Steven Furtick - Got Questions? God's Answer May Surprise You!
This is an excerpt from: Pivotal Decisions
Now sometimes when you pray to God he's going to pivot. You're going to be like, "I need the plan," but God will pivot. This angel would have made a great politician or preacher or basketball player. He could have been in the All-Star Game, because watch how quickly he pivots. "We need to know what to do. When the boy is born, what are we going to do? How are we going to raise him? How many times"? Manoah is full of questions. Of course he is. "Do we need to put him in a special school? Do we need to get him a tutor? Do we need to teach him karate? Do we need to teach him jujitsu? Should we be strict? What are we doing"? The angel said, "Just tell your wife right now not to drink anything or eat anything unclean. That's all you need to know right now". The pivot from what you think you need to know to what you really need to know. God just… Watch his footwork.
See, we always want to see God's hand, but sometimes you have to watch his feet, because sometimes he wants to set a different direction to say, "You're not even looking at the right side of this". Watch the pivot. When he pivots, you have to be quick to go with him and say, "God, I don't want your hand; I want your face. I want to know you. I want to seek you. I want to see you. I want to feel you. I want to know you. I want to have you". "I want to understand what you know I need to understand". I wonder if God is trying to pivot your prayer life, if God is trying to pivot your strategizing. You're always trying to look for him in logic. You're always trying to look for him in analysis and in calculation, but God is spirit and you can't get to spirit through strategy. You have to come to God like this. You have to come to God with open arms, open hands, and an open heart. It's the pivot.
There's a funny thing about a pivot, though. It's a small move, but it sets a completely different direction. "Manoah, you can't handle the plan right now". "My word is a lamp unto your feet, a light unto your path". The funny thing about pivot… I've been doing this all week, just studying this sermon, trying to get God to show me different ways to see situations and to see his will and what I think is his will and what I thought was his will. I thought he was always doing this, but sometimes he's doing that. They get this promise. This is from the Lord. He didn't realize that at first, but he starts to sense that "This may be God. It's too big to be anything I could do. I don't have a plan for it. I don't have a context for it. This may be God".
This is the Lord. This is from the Lord. This gift set I have, this talent, this child I'm raising? This is from the Lord. Since it's from the Lord, then I need him to show me how to do it, but sometimes he won't answer the question I asked; instead, he will give me the wisdom I need, because he knows a better question. My faith is not a formula. I'm not good at pivoting with my feet. I don't do it a lot. That's why I had to practice it, and I'm still not very good at it, but I want to get good at it with my faith. I want to learn to pivot. This is where it happens for Manoah and his wife, and you're going to see it in the text. It's just going to blow up when you see it. It's going to help you understand why you've been trying to classify everything in your life. "This is good and this is bad and this is God and this is the Devil and this is it and this is that".
You keep trying to do that, but it doesn't work. Here's why. "Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, 'We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.'" "We want to cook you a goat. I make a delicious goat kebob, and I would like you to stay and eat it, because it's hospitality. It's appropriate, and we appreciate you coming by to encourage us, so stay. We're going to do it and appreciate the words". "The angel of the Lord replied, 'Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food.'" "I'm not going to do it your way. You're dealing with God now, so you're not going to do it like you do it with humans. It's going to be different. It's going to be different terms. It's going to be a whole different thing this time. It's not going to be all up here in what you think you should do. It's going to have to come from a different place". This is the pivot. He said, "But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord". See the pivot? It's not about this; it's about this.
I wonder if we would start deflecting some of the stuff in our lives and say, "This is from the Lord. This is not from me, so I need God to do it through me. I cannot do it by myself. This is from the Lord". "But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord". I love this in parentheses: "(Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.)" Maybe. I may be. "Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, 'What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?' He replied…" This is the most anointed verse I've read in the last five years. "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding". That's the pivot. That's where you find God: beyond what you can understand. Everything you can name…that's not God. Everything you can explain…that's not God. Everything you can figure out on your own and you can make it work and you can do it… It'll work for a little while, but everything you can't name, that's God.
We've been looking for a name for God. That's why we need so many, and that's why he had to tell Moses in a very special way, "I Am". "I need to leave room for you to know that when you get past the point of your ability to reconcile your situation, when you get beyond your ability to work it out, that's where I am. That's where I live. That's where I dwell: in the mystery, in the uncertainty, in the tension, beyond your understanding". We keep trying to find God in our logic, but he is not found with logic. He is beyond your logic. "Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord". Since the word came from the Lord, I'm going to make the offering to the Lord. Since my breath came from the Lord, I'm going to offer it back to the Lord. Since this situation came from the Lord, I'm going to need the Lord to deal with it. I can't do it on my own.
"And the Lord did [something] amazing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame". He was not found in the logic; he was found in the flame. Not in figuring it out but in the fire of sacrifice and needing God. That's where you're going to find him. That's where you're going to get it. That's where you're going to unlock it, and that's where it'll be unleashed. I wish I could preach about Jesus for 30 seconds right now. See, all my hope is in his blood. All of my faith is in his cross. All my righteousness is in his sacrifice. When the flames went up, the revelation came through. Manoah was like, "I think we just saw God". Verse 21: "When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord. '[We're going to die!]' he said to his wife. 'We have seen God!' But his wife answered, 'If [he] meant to kill us…'"
If God was out to get you, you'd be got. That's how I know he still has mercy for my mistakes. I already made enough. If he was going to squash me for screwing up, I'd be a bug on this stage. "If the Lord had meant to kill us, he wouldn't have accepted the offering; he would have wiped us out. He wouldn't have shown us all these things". He wouldn't have shown you all these things. He wouldn't have seen you through all these things. Look at all he has shown you. Look at how many times you were off the path and somehow he got you back. Look at all of the times you were going this way and he just turned stuff around. You couldn't do it, and you were making all of these plans for it, but it was the pivot that brought you back. "The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson". I forgot to tell you the guy who got the haircut… Do you remember? We always want to remember people by their worst decisions. Samson, the strong one, who was bench-pressing 305 in seventh grade? Samson.
This is how it started. A lot of people didn't know that, because all they ever saw was his head in Delilah's lap, but it was decisions. You have a destiny, but you get to make decisions. God is sovereign, but you're responsible. How you process your desires and decisions right now is really critical. So she has a baby. She names him Samson, and the Lord blessed him. "He grew…" Biceps, triceps, lats, delts, quadriceps, calf muscles… That's about all I know. "…and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan…" Now he's growing up and it's going well, and God's hand is on this boy's life. He's a star football player. He learned to ride his bike at the age of 3. Good things have happened. Then the pivot. Now, if you just watch my feet and don't think about it, you go like, "Well, what's the big deal about the pivot"? Well, see, you don't really know how big the move is until you walk it out, because if I walk this way and if I kept walking that way it would be a completely different… But if I walk this way… All I did was this. It's a small move, but it sets the direction.
That's what's happening in your life. When you decide how to speak to people, when you decide whether you're going to come back next weekend to church, it's a small decision, but it sets a direction. When you decide, "Am I going to tithe and put God first…"? Oh yeah. I'm going to put tithing in the sermon series, because it's a decision. It is the will of God for you to put him first. When you decide, "I'm going to do that," it sets a direction to seek God first. When you decide, "You know what? I'm going to text my wife and tell her I'm going to be home at a certain time and I'm actually going to be home at that time," it's a little decision, but it sets a direction. When you set a direction, you know I can count on you and you're going to do it. When you show up and eat with your family, that's not a big decision. We want big decisions, big things from God. No, no. It's the pivotal decisions. It's the little things you do that set the direction for your day and for your decade and even for generations to come.