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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Don't Fight Your Future

Steven Furtick - Don't Fight Your Future

Steven Furtick - Don't Fight Your Future
TOPICS: Do The New You

Welcome to all of our locations. In YouTube, put where you're watching from, eFam, and we're going to pick 10 of y'all out and send you… What do we send them? What hoodies do we have the most of that are overstocked that nobody buys anymore? We'll send you one of those. We'll send you a "See a Victory" hoodie. That one is kind of old now. If you live near any of these cities, listen. This is where we're coming for Elevation Nights, Spring 2023: Austin, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Toronto. Welcome to our Toronto Campus as well. God bless you. We're coming ( April 18-27. Tickets are available right now. Next weekend, we'll be celebrating our 17-year anniversary here at Elevation Church. I hope to see you for that.

It's time right now, though, for the word God has for you today. I do believe he gave me one, a certain word for an uncertain situation in somebody's life. Go back in your Bibles. In Ephesians 4… I think this is our last week in Ephesians 4. We'll celebrate the anniversary next week and then see what the Lord says after that. I have been so transformed while I was teaching this passage, and I pray you have been receiving as well. This week…Holly can tell you…I have been nicer and more patient. I've been helping with the dishes all the time around the house, taking out the trash before it even gets full. She's telling me, "Stop. We need to use the bags fully. You're taking out the trash too much". In all honesty, I sense the Lord doing a new work in me and in our church, and this week is going to speak directly to that.

So, in Ephesians, chapter 4… Let's just do verses 22-24 this week. All of the messages are online that I've preached so far this year (and last year and the year before that) if you want to catch up sometime this week, but this week I'm going to focus on these verses. Ephesians 4:22: "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". Aren't you glad to know the new you is the true you? All that other nasty crap you're struggling with… That's not the core of who you are. Who God says you are is who you are. All the other stuff is subject to change in the presence of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. I declare it. I decree it. I believe it. So, the word God gave me for this week… He told me to tell you, "Don't Fight Your Future". Let's pray before we're seated.

God, speak it. We need it. Give us the strength to do it. In Jesus' name, amen.

High-five somebody on the way to your seat and say, "God is not through with you". I mean that. God's not through with you yet. Say it. "God's not through with me yet". Put it in the chat really quickly and say it out loud again. "God's not through with me yet". You keep saying you, so say it to the person next to you. Apparently, you want somebody to hear this. Tell them, "God's not through with you yet". That means he has a lot of work to do on you. Tell them. You have a lot of rough edges. You really, really do. You need that spiritual sandpaper. Uh-huh. You have a lot of pieces floating around in that box. You are not a finished product yet. So, don't do you; do the you God knew before you ever got here on the earth. What a horrible piece of cultural advice. I get it. Be yourself. I'm all for that. Find your gifts. Play to your strengths. I do that all the time. All I do is talk and write stuff. I don't even sing the songs I write. I just write them and let somebody else sing them.

That's how much I believe in "Play to your strengths". At the same time, I do believe there are manifestations of who you really are that you haven't met yet, so to sell yourself short is really to insult God, if you just say, "This is how I am. This is how my mom was. This is where I come from. This is just how we do it". That has been the challenge of this series. Radical self-acceptance because of the grace of Jesus Christ should not lead to complacency. Radical grace leads to change. The more you accept all that stuff about you that only the people who live with you know… And they only know a fraction. Don't make me prophesy. I'll speak in tongues, interpret my own tongues, and tell your business. It's very true that we need to be okay with who we are and where we are. It's very true that we need to celebrate our strengths and celebrate in each stage of our development, not waiting for a future day for us to give God praise for all he has done.

In fact, on the way to church today, I went through several things in my mind I was worried about through the last few years that God worked out. I was driving 80 miles an hour by the time I got to thinking about it, because I'm like, "Let's go, Jesus. What are you going to do in this season"? I remember that rearview mirror. What seemed so big… Do y'all remember Meat Loaf? "Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are". "And I would do anything for [God]". A little Meat Loaf mash-up. Let's get back to the message from the apostle Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, and writing to us to tell us… This phrasing is really cool. "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self…" That doesn't mean you stop texting people back when you blow up. That's not what he's saying. That doesn't mean a bigger house, necessarily, although it could. It has to do with the inside things that are keeping me from being what God created me to be. We know what he created us to be. I'm going to tell you what God created you to be.

