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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Make Peace With Your Strength

Steven Furtick - Make Peace With Your Strength

Steven Furtick - Make Peace With Your Strength

Now, as promised, I am going to pick up right where I left off last week. We have to get Gideon out of this winepress. We have to get you out of your winepress too. You've been whining about things, been depressed about things. Last week I preached When God Goes In, and we had a powerful time in God's presence, so powerful that I only got to one of my five points, but the good news for my job is every six days, another Sunday, another opportunity to help you fight whatever devil you've been facing. I believe God gave me something for you today.

Let's go back to Judges 6. After I read this Scripture, you can be seated, but not before. Just stand up for the Word of God. Let's give our attention now to what he wants to speak. He has a word for you. I'll read you verses 11-14 for now. "The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.' 'Pardon me, my lord,' Gideon replied, 'but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, "Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt"? But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.' The Lord turned to him and said, 'Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?'"

With that question, I want to give you a title today. The subject is: Making Peace With Your Strength. This is what I intended to teach you last week before the Holy Ghost blew my notes off my pulpit and took over on my first point, but I'm going to teach it today, God helping me. God said it's time to make peace with your strength. You have spent so much of your life at war with your weaknesses, wishing you weren't something that you are, wishing you are something that you're not, but today, God wants to help you make peace with your strength.

Spirit of God, reconcile your people to yourself today. Use me as a vessel, a conduit, a bridge builder. Whatever I need to be, I'm available to you. Speak those words that only you can whisper to each and every man and woman, boy and girl. I give you praise for it. In Jesus' name, amen.

Oh, subtitle. On your way down, tell your neighbor, "I'm going in". We'll get back to that. Do you want to know my vote? Gideon is the greatest judge in the book of Judges, the greatest judge of all time. You know how they have debates about the greatest of all time with basketball players and guitar players and rappers and stuff like that? Well, I have to say, to me, fresh off a study of all of the different judges, Gideon is the greatest of all time. They call that the GOAT. "Who's the GOAT, the greatest of all time"? I think Gideon is the greatest of all time, the greatest ever to do it, the GOAT. I want to speak to you a little bit about Gideon, the young GOAT.

Now, he's the youngest in his family, but that doesn't stop God from using him. His family is the least in their whole clan, but that doesn't stop God from using him. Their tribe is the least of all of the tribes, but that doesn't stop God from using him. Are you seeing a pattern here? Nothing stops God from using who he wants to use. Gideon is a GOAT, but God is getting him ready, because he's not looking much like a GOAT at the moment. He's not looking like the greatest. He's not thinking like the greatest. He's not speaking like the greatest. He's not moving like the greatest. He's not doing what the greatest would do. God is preparing him for something very amazing…not just a new house, not just a new boat, not just a new car (there is nothing wrong with any of those things I listed), but for a great purpose. Say this out loud: "God is preparing me for a great purpose".

That was about 40 percent participation. Let's try again. "God is preparing me for a great purpose". Maybe the reason you're hesitant to say that is because you don't like talking out loud in church, and you're a little bit defiant and rebellious, and you're like, "You can't make me say anything". Well, I can't. That's true. But maybe the reason you had a hard time saying it is because it doesn't feel like preparation; it feels pointless. I'm trying to adopt the mindset in my life more and more that everything is preparation. If God is sovereign, and if he has a plan, and if all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, then all things are preparation for the purpose he called me to, because I love him, and I'm called. I'm called. I am called by God. I've never been more convinced in my life of what my calling is. I got it down to a sentence.

Now, there's my relationship with Holly as her husband. My call there is just to be the simply amazing man I naturally am every day when I wake up, let her bask in the glory of that. But when it comes to what I do with you each and every week, whether you're part of our eFam online or our local church… God showed me what my job is here. Yeah, I have to make leadership decisions and be a leader. Yeah, I have to have vision and strategy and tactical stuff, and there are so many wonderful people who do that, because my job, my priority, my focus, is to put God's words in people's hearts, if it's a sermon, if it's a snippet of a sermon, if it's a song, if it's a line in a song. I might spend nine months trying to get the line better, because I feel like if that thing gets in you right, ooh, it could be dynamite. It can be the power of God. It is the power of God if you believe it.

