Steven Furtick - The Struggle Of Unfulfilled Promises
This is an excerpt from: Forward Not Finished
Isn't that a horrible thing that you can see something God wants to give you, but you can't bring it into reality? I'd rather not even know God promised it to me than to hear people talk about it and to see people walk in it. "Their marriage seems happy, and their kids are in church with them. I can't get my kid to come to church. And there's old Pastor Steve up there talking about a Bible club with his boy. That must be nice". You know, you can see things, but you only see scenes; you don't know stories. You don't know the story. There's so much more to the story.
Elijah said somebody told him the other day Justin Bieber was at our house for the weekend. I said, "It would have been nice to know. I'd have made him sing on Sunday. I'd have put him up on 'Jireh.'" I don't know Justin Bieber. Who makes this stuff up? Where does this stuff come from? "Did God really say, 'You must not eat of any tree in the garden'"? "As a matter of fact, he didn't, Serpent, Devil. He said we can eat any tree, just not one". But you see how the spin gets you in a story, and there's so much more to the story. I always listen to people these days kind of imagining what the other person might say if they were there to defend themselves. I know there's more to the story. Now, in defense of Moses… "Come on. I did good. I led these rebellious, stiff-necked people for 40 years".
You think you would have done better? You're only 40 days into the new year, and you've broken every New Year's resolution you have and three from your neighbors. There's more to the story. You know, just to read it as, "Hey, Moses died because he struck the rock instead of speaking to it, and he couldn't go into the Promised Land because he didn't have faith…" That is a summary, but it's not the story. Little sidenote: don't trust the summary. Parenting note: when your kid comes home and says, "That teacher just told me to sit down and shut up, and I didn't do anything…" You believe that from your kid? "That's my baby". Yeah, that's your baby, and your baby is full of… Your baby has some BS (Blanket Statements). So, to say Moses still died with more in him is a little bit of a blanket statement, because he did a lot.
In fact, the writer of Deuteronomy, who some believe was Moses, said, "And nobody ever did more for God than Moses". It also says he was the humblest man who ever lived. So, if he wrote that, then that's very paradoxical, ironic, and funny to me. So, the Lord takes him up on a mountain. He spent the whole book of Deuteronomy giving a speech. You know, "Make sure that when God brings you into the land, you are the kind of person who can sustain the blessing he wants to give you so that you don't receive the blessing and sabotage it because of selfishness, because of a lack of focus, and because of a lack of gratitude".
The Lord takes Moses up on a mountain. We've seen Moses go on mountains before. When he went up, he always came down with something important. God calls him up on a mountain. He's up there 40 days and comes down with the Ten Commandments to find the children of Israel dancing around a golden calf. When he confronted them about it, the leader said, "Oh, yeah. I threw some stuff in the fire, and the cow came out". I think there's probably more to the story. Do you know what I'm saying? "Aaron, come on, man. I was born on a day, but it wasn't yesterday. Come on, man. This is crazy". He breaks the tablets and has to go back and get them. When Moses goes on the mountain, he always comes back down.
So, Moses goes up on the mountain this time. He already knows God is not going to let him go into the next level of leadership. That's going to be Joshua's job, Joshua being one of the only 2 spies of the 12 who believed God could do what he said he could do. That's why he gets to go in, and that's why he gets to lead. The people are all waiting, no doubt, for Moses to come down. Even though he told them, "I'm not coming back because God is not going to let me do it," don't you think they probably had a hard time believing that? Don't you think that when he didn't come down at first… They've experienced so much grace from God that they think, "Surely, if anybody can get God to change his mind, it's Moses". He did that one time.
God told Moses, "I'm going to kill all of them and give you a new nation. We'll start all over, you and me, and do it better this time". Moses said, "But then you won't get the glory. If you destroy your people, what will happen to your name? Everybody will hear about that". God said, "All right. I'll forgive them because you asked". This time, he's not coming back down. How long would it take to accept that if you were one of them? How long does it take us in seasons of transition in our own lives to accept "It's not going to be like it was"? I can keep trying to make it like it was. I can keep wishing it had gone differently than it did.