Look at verse 24: like him. That's what he created you to be. "Does God want me to be a singer or does God want me to go over here and study abroad or does God want me to go to Penn State or does God want me to be an athlete or does God want me to double major or does God want me to move my mom in with me"? I don't know. He wants you to be like him, whoever is living with you, wherever you're going to school, whatever you're majoring in. That's what he's doing in my life and your life. Yet I had an interesting picture. I'm going to give you a picture from my life, really from every Saturday in my life when I go watch Graham wrestle. It takes me back to when I wrestled. I wasn't nearly as good as he is. Not even close. Truth be told, he could beat me now. Right now he could beat me, and I outweigh him by 25 pounds, but don't tell him that, because he might try it…if we had to play according to the rules. I mean, I'll hit him with a shovel if he really comes at me, but if we had to do the rules and there was a ref, a whistle, and a mat, and all that…

Then I'm going to give you an Old Testament picture, and we're going to try to tie up this idea. Not the idea of you becoming what God made you to be, because when you stop breathing, that's when God is done changing you. That's when you're done. We made a song one time that said, "If I'm not dead, [he's] not done; greater things are still to come". I believe that. I believe it for you whether you want to believe it for you or not. You can't stop me from believing for you. What are you going to do about it? I believe God is not through with you. Tell your neighbor one more time, "God is not through with you". Here's the proof. You're still breathing; he's still making ways. If you're still breathing, he still has a plan for you.

One prophet said on behalf of God, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". That's Jeremiah 29:11. Your grandma had that on a quilt somewhere, and you ought to get it in your heart and in your consciousness, because he knows the plans he has for you. I want to preach a little bit of faith before our 17-year anniversary. God is not through with us yet! Not yet! Stop breathing, and he'll quit doing what he does, but as long as you have breath, you have a reason to believe that all things are possible.

You know, when I started the series, I mentioned Jeremiah. I mentioned Jeremiah 29:11 today. That's the most popular verse he did, his greatest hit. But he was writing to captives in Babylon who were going to be taken away, and when he was spoken to by God…check this out…he didn't really believe God could do it through him, because he had the three excuses we mentioned earlier, where he said, "I don't have it. I don't know how. I'm not like them. I'm too young. I'm not like those who are seasoned who can prophesy. I don't have it. I don't have the words I need". For us, it's not always words. It's resources. It's money. It's time. It's energy. It's good knees. I have all ages in the church, so we just hit everything. Too young. Too old. You have Moses too old and Jeremiah too young. All of that is an excuse. Remember what the Lord said.

I want to show you the Scripture again. I wasn't going to show this one, but I think we need the whole sandwich. In chapter 1, verse 5, the Lord said, "Before you were born I knew you". The me I'm going to be as I grow into what God called me to be is the me God has already seen. That sets you free from trying to become something. I thought, "Oh man, I wish I was that". You don't have to wish you was. You was. Long before life did what life did and you did what you did, God knew you. So, when he says, "I knew you before you were born," that means God knows my potential. It also means I don't. I know my past. I know my preferences. I know my problems. God knows my potential. Only he does. Only he really knows what he put in you. Only he knows what he sees in two years that he's training you for right now.

You have to believe this as I preach it. You have to put a little bit of faith on this word, a little bit of faith. God knew. What is new to me is known to God. What is foreign to me is familiar to him. That's Jeremiah 1:5. He knows my potential. Then in Jeremiah 29 he says, "For I know the plans I have for you…" "And the plans I have for your older sister; and the plans I have for your best friend who's getting married this spring, but you're not yet; and the plans I have for your friend who's getting on your last nerve, and you keep trying to fix them, but you can't; and the plans I have for your boss who you think is in control, but really, I'm going to move him to Minnesota in six months, so don't get impatient, just stay right there, because I know the plans…" My confidence is in God's knowledge. He said, "I knew you before I formed you".

