Steven Furtick - Focus Your Faith
Why don't you just take 23 seconds, since it's the year 2023, and praise God for the opportunity to be in his presence today. You can do it online. By the way, we're probably coming to a city near you this spring. Elevation Nights 2023, April 18-27. Austin, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Toronto. Elevationnights.com. Get your tickets right now or you're going to be sad, because they're going to sell out. You'll be standing out there in the parking lot, talking about a breakthrough. But God gave you one, and you didn't take it when he gave it. Get your tickets. Get your tickets. Get your tickets. Elevationnights.com. Are y'all going to put up with me like this all day?
Oh man. I think it's the bandana that did it to me. I need a bandana. Good to have you, Joe L. I'm excited about the ELEVATION RHYTHM album. When are we putting that out? It's called This Is the Gospel, and I think you are going to find it to be very, very good. So, that'll be coming soon from ELEVATION RHYTHM. God is doing a new thing…new songs, new season, new strength, new series. I started two weeks ago. I kind of head faked you. I said I was starting a series, then I was gone, but now I'm back, and I'm ready to bring it. Joshua, chapter 1. New chapter. We're preaching from this thought, There's So Much More to the Story, and believing that for every family, every business, every person who maybe is recovering from a heartbreak, or you're hoping for freedom from an addiction in your life. We took that specific line from a song we've been singing around here called "More Than Able". It says, "There's so much more to the story; you're not done with me yet".
How many are glad God didn't throw you away? Oh, the people who aren't clapping didn't make mistakes, y'all. They are in pristine condition. Some of us did so much stuff God could have junked us and just written us off, but he didn't. There's a reason for that. If you're breathing, there's a reason for that. If you're here, there's a reason for that. I believe there's a reason God sent you to this message today. You got on this YouTube channel, and you were looking for a cooking video. Well, I've been cooking all right…the Bread of Life. The Lord wants you to receive this word.
Now let's go to Joshua, chapter 1, verses 7-11, and I'll pick up one other verse as well. It's one of those Scriptures you have to breathe before you read it, because it's good. God is coaching up Joshua to do what he has to do that Moses couldn't do, but Joshua is called to do it: break limitations and break barriers and lead the people into something great to glorify his name. So, let me get ready for this. Verse 7: "Be strong…" In my imagination, when I said that, y'all were shouting and stuff, so… We're going to talk about your attitude when we preach this message. "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law…" You're like, "Oh, that's mine, the careful part. I'm the careful one". You don't normally see those two together: courageous and careful. Usually it's like, "Don't climb up there on that thing. You're going to break your neck".
That's the first thing our parents start telling us is all the stuff we're going to break our neck doing and get killed doing. So I thought it was fascinating that they're right there together. "Be courageous". Not just courageous, but very courageous. And "Be careful". Isn't that interesting? I love these little tensions in the text. That's what helps me to really see the truth in it. "Be…very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful…" "Well, Brother Steve, the Lord doesn't care if we succeed". Does he not? Did he say, "That you may be successful"?
I mean, I want this sermon to succeed today. I hope you do too. I don't want to just talk and you put down three notes and lose the note sheet before you even get to Tuesday. I want this sermon to get in your heart, and I want you to succeed. I want this sermon to work when you have to go to court next month. I want this sermon to work when you have to negotiate. I want this sermon to work when you have to say "No" to the thing you've been saying "Yes" to for the last 17 years. I want this to work for you in your life. He wants you to be successful wherever you go. Look at this. "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever…" Oh, that sounds like a blank check to me. "…wherever you go".
We're going to test the limits of that in a moment. You'll see. Verse 10: "So Joshua…" Last time I preached, I preached, "Now Joshua…" God is bringing something into your life now, and God is always bringing something new into your life. "So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 'Go through the camp and tell the people, "Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own".'" Drop down to chapter 2, verse 1. "Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies…" Shh! Secretly. "…from Shittim". It's a long I. Very important. Y'all are so bad. What kind of church is this? "…secretly sent two spies from Shittim. 'Go, look over the land,' he said, 'especially Jericho.' So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there". Very interesting. The title of this message is Focus Your Faith, and that's what I want to teach about today: how to focus your faith. Then the little subheading is Do the Thing That You Would Do.
Father, I thank you for what you spoke. Help me just to step aside now and let you deliver your Word, but you can use me, God. I'm available to you. In Jesus' name, amen.
I don't know if you got to hear my last sermon, but I was saying how I've been reading through the Bible really slowly with my oldest boy. We had this conversation where he asked me, "Shouldn't every Christian be required to read through the whole Bible at least once before they die"? He said, "It's so much better when you take the whole thing in. You get invested in it". He said, "I realize now I just used to pick little Scriptures". This would definitely be one to pick, right? "Be strong and courageous. The Lord will be with you wherever you go". It's like, "All right! I'm going to the club. I'm going out here…" Isn't it crazy that right after God said, "I'll be with you wherever you go," they went to a prostitute's house? I guess they were checking this out. Like, "Really? Everywhere we go"?