So, my job is to help you hear it (faith comes by hearing the Word of God) in a way that you can receive it, digest it, and do it. This is what we understand God is always doing in our lives, because we see him do it so many times through the characters he raises up in Scripture. He is preparing you. He sends words to prepare you. He sends people to prepare you, but when you compare you to others or when you compare you… I was thinking about this. We either compare ourselves to people who make us feel better about where we are… "I'm not doing good, but hey, at least I'm not that bad off". You can always find somebody to make you feel a little better. Or to make ourselves feel just worse about it. In the passage I read you, there's something kind of weird going on.

You have God calling Gideon a warrior, and you have Gideon who is hidden who is heroic. He's about to go on… If I told you all of the things he's about to do, you wouldn't believe it looking at him right now. If you memorize him by his lowest moment, you've missed the point, because Gideon is not sinning in this passage. He's threshing wheat in a winepress. Last week, I tried to illustrate that not only is he threshing wheat but God is threshing him to get you to see that in certain seasons of your life, God is allowing things to be added or subtracted, given or taken away, people in your life to be coming or going, but everything is preparation when it passes through his hands. His hands.

Now, the Bible says they were in Midian's hands. That was their enemy. My friend told me this week, "Slow down a little bit when you're giving us this background. You act like we have all week to study this stuff, and we don't. You do, so break it down". So I'm going to break it down. My friend said, "The only thing I know about Gideon is the Bibles," the little Gideons Bibles they hand out. I said, "Really? You don't know anything about Gideon other than the Bibles"? He said, "No".

I said, "You don't even know that the angel of the Lord sent a word into a winepress and called him a warrior while he was down there scared that the swarms of Midianites were going to come get what he planted, so he had to hide it? You don't understand that Gideon, the great warrior, took on the Midianites with just 300 men who were lapping water like dogs? You don't know Gideon had that dog, Gideon had that, 'I'll do it with who I've got, where I am, with the God I know'? You don't know that Gideon could get up with a jar and put a lamp in it and break the jar and blow a trumpet and say, 'We're coming for you. We're 300 strong, but with God we're a majority'"?

He said, "No. I didn't know any of that, and especially I didn't know that before he did any of that, he was hidden in fear and hidden in a certain place within his family that nobody expected him to be the one". A word from God just came through me for somebody. You're not insignificant because you're hidden. "Nobody sees me. Nobody notices me. Nobody appreciates me". Do not confuse your hiddenness with your significance. The significance of Gideon's life and your life and my life and what's happening in this season cannot be discerned just by looking at us in this moment. We have to read a little farther. There's so much more to the story.

So, when Gideon is hidden, he is not sinning, but he is shrinking. The picture we get of Gideon is not of a sinner but of a survivor. Are there any survivors at Elevation Ballantyne? Not on the front row. Y'all didn't make it through anything. When I say survivor, I don't mean you had a headache and you took two things and then it went away, and then you went to work anyway and you didn't get fired. That's not the kind of surviving I mean. I'm talking about you almost lost your faith. You almost said, "Is there a God"? But something like the hand of God snatched you from the hand of your own doubt. Something like the hand of God.

It was invisible, so you can't exactly prove it and say, "Well, it was on this date at this time," but for everybody who knows… "I was in the hands, in the grip, in the stronghold of the feeling that I might not make it, and something snatched me. I can't show you what snatched me because it wasn't a person. I can't show you what snatched me because it wasn't just one event. I can't show you what snatched me because it wasn't just one day". It was the hand of God. That's what it was. It was he who snatched you, because he has something for you…something to do, something to build, something to be. I've got all three. I've got something to do (I'm created for good works), something to build (I can't stay torn down), and something to be (I am becoming a new creation in Christ).

I've got something…something to do, something to build, something to be. Don't memorize me down here. I know I look shrunken right now, but there's a good reason for that. See, I'm a survivor. Say, "I'm a survivor". Even if you have to say it under your breath because you don't want the Devil to hear you, because you're scared if he hears you say it he might attack you again, say, "I'm a survivor". My buddy who fights in the UFC said, "You've got to survive the assault and work the cut". I said, "What does that mean"? He said, "There's going to be a round every time you fight, unless you get lucky with a spinning heel kick in the first round, where it's going to come on like a storm, and the only goal in that round is to survive it". He said, "But then there will be an opportunity to go on offense, and when you cut him…"

I feel my Rocky IV anointing coming on me today. I'm scared of it. I'm really scared of it, because if it comes on me, I might shout, "Drago". I might shout, "Devil". I might start doing some stuff. I might start swinging. There comes a time when survival becomes selfish. When God gives you an opportunity to do the good he created you to do, and you shrink down… Now, sometimes when we shrink… Get the picture of Gideon in the winepress, getting out of the sight of his enemy, the Midianites. Shrinking down in a low place where, we discovered last week, there is no wind to blow the chaff away, where the Devil pushes you down where there is no fresh air of God's Spirit, where you get in a place, though patterns and thought processes, that feels safe because you are a stuck survivor, a survivor who got stuck in a season of survival.