I can keep on talking about "When I was in high school, you should have seen me on Friday night. Man, I was the man back then". You can buy the same car you had back then, but some of the stuff won't work under the hood. I'm going to stop right there because this is one of those "pucker up" moments that y'all give me. There is a moment in your life where you must realize, "Moses is not coming back down this time". Have you been there? I have in the last few years. I have been reckoning with some realities in my own life that I have to change, because things are changing, God is moving, and the world is changing, and if I stay where I am, I will miss what God wants to do in the place he has already prepared for me. It's not so much about changing situations. I haven't really thought about doing a new job. I don't want to start a new church. I love this one.
I don't know how you could ever have a better church to pastor than Elevation Church. I mean, come on, man. Where in the world would I go after this? When I finish this, I want God to do for me what he did for Moses and just kill me and hide me somewhere, whenever he wants me to be done with this, because this is amazing. But sometimes, in order to change your story, God has to change your point of view. Have you ever had something that happened in your life (let's get really practical) where you saw it one way while it was going down, and you saw it a completely different way when you looked back on it? Raise your hand. (I need to make sure y'all are awake. I'm doing some heavy Old Testament teaching today.) Have you ever had that happen before, where you looked back on it later and said, "Oh, that was actually not a blessing; that was a trap"? Or it could go the other way too. "Oh, that wasn't actually a tragedy; that was a blessing". It can happen both ways.
Two things change the story, and one is time. Time changes the way you see the story. That's why I always like to encourage you: don't give your testimony too soon. I mean, you can tell people, "Jesus died for me, and I accepted him into my heart," that part of it, but don't tell your testimony too soon, because you might leave out the part God is getting to that you don't know about yet. He's the author and the finisher of your faith. Don't close the Bible in Leviticus and say, "This book is weird". Nuh-uh. There's so much more to the story. Don't close your heart. Don't close your mind. Don't come out of the prayer closet. Don't come out of faith. Don't come out of the waters of change, because God is still writing your story. Say it. "God is still writing my story". But Moses is gone.
Some of the characters are going to exit. Some of the realities are going to change. That's why I'm thankful we serve a generational God. We tend to have situational faith. When everything feels a certain way, we can really move in it. "Oh, when everything is just like this…" How many people have I heard say, "I'm going to start being more generous when I get a better job with better pay". That is situational faith. How many people have I heard say, "Well, I'm going to be nice to her when she starts respecting me more". That is situational faith. That is not the love of God. That is not the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God calls things that be not as though they were, because he's a generational God. He was God of a nation when he only had one man named Abraham. I promise you everything under Abraham's hood was not working right.
Even if it was, Sarah's womb was dead, so he had no chance, but God did it, because he's a generational God. He's a generational God in the sense that what he started in the beginning with Adam he recreated in Christ, who is the second Adam. We could not do it by the works of the law, so God took that book that stood against us, put it on Jesus who knew no sin, and he made him who knew no sin to be sin that we might become the righteousness of God. So, don't ever say this little church phrase: "I'm just a sinner saved by grace". You ain't just nothin' but somebody who Jesus thought was worth dying for. You ain't just nothin' but a new creation, a masterpiece. He's still writing your story. Moses died, but God didn't. They walked out, but God didn't. You got fired, but God didn't. He still has the same job he had before you ever got to earth. He runs stuff.
I need us to praise God that he runs stuff. I promise I tried to run stuff, and I ran out of strength to do it, so then I had to lift my eyes to the hills and remember where my help comes from. I have a God who runs stuff. God doesn't check forecasts to see if it's a good time for him to do it or to move. God runs stuff. God doesn't consult human agendas or political offices to see if it would be a good time to demonstrate his power. He doesn't check your age or your height or your weight or your experience. God runs stuff. He is God! He's generational in the sense that his faithfulness continues through generations and in the sense that he generates, he starts, he's the source of your life.