You were spirit before you were skeletal. Before you had a birth certificate you had a purpose. "I knew you when". When people say that, they want to keep you stuck in something they're comfortable with. "I knew you when". When God says that, he's calling you forward into something that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has planned. "I know the plans I have for you". Spoiler alert. You don't know the plans. You know the plans you have for you, and you know the plans you have for your daughter. God knows the plans he has for you and for her and for them and for this and for that. Okay. He's not through with me yet. He still has things he's doing in me. So, I can't do the me I memorized from last year when God knows the me that is going to manifest as I mature in him and grow in him. I can surprise myself.

"Wow! Look at how I responded to that so well. Wow! Look at me giving money away when I used to be stingy. Wow! I used to wait for other people to pay for my meal. Now I'm paying for somebody else's. Wow! I used to need somebody to put tires on my car, and now I'm paying for the tires, the good ones". Wow! Look at you in church. Wow! Look at you in an eGroup. Wow! Look at you not even texting or scrolling during my sermon. Wow! Look at God doing a new thing in you. Give him praise for what he has already done. Give him praise for what he's going to do. "I knew you, and I know the plans I have for you". Paul does this annoying thing that we preachers do often, which is to make something that is such a struggle sound so simple. I don't know if it has been irritating you the last few weeks.

It really gets under my skin, where he said in verse 22, "You were taught…" With regard to what you used to do and what you still struggle with, both secretly and openly…the rude things you do, the rude things you think… How many people would be impressed with how nice you are if they knew how nasty you wanted to be and didn't be in certain situations? So, all of that that's on the inside. Paul says, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self…" Thanks, Paul. He said you were taught. Here in the Greek… I spent five and a half years on a seminary degree, so I have to use that sometimes. In the Greek, the phrase means it follows from the teaching you received.

So, when God teaches you, it's to transform you, not to puff you up. You don't get these messages so you can look down on other people who aren't enlightened because you know more of the Bible than they do. It's so you can grow by it. That's why God feeds you the Word of God: so you can grow. In this passage, he said, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self…" The way you read that is, "You were taught to put off your old self. Somebody taught you to put off your old self," but that's not what it means. It means you were taught Jesus in order to put off your old self.

So, it's an infinitive imperative. It follows from the first one. It means the reason God taught you, the reason he brought you here, was so you could put off. That's the reason God has given you teaching. That's the reason God gives you a word. That's the reason God gives you an experience. That's the reason he leads you through the valley: so you can get to know the Shepherd, so that when you face that situation again, you'll be stronger, wiser, better, and ready. Stronger, wiser, better, and ready. I'm stronger, I'm wiser, I'm better, and I'm ready. I was taught to put off my old way of life. Wouldn't it be nice if it were only that simple? "Yeah, man. Just put it off". Like this. Everybody in the room, do what I say when I say it. Ready?

Stand up. I love the contrarians, like, "No, I am seated in heavenly places with Christ. I know where this is going". Stand up. It's an illustration. Help me. Now sit down. That's kind of how I read it. "Put off the old self, and put on Jesus". That simple, right? So, yesterday, we were at Graham's wrestling, and this lady was sitting up at the top of the bleachers, and she kept yelling for her team…not just her kids, the whole team. That's great. I yell for our team too, and it's great to do that and be supportive. Only know these kids can't hear you while they're out there wrestling, so all you're really doing is getting it out of your own system. They can't hear any of that. Besides, what is this lady going to coach that kid to do from up there? I mean, maybe she was a former NCAA Division I champion in her heyday. I didn't get that feeling, though. I didn't get that impression. It just seemed like she was loud.

So, this was the moment of moments. I was already praying about how to end this series. I was out there praying about it, and she gave me my answer. I'm thinking of Paul saying, "Just put off your old way of life. Just stop being negative. Be positive. Just do that. Just stand up. Trust God. Just trust him. Trust him like the Bible says". How? "With all your heart". So, it was a heavyweight match, and her team was the Spiders. She was cheering for the Spiders. They had a big spider on the back of the uniform, the singlet, the tights, the Spandex they make wrestlers wear. You have to be tough to wear those tights out there. I'm telling you right now, that's tough.