Now, how is that selfish? Because God did not just come to get you through it; he came to get it through you. Yes! Yes, we need that revelation for all of the survival sermons we've heard that are saying, "You're going to make it," which are wonderful when you need them. But if every six days, the only word you can receive is, "You're going to make it," and then six days later, "You're going to make it," and then six days later, "You're going to make it, and God is getting you ready," and six days later, "God is getting you ready," and six days later, "God is getting you ready…" Meanwhile, your teeth are going to fall out while you're waiting. "God is going to get me ready. God is going to get me ready". You're going to have a bad back when he finally does.

So then the key becomes… Watch this. We can't just stay here, shrinking in survival, forever. At some point, God is going to give you a survival word when you need it. Then he will give you a stretching word to call forth something dormant in you, to call forth something holy in you. If we were to put a New Testament verse here, I would recommend for your consideration Ephesians 3:20, which states, "Now…" Don't leave that word out. It's important. It doesn't say, "In three years". It doesn't say, "When you get out of rehab". It doesn't say, "When they come back and start living with you again". It doesn't say, "When the doctor tells you if it's a tumor or not". It says, "Now unto him who is able to do…" How much more? "…immeasurably more…" You have an "immeasurably more" anointing. But sometimes we have a depressingly low view of ourselves. Keep going. The best part of the verse is at the end.

"…more than we ask or imagine, according to his power…" Which we love. "Oh, it's his power". Yes, it is. It comes from him, every single time. All power comes from him. No more than we could unplug this sound system and the microphones still get a signal over the camera can I preach this word without his power working. But watch where it works. It is at work within us. The contrast is not only that it's his power and it doesn't come from me. The contrast is that it doesn't work from without; it works from within. Can I go a little bit deeper with this word? Oh, I'm going in. I studied too much to preach this thing like it was third grade class. I am going to teach the Bible to three people today who want to go into God's Word and get what he has for you so you can be what he called you to be, build what he called you to build, and do what he called you to do.

Somebody shout, "Go"! That's the key. You're going to see this like… Do y'all play pickleball? God and Gideon go back and forth for a moment, where Gideon doesn't know it's God. You usually don't at first. Usually, God first appears as something you fear. "It's a ghost," Peter said. No, it's God. Gideon thinks he has an interrupter. Maybe he even thought it was the enemy coming to get some of his wheat, but it was an angel. The angel starts talking to Gideon, which happens every day. No! No, this is an unusual occurrence for the Word of God to come to Gideon. There is a sense when I read this passage… The reason I use pickleball is because it has this back and forth to it that I want to show you.

Gideon is asking God to pardon him while God is trying to empower him. When Gideon is saying, "Pardon," God is trying to give him permission to get out of that. Gideon keeps saying, "Pardon me". Now, the first thing he does is he shrinks his view of God down to his experience. Look at verse 13. "Pardon me, lord, but if the Lord is with us…" God just said he's with you. "Well, if that's true, then why has all this happened to us"? He's looking to external events and personal experience for his definition of who God is. That's the wrong starting place. God doesn't start with your experience. He was God before you got here. He'll be God when they lay your body in the ground. He'll be God when everybody is eating chicken five minutes after they all cry that you're gone.

Everybody is moving on. Everything is coming, everything is going, and he is still God. He's big. He's mighty. He's not as small as one little life, one little lifespan, one little opinion, one political party, one view of seeing things, one color, one ethnicity, one denomination. God is bigger than any of the stuff we fight about. So, watch Gideon. He's not sinning, but he is shrinking. "If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about"? Get the questions. Get your list going. You have your little list for God. "Okay. Why is my daughter struggling in school, and why am I always having to go down there? Why don't I have a husband when you know I am chaste"?

Your words. Your list. I'm just using some Bible words. All right. "And you know she's not. So why does she have a husband, and I don't have a husband when I was a lady in waiting? I have three promise rings, purity rings. I am a Proverbs 31 woman, and I'm 31 years old, and I don't have a man. Why"? All of that is just experience. All of that is just events. All of that is external. All of that is outside. All of that is what I see. All of that is what I know. All of that is what I understand. So watch God. "Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt?'" I love what God does here. This angel is amazing. Gideon says, "But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian". Now verse 14: "The Lord turned and said, 'Go.'" He answers none of it.

