Steven Furtick - God Chose You! Will You?
Do the new you. Get a clear picture of what God has created you to be by spending time in his presence, communing with him, putting his Word in your heart, getting the imprint of his image clearly in your mind, worshiping him, seeing him for who he is, seeing Jesus for how he treated people, wanting to become more like that, being open to becoming more like that, and praying for the Holy Spirit to make you more like that. "…created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness". We've been saying all year in this ministry the true you is the new you, and the new you, the one you are becoming as you step toward God's picture of you… That you is the true you, but you have to choose it. The imagery of Ephesians 4 is like putting on clothes. I chose my clothes today. I did. I chose these clothes because they were appropriate for the activity I just did.
Honestly, I feel a little bit underdressed for making the video teaching, but this is what I wore to work out, and it's what I wore to make the video. I chose it for the workout. I chose what I would wear today, just like I chose what I would drink. I don't get to choose the attitude the people who interact with me today are going to have or what their priorities are going to be, but I get to choose what attitude I wear. I can choose to reset it if I got it wrong up to this point today or this week or this month or this year or my whole life. I get to choose to put on the new creation because…this is what I have to make sure you understand…I was created to be more like God. Not to be God. I don't believe that. Some people believe that we are God. I don't believe we are God. I do believe we are given the ability to choose to be more like him and that he'll help us to do it as we choose it.
Now, to understand Ephesians 4, I think we should read Ephesians 1:4. Can we do that? Ephesians 1:4 is what gives weight to Ephesians 4 when he says, "You were created…" When he says the new you was created, you're like, "Wait then. If it was created, in past tense, how is it new"? No, it's new to you. It's not new to God. He's familiar with that you. He sees that you. He knows that you. It's the true you. It's the one that's trying to speak, but there's too much noise. It's the one that's trying to come forth, but there's too much blockage of shame. It's the one that is buried beneath bad habits. God sees that you. He knows that you. He made that you. He knit that you together. In Ephesians 1:4 it says, "For he chose us in him [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight".
Did you see that word? He chose. That's how it started. God chose you. That's right. Your unique atomic construction was the handiwork of the author of time and space and galaxies. That God who architected the caterpillar to become a butterfly has created you for good works, has created you for a special purpose, has predestined you by his love, has adopted you as a son or a daughter, brought you into his family. Isn't that good news that God chooses you? So, it means 5'6" was supposed to be 5'6". It means that beneath whatever you don't like about yourself physically radiates a spirit that is uncontaminated by comparison to others. God chose you. "I wish I had been born in the 1800s. That would have been cool". You weren't. You weren't supposed to be. You're supposed to be born now. "I wish I could have lived in a simpler time. I wish I could have walked the earth with Jesus". You can't. You're walking now.
Another Scripture said that he appointed the times and places where men should live. So, he has called you to this time. He has called you to your family. He has called you to your disposition. He has called you to make the best of your personality. That's all part of his purpose. We're exploring right now in our teaching in the church, as well as a book I'm putting together as we speak, what it means to do the new you, but I think it has to start with the fact that you know you're chosen. Just like Peter was chosen, even though he would go on to curse and deny that he knew Christ, you were chosen even though you cuss and do some other bad stuff. This is not permission to continue with bad habits, but it gives you power to overcome them by knowing that God knew them, and he chooses you anyway.
Get this deep down: God chose you. God has options. God can call anybody he wants. God can use anybody he wants. God chose you, like I chose this Deer Park water. You're like, "Yeah, but you said you don't like the water. Does that mean God doesn't like me"? The analogy breaks down. Stay with me. All I'm saying about it is God could have gone and gotten any pot he wanted, any vessel he wanted. The Bible says that you are a chosen vessel. Yeah, you are. You're a chosen vessel if you feel stubby. You're a chosen vessel even if you feel like you have a broken handle. Leonard Cohen, the great poet, said, "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in".
Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in. That's where God's grace, as Paul says elsewhere, the glory of God, shines through. Yeah, that's where God does his best work. It's the healing oil that comes from even a broken vessel. Then he reforms you and reshapes you. You're so obsessed with the container. You're thinking about things God sees right through. I'm all for improving your physical appearance. I'm all for improving your financial status. I'm all for improving your skill set, but beneath all of that, to make that grow in a healthy way so it doesn't get out of balance, you have to know God chose you. He knows you. He loves you. He's with you. He's for you. He's not against you.
I'm speaking to somebody today who needs to know you're chosen. "Yeah, but I…" You're chosen. "Yeah, but I…" You're chosen. "Yeah, but they…" You're chosen. I don't care about they; I care about him. You're chosen. "Yeah, but it…" I don't care about it. You're chosen. God's sovereignty supersedes every situation. God's sovereignty supersedes every human limitation. You are chosen. "Before the creation of the world". "Wait. If he chose me before the creation of the world, that means he chose me before I messed up. That means he chose me before I got a divorce. That means he chose me before I had all of these sexual relationships. That means he chose me before I started this horrible thing, this addiction. That means he chose me before I made that mistake. That means he chose me before I was abused by that person. That means he chose me before I made the decision to trust him. That means he chose me before I blew that opportunity".