So, it's a heavyweight match. That goes up to 285 pounds. The boy who was winning was every bit of 285, and the boy who was losing was not, because it's a broad weight class. The boy who was winning was on top of the boy who was not winning. I think I'm going to do this as an illustration. I put in my notes, "If you feel they need it, act it out". So, I'm going to act it out because I feel like you need it. I feel like all this is good. "Put off the old self". But what I wore in here is heavier than a jacket. What I wore in here and what I'm worried about is heavier than just a bad day. Remember he said, "The old self"? Old means it has been going on a long time. A lot of the things we preach about really quickly have been things you've been carrying for a long time.

So, it doesn't feel like, "Just put it off. Just stop being manipulative". "Dude, I struggle with manipulation because I was abandoned young, so I had to make things happen. The only way I know how to do stuff is to make things happen, because I had to make things happen. Now you're telling me, 'Just take that manipulation… Trust God.'" So, I'm going to be the guy who was down on the bottom, and I'm going to show you how you feel and what this lady was screaming. Graham, come up here. Graham is going to be the big guy. Remember, this is an illustration. Had this been in actual reality, I would kick his butt right up here. Just get on top of me like you're 285. It's something like this. Don't hurt me. Maybe the bigger guy has his forearm in the back of his neck, so do that. Yeah.

Then the lady at the top of the bleachers is yelling, "Stand up!" to the Spider on the bottom. I'm sure he thought… She knew his name. I don't remember. Let's just call him Steven. "Stand up, Steven"! I'm sure Steven was thinking on the bottom, "Oh, yeah! That's what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to stand up. Thank you, lady at the top of the bleachers who hasn't exercised in five years, for reminding me what I'm supposed to be doing down here". I think you feel like this when I preach sometimes, but you don't want to hurt my feelings, so you won't admit it. I'm saying, "Trust God"! and you are like, "Thanks! I didn't think of that! Yeah, I should just trust God. I already had to fire 14 employees in my small business, but I'll just trust God. That'll be great. That'll really mean a lot to their pregnant wives who are expecting their fourth child, and now I had to lay them off. I appreciate it. I'll trust God".

You know, "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Be free"! "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be free. Never mind that this dependency is chemical and psychological and societal all at the same time". That's why when Barbara Kingsolver was on Holly's book club and she was talking about the opioid crisis in Appalachia, I was so enlightened for her to talk about how we judge people as being bad by their behaviors, but we don't understand the brokenness that came from their background to create the behaviors to begin with. "Stand up"! She said, "Stand up! Be a Spider"! I don't have any legs. I don't spin webs. I'm not a faith giant. I'm not the apostle Paul. I'm not Jesus Christ. I'm just down here trying not to get pinned, trying not to be on my back. What I realize more and more when I preach is I still need to tell you to stand up, but being told to do it and being taught to do it…

Paul said, "You were taught Jesus". (I can't see y'all right now. Am I doing good? Make some noise. I need the encouragement. This is very, very embarrassing. I did not want to do this illustration, but if it'll help us get on the same page…) "Do the new you". I'm like, "Do the new me? I'm just trying to breathe, eat, feed people, and not end up in prison". This pressure. I said, "Stand up". Do you know what I want to say when somebody says, "Stand up" and you have the… "Shut up". You know, "Hey, just go make it work and trust the Word and step out on faith," and all this. There's something inside of you that says, "You tell me to do it, but teach me to do it". (Are you all right, Graham? You got the good part of this illustration. Why did I do it this way? I could have flipped this.)

Watch what happened when Paul said in verse 20, "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". Watch this. Everybody say, "Stand up"! "I quit. I don't want to be a Christian. I think I'm going to try Buddhism. This is too hard. I can't do this". But if truth comes… What I've been trying to do, what I know I need to do, what I wish I could do, what you keep telling me to do… Buck, come. Buck, come. Buck, Buck, Buck, Buck. Do you see what happened when I called Buck? Oh, do you see what that devil did when I called the name, when I said, "I've got somebody greater…" Greater is he who is in me than he who was on my back. Now I got it off me! Do you see what I just did? I called somebody bigger. I called somebody stronger. I called a state champion, and you knew it too.