The reason I called it pickleball is because Gideon is like, "Okay. You are calling me a mighty warrior, and you're saying this about me. Then how about this thing I struggle with, and how about that thing I deal with, and how about the other thing they did to us, and how about what I heard you would do that you haven't done, and that's why I'm down here in this winepress"? Gideon goes, "Why"? and you expect God to go, "Well, you know, here's a reason". Then you expect Gideon to hit it back over the net. "Well, then what about…"? Then God is like, "Yeah, so, about that". You expect this to go back and forth, and you're kind of waiting for this back and forth. God is like, "Nuh-uh. Go". "We don't have time for you to figure out and work through every single weakness you have".

Some of you have taken every personality test they sell in the personality test store and department, and you are more confused than ever. You have read every book. You have eaten. You have prayed. You have loved. You have searched. You have tested. You have "Myers-Briggsed". You have "DISCed". You have "Enneagramed". You have done it all. Those are all wonderful things, but God is like, "By the time you finish the tests, the lesson will be over and the blessing will be past". At some point (it might just be while Pastor Steven is preaching today), we have to go. We have to go at some point. Do you know how much more I could have put in this sermon if I didn't have to preach it right now? But at some point, I have to preach it.

A lady got in an elevator one time at a conference I was going to. There were 40,000 people at the conference. She said, "Hey, Steven. Are you ready"? I said, "What's ready got to do with it? I've never been ready to preach a day in my life, but I'm about to have the microphone, so I guess, yeah. Pray for me. Whatever kinds of prayers you do, pray them for me…this one, the one in tongues…any of them. I'll take all of them. I'll take every single prayer". So, we were at a restaurant Friday, and the lady was so nice to us. It was the restaurant the Jonas family owns, Nellie's. It was good, but the server was really nice. She came over. She listens to our messages, so she was extra nice, and I tipped her extra big.

So, if you're a server and you go to this church, tell me, and I'll do a little… You know, we can do it. Just keep the Diet Coke coming, and don't judge me by how many I drink, and I'll take care of you. (I could drink a lot worse things than Diet Coke. I think you know what I'm talking about.) The lady is like, "Do you have any questions about the menu"? I'm like, "She does". Holly loves menus. I just love full. It's not that deep. Does it have onions? If no, bring it to me. That's all. If it doesn't have carbs and it doesn't have onions, bring it to me. But not Holly. Not my Holly. Oh, not my Holly. So, she said, "Do y'all have any questions"? I'm like, "Go ahead, babe. Have at her". I'm looking at Stephanie like, "You asked for this. Just remember you asked for this".

So then the whole quiz started, the whole test, the whole final exam started, like we are buying a ranch. "So the meatloaf. What's the meatloaf like"? I'm so bored because I didn't bring my phone because I was trying to be focused on our day together. I wished I had my phone. I took her phone and started playing with her phone. Then after… I guess it was only about 90 seconds, but it felt like longer, because I'm hungry. Now they're talking about the dumplings and the diameter of the dumplings. I'm like, "Babe, I think you know enough to move forward with this lunch. I think we can go ahead and do it now. We can go ahead and order now, Stephanie. We're good. She has enough information". Stephanie goes, "No, no, I don't mind. I don't mind". I said, "No, no, Stephanie, you don't understand. This could go on a long time. I know this woman. This could go on and on. When does your shift end, Stephanie? She loves menus. If we do this…"

You know, "What about the dumplings? What about the meatloaf? What about the other stuff? About those dumplings again. Are they, like, dumpling dumplings or dumpling dumplings? Because dumpling dumplings… Are they chewy chewy or are they…"? "We've got to eat! I don't have a phone. I'm a dopamine addict, and there's nothing interesting on your text messages. I've looked. Let's just do it"! I feel like God is saying, "Gideon, we could do this all day. I could give you 20 reasons why you're struggling. What good would it do"? Just an endless awareness of your weakness? That's what God saved you for? Just an endless awareness of who hurt you.

"Well, they hurt me, and they wounded me, and they hurt me. I have church hurt, and I have job hurt, and I have marriage hurt, and I have relationship hurt. I got burned over here and burned over there and burned over here and burned over there". God is like, "That's cool. I'm fire. Let's burn different now". If the fire shows up… I say fight fire with fire. If you got burned, let's call on the God who answers by fire. I feel fire falling from heaven fresh right now! Yes, Lord! God says, "I'm going in right now to the strength you have". This is a word for a person. You've been going back and forth in your mind, back and forth. "Well, if I do that, then they might say that. If I go there, then they might do this. And if I go there…" It is the pickleball game from hell, and you're hungry.