Of course, they weren't in the prostitute's house for any other reason than the fact that Rahab's résumé included a history of hiding men. This is what I mean by the Bible is so cool when you read it. Why Rahab's house? Then on one hand, you think maybe they're sinning, but they're not. They're going to a place that seems unlikely in a territory that is full of enemies. So, they go to Rahab the prostitute's house. Now, I don't want to speak much about Rahab the prostitute this week, but maybe she'll show up next week. This might be a two-weeker or something like that. I really want to get on this motivational thing where he said, "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey. Do not turn from the right to the left, that you may be successful". Did you notice how he said in verse 9, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged"?
I love that sermon I did a few weeks ago where I had Graham come up here and put his forearm on my neck. I was saying how at a wrestling match I heard a woman screaming, "Stand up"! and how hard it is to do these things we read about in the Scripture. I have not had so much feedback on a sermon in years as I got just going around, people saying, "I loved when Graham was on top of you for seven minutes just grinding you into the ground. That was awesome. That was your best sermon ever". I'm like, "Do you remember the Scripture"? "No, but that was really cool how Graham was… Because I feel like that in my life. I never could really name it, but when you acted it out, I was like, 'Yes! Exactly!' You're like, 'Don't be afraid.' It's like, 'Dude, you talk to people about God for a living. If you went to work where I went to work, you would understand my fear.'"
So, I think we found a point of connection there that is kind of crazy sometimes in your life. So, when God says, "Don't be afraid," and then he says to Joshua, "Don't be discouraged…" I'm really thankful he said that to Joshua who had to lead millions of people into a brand-new land to fight a great big enemy. You might be able to tell me I don't have a right to say it, and you might be right, but how many of you have this level of stress in your life? You are leading millions of people into a land you have no real map for, and you're fighting enemies that are twice your size and experience. So then, this applies to you. "Do not be afraid".
I was talking to a friend the other day who studies sociology. He said the thing that has been different the last few years in the people he has worked with, whether they're millionaire CEOs or people he's working with within the prison system, is that fear comes first when something changes in your life, and then comes discouragement. He's telling me this on the phone. Remember how you came over the other day and I was like, "I have this phone call"? Y'all were talking, and I was like, "I have to go. I have a phone call". So, I get on the phone with this guy. We had an appointment. He said, "I've been noticing as we help people that we need to deal with the discouragement. Fear is, 'Oh no! It's changing. I don't know what to do. I'd better adapt.' But after you've spent a season trying to adapt and it doesn't work, fear turns into discouragement". I said, "Say that again". He said, "Fear turns into discouragement".
Fear comes first, and then, when you've tried to stabilize through a turn or a transition or some change, whether it's big-picture change or little-picture change in your life or just trying to make a change in your life from the inside… At first you're afraid, but then, after the fear has run its course, and you've done all you know to do to make this work, and it didn't, then the fear turns to discouragement. I interrupted him. I said, "That's Joshua 1:9". He said, "It's what now"? He's a Christian, but I preach the Bible, and he's more fluent in the human mind. I said, "That's Joshua 1:9. That's what I'm going to be preaching in a few weeks to my church". They're in the same verse. Y'all aren't going to believe this. Anytime the Bible says what we're just now finding out, it makes me think God is pretty smart. It makes me think God knows stuff. It makes me think I can trust him.
How many know you can trust him in the transition? Verse 9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged". "When you go into this land, you're going to be afraid, but when you get in…" God knows what's ahead in this story. He knows that after they all get circumcised, they're going to be hobbling over, trying to walk around the walls of Jericho, trying to fight the battle of Jericho after that surgery. You didn't know they did that after surgery. See, there's more to the story. Come back. I'll teach you all the cool stuff in the Bible that they didn't put in your Sunday school. They always taught you to blow the trumpet around the wall of Jericho. They didn't tell you you'd just been circumcised before you started walking.
There's so much more to the story. This is not a boring story. Yours isn't either, which means it's going to have twists and turns, which means God is bringing you into a place. But the plot… Okay, I've learned this. He said, "You're going to be afraid, and then you're going to fight some battles you're going to win". The first one was Jericho. The second one was called Ai. They did it wrong, and they got beat. Now I'm thinking that what God knew when he was talking to Joshua was, "The first one you're going to be afraid, but it's going to work. The second one you're going to go in a little overconfident. It's not going to work, and you're going to be on your face. So don't be afraid; don't be discouraged". "Y'all, have a good week. Don't be discouraged". And we just all go out and don't be discouraged. Just don't be. "Don't be discouraged". "Does that mean I should never feel like I'm taken for granted"?