See, the Devil knows your weak spots, but he also knows there's something in you that is so much greater. What is in you is so much greater than whatever is on you. That's why I declare and I prophesy and I preach and I proclaim in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, "Stand up"! Stand up! I know the money is really bad right now and the car isn't new, but stand up! I know it doesn't look good right now and you can't figure it out, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk! Get up and worship! Get up and move forward! "I know the plans I have for you, plans for a hope and a future, a new beginning and a different ending, a gift that is in you that eye has not seen and ear has not heard and neither has it entered into your heart".

When you call the name of Jesus, when you say, "The one who created me is greater than the one who is fighting me…" When you say, "The one who created me gave his life to redeem me from the shame that is on me…" Now I can stand up like a spider. I can stand up like a saint. I can stand up like a new creation. I can stand up like a child of God. I can stand up like a Spirit-filled, blood-bought, Devil-chasing, sin-defacing, overcoming child of the Most High God! "Jesus, I need you"! Try it again; I'll call Buck. Tell the Devil, "Try it again; I'll call Jesus. Try it again; he'll send the angels. Try it again; he'll drown you in the Red Sea of my trouble".

So, what you do every time Buck comes… Come on, Buck. "No, no, I'm good. I'm good". What you do every time God keeps sending… Come on, Buck. God keeps sending things in your life to get you up. You say, "No, no, I'm good. I've got this. I've got this. I've got this. I don't want anybody to think I'm weak. No, I'm good. I'm good. I've got this. I've got this. I'll do it. I'll do it. I'll do it". You even whisper the name of Jesus… Watch this. "Buck. Buck". You're supposed to come when I whisper to show them how the Lord does. "Buck". There's something about us that can be comfortable being down to the point where when help comes, we fight it. Like that corny old joke. The man was drowning. He said, "Lord, save me". Here comes a helicopter. He said, "No, I'm waiting on the Lord". Here comes a boat. He said, "No, no, I'm good. I'm waiting on the Lord". Then he drowned, and he went to heaven. He said, "Lord, you didn't come". He said, "I sent you a helicopter and a boat, you big dummy". "I sent you Buck. You wanted stuck".

So, here's what I see. There is a future God knows for you that he is not bringing it to you; he is bringing you to it. For the future God has for you, you are the perfect fit for it, because he knew you before he knit you together in your mother's womb. That's how long God has known you, and that is the you God is loyal to. He will do what it takes to bring you into the life he has called you to live, not only for you but for his glory and for others. God is not through with you. You don't get to stay down there, talking about, "If it were that easy, I would have done it by now". No. You just haven't walked in what you were taught long enough yet to see the fruit of your faith. You never will if you keep fighting your future because you are in love with your familiar. Don't fight your future.

When God sends you correction, get quicker to accept it. Don't be so defensive to the point that you stay dysfunctional because you are so defensive. You get humiliated when somebody sees something, so instead of humbling yourself and saying, "All right. I thought about that for the last three days, and I think I do need to go and apologize," you just do you and go off and don't speak for eight months and stay down. I know we all struggle with different forms of bondage and captivity. I know that. I am not a judgmental dude. Not at all. I would be if the Lord had done a better job getting me past the point where I'm at right now, but he works on me slowly so I won't get all uppity and think I'm there. So he has left… Remember when they used to say in sports that somebody would have a loser's limp? It means you pretend to be hurt so you have an excuse for losing. In the kingdom of God, he gives you a winner's limp, like Jacob, who wrestled with his angel, won, and limped away to remind him for the rest of his life that he needs Buck…I mean, God.

Tricks are for kids, and deceitful desires have to go in this season so I can step into what I was designed by God to be and accomplish what I was called by God to accomplish, for he knows the plans he has for me. I know the problems I have, and he knows the plans. He knew me before I had the problems, and he knows the plans before I have them. Remember I said I would give you the teaching and then an illustration from Graham? You didn't know you were going to get all that action today, I'll tell you right now. I said I wanted to give you a picture, and it is, indeed, a very unusual one. When the people of God were coming into the Promised Land, they needed to be taught how to transition. We all do. When we are not taught what to do with our former way of life, we just repeat what nobody was there to teach us. To admit that you weren't taught or that you might have been taught wrong requires humility.