Meanwhile, God is like, "Would you like me to bring you something off the menu so I can show you who I am and what you have or do you just want to go back and forth like this"? I thought about bringing out a pickleball paddle and telling you to give it back to God. "Man, whatever. Whatever it is, it is what it is". Let's do what we can do with what it is, because we know who God is, which is actually the turning point of the passage if you want to know the truth about it. It's when God says, "Go in the strength you have".

Let's get that verse on the screen. Get it really deep in your spirit. When you don't feel strong, when you don't feel kind, when you don't feel backed, when you don't feel endorsed, when you don't feel important, when you don't feel significant, when you don't feel like turning off the thing and not snoozing it the seventh time… Snooze it six and get up and go with the sleep you have. Can we all stop saying "Tired" as our primary identification of what we are? I wonder what God, who never sleeps nor slumbers, feels when we take his name "I am" and put "Tired" after it all the time. I mean, I'll take a nap. Whatever. Or I won't. But is this really going to be my primary identity in life? "How are you"? "Just tired, man".

I have to take charge of some things on the inside of me, starting with what I say, and say things that make me feel stronger. I'm collecting little mantras. I'm going to put a lot of them in a book I'm working on that you can get in your spirit and say things like, "He's in it with me, working through me, fighting for me". That started as a mantra that I told myself driving up to church. It didn't start as a song. It became a song. You know what? That's a weird thing. For years of my life, I resisted the gifts I had been given. I didn't know that's what I was doing. I thought I was being self-aware, which is a very good thing to be, by the way. But if self-awareness doesn't lead to Spirit dependence, it has its limits. Self-awareness is meant to get you to the place not only of being at war with your weaknesses but being aware of your strengths.

For many years, when I went into a songwriting situation, I would think, "I'm a preacher, not a songwriter". The reason I probably felt that way was, over the course of giving up things to God that he had given me, I felt like maybe in preaching I was giving up this love I had for music. I never will forget Israel Houghton standing on a sidewalk in Sydney, Australia, telling another pastor what an anointed songwriter I was. Do you know what I said? "I am"? I wasn't being false humble. I literally didn't feel like I was one. In fact, it was reinforced by the fact that a lot of people would tell me, "I heard you just put your name on the songs because you're the pastor, and you don't really write them".

So, now I have a couple of things going on. One is people. God love 'em. Do you know how easy ministry would be if people weren't in it? I'm kidding. I love people. But it gets in you, doesn't you? Have you ever had something get in you that you believe about yourself? Especially now. Not only on songwriting, if I could just share with you honestly. There's a lot of fear for everybody who is a public figure these days with cancel culture and the way things get clipped, taken out of context, abused, berated, and nobody even bothers to read the story. They look at a headline or hear a headline that was passed on to them by someone else. They put that headline in their heart and define you by something they heard that somebody else didn't even read. They skimmed.

For the last few years, it has been a wrestling match for me. On one hand, I want to spread the gospel, put God's words in people's hearts. On the other hand, I find myself wanting to shrink, because when you talk into a microphone for people, you become a target. Every word you say, every syllable… "Look at how he mispronounced that. Oh, look at how he said that". It doesn't even have to be what you really said, because they don't have to take the 10 seconds before you said it. They can chop it, crop it, and drop it, and then the next thing you know, people will say, "Oh, well, you know, he's a this" or "He's a that" or "She's a this" or "She's a that". It's a real thing.

Now, you deal with it on your own level. I deal with it on my own level. But sometimes it makes me want to go, "Maybe I don't even want these sermons to go online". I drove by this little Baptist church one time. I was like, "I think I'm going to just go over there and preach and not tell anybody I'm preaching so I can still help people, but I won't put it online. I'm going to make sure there's no Internet connection, collect everybody's phones at the door, and just preach like it's 1937". That fear is real, man. That probably happens to you in some way, where you feel like, "Oh, I feel like if I really step forward with me to be who I believe God is calling me to be, I'm probably going to get either attacked or misunderstood or criticized or I might fail".