No, you're going to feel like you're taken for granted sometimes. Hey, Moses led the people 40 years, and all they did was holler at him when they got thirsty. Then when Joshua took over, they were like, "Hey, just like we obeyed Moses, we're going to obey you". I'd be like, "No thanks. You need to show some gratitude". You're going to be taken for granted. Every mom, say, "Amen". This is my early Mother's Day message. Are you ready? The sign that you're good is they take you for granted. How many of you all thanked the person who turned on the lights in the church today? Nope. They just do it, so you don't ever say, "Thank you". They're that good. Sometimes you're taken for granted because you're that good at it. Sometimes we take God for granted because he's that good.
If God made you do 50 push-ups before every breath he gave you, you'd start thanking him for the breaths to see if you could get down to 40. You'd start bargaining with God, but he's that good. He's that good at his job. So, he doesn't want us to take his presence for granted, and he enunciates it clearly so there can be no mistake about who's doing the work. "I, the Lord your God, will be with you wherever you go". Truthfully, that's why you're here: because he was with you. That's why you survived everything you survived: because he was with you. It really is the only reason we made it through: because he was with us. Let's give God praise that he's with us. When he says, "Do not be afraid," then, he must not be talking about a feeling. Why would he tell me to do something I can't help? It would be like putting me out in the rain and telling me, "Don't get wet". "Where's my umbrella"? "I'm not giving you one. Don't get wet". "Well, I've got to go inside". "Don't go inside, but don't get wet".
So, "Go into the Promised Land. Fight the enemies. Don't be afraid. Don't be discouraged". "Keep showing up doing the thing you know you're supposed to do but feel like it's not going anywhere, and you just keep watching your bank balance go down instead of up, going the wrong way instead of the right way, but keep showing up, and don't be discouraged". "Keep on loving people who are unlikable, but don't be discouraged". Let me do this for myself. "Keep on preaching, and keep on preaching and preaching and preaching and preaching and preaching, and know that some of the people you preach to are never going to listen to it, but don't be discouraged. Some will, some won't. Don't be discouraged. Keep sowing words of encouragement. Don't be discouraged. Keep on trying to do the eating right thing. Step on the scale. Don't be discouraged. Keep doing it".
So, I realized God is not talking about a feeling here at all; he's talking about a focus. That was the breakthrough for me. As I thought about what to teach you about when you feel discouraged, I realized God is not commanding Joshua or Jimmy, saying, "Don't feel discouraged". He said, "Don't be discouraged". That means there must be a big difference to God between what I feel and who I am. "I'm depressed right now. I have joy inside. I just have to learn how to bring the joy from the inside out forward into my life. This condition is not my identity". Ooh, I'm glad about that, because I feel some funny feelings sometimes. I feel some freaky stuff sometimes. I feel sometimes some stuff that makes me so frustrated and discouraged, and God says, "That's fine you feel it, but don't be it. That's fine that you feel it, but you don't have to behave like it".
You don't have to believe everything fear tells you. You don't have to believe everything you think. Just because you think it doesn't mean you have to believe it. You can check that out. You know how they have airport security, and certain stuff doesn't get through? Certain stuff you can say to your mind, "Nuh-uh. That's not coming through today. Not today. Come again tomorrow. Maybe there will be a different TSA agent at the gate. I don't know. Maybe you can get it through tomorrow, but not today, because I'm in a season that God is doing something, and it's special in my life. I can feel it. It's coming from my spirit". I don't have everything in the spirit worked out yet in my situation, but I'm not limited by my situation. Even the very language I use has to be very peculiar in this season, because what I say in this season is going to determine what I step into.
"Do not be discouraged. Do not be afraid". You have seen glimpses of yourself that reveal your God potential. You've seen them in certain moments where you were kind. You've seen them in certain moments where you were hospitable. You've seen it in certain moments where you said, "No, that's fine. You ride in the front seat. I'll sit in the back". You only did that once in 1988, but you did it once. You have seen seasons when you were disciplined. How many of you have gotten a glimpse of yourself that went like, "Oh, that must be the 'me' God sees when he says, 'You are fearfully and wonderfully made'"? I'm not saying you don't, five minutes later, blow the whole thing, but you've seen it. Right? You've glimpsed it. Come on, don't leave me up here. You've seen it, right? I've met myself strong. Have you met yourself strong? I have. I like that guy.
Let me tell you about strong Steven. He doesn't have to prove his point and win every argument because he's coming from a place of strength, not neediness. He can listen to somebody and go like, "Okay. Wow, that's crazy. Let me think about that". Weak Steven sounds strong because he argues, and a lot of times he wins, because he's good with these words, mama. But even though I win, it's really weakness. When I'm coming from a place of strength, I don't need to teach you a lesson, because it's in God's hands. Weak Steven is a whole different situation. He is a whole different case study. That's why I was encouraged by verses 7 and 9. I thought, "Oh, Joshua isn't just strong, because God wouldn't tell him not to be afraid. He's not just encouraged or God wouldn't tell him, 'Don't be discouraged.'"