I'm really proud… I shouldn't say I'm proud of Moses. What does he care if I'm proud of him? I want to be like Moses who had learned so many lessons in the wilderness from his own mistakes that when he was getting the generation that went after him ready to follow Joshua into the land God was giving them, which they would subdue and conquer, town by town, battle by battle, fight by fight, he gave them such specific instructions to not worship the gods of the people all around them. Most of us weren't taught that. We were just handed idols, but because they didn't sit as statues in our living room, we didn't know it was idolatry. It's an empty way of life that was handed down to us in a lot of ways. I'm not saying your parents were bad. I'm not saying they were good.

We all caught a lot of things, and if we're never taught anything different than what we caught, we just stay down, and every time God comes to help us, we reject him because he doesn't feel comfortable to us. Moses is like, "We made some big mistakes, and those of you who were 20 and under before those mistakes get to go in. We don't. You're going in". He tells them festivals to hold to remember the goodness of God. I'm going to do a teaching on that one day, too, about making an entrance. When you go into a new season, there are certain things you always need to do…when you go into a new week, when you go into a new day. I'm going to teach that about entrance, making an entrance. He teaches them that. He teaches them how to treat one another, how to deal with matters of justice. It's really amazing, but there's one verse that seems unusual.

He says, "You're coming into a new land. You're a relatively new nation. You've never had this type of experience before. You're going to go from living out of the hand of Pharaoh 40 years ago and from the manna that fell into having to cultivate the land the Lord is leading you into, so you need to be taught". You need the Lord to teach you in this season of your life, teenagers. You need the Lord to teach you. You need him to show you so you don't end up with 285 pounds of addiction on your back when you're 25, when you're 45, when you're 65. Just real quick, who wants this? Say, "Lord, teach me". The preacher can tell me to do it, but only the Holy Spirit can teach me to do it in the moment. I can tell you, "Stand up". Only God can strengthen you enough that you can do it.

Moses says, "When you go take a city…" Watch this. Deuteronomy 20:19, the most anointed verse I've read all year, and that includes Ephesians 4. He said, "When you lay siege to a city for a long time…" That means this is a protracted battle. It's dragged out. You go in to take the city, and they hunker down and won't come out and fight you, so you have to block them in, cut off their supply, and wait for them to fight you. "When you get in that kind of situation… You're going to attack these people. They're bigger than you, but God is with you. When you go to a place to take the land I've promised to you on oath through your ancestors, and you lay siege to the city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it…"

Hold on. This is not a picture of you fighting a city. It's a picture of you fighting your old self. It goes on a long time to the point where you wish you could just fight somebody else because you're so sick of you. How many have ever prayed that before? Just "Lord, give me somebody else's problems, because I'm so sick of getting knocked out by the same right hook. I see it coming, but I just lean right into it every time". If you don't relate to this, there's another church for you. This is for people who struggle, and it's not always so easy to stand. So, he said, "When you get in that battle, and you're trying to attack a city, but you have to lay a siege to it because it goes on a long time…" Look at this. "…do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit".

What wisdom, the wisdom of Moses. He said, "When you go in and start fighting the city, don't start chopping down the trees that bear fruit. Don't cut them down". Watch this. "Are the trees people, that you should besiege them"? In other words, don't start fighting the thing God wants to feed you with in your future. Don't take the thing… See, we need trees, right? It's a siege. We have to build a wall and keep the people in. We have to build a ramp so we can get up on top of their wall and see the enemy and attack them. The natural tendency is when you're in a season where it's a battle, and it has been that way a long time… He said, "You're going to want to go in and just start fighting everything, just start chopping at everything, just start chopping down trees".

Before you cut those trees down to use them for battle, before you take a tree and say, "I could use that as a battering ram and get through," before you cut a tree down and say, "We could build up a defense there against the enemy…" Before you cut it down, check it and see, "Is there something on that tree I'm going to need in my future so I don't do something now that is going to fight against what God has intended for my future"? I see a lot of us. We're in a battle right now. We're in a battle with depression. We're in a battle with anxiety. We're in a battle for our sanity. We're in a battle for our money. We're in a battle for our families. We're in a battle for our relationships. We're in a battle for our peace. We're in a battle right now.