So I shrink to stay safe. I feel like the Lord will tell me to say something, but I'm not going to say it, because what if it comes out the wrong way? What if it comes out the right way and somebody takes it the wrong way? What if it comes out the right way and somebody takes it the right way but twists it the wrong way because they don't like me? We could do this all day, Stephanie. But there comes a time when God gives a word, and the word is…

What if this is a turning word for you today? God is saying the answer is not for you to shrink yourself; it is to depend on him and step into it. Now, I see you shrinking, and you have your reasons. You don't have a college education. I see you shrinking, and you have your reasons. You don't have a support system in your life. I see you shrinking, and you have your reasons. The business failed, and you're embarrassed. I see you shrinking, and you have your reasons. The addiction really has its claws in you. You feel like you're in the hand of Midian. I see you shrinking, and you have your reasons. You have been diagnosed with something that you don't know if you're going to live or die in this body.

I see you shrinking, and you have your reasons. You're really worried about your kids, so now life is just survival, and you're stuck here. You can't move here, and you feel like, "If I shrink, I'll be safe. And if I'm not safe, at least I'll feel safe. See, when I take these pills, I feel safe. I'm not really safe, but I feel safe". I'm not talking about medication a doctor prescribed you. I'm talking about when you get in something, when you shrink yourself down to stuff God is setting you free from. You're shrinking to feel safe. But the Lord told me something, and I want to give it to you. God said, "You keep shrinking, thinking it'll make you safe, but the answer to your fear is not to shrink yourself down. The answer to your fear is not to shrink yourself. The answer is to get moving".

When they do security training, they teach you the worst thing you can be is a sitting target. You have to get moving in this season of your life and not just sit in the thoughts of what could go wrong. We could do this all day. I can give you a list of 10 more things to be scared of that you didn't even know to be scared of. We can do this all day or you can go in the strength you have. Now, the problem is that doesn't feel like a lot right now. The wisdom you have doesn't feel like a lot right now. There are some facts to back that up. So now I just want to stay strong. The problem is you are a sitting duck for the Devil down there. You're not serving anybody. You're not encouraging anybody. Some of you quit giving because you started watching the news. Are you crazy? It's called currency.

I have to generate something through my giving so I can receive something as I wait. You're going to sit down there and die down there? Get going in the strength you have. Gideon has a dilemma. He's in a real pickle. He's down low. God is calling him up high. He's down low. God is saying, "You're a mighty warrior". Now here's the word of the Lord for you. You might be. Think about that. You might be in a hard place. You might be alone, living by yourself. You might be in a very difficult dilemma. You might be in a situation where the odds are against you, but you are still a mighty warrior. If God is within you, he is more than anything that is against you. Go in the strength you have, and the strength you have will become the strength you need for what is next.

If I am prophesying this word for you, put it in the chat. "It's for me. I need to get moving. It's for me. I need to get stepping. It's for me. I need to get back in it. I need to step back into it. I need to get out of this place of feeling sorry for myself. I need to get out of why and step into what God called me to be". He's able, according to his power. This fellow named Trenton (I hope he's there right now) wrote me this week. He serves at Lake Norman on A Week. Trenton sent me a text. What meant the most to me is where he sent it from: sitting in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. He said, "Thank you, Pastor Steven, for preaching about Gideon, and thank you for the song 'More Than Able.' It means a lot to me because I'm disabled. God started speaking to me. I'm disabled, but when you said, 'Go in the strength you have,' and I'm sitting in this wheelchair listening to that word, I realized if you take disable and put go in front of it…"

If you take disable and put go in front of it, what does it spell? I said, "What, Trenton"? He said, "God is able". I declare it over your life. God is able! I declare it over your paralysis. God is able! I declare it! I decree it! I establish it! "Now unto him…" So, thank you, Trenton, for that truth. If you can say it from a wheelchair, I can say it in my weakness too. If you can smile in that wheelchair, I can smile through my storm too. The problem is not what you have; it's what you don't know about what you have. You won't know what it is if you don't go in it. I promise you that. You have not yet made peace with the strength God has given you because you're not yet good with what he didn't give you. We could do this all day. All day long, you could wish you were taller. I've never seen anybody grow a centimeter.

All day long, wishing they had stayed with you. They didn't, and they're only pretending to be happy in those pictures you see on Facebook. They miss you a lot. Okay? Just giving you a little spiritual hug there. You can wish this stuff all day. We can do this all day, Stephanie. We can do this all day, Tom. We can do this all day, Gideon. "Or you can go with what I gave you and go in the strength you have". Somebody say, "I'm going in". I don't know what day it happened. I don't know what week it happened. I don't know what month it happened, but at some point, I came to this in my spirit. As I preach God's Word and teach God's Word and put God's Word in people's hearts, there may come a day where I fail. I'm sure I've already had many of those days where I failed, and I will have many more.