It gave me hope for what I've been preaching to you all year аbout: do the new you. This passage to me communicates the belief of a coach that God has in the ones he has chosen. It also features some correction that's going to help us today. How many of you want this help that God has for you today? It's going to help us today to understand how to track back your discouragement and get back on track with what God has called you to do. Some of you are completely off track right now in your life. You know it. You're discouraged and you know it. You're down and you know it. You're defeated and you know it. This is what came to me, and y'all are going to think, "Wow, that's not very deep".
If you track back your discouragement, it usually has to do with your discussions…not just with other people, but the conversations that happen inside of your own soul. You expect God to give Joshua all the military strategy in Joshua 1, yet he focuses way more… I mean, he gives him the whole picture. He says, "I'm going to give you from the desert to Lebanon, from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean". To me, that's like the opening scene of a movie where the drone is flying over the whole land or they're showing us one specific place, and they're giving us a setting. Then after the setting there has to be a good script. He's giving him the script so he can live the story God wants him to live. The Lord sent me to say to some of you the reason your story feels like such a dead-end story is because your script sucks.
Tell your neighbor if you're not afraid they'll punch you, "Your script sucks". Listen. Y'all pray for Holly, because she says inappropriate things to me. She says I'm a bad actor. Anytime I try to pull a little lie to the kids and make them think something, she's like, "You are such a bad actor. You're a horrible actor". I'm like, "Well, you should be glad about that. It means I can't get away with anything". She's like, "Yeah, but you're such a bad actor". So I'll always be like, "Well, test me. Give me a scene to do, and I'll come into the room and do it". So she'll give me something crazy, like somebody I love just died or something. I'll come into the room, and she's like, "And you just got the phone call, and they died". So I'll come in, and the thing I do every time… I start laughing. I cannot do it without laughing. We play this game often. She's like, "You're terrible. You're so horrible. Why do you keep making me do this? This is so bad. This is so dumb. You laugh every time".
One time I looked at her, because she was like, "You're a bad actor," and I was like, "I need better lines! It's your fault. You didn't give me any lines. You didn't give me anything to say. You gave me a setting. You gave me kind of a scene to work out, but you didn't give me a script. Give me a better script and I'll be a better actor". At least that's my excuse. God says, "I'm going to give you the strategy for each city in your life, but first, before I give you the strategy for it, I want to give you the script, so that when you get into it, what you say on the inside will empower you to face what's on the outside". "Joshua, this is going to be an inside job. Yes, you're going to face giants. Yes, there is going to be dry terrain. Yes, there are going to be screaming, whining people who will remind you of toddlers who you will have to lead, but, Joshua, be strong and very courageous". "How do I be very courageous, God"? "Be very careful".
Be very careful what you let in you, and you will be very courageous when you face what's in front of you. We keep trying to fix what's in front of us. "Oh, if they would change…" "Oh, if I were single…" Three years ago you said, "If I were married…" Which one is it? We keep talking about situations changing, but God is talking about conversations changing. You might be discouraged not because of something you're facing or feeling but because of something you are saying about what you are facing. "So, here's what you have to do, Joshua". "What do I do? Do I shoot them? Do I kill them? Do I stab them? Do I choke them"? "All right. Before we get to all that, because we're going to do all that…" Verse 8: "Keep this Book of the Law…"
Joshua is jealous of you, because he had the Book of the Law…Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy. You have the whole story. Hold up. Let me see real quick. You have something Joshua didn't have. I just want to make sure real quick. Oh yeah. You win. Spoiler alert. I didn't mean to mess it up for you, because I know you were going to read it this week, but you win. We win. The grace of God's people be with you, amen. You win. Come, Lord Jesus. We win. He's already here with us. You win. Wherever you step your foot, he's already there. You win! It's like, "Oh, yeah"! I read this one. This is a good one. We have to fight a lot, but we're going to have faith. We're not going to feel it every time, and we're not going to see it every time, and we're not going to always know how, but he always makes a way. We know this by faith because we have his Word, his exceedingly great and precious promises.
One author said, "The living Word of God, which never returns void, is in your heart". We thank you for your Word, Lord. I thank you for your Word, Lord. I thank you for the promises I have in spite of the problems I face. I thank you, Lord. Now, with Joshua, the instruction is simple. "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it…" "That sounds Eastern. Meditation… Isn't that Buddhist or something? Is this a yoga class"? We need to quit giving our definitions of words to the world and letting them take it from us. The Bible is Eastern, dude. I told somebody one day… I was like, "I'm concentrating on breathing more these days". They were like, "Oh, that's New Age". I thought God did that in the garden, like, the very first page of the story. I thought that's what the word for spirit meant…ruwach. God started this.
So, we need to take some of this stuff back, just like success, when I read that, or prosper. Oh god! Let a preacher say prosper…oh god! God said prosper. If you think that refers only to cars and places you can go on vacation, you just need a bigger definition of God. It includes your peace. It includes your freedom. It includes the richness of your interior life…all that. He said, "Let's fix this script you've got going on, Joshua. Before I take you into this place, before I give you the strategy, before I can get you the success I want you to have…" Which is not necessarily the success you imagine. It's going to be much deeper. He said, "Do this. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips, meditating on it day and night". That does not mean…hear me, please…to quote Scriptures obnoxiously at people when they're going through stuff. Just for a cautionary moment in this sermon. He said, "Be careful".