When you are in a battle, be careful not to attack, because of the battle, the thing God wants to bless you with in the future, so that the very help God sends to you becomes the thing you reject, so that the very lesson God teaches you becomes the thing you resent. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. Go back to your seat. You're in my way. That's what you've been doing with God. He was my fruit tree. He was coming to help me. The Lord said, "You go in this land, and you're going to be chopping at stuff sometimes that you really are going to need in the future". Wasn't that an interesting thing he said? "Are the trees soldiers"?

Look at how Eugene Peterson put it in The Message. The Message translation makes it so clear. "When you amount an attack on a town and the siege goes on a long time…" How many of you have been struggling with something for a long time, praying for something for a long time, believing for something? Okay. Three people in this whole section. Everybody else, just go to heaven. Why do you come to church here? Just go to heaven. You've struggled with something for a long time. All right. Don't start cutting down the trees, swinging your axes against them. These trees are your future food. Don't cut them down. The battle you're facing today is your future strength. Don't run from it. The thing God is doing in your life to draw you closer to him is teaching you… You said, "God, teach me". Okay. God said, "This is your fruit tree".

If you keep chopping down everything God sends to strengthen you, you will live the rest of your life down when you had the power to get up. So, I came today with a prophetic word: stop fighting your future. Those trees that are barren right now have the potential in them, just like you have the potential in you, to bear much fruit. In fact, Jesus said when something is fruitful, he prunes it so it can be more fruitful. Let me speak a word about not fighting your future. Some people God keeps trying to remove from your inner circle, and you keep chasing them down so you can have friends, but God is leading you into a future with some different friends. God needs you to reach out to some different people. It doesn't mean you hate them, but you can't hang on to the relationship just because you liked it. God might be moving them, God might be moving you, but he's not through with you. He's just moving you into a new season of effectiveness, productivity, purpose, and growth.

Stop fighting your future. Stop getting offended every time something comes your way you don't agree with. This current offense is your future wisdom. How will you learn a new point of view if you don't listen to anybody? Stop fighting your future by being trapped in your past. Stop fighting your future by wishing it was how it was. It's not, and it never will be again. So, I commend you to the Lord today to put on the new self, new fruit, new opportunities. "I've lost an awful lot". New fruit. New opportunities. "I have 285 pounds of pressure on me". New fruit. New opportunities. New strength. His mercies are new with every rising of the sun. The fact that you took a breath a couple hundred times while I've been talking, and you didn't even have to think about it, is proof to me of what I started my sermon saying: God is not through with you. Stop expecting angels to look cute when they come.

Have you ever read about an angel in the Bible and seen somebody draw what they would look like? It will scare the crap out of you when an angel comes. Why did the angel have to say, "Don't be afraid" when it came if it wasn't scary? It's scary to step into a new season. It's scary to do it a new way. It's scary to let your guard down and say, "I'm struggling, and I need to talk about it". It's scary to apologize. "If I apologize, they might walk all over me". Or God might come help you and defend you. So, what do I keep cutting down that God wants me to continue in? Every time I get uncomfortable, I go run for something that's going to ruin me later.

Moses said, "I have to prepare you for this or you'll start cutting down stuff now that you'll need later". I mean, in every area of your life, you need to be nurturing now so that what you need later will be waiting when you get there. If you're a parent, and you have kids who are running around doing all the sports, and y'all never get to know each other because you're so busy trying to champion them all the way to their glory of the high school whatever sport, high school swimming… They're going to leave you. They're leaving your house. If you do the job right, they will leave one day. They might boomerang back, but you try to get them out of there. You just keep throwing that thing. I told the kids one time… They asked, "Are you coming to this thing tonight"? I said, "No. Your mom and I are going on a date".

This was a couple of years ago. I said, "I'm going out of town next week, and we haven't had any time together. So, you're going to go do the thing, and we're going to go out, and then I'll see you after". It's like, "Oh, you're a bad parent". No. I'm nurturing now… Holly is going to be in the house after they decide to go leave, and they can come back when they want. I need to know her in the next season, so I need to nurture it now. I just set somebody free to not go to the basketball game Thursday. Go to Bonefish. I know it's balanced, but don't you see that you are fighting your future when you don't nurture your now? You're going to have to deal with that. I have to accept where God has me now. I am so tired of people saying, "Oh, he's just an old head". An old head? An old head is full of wisdom. Oh yeah, I'm an old head. I know things now I didn't know then. I'm going to make a tee shirt of this. There probably already is one. I'm going to make one too. It's going to say, "Old is the goal".