Yeah. He chose you before the foundation of the earth. That means he can use you right now. Glory to God. I'm chosen. Look at this. He chose me, and then… Now that you've seen Ephesians 1:4, you're starting to understand why I called this teaching God Chose You. Will You? By the time Paul is getting to the practical stuff in Ephesians 4, 5, and 6, he's like, "Wait a minute. There's still the old way of thinking that's not really you but that you're used to that's going to call you back". Put off the old self that's corrupted by sin and its deceitful desires that's trying to trick you into thinking you're something other than God's kid, that's trying to trick you into thinking you need something other than Jesus to complete you, that's trying to trick you into giving in to lesser things to create a stop gap for the deep needs that only God can fulfill.
Put that off. Put it away, and reach for… Just like I reached for this 23.7 fluid ounce Deer Park, reach for the living water. Reach for the breath of God. Reach for gratitude. Reach for a patient response. Reach for what I had to say to Holly this morning. "I'm sorry I was sharp about that thing last night. That was just out of bounds. I'm sorry I was sharp with you". She was like, "It's cool". I'm like, "Yeah, I'm sorry I reacted like that". Reach for "I was wrong" rather than just trying to bear down and be right. I'm like, "Oh, yeah. That's it right there". That's me choosing… Watch this. Ephesians 4:23. Stay with me. I know I'm covering a whole book of the Bible in just about 20 minutes. He said, "…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God…"
Now, you are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, but you have to reach for it moment by moment. I don't mean reach for it that you have to strive for it. I mean you reach for it like you're receiving a gift from God. In this moment, what do you need to reach for and receive, and in order to do that, what do you need to release and let go of? God chose you, so you have to let go of all of the reasons why he shouldn't have, all of the excuses you make why he can't…Moses, Gideon. These are Bible characters who were holding so tightly to their excuses they almost struggled to receive God's empowerment. You do that sometimes. "I don't have the time. I don't have the money. I don't have the skills. I don't have the intelligence. I don't have the background".
Release that and reach for what God has given you. Choose to believe who God says you are. "I choose to believe that Jesus Christ has made me righteous. I choose to believe that the Holy Spirit lives within me. I choose to walk in it. I choose to flow in it. I choose to turn the other cheek in this situation. I choose to walk by that offense. I choose to forgive. I choose to speak life. I choose to go forward". God chose you. Will you choose you, the true you, like I chose my workout clothes, like I chose the bottle of water? Hey, don't get me wrong. I choose the stained shirt sometimes too. I choose the horrible attitude sometimes too. I choose the gossip, which feels so good going down but makes me sick once I start feeling it burn in the pit of my stomach, when I ruin relationships because I talk bad about people behind their back, so then I can't interact with them well to their face.
I'm coming to realize that's not the me I want to be at all. I don't want to be that me. I don't want to be a backbiting me, a petty me. I want to be a bigger me. Not only physically through exercise, but I want to be a bigger me in my spirit. I want to be big enough to look at somebody and see that they have pain, they have feelings, they have reasons, they have dreams, they have goals. I want to see people not just like trees, like the blind man who had his eyes opened by Jesus saw at first. I want to see people as people. I want to see the gifts in my kids, not just the little things that trip me up in their everyday behavior. I want to see their intention. I want to see the seeds of what God has put in them. I want to see not only the real me; I want to see the real them. I want God to show me that. I need eyes to see. I want to see what God sees, and I want to be that, but I have to choose it.
It's no different than choosing what I drink. (I really want a Diet Coke, and I'm going to drink a Diet Coke. It's just an analogy, people.) It's no different than I choose to get a few more reps when I'm working out. It's no different than I choose to let something go and not always have to have my way. It starts from knowing God chose me. "Just as I am, without one plea, but that his blood was shed for me". God chose me. He saved me. He loves me. He's for me. He's with me. God chose you. Will you? Will you choose not to abandon yourself to the addiction? Not today. Will you choose to reach out to somebody you love today rather than just isolating and staying in your head? Will you choose to move forward that one simple thing on that big dream you have today?
God chose you. Will you? Sometimes we choose our past over our future. Sometimes we choose distraction over being present. God doesn't need to be convinced to choose you. I can't find many people in the Bible who God took a vote about. "Do y'all think I should use Moses, angels? Do y'all think I should use Gideon? Do y'all think I should use Peter"? Even when he wanted to use Judas, he chose to use him, but Judas hanged himself. He chose that. He chose to give up.
God never gives up on you. Maybe you're in a place where you want to give up on yourself right now. Maybe you want to give up on ever being free. Maybe you want to give up on maturity. Maybe you want to give up on discipline. Maybe you want to give up on becoming more balanced. Maybe you want to give up on coming out of this condition. Maybe you want to give up on receiving healing. If God won't give up on you, you don't get to. If Jesus went all the way to the cross for you and endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God, you must endure also. It may take a little longer. It may hurt a little, it may hurt a lot, but the God who chooses you is asking you to choose today. He said, "I set before you life and death. Choose life". Choose to be the new you.