Okay, I'm going to be careful. This does not mean you walk around the house, and your kid is like, "I had a bad day". "Well, all things work together for the good of them who love God and are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined, and those he predestined he also justified, and those he…" Shut up! Say, "I'm sorry you had a bad day. Do you want to talk about it"? That's not what the Word always on your lips means. Somebody says, "Man, I'm really struggling". "Well, Judas went and hanged himself". Do you see how it could backfire if you hear me wrong? So, what does he mean when he says, "Meditate"? I have a picture of it. I got the picture about seven years ago, but I didn't realize it was a picture of meditation.
At the time, I thought it was a NASCAR race. I went to a NASCAR race to see Joey Logano, the champ, the two-time champ. The number on his race car is 22, like Taylor Swift. "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22". I know we have a lot of drivers in the church, but Joey is my guy, and I will always cheer for him. He said, "Come out and see me race". I said, "I don't want to". I said, "I respect what you do, but that sounds really boring". He's like, "Bring the kids. They'll like it. I promise. We'll take care of them". They treated us so well. As soon as we got there, they gave us these little… It looked like a walkie-talkie. Shout-out Warren. He gave each of the kids one, and we all had one. On it we could hear… Show them the picture of Abbey.
We have one of Abbey holding it, just to kind of bring you into the scene. They gave me a hat and a shirt. I think those are Joey Logano jeans, or something, Joey Logano underwear somewhere in there too. Then those yellow Joey Logano headphones, and all of this, because we're right by the track. We're standing by the track, and do you see that little thing Abbey is holding? That thing is… Hand it to me. Thank you, baby. She called, "Next sermon illustration is me," when I had Graham up here. She said, "Hey, next sermon illustration is me". So I'm kind of multitasking parenting and preaching right now. All right. So, we had this. I promise you this is not a made-up sermon illustration. It's going to sound like, "Oh, that's just too perfect. You made that up," but I promise you. We had a video of it too, but I didn't want to show you the video.
Abbey is 5 years old, and she's holding this thing, and she's standing there, because on this you can hear the crew chief of the driver and the spotter telling Joey what to do. You can hear what they're saying to him. It's amazing. It made it really fun for me. It helped me understand a little bit more what was going on. Abbey thought Joey could hear her too. So, she's standing over there. It's really loud. There are cars going fast. That's what they do at NASCAR. She's going (5 years old), "Joey Wogano. Joey Wogano. Joey Wogano. Can you hear me, Joey Wogano"? We let her do it for, like, an hour because it was so cute. I know we're going to hell, because we let her sit there for at least 45 minutes, going, "Joey Wogano. Joey Wogano. Is that you, Joey Wogano? Can you hear me, Joey Wogano"? Finally, after I got the video and the picture and we all laughed and laughed and laughed, I said, "He can't hear you, baby. This is a one-way device".
But what if he could? Just come with me real quick. From Palestine to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I'll take you on a journey right now. What if Joey did? From Joshua to Joey. What if he did? What if they met every fan at the gate and said, "Here you go. Now put this on. The driver has a headset too, and you can put this on". Do y'all want me to put it on? It's going to mess my hair up. I should have practiced this. Is it on wrong? Is it upside down? What do you mean? Oh, strap in the back. Thank you. Like that? Is it right? I can't really hear y'all. It's wrong? Okay, I tried! But you saw it. Good grief. Okay, come back to the Bible. He's like, "Joshua, there are certain things that need to be in your heart that will enable you to fight the good fight when you are discouraged and afraid".
Now watch this. What if Joshua, when God spoke to him… Instead of verse 10 saying, "He went around and told all of the people, 'Get ready. Get ready. In three days we're going in. Hey, officers, go around and tell the people, "Get ready. Get everything packed. Get your shoes laced. Get everything ready. We're going in in three days. I don't know how we're getting across the Jordan. Joshua will tell us, I guess. We're going in. How are we going to get over the walls of Jericho? I don't know. Just get ready. We're going in in three days".'" Imagine if he had gone around asking them, "What do you think"? Then I remembered. They tried that 40 years earlier. The whole nation started saying to Moses, "We can't do that. We can't be that. We can't defeat that. We can't beat them".
Now, in your life this does not sound like Canaanites and land. I understand that. It sounds like chains you need to break. It sounds like impact you know you can make. It sounds like that thing you have been avoiding that you know God is calling you to engage. You know what it is. So, imagine Joey meets everybody at the gate and says, "Here. Just tell me when you think I should turn. Here's your device. Just tell me what to do". See, when you're in the car… I've never been in one, but this is what he told me. He said, "You can only look forward. You can't turn your head at all". That's why the spotter has to tell him, "Here's what's ahead of you. Here's what's behind you. Here's what's going on around you. Oh, they're about to wreck up there. This is where we need to be".