You make fun of me because I'm old. What did you do? I didn't die yet, and I've been not dying for 30 years longer than you. You can make fun of me. I've been doing it a long time, like the Lord. I'm not apologizing for the fact that I'm getting a little older. I have to embrace that. See, when you won't embrace where God has you because you wish you were where you were, you fight the future he's bringing you into. I think you're getting it. I think you've been getting it ever since I was down here on the ground. I think you liked Graham choking me out, and I think you liked it when I called somebody's name who came to help me, because it let you know you have a name that is above every name. You have a name that is above your old nature. God is not through with you. What you've been through won't be wasted. God is not through with you. People throw you away, but God is not through.

People talk about you like a dog, but God is not through with you. I want to speak to a pastor right now. You've been canceled. You lost your church. God is not through with you. You get down to a rescue mission, and you open your Bible, and you talk about God in the wilderness and water from a rock, because God is not through with you. He brings new things from dry places. God is not through with you. They might be, but look up and stand up and put on the armor of God. Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than you ask or imagine! For I know the plans I have for you! Don't fight it. Don't faint from the battle so you miss the blessing. It's here. It's now. You are more than you've become yet. God is not through with you yet. You haven't made it through the waters yet to even see the Egyptians drown. Oh, get to the other side. God is not through. Stop making excuses and exchange it for the expectation of greater grace.

Father, we have been taught today by your Spirit. What good is it to be taught what we will not walk in? I bring each and every man, woman, boy, and girl who you put under the sound of my voice for this hour. I bring them and place them in your capable hands. We are the bread you desire to multiply. We are like the staff that parts waters when the Master touches it. We want to ask you, first of all, Lord, that you would help us to see where we've been so comfortable being stuck that we have cut down what you were trying to use to grow us. We admit we've done it from time to time. We keep on doing things in the short term that, long term, hurt us. That's what your grace is for.

We're learning now, and we're changing now, and it's different now, because this time we're not doing it in the strength we have apart from you. We're leaning into your strength, your power, your supply. We're going to call the name of Jesus this week. We're going to do it right now and get some practice. "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me deal with this. Jesus, help me. I have this meeting Tuesday. Jesus, I have this ulcer. Jesus, I keep on going back to the doctor. They don't even know what's wrong. Jesus, Jesus, help me get out of worry. Help me not play it out again and again in my mind and make it worse. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me resist that temptation. God, I can't do it in my own strength. I keep on giving in to it, but I believe you're calling me to stand up".

Stand up in the name of Jesus. Stand up in the name of Jesus. Throw it off. Put it off.

Lord, some of us have been in a certain struggle a long time, but before the struggle ever was, you knew who we were. I speak to the spirit of every man and woman today. I speak to the truest part of them, the part of them that is wrapped in love and called by God.

I admonish you, and I lift you up to the Father. I remind you that he knew the plans he had for you before you did. He knew the pain would be bad, and he promised the power would be greater. He knew you'd be here. Listen to me. He knew you'd be here. He knew you were going to screw that thing up, and he loved you and called you anyway. He knew you would feel abandoned and let down. He called you anyway. That's why he said, "Even if your father and mother and closest friend forsake you, the Lord will take you up". He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He is able to be touched by the feeling of your infirmity. He really knows you. He really sees you. He really called you. He really chose you. He's not through with you yet. Don't fight it. Welcome it.

"Holy Spirit, do a new work in my life. I welcome it". Don't reject it. Don't repeat the mistakes because you refuse to believe you deserve a blessing. Welcome it. God wants to bless you. He wants to heal you. He wants to keep you. Receive it. Don't call on him and then resist him. He's coming right now. Stop thinking about lunch. God is here. You prayed. You asked him, "Give me a sign it's going to be all right," and he sent me to tell you, "I know the plans I have for you". He's not through with you yet.
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