I don't know the future of my life any more than you know the future of your life. I don't know the future of this church any more than you know the future of… You haven't even decided where you're going to lunch yet today, so let's not pretend like you have it all mapped out either. "What's the 10-year plan for the…"? What's your 10-minute plan? Let's talk about your 10-minute plan. So, God gave me a thought, and I say it a lot: it may, but I won't. Specifically, it goes like this. It may end in failure. I can't control that, but I will not live in fear. I don't know who this is for, but the Lord released me to share that with you, and that is from my own personal winepress. That's from the grapes of my own heart.

God has had to stomp out a whole lot of insecurity to get me to a place where I can tell you, "You need to make a decision, Gideon. Are you going to live in fear"? I just decided I'm going to have moments of fear. I'm going to have days of fear. I'm going to sometimes draw back, but I am not going to live in it. I'm going in. I told Holly, "I'm going to write a song today". She said, "I hope you get something good". I said, "Well, I don't know if I will, but I know I won't if I don't go".

Let me give you the success rate on seeds that are not sown: 0 percent. A hundred percent mortality rate on unsown seeds. So I'm going in. But we don't. We don't go in. Watch what Gideon did. God said, "Go in the strength you have," and Gideon said something else. Verse 15: "Pardon me…" We're still doing this? We could do this all day. You can make excuses all day. You can list reasons all day. You can talk about why you won't forgive all day. It'll make a wonderful book. Write it. Sell it. I'll buy it. But at some point, you have to receive the power and make peace with the power God has put inside of you.

God is trying to give you permission to live again, to love again, to breathe again, to open your heart again, to trust again, to move again, to flow again, to see him move a mountain again, to walk through an open door, to believe him for better days ahead, to tell the Devil he's a liar and "I will not live in this winepress. I will not live in the winepress of 'Why me?' and why it didn't". It's so amazing how he kept going back to this thing about what's happening outside. "'Pardon me,' Gideon replied, 'but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?'" Then the Lord said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you"? God is like, "I thought it was me you trusted, not them".

Then Gideon says (verse 15), "Pardon me, but how can I? Wait, wait, wait. How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family". This is the wrong "I am". God said, "Am I not strong enough to do it? Am I not able? Am I not enough? Am I not God"? Gideon is like, "Yeah, but I am weak". "Gideon, we can do this seven more years or you can get up right now and go in". I'm going in. You've got to go in. Watch what happened. Verse 16: "The Lord answered, 'I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.' Gideon replied, 'If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign…'"

Oh, come on! Like you wouldn't need one too. Some of y'all need a sign to join an eGroup. He was taking down a nation. Let's give it up for Gideon. At least he was honest. Oh, Gideon. I get it. I need a sign too. Angels don't show up and talk to me every day, bro. I would need to know too. "Before I'm going to do this, show me it's you". Watch what Gideon did. Verse 18: "'Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.' And the Lord said, 'I will wait until you return.'" What a word. God said, "I'll wait". Remember the Bible said the angel was sitting. He knew it would take a while. He knew it would take you to get in your 30s to learn this. He knew some of you would have to be 76 before you got it. He knew, so he sat, and he waited, and he spoke. He sat and he waited.

Watch what Gideon did next. God said, "I'm waiting. I'm waiting to see if you want to hide here the rest of your life. I'm waiting to see if you're going to arise and try again. I'm waiting to see if you're going to receive what I'm speaking". God is waiting. "I'm waiting on God". He's waiting on you. He gave you his Spirit. He gave you his Son. He has done a lot. He said, "I'll wait till you return". Verse 19 is the climax of this text, for it says that after Gideon asked his questions, after Gideon second-guessed himself, after Gideon told the angel, "I can't do it," and the angel said, "No dice. You've got to go with what you've got," the Bible says (verse 19), "Gideon went inside…"

Now, to go inside the house, he had to come out of the winepress. That means God is bringing you out of some things to bring you into some things. Gideon went inside and prepared a young goat. Wait a minute. That's not only what Gideon did; that's what God is doing. I told you when I started my message that Gideon was one of the greatest of all time. That means he's a young GOAT. So, when the Bible says Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, it is nothing more than a picture of what God was doing in Gideon. "God is getting me ready for this. God is raising me up for this. God is strengthening me for this. God is breathing new wind into me for this. God is preparing me for this. I didn't see it coming, but God did".