That's why the crew chief… Now, the crew chief doesn't talk as much as the spotter, but he can talk too. He can tell him stuff too. Imagine if every single beer-drinking NASCAR fan and 5-year-old girl got a device to talk to the driver. Here we are, trying to steer our lives in a season we've never been in before, yet the first thing we do when we wake up in the morning… "Oh, what do they think? Oh, where are they today? Oh, where are they vacationing? Oh, what is this political party up to"? Shut it down and look up and see what God is doing! In times of transition, you have to keep it tight. I'm not saying don't make new friends. I'm not saying don't read books. I'm not saying don't take a class. I'm not saying don't have counselors. "In the multitude of counselors there is safety". I know the Bible verses too. What I'm telling you is God is your spotter.
Oh, I have a better one. Jesus is my crew chief. There's more to the story, baby. Joshua wasn't the only one God saps. Three days later, Jesus said, "We're going across this Jordan. We're crossing over this chasm". From death to life, from dead to alive, from law to grace! He did it! "What do you think I should do? How do you think I should raise my kids? What do you think I should eat? Should I do Keto? Should I do Paleo? I don't know. What should I do? How should I feel about it"? It's so crazy that we have so many voices. Some of them aren't on our phone. Some of them are from our family from people who are dead who raised us, still talking. I can make the message really simple. Who's in your headset? Who gets to you? "I don't want to be stuck up". Then you'd rather be stuck? I'm not saying don't listen to other people's point of view. That is not this message, but the Lord said in transition times, you only need to listen to two.
How many spies did Moses send into the Promised Land? No, Moses. Yeah, he sent 12. Too many. Joshua knew, "That's 10 too many," because Joshua was one of the two. Y'all are never going to forget me up here in this headset with a wire dangling around, looking like I'm 5 years old, and I can't even put it on correctly. You are never going to forget this sermon, and that's just the way I want it, so the next time you have 10 telling you, "We can't do it," the next time you have Twitter telling you who to hate and who to like, the next time you have Facebook all up in your face, sapping your faith, making you afraid, you'll remember that preacher. You'll remember, "Furtick was up there telling me I just need two. I just need my spotter. That's God. I need my crew chief. That's Jesus. And if I have the Holy Spirit, I have an engine that will never burn out. So watch me make this turn. Watch me turn this corner. Watch me do this thing. Watch me reinvent in this season to serve a greater purpose. Watch me be a mentor. Watch me be a single mom. Watch me break out of these chains. Watch me cross this Jordan"!
"I've been discouraged". Then change the discussion. Get a different script. I've got one for you. God said, "Make it personal for them". I said, "How personal, Lord"? He said, "Really personal". I said, "Embarrassing"? He said, "As deep as you can go without getting fired". I said, "All right". I'll share this with you. Watch. I've been driving up to this church to preach for over 17 years now. I never even really understood that the meditation… I don't want you to use that word like, "Ommm…" Think of the headset. That'll help you better to understand what I'm saying. I asked, "How fast are you going out there"? He said, "200 miles an hour". I said, "Wow! Then you can't really afford to just have Uncle Billy weighing in on what Joey should do". "Turn left. Turn left. Turn left".
That's what Uncle Billy knows about racing. Come on. The fastest car Billy ever had was a Maxima. Are you going to let Billy tell you how to drive? Are you going to get Billy a device? "Here you go. Here you go, culture. Here you go, CNN. Here you go, Fox News. Here you go, Elon. Here you go, Kanye". I don't care who it is. If they're not the spotter, if they're not the crew chief, I can listen, but I have to keep it tight. Why? Because we're in a season right now where we're all trying to turn the corner. Ooh! Are we getting set up for Jericho where you're going to have to go around and around and around and around and around and around seven times? And it isn't working, so I'm discouraged. So, when you get discouraged, and you wonder, "Was this really God? Am I really valuable? Will I ever heal? Is it going to get better? Should I even live? Am I going to make it? Is it going to work? Can I recover? Is there still time"?
As you're making those turns, you need to learn how to talk with the one who is watching you and who knows every hair on your head because he's with you. I need two of you. I need a spotter and a crew chief. I need goodness and mercy. I need two. Everybody, get two fingers up. They say that's the peace sign. Well, for right now, it is going to be the peace sign. It's going to remind you that when you are discouraged, it's often because you're distracted…stuff that doesn't matter, stuff that's passing. I know exactly who I'm saying this for right now. You've been telling yourself the craziest stuff. You don't like your story. Then why are you sticking with the script that was given to you? Why are you letting a 5-year-old tell you how to drive? Yeah, I'm talking to parents. "I don't want to go to bed". "Okay. Stay up forever and die".
