd is not into it. If the crowd is kind of hard, you can talk about, "Shout and the walls will fall"! and you can get a response from it. One time Graham heard me say that. "Shout till the walls fall down"! He said, "Daddy, why would you want the walls to fall down"? Think about it. He doesn't know Joshua, chapter 6, that the Israelites were going into Canaan and they had a command from God to defeat all of these different possessors of the land so they could have the promise. In his mind, if the walls collapse, that's bad.
Just like if I said right now in a different context to this section of the Ballantyne location, "Shout and the walls will fall," you would either be quiet or move. You don't want the walls to fall. Something about the context of it, that there are things in your life that are keeping you from what God has promised you, and on the other side of that wall is the promise of God, and now when I tell you, "If you praise him, whatever is blocking your perspective, every partition that is keeping you from possessing the promise of God is going to fall in your life. Now shout and the walls are going to fall". The walls fall. Then what? Well, then you have to fight.
Now do you still want to shout now that we have it in context? People shout over victory, but they don't want any battles. The concept, "I am more than a conqueror…" Yeah, but you don't want any conflict. How are you going to be a conqueror without a conflict? What are you going to fight? Your couch cushions? This thing about context really gets me. "I'm going to church today". That's not bad. I think you should come to church, and it's okay to say, "I'm going to church". I know what you mean. They didn't mean that in the original context of the Bible. The church was not a building. It wasn't a 501(c)(3) organization. They didn't have all that, so church couldn't be where they went; it had to be who they were, and they had to take it. When people called them a cult, they knew who they were.
"We are the church. You can call us a cult. You can say what you want about us, but the more you persecute us, the more we will populate the earth with the purpose of God". So in our context when we say, "Are you going to church?" it would be foreign to the early church. They would go, "Going to church? When are you ever not church? Church is what you are". We use the word worship… Our concept of worship… We'll say, "I missed worship, but I got there for the Word". To Paul it would be one thing. He would not understand that concept, because he got ready to define worship one time, and he said, "Therefore, in view of God's mercy…" That's the context: what he has done for you. "…offer yourself as a living sacrifice".
That's like that animal they would put on the altar in the Old Testament, and that animal would have to die for the sacrifice to be acceptable. He said your life ought to be like that sacrifice. You are dead to your self. You are dead to your preference. You are alive to the purpose of God. "This," Paul said, "is your spiritual act of worship". Not just this. "Hallelujah, hallelujah". No, no, no. It's a bigger context. Sometimes you get clarity not by zooming in but by zooming out and seeing the concept in a larger context. What happens is we use terminology in a way it was never intended to be used, and we water down the meaning of it. So this becomes a performance. Rather than participating in it, rather than contributing, you consume it. We do it all the time.
The other day I sent a text message to somebody, and they didn't respond. It wasn't because what I said earlier, that they had a bad day. It's because now you don't have to respond to a text message, at least on an iPhone (which Christians use). You can just "like" the message like you can "like" a post. Have you seen this yet? You can just tap the screen. It's not even called "liking" it. It's called "loving" it. You hit the heart and you "love" the message. So now we have love… "God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son". So love sacrifices even his only son, but now love taps a screen. It's not bad. I'm not saying don't do it. I'm not saying don't go to church. I'm not saying we can't call it worship. We have a whole team called Elevation Worship.
My point is that every concept needs a context. When we say harvest, most of us have no idea… As my mom used to say, "You wouldn't know a harvest if it hit you upside the head". My mom used to say that to me. I'd say, "Mom, this is hard. This homework is hard". She'd say, "You wouldn't know hard work if it hit you upside the head". She would say that to me as a little boy. The context in which we hear harvest is much different… Again, how many of you grew up on a farm? I do not mean you had cucumbers in your backyard one time. I mean like you have real farm experience. Raise your hand. Like really. Because I don't, and I need a little help. I'm reading this passage where Jesus said, "You have a saying, 'Four months till harvest.'" When I hear harvest, I get happy, because that means God is about to do something in my life. When I hear harvest, what I hear is, "I've worked hard. I plowed. I sowed. I watered. I cried. I waited. I was patient. I wasn't weary in well doing, and now I'm going to reap what I sowed. Now it's time for me to sit back and enjoy the harvest".
Harvest is the time, if you live on the farm, where you just sit back and… Oh. No? Hold on. This sister is helping me. She has context that we don't have. How many of you have never been on a farm, don't intend to be on a farm, and don't even like to warm up stuff in the microwave because it takes a little too long? In my mind I heard harvest, like the walls fall down. Breakthrough. When I hear harvest, I feel like it means God is about to hook me up. Now I've really worked… But that's not how it is? You grew up on a farm, a real farm? I'm going to say what she says in my microphone, because she's saying some stuff and I want you to hear it, but I don't know her, so I'm not giving her a microphone at this point in our relationship. It's too early. So during harvest you sleep in? Oh. No? My concept of harvest is the blessing.
Listen to what this girl just said. I might give her a microphone if she keeps preaching. You didn't hear her. Turn to your neighbor and tell your neighbor what she just said. She said, "The corn is not going to pick itself". It's not going to pick itself. You have a saying, "The harvest is here". Well, maybe the concept of harvest has been a little watered down, and maybe we don't understand.
I heard a preacher preach one time, and he said, "The harvest is the hardest part". That's when you're waking up the earliest, and that's when you're going to bed the latest: during the harvest. I just noticed something. They stopped shouting now. The first time I said, "The harvest is here," there was a lot of shouting, but we gave it context, and now I'm realizing that harvest isn't like Krispy Kreme. Harvest is not a "Hot Now" sign. Harvest doesn't mean I drive through and pick it up and eat it while I'm driving off. Ask our worship team about the harvest. Pray for them. They've been out on the road on this tour. We wrote these songs in the church, and we've been singing them, and now they're being sung all over the world.[/b]
So guess what they're doing? They are working. They've been touring. I think they're going to 22 cities, a lot of cities, to get the harvest. We sowed, and now we want to reap, but you can't reap with your feet up. It's hard. Harvest is hard. Preaching is hard. You're eating. You don't have to study anything to come here. You don't have to write anything down. You can just steal the pen and use it for other ungodly purposes. But for me, it's not easy. People will say, "Oh, didn't you enjoy Easter, Pastor Steven"? No, not really. It was exhausting. All of those different worship experiences. Now I'm going to enjoy the result of it, but reaping isn't easy. Somebody said to me this week, "I can't wait to hear the sermon and see what God downloaded". It wasn't a download. I dug it out. I dug this out so you could get the download. What you receive as a download somebody had to dig out. It takes work. Somebody had to sow so that you could reap.