He's preparing you. I'm going to be a GOAT, the greatest of all time. The greatest what? The greatest me God called me to be, the greatest dad Elijah, Abbey, and Graham ever had, the greatest husband Holly ever laid her eyes on, the greatest builder-up of Elevation Church that could stand in the pulpit till I'm not anymore, but I will not live in fear of what I'm not. I know who I am! You have to get this. He's getting you ready. I know it's painful, but he's getting you ready. He's preparing you. That's preparation. That thing that hurts you… That's preparation. Before they do surgery, they prepare you for surgery. God is working on your heart in this season. God is making you ready in this season. God is unzipping everything that wasn't you so you can come out strong and worship him again and praise him again and thank him again.

You're going in. You're going in with what you have. You're going in with who you are, and it's going to be enough, because he's with you. You're going to strike down every swarm, every locust. The lion on the inside of you is going to roar like never before. God is getting you ready for this. I don't even know what it is yet, but God said, "For this it's preparation. For this it's an open door". Are you going to go through it? Are you going to stand there looking at cracked windows or are you going to walk through this door? This is a season. He's strengthening you. It's not just your biceps; it's your belief. You have to get it back. You have to take hold of it. You have to go, Gideon. God is able! The pain is preparation. God is going to multiply what you have left in this season. You are not left with nothing. Go in. And we don't go in.

This story about the young goat reminded me of another Scripture I saw in Luke 15. It gave me chills to think about this, about another young goat. This young man belonged to a very wealthy home, but he decided at one point to leave his father and see what life would be like outside. He found out fast it's hard out here. It's hard out under the father's protection. Have you found that out lately, that your strength runs out? He found out fast that where it comes from determines when it runs out. If you get your strength from the wrong places, you won't have it when you show up for your purpose. That's why God is trying to give you his strength. This young boy (Luke 15:28) finally came back home to his father, and his father threw a party. Then he had this older brother. So, we have the young boy who ran away and came back.

The older brother, who represented the nation of Israel who didn't want the Gentiles to come into the kingdom, but Jesus is using a personal example, just like I am today… He said the older brother, when he saw his young brother come back… Look at what he did. He became angry and refused to go in. He didn't go in. Neither do we sometimes. He refused to go in. Why wouldn't you go into the Father's house? Why wouldn't you go into this next season of your life full of faith and confidence and hope? Why didn't you sing today when we were singing? "Because they were new songs. I didn't know them. They're not that easy to learn".

Okay. You have a point. But why are you even fighting what I'm saying right now? Why are you distracting yourself, checking a stupid Snap right now while I'm preaching a word that can set you free? Why don't you go in? What do you think you're going to find if you do? I think sometimes we don't go into God's presence because we think we're not worthy, but that's what the blood of Jesus was for. So you can go in knowing, "God, it's me again". "Yeah, but I'm not worthy". We could give unworthy reasons all day, but God did not ask you about that. He just said, "What do you have"?

Now watch this. The older brother refused to go in, like so many of us, so his father went out. Ooh. He wouldn't go in, so the father went out. Is this a picture of a God who will come down from heaven to die for a sinner and shed his blood for someone who sinned against him? Is this a picture of an angel who will speak into a winepress, of a God who will make your strength perfect in weakness? "So his father went out and pleaded with him". Verse 29 says he went back and forth with the father. "Look! All these years I've been slaving for you…" You're not going to believe what it says next. "…and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat…" Can you believe that's in there?

So, Gideon goes in and gets a young goat and brings it to the angel. He lays it down. Fire from heaven comes up, and he builds an altar. He names the altar The Lord is Peace (Jehovah-Shalom). Touch somebody and say, "Do what you want. I'm going in, because there's a celebration in my Father's house. There's strength in my Father's house. There's joy in my Father's house. There's freedom in my Father's house. There's forgiveness in my Father's house. I'm going in. I will not die out here. I will not stay out here. I'm going in". Watch this. He said, "You never gave me a young goat…"

Aw, I feel so "baad" for him that he never got a goat. "You never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends". Verse 30: "But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him"! Here is the word of the Lord. Stand up and receive it. The father said to the older son what he said to the younger son. "My son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours". Lift your hands. The Father says, "All I have is yours. Now go with what you have and be who I made you to be. Do it for my glory. Move in what I gave you, flow in your anointing, and bring me glory, for all I have is yours". I can do all things through him who gives me strength! Lift up a shout of praise!
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