What kind of parenting is that? You're going to hand that over? So, I was driving up to preach every week. Do you know what my meditation was? Not, "Ommm…" It was worse some weeks than others, but many seasons it ran through the background: "I hope I'm not a disappointment". I never would have known how to name it as I was feeling it. See, that's why you come: so we can put a name on some of the stuff that's going on, and you go, "Oh, yeah. That's a 5-year-old talking to me. That's an earlier version of me. Somewhere I'm scared of letting these people down. That's not where God put me now. That's not who I am now". Recently, very recently, but long enough ago that I've been working on it so I could share it with you… This didn't just happen this week. I don't preach about stuff while it's that fresh. I drove up to the church, and the Lord said, "Change the whole thing you're thinking. Change the whole meditation and say this".
The first part came like this. It took me a minute. I just sat there, and he gave it to me. Say this: "God is not against me". I'm like, "That's weird. I'm not worried about you being against me, God. I'm worried about them being against me. They're the ones I'm scared of letting down. What if I say something stupid"? That's not really a "What if" is it? That's kind of just a baseline requirement for me to grab this mic. "What if I try to let the Holy Spirit flow, and what if I miss it"? Do you know what else Joey told me? He said one thing about racing is if you don't want to hit the wall, don't think about hitting the wall, because you'll hit the wall. I don't know what we're preaching about today.
Are we preaching about a new creation in Christ or NASCAR? Yeah, we're preaching about all of this, because this is you. Life is going fast. Not everybody out there is for you. Some of them are against you, but God is not. I'm talking about the secret things. Not the things the Enemy shouts but the things he whispers. Secret things. You can't even name them with language because they're happening at the level of a feeling, so you don't even know how to process it. You're just turning here when you should turn there, and you're crashing, and you're losing opportunity, and you don't know why. The reason I was showing up a lot of times so anxious… I must have secretly thought God didn't want to work with me that day to communicate his Word to people. Because I studied. I prayed. I'm not perfect, but I'm sincere, and I'm passionate.
So, if I gave it to him, and I gave him the time that week, and I'm not running around being an idiot and blaming it on the sovereignty of God that I didn't have a sermon… "Lord, speak". He's like, "I was trying Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. You were distracted". If I've been with him, and even if I haven't, he wants to speak to you more than he wants me to study. So, even at that moment when you screw up, you still have to believe he wants to work with you. How can you possibly get up and preach or parent or run a small business or graduate from school or go back and get your degree or fight diabetes or continue to show up and see your mom three times a week at the nursing home and know she doesn't even know who you are…? How can you possibly push through that kind of discouragement if you don't believe God is with you and for you? He said, "Send two spies". Not too many. You don't need a whole bunch of this right now. You need to focus on what God spoke to you.
So, here's the question I want going through your mind: "What is something I know God spoke that I can obey today"? Do you see how different that is than what we run around managing a lot of times? We run around thinking, "Oh, I have to get my life together". If you do it like that, you're going to fall apart. That's too much. Now the Enemy is just listing stuff you need to fix in your life. You need to fix your attitude. You need to fix your relationships. You need to fix your money. You need to fix your kitchen sink and the toilet. Too much. Watch what Joshua said in chapter 2, verse 1. He said, "Go…" Two spies. Shh! It's an inside job. We're not going to make a big deal about this. We're just going to focus our faith right now. I not only feel that God called me to impart faith to you today in this series, but also to impart focus. What is the next thing you need to face? Just that. What is the one thing? Jericho was the key city. It was the strategic command center. It's like your mind is to your body. If they got in Jericho, they could take the rest of the land.
I am telling you, the Enemy is trying to get you to focus on too much so that all you want to do is go take a nap and do it tomorrow. "No, who can I call today? What can I do today"? "Oh, I don't have money". Well, what would you do if you did have money? Do a little bit of that. "I don't have time to go work out. I'd do it, but I don't have time". "Do you have 10 minutes"? "Yeah, I have 10 minutes". "Do 10 minutes". "I would work out for an hour". Okay. Do the thing you would do for an hour for 10 minutes. You don't get it. I heard a guy say the other day, "If I was a billionaire, I'd build orphanages in Africa". I said, "Do you support the outreach ministry of your church"? He doesn't go here, so it wasn't offensive. He's like, "Not explicitly". I'm like, "What does that mean? 'Not explicitly.'"
All the stuff we say to avoid doing stuff. You wouldn't do it at a billionaire level if you won't do it at this level. That's deception. This goes deep, because the things you're really discouraged about are running deep. You're like, "If I had that, I would do that". Okay. Do the thing you would do if you had that. What would you do if you did? Let me make up another one. "I don't have kids right now, and I want kids". "Okay. What would you do with your kids if you had them"? "I would love them". "Then who can you love"? "I don't have prayer time in the morning because I have to leave at 5:30 for my job". The car is the sanctuary. Do the thing you would do sitting there at the table anyway, and do it on the road. Plug the iPhone in, and put me in your device, and I'll be your spotter. I'll start talking to you. I'll make a deal with you. I will meet you tomorrow morning and preach you this same sermon, word for word, on your device. I'll be your spotter, and Jesus can be your crew chief. Together, we're going into something amazing!
So get ready for it. Get strong for it, and be careful what you let in your heart. I've met weak Steven. I've met strong Steven. And do you know what the Lord is teaching me to do when I'm weak? Say I'm strong. Do the thing you would do if you were strong. When you get this going in your life, you're going to be able to do everything the Lord commanded you to do. Not everything he commanded somebody else to do, not everything your in-laws think you should do, and not everything your mom or your dad hoped you would do that they didn't do, so they're taking it out on you, but the thing God made you to do, the core you. I speak to that you today. Who's in your headset? Let's get the Holy Spirit in there for a minute, telling you, "Hey, I'll be with you".
Come on, y'all. They went to Jericho, and God was with them to knock down walls. Do you think he's not with you? They went to a prostitute's house and stayed there. God used even the enemies to confirm his purpose. Do you think he's not with you? So, I started showing up to the church, and I started saying this. I say it out loud because there's nobody with me in the car. Well, shoot. If there was somebody, I'd tell them, "Hey, watch this". I don't care anymore. I would rather look crazy than be crazy, but that's just the point in my life I'm at. I say, "God is not against me. He is in it with me, working through me, fighting for me".
God is not against me. Do the thing you would do if you believed God was not against you. Do the thing that you, the one God knows, the new you, the Jeremiah 1:5 you… Do the thing that you, the kind you, the whole you… Do the thing that you would do, one step at a time. Joshua told the spies, "Just Jericho. Don't look around at the whole land. You're going to get discouraged. Just Jericho". Do the thing you would do if you knew what to do. Do the thing you would do. Take a step in that direction toward God. I see people in my spirit right now who need to take one step forward. So, let's change not your medication but your meditation today. Let's do it. Say it out loud. "God is not against me". I really need you to feel that, because if you're just like, "Okay, if we say it, he'll let us go, and I'm hungry," then nothing happened.
I want you to get this in your headset so it can get in your mindset so it can get in your mouth so it can get in your life so it can get in your marriage so it can get all up in your business. "God is not against me". Jesus died for me. God sees me through eyes of love. He looks at me with the very same affection that he looks at his Son who gave his life for me, so I know he's not against me. If he was against me, he would already… I saw what he did to Pharaoh. He was against Pharaoh. He's not against me. God is not against me, but he's in it with me. He said, "I'll be with you wherever you go". Now put that in your heart. "God is in this with me".
You say that when you come to church. I need you to say it as you're walking out of here into it. "God is in this with me. God is in it with me. God is in it with me". At 3:30 in the morning, "Oh, I'm going to be in front of that board on Tuesday. God is going to be in it with me. God will already have the coffee made when I get there, because God is in it with me". "He will be with me wherever I go. He's already preparing for me what he is preparing me for. God is in it with me". I want it to get in your head. I want it to get in your heart. "God is in it with me". But I'm not selfish. He's working through me. God wants to flow through you. God wants to use you. And he's fighting for me. I want you to get this in your heart so deep this week. Put it in that chorus for "Make a Way," that you can almost make a song out of it, where you could just walk around… I don't remember how the chorus went at the moment, but I was just hearing it like, "God is not against me. God is not against me".
If I just say it, they'll forget it, but if I sing it, we might remember it. "God is not against me. God is not against me". I'm going to do the whole thing. Put it on the screen, you all. Let's turn this real quick. I talked to Doctor God on your behalf. He said you've been discouraged, and it's becoming a disease, so he said you need to come… I'll be the pharmacist. He said this is the pharmacy, he is the doctor, and he wants to change not your medication, but your meditation. He wants you walking around all week saying stuff like this to yourself: "God is not against me". Let's say it. "But he's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me". Again. "God is not against me, but he's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me". Again. "God is not against me, but he's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me".
Do you feel that faith coming right now? Let's do it a couple more times. Let the Canaanites know. Let the Hittites know. Let the Jebusites know. Let the anxiety-ites know. Let the depression-ites know. Let the loneliness-ites know. Let them know. "God is not against me, but he's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me". Again. "God is not against me. He's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me". One more time. "God is not against me, but he's in it with me".
Do what you would do if you believed God was in it with you. How would you praise him right now if you believed he was in it with you? How would you stand in the fire if you knew he was in it, if you knew that not only was he in it with you, but he was working through you, flowing through you, setting generations free through you? I feel God working through me right now to come through that camera and tell you, "God is not against me, but he's in it with me, he's working through me, and he's fighting for me".
Do what you would do if you believed it! Shout like you would shout if you believed it! Shout like you would shout if you knew that you knew that you knew! Come on, do what you would do if you knew! Do what you would do! Do it! All right. Let's get this meditation medication to go down. Say, "He's not against me, but he's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me. He is not against me, but he's in it with me, fighting for me. God is not against me, but he's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me". Like that. Yeah, here we go.